Mailbag

The Mailbag: Asked and Answered

Good Monday morning, readers. It is an honor and a joy to serve you in Christ. Welcome to all the newbies and to you seasoned veterans of the blog.

Because some of y’all are new, you aren’t yet aware of all of the resources here to help you. Or maybe you’ve been around a while and haven’t noticed something that might be helpful. Let’s remedy that!

First, if you’re new (or if you’ve never read it), check out Blog Orientation for New Readers and Old Friends. It’s like a CliffsNotes intro to the blog.

Second, be sure to familiarize yourself with all of the tabs in the blue menu bar at the top of the page. That’s where I keep the info I’m most frequently asked about.

Third, there’s a search bar at the bottom of every page (and one in the blue menu bar at the top of every page) which might help you find what you need.

Fourth, if you don’t find your question answered in one of these ways or below, you might want to check previous Asked & Answered articles and The Mailbag: Top 10 FAQs.

And finally, let me get you new readers some answers to the questions several of you have asked. Some of you long time friends may have missed these along the way, so I hope they’ll be helpful to you, too!


I’m a man who wants to use one of your Bible studies for my personal quiet time. Is that OK?

Is it OK for a man to teach one of your Bible studies to a co-ed class?

I don’t get this question frequently – maybe a handful of times a year – but that’s enough that I’ve added this statement to the Bible Studies tab (in the blue menu bar at the top of this page):

“From time to time I receive inquiries from men about using my studies for their personal quiet time or for teaching a co-ed or men’s Bible study class. It is my personal conviction that it is more in keeping with the spirit (though not the letter) of 1 Timothy 2:12, Titus 2:3-5, and related passages for men to use Bible study materials authored by men rather than by women. Therefore, on the honor system, I would request that men please not use my studies for personal use, or when teaching a class with male members. (Vetting the studies for your wife, daughter, or the women of your church, is, of course, fine. Encouraged, actually.)”


Is it biblical for a woman to pray at the opening of the church service?

Is it biblical for women to participate in gathering the giving on Sunday morning?

Is it OK for women to ask questions in a co-ed class or group if the pastor or teacher invites those present to do so?

Great questions! I’ve answered all of them in my article Rock Your Role FAQs. Numbers 15, 22, and 4, respectively.


Is The Bible Project a doctrinally sound teaching resource?

No. I’ve addressed that in this article. Pastor Gabe “WWUTT” Hughes has written an excellent article about the biblical (technically heretical on some points) issues with TBR. I went ahead and linked it at my Popular False Teachers and Unbiblical Trends tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page.


You seem to be saying we should talk to God during prayer, but we should not try to listen for God’s guidance during prayer…But are we not supposed to pray about big decisions before we make them? If someone is deciding on taking a different job, or moving to another state, or getting married, isn’t that person supposed to pray about making the right decision? There isn’t a passage of Scripture that says “Jane Doe should marry John Smith in AD 2022.” What about pastors, who say God “called” them into ministry?

Do you think instead of praying specifically about a decision, we are supposed to pray for wisdom according to James 1 and then make our own decision, trusting God has given us the wisdom to choose correctly?

You’re circling the bullseye. I think my article Basic Training: 8 Steps to Finding God’s Will for Your Life will help. I didn’t specifically address pastors having some sort of Damascus Road-type “calling” to the ministry in that article, but the same principles apply. The Bible doesn’t say men will receive some sort of supernatural calling to the ministry. It says, “If any [man] aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task,” (1 Timothy 3:1) and that he must meet certain biblical qualifications. If a man desires to be a pastor and he meets the biblical qualifications, he should start prayerfully putting the principles in that article into practice, trusting God to guide him in his pursuits.


As Christians, do we participate in celebratory life events of sin? For example- I had a family member (professes to follow Christ) throw a housewarming party for another family member living with her boyfriend. They bought a home together & are not married. I also had another family member (professor of Christ) become pregnant outside of marriage & naturally my family wanted to throw a big baby shower. How do those of us who honor Christ with our life handle such events?

It can be an uncomfortable invitation to receive, for sure. I’ve addressed the baby shower question in my article The Mailbag: Should I Attend the Baby Shower?. And let me just clarify a distinction between a shower for a woman who conceived out of wedlock and these other scenarios. A woman who conceived out of wedlock sinned – past tense. She may have since repented. Also, the purpose of a shower is to give her things she will need for the baby, not to celebrate or help perpetuate an ongoing sin such as the ones mentioned below. That is something to weigh if you’re trying to decide whether or not to attend a shower.

Amy and I briefly addressed the “housewarmings for shack ups” issue in our Pride, Pronouns, & Prodigals episode of A Word Fitly Spoken:

Let’s get things kicked off with a question that really came to the forefront a couple of years ago when same sex “marriage” became legal: Should Christians attend homosexual weddings?

And really, this answer also applies to any sort of event that celebrates, normalizes, or helps codify an ungodly union: events celebrating transsexualism, homosexual wedding receptions or showers, housewarming parties for a homosexual couple or even for a heterosexual couple that’s going to be living together, a celebration of adoption for a homosexual or non-married heterosexual couple, or even – I don’t know if these are still a thing or not, but divorce parties.

The short answer is, Christians should not be helping people celebrate their sin. We should be sharing the gospel with them so they can get saved out of their sin.

Attending a wedding or any of these other events implies that a person is in favor of the union or the sin that’s being committed, and no matter how much we love the person, Christ calls us to love Him more and not participate in or give approval to sin.

You might also wish to read my article The Mailbag: Should Christians Attend a Homosexual “Wedding”? since some of the same principles mentioned in it apply to these other scenarios.


You regard John MacArthur as someone who is biblically sound – I beg to differ with you, as he claims (and directly answered a question asked of him) if after taking the mark of the beast, can a person change their mind (claim Christ) and still get to heaven….his response was “yes.” Absolute unbiblical doctrine….that’s all I’m bringing up at this point – he is leading people to HELL!

No he isn’t “leading people to HELL!” and you’re making a slanderous false accusation against (assuming you’re a genuinely regenerated Believer) a brother in Christ. Repent.

This claim against John MacArthur is the urban legend that will not die, no matter how many times it’s clearly and biblically refuted (I guess because people with this attitude want to discredit him and will grasp at any straw to do so, no matter how flimsy.). It’s been going on for over ten years now. I get some form of the screaming neemie “JOHN MACARTHUR IS A FALSE TEACHER!!!!!” email or message several times a year. I’ve heard it all before and it’s all still a lie. No need to send me any more messages about it.

I’ve addressed this issue here.

Seriously, stop. Repent.


Is it wrong to bail on a Bible study if you find error in the teachings?

Nope. In fact, most of the time, I would recommend it, as long as you’re sure it’s the study, not your beliefs, that’s in error. You may find my article The Mailbag: Should I attend the “Bible” study to correct false doctrine? to be helpful.


I was wondering if you have any info on homeschooling on your site that is biblical?

Yep, on both of my sites. Amy and I recorded an A Word Fitly Spoken podcast episode on homeschooling called NOW are you ready to homeschool? And, a while back, my readers suggested some Christian homeschooling blogs here.


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 (NBCS, Homeschool resources, Piper…)

 

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 see many people on my Facebook news feed that are sharing innocuous or biblical sounding content (memes, Facebook posts, blog posts, etc.) from false teachers/ministries. I didn’t find an article on your web site and was wondering if you have already written one. I thinking it would be helpful to help share with others that it’s now necessary to understand the ramifications of sharing (boosting the author’s credibility, clicks, $, inadvertently sharing false doctrine or non-biblical philosophy, etc.)

I see the same thing in my Facebook feed, and it worries me for the people who, with the best of intentions, I’m sure, are following false teachers themselves and pointing others to false teachers by sharing those posts.

I have, indeed, written an article about this (it does pop up if you use the search bar, but you have to scroll down a ways to get to it since I wrote it a few years ago- sorry about that):

Four Reasons Why It Matters Who We Share, Pin, and Re-Tweet


What do you think of National Back to Church Sunday (NBCS)?

The concept is OK at the surface level, I guess. If all it is is a particular Sunday on the calendar when unchurched people are encouraged to go back to church, and churched people are encouraged to invite unchurched people to church, and churches are encouraged to find out why their supposedly churched members haven’t shown up for weeks, months, or years, I see no problem with the concept itself.

The problem comes when you move from the “on paper” concept to the actual churches that are participating and how those churches are attempting to get unchurched people in the door. If it’s a doctrinally sound church and the pastor says, “Hey- everybody invite an unchurched friend to come with you next week,” great. But we do not want unchurched people putting one toe over the threshold of an apostate or heretical church, and sadly, it appears as though at least some of the participating churches that have registered with the NBCS “Find a Church” page may fall into those categories. And if these “churches” are using unbiblical means and enticements to get lost people in the doors, that’s an additional problem.

The reader also included a link to encounter.com in her question. It’s clear encounter.com is in some way connected to NBCS, but I’m unclear as to how. The material on the “Invited to Belong” page is nauseatingly and blatantly seeker driven and man-centered. It’s all about how worthy you are rather than how worthy Christ is. There is no gospel presentation. Of the four people quoted, none are doctrinally sound Christians. One of the final sentences is a good summary of the whole page: “No church will be perfect, because no person is perfect, but we invite you to find a local church where you will belong.” Not a doctrinally sound church. Not a church that proclaims the biblical gospel. Not a church that preaches Christ and Him crucified. Not a church that teaches the Bible. It’s all about you, baby. If this encounter.com page is in some way NBCS’s mission statement or statement of faith, then I would certainly not recommend the NBCS organization.


I am looking for a solid but very simple Bible study for a loved one who struggles with understanding complicated concepts and words. Maybe even a kids study that is rich in theology. I was wondering if you had any ideas or advice on this?

It’s wonderful that your dear one loves the Lord and wants to study her Bible. Thank you so much for trying to help her!

Since you are a long time reader, you’ve probably heard me say that I don’t recommend “canned” studies, but that people should pick up the actual Bible and study it for themselves. In this case, may I suggest that might even be more important for someone like your loved one? I imagine that her poor reading skills may have made her more dependent on others in many areas of her life than she would like to be, and that studying the Bible for herself would not only be the best way to learn it, but would also give her a greater sense of confidence and independence. An “ownership” of her study of the Bible, if you will.

There are several good children’s and “easy reader” Bibles out there. I’ve suggested a few here: Children’s Bible Recommendations. You might wish to sit down with her and come up with a list of simple questions she can answer as she finishes reading a chapter, such as:

📖 Who is this passage about?
📖 What is the main idea of this passage?
📖 Why did God – the author of the author of the Bible Who says all Scripture is useful – put this passage in the Bible? 

📖 What can I learn about God from this passage?
📖 Is this passage telling me to do/not to do something? How can I obey it?
📖 Is there something in this passage I need to pray about?

Or, if you like, you could suggest that she read one of the books of the Bible I’ve written a study on (out of her own, new, easy to read Bible), take some of the questions I’ve written and send her a simplified version of the ones you think she can handle.

And, perhaps you could be “on call” via phone or e-mail to answer any questions she might have about what she’s studying. What a great opportunity to do one on one discipleship with someone who’s dear to your heart!


Do you know of any good Christian homeschooling blogs?

I homeschool, so I’m asked from time to time about homeschooling resources, but to be honest, it’s just not something I really read about. I recently asked my readers to recommend some good, doctrinally sound online homeschool blogs and resources, and here’s what they suggested (Please note, I have not vetted any of these. You will need to do the research yourself to discover whether or not they’re doctrinally sound.)

Family Renewal
✏ Reformed Homeschoolin’ Mamas
✏ Durenda Wilson
(author of The Unhurried Homeschooler)
✏ Half-A-Hundred Acre Wood
✏ The Kingdom Driven Family
✏ Annie & Everything


I really enjoyed reading A Few Good Men and A Few MORE Good Men, but how come John Piper (or another pastor) isn’t included? Is he a false teacher? 

Please understand that these two lists of godly male teachers aren’t exhaustive. Praise God, there are scores of preachers and teachers out there who faithfully teach and rightly handle God’s Word. I couldn’t list all of them if I tried, though I plan to add more articles like this in the future. These were just the teachers I was most familiar with at the time I wrote the articles. The mere fact that your favorite teacher doesn’t appear on these lists does not make him a false teacher, and I hope the articles don’t imply that (I don’t think they do).

John Piper’s books, sermons, and blog are mostly fine, and while I disagree with him on several points of theology, I certainly do not consider him to be a false teacher. But he’s not somebody I’m going to proactively recommend, either. Here’s how I’ve answered readers in the past who have asked me about John Piper:

While I consider Dr. Piper to be a generally doctrinally sound Christian brother and agree with him in many aspects of theology, he is not someone I proactively recommend for a few reasons:

1. Dr. Piper is a continuationist. I usually limit my endorsements to cessationists  because I believe this is the biblical view of the gifts. (I do not consider otherwise doctrinally sound continuationists to be false teachers, however.)

2. I’m concerned about Dr. Piper’s associations and partnerships with false teachers (which violates 2 Corinthians 6:14-18, Romans 16:17-18, and 2 John 9-11). First he appeared to embrace Rick Warren when he interviewed him and invited him to speak at the Desiring God conference in 2010. More recently, he has been a featured speaker at events like the Passion conferences where he has shared the stage with Christine Caine, Priscilla Shirer, Beth Moore, and Judah Smith.

3. Dr. Piper’s complementarianism seems muddled at best. On the one hand he will go so far as to say that Christian women should not be drill sergeants (the Bible mentions nothing of the sort), yet on the other hand he joins in ministry with the aforementioned Caine, Shirer, and Moore who – in addition the the false doctrine they preach – all actively and unrepentantly violate clear Scripture by preaching to men. It’s quite confusing.

I’m not going to warn people away from John Piper as a false teacher, but I can’t, in good conscience, recommend him either.


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.