James Jordan on Deaconesses

Posted by Wes White

I thought this post was interesting, and I thought that this would be a good place to open it up for discussion.  James Jordan writes:

As I imagine you’ll point out, deaconnesses (not lady deacons, but a different function) are something the HC/LR have in common with the EPM/UR group. Deaconnesses are all over the Bible, and all over church history. Nowadays they are called nuns, and often have to take special vows; but there’s no need for us to take all of that over. Women served at the Tabernacle, at the Temple, served Jesus, and served in the early church. It is odd to me that there are people in the PCA who freak out over this, but I think you may be right that this is an issue that will finally split the PCA.

You can read the original context here.

Posted by Wes White


  1. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    November 17, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    “It is odd to me that there are people in the PCA who freak out over this, but I think you may be right that this is an issue that will finally split the PCA.”

    Why split? Just discipline the churches who don’t abide.

    Simply do what the Georgia Baptist Convention has done when one of their churches called a woman to be a co-pastor:

    Confessionalism: The Past Meets the Future

  2. November 18, 2010 at 8:48 am

    Jordon is actually mistaken here. Nuns are not the same as a deaconess, either east and west. A deaconess canonically had to be over 40 at least if not 50 (past menopause) and either unmarried or a widow. They oversaw baptisms of women (since in the early church most baptisms were done in the nude and they were directly responsible to a local bishop rather than an abbess.

  3. Ken Pierce said,

    November 18, 2010 at 9:43 am

    “Deaconesses are all over the Bible.” Now, that is a fascinating statement. I see one mention of one word that could be translated “deaconess” or “servant.”

    But, all over the Bible?

    Yes, and nuns are the same thing as deaconesses. Because, you know, being cloistered and celibate and married to the church is the same thing as humbling serving others in the church as so many PCA women do, faithfully and joyfully fulfilling their God-given roles.

    Jim, just go over to Rome and let us all rest easy at night.

  4. November 18, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    Apparently Jim Jordan isn’t the only one who is in favor of modern day nuns, at least after we’ve rethought the Trinity:

    “Thanks for your comments. I am hopeful that modern nuns do not exhaust the possibilities for the new expression of ancient roles for women in the service of Christ, the Church, and the Gospel. I think we need a fresh consideration of the Trinity, as well as the role of the Virgin Mary in redemptive history, to gain a better grasp of a theology of women for the Church. This would be free from the feminist theology agenda, rooted in Scripture, and the practice of the ancient catholic – ie, patristic – Church.”


  5. November 18, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    I am not sure what the principled Reformed objection to women who remain virgins or widows and devote themselves to service (nuns) would be. Perhaps Mr. Carpenter or Mr. Pierce can explain that to me?

  6. November 18, 2010 at 3:29 pm

    That’s like saying because we object to pastors being called priests that we are opposed to the ministry. Oh, wait, James Jordan does that, too.

  7. David C said,

    November 18, 2010 at 9:53 pm

    Brian, I am NOT in favor of modern day nuns. That was a rather tongue in cheek comment for sure. Fresh consideration of women’s roles, always returning to Scripture? Sure. We can always say “No” to ordained office – as I do – but we can also look at the very excellent and creative ways heroic women of faith served God, bith in Scripture and history and from these examples find ways to encourage the gifted women in our congregations to serve in the extension of the Kingdom. But new nuns – or hey, monks – no. Thanks. DC

  8. Ken Pierce said,

    November 20, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    In brief, the same as Luther’s.

    In full: the Scriptures know no such office. Certainly nothing wrong with a call to singleness and service, however.

  9. November 20, 2010 at 11:07 pm

    I wonder how that whole co-redemptrix thing fits into the BH version of the Trinity.

  10. Wes White said,

    November 22, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    Good question, Bob.

  11. November 28, 2010 at 8:44 am

    One of the problems with the “ordination of women” debate in Protestantism is that the Reformation did away with “women’s ministry.” The one true Church (i.e. the Catholic Church) has always encouraged the ministry of women in convents, schools, and charitable organizations. As a matter of fact, at Vatican 2, it was argued that both monks and nuns fulfill a non-ordained “diaconal” role.

    As a Catholic parent, I have no worry about fostering vocations in my sons AND my daughters, either to ministry or to the sacrament of matrimony.

    They can grow up to be mommies and daddies. Alternatively, the boys could become priests, friars, or monks; the girls could become nuns or sisters. The Catholic denies that “only boys have ministerial vocations.”

    We teach that the married life is “great,” but that the celibate consecrated life is “greater.”

    1 Cor 7:38 “but he who does not marry does better.”

    If you’re interested, I dedicate a chapter to Saint Paul’s theology of celibacy in my new book: “The Catholic Perspective on Paul”. http://www.pauliscatholic.com


    PS: Moreover, the Catholic Church is insulated from “women’s ordination” because we believe that Holy Orders is a *sacrament* with a nuptial relationship to the Bride of Christ. Hence, those in Holy Orders MUST be male. To have a woman sacramentally serving the Bride of Christ would be liturgical lesbianism.

  12. ray kikkert said,

    November 28, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    Mr. Taylor … if… “To have a woman sacramentally serving the Bride of Christ would be liturgical lesbianism.” … what do folks as yourself call preists who fondle, play with… and sexually rape young boys … yet consider this celibate life to be “greater”. I call it Satanic.

    As long as your anti- christian pope sits at the Vatican … the whole roman catholic faith can go to Hell where it belongs and that the Lord save you from this accursed idolatry you call the Christian faith. No one else can … not even your good deeds and cash for penance and purgatory.

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