On 25 December, 2007, "Rev." Christina Bradley did not preach in First Portadown Church. First Portadown’s minister, Rev. Stafford Carson, (rightly) refused his "colleague" in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) ministry permission to preach in his congregation. PCI moderator, Dr. John Finlay, stepped in to seek to "resolve" the issue of women ministers in his denomination: "We have to accommodate both points of view" (Belfast Telegraph, 29 Dec., 2007). Though this recent scene took place in N. Ireland, such incidents have occurred, are occurring and will occur in departing churches all around the world.
What saith the Scriptures? "Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church" (I Cor. 14:34-35). The head of the church declares women preaching "shameful"—for the woman herself, her husband and family, and the congregation. Yet the PCI dishonoured the Lord Jesus by ordaining its first woman minister as early as 1976, and its moderator says that such a disgrace must be "accommodated." Regarding the role of women vis-à-vis special offices in His instituted church, Christ proclaims, through His apostle Paul, "I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence" (I Tim. 2:12). The Lord Jesus does not permit women as ministers, elders or deacons (church offices with "authority"); the church’s king calls this unlawful "usurpation"—never mind the compromises and fudges of the PCI and its "evangelical" moderator.
Among the qualifications of elders (teaching or ruling), we find the following: "A bishop must be ... the husband of one wife" (3:2)—an impossible qualification for women. Similarly, "Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife" (12), and "their wives [must] be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things" (11). This teaching of God’s Word in the first pastoral epistle (I Timothy) forbidding women officebearers is an intrinsic part of godly behaviour "in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth" (3:15). Any church or denomination that disobeys is not holding up the truths of Scripture’s absolute authority, biblical church government or Christ’s headship; it is acting as a "pillar and ground of the lie." All ministers (and officebearers) are solemnly charged "in the sight of God" and "before Christ Jesus" to "keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ" (6:13-14). In this (as in many other areas), the PCI, and other departing churches in N. Ireland and elsewhere, are unfaithful to Christ and His Word. They have been "spotted" by the worldly philosophy of feminism and so they must be "rebuked." How terrible it will be on the last day when Christ Himself rebukes women officebearers and false churches for despising His Word!
All women officebearers (as well as all unfaithful male officebearers) fall under Scripture’s condemnation as hirelings and false shepherds, those who run without being sent by Christ. The administration of the sacraments and the preaching of women ministers are not means of grace, and baptisms dispensed by them are invalid, because such women are not "lawfully called"—an indispensable qualification for those who preach, baptize and administer the Lord’s Supper (cf. Presbyterianism’s Westminster Confession 27:4; 28:2).
The three marks of the church—faithful preaching, proper sacramental administration and biblical church discipline—are subverted through women officebearers and especially women ministers. This is very serious since a true church is recognised by these marks and a false church is discerned by their corruption. The false church, including a denomination with women ministers, "ascribes more power and authority to herself and her ordinances than to the Word of God, and will not submit herself to the yoke of Christ. Neither does she administer the sacraments as appointed by Christ in his Word, but adds to and takes from them, as she thinks proper; she relieth more upon men than upon Christ; and persecutes those, who live holily according to the Word of God, and rebuke her for her errors, covetousness, and idolatry" (Belgic Confession 29).
The holy God—whom alone the church is to serve—warns that unbiblical teaching tolerated in a church spreads like gangrene (II Tim. 2:17), and "a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump" (I Cor. 5:6; Gal. 5:9). Denominations, congregations and church members who appoint or accept women officebearers grieve the Holy Spirit; disobey and dishonour Jesus Christ, the head of the church; and further the development of the false church. Irish Presbyterianism is following modern feminism and political correctness and not its Westminster Standards and the God-breathed Scriptures. "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them" (Isa. 8:20).
If John Knox, the father of Scottish (and Irish) Presbyterianism, were alive today, he might well write another book, The Second Trumpet Blast Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women Officebearers in the PCI!
- Volume: 11
- Issue: 2
Rev. Angust Stewart (Wife: Mary)
Ordained - 2001
Pastorates: Covenant Protestant Reformed Church of Ballymena, Northern Ireland - 2001Website: www.cprf.co.uk/
Address7 Lislunnan Road
State or ProvinceCo.Antrim
Zip CodeBT42 3NR
Telephone(01144) 28 25 891851