Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Soul Ties, SBC Communion, Women in children’s ministry, Heretical book disposal)

Originally published January 15, 2018

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


I was wondering what your views were on “ungodly soul ties”, in reference to past relationships? If I was in a previous relationship with someone who I was involved with physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally, how would I loose myself from that?

The concept of “soul ties” is not biblical. It is not mentioned or even hinted at in the Bible. Proponents of this heretical doctrine, as you can see in this article, Basic Introduction to Soul Ties,¹ will try to convince you that soul ties are biblical by taking all manner of Bible verses out of context and stretching and twisting them like Silly Putty to try get them to mean what they want them to mean. All you have to do is look up the verses they cite, and read them in context to see that none of these passages say that one person’s soul can be literally bound to another person’s soul.

I find it especially laughable that many of the verses they cite in support of soul ties are the “one flesh” verses, such as Ephesians 5:31 (which is actually a quote of Genesis 2:24). Don’t you think that if God, the creator of language, meant to convey in these verses that two people’s souls were tied together, that He would have said “one soul” instead of “one flesh“? Or that He would have clearly said: “In this type of close relationship, the two people’s souls are bound together.”? This is God we’re talking about, here. He’s perfectly capable of explaining Himself clearly. He knows what words mean, and He never makes a mistake and chooses the wrong word. And yet, time and time again in Scripture, He uses the words “one flesh” to describe the intimacy of marriage and sexuality, and He never, anywhere in Scripture, even suggests that the souls of two people are bound together under any circumstances.

Soul ties is just one more piece of false doctrine usually taught by those in the heretical New Apostolic Reformation camp. (When I Googled “soul ties”, articles by Kris Vallotton {Bethel}, Terri Savelle Foy, and Paula White – all among the worst of the worst of the NAR and prosperity preaching – were on the first page of results. That should tell you something.) There is no way your spirit can be tied or bound to someone else’s spirit.

I’m not sure what you mean by being involved with someone “mentally” and “spiritually”, but I’m assuming you don’t mean that you were in Mensa together or that you had long talks about theology and frequently prayed together. Those might be fond memories that make you wistful, but no mental or spiritual activity you participate in with someone else binds your soul to his or is something you need to be “loosed” from.

What you need to do is read your Bible, understand what it says about sin, and if you sinned in any way in this relationship (for example, sex outside of wedlock, putting your love for this person ahead of your love for the Lord, being influenced by this person to lie, etc.) you need to repent, not “be loosed” (because you’re not bound to this person, and because repentance from sin is the biblical way of thinking about this situation). You may also need to avoid spending time with or talking to this person for a while. And if you’re really having trouble getting over the relationship, you might want to seek counsel from a doctrinally sound pastor (one who understands that soul ties are unbiblical) or an ACBC certified Biblical Counselor.

That’s truly all there is to it. The spirit-realm mumbo jumbo of “soul ties” is a bunch of mystical malarkey. Your spirit isn’t tied to anyone else’s spirit, you’re just sad that the relationship is over, having difficulty moving on with your life, and, perhaps missing the person. And it’s OK if that sounds earthly and pedestrian. Because it is. But if Christ is your Savior, you can trust Him to carry you through it.

Here are some resources you might find helpful:

What does the Bible say about soul ties? at Got Questions

Soul Ties? I at Fighting for the Faith (starts around 34:14)

Soul Ties? II at Fighting for the Faith

¹Just in case it isn’t abundantly obvious, this is a heretical New Apostolic Reformation article/website, and I certainly don’t recommend it.

We recently moved and have been attending a Southern Baptist church. They have not had communion for over two months. Isn’t it the norm to have communion at least once a month? 

Also there is no women’s ministry that I can be involved with which is very disappointing to me. I would even be willing to teach/lead a women’s study but since we are new to this church we are still waiting and learning our place. We hesitate to make ourselves known as possibly unsubmissive or question why they do things the way they do.

Why no communion or women’s Bible study? Your thoughts would be enlightening.

These are such great questions because they help me, as a Southern Baptist, think about the way we do things and how those practices might be perceived by visitors or new members.

Communion/Lord’s Supper: Every Southern Baptist church is autonomous, so each church has its own policy or practice about how often the Lord’s Supper is observed. There are probably some SBC churches out there who hold the Lord’s Supper every week and others who hold it only once or twice a year, although I don’t personally know of any who hold it that frequently or infrequently.

In my experience, most Southern Baptist churches observe the Lord’s Supper several times a year, usually on a schedule like the first Sunday of the month, once a quarter, or every “fifth Sunday” (in months that have five Sundays). In addition to these scheduled observances, many churches also observe the Lord’s Supper at their Christmas Eve, Good Friday, or Easter service.

Women’s Ministry: I understand your disappointment in the lack of women’s ministry at the church. I would be somewhat disappointed too. There could be a variety of reasons for this. Maybe they had a women’s ministry that veered off into error or personality conflicts, so the pastor put it on hiatus for a while. Maybe no one stepped up to volunteer to lead it. Or, maybe the pastor wants everyone’s focus to be on the worship service and Sunday School with no distractions. But even if there isn’t a formal women’s ministry, you can still invite women over to your home, go out for coffee or dinner together, or study God’s word and pray together with a few others. I found this 9 Marks article Ministry to Women When There’s No “Women’s Ministry” really helpful.

Asking Questions: I would encourage you and your husband to set up an appointment with the pastor and ask away! It is certainly not unsubmissive to sit in his office and politely say, “We’re new here and we were just wondering about…” Most pastors I know would love for potential members to do this. (In fact at my church, once a month my pastor holds a sort of “orientation”/Q&A class for potential members during the Sunday School hour.) You need to know where he and the church stand on various doctrinal issues and practices so you won’t be unpleasantly surprised after you’re already members. This is especially important if you’re new to being a Southern Baptist as well as being new to the church. If the pastor in any way discourages you from asking genuine, courteous questions or sees your questions as a threat to his authority, that’s a red flag telling you that you should not join this church.


In the past I purchased books and “studies” by authors I now know are false teachers- an embarrassing amount of them really. I am wondering now what do with all of them…I don’t feel I am mature enough in my walk with Christ yet to read any of them and test them against Scripture myself, but I also don’t feel like passing them on to someone else is right either. Just wondering your thoughts on this.

You’re correct, you should not pass on books containing false doctrine to others, donate them to libraries (especially church libraries), Goodwill, or thrift stores, or sell them in a garage sale. The only scenario I can think of in which passing along a book authored by a false teacher would be OK is if it is to someone you know is a mature, doctrinally sound Christian who needs it for research purposes or to write a review of it warning people away from it.

I would also suggest that you not simply throw throw the books in the trash or recycling unless you render them unreadable (ex: scribbling on or tearing up the pages) first. People have been known to take “freebies” out of the trash.

Here are two ways I’ve handled heretical books I’ve been given:

1. Keep them for research purposes. (If you think you might be tempted to read them and you don’t feel like you’re spiritually mature enough to handle that yet, maybe box them up and put them in storage for a later date.) You might want to mark them in some sort of way – in case you lose the book and someone else finds it or something like that – indicating that the book is false doctrine. My friend, Pastor Nate Pickowicz, has an awesome stamp for his “research only” books:

2. Burn them. I know it reeks of Nazism and censorship by wild-eyed preachers of yesteryear, but it’s biblical, it keeps false doctrine out of the hands of others, and these books can actually have a positive use for kindling if you have a fireplace or chiminea. (Please use all fire safety precautions. Also, it is not necessary to burn the books publicly.)


Is it Biblical for a woman to be in charge of the children’s ministry? Especially one who is not doctrinally sound?

It isn’t biblical for anyone who’s unrepentantly and unteachably doctrinally unsound to be in charge of anything in the church.

If it’s a case like Apollos, in which the person in question simply doesn’t know any better, but changes her ways and embraces sound doctrine when corrected, that’s cause for giving glory to God. (Also, she might need more training in the Scriptures before she resumes her position of service.)

But if it’s a case in which the person persists in teaching false doctrine or acting sinfully, that’s cause for church discipline. And if she steadfastly refuses to repent despite biblical rebuke, she needs to be disfellowshipped from membership in the church. Of course, it should go without saying (unfortunately, it doesn’t these days) that people who aren’t church members and/or aren’t saved should not be given any position of service or leadership in the church.

It could be OK for a doctrinally sound woman to be in charge of the children’s ministry, depending what you mean by “in charge”, and depending on whether or not she can do so without violating Scripture:

1. She should not be considered as, or bear the professional title of, “pastor” or “minister”. It is unbiblical for a woman to be a pastor, and if she’s not a pastor, then bearing the professional title of “pastor” is lying.

2. In her leadership duties, she should not teach adult men (for example, men who teach children’s Sunday School classes, if she oversees children’s Sunday School) the Scriptures or exercise authority over them.

3. The pastor, or an appropriate elder, should vet and approve any curricula and materials, guest speakers, activities, etc., she wishes to use.

If a pastor or elder oversees her leadership so that she is acting under his authority and at his direction, and she is not violating Scripture by preaching to men, teaching men Scripture, or exercising authority over men, I don’t see why it would be a problem for a woman to lead the children’s ministry. In fact, Christian women and churches who handle this properly could be a superb example and model for other Christian women and churches.


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.

Complementarianism, Mailbag

The Mailbag: “What’s a Woman to Do?” Potpourri

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


It’s ladies night!…er…day…or whatever. I’ve accumulated several questions that have to do with women’s roles in the church and home, so that’s the theme of today’s Mailbag. If you have similar questions, you might find my article Rock Your Role FAQs to be helpful.

 

Is it biblical for women to serve as children’s ministry leaders or directors in the church?

It could be, depending on the situation. (You should not bear the title Children’s “Pastor” or “Minister”, though. Biblically, women are not pastors/ministers, so carrying that title would be dishonest and misleading.)

It is perfectly biblical for women to teach and lead children in the church setting. (And when I say “children”, I mean birth to about age 12. I’ve addressed women teaching youth/teens here, #13.) The biblical prohibition is against teaching and holding authority over men in the church. Male children are not men.

The potential 1 Timothy 2:12 issue is not with teaching and leading children or supervising other women who teach children. The issue at play is whether or not you’ll be holding unbiblical authority over any men who work or volunteer in the children’s department as Sunday school teachers, Awana leaders, nursery workers, etc. And that’s something that’s got to be examined on a case by case basis. It could be completely biblical for you to serve as a children’s director in one church but not in another simply due to circumstances of the environment.

Does your church only have women working in the children’s department? Is there an associate pastor or elder over you that handles any issues of authority? Would you have to train, evaluate, or correct male volunteers? What kinds of things would male volunteers need to come to you about? These and other questions all need to be carefully considered by your pastor, elders, your husband, and you.

Generally speaking, it is biblically OK for a woman to serve as children’s ministry leaders as long as that position, in that particular church, does not require her to instruct men in the Scriptures or hold unbiblical authority over men.


My husband is a new Christian (Praise the Lord!). I was raised in church and have a firm foundation in the Word, but unfortunately he was not blessed with such an upbringing. When we study the Bible together at home, how can I handle his lack of knowledge in a Godly way? I know what the Bible says about women not teaching men, and I strongly desire to be obedient to God’s Word. I’m just a little confused about what that looks like in this situation.

I rejoice with you over your husband’s salvation! This is a great question that’s probably on the minds of many godly women.

First, I think we might need to review a little bit of “what the Bible says about women not teaching men.” When Scripture prohibits women from teaching or holding authority over men, it does so in a specific setting: the gathered body of Believers (the church – You may want to go back over my article Jill in the Pulpit.). You are talking about helping your newly saved husband privately, at home. That’s different, and it is not included in the 1 Timothy 2:12 prohibition.

At home, between the two of you, the only issue is whether you’re submitting to him and respecting him. If your husband wants you to explain things to him from Scripture and you do that in a loving, kind, and submissive way, there’s absolutely no biblical problem with that. (It’s also important that you know the correct answers to his questions and can handle Scripture rightly. If not, study it together or ask your Sunday School teacher, pastor, etc., for help.)

In Scripture, we see Priscilla and her husband Aquila taking Apollos aside privately (likely in their home) and helping him understand “the way of God more accurately.” And Paul commends Priscilla in “the great thank you list” of Romans 16. She would not have been mentioned in a positive light in Acts nor commended by Paul in Romans if she had been sinning by helping Apollos. And if she wasn’t sinning by helping Apollos, who wasn’t even her husband (again, recalling that this was a private conversation, not teaching in the church), it would not make sense that it would have been wrong for her, or any other woman to help her own husband.

In 1 Peter 3 and 1 Corinthians 7 we see that a woman can be instrumental in bringing her unsaved husband to Christ. Why, then, would she not – privately, at his own request – continue to answer his questions, explain things, or suggest passages of Scripture for him to read after he got saved?

It would be beneficial to your husband for him to begin learning from godly men, not because it’s wrong for you to help him learn, but because other men can help him learn his role as a Christian man and how to handle things men go through better than a woman – even his wife – can. It might be helpful to your husband for you to suggest good books by doctrinally sound men for him to read and good preaching and podcasts to listen to (see some of my favorites in the sidebar to your left). He would probably also benefit tremendously from getting involved with a men’s group or Bible study at church, or having a godly older man disciple him.

What a blessing that God has given your husband a knowledgeable, godly wife who can help him!


I teach the Bible to women and young people in the home of a Christian sister. Frequently, her husband brings his Bible and sits in on the group. I usually just ignore the fact that he’s in there and focus on the youth, because, technically, that’s who I’m there to teach. I feel uncomfortable with him there because I agree with the Bible that I’m not supposed to be teaching men, but I also feel uncomfortable asking him to leave his own den. What do you recommend in this case?

It’s a bit of a sticky situation, but more because of etiquette and logistics than because of Scripture. Let’s explore a few different aspects of this situation.

✢ Is the husband saved? If he’s unsaved, the dilemma stops here. He’s not part of the church (the universal body of Believers), he’s an outsider observing Christians, and the things of God are folly to him. He’s not even capable of understanding Christian teaching on a spiritual level, so you’re not teaching him. At best, he’s absorbing enough of the gospel to eventually lead him to Christ. That would fall under the category of evangelism, and Scripture doesn’t prohibit women from sharing the gospel with men. (See #11 here)

✢ Take into consideration that different people sometimes have different ideas about etiquette and social interactions. Whether or not he’s saved, it’s possible the husband is sitting in on the group because he feels, as the host, it would be rude of him not to. By talking with him about your discomfort with his presence, you might actually be letting him off the hook when there are other things he’d rather be doing.

But from here on out, we’ll assume the husband is saved and doesn’t fully understand that women aren’t to teach men in the gathered body of Believers.

✢ You mentioned that you are teaching “women and young people”/”youth”. I’m inferring from that phraseology that this group of “young people/youth” is a co-ed group in their teens. If I’m correct about that (and maybe I’m not), this could be part of the issue depending on the age of the kids in the group. First, of all, if the males in this group are in their late teens to early 20s or older, you really don’t have a leg to stand on. You’re teaching men (even if they are young men), so that needs to stop. But this could also be a contributing factor to why the husband is coming to the study, especially if he is a younger man. If he sees you teaching 18 year old young men and he’s 25, he probably doesn’t see much difference between those young men and himself and assumes he’s welcome to attend. There’s no hard and fast biblical command about it, but I usually recommend women stop teaching boys around the time they start middle school (12ish). I’ve explained more here, #13.

✢ It’s possible the husband only has a partial understanding of the applicable Scriptures here. Perhaps he thinks Scripture only says women can’t be pastors or that as long as you’re outside the four walls of the church building you can teach men. Maybe you and his wife can pull him aside privately after the meeting or at another time and explain a little bit more about what Scripture says, your desire to obey it, your discomfort with him there, and your discomfort with asking him to leave.

✢ You know the husband and his wife better than I do. Would it work better to explain things to the wife and ask her to talk to him? Or possibly for you and your husband to talk to him and his wife together? It might also be beneficial for you to set up a meeting with your pastor and get some wise counsel from him on how to proceed.

✢ Enlist the aid of your husband and/or some other godly men at church. They could invite this fellow to join them during your class time for a men’s Bible study, bowling, a movie, dinner, watching the game on TV, or whatever. Maybe the husband just needs some friends or a better offer! :0)

✢ If you’ve talked to the husband and he understands what Scripture says, and your dilemma, and he refuses to refrain from attending the class, it’s time to move the class meeting to another location – perhaps your house, the church, or the home of someone else in the group. If it gets to this point, things have moved beyond whether or not you’re teaching a man. Now he’s intentionally being a stumbling block to a sister in Christ (which, if you belong to the same church, actually requires church discipline). He is sinning and he causing you to sin against your conscience. Scripture says if something causes you to sin, remove it. Since you can’t remove him from his house, you’ll have to remove yourself from his house.

✢ Finally, along the lines of removing things from your life that cause you to sin, if you’ve tried every possible way of working things out and you’re still going to be in a situation where you’re sinning against your conscience, step down from teaching. As much as you might want to, you do not have to teach that class. And it’s far better to  give up a “want” and not sin than to keep doing a “want” and sin. God takes sin very seriously, and we should, too.

I’ve tried to cover a range of possibilities and solutions, and some of them may sound extreme, but most of the time situations like this among friends, and especially among church family, can be resolved with a simple, loving conversation. Try talking to him about it, and you’ll most likely be able to work it out.


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.

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Soul Ties, SBC Communion, Women in children’s ministry, Heretical book disposal)

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


I was wondering what your views were on “ungodly soul ties”, in reference to past relationships? If I was in a previous relationship with someone who I was involved with physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally, how would I loose myself from that?

The concept of “soul ties” is not biblical. It is not mentioned or even hinted at in the Bible. Proponents of this heretical doctrine, as you can see in this article, Basic Introduction to Soul Ties,¹ will try to convince you that soul ties are biblical by taking all manner of Bible verses out of context and stretching and twisting them like Silly Putty to try get them to mean what they want them to mean. All you have to do is look up the verses they cite, and read them in context to see that none of these passages say that one person’s soul can be literally bound to another person’s soul.

I find it especially laughable that many of the verses they cite in support of soul ties are the “one flesh” verses, such as Ephesians 5:31 (which is actually a quote of Genesis 2:24). Don’t you think that if God, the creator of language, meant to convey in these verses that two people’s souls were tied together, that He would have said “one soul” instead of “one flesh“? Or that He would have clearly said: “In this type of close relationship, the two people’s souls are bound together.”? This is God we’re talking about, here. He’s perfectly capable of explaining Himself clearly. He knows what words mean, and He never makes a mistake and chooses the wrong word. And yet, time and time again in Scripture, He uses the words “one flesh” to describe the intimacy of marriage and sexuality, and He never, anywhere in Scripture, even suggests that the souls of two people are bound together under any circumstances.

Soul ties are just one more piece of false doctrine usually taught by those in the heretical New Apostolic Reformation camp. (When I Googled “soul ties”, articles by Kris Vallotton {Bethel}, Terri Savelle Foy, and Paula White – all among the worst of the worst of the NAR and prosperity preaching – were on the first page of results. That should tell you something.) There is no way your spirit can be tied or bound to someone else’s spirit.

I’m not sure what you mean by being involved with someone “mentally” and “spiritually”, but I’m assuming you don’t mean that you were in Mensa together or that you had long talks about theology and frequently prayed together. Those might be fond memories that make you wistful, but no mental or spiritual activity you participate in with someone else binds your soul to his or is something you need to be “loosed” from.

What you need to do is read your Bible, understand what it says about sin, and if you sinned in any way in this relationship (for example, sex outside of wedlock, putting your love for this person ahead of your love for the Lord, being influenced by this person to lie, etc.) you need to repent, not “be loosed” (because you’re not bound to this person, and because repentance from sin is the biblical way of thinking about this situation). You may also need to avoid spending time with or talking to this person for a while. And if you’re really having trouble getting over the relationship, you might want to seek counsel from a doctrinally sound pastor (one who understands that soul ties are unbiblical) or an ACBC certified Biblical Counselor.

That’s truly all there is to it. The spirit-realm mumbo jumbo of “soul ties” is a bunch of mystical malarkey. Your spirit isn’t tied to anyone else’s spirit, you’re just sad that the relationship is over, having difficulty moving on with your life, and, perhaps missing the person. And it’s OK if that sounds earthly and pedestrian. Because it is. But if Christ is your Savior, you can trust Him to carry you through it.

Here are some resources you might find helpful:

What does the Bible say about soul ties? at Got Questions

Soul Ties? I at Fighting for the Faith (starts around 34:14)

Soul Ties? II at Fighting for the Faith

¹Just in case it isn’t abundantly obvious, this is a heretical New Apostolic Reformation article/website, and I certainly don’t recommend it.

We recently moved and have been attending a Southern Baptist church. They have not had communion for over two months. Isn’t it the norm to have communion at least once a month? 

Also there is no women’s ministry that I can be involved with which is very disappointing to me. I would even be willing to teach/lead a women’s study but since we are new to this church we are still waiting and learning our place. We hesitate to make ourselves known as possibly unsubmissive or question why they do things the way they do.

Why no communion or women’s Bible study? Your thoughts would be enlightening.

These are such great questions because they help me, as a Southern Baptist, think about the way we do things and how those practices might be perceived by visitors or new members.

Communion/Lord’s Supper: Every Southern Baptist church is autonomous, so each church has its own policy or practice about how often the Lord’s Supper is observed. There are probably some SBC churches out there who hold the Lord’s Supper every week and others who hold it only once or twice a year, although I don’t personally know of any who hold it that frequently or infrequently.

In my experience, most Southern Baptist churches observe the Lord’s Supper several times a year, usually on a schedule like the first Sunday of the month, once a quarter, or every “fifth Sunday” (in months that have five Sundays). In addition to these scheduled observances, many churches also observe the Lord’s Supper at their Christmas Eve, Good Friday, or Easter service.

Women’s Ministry: I understand your disappointment in the lack of women’s ministry at the church. I would be somewhat disappointed too. There could be a variety of reasons for this. Maybe they had a women’s ministry that veered off into error or personality conflicts, so the pastor put it on hiatus for a while. Maybe no one stepped up to volunteer to lead it. Or, maybe the pastor wants everyone’s focus to be on the worship service and Sunday School with no distractions. But even if there isn’t a formal women’s ministry, you can still invite women over to your home, go out for coffee or dinner together, or study God’s word and pray together with a few others. I found this 9 Marks article Ministry to Women When There’s No “Women’s Ministry” really helpful.

Asking Questions: I would encourage you and your husband to set up an appointment with the pastor and ask away! It is certainly not unsubmissive to sit in his office and politely say, “We’re new here and we were just wondering about…” Most pastors I know would love for potential members to do this. (In fact at my church, once a month my pastor holds a sort of “orientation”/Q&A class for potential members during the Sunday School hour.) You need to know where he and the church stand on various doctrinal issues and practices so you won’t be unpleasantly surprised after you’re already members. This is especially important if you’re new to being a Southern Baptist as well as being new to the church. If the pastor in any way discourages you from asking genuine, courteous questions or sees your questions as a threat to his authority, that’s a red flag telling you that you should not join this church.


In the past I purchased books and “studies” by authors I now know are false teachers- an embarrassing amount of them really. I am wondering now what do with all of them…I don’t feel I am mature enough in my walk with Christ yet to read any of them and test them against Scripture myself, but I also don’t feel like passing them on to someone else is right either. Just wondering your thoughts on this.

You’re correct, you should not pass on books containing false doctrine to others, donate them to libraries (especially church libraries), Goodwill, or thrift stores, or sell them in a garage sale. The only scenario I can think of in which passing along a book authored by a false teacher would be OK is if it is to someone you know is a mature, doctrinally sound Christian who needs it for research purposes or to write a review of it warning people away from it.

I would also suggest that you not simply throw throw the books in the trash or recycling unless you render them unreadable (ex: scribbling on or tearing up the pages) first. People have been known to take “freebies” out of the trash.

Here are two ways I’ve handled heretical books I’ve been given:

1. Keep them for research purposes. (If you think you might be tempted to read them and you don’t feel like you’re spiritually mature enough to handle that yet, maybe box them up and put them in storage for a later date.) You might want to mark them in some sort of way – in case you lose the book and someone else finds it or something like that – indicating that the book is false doctrine. My friend, Pastor Nate Pickowicz, has an awesome stamp for his “research only” books:

2. Burn them. I know it reeks of Nazism and censorship by wild-eyed preachers of yesteryear, but it’s biblical, it keeps false doctrine out of the hands of others, and these books can actually have a positive use for kindling if you have a fireplace or chiminea. (Please use all fire safety precautions. Also, it is not necessary to burn the books publicly.)


Is it Biblical for a woman to be in charge of the children’s ministry? Especially one who is not doctrinally sound?

It isn’t biblical for anyone who’s unrepentantly and unteachably doctrinally unsound to be in charge of anything in the church.

If it’s a case like Apollos, in which the person in question simply doesn’t know any better, but changes her ways and embraces sound doctrine when corrected, that’s cause for giving glory to God. (Also, she might need more training in the Scriptures before she resumes her position of service.)

But if it’s a case in which the person persists in teaching false doctrine or acting sinfully, that’s cause for church discipline. And if she steadfastly refuses to repent despite biblical rebuke, she needs to be disfellowshipped from membership in the church. Of course, it should go without saying (unfortunately, it doesn’t these days) that people who aren’t church members and/or aren’t saved should not be given any position of service or leadership in the church.

It could be OK for a doctrinally sound woman to be in charge of the children’s ministry, depending what you mean by “in charge”, and depending on whether or not she can do so without violating Scripture:

1. She should not be considered as, or bear the professional title of, “pastor” or “minister”. It is unbiblical for a woman to be a pastor, and if she’s not a pastor, then bearing the professional title of “pastor” is lying.

2. In her leadership duties, she should not teach adult men (for example, men who teach children’s Sunday School classes, if she oversees children’s Sunday School) the Scriptures or exercise authority over them.

3. The pastor, or an appropriate elder, should vet and approve any curricula and materials, guest speakers, activities, etc., she wishes to use.

If a pastor or elder oversees her leadership so that she is acting under his authority and at his direction, and she is not violating Scripture by preaching to men, teaching men Scripture, or exercising authority over men, I don’t see why it would be a problem for a woman to lead the children’s ministry. In fact, Christian women and churches who handle this properly could be a superb example and model for other Christian women and churches.


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.

Christian women, Church, Discernment

Throwback Thursday ~ Nine Reasons Discerning Women Are Leaving Your Church

Originally published July 24, 2015
9 disc women leave

 

Earlier this week, Thom Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay, pubished a blog article entitled “Six Reasons Why Women May Be Leaving Your Church.” Although I am not particularly a fan of Dr. Rainer (due to his allowing materials from false teachers to be sold at LifeWay), I thought this article was a good one, and I agreed with several of the issues he raised, especially, that these issues need to be addressed by church leadership.

As a ministry wife and someone in the field of women’s ministry myself, I, too, have noticed women leaving the church. Not just women in general, but a certain subset of church-attending ladies: discerning women. While Scripture is pretty clear that we can expect women (and men) who are false converts to eventually fall away from the gathering of believers, why are godly, genuinely regenerated women who love Christ, His word, and His church, leaving their local churches?

1. Eisegetical or otherwise unbiblical preaching
Discerning women don’t want to hear pastors twist God’s word. The Bible is not about us, our problems, and making all our hopes and dreams come true. We don’t want to hear seeker-driven or Word of Faith false doctrine. We don’t need self-improvement motivational speeches or a list of life tips to follow. We want to hear a pastor rightly handle God’s word from a trustworthy translation and simply exegete the text.

2. The worship hour has become a variety show
Skits, guest stars, movie clips, dance routines, rock concerts, elaborate sets, light shows, and smoke machines. We didn’t sign on for Saturday Night Live on Sunday. This is supposed to be church. Get rid of all that junk, turn the lights on, give us solid preaching, prayer, and some theologically sound songs we can actually sing, and maybe we’ll stick around.

*3. Women in improper places of church leadership
The Bible could not be more clear that women are not to be pastors, instruct men in the Scriptures, or hold authority over men in other capacities in the church. If your church has a female pastor, worship leader, or elders, or if women are teaching and leading men in Sunday school, small groups, or from the platform in the worship service, or if women are heading up certain committees, departments, or ministries which place them in improper authority over men, you’re disobeying Scripture, and we don’t want to help you do that by attending your church.

4. Children are being entertained, not trained
There’s nothing wrong with a bit of play time or crafts for younger children, but we want our children trained in the Scriptures, not entertained for a couple of hours. We want their teachers to open God’s word and read and explain it to them at a level they can understand. We want them memorizing verses, learning to pray, and demonstrating an age-appropriate comprehension of the gospel. We want them to understand that church is joyful, yet, serious, not a Jesus-laced party at Chuck E. Cheese. We need church to bolster the Scriptural training we’re giving our kids at home.

5. Women’s “Bible” Studies
The majority (and I don’t use that term flippantly) of churches holding women’s Bible studies are using materials written by Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Joyce Meyer, Lysa TerKeurst, Sarah Young, and others who teach unbiblical ideas and false doctrine. Not minor denominational differences of opinion. Not secondary and tertiary unimportant issues that can be overlooked. False doctrine. While we long to study God’s word with other women, discerning women will not sacrifice sound doctrine nor the integrity of Scripture to do so.

6. Ecumenism
Is your church partnering with other “churches” whose orthodoxy and/or orthopraxy are at odds with Scripture? “Churches” which approve of homosexuality or female pastors, or which hold to an unbiblical soteriology (grace plus works, baptismal regeneration, Mary as co-redemptrix with Christ, etc.)? Are you partnering with those who deny the biblical Christ altogether such as Muslims, Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Hindus, Mormons, or Buddhists? Discerning women know Scripture forbids yoking ourselves to unbelievers and we want no part of it.

7. Ageism
Look around at your pastor and staff, your lay leadership, your music team, the “face” of your church. How many of those people are over 40? Usually, discernment and spiritual maturity come through walking with the Lord over many years, yet, increasingly, by design, churches are run by twentysomething pastors, staff, and other leadership, who are often spiritually immature and/or lack the wisdom and life experience that come with age. The staff is often specifically structured this way in order to attract young people to the church. The counsel and wisdom mature, godly men and women have to offer is brushed off as old fashioned, and middle aged and older church members feel alienated and unwanted. While there are those among the twentysomething set who are godly and growing into maturity, discerning women value the wisdom and teaching of their godly elders.

8. The “troublemaker” label
Discerning women who see unbiblical things happening in their churches and stand up for what God’s word says about biblical ecclesiology and teaching are often vilified and labeled as troublemakers. We are called haters, threats to unity, complainers, gossips, negative, and a myriad of other scornful names. All this for wanting things done according to Scripture. Can you blame us for shaking the dust off our high heels and leaving?

9. Spineless or stiff-necked pastors
Discerning women have little respect for, and find themselves unable to submit to the authority of pastors who see people in their churches acting overtly sinful or propagating false teaching yet are so afraid of confrontation that they will not set things right. By the same token, we cannot continue to attend a church in which we bring scriptural evidence of false teaching or sin to the pastor and he outright denies the biblical truth we present to him. We cannot be members of churches in which pastors will not submit to Scripture or carry out biblical mandates.

 

Frequently, the discerning women you see tearfully leaving your church have been there for years. Sometimes they leave your church because it was never doctrinally sound to begin with, and God has opened their eyes to this as they grow and mature in Christ. Sometimes they leave because false doctrine and unbiblical practices have crept in and taken over a church that was once a refuge of trustworthy biblical teaching. Either way, these things should not be.

Maybe it’s not that discerning women are leaving the church**, but that the church is leaving them.


*If you disagree with this point and are considering writing a comment arguing that women SHOULD be pastors and have other unbiblical positions of leadership, please save yourself some time, because I will not be printing it. As it says in my “welcome” tab (top of this page), I do not print false doctrine without refuting it, and at the moment, I do not have the time. If you are truly interested in what the Bible ACTUALLY says about the proper role of women in the church, click here and explore the Scriptures that address this topic.

**While it may be necessary to leave a church that is not operating biblically, Hebrews 10:24-25 makes it clear that meeting together for worship and the teaching of God’s word is not optional for Christians. Please see my follow up article, Six Ways Not to Forsake the Assembly for more on this topic.

Book Reviews

A Review of Justin Peters’ “Do Not Hinder Them”

As I’ve mentioned before, solicited book reviews are not part of my regular repertoire here at the blog. In fact, for a variety of reasons, I have a policy against writing them.

But when one of your heroes in the faith asks, you make an exception. And, for me, Justin Peters is one of those heroes in the faith (even more so because I’m sure he wouldn’t want me calling him that).

I introduced Justin this way in my article, A Few MORE Good Men: 10 Doctrinally Sound Male Teachers:

Justin Peters Ministries exists to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the lost and to help equip the saved to ‘speak the truth in love’ (Ephesians 4:15). Great care is taken to preach and teach God’s Word in its proper context and simply let the text speak for itself.”

The first thing I ever noticed about Justin Peters is his striking example of biblical meekness. Justin is soft-spoken and peaceable, but firm in his gospel convictions and aflame with the desire for the lost to come to salvation. You must read Justin’s testimony of coming to know Christ after years in seminary and ministry as a false convert. What Justin is perhaps best known for is his teaching and discernment ministry exposing the Word of Faith movement. It started with a trip to a faith healer as a teen to have his own cerebral palsy healed and grew into Clouds Without Water, a seminar designed to educate the church on the history, growth, and metastasization of the Word of Faith heresy.

But Justin doesn’t limit himself to discernment ministry, and his new book, Do Not Hinder Them: A Biblical Examination of Childhood Conversion, opens the door to another of his theological interests- salvation and baptism, especially as they pertain to children.

A simple, yet fundamental, point of theology which needs to be understood in order to grasp the concept of the book is the difference between credo-baptism and paedo-baptism. Credo-baptism is also called “believer’s baptism.” This means that a new believer stands before the church, professes her faith in Christ, and is then baptized out of obedience to Him- to demonstrate that she has passed from death unto life and now wishes to be identified as a follower of Christ. Credo-baptists believe strongly that baptism is only to be administered to professing believers.

Paedo-baptism is infant baptism. It is administered to all babies and children (by definition, unable to profess faith in Christ) by a number of Protestant denominations as a symbol that a child has been born into a covenant (believing) family who will raise her in the nurture and admonition of the Lord and the knowledge of the gospel.

There’s an angst that Bible believing credo-baptist parents often experience, which, undoubtedly, is foreign to paedo-baptist parents:

My young child has come to me claiming to have asked Jesus into her heart and wants to be baptized. How can I tell if she’s really saved and that it’s right for her to be baptized at this age?

It’s a long standing dilemma for Southern Baptists like Justin…and me. My mother happened to mention in passing a few years ago that I had begged to be baptized when I was about six. It made sense because that’s about the time all of my little friends were being baptized, but, I was very surprised to hear this story because, as an adult, I had no recollection of it whatsoever, and I can guarantee you I wasn’t saved at the time. My parents wisely said no.

As parents ourselves, my husband and I have faced the same struggle. Five of our six children were baptized as young children. One is not currently walking with the Lord and two of them were re-baptized later at their own request when they realized they had not been saved the first go round.

This is the central issue Justin tackles in Do Not Hinder Them.

But don’t be fooled by the title of the book. While it’s a must read for Christian parents, pastors, and those who work in children’s ministry, you also need to read this book if…

…you’ve ever wondered if you’re really saved.
…you’re wondering if that loved one (of any age) who claims to be a Christian is really saved.
…you’re a paedo-baptist wanting to get a better grip on credo-baptist beliefs and struggles
…you’re brand new to the study of theology and are looking for a resource that will easily help you to “dip a toe in the water” (so to speak)

In other words, though Justin addresses the issue of genuine conversion as it applies to children seeking baptism, the question of “How can I know if I/my loved one is really saved?” is one we all face at some point in our walk with Christ. So, while there may be a few parts of this book that don’t apply if you’re not a pastor, children’s ministry worker, or parent, most of it is helpful for every Christian.

One of the foundational issues Justin cites as having gotten us into the muck and mire of baptizing unregenerate children, only to have them “walk away” from the Lord (though, indeed, they were never saved in the first place) as teens or young adults – sullying the name of Christ and His church – or to seek a second baptism once they realize they were unsaved the first time, is the fact that we have so watered down the gospel and the soteriology our churches subscribe to and practice. “Getting saved” has been reduced to parroting a sinner’s prayer, or mental assent to a simplistic set of facts that even the demons believe. There is little to no presentation of sin and rebellion, guilt before a holy God, God’s wrath toward the sinner, and the eternal punishment of sin. And when was the last time you heard a pastor urge someone contemplating following Jesus to count the cost of being His disciple? Instead, it’s, “Don’t you want to go to Heaven when you die?” or “Just believe A, B, and C, and you’re saved!” or “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life!” Rarely are young children mature enough in their thinking to be able to grasp the true nature and meaning of why they need a Savior and what repentance, regeneration, and discipleship really entail.

And that’s largely our fault. As Christian parents, we understandably want our children “in,” safe from an eternity in Hell. So we make it as easy as possible for them to complete the transaction. Instead of raising our children up to understand and attain to the high bar of the demands of the gospel, we lower the bar so far that even the youngest child can toddle right over it. In the end, the problem is not that we’re baptizing unsaved babes as our paedo-baptist brothers and sisters do, but that we’re presenting a false gospel that creates false converts who hang their eternity on having repeated a prayer and passed through the baptistry.

The second key issue Justin says has contributed to the epidemic of baptizing unregenerate children is the fact that we base our decision to baptize them solely on their verbal profession of faith rather than on the fruit of a changed life.

I remember all too well the worry over my own small children’s salvation in this regard. How could I tell if they were really saved or not? They had been in church and raised in a Christian home all their lives- they knew all the right answers to give when we questioned them about their salvation experiences.

As Justin wisely points out, this is often the case with “church kids.” They know how to repeat back what they’ve learned in Sunday School, and, because they’ve been raised in a godly atmosphere, they’re likely already good kids, outwardly behaving in what looks like a Christlike way. When they come to us and say, “I’ve asked Jesus into my heart,” how can we tell if it’s genuine saving faith?

Most of the time, the answer is- we can’t. Until, that is, that faith has been tested and their testimony proven true through the refining process of trial, temptation, and persecution. Until he is able to bear fruit in keeping with the repentance he claims. Does your child freely choose obedience to Christ over giving in to temptation? Does he cling to Christ during times of difficulty? Does he visibly stand for Christ when ridiculed for doing so by his peers? What five year old even faces such situations?

And that’s precisely Justin’s point. We rush our children through the baptismal waters as soon as they claim to have received Christ rather than waiting to see their faith prove out over the ensuing years. Your five year won’t face the temptation to use drugs or engage in sex. But your teenager will. It’s unlikely a gang of kindergartners will surround your child and mock his belief in Christ and biblical values. Sophomores and juniors do so gleefully. How does your young adult, who claims to be born again, handle these types of situations? When it’s his choice, not yours, does he consistently and unrepentantly go along with the worldly crowd or does he bear up and walk faithfully with Christ? Justin suggests, and I can’t help but agree, that the testing of our children’s faith that comes with age and independence, and the fruits of Christlikeness they bear – such as: godly sorrow over sin, personal holiness, hunger for the Word, and increasing discernment –  are a much more reliable barometer of their spiritual state than the “right answers” they are able to give as small children. It is for this reason that Justin suggests postponing baptism until the late teens or early 20s, while encouraging and nurturing our children’s faith as they grow and mature.

Do Not Hinder Them so effectively addresses these matters of concern to the church that I unhesitatingly recommend it to all Christians. Justin writes in a simple, unassuming style that even the newest believer would be comfortable with, and explains complicated theological terms and issues with ease. The book is chock full of helpful footnotes rife with Scripture references and supplementary resources, and is only 112 pages long, making it an easy evening’s read. Do Not Hinder Them is available in soft cover format (not available in e-book format at this time) and is endorsed by Dr. John MacArthur. You can purchase a copy at Justin’s web site or on Amazon.


All brown “pull quotes” in this article are taken from:
Peters, Justin. Do Not Hinder Them: A Biblical Examination of Childhood Conversion. Justin Peters Ministries, 2017.