Movie Tuesday: Battle for the Minds

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

 

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?

Advertisements

The Mailbag: Counter Arguments to Egalitarianism

Tags

, , , , , ,

 

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

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

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

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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).

The Mailbag: If someone follows false teachers or teaches false doctrine for a long time, is she saved?

Tags

, , , , , ,

 

I have heard pastors say that believers can sin for a ‘season’ without repentance. In regards to professing believers who follow false teachers, what is a ‘season’? Can they continue following them for months? Years?

Is it possible that someone who is a false teacher is actually saved? Could she truly believe the biblical gospel even though, for decades, she has been terribly mishandling God’s Word, and has been on an increasing trajectory of sin and false doctrine?

I’ve combined two questions for this edition of The Mailbag because they are very closely related, if not, in fact, the same basic question.

I’m glad you asked. This is such an important issue to think through because, unfortunately, we are surrounded by professing Christians walking down these paths.

When I hear people use the the term “season” when referring to the Christian life, it’s been my experience that they usually mean “an indeterminate period of time”. In my mind, a “season” is longer than a couple of weeks, but shorter than several decades. That really narrows it down, doesn’t it? :0) But if you asked a hundred Christians what a season is, you’d probably get a hundred different answers.

When Christians say that someone can sin “for a season” they are likely alluding to the King James translation of Hebrews 11:25:

By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;
Hebrews 11:24-25

You might want to take a look at some other reliable translations alongside the King James. The primary emphasis of the end of verse 25 is that the pleasure our flesh gets from sinning is fleeting, transitory, temporary. But the KJV looks at another petal on the same rosebud and helpfully explains that because that pleasure is temporary, the time spent happily wallowing in that sin should, consequently, also be temporary. The prodigal son is a good example of this. Once he found himself in the pigpen, sin wasn’t much fun any more, and that’s when his thoughts turned to repentance.¹

The next issues we need to tackle are sin and salvation. Here’s what we know:

🕇 Anybody who has a basic grasp of the biblical definition of sin knows that even the most Christlike Christians still sin and that sinless perfectionism is a bunch of hooey and hubris.

🕇 We also know that someone whom God has reached down and genuinely saved cannot lose her salvation due to sin. So the issue we’re grappling with in this particular instance is not whether or not a genuine Christian can lose her salvation by sinning, but whether or not a person who lives in sin for a long period of time is actually saved as she professes to be.

🕇 Finally, we know that there are false converts among us, who appear to be Christians for a “season,” and then walk away from the faith never to return, proving that they were never truly saved in the first place.

So how can we tell the difference between a genuine Christian who is temporarily walking in sin and a false convert who’s on her way out the door?

Most of the time, if she’s still claiming to be a Christian, we can’t know with certainty.

Often, the only way to know for sure that a person who seemed to be a Christian isn’t saved is if she either a) unequivocally renounces Christianity (i.e. “I no longer believe in God,” “I used to be a Christian,” etc.) or b) picks up a new belief system that clearly puts her outside the camp of Christianity, (i.e. “I don’t believe in the Trinity,” “I don’t believe Jesus was God,” “I’m now a Mormon,” etc.). In other words, if a person tells you she’s not a Christian, you can believe her.

But for the person who is sinning, following false teachers, or teaching false doctrine (that doesn’t conflict with biblical soteriology), and claims to be a Christian, it can be harder to tell. Why? Because we aren’t God.

When Samuel was trying to figure out which one of Jesse’s sons to anoint as the next king of Israel, God told him something that’s very instructive to this issue:

When they came, [Samuel] looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:6-7

Regardless of what someone appears or claims to be on the outside, only God knows the heart of each person. And that’s really good news for us, because it relieves us of the burden of having to read another person’s heart. That’s God’s job, not ours.

God judges hearts, we judge behavior.

God has given the church – Believers – the responsibility of seeing to the spiritual welfare of our fellow church members who are sinning. We handle the tangible, visible “action” part of the situation, and God works through our words and actions to handle the invisible, spiritual part of the situation in whatever way He may choose to handle it. And God has given us very clear instructions in Scripture about how to regard, evaluate, and handle these kinds of situations.

🕇 God clearly explains to us throughout Scripture exactly what constitutes sin and false doctrine. We compare what someone is teaching, believing, or doing with the applicable, rightly handled, in context Scriptures. If the person’s teaching, beliefs, or behavior isn’t in compliance with those Scriptures, the person is sinning.

🕇 God vests Christians with the responsibility of lovingly confronting sin in our brothers and sisters and urging them to repent and be reconciled to God, and He explains to us, in Scripture, how to do this.

🕇 God makes clear in John 10 that people He has genuinely saved – His sheep – will not listen to the voice of a stranger (false teacher). I have experienced the truth of this statement myself and seen it play out in the lives of dozens of women over the years: “I went to a women’s Bible study when I was a young Christian where they were using materials by [a false teacher]. I was really uncomfortable because I knew something was wrong, even though I wasn’t sure what it was. Years later, looking back and having learned my Bible, I now see I felt that way because I was being taught false doctrine.”

🕇 The overwhelming majority of the Scriptures dealing with false teachers seem to indicate that unrepentant false teachers are not saved. (I discussed these Scriptures in my article Can a False Teacher Be a Christian?.) But, again, with those who profess to believe the biblical gospel, we cannot know their hearts with certainty, and we do not have to. We evaluate their visible teaching and behavior according to Scripture and carry out the procedures for dealing with sin in the Body that God has prescribed in His Word.

How long of a “season” can someone walk in sin, follow a false teacher, or teach (non-soteriological) false doctrine before we know for certain she’s not saved? The farthest I will go is to say that the longer a person walks in increasing rebellion against God and His Word, the less likely it is that that person is genuinely saved. Saved people hate their sin. Saved people respond humbly and obediently to biblical correction. Saved people repent. But how long that takes varies from individual to individual. It’s impossible to put a number of days, weeks, months or years on it, and with many people who profess to be Christians while doing these things, we may never know this side of Glory.


¹THERE IS DISAGREEMENT AMONG SOME CHRISTIANS AS TO WHETHER THE PRODIGAL SON REPRESENTS A LOST PERSON WHO SUBSEQUENTLY GOT SAVED, OR WHETHER HE REPRESENTS SOMEONE WHO WAS SAVED, FELL INTO SIN FOR A SEASON, THEN CAME TO HIS SENSES AND REPENTED. I TEND TO BELIEVE THE FORMER DUE TO CONTEXT (SEE LUKE 15:1-2). JESUS WAS ADDRESSING PHARISEES (REPRESENTED BY THE OLDER SON) WHO WERE CRITICIZING HIM FOR RECEIVING AND EATING WITH SINNERS (GENTILES; THE LOST). AT ANY RATE, I’M ONLY USING THE PRODIGAL SON HERE TO DEMONSTRATE THE TRANSITORY NATURE OF THE PLEASURE OF SIN.

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.

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

Tags

, , , , ,

When you gaze out across the landscape of the visible church through an earthly, superficial lens, you’ve got to scratch your head and wonder, “Has evangelicalism lost its ever-lovin’ mind?”.

And the answer is to take off those inch-deep dollar store glasses, fire up the electron microscope of Scripture, look long and deep into God’s Word, and reply to yourself, “Of course it has, silly rabbit. What did you expect?”. The Bible is perfectly clear about these things and why they happen.

Exhibit A: The trend in recent years to invite a woman to preach the Sunday morning sermon in church, to the whole congregation (including men) just because it’s Mother’s Day. Not a brief personal testimonythe sermon. This isn’t anything brand new. Hope Adams (though I’m certain she wasn’t the first in this trend) did it at Ed Young, Jr.’s Fellowship Church in 2014. Lisa Harper did it at CrossPoint.tv in 2015. Christine Caine did it at Willow Creek in 2016. Lisa Bevere did it at CRC Cape Town in 2017, and a host of other famous and unfamous women at famous and unfamous churches have been doing it for years, even at churches that normally obey Scripture and don’t let women preach.

This year, Beth Moore has caused quite the stir by hiding in plain sight the fact that she will be preaching the sermondoing Mother’s Day” this coming Sunday, presumably at the Tomball, Texas, campus of the church she attends (founded and pastored by her son-in-law Curtis Jones) Bayou City Fellowship:

I say “hiding in plain sight” because she has given enough of an impression here that she is preaching the sermon to test the waters and see what the reaction will be, but has worded her tweet vaguely enough that if she meets too much resistance she can still decide to back out of preaching, give a brief word of biblically appropriate Mother’s Day greeting or encouragement to the ladies at another point during the service, and come back and claim with wide-eyed innocence that that’s what she meant all along by saying she was “doing” Mother’s Day. (Someone asked Beth point blank, in a subsequent tweet if Beth’s tweet meant that she would be preaching the Sunday service and Beth did not answer her. If she’s not, why not just say so? And if she is and isn’t ashamed of it, why not just say so?)

I say “presumably” at BCF-Tomball because, even though she publicizes specific details about time and place with other speaking engagements, she has not mentioned (at least not anywhere I can find as of the time I’m writing this) the specific church she’s preaching at on Sunday, and the church hasn’t mentioned on their website that she’ll be the guest preacher. Additionally, unlike other speaking engagements Beth does, this speaking engagement is not listed on the calendar of events at her website and she hasn’t mentioned it (other than the tweet above) on social media. With all this “open secrecy” I will be surprised if the video or audio of her sermon is posted on YouTube and/or the church website.

Why all this cloak and dagger about the highest profile woman in the Southern Baptist Convention, possibly in the entirety of evangelicalism, preaching the Mother’s Day sermon?

Because she knows it’s unbiblical. Because we know it’s unbiblical. And it doesn’t take an electron microscope to see it. It’s right there, in black and white, jumping off the pages of Scripture:

I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 1 Timothy 2:12

It couldn’t be more clear. And for pastors who ought to know better to either fall prey to or intentionally perpetuate the serpentine seduction of “Did God really say you can’t preach?”, using Mother’s Day as an excuse to induce a woman to sin by having her deliver the sermon is a slap in the face – to God, to the church, and to women.

What do his actions say to God? “I don’t like Your way and I won’t submit to it. I don’t trust that Your way is right regardless of what the world says. I’ll do what’s right in my own eyes.” It’s the lesson his church learns from his actions as well.

But why is inviting a woman to preach an affront to Christian women? Take a stroll down to verse 15 of 1 Timothy 2:

Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.

Not only does the pastor who invites a woman to preach adulterate the role God has set aside specifically for men, he also denigrates one of the good and holy roles God has specifically and intentionally set aside for women: the role of literal, and spiritual, mother.

Eve shattered God’s perfect, unique design for women by allowing herself to be seduced into rebellion. But are we daughters of Eve forever doomed to bear the shame and guilt of her sin, never to have a role in building the Kingdom? Pariahs, to be shunned and shut out of God’s plan? No, praise God! Through the cross, the good works Christ has ordained for Christian women to do – including mothering our own children and being spiritual mothers to our daughters in the faith – redeem the prestige of women. Mothering, in every sense in which God intended it, raises the role of women back to its rightful place in God’s plan.

And we don’t need men – especially men who are supposed to be rightly leading God’s people – to come along and entice us to mess that all up again.

But that’s exactly what’s happening.

When a pastor invites a woman to sin by taking over the pulpit, he drags her and the women of his church right back to post-Fall Eden. He trashes the rank and repute of our God-given high and holy role of mother and implicitly says Being a woman isn’t good enough. You have to steal the role of men to be valued and esteemed. 

Ladies, he’s wrong.

We don’t need to be second rate imitations of men in order to “count”. We need to be first rate, full throttle, take it to the limit women of God. God loves us and values us so much more than to give men a special and amazing role and leave us without an equally special and amazing, yet totally distinct, role. The God who spoke the universe into existence and planned out an unparalleled purpose for every single plant, animal, bacterium, and every other atom of the cosmos, did not leave the queen of His creation roleless. He did not bring us into being only to toddle along after the Hairy Ones trying to copy their every move. How unloving of God, and devaluing to women, would that be? Why would you want to act like a man when God blessed you with the gift of being a woman?

If, by God’s good Providence, you’ve “stumbled across” this article and you’re a woman who has been invited to preach, I plead with you: don’t buy the lie. Say no. Your Savior has a whole treasure chest of good works for you to do as a woman. You are worth infinitely more to Him as the woman He created you to be than you are to the world, or a worldly church, as a cheap knock-off of a man.

Let us be the mothers our own children need, raising up a godly seed unto the Lord. Let us be the spiritual mothers longed for by younger women in the faith, daughters orphaned by Christian women who have abandoned them to take on the role of men. The practice of denigrating women, devaluing our God-given role, disobeying God, and darkening the understanding of the church by inviting women to sinfully take the pulpit must stop in the house of God and be replaced by strong godly women, unafraid and unashamed to flourish in the precious role our Lord has blessed us with.

Especially on Mother’s Day.


Additional Resources:

Beth Moore vs. Owen Strahan on WWUTT Podcast
(Related links):
Michelle Lesley’s Twitter thread on Beth’s Sunday sermon preaching
Beth Moore’s Twitter response to Midwestern Seminary professor Owen
Strahan’s article on biblical complementarianism

Divine Order in a Chaotic Age: On Women Preaching by Owen Strahan

Throwback Thursday ~ Equipping Eve Podcast Guest Appearance: The Church

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

Originally published March 2, 2018

 

Several weeks ago, I had the most fun ever sitting down and talking with my friend Erin Benziger of the Equipping Eve podcast and blog about the church, its joys and challenges, and our roles as church members. 

Click here to listen.

Listen in and let us know what you think, or suggest a topic for a future episode. Subscribe to No Compromise Radio (Equipping Eve’s parent network) on iTunes so you won’t miss future episodes of Equipping Eve. And don’t forget to follow Equipping Eve 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 4

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3

Read 1 Timothy 3

Questions to Consider

Question 1 is drawn from lesson 14 of my Imperishable Beauty study of biblical womanhood. If you have completed that study, you may wish to review your notes from lesson 14.

1. Recall that when the Bible was written, there were no chapter and verse numbers. (Those were added much later.) First Timothy would have read like one long, continuous letter or e-mail. So let’s reconnect the end of chapter 2 to the beginning of chapter 3. Click here, then click on the “options” icon and uncheck the box next to “verse numbers”.

Now read the passage, noting the flow of thought and how the end of chapter 2 is interconnected with chapter 3. What is the main idea of this passage? How does this passage demonstrate that God views both men and women as having important roles to play in the life of the church in Timothy’s day and now? Is the role of men or the role of women discussed first in this passage? How could the phrase “ladies first,” the idea of chivalry, and the biblical concept of servanthood describe this passage? Describe how men biblically filling out their role of leadership is actually serving the women (and other men) of the church.

(OK, now click the verse numbers back on and return to 1 Timothy 3 – link above.)

2. What is an overseer? Name two terms we more commonly use today for the office of overseer. What is a deacon? Read Acts 6:1-6. What was (and is today) the main duty of the pastor/elder versus the main duty of the deacon?

3. Make two 4-column charts, one for pastors/elders, one for deacons. In the first column of each chart, list each qualification for the office. In the second column, explain what that qualification means. (For example: What does it mean to be “sober-minded” or “double-tongued”? In the third column, explain why this qualification is important in the character of the man and/or in carrying out the duties of the office. In the fourth column, place a check mark if this is a requirement for both pastor/elder and deacon. Which of the qualifications are common to both offices? Which are different? Explain the reasons for the commonalities and differences in qualifications. How is it beneficial to the church for men in these offices to have these qualifications?

4. Describe how verses 14-16 could serve as the key verses or a summary statement for the books of 1&2 Timothy. Closely examine the two parts of verse 15. Which is the “what to do” part, and which is the “why we’re to do it” part? If 15 tells us the “what” and the “why,” what does 16 tell us?

5. As you’ve read through Old Testament books, have you ever noticed how many times God reminds His people of who He is and what He has done when He’s speaking with them? Refresh your memory, and compare this OT way of God with the NT way we’ve seen God remind His people in 1 Timothy of who Jesus is, and that every “what,” “how,” and “why,” of His instructions always points back to the “Who” of Jesus.


Homework

1. If you’d like to study more about the differences between God’s role for women in the church and men in the church, check out these articles:
Rock Your Role FAQs
Jill in the Pulpit
The Mailbag: Deaconesses…That’ll Preach!

2. Do some research on how your church selects men for the position of pastor, elder, and deacon. Are the qualifications in 1 Timothy 3 (and Titus 1) the highest priority in the selection process? Are there other qualifications (seminary degree, age, etc.) your church requires for these offices? Are these extra qualifications biblical and wise, or unbiblical?


Suggested Memory Verse