Deaconess Correction

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The Reverend Tim Bayly is alleging publicly that I promote women deacons, that I have widely disseminated an error concerning the position of B. B. Warfield on the issue, and that I have refused his personal pleas to correct this error.  These allegations are false, as Mr. Bayly should know from our private correspondence and from documents available on the Tenth Presbyterian Church website (

To begin with, while believing that there is biblical warrant for the active involvement of women in mercy ministry, and that this ministry may be dignified with the biblical term "deaconess" (Rom. 16:1), I do not support the ordination of women as deacons.  Anyone who is interested in my views can find them more fully articulated at


The quotation to which Mr. Bayly refers reads as follows: "If the people of a particular church would simply elect women as well as men to the office of deacon, making one board or two separate boards, at their pleasure, of course ordained with the same vows and responsible to the same authority, as now provided in our constitution, the order is restored." 


This quotation does not come directly from Dr. Warfield, as I have it in my commentary on 1 Timothy, but from his colleague Alexander McGill.  As Mr. Bayly knows, this error was corrected on the Tenth Church website several months ago.  As Mr. Bayly also knows, I have requested that the publisher correct the error in future editions of the commentary.


Yet I believe Mr. Bayly is mistaken when he says that I have summarized Warfield's position inaccurately.  In point of fact, Warfield quotes McGill approvingly in the citation mentioned above.  Although Warfield later takes issue with McGill's scheme for organizing deaconesses on a national basis, he agrees with his colleague's advocacy of the office itself (at the risk of repeating myself, I note again that this is Warfield's view, but not my own).  These things being the case, my misattribution of the Warfield quotation is a matter of form, but not of substance.


Finally, inasmuch as Mr. Bayly has taken it upon himself to encourage the widespread dissemination of his allegation ("the widest possible circulation"), in all fairness I would ask anyone who has forwarded his post to forward my response as well. 

Posted December 3, 2008 @ 7:35 AM by Phil Ryken

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