I. Male headship
I think this aspect of the issue is simple in the sense that I think a pretty solid, straightforward case can be made for the general principle of male headship in Scripture.
I’m not going to argue the point, in part because this is well-trodden ground. Among the more able and reliable complementarian writers are Vern Poythress, Tom Schreiner, Jim Hamilton, and Andreas Köstenberger.
A lot of their stuff is available for free:
II. Factual issues
There’s the factual question of what Tim Keller has actually said and done in terms of women in church ministry. I don’t have an informed opinion on that question, because I haven’t bothered to monitor that debate. I merely mention it because that’s a relevant consideration.
III. Procedural issues
i) A denomination like the PCA has a policy on the women in church ministry. Even if (arguendo) Keller disagreed with the policy, he has some responsibility to uphold the policy as long as he’s a PCA pastor. If he’s irreconcilably opposed to the PCA policy, then he should transfer to a different denomination.
I’m not saying for a fact tha this is the case. The procedural issue piggybacks on the factual issue. I’m just stating another relevant consideration.
ii) At the same time, it’s not quite as simple as (i). Presbyterianism has an appellate system. In that respect, one of the official channels in revising denominational policy is to challenge the policy, then let that challenge be adjudicated.
From what I understand, dissent, per se, is not out-of-bounds, for one of the structural means to establish or revise denominational policy is to raise an issue, then let the appellate process run its course.
iii) In case of a preexisting policy, I assume the most responsible way to do that would be to express a respectful dissent, continue to uphold the policy while the issue is adjudicated, then, if the status quo is reaffirmed, either submit to the policy or leave the denomination.
IV. Exegetical issues
The debate over women in church ministry frequently oversimplifies the Biblical data. Here’s a treatment that draws attention to the kinds of distinctions we must consider:
V. Cross-contextual issues
Roman Catholic epologists have a bad habit of making a straight-line correlation from Biblical categories to Roman Catholic church orders. This highlights a tempting anachronism that evangelicals need to resist.
i) You can’t just take a Biblical category like “pastor,” “elder,” “bishop,” “deacon,” then map that directly onto church officers who go by that name in your own denomination (or independent church).
Rather, you must first determine the functions of the Biblical category, how these categories relate to each other (i.e. are they sometimes synonymous?), then consider the degree to which Biblical categories correspond to the polity of a particular denomination.
ii) Apropos (i), different denominations, theological traditions, and independent churches assign different duties and prerogatives to the clergy. Consider congregationalism, Presbyterianism, episcopacy, Pentecostalism, &c.
iii) Likewise, a small-town pastor may do it all whereas a megachurch may have a specialized division of labor.
The question of women in church ministry is frequently bound up with the question of authority. But what do we mean by authority?
i) This is sometimes cast in terms of teaching authority. But that’s ambiguous.
a) Does that mean church office (i.e. ordination) confers a degree of authority on the teaching over and above the quality of the teaching itself?
b) Or does it mean the pastor has the “authority” of an expert witness, due to his formal training in theology?
ii) Put another way, is the teaching of a pastor more inherently authoritative than the teaching of a layman, or does authority reside in truth?
Does the authoritative character of authoritative teaching derive from church office, or from the authority of Scripture, assuming a pastor accurately teaches what Scripture teaches? In other words, is the locus of authoritative teaching the Bible (i.e. Biblical teaching) or church office?
Scriptural teaching is authoritative. If a pastor’s exegesis is sound, and his application is sound, then, to that extent, his teaching shares the divine authority of the original source.
iii) Or does authority have reference, not to doctrinal authority, but to enforcing doctrine? Put another way, does this have reference to church discipline?
iv) In the high-church tradition, it’s sacramental authority, which is grounded in church office (i.e. holy orders, valid ordination, apostolic succession).