From the Editor. How easy it is to forget important documents. When Jay Adams designed the Doctor of Ministry program at Westminster in California, he required students to have their theses published in order to receive the degree. He said he did not see much use in having our work relegated to the shelves of a library. This requirement also demanded us to become better writers. So it is with general assembly reports.

In this issue I realize that the subject is controverted throughout the Christian and secular worlds. However, my intent is to show that our church’s limiting the ordination of officers to men is not inimical to, but goes hand-in-hand with, the robust enumeration and encouragement of women’s gifts in fruitful ministry in the church. We should expect this since the Word of God is clear in limiting special office to men and in encouraging women to exercise all of their God-given gifts in the general office of believer.

One of the influences that radical feminism has infected the church with is the idea that special office is a privilege that women are being denied, whereas the Bible wants us to think of it as a heavy responsibility from which women are being lovingly exempted. “And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches” (2 Cor. 11:28). While this is not the only reason for the exclusion of women from special office, it is rarely considered. But it most certainly does not imply that women are in anyway ontologically inferior to men.

Women’s ordination is like the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. Only one tree surrounded by gorgeous fruit is chosen as the loyalty test, and yet that is the one that gets the attention. The devil is a master magician.

My editorial, “Phoebe Was a Deaconess, but She Was Not Ordained,” is based on my response in New Horizons[1] to Dr. Robert Strimple’s summary of his minority report in New Horizons titled “Phoebe Was a Deacon: Other Women Should Be, Too.”[2] His minority report is part of the Report of the Committee on Women in Church Office submitted to the 55th General Assembly (1988). I should say that Dr. Strimple was one of my favorite professors, and opposing his position was daunting, since I never found anything but sound orthodoxy based on careful exegesis in all that he taught.

Richard B. Gaffin, Jr’s. “Women Deacons? Focusing the Issue” is a part of the Report of the Committee on Women in Church Office. He distinguishes the fundamental difference between the Committee report and the Minority has to do with the authoritative nature of the diaconate rooted in the biblical doctrine of ordination. He believes that

only when the issue of women’s role in the church is no longer encumbered with the question of ordination and office will the church make headway, on the principle of 1 Peter 4:10–11, toward realizing an optimum exercise of gifts given to women—for showing mercy, yes, but for administering and teaching in the church as well.

Apart from formatting changes, this text and “Women and General Office” are exactly what is present in the general assembly minutes.

The section of the report dealing with “Women and General Office” focuses on the vast terrain of service in the church available to all who hold the general office of believer, fleshing out the positive conclusion of Gaffin. This was purposely left to the end so that the focus would be not on what women are excluded from, but rather on the wide range of ministry under the leadership of the gracious direction of ordained officers of the church.

I have also included Dr. Strimple’s New Horizons article in a PDF. I also discovered that in that same issue I wrote a one page summary of the Committee’s majority report and have also included it as a PDF.

Alan Strange continues his illuminating “Commentary on the Form of Government of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church” with chapter 13 on “The Local Church and Its Session.” This will prove to be a great resource for church officers when it is completed.

Darryl Hart reviews The Irony of Modern Catholic History by George Weigel. This is a fascinating critical review of a book that deals with the struggle the Roman Catholic Church has always had implementing its idea of Christendom as a reformation of culture. As Hart concludes, that idea “often loses sight of the singularity of Christ’s redemptive work,” and in the process undermines the biblical pattern of redemptive history.

Ryan McGraw reviews The Confession of Faith: A Critical Text and Introduction, by John Bower. Designed for serious students of the Westminster Confession, it “helps readers understand what the authors meant in their own context, how the text of the Confession was transmitted, and it gives us insight into its original form.”

Finally, William Wordsworth (1770–1850) is acknowledged to be the greatest of the Romantic poets, partly a reaction to the rationalism of the Enlightenment, whose view of reason tended to evacuate the humanities of their soul. Although we do not know much about Wordsworth’s specific religious convictions apart from his poetry, it is generally acknowledged that he, along with his friend and fellow poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834), became more orthodox in their later years. This Sonnet from his Ecclesiastical Sonnets, Part 2, “The Point at Issue,” (XXX) could only have been written in a culture strongly imbued with biblical theology and sensibilities.

The cover picture is looking toward Crawford Notch from the Mount Washington Hotel in January.

Blessings in the Lamb,
Gregory Edward Reynolds


Subject Index

  • “On the Laying on of Hands.” (R. D. Anderson) 13:2 (Apr. 2004): 44–48.
  • “Are Deacons Members of the Session?” (R. Dean Anderson, Jr.) 2:4 (Oct. 1993): 75–78.
  • “Deacons and/or Trustees?” (Roger Schmurr) 4:1 (Jan. 1995): 20–22.
  • “Editorial [on Women Deacons].” (G. I. Williamson) 3:3 (Jul. 1994): 49–50.
  • “The Deacons.” (John Calvin) 1:1 (Jan. 1992): 21.
  • “The Pastoral Wisdom of John Calvin.” (John Calvin) 3:3 (Jul. 1994): 64–70.

Ordained Servant exists to help encourage, inform, and equip church officers for faithful, effective, and God-glorifying ministry in the visible church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Its primary audience is ministers, elders, and deacons of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, as well as interested officers from other Presbyterian and Reformed churches. Through high-quality editorials, articles, and book reviews, we will endeavor to stimulate clear thinking and the consistent practice of historic, confessional Presbyterianism.

[1] This present article is based on an article with the same title originally published in New Horizons, 9:7 (Aug/Sept 1988): 17–18.

[2] Robert Strimple, “Phoebe Was a Deacon, Other Women Should Be, Too,” New Horizons, 9:6 (June/July 1988): 17–18.

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Contact the Editor: Gregory Edward Reynolds

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