The Mailbag: Potpourri (Breast cancer resources, What does “cruciform” mean?, Yoga-ta find a new church?…)

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Welcome to another “potpourri” edition of The Mailbag, where I give short(er) answers to several questions rather than a long answer to one question. I also like to take the opportunity in these potpourri editions to let new readers know about my comments/e-mail/messages policy. I’m not able to respond individually to most e-mails and messages, so here are some helpful hints for getting your questions answered more quickly. Remember, the search bar can be a helpful tool!

In these potpourri editions of The Mailbag, I’d also like to address the three questions I’m most commonly asked:

“Do you know anything about [Christian pastor/teacher/author] or his/her materials? Is he/she doctrinally sound?”

Try these links: 
Popular False Teachers /
 Recommended Bible Teachers / search bar
Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring It Out on Your Own
(Do keep bringing me names, though. If I get enough questions about a particular teacher, I’ll probably write an article on her.)

“Can you recommend a good women’s Bible study?”

No. Here’s why:
The Mailbag: Can you recommend a good Bible study for women/teens/kids?
The Mailbag: “We need to stop relying on canned studies,” doesn’t mean, “We need to rely on doctrinally sound canned studies.”.

“You shouldn’t be warning against [popular false teacher] for [X,Y,Z] reason!”

Answering the Opposition- Responses to the Most Frequently Raised Discernment Objections


 

Should women serve as the worship leader/minister of music of a church?

No.

If I answer a question in a co-ed Bible study/Sunday School class, am I “teaching” men in violation of Scripture?

No.

Is it biblical for a woman to lead a prayer during the worship service?

It is not technically a violation of the letter of 1 Timothy 2:12, but I would discourage it for other reasons.

I’ve heard people say it’s OK for women to preach or teach the Bible to co-ed groups as long as they are doing so under their pastor’s and/or husband’s authority. Is this true?

No.

I’ve received the first three of these questions again recently, so I thought it would be a perfect time to take the opportunity to remind everyone of a little resource I think might be helpful for you: my article Rock Your Role FAQs. The first question is answered in #16, the second in #4, and the third in #15. I just added the fourth question to the article. It is #20. And don’t forget to read the other articles in my Rock Your Role series, too!


Do you have any book recommendations for a woman just diagnosed with breast cancer?

Let me just start my answer by saying two things. First, I’ve taken a moment to pray for you (or whoever the woman is), that God will help you through this difficult journey and bring you comfort and peace. (Readers, will you also please take a moment to pray?)

Second, it drives me absolutely batty when I ask for a recommendation on social media for a Christian book on a particular topic and people answer in a joking, or smart aleck, or holier than thou way: “the Bible.” Obviously, the Bible is our first “go to” for every issue in the Christian life, but sometimes we need a book that can also teach us about the Scriptures that pertain to our issue.

So please understand that the first part of my answer is not meant to sound flippant or self-righteous, but to assist you in finding a good place in Scripture to park yourself. And my recommendation is going to be to get into Psalms and stay there for a while. You might also find that praying the Psalms back to God is very helpful. There is a great deal of comfort, peace, and strength for trying times in that book.

As for books outside the Bible, I have not read it myself, but I have heard trustworthy people say that John Piper’s¹ booklet Don’t Waste Your Cancer is very good. You may wish to check out Joni Eareckson Tada’s² Diagnosed with Breast Cancer: Life After Shock. Joni is a breast cancer survivor and has written a number of books on suffering that you might also find helpful, though most are related to disability, not cancer. Additionally, I would recommend anything John MacArthur has written on the topic of suffering, such as The Power of Suffering, as well as anything at Ligonier. If you’d like something short and free, I’ve written several articles on suffering that will point you to a variety of Scriptures you may find helpful.

You may wish to keep an eye on the comments section of this article, as other readers will probably also have some good recommendations.

¹John Piper is not someone I normally proactively recommend. I’ve explained why HERE.
²Over the years I have received three or four questions about Joni’s actions and theology, but she is generally regarded as doctrinally sound. AS with any Christian author, read discerningly.

Is there a biblically sound Reformed private forum where I can ask some questions about my salvation? I am not in a church.

Since you’re specifically looking for a forum type of interface, I would recommend the (women only) Theology Gals Facebook group. I don’t know what “flavor” of Reformed you are, but it is mostly Presbyterian (though, in the past there has been a large contingent of Reformed Baptists in there too). If you are looking for a good Presbyterian church, they should be able to help.

You can also try my Searching for a new church? tab at the top of this page. It leans more Reformed Baptist/Reformed Bible church, but there are other denominations, non-Reformed, and non-denominational churches, too.

When you say you’re “not in a church,” I’m hoping what you mean is that you’re in the process of trying to find a solid church but haven’t yet. If that’s not the case, and your intention is to stay out of church altogether, please be advised that this is not in keeping with Scripture. The Bible knows nothing of a “Lone Ranger” Christian. Please give my article Basic Training: 7 Reasons Church is Not Optional and Non-Negotiable for Christians a read.


I have a question regarding the Cruciform Conference that you’ll be speaking at. There is only one person I’ve heard use that term “cruciform” before and it was Ann Voskamp. What does it mean exactly? Also curious what you’ll be addressing there?

I actually had a couple of ladies ask me this question after I announced that I would be speaking at the Cruciform Conference this fall. I am so glad you asked rather than wondering if it had something to do with false doctrine!

The word “cruciform” simply means “cross-shaped“. I’m really excited to be speaking at a “cross-shaped” conference, where all of the teaching will center around the cross – we can’t let false teachers have all the good words! :0)

Also, lest anyone mistakenly think I will be teaching men at this co-ed conference, I will not. I will not be teaching any of the main sessions. I will be teaching two breakout sessions for women:

Faithfully Fighting Feminism:
Fighting the Good Fight by Walking Out Biblical Womanhood
and
Hooked on a Feeling: Living by God’s Word Instead of Our Emotions

Get your tickets quickly since space is already filling up! (This would make a great Father’s Day present!)

 

 


My church recently started having yoga classes. I spoke to my pastor about it and he didn’t see a problem with it because they use Bible verses and don’t use the lingo typically used in yoga. But they use the word yoga to promote their classes. Do I find a new church?

For those unfamiliar with the theological issues related to yoga, or “Christianized” yoga, as this reader’s church seems to be using, please see my article The Mailbag: Should Christians do yoga?

Since I don’t know all of the issues and circumstances at your church, I can’t definitively tell you whether or not you should leave this church.

If this is the only theologically problematic issue at your church and there are no other doctrinally sound churches within reasonable driving distance of your home, I would lean towards recommending that you stay where you are and wait out this class (it probably won’t last forever), praying your kneecaps off in the meantime, and kindly and gently explaining your biblical reasons for not attending the class to anyone who asks.

If there are multiple theological problems at your church (and I suspect there might be if your pastor sees nothing wrong with yoga) and there are other doctrinally sound churches in your area, I would lean more towards exploring those other options for a church. The Searching for a new church? tab at the top of this page may be helpful for you.

This is something you will need to pray for wisdom about, and possibly seek counsel on from a mature Christian friend. Of course, if you are married, you and your husband will need to discuss and pray about it together, and you will need to respect his final decision on the issue.


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

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Voice of Reason Radio Podcast Guest Appearance

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Voice of Reason Radio

 

It was such a pleasure to be a recent guest on the Voice of Reason Radio podcast. Chris Honholz, Rich Story, and I chatted about biblical womanhood, women’s ministry, Beth Moore, and more!

Voice of Reason Radio

Click here to listen in…

subscribe to the Voice of Reason Radio podcast, and don’t forget to follow VOR on Facebook and Twitter!


Got a podcast of your own or have a podcasting friend who needs a guest? Need a speaker for a women’s conference or church event? Click the “Speaking Engagements” tab at the top of this page, drop me an e-mail, and let’s chat!

1 & 2 Timothy: Lesson 6

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Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Read 1 Timothy 5

Questions to Consider

If you have completed the Imperishable Beauty study, you may wish to look over your notes from lessons 10, 13, and 15, since we examined part of today’s passage (1 Timothy 5) in those lessons.

1. Notice the section heading at the beginning of this chapter and be reminded of the purpose and audience of this epistle. Who is the individual Paul is primarily addressing? What is his position in the church? What do these instructions pertain to?

2. How does God instruct Timothy (and every pastor) to treat the older/younger men and older/younger women he shepherds? (1-2) How do these instructions, if followed, benefit and protect the pastor, the church at large, and individual church members? Give a practical example of how a pastor could treat an older man, a younger man, an older woman, and a younger woman the way this passage instructs.

What does this passage not mean? For example – what if an older man is living in open sin? Does verse 1 mean the pastor should not confront him about that? What if a pastor is single and he and a woman five years his junior desire to get married? Does verse 2b prohibit that? Is there anything else this passage does not mean? Explain your answers with applicable Scripture.

3. Examine verses 3-16. What is the two word phrase used in both verse 3 and verse 16, that “bookends” this passage? Make a list of the things that qualify a woman as “truly” a “widow”. (4-16a) Now, go back over your list and highlight the character traits and activities that a godly woman will be exemplifying or practicing, and the ungodly traits and activities she will avoid, even before she becomes a widow. How can you continue to, or begin to, exemplify or practice each of these godly traits and activities and avoid the ungodly ones?

Compare the list of personal requirements and character qualifications of those who are “truly widows” (3-16) with the list of personal requirements and character qualifications for pastors and deacons in 3:1-13. What are the similarities and differences? How does this speak to the necessity of these men and women leading by setting a godly example in their character and practices for the rest of the church, and the rest of the church following their example? Explain how the role of leading by example is a vital role of leadership women must carry out in the church. How can women and men in the church learn from a godly woman who sets a good example?

What are the examples God gives of things women should be busying themselves with (14,16) in order not to fall into sin and set a bad example (11-13,15)?

4. Note how many times Paul speaks of the family’s duty to care for their widowed family members in 3-16. What are the various responsibilities of the family that he mentions? How are godly women particularly well suited to this kind of ministry? (16) What is the role of the pastor (7,9,11) and the church (16b) in this passage?

5. In 1 Timothy 2, (lesson 3, link above) God explained the two ways women may not minister in the church. What are those two ways? In 5:3-16, God lists many ways women can and must minister in the church. Make a list of each of those ways, and give a practical example of how a woman could carry out each of those ways in the church today (ex: What might “washing the feet of the saints” look like in the church today?) while still being obedient to God’s instructions for women in chapter 2.

6. Examine verses 17-20. Explain the church’s responsibilities regarding godly elders who righteously carry out their duties (17-18) as well as the church’s responsibilities regarding elders who persist in sin (19-20). (Use your cross-references.) Compare the instructions in verses 19-20 to the current idea in some corners of evangelicalism of “touch not My anointed“. How would you refute this false teaching from verses 19-20?

7. Explain the meaning of the charge God gives in verse 21, and the gravity and weightiness it conveys to pastors. Make a mental note of this, as this kind of charge will come up again in 1&2 Timothy.

8. After the weighty charge of verse 21, do the rapid fire instructions in verses 22-25 seem like a “P.S.” (and a P.P.S., a P.P.P.S, etc.) to a letter? Explain each instruction and why it was important to Paul and to the Holy Spirit to make sure it was included.


Homework

Think about a recent, sinful, evangelical “current event” (or an incident from your own church) you’re familiar with. For example: the egalitarian movement, a pastor falling into sin and having to step down, sexual abuse in the church, pastors spiritually abusing (intimidation, anger, threats, manipulation, etc.) their church members or congregation, false doctrine in the church, etc.

How could obedience to one or more of God’s instructions to pastors and to the church (from today’s lesson or previous lessons) have partially or completely prevented this incident?


Suggested Memory Verse

Throwback Thursday ~ How a Little Acorn Helped Reassure a Nut Like Me

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It’s a midweek mixup! :0) Due to my family’s schedule this week, I’m changing up the blog schedule just a little. Throwback Thursday will be today, and our 1 Peter Bible study lesson will be Thursday. Sorry for any inconvenience.

Originally published September 27, 2016

acorn-1030819_1280

There are two kinds of people in this world, throwers and savers (or hoarders, if your saving has breached the clinical level). I’m a thrower married to a saver, which means I have thrown out some stuff I later wished I’d kept, and my husband has saved a lot of stuff we haven’t used in ages and probably never will. But, recently, I came across something I’m really glad I kept all these years.

I was going through a box of old papers, happily doing my “thrower” thing, when I discovered a manilla folder marked, in my handwriting, “Michelle’s Misc. Creative Writing.” Whatever it was, I didn’t remember saving the folder, nor what it might contain. I opened it up to find a two inch thick sheaf of, well…my miscellaneous writings from years gone by. Sermon notes, creative writing assignments and essays for English classes, poems, song lyrics, short stories, even what looked like the manuscript to a devotional I’d started on.

Fortunately, I had dated most of the papers, so I could see that the bulk of them were written when I was between the ages of about 14 to 21. As I leafed through pages of adolescent script alternating with dot matrix printing, I started noticing a common thread. Nearly all of this writing was about God, faith, the Bible, worship, wanting to know Him more. To be sure, the faith was childlike (if not downright childish), and the theology was often immature and somewhat unbiblical.

But it was there. And all these years I’d wondered whether or not that faith had existed back then at all.

You see, I was raised in a Christian home, and, although I was most definitely a depraved little wretch, my outward behavior was fairly decent compared with some of the other kids my age. I got good grades, never had behavior problems in school, was at church every time the doors were open, never tried sex, drugs, cigarettes, crime, or anything else teens sometimes get into. Overall, I was your basic goodie two shoes. So, when I prayed a prayer for salvation at age 12, there was no great big radical lightning bolt change in my life. Things continued pretty much as usual. Had my heart changed? Looking back all those years later as an adult with terrible recollective abilities, I couldn’t really remember.

But as I skimmed through page after page of longing for God, love for God, wanting to please God, something I told a reader not long ago -who was concerned she might not be saved – hit me like a ton of bricks:

Lost people don’t have that kind of “want to.”

I didn’t have all my doctrine straight or walk in Christian maturity, and I wouldn’t have known an apologetic from an apostate, but I wanted God. I loved Him as best I knew how at the time. I had that “want to.” I was saved. God had used a dusty box of old papers to reassure me and put those doubts to rest. It was one of those precious moments alone with the Lord that you never forget.

So to sort of celebrate that little moment in my walk with the Lord, I wanted to share with you one of the poems I found in that folder. It was undated, but I think I wrote it when I was in high school or college. Now, I’m just going to warn you up front, it’s long and it’s lame and it’s (a)corny, and some of the cadence is off and so is the doctrine, and it just plain needs a lot of editing. But I had a good laugh over it, and I thought you might, too. (Hint- it’s funnier if you read it out loud.)

I Am a Little Acorn

I am a little acorn,
A fact that’s plain to see,
But remember that the might oak
Was once a nut like me.

When I was a baby bud,
I burst forth from a limb,
I grew a little every day,
Out from my little stem.

As I grew older day by day,
An identity crisis hit me.
I searched my heart and searched my soul
To find out just what I should be.

I did not want to be a nut.
I cried, “I cant! I won’t!”
Because sometimes you feel like a nut,
Sometimes you don’t.

I tried to be a button,
And a rolling tumbleweed.
I tried to be a jelly bean,
But still did not succeed.

Oprah, Geraldo, Sally, and Phil*
All let me spill my guts.
“Something other than an acorn?” they asked,
“You can’t! You must be nuts!”

My fame and fortune quickly spread,
I was known both far and wide.
But no one knew my secret dark,
I was lost and scared inside.

Then finally, one day, I turned to the Lord,
And cried out with all my might,
“Why, oh why, do I continue to fail?
Why won’t something go right?”

“Remember to whom you are speaking,” said He,
“I am the Great I Am,
But I’m also the root of David,
And the seed of Abraham.”

“From small beginnings come great things,
This fact is tried and true,
The mighty oak could never be,
Without an acorn like you.”

“All are given different gifts,
And must do as best they can,
To find a way to channel them
According to God’s plan.”

“So cheer up little acorn,
And learn the secret known by few:
Be content with what you’re given,
And let God work through you.”

“I’ll be the best acorn ever!” said he.
“I’ll do as God has led.”
Then standing bold and brave and tall,
The acorn proudly said:

“I am a little acorn,
A fact that’s plain to see,
But remember that the mighty oak
Was once a nut like me.”

(*You’ve probably heard of Oprah. Geraldo Rivera, Sally Jessie Raphael, and Phil Donohue all used to host talk shows, too.)

Don’t despair if you’re still a little acorn in your faith. You keep pursuing that “want to” for God, and He’ll grow you into a mighty oak in Christ.

How do I know? Because He’s doing just that for a nut like me. 🌰

Movie Tuesday: Battle for the Minds

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Ladies- did you read yesterday’s Mailbag article, Counter Arguments to Egalitarianism? If not, I would encourage you to read it before watching today’s movie. And if you’re new to the complementarian vs. egalitarian kerfuffle, I would encourage you to read, not only that article, but all of the articles in the “Additional Resources” section of that article as well.

Why?

Because today’s Movie Tuesday movie, Battle for the Minds, approaches the issue from the egalitarian perspective, and you need to be sure you’re firmly grounded in the biblical perspective so that “no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.”

Also, today’s movie is kind of like a homework assignment. How would you apply the complementarian apologetics you learned in yesterday’s article as well as your knowledge of Scripture to the egalitarian arguments and pronouncements being made in this movie?

Battle for the Minds was released on PBS in 1997. It presents the egalitarian viewpoint on the stage of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s transition from theological liberalism to biblical theological conservatism under the then-new leadership of Dr. Albert Mohler, and delves into a bit of the Conservative Resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention around that time as well. (As an aside, I am not familiar with any of the people in the film presented as being on the egalitarian side except for Ann Graham Lotz. I’m only familiar with a few of those on the complementarian side: Albert Mohler, David Miller, and Paige Patterson.)

If you are Southern Baptist, I strongly encourage you to watch and carefully consider these events from our history in light of the battle we are now facing in the SBC concerning the role of women in the church and in the Convention. Because what Nancy Ammerman says at the 37:04 mark is correct. Since all SBC churches are autonomous, many Southern Baptists only concern themselves with their own churches and don’t trouble themselves to worry about what’s going on at the national level. But when you do this, you fail to take into consideration that what’s going on at the national level trickles down to your local church in the form of what’s being taught to your next pastor or staff member at our seminaries; the authors, musicians, and other content creators being sold (and not being sold) at LifeWay; the theology in the Sunday School and VBS curriculum your church uses, etc. It also affects the theology and ecclesiology our IMB and NAMB missionaries and church planters use and teach. And finally, the leadership and issues at the national level are the face the Southern Baptist Convention presents to the world.

But even if you’re not Southern Baptist, you will probably still find this movie informative to the way your own church or denomination is responding to the issue of the biblical role of women in the church.

A couple of things to be on the lookout for, and give consideration to, as you watch Battle for the Minds:

•Notice the amount of Scripture presented in the movie. Is any Scripture presented that backs up the egalitarian view? Is egalitarianism vs. complementarianism presented as a biblical and spiritual issue or an “our position vs. their position” issue?

•Note the sex of each person on the egalitarian side and the sex of each person on the complementarian side. Are any complementarian women presented? Do you think there were absolutely no women on the complementarian side of the issue when these events were transpiring? Do you see how the exclusion of complementarian women in this film gives the subtle illusion that a) all women are egalitarian, and b) the reason men are complementarian is because they’re sexist and trying to protect their power and position – the same argument people like Beth Moore are attempting to make today? Do you think it was sexist to exclude women from the complementarian side?

The Mailbag: Counter Arguments to Egalitarianism

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What are some of your favorite counter-arguments to egalitarian theology? 

Such a great question for a plethora of reasons. One important reason is that it’s a hot topic right now that needs to be dealt with biblically in order to silence the lies and to make onlookers aware that the Bible does address this issue with the correct answer. Another reason is that, when you think through an issue via an apologetics, “point-counterpoint” framework, it really helps solidify in your mind, and give you confidence in, what the Bible has to say about the issue.

So let’s start off with some basics…

If “egalitarian” is a new term for you, let’s nail down what egalitarianism is and what complementarianism is. Both have to do with the issue of women’s roles in the church and in the home.

Egalitarianism is the anti-biblical view that women can do anything men can do in the context of the church and home. Women can be pastors, elders, heads of denominations, preach whenever, wherever, and to whomever they want, and they don’t have to submit to their husbands.

Complementarianism is the biblical view that women and men are of equal value and worth in salvation and in the imago dei, but have different, yet equally important roles in marriage and the church. Complementarians embrace the Bible’s teaching that women are privileged to portray the relationship of the church to Christ by graciously and joyfully submitting to our husbands. Complementarians honor and respect the high calling and unique gifting women have to disciple other women and to raise up the next generation of godly men and women by discipling our own, and other, children. Because this is such a weighty and arduous responsibility, we consider it a blessing that God has not also burdened us with the responsibility to preach, teach the Scriptures to men, or exercise authority over men in the context of the gathering of the church. Rather, we encourage the men who have been given this responsibility, leaving godly women free and unfettered to carry out the ministry God has given us.

Currently, there is a movement afoot to establish a third position regarding this issue. It’s often called soft complementarianism – an attempt to straddle the fence, make everybody in both camps happy, and have your cake and eat it too. There are a variety of beliefs among those who choose this label. Many would argue, for example, that a woman may not hold the office of pastor (i.e. she can’t be on staff as the pastor of a church), but it’s perfectly OK for her to guest preach the Sunday morning sermon. At least on Mother’s Day.

Let’s dispense with soft complementarianism right now. It is a position of compromise between the biblical and the anti-biblical. Compromising with sin has never been a biblical stance for God’s people to take. Ever. The Bible tells us “a little leaven leavens the whole lump.” You don’t have to consider yourself a full-blown egalitarian to infect the church with ungodliness. Just a little compromise, a little leaven, a little dab’ll do ya. And that little dab never makes the church or individual Christians more godly, more biblical, or more Christlike. It always leads to more compromise and greater ungodliness.

Furthermore, we don’t treat other sin and rebellion this way. No one would dream of saying, “I hold to a soft view of adultery. Only actual extra-marital sex is off the table. Kissing, touching, dating other people – that’s all fine.”

For those who would argue that complementarianism vs. egalitarianism is a secondary theological issue, I would argue vehemently that it should not be categorized this way. It is sin. And it is extremely detrimental when high profile complementarians unhelpfully classify it as a “secondary issue”. I know all they mean when they say that is that it is not part of the ordo salutis or a linchpin doctrine of soteriology. But when Christians hear “secondary issue” what they think is, “Oh, this is an issue where both sides have genuine biblical support like pre/post/a- millennialism or credo/paedo baptism. We can just agree to disagree and both sides are biblical.” Nobody thinks that about adultery, murder, gossip, lying or any other sin, and we need to be more careful in our terminology lest we give people an opening to think that way about egalitarianism.

Rebelling against God’s commands regarding the role of women is either a sin or it is not. There is no middle ground, so so-called soft complementarianism is not a biblically legitimate position to take. If you’re a “soft complementarian,” you’re a functional egalitarian. And if you’re a Christian who’s toying with this idea, I urge and encourage you to repent, love Christ and His Word more than you love the world and its ideals, and unashamedly embrace and promote what the Bible says about the role of women.

The next foundational issue we need to explore is whom we’re addressing when we make these apologetic arguments.

There are only two kinds of people in the world: saved people and unsaved people. Which means there are only two kinds of people who hold the egalitarian view: saved people and unsaved people.

The Bible is abundantly clear that saved people have the mind of Christ. That means we think the way Jesus thinks and we view the world and the church the way Jesus views the world and the church. We deny ourselves, putting aside whatever we might want or think, and we submit, as Jesus did, to “It is written…“. Additionally, obedience (or lack thereof) to the commands of Scripture is an indicator of whether or not someone actually belongs to Him. In fact, God says if you claim to be a Christian and you habitually and unrepentantly walk in disobedience to, and rebellion of heart against, His commands, you’re a liar, and you don’t know Christ.

What this means in practical terms when dealing with any biblical issue – egalitarianism, evolution, abortion, homosexuality, etc. – is that a sizable portion of the people on the unbiblical side of the issue are unsaved. Because a saved person has the mind of Christ, she will embrace, believe, and obey God’s Word regarding these issues and come out of these unbiblical camps, and an unsaved person will continue to fight for the unbiblical position. A new or previously poorly discipled Christian may need to be taught what Scripture says about these things, and it may take some time for her to come to grips with God’s commands, but her nature is to fight her flesh to submit to God’s Word, not to make provision for her flesh to fight against God’s Word.

Why do we need to understand this crucial foundational concept in debating this issue? Because people who are unsaved regard the things of God as foolishness and they cannot accept them no matter how much you explain Scripture to them or how much sense you make. This is a spiritual issue that requires a spiritual solution – the Holy Spirit must save the person and open her eyes to the truth of His Word. Often, what the person you’re arguing with needs most is the gospel, not an argument about a theological issue. And you will need to be careful and wise to discern when your apologetics are helpful and effective with someone who truly wants to learn and accept the biblical view, and when it’s time to gather up your pearls, step out of the pigpen, and go home until the Holy Spirit does His good work in her heart.

So I guess all of the above would be my primary apologetic argument against egalitarianism: If you’re truly saved, the fruit of your new nature in Christ will be to forsake and repent of any opinions or positions you hold that conflict with Scripture and submit to, love, and obey God’s commands. If you’re not saved, your opinion doesn’t really matter when it comes to how the church is run because the church is the body of Christ – Believers – not the house of unbelief.

Another argument I’m fond of is what I call the “let’s take a stroll through the Bible” argument, because it addresses so many arguments about 1 Timothy 2:12 that it’s almost a “one size fits all” argument:

But the Bible only says one time that women can’t preach to men!

That was just Paul, as a human, saying women can’t teach men, not God.

That passage is about wives taking authority over their husbands, not about women preaching to or exercising authority over men in the church.

That instruction only applied to the women of the Ephesian church at that particular time.

Look at the overall general pattern of male headship and leadership in Scripture. First human created? A man. The Patriarchs? As the word implies – all men. Priests, Levites, Scribes? Men. Heads of the twelve tribes of Israel? Men. Major and minor prophets? Men. All kings of Israel and Judah? Men. Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, and Davidic Covenants? All established between God and men. Authors of Scripture? Men. The forerunner of Christ? John the Baptist – a man. Messiah? A man. All of the apostles? Men. All of the pastors, elders, and deacons of churches in the New Testament? Men. Founder and head of the church? Christ – a man. Leader and head of the family? Men. Now which fits better with this pattern, women preaching to, teaching, and exercising authority over men in the church, or women not preaching to, teaching, and exercising authority over men in the church?

It’s not just one verse. The entirety of Scripture backs up 1 Timothy 2:12. Which means it wasn’t just Paul’s human idea, just for the women of Ephesus, or just about wives and husbands. Male headship and leadership in God’s foundational institutions – family and church – has been God’s idea, God’s plan since the dawn of Creation (as 1 Timothy 2:13-14 clearly explains). It’s much harder for someone claiming to be a Christian to throw out the whole Bible than to sweep one verse aside.

Another argument that often needs to be made is explaining the difference between descriptive and prescriptive passages of Scripture, because one of the most common arguments egalitarians will make is, “Look at Deborah! Look at Priscilla! Look at the women at Jesus’ tomb! Look at the women Paul commends in Romans 16! They were all in some sort of leadership or teaching position, so that means women can do anything in the church that men can do!” No. No it doesn’t.

Broadly speaking, there are two main types of Scripture: descriptive and prescriptive. Descriptive passages describe something that happened: Noah built an ark. Esther became queen. Paul got shipwrecked. These passages simply tell us what happened to somebody. Prescriptive passages are commands or statements to obey. Don’t lie. Share the gospel. Forgive others.

If we wanted to know how to have a godly marriage, for example, we would look at passages like Ephesians 5:22-33, 1 Corinthians 7, and Exodus 20:14,17. These are all passages that clearly tell us what to do and what not to do in order to have a godly marriage.

What we would not do is look at David’s and Solomon’s lives and conclude that polygamy is God’s design for marriage. We would not read about Hosea and assume that God wants Christian men to marry prostitutes. We would not read the story of the woman at the well and think that being married five times and then shacking up with number six is OK with Jesus.

And when looking for instruction about the role of women in the church, we look to clear, prescriptive passages which tell us what to do and what not to do, not descriptive passages about various women in the Bible. Descriptive passages may support, but never trump, the clear instruction of prescriptive passages.

(I’ve addressed each of the women often trotted out in defense of the sin of role-busting in my article Oh No She Di-int! Priscilla Didn’t Preach, Deborah Didn’t Dominate, and Esther Wasn’t an Egalitarian.)

Some try to make the argument that it’s OK for a woman to preach or teach Scripture to men if she’s doing it “under her husband’s/pastor’s authority”.

When God tells us (in context, rightly handled, correct covenant, etc., of course) not to do something and we do it anyway, that is sin, right? Only God has the authority to say what is sin and what is not. No one – not your pastor, your husband, your parents, your best friend, the Pope, nobody – has the authority to tell you that it’s OK to do something God has said is sin. That authority belongs to God alone.

Try inserting any other sin into that situation. Does your husband, pastor, etc., have the authority to tell you it’s OK to lie? Cuss? Covet? Of course not. And why would they even consider doing such a thing?

If you were to ask your husband and pastor to show you from Scripture where God says it’s OK for them to allow you to teach men, they would quickly realize that they are not basing their decision on Scripture (because there is no Scripture that allows them to do this), but on their own opinion that it’s OK.

When God says “no,” no man has the right to say, “yes.” 

And there’s the “You don’t know Greek, so you don’t know what that passage really means. I do.” fallacy.

 

And finally, if a Christian struggles with the biblical argument against egalitarianism, God has graciously given us a real-time, tangible, visible argument against it. Take a look at all the once doctrinally sound Christian churches and denominations that are now apostate – the ones that embrace homosexuality, New Apostolic Reformation heresy, preach morality or liberal politics instead of the gospel, etc. They all followed the same pattern. The very first step they took on the road to apostasy was “soft complementarianism”: letting women teach co-ed Sunday school classes, preach on Mother’s Day, hold committee positions that placed them in biblically improper authority over men, and so on. The next step was full blown egalitarianism: allowing women to be elders, ordaining women as pastors, placing women in unbiblical denominational leadership positions. Next came embracing homosexuality: extending church membership to unrepentant, practicing homosexuals (and now, transgender people), ordaining them, and allowing them to serve in any and every position of church and denominational leadership, including the pastorate. And the final step is abandoning the gospel and the authority and sufficiency of God’s Word altogether. It happened to the Lutherans, the Episcopalians, the Methodists, the Presbyterians, scores of non-denominational churches, and now it’s happening to Southern Baptists. Not a single church or denomination that has embraced egalitarianism has become holier, truer to God’s Word, or more spiritually healthy. They have all ended up dead eventually, and the true Christians in those churches and denominations have left to form biblical churches and denominations.

Egalitarianism is anti-biblical, harmful to men, women, and the church, and dishonoring to God. We may not be able to convince every egalitarian to repent and embrace what God’s Word says about the role of women, but it’s important to think through this issue in a biblical way, and using an apologetic framework is a great way to do that.

Additional Resources:

Rock Your Role Series

Jill in the Pulpit

Oh No She Di-int! Priscilla Didn’t Preach, Deborah Didn’t Dominate, and Esther Wasn’t an Egalitarian

Women Preaching: It’s Not a Secondary Doctrinal Issue

All Things Being Equal

Rock Your Role FAQs

Fencing off the Forbidden Fruit Tree

The Mother of All Rebellions: Having a Woman Preach on Mother’s Day


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

6 Thoughts on Responding to the Death of a False Teacher

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Rachel Held Evans died a couple of weeks ago. Myles Munroe, Paul Crouch, Jan Crouch, Tammy Faye Bakker, and Oral Roberts within the last several years. Eventually, Joel Osteen, Beth Moore, Andy Stanley, Joyce Meyer, Kenneth Copeland, Bill Johnson, and Priscilla Shirer will die.

Death comes for us all, including false teachers and heretics.

And how do we find out, and express our feelings about, the deaths of evangelical celebrities? It used to be via the newspaper and around the water cooler. Now it’s on social media.

There are three typical social media responses when a false teacher dies: Her fans laud her and turn her into a virtual saint. A few who claim to be Christians dance on her grave in celebration. And doctrinally sound Christians are kind of left groping for how to respond, biblically. There’s a feeling of wanting to have compassion for the family who has lost a loved one while not appearing to endorse or approve of the deceased’s false teaching and sin merely because she has died.

So how can we respond biblically to the death of a false teacher?

1.
Distinguish the Biblical Response
from the Cultural Response

“Don’t speak ill of the dead.” Where is this idea taught in Scripture? I can’t find it anywhere, can you? Does that mean we should speak ill of the dead? Of course not, because we don’t find a command to do that in Scripture either. I’m just trying to point out that a lot of the notions we have about death and other issues in life don’t come from the Bible, they come from our culture, etiquette, tradition, etc. If we truly want to respond to a false teacher’s death – or do anything else, really – in a biblical way, we need to be able to separate what the Bible tells us to do from what culture and society tell us is the right thing to do. In all aspects of life, that ability has never been more crucial than it is now.

2.
To Respond or Not to Respond; That Is the Question

There’s absolutely no biblical requirement for anyone to proffer an unsolicited public comment on the death of a false teacher. Or anyone else for that matter. Other than mentioning her name in this article, I have not publicly commented on the death of Rachel Held Evans for several reasons, though I found out about her passing shortly after it happened. My friends Gabe and Elizabeth did decide to comment on her death, and, in my opinion, both did a lovely job. Commenting or deciding not to comment can both be perfectly biblical.

The only time it’s really incumbent upon a Christian to speak to the issue of a false teacher’s death is when someone you know asks you about it directly. And even then, if the person seems to be overwrought with emotion, it might be wisest to simply postpone your comment until after a “cooling off” period has taken place.

3.
How to Respond

Briefly. Because the longer your comment, the greater chance you will either slip into eulogizing the false teacher or, conversely, making unnecessarily inflammatory remarks that will only serve to stir the ire of her family and followers and will make you look like a jerk.

Gently. Because even the gentlest remark is going to pour salt into the wound of someone who’s grieving if you’re not outright praising the deceased. And though “Don’t speak ill of the dead” isn’t a biblical concept, if you’re addressing the followers of a false teacher, you’re probably not dealing with people who are going to split that biblical/cultural hair. If they were overly concerned about distinguishing biblical concepts from worldly concepts, they wouldn’t be following a false teacher in the first place. Be sensitive to their cultural mores of gentle speech in this instance or you surely won’t get a hearing.

Non-speculatively. Because you do not have God’s omniscience, and speculation can serve no helpful purpose. Is it possible God ended the false teacher’s life as judgment for her unbiblical teachings? Yes. It is also possible He ended her life for a completely different reason known only to Him. Is it likely she will be spending an eternity in Hell? Yes. But unless you were at her bedside listening to her blaspheme the name of the Lord with her final breath, you don’t know that for certain.

Evangelistically. Because the greatest thing that could come out of the false teacher’s death, or anyone’s really, is for someone whose ultimate hope was in the hopelessness of false doctrine to find her ultimate hope in Christ.

4.
Prepare for Backlash

One of the reasons I intentionally chose not to comment on Rachel Held Evans’ death is that I knew I would receive tons of vitriolic, possibly even threatening, backlash from her disciples if I said anything about Rachel that wasn’t pure praise of her. At that moment in my week, due to various things going on in my life, I had neither the time nor the spiritual strength to deal with an onslaught like that. It’s not that I was afraid or didn’t know how to answer the barbs I’m sure I would have received, it’s just that it would have been a distraction from other things that were a higher priority in my life than responding to strangers about the death of another stranger.

If you choose to make a non-laudatory statement about the death of a false teacher, even if it’s gentle, compassionate, completely biblical, and annotated with Scripture, you must be prepared to be attacked by her followers. No matter how much the teacher claimed to be a Christian or how much her followers claim she helped them grow in the Lord, the fact of the matter is that the overwhelming majority of people who steadfastly follow, love, and defend false teachers over a long period of time are very likely not saved and will respond to your biblical remarks in the angry, emotional, often abusive way that can be characteristic of lost people.

This, in fact, happened to a Facebook friend of mine who has a growing platform. She made just such a gentle, compassionate, completely biblical statement on Facebook about Rachel Held Evans’ death. I would link to it except that she had to delete the statement because some of Rachel’s followers found pictures my friend had posted of her child and proceeded to make vile remarks and threats against her child.

This is the kind of thing you can expect if you comment with anything but praise for the deceased, so keep it in mind when you’re deciding whether or not to say anything.

5.
Weep

Romans 12:15b tells us to “weep with those who weep.” It is absolutely good and kind to be compassionate toward someone – anyone – who has lost a loved one, whether it’s your brother or sister in Christ, the widow of your atheist nephew, or even the family of a false teacher. Take a look at what Jesus said in Matthew 5:43-45:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

Christians showing compassion to the “evil” and the “unjust” is part of God’s common grace to the world. It is an opportunity to reflect the kindness of God that led us to repentance.

But another reason to be grieved by the death of a false teacher is that she is most likely beginning her eternity of death in Hell. Because people who continually and unrepentantly harden their hearts against God’s Word and godly rebuke and correction are displaying the fruit of an unsaved soul. And that is no reason to celebrate. As Ezekiel tells us:

Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?
Ezekiel 18:23

God does not giddily damn people. His heart is for all to come to repentance and faith in Christ. And that should be our heart as well. Could it be that, in His infinite mercy and grace, God gave that false teacher a final opportunity to repent and trust Him moments before her death? It could, and that is what we should hope for, not only for the false teacher and her eternity, but for the glory it brings to God every time He washes a sinner in the blood of Christ.

6.
Rejoice

But while we demonstrate compassion for the family and grieve the likely condemnation of the false teacher, there is also a righteous, Kingdom-focused, and biblical reason to rejoice: one more voice of blasphemy, lies, and deception has been silenced. At least in the sphere of influence of that particular teacher, no one will be led astray from Christ any longer.

But the wicked will perish;
the enemies of the Lord are like the glory of the pastures;
they vanish—like smoke they vanish away.
Psalm 37:20

God shall arise, his enemies shall be scattered;
and those who hate him shall flee before him!
Psalm 68:1

Will another false teacher step up to take her place? Almost certainly. Where there are those who clamor to have their itching ears scratched, a wicked confidence man will arise to peddle his ungodly snake oil. But for today, for a short time, perhaps, no wares will be sold to this crowd of customers. And that is reason enough to rejoice.

 

Commenting on the death of a false teacher can be a tricky needle to thread. When we choose to do so, let us exercise the common grace of compassion, reflect the kindness of a merciful God, and always be ready to give a reason for the hope that lies within us with gentleness and respect.


Additional Resources

Can a False Teacher be a Christian?

Throwback Thursday ~ Theology Gals Podcast Guest Appearance: Christian Discernment

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Originally published December 15, 2017

Last week, it was my joy to sit down and chat for a while with Coleen Sharp, host of one of my favorite podcasts, Theology Gals. Listen in as we discuss discernment, what it is, how to exercise it biblically, and what to do if you’re seeing false teaching infiltrating your women’s ministry or church.

Episode 44: Christian Discernment with Michelle Lesley

 

Theology Gals has a wonderful Facebook discussion group you can join. Be sure to follow their Facebook and Twitter pages, and don’t forget to subscribe to the Theology Gals podcast!


Got a podcast of your own or have a podcasting friend who needs a guest? Need a speaker for a women’s conference or church event? Click the “Speaking Engagements” tab at the top of this page, drop me an e-mail, and let’s chat!

1 & 2 Timothy: Lesson 5

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Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4

Read 1 Timothy 4

Questions to Consider

1. Study verses 1-5. In what ways does this passage contrast truth with falsehood? List the individual words in these verses that convey the idea of falsehood or dishonesty. List the words that convey the idea of truthfulness. Who is the origin of all falsehood and deception? Compare “deceitful spirits” and “demons” (1) with John 8:44. Who is the origin of truth? Compare the statements about truth in 2b-5 with John 14:6, 17:17.

Recalling that 1 Timothy is a letter breathed out by the Holy Spirit to a pastor about the church, explain why it is important to God, to pastors, and to the church body that the church be a place of truth rather than a place of deception, false teaching, and lies.

2. Examine verse 1. What does it mean that “some will depart from the faith“? Does this mean that some people whom Christ has genuinely saved will lose their salvation?

3. Look closely at the way false doctrine and false teaching are described in verses 1-2. Is Paul wrongly using a “harsh tone” or being “unloving” toward false teachers as some Christians might accuse him of today? (Again, Who breathed out these Scriptures?)

4. Compare 4-5 with 2:9. Is there anything inherently sinful about braided hair, gold, pearls, or an expensive garment – these objects themselves, and/or owning/wearing them? Explain the primacy of the attitude of our hearts when it comes to these objects, marriage, and food (3). What does verse 5 mean when it says that these things are made holy “by the word of God and prayer”? How does this apply to your “relationship” with the things you own, wear, or participate in?

5. What is Paul instructing Timothy to do when he says, “If you put these things before the brothers,” (6)?

6. Examine 6-16. In chapter 3, the Holy Spirit gives a list of character qualifications for pastors – what they are to be. In 4:6-16 the Holy Spirit gives a list of instructions for pastors – what they are to __. Work your way through these verses and make a list of the things the Holy Spirit wants pastors to do. Circle or highlight any of these instructions and principles that do not apply to the laity (Christians who are not pastors). If pastors are supposed to “set the Believers an example” (12) what does that tell us about the need for us to follow the instructions in 6-16 that apply to both pastors and non-pastors? How does 2:11-15 apply to the way women are to follow these instructions? Is there any way in which the qualifications for pastors and deacons in chapter 3 should inform the way in which men follow these instructions? (For example: compare 3:2’s “able to teach” with 4:11’s “teach these things”. If a man is not “able to teach”, should he be in a teaching role in the church?)

7. What metaphor does Paul employ in 6-10 to describe training for godliness? How is spiritual training like physical training? How are they different?

8. Look closely at verse 9. We see this same phraseology four times in 1-2 Timothy. What does this statement mean, and why do you think Paul says it so often?

9. Compare the way Paul again inserts the gospel smack dab into the middle of his instructions to Timothy (10) to the way he has already done this in chapters 1, 2, and 3. How does this motif help us to see that everything we do in the church and in our own lives should revolve around and point back to the gospel?


Homework

Can you think of any churches, denominations, religions, cults, or movements today that “forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods” (3) for its leaders and/or members? Do some research, find out what is forbidden for whom, and examine the major points of the organization’s doctrine (ex: the nature of God, how people can be made right with God, etc.). Does it match up with biblical doctrine?


Suggested Memory Verse

 

Favorite Finds ~ May 14, 2019

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Here are a few of my favorite recent online finds…

“Complementarian interpretation of Scripture holds that God’s creation purpose for man and woman entails equality of individual value but also distinct roles.” Our friends over at Crossway give us 5 Myths about Complementarianism.

 

Image result for taking god at his wordHow about a free book? Here’s the PDF of Kevin DeYoung’s book Taking God at His Word: Why the Bible is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, and What that Means for You and Me.

 

 

 

 

Image result for 50 of all marriages end in divorce“You’ve heard it repeatedly on radio, podcasts, and TV. You’ve read it in various books and articles. You’ve even heard it in your pastor’s sermon. The problem: it’s a lie: 50% of all marriages end in divorce.” The Cripplegate helpfully explains why everything you know about American divorce statistics, including the divorce rate among Christians, is probably wrong in The 50% Lie.

 

Image result for ccef‘No’ to a husband’s advances is a big deal in a marriage. A godly wife can certainly say “no” but she will also be alert to the way her response might be taken by her husband. Understanding and compassion can go a long way at these moments.” CCEF explores the sensitive subject of marital intimacy in “Not tonight dear”… men rejected.

 

On his most recent episode of Ask AnythingDr. Albert Mohler tackles a number of interesting questions, not the least of which is (from a Southern Baptist perspective) Should women preach the Sunday sermon in church? (8:58).