Ligon Duncan: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

United States
Ligon Duncan.jpg
Name: J. Ligon Duncan, III
Birth: 1960
School/tradition: Presbyterianism, Calvinism
Main interests: Calvinism, Covenant Theology, Biblical Inerrancy, Biblical Gender roles
Notable ideas: Covenant theology, Complementarianism, Patristics, Westminster Confession of Faith, Confessionalism
Influences: R.C. Sproul, John Calvin, Donald MacLeod

J. Ligon Duncan III (born 1960) is a Reformed theologian, professor, author, and minister of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). He is currently the senior minister of the historic First Presbyterian Church, Jackson, Mississippi—a flagship church of the PCA (the largest conservative Presbyterian denomination in the English-speaking world).[1] His preaching is televised regionally, and he hosts a regionally broadcast radio program, with Derek Thomas and Bill Wymond, Hymns of the Faith.[2]

He is the President, and Chairman of the Council, of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals.[3] He is the Chairman of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.[4] In 2004-5, he served as the Moderator of the General Assembly of the PCA, the youngest minister ever elected to that position.[5] He is an Adjunct Professor of Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary.[6] He is a also Council member of the Gospel Coalition.[7]

Along with Mark Dever, Al Mohler and C.J. Mahaney, he participates in Together for the Gospel (along with John MacArthur, John Piper, R.C. Sproul and Thabiti Anyabwile).[8]

He is married to the former Anne Harley, and they have two children, Sarah Kennedy Duncan and Jennings Ligon Duncan IV.


Early life and Education

Duncan is a native of Greenville, South Carolina. His father, J. Ligon Duncan, Jr. (1925-1992) was an eighth-generation Southern Presbyterian Ruling Elder. He had a small commercial printing company, still in existence today: A Press, Inc. His mother, Shirley Ledford Duncan, studied at Tennessee Wesleyan, Carson-Newman, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Northwestern, before teaching on the faculty of Furman University.

Duncan is a 1979 graduate of Greenville Senior High School, where he served as a class officer, was inducted into the National Honor Society, and received the D.A.R. American History Award. Duncan served as a United States Senate Page, for J. Strom Thurmond (R-SC). He graduated from Furman University in 1983 (B.A., History) and also receiving the Music Department's Dupre Rhame Award.

He did his graduate studies at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri (1986 MDiv, cum laude; 1987 MA Historical Theology, cum laude). At graduation he was presented Covenant Seminary’s J. Oliver Buswell Award for Church History and Systematic Theology. He served on the staff of The Covenant Presbyterian Church of St. Louis from 1984-1987.[5]

Duncan was licensed to preach by the Presbytery of Calvary (PCA) in South Carolina in 1985, and ordained in 1990. In June 1995 he completed doctoral studies at the University of Edinburgh, New College (in Scotland) under the direction of David F. Wright, Senior Lecturer in Ecclesiastical History and Dean of the Faculty of Divinity. His Ph.D. thesis was on: The Covenant Idea in Ante-Nicene Theology.[9] While in Edinburgh, Duncan also studied (as an unregistered auditor) Systematic Theology at the Free Church of Scotland College under Professor Donald Macleod. While in Scotland, Duncan regularly supplied pulpits in churches of the Presbyterian Association of England (now Evangelical Presbyterian Church of England and Wales), Church of Scotland, and Free Church of Scotland. In 1990, he joined the faculty of Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS).[3]

Reformed Theological Seminary

John Calvin
 Calvinism portal

In the Summer of 1990, Duncan joined the faculty of Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS), Jackson, Mississippi, serving in the Theology Department, where he eventually became Chairman of the Theology-Church History Division, and held the John R. Richardson Chair of Systematic Theology. At the same time he served as Assistant Pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church, Jackson, Mississippi for five years (1990-1995), and as Interim Pastor at First Presbyterian Church, Yazoo City, Mississippi (1993).[6]

At RTS, from 1990-1996, Duncan taught a wide range of curriculum, including all the required Systematic Theology courses, Ethics, Apologetics, History of Philosophy and Christian Thought, Covenant Theology, Patristics, the Theology of the Westminster Standards and more. Occasionally he taught in the Christian Education and Missions departments. Duncan also assisted in teaching at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, NC and Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, FL.

While at RTS, Duncan met and married Anne (née Harley), of Columbia, South Carolina, herself an accomplished Christian Educator. She is a graduate of Furman University (BA Education), as well as Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (MRE Christian Education) and Reformed Theological Seminary (MA Marriage and Family Therapy). She is a member of the AAMFT, NBCC, AACC and is an LPC. She has served on the staffs of Trinity Presbyterian Church (PCA), Montgomery, Alabama and the First Presbyterian Church (ARP), Columbia, South Carolina. Mrs. Duncan has also worked in clinical practice with the Family Resource Center in Jackson, Mississippi and lectured on Christian Education and Family Studies at both Belhaven College, Jackson, Mississippi, and Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson. Currently, she is the Community Service Coordinator for the Jackson Preparatory School. The Duncans have two children Sarah Kennedy Duncan and Jennings Ligon Duncan IV.[1]

First Presbyterian Church and the PCA

In 1996, just before he was to take his first sabbatical at RTS, Duncan was called (at the age of 35) to pastor one of the largest Presbyterian (PCA) congregations in North America, the historic First Presbyterian Church of Jackson, MS.

He is also the founder of the Twin Lakes Fellowship, a "ministerial fraternal devoted to the encouragement of Gospel ministry and ministers." Dr. Duncan hosts an annual conference for the Twin Lakes Fellowship at the Twin Lakes Camp and Conference Center in Florence, MS, a ministry of First Presbyterian Church.[10]

As an active churchman, Dr. Duncan has been involved in the courts of the PCA in various ways. He was appointed to the General Assembly’s Committee on Psalmody, and has served on Committees of Commissioners for Covenant Seminary, MNA, and Bills and Overtures in 2002. He has been a member and Chairman of the Credentials Committee of the Presbytery of the Mississippi Valley (1996-2002). He was the Vice-Chairman of the General Assembly’s Creation Study Committee (1998-2000), a member of the Search Committee for a Coordinator of Reformed University Ministries, and currently is the Chairman of the General Assembly’s Theological Examination Committee, and is also a member of the PCA’s Strategic Planning Committee. Dr. Duncan was elected as Moderator of the Presbytery of the Mississippi Valley in 2001. At the annual denominational meeting, held in June 2004, he was elected the Moderator of the General Assembly of the PCA (2004-2005) – the youngest minister to serve as moderator in the denomination’s history.[5]

Dr. Duncan is also active in a number of professional societies including the Scottish Evangelical Theology Society and the Rutherford House Fellowship in Britain. In the United States he is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society, the North American Patristic Society, the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity, the National Association of Scholars as well as the South Carolina Historical Society.

Presently, he is a member of the following boards: founder and Editorial Director of Reformed Academic Press,[11] Belhaven College (Jackson, MS) [Board of Reference], the Highland Theological College of the University of the Highlands and Islands (Dingwall, Scotland), the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals [Chairman of the Board], the Institutional Review Board of the Mississippi Baptist Medical Center (Jackson, MS), Word Ministries (Sardinia, SC) [Chairman of the Board], the Values Investing Forum (Jackson, MS), the Council of Reference for Christian Witness to Israel, the Board of Reference of the Reformation Translation Fellowship,[12] the Ministerial Advisory Board of Reformation Societies International.

Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals

Duncan is the president of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. The Alliance is a “broad coalition of evangelical Christians from various denominations, including Baptist, Congregational (Independent), Anglican (Episcopal), Presbyterian, Reformed, and Lutheran. The purpose of the Alliance’s existence is to call the Church, amidst a dying culture, to repent of its worldliness, to recover and confess the truth of God’s Word as did the reformers, and to see that truth embodied in doctrine, worship, and life.” Duncan is also a featured speaker at the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology, an Alliance-related forum that offers quarterly conferences on the doctrine, history, worldview, and implications of Reformed Theology.[3]

Duncan often contributes to the Alliance's online magazine and blog, Reformation21.[13]

Gender Neutral Bible Controversy

Ligon Duncan believes that some of the gender-inclusive language used in some modern translations of the Bible actually distorts the meaning of the original Greek and Hebrew.[14]

Regarding D.A. Carson's book The Inclusive Language Debate, Duncan said: 'I have the highest regard for Don and he knows more about linguistics than I will ever know, but he's wrong on this. He's just wrong.'[15]

Duncan thinks that best book on the pro-Gender specific side is Wayne Grudem and Vern Poythress' The Gender Neutral Bible Controversy.[16]

Together for the Gospel

Duncan is member of Together for the Gospel ("T4G"), an affiliation of several Reformed pastors, including CJ Mahaney, Mark Dever and Albert Mohler. T4G holds a bi-annual conference and publishes a blog discussing theological interests.[17]

Gospel Coalition

Duncan is a council member of the Gospel Coalition, a “group of (mostly) pastors and churches in the Reformed heritage who delight in the truth and power of the gospel, and who want the gospel of Christ crucified and resurrected to lie at the center of all we cherish, preach, and teach.” They have created The Gospel Coalition Network, which is a network of “Christian pastors and other leaders who stimulate one another to faithfulness and fruitfulness in life and ministry in this rapidly-changing, increasingly urbanized, and spiritually hungry world.”[18]



Gender Roles

Ligon Duncan holds to a complementarian view of gender roles.[19]This view says that the bible teaches that a husband is called to lovingly lead, protect and provide for his wife and family, and that the wife should joyfully and intelligently affirm and submit to her husbands leadership. It also says that the bible teaches that men are to bear the primary responsibility to lead the church and that therefore only men should be elders.[20]

Duncan serves as chairman of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW). CBMW is “a group of pastors and scholars assembled to address their concerns over the influence of feminism not only in our culture but also in evangelical churches…. In opposition to the growing movement of feminist egalitarianism they articulated what is now known as the complementarian position which affirms that men and women are equal in the image of God, but maintain complementary differences in role and function.” Several of Duncan’s sermons, articles, and books on gender issues are offered through CBMW.[4]

Regarding 1Corinthians 14:34 which says 'women should keep silent in the churches', Duncan believes the context shows that this prohibition is referring to women teaching men (like found in 1Timothy2:12),[21] rather than the popular view espoused by Wayne Grudem and Don Carson who argue that the context shows that Paul is prohibiting women from publicly judging prophecy in the church.[22]

At the church Duncan pastors they have men do the teaching of mixed adult Sunday school classes, except for the occasional husband/wife team where it is helpful to hear a woman's perspective - on parenting or marriage issues for example.[23]

Duncan recounts an interesting episode from his teenage years concerning the teaching of Sunday school classes. His mother was teaching the largest Sunday school class in the church and it had most of the elders in it. Duncan said, 'the [new] pastor came in and after a few weeks he sat down with mom and he said, "... I think I see something out of whack here... the elders who are supposed to be edifying you and everybody else are sitting under you nose every Sunday morning...", and my mother said, "that's exactly what I told them!" And she stepped down from that position... with joyful accord. Finally a man came along to say, "Hey guys, the one thing, the only thing that God says that your supposed to have as a competency as an elder, is that your to be able to teach, and you have abdicated that responsibility and you've given it to Shirley Duncan. Its time for you to get up and do your job, or resign and let somebody else come in who can do it."'[24]

Regarding people who reject gender role differences because they have seen them abused, Duncan said "well friends we complementarians have seen those abused too, we have a solution to that. It's called church discipline." He then recounted one of his 'favourite passages' found in a manual on church discipline from the 2nd century which says: 'if there is a man who is beating his wife in the church, the pastor is to take two stout elders and visit the home'. Duncan was amused at the implication and commented: 'I've always wondered what the intention of that is... take him out back, he'll think twice before he lays his hand to his wife again'.[25]

The 'New Perspective' on Paul

Duncan is a critic of the 'New Perspective' on Paul's view of justification which is espoused by people such as N.T. Wright. He commented: 'Wright's role in responding to the Jesus Seminar has given him standing in the evangelical community as a defender of Jesus and of the historicity of the gospels and it has opened the door for his influence elsewhere... I don't want to suggest at all that we have absolutely nothing to learn from N.T. Wright or that he's never said anything that was right, but I do want to suggest that the approbation that he gets in these areas of dealing with Christology and historical issues has given him an inroad into our community where he is not helpful to us and for that very reason I find him a great danger.'[26]

Books by Ligon Duncan

Books authored/co-authored

Fear Not! (foreword by Jerry Bridges). Christian Focus, 2008.

The Westminster Assembly: A Guide to Basic Bibliography (co-author with David W. Hall). Reformed Academic Press, 1993.

A Short History of the Westminster Assembly. Reformed Academic Press, 1993 (co-author/editor with William Beveridge) Sponsored by NAPARC Commemorative Committee.

The Genesis Debate: Three Views of the Days of Creation (co-author with David W. Hall, Meredith Kline, Lee Irons, Hugh Ross, and Gleason Archer). Crux Press, 2000.

Should We Leave Our Churches? (Co-author with Mark Talbot). P&R, 2004.

Women’s Ministry in the Local Church,(co-author) Crossway, 2006.

Books edited

Matthew Henry’s Method for Prayer (editor). Christian Focus Publications/Christian Heritage, 1994.

The Westminster Confession in the 2lst Century: Essays in Remembrance of the 350th Anniversary of the Westminster Assembly, (general editor and contributing author) Mentor, Vol. 1, 2003; Vol. 2, 2004; Vol. 3, 2008.

Give Praise to God: A Vision for Reforming Worship, (editor and contributing author) P&R, 2003.

Books to which Ligon Duncan has contributed

David Hall’s The Practice of Confessional Subscription (contributing author). University Press of America, 1995.

Reclaiming the Gospel and Reforming Churches, (contributing author) Founders Press, 2003.

Letters to Timothy, (contributing author) Founders Press, 2004.

Confessing Our Hope, (contributing author) GPTS Press, 2004.

The Devoted Life: An Invitation to the Puritan Classics, (contributing author) IVP, 2004.

Preaching the Cross (contributing author), Crossway, 2007.

Fear Not: Death and the Afterlife from a Christian Perspective, Christian Focus, 2008.

In My Place Condemned He Stood (contributing author), Crossway, 2008.


  1. ^ a b "First Presbyterian Church, Jackson, MS". Retrieved 2008-08-22.  
  2. ^ "First Presbyterian Church Blog". Retrieved 2008-08-22.  
  3. ^ a b c "Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals".,,PTID307086. Retrieved 2008-08-22.  
  4. ^ a b "Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood website". Retrieved 2008-08-22.  
  5. ^ a b c "". Retrieved 2008-08-22.  
  6. ^ a b "Reformed Theological Seminary". Retrieved 2008-08-22.  
  7. ^ "The Gospel Coalition". Retrieved 2008-08-22.  
  8. ^ "Together For the Gospel 2008 Conference". Retrieved 2008-08-22.  
  9. ^ "Ligon Duncan's Complete Bibliography". Retrieved 2008-08-22.  
  10. ^ "The Twin Lakes Fellowship website" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-08-22.  
  11. ^ "Interview with Castle Church, A Forum for Reformed Theology". Retrieved 2008-08-22.  
  12. ^ "Reformation Translation Fellowship". Retrieved 2008-08-22.  
  13. ^ "Reformation21". Retrieved 2008-08-22.  
  14. ^
  15. ^ go to 25:10 through.
  16. ^ go to 25:20.
  17. ^ "Together For the Gospel 2008 Conference". Retrieved 2008-08-22.  
  18. ^ "The Gospel Coalition". Retrieved 2008-08-22.  
  19. ^ Recovering: Chapter 2
  20. ^ see these two free online booklets for a brief overview of the complementarian position and
  21. ^ see the 6th paragraph from the end onwards.
  22. ^ see Question 25, also see footnote on p144 in Wayne Grudem's book Countering the Claims of Evangelical Feminism (or the footnote on p233 in the full length version Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth) for references to more detailed treatments of this question.
  23. ^ listen from 17:15 to 18:45.
  24. ^ all the speech quoted here is found between 18:45 and 20:05.
  25. ^ all the speech quoted is found between 39:50 and 40:50.
  26. ^ this quote is at around 55:10

External links


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address