Reformed Theology

The Creation Ordinances

The three Creation Ordinances are

  1. Marriage – Healthy families and honoring God.
  2. Dominion – Knowing and following our vocation in life.
  3. Sabbath – If we will honor God with our labor, we must also show our submission to his Lordship by resting from our labors when he tells us to do so. (David Stark)

Here is an example of the Creation Ordinance hermeneutic applied by the Apostle Paul: “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.” 1 Tim 2:12-15 (ESV)

Liberal theologians will reject this passage and allow for women pastors. But theological conservatives such as the Reformed take this literally and do not allow women to be elders or pastors. But do they do this only because Paul said it? Or can they look at the creation principle behind Paul, learn from his hermeneutic, and apply Genesis 1-3 to the modern world just as he did? You see, if we had a proper hermeneutic, then if these three verses were left out of the Bible, we should have been able to come to the same conclusion.

R. C. Sproul’s article on the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood website:

The question of whether the subordination of wives to husbands in marriage and of women to men in the church is merely a cultural custom of the ancient world is a burning one. If indeed these matters were articulated as cultural customs and not binding principles, it would be a serious miscarriage of justice to apply them transculturally to societies where they don’t belong. On the other hand, if they were given as trans-cultural principles by divine mandate, to treat them as mere cultural conventions would be to do violence to the Holy Spirit and to rebel against God Himself…

One of the chief considerations in determining the question of principle or custom is whether the matter involves a Creation ordinance. Creation ordinances may be distinguished both from old covenant laws and new covenant commands. The first consideration concerns the parties to the various covenants…who are the parties to the covenant of Creation? In Creation, God makes a covenant not simply with Jews or with Christians, but with man qua man. As long as humans exist in a covenant relationship with the Creator, the laws of Creation remain intact. They are reaffirmed in both the old covenant and the new covenant.

Here’s an illustration for all you Battlestar Galactica fans out there. Say we were to invent some Cylons and they were to take over our planet and the surviving humans were to get on spaceships and take off to find an inhabitable planet far, far away… The Creation Ordinances of Marriage, Labor, and Sabbath would still apply, because the parties to the original covenant: Man, and God, would still exist.


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