Mailbag

The Mailbag: Female Pastors- False Teachers or Just Sinning?

Originally published July 24, 2017

 

Is a woman who is in the position of pastor to be considered a false teacher or merely disobedient to The Word of God? Some churches in my area place pastors’ wives in the position of “co-pastor.” Would she have to be teaching some false doctrine to be considered a false teacher or does the fact that she is in the position in the first place make her a false teacher?

I love it when I hear from women – like the reader who sent in this question – who are thinking deeply and seriously about the things of God. It brings me so much joy to see God working in the hearts and minds of Christian women.

Before we start parsing these ideas out, let’s bottom line this thing. Scripture is both explicitly and implicitly clear that women are not to serve as pastors. Regardless of whether we call what she’s doing sin or false teaching, it is definitely unbiblical for a church to install a woman in the position of pastor, and for the woman to accept the position. So the bottom line is, it’s wrong and nobody should be attending such a church.

Now, onward and upward with the parsing…

The term “false teacher” is generally reserved for people (male or female) who actually teach – via speaking or writing – false doctrine. So if you if you want to get technical about it, if the woman in question simply holds the position of pastor but either does not preach/teach at all or does not preach/teach any sort of false doctrine, she, and the church that installed her, are simply sinning.

But there are a few more things to consider here:

♦ I’m familiar with various churches and denominations (none of which teach sound doctrine, including the specific ones the reader mentioned in her original e-mail) where a husband and wife serve as “co-pastors,” but I’ve never seen one in which the wife doesn’t preach/teach at all. It may not be often, but preaching is seen as part of her duties, otherwise, why would she be considered a co-pastor? (I suppose there could be churches where “co-pastor” is merely an honorific for the pastor’s wife, it’s just that I’ve never seen one.)

♦ Assuming preaching is one of her duties, I find it very difficult to imagine a woman who: sees nothing wrong with female pastors, is married to and pastored by a man who sees nothing wrong with female pastors, and attends a doctrinally unsound church that sees nothing wrong with female pastors, would get up in the pulpit and preach sound doctrine. Again, I suppose it could happen in theory, but how likely is it?

♦ As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, women teaching men and women teaching false doctrine are highly correlated. I have researched scores of women teachers. Every single one of them who unrepentantly teaches men also teaches false doctrine in some other aspect of her theology (usually Word of Faith or New Apostolic Reformation). In other words, if a woman teaches men, you can just about take it to the bank that she also teaches false doctrine.

♦ Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that this woman gets up and preaches sound doctrine every time she’s in the pulpit. So what? She’s still sinning by preaching to men, regardless of the content of her “sermon.” I have known of Reformed male pastors who preach perfectly sound doctrine, yet litter their sermons with foul language. I’ve known of other pastors who delivered biblical sermons every Sunday, but were sleeping with women in their congregations or were addicted to pornography or were molesting their own children. The point is- sound doctrine is not the only qualification for pastors. There are a number of observable and behavioral requirements for pastors listed in 1 Timothy and Titus – one of which is being a man – and violation of any of these requirements disqualifies a person from the role of pastor.

♦ While, technically, we would not label a female pastor a false teacher unless she’s overtly teaching false doctrine, the fact remains that she is teaching something unbiblical every time she stands in the pulpit. She is teaching, via her behavior, that it’s OK for her, her church, the church at large, the women of her congregation, and Christian women everywhere, to live in open rebellion against this portion of Scripture. Any pastor who, by his (her) own behavior, leads people to believe it is OK to ignore or rebel against God’s word has disqualified himself (herself) from the office of pastor.


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.

Bible Study

You’re Not as Dumb as You Think You Are: Five Reasons to Put Down that Devotional and Pick Up the Actual Bible

Originally published July 17, 2014

Bible Five Reasons

As a women’s Bible study author and teacher, I have the unique privilege of talking to women from all kinds of backgrounds about their spiritual lives. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had women share with me that they didn’t grow up in church, or they grew up in a church that “didn’t allow” them to read the Bible, and now they have to use a Bible study or devotional book in their quiet time or they’re afraid they won’t be able to understand the Bible. My heart goes out to these ladies because they desperately want to learn from God’s word, but somewhere along the way, someone or something has convinced these perfectly intelligent women–I haven’t met a dumb one, yet– that they’re not good enough or smart enough for God’s word.

As Colonel Potter used to say:

ColPotter MM

Ladies, you are not dumb. God created you smart enough to understand the Bible, and He created the Bible to be understandable. He loves you and wants you to read, embrace, and apply His word to your life. So don’t be afraid to throw that Daily Bread out the Open Windows of your Upper Room and read a chapter out of your Bible instead. Why?

1. Because you need spiritual nutrition, not mind candy.
The other day I was asked my opinion of a popular women’s daily devotional web site. I read a few of the devotions, and the basic format of what I found was a Bible verse (or worse, part of a Bible verse) followed by an inspiring or poignant personal story. Frequently, the Bible verse had little or nothing to do with the story. There’s nothing wrong with reading a good story, but that’s not the same thing as studying God’s word. Other “Bible” studies are built largely on the author’s opinions. You’ll find that I think… or I believe… far outnumber God’s word says… (quoted verbatim, in context, and with a chapter/verse reference). Still others are basically advice or “life tips” books.

Don’t let the fact that a book, magazine, or website bills itself as a “Bible study” or a “devotional” fool you. If all you’re reading is the author’s unsubstantiated opinions, advice, or anecdotes from her (or someone else’s) life, you are studying her story, not God’s story.

There are many good, doctrinally sound studies out there that can be a fine supplement to your regular study of God’s word, and there are many more “Bible studies” and devotionals that are merely feel-good stories, or worse, contain teaching that actually conflicts with the Bible. But how will you know the difference if you don’t know what God’s word says by reading it?

If you don’t know enough of what God’s word says to use it as your measuring stick for other books, you’ll end up doing the same thing a child would do when offered anything in the world that he wants to eat. He’ll choose what looks and tastes good (which might be candy or it might be poison) instead of what’s good for him. When you pick up a Bible study or devotional, you might not know what you’re getting, but when you pick up your Bible, you can be sure you’re getting the very words of God, and that’s what your spirit needs to feed on to grow up healthy.

2. Because King James has been dethroned.
No disrespect intended. The King James Version of the Bible is a good translation, and the language is beautiful, but if you have trouble with 1611 English, it’s not the only game in town anymore. Some of our modern translations (please note: that’s translations not paraphrases) are actually more accurate than the KJV because thousands more biblical manuscripts have been discovered since it was first published, allowing translators to be more precise. Two of these, which I highly recommend, are the New American Standard Bible (NASB) and the English Standard Version (ESV).

If you can read books, recipes, magazines, instructions, and Facebook (good heavens– if you can decipher certain Facebook posts, you can comprehend anything), and understand them, there is a Bible translation out there that you can understand. You can even check most of them out for free at BibleGateway.com.

3. Becase the Holy Spirit promised to help you.
I always find it heartwarming to hear someone say, “Before I was saved, I read the Bible, but it didn’t make any sense to me. But now when I read it, I get it!” What changed? The Holy Spirit now lives inside that person. He convicts us of sin, leads us to love the things of God, and shapes us to be more like Christ. One of the ways He does that, according to 1 Corinthians 2:14-15, John 14:26, and 1 John 2:27 and other passages, is that He helps us understand and apply God’s word to our lives.

Before you start reading your Bible, take a moment to pray, confess and repent of your sin, and ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand and obey His word. He’ll do it, because He keeps His promises.

4. Because you can get by with a little help from your friends.
While the Holy Spirit illumines our understanding of the Scripture, it’s both immediate and a process, so sometimes, you’ll run across a verse that stumps you, a word you don’t understand, or passages that seem to conflict with each other. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit is (and was) at work helping other godly men and women to understand the Scriptures, too, and one of the ways He can help you is through their study and hard work.

Cross References:
Take a look at your Bible. See any little superscript numbers or letters in the text? Find the corresponding letter or number, and you’re likely to see the reference for another related Bible verse. Look it up. Clear passages of Scripture interpret unclear passages, and it will probably shed some light on what you’re finding confusing.

Study Bibles:
I almost hesitate to recommend study Bibles because there are so many shoddy ones out there, but if you can find a good one they are extremely helpful. Good study Bibles contain the entire text of the Bible plus notes and explanations on most of the verses. They also often contain historical, cultural, and background information on each book and author, maps, charts, glossaries, etc. As to the shoddy ones, generally speaking, stay away from “theme” Bibles (the Bible for teachers, for athletes, for petroleum engineers who eat waffles for breakfast–yes, I’m kidding– the environmental Bible, the NASCAR Bible, the Duck Dynasty Bible– no, I’m not kiding), and from any Bible whose title contains a televangelist’s name (such as the Bibles T.D. Jakes, Joyce Meyer, and Joel Osteen have put out).

For my “hard copy” Bible, I use and strongly recommend the MacArthur Study Bible. It is my understanding that the Lutheran Study Bible and the ESV Study Bible are also very good, although I have not personally had a chance to check them out myself. (I do not, however, recommend the ESV Women’s Study Bible.) And there are some phenomenal (and free!) study Bible apps out there. I absolutely LOVE the Faithlife Study Bible and the Bible study app from Olive Tree.

Commentaries, Dictionaries, and Bible Study Helps
Commentaries are a Bible scholar’s written explanation of Scripture. Bible dictionaries will help you with definitions of certain words and phrases. And there are many other notes, outlines, and other Bible study helps you can use to better your understanding of Scripture. The resources page at BibleGateway.com contains several of these, including Matthew Henry’s commentary (my favorite). The Christian Classics Ethereal Library (CCEL) has a treasure trove of thousands of resources to help you study. And Logos Bible Software has a great free app that has dozens of resources. (As always, read discerningly. Every now and then you may find a resource at one of these sites that isn’t doctrinally sound.)

5. How badly do you really want this, anyway?
Nobody ever won a medal at the Olympics by practicing her sport for five minutes a day. Edison didn’t invent the light bulb by messing around in his garage for a few hours on the weekend. And, despite the titles of some Christian books, nobody ever grew to spiritual maturity by spending five minutes a day reading a devotional.

Think about the things you spend your time on. Work, cooking, cleaning, TV, social media, novels… If asked, we would probably all say that our relationship with Christ is more important than any of these things, but do our day planners reflect that?

Anything worth having is worth investing time and effort into. It’s worth working at it and sharpening your skills. And nothing–nothing–is more worthwhile than growing closer to Christ. Is Christ worth some time and effort to you?

So, ladies, this is probably going to sound strange coming from a women’s Bible study author*, but you don’t need my book, or anybody else’s, to study the Bible. Just pick up the Scriptures, pick a book, start reading at the beginning, and keep going until you get to the end. People did that for thousands of years before Bible studies hit the scene. They did just fine, and you can too.


*My women’s Bible study, Jacob, Journaling the Journey is no longer in print, and that’s a good thing! I wrote it before learning good hermeneutics and how to handle God’s Word properly. You can probably still find copies of it at online merchants, but I would not recommend that you buy or use it. If you want a good Bible study, the best thing is to simply pick up the Bible and study it for yourself. Right now, I have no plans to rewrite Jacob for future re-release.
Ezekiel Bible Study

Ezekiel ~ Lesson 10

 

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Read Ezekiel 20-21

Questions to Consider

1. Review your notes from last week’s lesson and be reminded of the things that lead into, and set the stage for, this week’s passage.

2. Read 20:1-44. Outline the main “bullet points” of what is happening in this passage:

20:1-

20:2-3-

20:4-29

20:30-44

3. In 20:5-29, God takes the elders of Israel who have come to inquire of Him via Ezekiel (20:1) on a “stroll down memory lane”. Summarize each of the historical events God reminds them of:

20:5-10-

20:11-17-

20:18-26

20:27-29

Do you notice a pattern, or cycle, to the interactions between God and His people?

God does _______.

Israel does _______.

God’s anger is kindled.

God does _______.

How does this pattern fit each of the events above?

Do you notice any recurring actions or reactions/responses on the part of God or Israel in these passages? Explain.

What are the three main sins of Israel that God highlights in these passages? (20:16) Why does Israel commit the same sins over and over again? Do you find yourself committing the same sins again and again? Why?

In 20:8-9, 13b-14, and 21b-22, what is God’s initial posture toward Israel’s sin? But then what does He actually do? Why? Was God showing mercy to Israel because they “deserved” it? What does it mean that God acted the way He did “for the sake of His name”? What kind of reputation did God want to have in the eyes of the pagan nations surrounding Israel? Why?

One of the heretical teachings of the New Apostolic Reformation is that God is hamstrung by our actions. Like, if we have all of our spiritual ducks in a row, God is obligated to do what we want Him to do, as though He had no choice in the matter. Explain how the inverse in this passage (Israel sins, so God is obligated to punish them, but, instead, shows them mercy for His name’s sake) disproves this idea. Aside from God’s promises, do our actions absolutely determine God’s actions in a given situation? Why not?

4. In 20:30-44, God turns from His recitation of history to presently addressing the elders of Israel who have come to inquire of Him. Explain why He says they may not inquire of Him. (20:30-31) Compare 20:30-44 with 20:4-29. What is the point of comparison God is trying to drive home to these elders? (20:36) How does this fit with the cliche “Those who will not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”? In what ways have you learned from your past experiences with sin so that you will not repeat those sins?

5. Read 20:45-21:7

To what does God tell Ezekiel to prophesy in 20:46 and 21:2? Why would God tell him to prophesy against geographical locations instead of people? What does He mean by doing so?

Meditate on 21:6-7 for a moment- how should Ezekiel’s response inform the way we regard those who are lost and facing God’s judgment in Hell? How could this kind of regard for the lost impact our evangelism?

6. Read 21:8-32

Consider God’s “father-child” relationship with Israel. What does it mean that Israel has “despised the rod” (21:10b, 13)? Since they despised the rod, they will receive the ________. What does the sword (21:9-17) represent?

Whose “sword” will God use to exercise His wrath against Israel? (21:18) Who else is God using their sword against? (21:20). When God tells Ezekiel to “mark a way” and “make a signpost” for the sword (21:19-20), what does that tell you about His attitude regarding the Babylonians laying siege to Israel and the Ammonites? What will be the outcome for Israel? (21:24-27) For the Ammonites? (21:28-32)

7. Compare God’s discipline of Israel in these two chapters with God’s discipline of Christians. What are some similarities and/or differences you see? What do these chapters teach us about sin, God’s discipline of His children, His wrath against sin, and His desire that His sinning children be reconciled to Him?


Homework

• Add 20:12, 20, 26, 38, 42, 44, 21:5, 16, 22 to your “And you/they shall know that I am the Lord” list. Write down who will know that He is the Lord, what will cause them to know He is the Lord, and why God wants them to know He is the Lord.

• Ezekiel 21:32 says of the Ammonites: “You shall be no more remembered, for I the Lord have spoken.” In some instances, God has said this kind of thing about a certain people group or nation, and, to this day, no historical or archaeological evidence of their existence can be found outside of Scripture. Do a little research. Has any historical or archaeological evidence been found for the Ammonites?


Suggested Memory Verse

Bible Study

Throwback Thursday on Wednesday! ~ Rightly Dividing: 12 Do’s and Don’ts for Effective Bible Study

Family stuff, church stuff, a hurricane in the Gulf, and a speaking engagement this coming weekend, means I needed a little flexibility in the blog schedule, so I’m flip-flopping Wednesday and Thursday this week. Today, I hope you’ll enjoy this Throwback Thursday article, and, Lord willing, Lesson 10  of Ezekiel will be coming your way tomorrow.

Originally published August 19, 2014

12 dos donts

Bible study. As Christians we want to do it, we know we’re supposed to do it, but have you ever stopped to think that there are right ways and wrong ways to do it? Let’s take a look at a few do’s and don’ts of “rightly dividing God’s word” in Bible study.

Do use a good translation, not a paraphrase. You want to get as close to the original wording as possible. There are a number of easy to read, accurate translations out there. The English Standard Version (ESV) and New American Standard Bible (NASB) are two of the best. Try some translations on for size at BibleGateway.com.

Do read the entire Bible from cover to cover at least every few years. It will give you a better understanding of the “big picture” of the Bible and how all the little pieces inside it fit together. (I highly recommend a chronological reading plan since the books of the Bible aren’t always arranged chronologically.)

Don’t neglect the textual context. Every Bible verse has what I call a “micro-context” (how it fits in with the verses immediately before and after it) a larger context (how it fits in with the chapter and book it’s in) and a “macro-context” (how it fits in with the big picture of the Bible). When we fail to take verses in context, we are mishandling and misappropriating God’s precious and holy word.

Do consider the cultural context. Who wrote the passage, and what do we know about him and his perspective? To whom was the passage written- Jews or Gentiles? Those under the Law or those under grace? Men or women? Pastors or lay people? How did the culture at the time view the topic the passage is about, God, Judaism, the church, etc.? At what period in history, in which country, and in what language was the passage written? A good study Bible or study Bible app can be a tremendous help here.

Don’t confuse descriptive texts (passages that describe something that happened to somebody) with prescriptive texts (a command we’re to obey). Just because you read that Noah built an ark or that Judas went out and hanged himself, doesn’t mean that God is telling you to do the same (thank goodness!). Those are descriptive passages. God is simply telling the story of what happened to someone else because it somehow fits into His bigger story of redemption.

Do consider the type of literature and literary devices you’re reading. Is this book of the Bible history? Poetry? Law? Prophecy? Epistle? Is the particular passage a song, metaphor, hyperbole, comparison, allegory, parable? The Bible uses various vehicles to drive truth home, and they must all be understood in different ways.

Don’t feel like you HAVE to use a Bible study or devotional book or workbook. It really is OK to just pick up the actual Bible and study it. God made His word understandable, made you smart enough to understand it, and gave you the indwelling Holy Spirit to illumine your understanding.

Do, if you decide to use one, choose a Bible study book or workbook that treats Scripture as the “swimming pool” you dive into and swim around in, not the “diving board” the author springs off of into a pool filled only with her own personal stories, anecdotes, and opinions.

Do read the Bible in orderly chunks, not in single verses. Think about the way you would read a magazine. Do you pick it up each day and read a random sentence or paragraph? Do you read the third page of an article before you read the first page of it? You’ll best understand a book of the Bible if you start at the beginning and read the chapters in order to the end.

Don’t give in to the temptation to read yourself into Scripture. The Bible isn’t our story. Approach every passage remembering that the Bible is God’s story of redemption through Christ from His perspective, and we study it to learn about and draw closer to Him.

Don’t underestimate how helpful your Bible’s cross-references to related verses can be. Reading several different passages on a particular topic you’re studying can give you a broader understanding of what the Bible has to say about it.

Do let clear passages interpret unclear passages. This is another reason cross-references are so handy. If you come across a passage you just don’t get, try reading related passages that are clearer, and understand the unclear passage in light of the clearer ones.

Lengthy tomes have been written on the topic of biblical hermeneutics and Bible study methods, so I’m sure I could go on at length, but it’s your turn:

Have you ever found it difficult or daunting to study the Bible?
What are some of the benefits of rightly handling God’s word?
How has a right understanding of Scripture helped you to grow
in your walk with the Lord?


THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT SATISFACTION THROUGH CHRIST.
Favorite Finds

Favorite Finds: August 25, 2020

 

Here are a few of my favorite online finds…

 

“As “true” Christian women, we consecrate ourselves to fulfill his calling and purposes for our lives. By his grace and in humble dependence on his power,” we can pursue that which is pleasing to the Lord in these 15 Ways to Honor Christ as Women by Susan Hunt.

 

“At first blush, these two texts seem to settle the matter in favor of the complementarian position. After all, this is the sense adopted in the vast majority of English translations. How could they all be wrong? Clearly Paul does not intend for women to be teaching/preaching within the church, right?” An excellent apologetic on this aspect of complementarianism in Why it is important not to conflate prophecy and teaching in discussions about women preaching  by Denny Burk.

 

“God’s design of the worship of his Church transcends pandemics and culture. This season shall pass and local churches will once again assemble together, embrace one another in Christian love, and celebrate the body and blood of King Jesus through the Lord’s Supper as we long for him to return and make all things new.” Some insightful observations and exhortations in  Josh Buice’s thought-provoking article There Is No Such Thing as Virtual Lord’s Supper.

 

“Abuse does not call for the abandonment of God’s good design, but the restoration of it through the power of the Gospel. The answer for every form of abuse is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” Tom Buck handily addresses the issue of abuse eroding biblical headship and submission in this article for Founders Ministries: Complementarianism is Not the Problem.

 

Four pianists, eight hymns (do you recognize all of them?): enjoy!

 


The resources listed above are not to be understood as a blanket endorsement for the websites on which they appear, or of everything the author or subject of the resource says or does. I do not endorse any person, website, or resource that conflicts with Scripture or the theology outlined in the Statement of Faith and Welcome tabs at the top of this page.