Friday, September 19, 2014

A Call to Battle

Deuteronomy 31:6 "He will never leave you nor forsake you."
Joshua 1:5 "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
I Chronicles 28:20 "He will not leave you nor forsake you."
Hebrews 13:5 "I will never leave you nor forsake you."

What is interesting about these quotes is that they come all come at a time of great transition in the Israel's history. In the first two, Israel has been wandering in the wilderness and is now coming to the edge of the promise land. Moses promises the people that God will not leave them. Then God himself promises Joshua that he will not leave them.

In I Chronicles David is passing the torch to Solomon. He reminds Solomon that God will not abandon him, especially as he seeks to build the Temple.

Finally, in Hebrews the shadows are passing away. The Temple, the sacrifices, the priesthood are all about to be gone. For the readers of Hebrews there is a great temptation to go back to the shadows and abandon Christ. The writer of Hebrews is urging his readers to not shrink back. Why? God will be with them.

These quotes are not there to put on a poster with a sunset so that we might have warm and fuzzy feelings in our hearts. These verses are there to remind us to press forward. To keep conquering those who oppose the Kingdom as Joshua did. To keep building the house of God as Solomon did. To toss off everything that would keep us from pressing forward to Christ, as the writer of Hebrews urged his readers. These verses are not a sentimental call to ponder God's presence. These verses are a call to battle, a battle we are assured to win because the King of Kings is with us.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Signs of the New Birth

John Piper in his book, Finally Alive, lists eleven signs of the new birth from I John.

1. Those who are born of God keep his commandments (I John 2:3-4, 3:24).

2. Those who are born of God walk as Christ walked (I John 2:5-6).

3. Those who are born of God don't hate others, but love them (I John 2:9, 3:14, 4:7-8, 4:20).

4. Those who are born of God don't love the world (I John 2:15).

5. Those who are born of God confess the son and receive (have) him (I John 2:23, 4:15, 5:12).

6. Those who are born of God practice righteousness (I John 2:29).

7. Those who are born of God don't make a practice of sinning (I John 3:6, 3:9-10, 5:18).

8. Those who are born of God possess the Spirit of God (I John 3:24, 4:13).

9. Those who are born of God listen submissively to the apostolic Word (I John 4:6).

10. Those who are born of God believe that Jesus is the Christ (I John 5:1).

11. Those who are born of God overcome the world (I John 5:4).

I would add two more.

Those who are born of God know they are sinners and flee to Jesus when they sin (I John 1:8-2:2).

Those who are born of God believe that Jesus came in the flesh (I John 4:2).

I would also add to his number three that the emphasis in I John is on loving the brothers, that is other Christians. Of course, John is not excluding loving our enemies and pagans, but that is not the emphasis in I John.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Book Review: Unbroken

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and RedemptionUnbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Both of my teenage boys beat me to this one, but I finally got around to it. A fantastic read that reminds me of what good war books do: show us man's darkness and man's courage. It never ceases to amaze me what a man can endure and what one man can do to another. I also did not realize how brutal the Japanese were to their prisoners. I really enjoyed her sections on how the prisoners kept their humanity by disrupting the Japanese war effort. I wish she had spent more time on his post-conversion years, but other than that a wonderful read.

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

I Timothy 3:11~Wives or Women?

In this post, I want to look at the use of “gune” the Greek word for woman/wife, which is used by Paul in I Timothy 3:11. Some argue that Paul cannot mean “wives” here, especially wives of deacons.  The argument is often made that "gune" simply means "woman" not wives and therefore a better translation would be "women" not wives. Let’s look at the data and see how Paul uses this word. Paul uses this word, by my count, sixty-four times, with over half of those uses coming in I Corinthians. 

Here is where Paul uses the word "gune":
Romans 7:2
I Corinthians 5:1
I Corinthians 7 uses the word 21 times.
I Corinthians 11:1-16 uses the word 16 times.
I Corinthians 14:34-35 uses the word twice.
Galatians 4:4
Ephesians 5:22-33 uses the word 9 times.
I Timothy uses the word 9 times
Titus 1:6

In Romans 7:2, Ephesians 5:22-33, Colossians 3:18-19, I Corinthians 5:1, 9:5, and Titus 1:6 the word means “wife.”

Galatians 4:4 does not strictly mean wife though it could be in the background. 

I Corinthians 7 is about the relationship between husbands and wives. Even where the ESV translates “gune” as “woman” wife would usually work as a substitute. For example, in 7:2, 7:3 and even 7:1 where the ESV translates it as “woman” wife makes sense also. The word translated “unmarried woman” in 7:28 is actually the word for “virgin.” “Gune” is not there.

The only place in I Corinthians 7 where “wife” does not make sense as the proper translation of "gune" is if we take the ESV’s translation of 7:34. The NKJV and ESV have different translations of this verse based on different manuscripts. 

I Corinthians 11 is one of the more hotly debated passages in the New Testament for numerous reasons. It is possible to translate “gune” as wife or as woman. Woman makes more sense in the passage as a whole, especially verses 8-15. However, a married woman is not out of the question throughout the passage. Even if we translate it as "woman" most of them would have been married women, that is wives. I think the emphasis in the passage is on her being female, not her being married. But being married would probably have been in the background and some commentators would argue in the foreground.  For example, in verse 5 "head" could refer to the husband.  However, the passage does not appear to be limited to married women though they are the primary paradigm Paul is working with. 

Paul uses “gune” several times in I Timothy. In I Timothy 3:2, 3:12 and 5:9 it clearly means wife, not just woman. In 2:9-15 it means “woman" though we should not discount the mention of childbearing at the end of passage, which points to a married woman. However, Paul is not saying, "Only married women cannot teach in verse 12." This restriction is on all women in the church, though married women are the primary group referred to. 

One of the difficulties is that when we say "woman" we mean any female of any status usually over the age of 18. She could be single, divorced, widowed, married, twice-married, a virgin, a prostitute, twenty-five, eighty-five, etc. While these categories existed in Paul's time, when he used "gune" the primary reference is to married women because most women married.  In our age marriage is an option for women, not necessarily an expectation. For Paul, marriage was the norm both in Christian society and Roman society. An unmarried women would have normally been referred to as a virgin, harlot, or widow. For example, in I Timothy 5 Paul used "gune" to refer to a married woman (I Timothy 5:9), but the rest of the passage he uses the word widow. (Gune is not used in verse 16 where the ESV says, "woman.") 

The second complication is that in our age independent women are the norm. Women are not seen as connected to their household either as wives or daughters. Even married women function independently of their husbands. In Paul's time, this would have been the exception, not the rule. There were independent women, but most women were either married living under the authority of a husband or at home living under the authority of a father. My point is that when Paul uses "gune" he is more than likely referring to married women. However, when we hear the word "woman" we have a much broader group in mind. There is semantic confusion because of cultural differences. 

I want to make one main point with this post. In I Timothy 3:11, wives cannot be ruled out as the proper translation of "gune" given Paul's normal use of the word. There are very few times where Paul uses the word "gune" where "wife" would not make sense. Of course, context is the final determination, which I will look at later. There are objections normally raised to translating "gune" as wives, which I will also address in a later post. For now, I just want to make the point that Paul's usage of the word "gune" does not make woman any more likely a translation than wife. In fact, a study of Paul's use of "gune" tips the scales towards "wives" not the more generic women. If Paul had wanted to say "wives" in I Timothy 3:11 he would have used "gune" just as he did. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Book Review: From Heaven He Came and Sought Her

From Heaven He Came and Sought Her: Definite Atonement in Historical, Biblical, Theological, and Pastoral PerspectiveFrom Heaven He Came and Sought Her: Definite Atonement in Historical, Biblical, Theological, and Pastoral Perspective by David Gibson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I found this book an excellent resource for discussion of limited atonement or what the authors call "definite atonement." I like their term better than the classic term. The book is essentially a reference tool. There numerous essays by different men covering the historical, Biblical, theological, and pastoral aspects of definite atonement. The book gives the reader an excellent lay of the land.

The historical views addressed are amazing. Barth, Torrance, McLeod Campbell, Davenant, Beza, Calvin, Amyraut, Owen, Baxter, Bavinck, Warfield, Driscoll, and Bruce Ware are all mentioned, as well as many others. Barth gets a lot of attention in various essays,which I found helpful because I know so little about him and his theology.

All the major passages supporting unlimited atonement are addressed. After reading the book, I am convinced the most difficult texts for definite atonement men are the passages that express a dual will, such as I Timothy 2:4. There were several essays on the Old Testament. Moyter's on Isaiah 53 was particularly helpful.

Several points were made over and over again. First, unlimited atonement puts a dissonance between redemption accomplished and redemption applied. Several authors mention this. I believe it is thorny issue for unlimited atonement view. Second, Christ's priestly intercession should be a larger part of the discussion. Does he intercede for those that are never saved? Can he die for those he does no function as a priest for? Third, does unlimited atonement logically end in universal accessibility to the Gospel? And if so, why do we not get that? Sinclair Ferguson's essay on this was thought provoking. Finally, one's views of the covenant and the Bible as a whole will influence the interpretation of specific texts. Much like any discussion of infant baptism, there must be exegesis of specific texts, but there also must be an understanding of the entire scope of Scripture.

Each of the essays could be a book. Therefore they are not in-depth. But they orient the reader to the major players, major texts, and major theological questions in the debate. This book is not a thorough discussion of the atonement. But it is an excellent introduction to one question related to the atonement: For whom to Christ die? It will be a valuable resource for any minister or theological student.

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Deacons and Authority

One of the shifts made by those who are advocating including women among the deacons is to say that deacons do not exercise ruling authority. Therefore women can be deacons and not violate I Timothy 2:12. I will get to the exegetical arguments in the future. But here are some initial thoughts on that idea.

All church offices, by that I mean officially recognized positions in the body ordained or not, come with some level of authority.  When someone is ordained, appointed, instituted or whatever word is used into a position they are being given authority either by the bishop, presbytery, session, board, congregation or some other entity to do something.  Some offices have more and some have less authority. Some are pretty high up the authority ladder and some are on the lower rungs. Some offices have expansive authority, covering numerous areas in the church, while some have a very narrow authority. But all offices/positions exercise authority. All offices are also offices of service. They serve the church by exercising authority in the areas where authority has been given to them. Service and authority go hand in hand in the church. One cannot simply say women can be deacons because deacons do not exercise authority. One could argue that deacons do not exercise the type of authority Paul is forbidding to women in I Timothy 2:12 and therefore women can be deacons. But the issue is one of the nature of the authority in question, not the fact of authority. This also means that refusing to ordain deacons does not automatically bring a church's diaconate in line with I Timothy 2:12. It is possible to not ordain deacons and still violate that verse.

My research on the diaconate is not extensive, so I am open to correction. But based on the research I have done I believe what I say below is accurate. Again I am focused on history here, not exegesis of relevant passages.

Deacons have not had equal authority to ministers/priests/elders throughout church history. They could at times perform the same functions, but that was usually when authority was delegated by the priests/elders to the deacons.

However, deacons have had ruling authority on some level. That is, throughout history putting women on par with men in the diaconate was seen as a violation of I Timothy 2:12, as well as the general tenor of Scripture. To decide that the diaconate has no ruling authority requires a reshaping of the office as it has been historically understood. This may be necessary, but it should not be undertaken without substantial exegetical and historical research. And it should be stated clearly that reshaping of the office is what is actually happening. Some women deacon advocates sound like they are making a modest proposal in line with how the church has always functioned. This is not the case.

Here is a list from this book on some of the things deacons did in the early church: assist in the Lord's Supper, read the Scriptures in worship, read a sermon if the minister was absent, baptize on occasion, help the congregation follow the worship service, maintain order in worship, give a homily, and distribute gifts. From the same book in Calvin's Geneva deacons received, sought out, and distributed money, goods, and skills among the needy sometimes seeking out those who were not giving regularly. They also were administrators of the hospital, which was a home for the sick, the elderly, homeless refugees fleeing persecution, and temporary homeless from Geneva. Some deacons functioned at these jobs full time. Deaconesses were an integral part of what the deacons did in Geneva. However, it does not appear from the books I have that they were equivalent to deacons in Geneva, though their jobs did overlap at points. Fast forward to the present, I recently read about some deacons who went into the home of a family requesting financial aid, evaluated whether or not the father was actually trying to work, determined how much aid the family was to receive and for how long, and finally determined where to send that aid.

Collecting, managing, and determining who receives the gifts given to the local body has traditionally been the duty of the deacons. There have been other duties, but this was at the core of what they did, especially if Acts 6:1-6 is taken as establishing deacons or being a prototype for deacons, as the passage has been historically understood. It is difficult to picture this task being accomplished without the deacons having some type of ruling authority. Also divesting the diaconate of ruling authority would seem to undermine one of their specific purposes: allowing the elders more freedom to administer the Word and Sacraments.

I understand that the early church's view on church offices, ordination, and the sacraments are different from my views. I understand that in Geneva there was an intersection of church and charity that we do not have. That is, hospitals, homes for the elderly, orphanages, care for the poor, and homeless shelters are not normally under the direct oversight of a church today. But even with these differences noted, it is impossible to picture deacons doing the job they have done historically without ruling authority. We can debate whether or not they should have this level of authority.  However, this debate is not just about whether we should put women in the diaconate. It is about who deacons are and what they are supposed to be doing.  A shift to include women in the diaconate, if it is an honest shift, must redefine the office of deacon as it has been historically understood.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

On Making Movies

Last week some friends of mine posted some links about Christian movies, such as God is Not Dead, Fireproof, etc. Their comments were good and I wanted to follow up with a few random comments of my own on movie making. These are in no particular order.

First, Christian movie making is in its infancy. Hopefully, in time, the industry will gain maturity and wisdom in how movies are made. We need to give these men time to grow up. We can't expect a six year old to act 45. By the way, this also means we need older Christians involved in the movie making business.

Second, I am grateful for the men who are making these movies. I do not always agree with everything they do, but they are trying and paving the way for the next generation. Critics should be more humble. It is not easy to make a good movie, just take a peek at all the trash on Netflix that somehow still got made.

Third, but Christian movie makers need to be open to criticism. Many Christians insulate themselves from criticism. Just because you are doing it for Jesus doesn't mean you get a pass. In fact, it should mean exactly the opposite.

Fourth, men who are rooted in good stories will make better movies. Part of the problem is that our educational system, public and Christian, has gotten rid of many great stories. If we want the next generation of movie makers to make better movies, we need to give them better stories. Here is where a classical education can be helpful. Shakespeare, Beowulf, Faulkner, Dickens, and of course, the Bible all fill our minds with great stories. If we absorb these stories we will make better movies. Here is also the reason Christians need to study great movie directors. They know how to tell a good story.

Fifth, having a good story on paper does not guarantee a good movie. We need Christians who understand what a visual medium is supposed to do. A movie is not a lecture or a novel or even a short story. It may be similar to those things, but it is also different in many ways. Christians need to examine how this particular medium can be used to get people to see the world as God made it. Again studying great movies can be a tremendous help here.

Sixth, movies are not preaching or evangelism. A Christian movie is not a substitute for Sunday morning worship, telling your neighbor about Jesus, or having an evangelist preach at the local college campus. A movie cannot do the work of a minister or an evangelist. I think this is the most helpful thing a Christian movie maker can understand. Your movie cannot do what the preaching of God's Word does. So don't shove it into that hole. Let movies do what they are supposed to: tell a story using words and pictures.

Seventh, Christians need to find ways to present sin on the screen in a way that does not cause a sailor to blush but is real. This is a difficult balance, but not impossible. Surprisingly, horror movies can give some guidance here. Often what is implied, but not shown, is most effective. The great directors, such as Alfred Hitchcock, were masters of the unseen. Even something as ugly as rape is fit for a Christian movie. But it must be done well, which means it can be neither pornographic, exploitative, nor simplistic. Here, in my opinion, is one of the greatest deficiencies in Christian movie making: sin is one dimensional. Christian movie directors need to watch great secular movies (and TV shows) to get a handle on how to present sin rightly. The Devil with horns or the wicked man who is always converted is not true to Scripture.

Eighth, but Christians should not be afraid of putting a hero on the screen either. In many ways, having a true hero, who is good, but also has faults is more difficult than putting a wicked man on screen. Often the good guy in a story comes across as fake. Antiheroes are all the rage these days. But we have a real hero in Jesus Christ. Somehow that idea needs to be translated to the screen without us having to actually make a movie about Jesus.

Ninth, we need rich Christians to finance the movie making endeavors of other Christians. A good product does not always require money, but it usually does.

Tenth, it is okay for Christians to make movies for a narrow audience. Secular people do that all the time. Many movies that play at places like Cannes are narrow in their audience appeal. So if Christians want to make movies that are primarily apologetic, just for church goers, or a documentary about the evils of public education that is fine. The problem is that we have not yet branched out into what I would call "mainstream" movie making.

Eleventh, we need people who see movie making as a vocation, not a fad.  Movies are all the rage today. Movie stars and directors are the gods of America. They are rich, pampered, and most of all cool. It is easy for a Christian to think he is getting into the movie making business for God when the reality is he is getting into it for his ego. Movie making is just like being an architect, auto mechanic, or business manager. It is a job that needs to be done well and to the glory of God. We don't need more Christians who want to be hip and reach out to the hip people of the world through movies.

Twelfth, Christian movie makers need to tell Christian stories. The content and structure of a Christian movie should reflect God and the world he has made. However, this does not require every movie to be a visual depiction of evangelism or to wear God on its sleeve. Horror, action, animation, drama, sci-fi, rom-com, comedy, period epics, can all be permeated with a Biblical worldview/perspective without being overt. There is nothing wrong with being overt, by the way. But usually the most effective movies are the ones that are not overt. We don't go usually go to the movies to be preached at.

Thirteenth, there is nothing wrong with Christians making movies just for fun and entertainment. It is odd that many Christian movie makers and those who love the secular, small budget, indie movies both believe movies must be profound to be worth making. They disdain movies that are just for entertainment. But there is nothing wrong with Guardians of the Galaxy or Jason Bourne. They are McDonalds, instead of the local steak house. They are the Saturday morning t-shirt instead of a three piece suit. They won't change your life. But they are fun, exciting, and well-made. There is nothing wrong with Christians making these types of movies.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Stop Playing the Victim

There are few characteristics as central to American culture today as that of being a victim. We automatically assume in most situations we have been victimized. There are real victims, of course. There are people who have hurt, maimed, harmed, reputations destroyed, families broken, children abused, etc. But what I am talking about is that American mindset of being perpetually offended. The students blame the teacher. The teacher blames the students. The parents blame the children. The children blame the parents. The conservatives blame the liberals. The liberals blame the conservatives. We lost the game because of the referees. We lost the election because it was rigged. Our grades our low because our school district doesn't have enough money. We could pick any race, any economic category, any social status, any topic and we will find the same pattern. We are united in our belief that someone else is to blame.

For Christians, this is a devastating mindset because it causes us to excuse our sin. We look out at all the things that someone else has done to us, real or imagined, and then we say, "It is not our fault." I was raised by bad parents so the command to honor my parents does not apply to me. My neighbor played loud rock music last night, so the command to love my neighbor does not apply to me. My seminary professor gave me a low grade therefore the command to give honor where honor is due is excised from the Scriptures My wife was sharp with me last night therefore the command to be kind is cut out of the Bible. My husband does not love me well enough so I do not need to respect him. And on and on it goes. Even if the sin against us is real, it does not excuse our own sin. We can never place the blame for our sins upon someone else. But this is exactly what a victim mentality does. We ought to know better.

Stop shifting the weight of your sins onto the shoulders of your parents, children, teachers, government, spouse, pastor, congregation or whoever else you think is at fault. Stop blaming others for your sins. Stop evading responsibility. Realize that the blood is on your hands because you plunged the knife in. Then flee to Jesus, the sinless victim, who carried the weight of your sins. Only at the Cross can your sins be rolled away. Trying to place them on others will only end in bitterness and pain.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Book Review: The Puritan Family

The Puritan Family: Religion and Domestic Relations in Seventeenth-Century New EnglandThe Puritan Family: Religion and Domestic Relations in Seventeenth-Century New England by Edmund S. Morgan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am hesitant to comment too much on this book because my knowledge of this period of history is weak. I still found it very fascinating. The most notable thing from the history section was that required obedience can lead to requited affection. The Puritans were strict and hard in many places. But their letters to each other demonstrate that this firm line did not generally cause disdain from their children, wives, or servants. Instead it often produced affection and warmth.

It is also interesting that all segments of society, business, church, family, and government held the same standards. This made discipline easier and clearer.

But the most intriguing part of the book is the last chapter. Morgan argues that later Puritans stopped doing evangelism. Instead they focused entirely on the children of believing parents. This led to what Morgan calls "Puritan Tribalism." His final line in the book should make those of us who believe in covenant succession stop and think carefully about what we are doing. "When theology became the handmaid of genealogy, Puritanism no longer deserved the name." Covenant succession is biblical. But if we only look to our children and fail to reach the lost we will ultimately find ourselves dying off like they did.

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Women Deacons: Defining the Terms

Several months back a good friend of mine and I got in a discussion about women deacons. This lead to research and study on my part. I am going to blog on this topic here and there over the next few weeks. 

One of my pet peeves is people who write on a subject, but never really define what they are talking about, especially if the subject is controversial. I am sure I have been guilty of this in my writing. Insisting on precise definitions can seem tedious, especially in an age dominated by short blog posts. However, it is kind to the readers for a writer to give a clear definition of what he is talking about. I am about to embark on a series of blog posts exploring the issue of women deacons/deaconesses. Before I start I wanted to note what someone can mean when they say women deacons/deaconesses.  Here are the options when it comes to women deacons and deaconesses. If you can think of other options put them in the comments. By the way, I use the term office throughout this post to refer to both ordained and unordained positions within the church.

Summary of the Options
1. Ordained deacons, some male and some female, but with all having equal status and function.
2. Non-ordained deacons, some male and some female, but with all having equal status and function.
3. Male and female deacons with equal status, but different functions.
4. Ordained deacons with an office of deaconess, ordained or not ordained, under the authority of the deacons.
5. Non-ordained deacons with a non-ordained office of deaconess under their authority.
6. There is no office of deaconess/woman deacon at all.

Explanation of the Options
Option 1: All deacons are ordained. Women deacons can do everything a male deacon can do. Both men and women deacons have the same status, role, and function. There are not male and female deacons. There are just deacons. If there was a head deacon a woman could fill that role.

Option 2: The exact same as #1, except the deacons are not ordained.

Option 3: There are male and female deacons with equal status, but distinct roles and functions within the church.  These could be ordained or not ordained. I have not heard anyone endorsing this particular position, though it is possible.

Option 4: There are ordained men deacons. There is a separate office of deaconess (or even women deacons). These women could be ordained or not ordained, but either way they serve under the authority of the deacons. Deaconess is not equivalent to deacon in either status, role, or function, though is some overlap between the two offices. There are several possible ways for widows and deaconesses to relate under this position: 1) Deaconess and widow could be the same office, 2) Widows could be part of the deaconesses, but other women are included as well, 3) Widows and deaconesses could be distinct offices in the church, 4) Widow is not an office, but deaconess is.

Option 5: This is the same as option 4, except neither group is ordained. I have not heard this particular position put forth by anyone though it is possible. Usually a two office view, deacons and deaconesses, has either both ordained or ordained deacons only.

Option 6: There is no office of deaconess in the church. There are a couple of options here. One could say that widows, not deaconesses, are the only proper biblical office for women. This would be basically option 4.1 above but instead of calling them deaconesses they would be called widows. Or it is possible to say there are no officially recognized offices for women in the church.

Thoughts on the Options
For all practical purposes #1 and #2 are the same: one office with both genders included. Most people I have read who are advocating "women deacons" are advocating one of these options. They just are not as clear about it as they should be.

Those who hold to #1 or #2 should jettison the phrase "women deacons" and "men deacons." They should just have deacons. If the men and women have the same status, role, and function then they are equals. The whole point of 1 and 2 is that whether they are male or female is irrelevant to the tasks they can perform.

For all practical purposes #4 and #5 are the same: two distinct offices divided by gender. This group could have the office of "woman deacon" and not mean what #1 and #2 mean.

Option 3 is a bit of a wild card. I have not heard this exact position put forth.  It is an awkward position because it gives equal status, but not equal function. It would be like those who hold to a two office view (elders and deacons) saying that ruling elders could not preach while teaching elders can. I think some who are officially #1 or #2 function like #3. However, if a church has things women deacons cannot do, but men deacons can then they are not equal. For example, if a church has deacons that are men and women, but female deacons cannot visit a sick man in the hospital or cannot serve communion, but a male deacon can then they are not equal, at least not in function. My question would be, "Why give equal status, but not equal function?" That seems to be a contradiction. I am not saying deacons who are women must do everything men do in this type of a system. But if they are equal in status then they should be able to do everything men do. Otherwise you need two offices, not one.

Option 6 has the difficult task of explaining why throughout much of church history, including in Reformed churches, there have been offices for women.

Finally, it is odd to me that so much ink is spilled on I Timothy 3:11 and Romans 16:1, but so little ink is spilled on I Timothy 5:9-16.  Why is there not more discussion of whether or not the widow passage in I Timothy 5 should inform the office of deaconess/women deacons and if so how?

When discussing deacons, women deacons, and deaconesses, function (what they can do) and status (their office), both need to be considered, not just exegetical and historical data. A writer needs to be clear on what office is being given and what the functions of that office will be.

After posting this I thought of one more option: the reverse of #3, where there is not equal status, but there is equal function. Many of the same arguments brought to bear against #3 would be brought to bear against this position as well. Why allow women deacons/deaconesses to do everything men can do, but not give them equal status? Again this seems to be contradiction. 
Let the saints be joyful in glory, let them sing aloud on their beds, let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two edged sword in their hand, to execute vengeance on the nations, and punishments on the peoples; to bind the kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron. Psalm 149:5-8