Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Unfollowing iffy teachers, Teacher training, Church search & 9Marks, Charitable giving, SBC21, AWFS transcripts)

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 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 (at the very bottom of each page) can be a helpful tool!

Or maybe I answered your question already? Check out my article The Mailbag: Top 10 FAQs to see if your question has been answered and to get some helpful resources.


I’m currently listening to a [Bible study] podcast. I have enjoyed it so far because after I read, I’m able to hear a different perspective, maybe the speaker goes over something I didn’t catch, or maybe the speaker says something that isn’t how I interpreted the text. I always go back to the Scripture and compare when her opinion and mine differ to see what the scripture says. There’s now been two issues that I just believe she is plan wrong about. At what point would you cut ties? My husband has told he wants me to really ponder if the teacher is trustworthy if she adds to Scripture or changes God’s intent. I’m all for testing everything I read/listen to against Scripture, but at what point would you consider not following a teacher due to misleading or just plain wrong information?

At the point at which my (doctrinally sound) husband expressed concern, if I hadn’t already unfollowed her on my own.

Ladies- if you have a godly, doctrinally sound husband who knows his Bible, be thankful (as I’m sure the reader who sent in this question is). What a wonderful gift God has given you! He’s able to give you a biblical perspective on things you might not have thought about before, he can give you godly counsel on those things, and he cares about your spiritual life and growth in holiness.

If you have a husband like that and he’s saying, “I don’t think you should listen to that podcast, read that author, etc.,” I would urge you to give serious thought to what he’s saying. I would also recommend heeding his leadership and unfollowing that person, even if you don’t totally agree with him. It’s very likely that one day, you’ll look back at that author or podcaster and see your husband’s concerns more clearly, and be glad you took his advice. And even if you don’t, or even if he turns out to be wrong, you’re still demonstrating respect for, and submission to his spiritual leadership – and that’s worth way more to your marriage and to being a godly wife than any podcast, book, YouTube channel or anything else.

If you’re in a position in which you’re having to decide for yourself whether or not to continue following a certain “iffy” teacher, here’s what I’d recommend:

  • Make sure the “red flags” you’re seeing are actually biblical issues (as this reader’s red flags were), not personal preferences. You may not like that a pastor likes hymns instead of more contemporary (doctrinally sound) worship music or that a (doctrinally sound) female teacher has really short hair, but that’s personal taste, not being unbiblical.
  • Be sure you understand and can rightly handle Scripture well enough to make sure it’s the teacher who’s the one in error, not you.
  • Make certain that what you’re hearing as a red flag wasn’t just a “one and done” instance of the teacher accidentally misspeaking, flubbing her words, or not being as clear as she could have been.
  • If you’re seeing red flags and you’re a new Christian or you know yourself well enough to know you could be easily swayed by this teacher into believing something wrong, stop following her.
  • Consider that for every red flag you’re seeing, there could be another red flag that your’e not recognizing or that this teacher hasn’t revealed yet.
  • If you’re a mature Christian who’s following this teacher for biblical instruction and you’re increasingly seeing red flags, that’s God’s way of telling you -through what you know from His Word- that you don’t need to be receiving teaching from this person.
  • If you don’t want to follow or are uncomfortable following a certain teacher, that doesn’t require you to make any sort of public declaration that others shouldn’t follow her or that she is a false teacher. You can simply make the quiet, personal decision to stop following her.
  • Remember, there’s no law that says you have to follow any particular teacher, or any teachers at all for that matter. Christians have been doing just fine for 2000 years simply being taught by their own pastor, elders, and teachers at church.

While reading your article, McBible Study and the Famine of God’s Word, I finally realized my struggle with leading the women’s study is because I haven’t been trained to teach. Unfortunately, there aren’t any strong teachers in my church – a big problem. Do you have any suggestions or recommendations for learning how to learn? Online, books, etc.?

The first thing I would recommend is that you explain your dilemma to your pastor and ask him to train you (and others in your church – One on one meetings between a pastor and a woman are not a good idea. Plus, it sounds like a lot of people in your church need to be trained.) to teach.

If your pastor is not a “strong teacher” or is incapable of training others to teach, you probably need to start looking for a new church. One of the biblical qualifications for pastors is that they be “able to teach” (1 Timothy 3:2) and be “able to give instruction in sound doctrine” (Titus 1:9). Paul exhorted Pastor Timothy: “what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.” Pastors ought to be able to teach others to teach.

As your pastor is training you, you may wish to work through some of my Bible studies, or use them as studies for your women’s class. My studies are designed to teach women how to study or teach straight from the text of Scripture in a “learn by doing” sort of way. Once you get a feel for the kinds of things you should be seeing in the text and questions you should be asking of the text, you can take off those “training wheels” and fly solo.


Are you suggesting that the churches listed at the search engines at your Searching for a new church? resource are the only churches that are teaching biblically?

Not at all. That resource is not, nor is it meant to be, a comprehensive list of every doctrinally sound church on planet Earth. That would be impossible. I’m sure there are thousands of other perfectly doctrinally sound churches out there (and if you are personally connected to any others, please let me know.) That resource is merely a suggestions of some of the doctrinally sound churches in various areas of the world that Christians can check out if they’re looking for one to join.

I would like clarification on 9Marks website.

It’s a little hard to “clarify” when I’m not sure what the question is. :0) I can only infer that, like others, you’ve noticed Mark Dever and a few other pastors/teachers in that circle who, over the past few years, seem to have occasionally dipped a toe into the social justice waters.

I added the 9Marks “church search” to my list of church search engines several years ago before that became an issue. I believe that the majority of churches that are listed at the 9Marks site probably also applied to be listed before this became an issue or are not aware that it is currently an issue.

So far, as far as I know, Mark Dever and 9Marks haven’t turned rabidly woke, given a full-throated endorsement of Critical Race Theory, spoken out in favor of clear progressivism or liberalism, etc. I’ll continue to keep an eye on them, and if and when that happens, I’ll remove the 9Marks church search. But right now, they’re still at the stage of being decent brothers in Christ who every once in a while make an iffy statement or two. The churches on the 9Marks list aren’t required to agree or align with everything Mark Dever and 9Marks say, and, at the moment, I believe that the majority of the churches on that list are doctrinally sound.

If you have misgivings about 9Marks, by all means, skip that church search engine and use the others I have listed. And, as the disclaimer on that page says: “Please use this list only as a suggestion of churches to check out using biblical wisdom and discernment.” You are responsible for personally vetting any church you choose to visit or join.


Do you know of, and/or recommend, any particular causes or charities that are… well, Godly (moral and ethical)? There are so many charities that don’t use their donated funds for their advertised causes (you know, instead the donations go to support the CEO’s million dollar mansion and such). I want to give, I just don’t know to whom or what.

The first place you should be giving is to the offerings of your local church – to support your pastor and staff, pay the bills, contribute to the upkeep of the church, support missionaries, etc. This is part of being a faithful church member.

If you still have money left over after that, ask your pastor about the missionaries and other Christian organizations (ex: a local crisis pregnancy center, orphanages, church plants, etc.) your church supports financially, and give more money directly to these organizations. You should follow your pastor’s leadership and work hand in hand with your church in supporting these entities.

And if you still have money left over after that, would you adopt me? :0) Just kidding. If you follow any doctrinally sound podcasts, pastors, teachers, or authors, find out which parachurch organizations they support. For example, two of the ministries I follow are Grace to You and Wretched. I would love to be able to support The Master’s Academy International, which trains indigenous pastors all over the world to minister in their context. One of Wretched’s sponsors I would contribute to is Pre-Born, a pro-life ministry that emphasizes sharing the gospel.

(And just FYI: I do not recommend Samaritan’s Purse / Operation Christmas Child.)

May God bless your generosity.


Will there be a 2021 version of the Arrive Prepared resource for this year’s SBC Annual Meeting?

I thought about that a couple of weeks ago, but to be perfectly transparent I am so disillusioned with and depressed by the state of the Southern Baptist Convention at the national level right now that I just don’t have the heart for it.

Last year, I was in more of a “Let’s charge into hell with a water pistol and DO this thing!” frame of mind. This year, that has been replaced by a heaviness of spirit. Though there are many individual (and autonomous – for those not in the know, all SBC churches are autonomous) doctrinally sound SBC churches out there, including my own (and I’m so thankful for all of them), I just don’t have any reason to believe that anything is going to change at the national level. I think it’s just going to continue to get worse – more false teachers, more false doctrine, more egalitarianism, more Critical Race Theory, more liberalism, more biblical ignorance, more tolerance for sin, more 11th Commandment, more erosion of the authority and sufficiency of Scripture, and continued disdain for those of us in the Calvinist ghetto of the SBC.

I have never in my life more fervently hoped to be proved wrong, and I completely support my doctrinally sound brothers and sisters who are still standing in the flames brandishing their water pistols. But I’m shell shocked. That’s honestly just where I am right now.

In my estimation, about 85% of the information in the “Arrive Prepared” article is still accurate and relevant for this year’s annual meeting. Since the 2020 annual meeting was canceled due to COVID, my thinking is most of the same issues will be addressed this year, particularly abuse and Critical Race Theory / Resolution 9 (if you haven’t yet checked out the CRT video series I posted a few weeks ago, that would be a great resource).

I imagine issues surrounding COVID and the vaccine, the Equality Act, and persecution of the Western church will also be brought up. I hope the issues with NAMB (the North American Mission Board), including their church plants that have employed female “pastors” and co-“pastors,” will be biblically addressed, but my guess would be that that issue will be tabled or sent to committee or buried under procedural regulations and nothing will really be done about it clearly and publicly.

If you want to keep up on the issues, I would suggest following the people and organizations listed at the end of that article.

Sorry to sound like a Debbie Downer. I promise I’ll continue to think and pray about it, and if the Lord changes my mind, I’ll write a piece on it.


Could you please provide transcripts for each episode of A Word Fitly Spoken?

No, but we can come really close in two ways:

  1. Amy has started uploading our episodes (audio only) to our YouTube channel. There’s a “CC” button at the bottom of each YouTube video that allows you to turn on captions. (She has posted several of our past episodes as well.)
  2. All of our episodes are scripted, and we stick pretty closely to the script. Going forward, I’ll be posting the link to the Google Doc of our script for each episode in the show notes of that episode. Many of our earlier episodes have been scripted from one of Amy’s or my blog articles, and if you’ll look in the show notes for that episode, you’ll find the link for that article.

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.

Favorite Finds

Favorite Finds ~ November 5, 2019

Oh my! We haven’t had a Favorite Finds article in far too long! Here are a few of my favorite online finds…

“Is it possible for us to undermine the gospel we preach through our ministry associations?” That’s the question Sean DeMars answers beautifully in his article What Does 2 John Have to Teach Us about Partnering with False Teachers? If you’ve ever wondered about how 2 John relates to us today with regard to handling false teachers, this is a great, brief, biblical explanation.

 

Who’s up for a freebie? “Uncovering the lies we believe about all the earthly things that promise us peace, life, and contentment, Paul Tripp redirects our gaze to God’s awe-inducing glory—showing how such a vision has the potential to impact our every thought, word, and deed.” Thanks to our friends at Crossway for this free download of Awe: Why it Matters for Everything We Think, Say, and Do.

 

 

“Letters to the editor often reprove magazines for publishing material they deem inappropriate. What if Paul’s letter to the church in Galatia was (sic) published in Christianity Today magazine next month? The responses might be something like this…” This one’s just for fun but painfully true to life. If Galatians Was (sic) Published Today… was originally published at Christian humor site, The Sacred Sandwich.

 

“The charred lump of scroll sat in an archaeologist’s office, impossible to read without destroying it – until now.” It sounds like the introduction to a biblical historical novel that I would shamelessly lap up with a spoon, but this is real life, high tech Indiana Jones stuff, y’all. Scientists Finally Read the Oldest Biblical Text Ever Found. Watch, and read, how they did it.

 

This one’s a little goofy (so if goofiness and humor offend you, please don’t watch it.) But anyway, it’s a good, simple explanation that Philippians 4:13 doesn’t mean you can do anything you want. Like jump off a building and fly. And it might just put a smile on your face. I hope you lil chicken nuggets enjoy Context With Carll: Philippians 4:13. Jesus takes all kinds. And I’m glad, because that meant He could take me.


The resources listed above are not to be understood as a blanket endorsement for the websites they appear on, 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.
Sermons

For Your Listening Pleasure

Need some great, biblical material to listen to in the car, while you exercise, or when you’re doing the dishes?

Shepherd’s Conference 2017

The mission of the Shepherds’ Conference is to provide the opportunity for men in church leadership to be challenged in their commitment to biblical ministry and to find encouragement as together we seek to become more effective servants of our chief Shepherd.

You don’t have to be a pastor or church leader to enjoy good preaching from mighty men of God, and that’s just what you’ll get if you click here. Conference sermons from John MacArthur, Mark Dever, Steve Lawson, Phil Johnson, Paul Washer, and more! Also available as an iTunes app. (Translated into several languages, so share with your international friends!)

Pastors’ Talk Podcast

OK, so this one is aimed at pastors, too. But I’ve been “eavesdropping” and learning a lot. I would highly recommend this brief weekly podcast from 9Marks Ministries for pastors and church members. It’ll help you understand some of the things your pastor has to deal with, why he does things the way he does them, how a biblically healthy church should function, and so on. Maybe it’ll even help you help your pastor. Click here to listen. (Also available on iTunes.)

Happy listening!