Mailbag, Speaking Engagements

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Joni’s testimony, “Messy”, Female seminary profs…)

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!


Our church has a ministry for the homeless where once a week, lunch is provided and a Bible Study is given usually by a woman, occasionally by a man to a mixture of both men and women. Some might be saved, probably most are not. What are your thoughts in regard to this situation from a Biblical perspective?

Great question! I’ve answered it in #11 of my article Rock Your Role FAQs.


We watched a video of Joni Eareckson Tada speaking at a recent Shepherds Conference. She gave her testimony and shared the meaning of Scripture and what some Greek words were so there was teaching going on as well as testimony. I know she is thought of highly but I was wondering about her speaking and teaching to groups of men.

Joni is not someone I follow closely, though I did read her first book, Joni, when I was a teenager. John MacArthur heads up the Shepherds Conference, which is a conference for men in church leadership, particularly pastors (“shepherds”).

Just to give a little background for anyone not familiar with him, Dr. MacArthur is a staunch complementarian and is a doctrinally sound pastor, teacher, and author I am happy to recommend to my readers. He would never invite a woman to preach at ShepCon nor invite a doctrinally unsound speaker. So I trust Dr. MacArthur’s judgment and reasons for inviting her to speak – that he was not inviting her to preach.

That foundation being laid, there are instances in which it is perfectly biblically appropriate for a woman to speak in front of a co-ed Christian group or a group of Christian men, and giving her testimony – so long as she does not veer off into preaching (instructing and/or exhorting men in the Scriptures) – is one of them. I’ve written more about that, giving examples, in these three articles:

Rock Your Role FAQs (#7)

The Mailbag: Deaconesses- That’ll Preach!

The Mailbag: Should women give testimonies and reports, lead prayer and worship in church?

I have not listened to the talk Joni gave at ShepCon. It is possible that I would think her explanations of Scripture crossed the line into teaching, but it is also possible I would not. I just can’t say since I haven’t listened to it. (I would not consider giving the definition of a Greek word or two to be the type of biblical instruction prohibited by 1 Timothy 2:12.)

I would be more inclined to look at Joni’s history and intentions. Did she come to ShepCon with the intent of preaching or instructing men in the Scriptures? Does she have a track record of preaching sermons or giving Bible instruction to men at conferences? If the answer to both is no and she is normally very careful to stay within the parameters of biblical womanhood, I’d be inclined to extend grace on any bobbles she made during her testimony at ShepCon. It’s a very fine line to walk, and I’m sure I would probably make a few mistakes too if I were in that situation.

Update: Thanks to reader DebbieLynne (see comments section) for the heads up that Joni actually gave her testimony at the Strange Fire Conference (2013, also spearheaded by John MacArthur), not at the Shepherds Conference. Strange Fire was co-ed rather than men only. Whether or not women were in attendance at the conference doesn’t really change my answer to the reader, but it’s good to have the facts straight.


Is it OK for women to teach pastors-in-training at seminaries?

John Piper recently answered this question on an episode of Ask Pastor John. You should read his response for yourself (it’s not long), but, essentially his answer was that experienced pastor-mentors should be training up young pastors, and since it is unbiblical for women to serve as pastors themselves, they lack the experience necessary to mentor pastors-in-training. And, my word, the egalitarian world had a fit – including Beth Moore and her daughter Melissa (who helps run Beth’s ministry):

While I consider him to be a generally doctrinally sound brother in Christ, I’m not particularly a fan of John Piper, but I do want to say that I think his answer was taken wildly out of context by those pushing unbiblical agendas, that he was treated shabbily by many on social media, and that I thought his answer was very good, biblical, and just plain old made sense. Women are not qualified to serve as pastors. Why on earth would we want them training pastors? Moreover, what student wouldn’t want the most qualified and experienced professors he could get for his tuition money?

Let’s say you were the dean of the neurosurgery department at a medical school. A gentleman, totally blind from birth, comes in and applies for a position teaching surgical practicum (cutting, suturing, removing tumors, etc.). He has held positions teaching various subjects at other universities so his ability to impart information is not in question, but he has never performed surgery in his life because he’s blind. Would you hire him to train neurosurgeons to perform brain surgery?

The reason Dr. Piper’s answer caused a bit of a kerfuffle is that he limited his answer to the question he was asked. Imagine that. He was asked if women should train pastors and that’s the question he answered. The agenda-driven screaming neemies took his answer of “no” to mean that no woman should ever teach anything to anyone in any seminary anywhere ever. That is not what Dr. Piper said. He said women should not train men for the pastorate.

I would have answered the same way. However, if I were to expand on Dr. Piper’s answer, what I would further explain is that most seminaries (at least the ones I’m familiar with) do far more than simply train men for the pastorate. Take the seminary my husband attended for example, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. If you’ll click on the “Academics and Admissions” tab at the top of the page and examine the various degree and non-degree programs, you’ll find that most of them are not strictly preaching programs. There are programs for women’s ministry and children’s ministry (Surely we wouldn’t say women are unqualified to teach in these areas?), college ministry, urban ministry, music ministry, missions, counseling, languages, and many more. There’s nothing wrong with women teaching things like music theory, finance, general education classes like math, history, and English, archaeology, legal issues, languages, business, etc., even in a seminary.

There are definitely some classes women shouldn’t be teaching in seminaries, but there are plenty of other classes that would be fine for them to teach.


Since we’ve become parents my husband and I have mostly attended churches that were larger and offered childcare. We were saved out of Mormonism eight years ago which has its own order of services and no childcare provided for the main service, but I don’t know what to expect from a Christian service that doesn’t offer childcare. I don’t know what will be expected of me and my family. I have a four-year-old and I worry that he will end up running around or asleep on the pew. Do we call ahead? Pack a busy bag? Are snacks alright? How do you ever get anything out of the service for yourself?

Before I answer, I want to encourage readers who are experienced church members to really let this precious sister’s question sink in and inform the way you respond to visitors and new members. Increasingly, the people who are new to your church will have very little church background. Church culture may be old hat to you, but it’s like landing on Mars to many of them. They have no idea where to go or what to do, and they don’t speak Christianese. Make sure you warmly welcome and encourage newbies and let them know that it’s OK to ask questions.

I think my article Churchmanship 101: Training Your Child to Behave in Church will help with some practical tips and expectations. You should not allow your child to run around the sanctuary during the worship service any more than you would allow him to run around a restaurant if you went out to eat, or a store if you were shopping, but I would not get overly stressed about him making a few minor noises or dropping the occasional Bible during church. If a church doesn’t offer childcare, they’re surely used to children making a little noise during the service from time to time. Sermon-time naps at four years old are not the end of the world, but you’ll want to curb those as he approaches school-age (if he can stay awake all day in school, he can stay awake for 30 minutes or an hour in church).

Until your child gets into the routine of attending worship and learns how you expect him to behave, you may not get very much out of the service. That’s just one of those parts of being a mom that we all have to accept – like stretch marks :0) But if you will be consistent and diligent as you train your child, he’ll get with the program soon enough.

When you ask if you should “call ahead”, if what you mean is calling the church office prior to Sunday and asking any questions you might have, that is a super idea! Most pastors I know would be delighted to chat on the phone or in person to welcome you to the church and help you feel at ease. That is the point at which I would ask about snacks. Different churches have different policies about food and drink in the sanctuary. I’ve never heard of one that wouldn’t allow a baby bottle, but some may not be keen on the idea of Cheerios ground into their carpet. You could also ask if they have a “cry room”. Some churches have set aside a room near the sanctuary where you can take a fussy baby or jumpy toddler. Many of them have the sermon “piped in” so you can listen until you go back into the worship service. You might also want to ask if the worship service is recorded and posted online so you can listen at home to any parts of the sermon you may have missed. Never be afraid to ask an honest and polite question.


I have been hearing the word messy a lot in reference to our lives..has this word replaced the word sin?

Well…I suppose it may have for those who are trying to sand off the sharp edges of the gospel, but the biblical term is sin, so that’s the correct word to use, despite how popular “messy”, or any other trendy word, might be.


Can you recommend any doctrinally sound female speakers for women’s events?

(I promise this is an actual question I recently received, not one I made up for promotional purposes! :0)

Yes, me. Click the “Speaking Engagements” tab at the top of this page for more information.

If I’m not really your cup of tea, or I’m too far away for your travel budget, I happily recommend any of the women listed under the “Recommended Bible Teachers” tab at the top of this page (although I’m not positive all of them do speaking engagements).


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.

Calvinism/Arminianism, Celebrity Pastors, Cessationism/Continuationism, Church, Complementarianism, Homosexuality, Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday ~ Keep On Keeping Up: 5 Issues Christians Need Guidance About from Our Pastors ~ Part 1

Originally published January 16, 2014

14333566699421

Read Part 2 of this article, “Keep On Keeping Up: 6 More Issues Christians Need Guidance About From Our Pastors” here.

"Ignorance? Of Benny Hinn? A man in Brown’s position claiming ignorance of Benny Hinn would be tantamount to an Olympic swimmer claiming ignorance of Michael Phelps or for a high level employee of Microsoft claiming ignorance of Bill Gates."
“Ignorance? Of Benny Hinn? A man in Brown’s position claiming ignorance of Benny Hinn would be tantamount to an Olympic swimmer claiming ignorance of Michael Phelps or for a high level employee of Microsoft claiming ignorance of Bill Gates.”

Last week, I read a great article by Justin Peters entitled “Ignorance Is Not An Option.” In the article, Dr. Peters addresses a recent incident in which “charismatic theologian, author, and radio host Dr. Michael Brown” claimed not to know about the reputation and heresy of Benny Hinn, one of the most notorious false teachers in the Word of Faith movement. I know about him. You probably know about him. How could someone in Dr. Brown’s position not know at least the basics about Benny Hinn and why no Christian should endorse him?

It got me thinking- “ignorance is not an option” applies to far more than this one, isolated incident. We church members desperately need our pastors to keep up with at least the basics of current trends and thought in evangelicalism, and in theology and doctrine.

Why? There is a tsunami of materials, ideas, and personalities out there, and church members- even though we should seek to keep abreast, ourselves -need help sorting through it all. What’s biblical? What’s not? Also, pastors need to be informed about who and what they endorse (even tacitly), lest they encourage their church members to follow a person or doctrine that is not in line with God’s word.

So, what, specifically, are some of those current trends that we folks in the pew need our pastors to keep up with? Here are a few, along with some great resources to spare pastors some leg work:

Celebrity Pastors and Christian Authors: Do you know who Joyce Meyer, Matt Chandler, Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, John Piper, John MacArthur, Andy Stanley, Steven Furtick, Beth Moore, Mark Driscoll, Tony Campolo, David Platt, and Rachel Held Evans are (just to name a few)?

Do you know why your people should or shouldn’t be listening to/reading them? What about any controversies surrounding them? Do you have a general awareness of whether they have a track record of, and are currently teaching, sound doctrine or false doctrine?

Church members may not know the answers to these questions, but they’re walking into Christian bookstores and buying their books, re-tweeting them, and listening to their podcasts. If a church member comes and asks you about one of these pastors/authors, what will your recommendation be? We church members need our pastors not to go by the pastor/author’s popularity, whether what they write or say sounds pleasing to the ear, how many books they’ve sold, that their stuff is sold at a store you think is trustworthy, or how big their church is. Whether we know it or not, we need your deciding factor to be: Does what they teach consistently match up with God’s word (in context)?

*Resources:
Fighting for the Faith: Listen regularly, or make good use of the search box. Chris Rosebrough has analyzed the teaching of nearly all of the people in the list above as well as many others.

Apprising Ministries: While I sometimes feel Ken Silva’s tone is too sharp, his posts are saturated with links to articles and videos of questionable teachers (plus tons of other resources) that you can check out for yourself.

Complementarianism vs. Egalitarianism: In a nutshell, complementarianism is the view that God’s roles for men and women in marriage and in the leadership of the church are different, yet equally important. Wives are to submit to their husbands, and husbands are to lovingly lead their wives and children. The roles of pastor and elder are reserved to men, and women are not to teach the Bible to men or hold authority over men in the church.

Egalitarianism basically says that there are no gender restrictions on any positions in the church, including that of pastor, and that husbands and wives are to be “mutually submissive” to one another, removing any distinctive definition of headship.

The church, and women, especially, have been heavily influenced by culture on this issue, but what does God’s word say about it?

Resources:
Complementarianism vs. Egalitarianism- Which View Is Biblicaly Correct? by GotQuestions.org
The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

Cessationism vs. Continuationism: Did the “miracle” or “sign” gifts such as speaking in tongues/other languages, healing, visions, direct revelation from God, raising the dead, etc., come to an end with the closing of the canon or death of of the last apostle, or do these gifts continue in the same way today?

Resources: 
Strange Fire Conference audio from John MacArthur

Continuationism and Cessationism: An Interview With Dr. Wayne Grudem- Part 1 and Part 2 by Tim Challies

Calvinism vs. Arminianism:  I don’t think I could boil down the tenets of Calvinism or Arminianism to a brief paragraph in any sort of way that wouldn’t have people on both sides hot under the collar. This has been a strenuously debated topic, particularly for Southern Baptists, for the last several years.

So, let me just say, and I’m sure everyone on both sides can agree, it is extremely important to know what the Bible says about our sin nature, free will, election and predestination, and whether or not a person can lose his salvation. These are weighty issues with eternal consequences that shouldn’t be dealt with lightly or in a way that seeks to reinforce our own opinions at the expense of what God’s word says.

Resources: 
Calvinism and Arminianism by Theopedia.com

Homosexuality In the Church: Homosexuality is certainly not the only sin out there, but it’s the sin that’s the hottest topic right now. Do you know the Scriptures that address homosexuality? Do you know how to answer the canard: “Christians say that homosexuality is against God’s law, yet they eat shellfish and wear garments of mixed fabrics, which is also against God’s law,”? What would you tell a church member who thinks it’s not loving to call homosexuals to repent of their sin and trust Christ or that godly “love” means we should validate their sin? Do you know how to help Christians who are former homosexuals deal with temptation to their old sins? Is it biblical to allow unrepentant, practicing homosexuals to serve in leadership positions in the church? Things like this may be going on in your own denomination, so it’s important for church members to be trained in what God’s word actually says.

Resources: 
Homosexuality by CARM.org
How Can We Help Christians Who Are Struggling with Homosexual Desires? by John Piper
Homosexuality and the Modern Church by Robert Gagnon and Tony Reinke

*The resources given are obviously not an exhaustive list. For the most part, they are resources I have used myself, found to be helpful, and trust to be generally doctrinally sound. There are many other wonderful resources out there, but, naturally, our most important resource is to compare all things to God’s word in context.

 

Read Part 2 of this article, “Keep On Keeping Up: 6 More Issues Christians Need Guidance About From Our Pastors” here.

Calvinism/Arminianism, Celebrity Pastors, Cessationism/Continuationism, Church, Complementarianism, Homosexuality

Keep On Keeping Up: 5 Issues Christians Need Guidance About from Our Pastors ~ Part 1

14333566699421

Read Part 2 of this article, “Keep On Keeping Up: 6 More Issues Christians Need Guidance About From Our Pastors” here.

"Ignorance? Of Benny Hinn? A man in Brown’s position claiming ignorance of Benny Hinn would be tantamount to an Olympic swimmer claiming ignorance of Michael Phelps or for a high level employee of Microsoft claiming ignorance of Bill Gates."
“Ignorance? Of Benny Hinn? A man in Brown’s position claiming ignorance of Benny Hinn would be tantamount to an Olympic swimmer claiming ignorance of Michael Phelps or for a high level employee of Microsoft claiming ignorance of Bill Gates.”

Last week, I read a great article by Justin Peters entitled “Ignorance Is Not An Option.” In the article, Dr. Peters addresses a recent incident in which “charismatic theologian, author, and radio host Dr. Michael Brown” claimed not to know about the reputation and heresy of Benny Hinn, one of the most notorious false teachers in the Word of Faith movement. I know about him. You probably know about him. How could someone in Dr. Brown’s position not know at least the basics about Benny Hinn and why no Christian should endorse him?

It got me thinking- “ignorance is not an option” applies to far more than this one, isolated incident. We church members desperately need our pastors to keep up with at least the basics of current trends and thought in evangelicalism, and in theology and doctrine.

Why? There is a tsunami of materials, ideas, and personalities out there, and church members- even though we should seek to keep abreast, ourselves -need help sorting through it all. What’s biblical? What’s not? Also, pastors need to be informed about who and what they endorse (even tacitly), lest they encourage their church members to follow a person or doctrine that is not in line with God’s word.

So, what, specifically, are some of those current trends that we folks in the pew need our pastors to keep up with? Here are a few, along with some great resources to spare pastors some leg work:

Celebrity Pastors and Christian Authors: Do you know who Joyce Meyer, Matt Chandler, Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, John Piper, John MacArthur, Andy Stanley, Steven Furtick, Beth Moore, Mark Driscoll, Tony Campolo, David Platt, and Rachel Held Evans are (just to name a few)?

Do you know why your people should or shouldn’t be listening to/reading them? What about any controversies surrounding them? Do you have a general awareness of whether they have a track record of, and are currently teaching, sound doctrine or false doctrine?

Church members may not know the answers to these questions, but they’re walking into Christian bookstores and buying their books, re-tweeting them, and listening to their podcasts. If a church member comes and asks you about one of these pastors/authors, what will your recommendation be? We church members need our pastors not to go by the pastor/author’s popularity, whether what they write or say sounds pleasing to the ear, how many books they’ve sold, that their stuff is sold at a store you think is trustworthy, or how big their church is. Whether we know it or not, we need your deciding factor to be: Does what they teach consistently match up with God’s word (in context)?

*Resources:
Fighting for the Faith: Listen regularly, or make good use of the search box. Chris Rosebrough has analyzed the teaching of nearly all of the people in the list above as well as many others.
Apprising Ministries: While I sometimes feel Ken Silva’s tone is too sharp, his posts are saturated with links to articles and videos of questionable teachers (plus tons of other resources) that you can check out for yourself.

Complementarianism vs. Egalitarianism: In a nutshell, complementarianism is the view that God’s roles for men and women in marriage and in the leadership of the church are different, yet equally important. Wives are to submit to their husbands, and husbands are to lovingly lead their wives and children. The roles of pastor and elder are reserved to men, and women are not to teach the Bible to men or hold authority over men in the church.

Egalitarianism basically says that there are no gender restrictions on any positions in the church, including that of pastor, and that husbands and wives are to be “mutually submissive” to one another, removing any distinctive definition of headship.

The church, and women, especially, have been heavily influenced by culture on this issue, but what does God’s word say about it?

Resources:
Complementarianism vs. Egalitarianism- Which View Is Biblicaly Correct? by GotQuestions.org
The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

Cessationism vs. Continuationism: Did the “miracle” or “sign” gifts such as speaking in tongues/other languages, healing, visions, direct revelation from God, raising the dead, etc., come to an end with the closing of the canon or death of of the last apostle, or do these gifts continue in the same way today?

Resources: 
Strange Fire Conference audio from John MacArthur
Continuationism and Cessationism: An Interview With Dr. Wayne Grudem- Part 1 and Part 2 by Tim Challies

Calvinism vs. Arminianism:  I don’t think I could boil down the tenets of Calvinism or Arminianism to a brief paragraph in any sort of way that wouldn’t have people on both sides hot under the collar. This has been a strenuously debated topic, particularly for Southern Baptists, for the last several years.

So, let me just say, and I’m sure everyone on both sides can agree, it is extremely important to know what the Bible says about our sin nature, free will, election and predestination, and whether or not a person can lose his salvation. These are weighty issues with eternal consequences that shouldn’t be dealt with lightly or in a way that seeks to reinforce our own opinions at the expense of what God’s word says.

Resources: 
Calvinism and Arminianism by Theopedia.com

Homosexuality In the Church: Homosexuality is certainly not the only sin out there, but it’s the sin that’s the hottest topic right now. Do you know the Scriptures that address homosexuality? Do you know how to answer the canard: “Christians say that homosexuality is against God’s law, yet they eat shellfish and wear garments of mixed fabrics, which is also against God’s law,”? What would you tell a church member who thinks it’s not loving to call homosexuals to repent of their sin and trust Christ or that godly “love” means we should validate their sin? Do you know how to help Christians who are former homosexuals deal with temptation to their old sins? Is it biblical to allow unrepentant, practicing homosexuals to serve in leadership positions in the church? Things like this may be going on in your own denomination, so it’s important for church members to be trained in what God’s word actually says.

Resources: 
Homosexuality by CARM.org
How Can We Help Christians Who Are Struggling with Homosexual Desires? by John Piper
Homosexuality and the Modern Church by Robert Gagnon and Tony Reinke

*The resources given are obviously not an exhaustive list. For the most part, they are resources I have used myself, found to be helpful, and trust to be generally doctrinally sound. There are many other wonderful resources out there, but, naturally, our most important resource is to compare all things to God’s word in context.

 

Read Part 2 of this article, “Keep On Keeping Up: 6 More Issues Christians Need Guidance About From Our Pastors” here.

Bible, Sunday School

Is my sickness/suffering due to sin? ~ Sunday School Lesson ~ 9-15-13

sunday school

I recently started teaching a women’s Sunday School class at my church. Right now we are taking a look at some of the challenging questions and issues we face as Christians. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. 


“Am I sick or experiencing suffering in my life because God is punishing me for my sin, or punishing someone else for his sin?”

I. Although we may be negatively affected by the sins of others, God does not punish us for someone else’s sin. (Ezekiel 18, key verse: 20)

II. Believers are not punished for their sin. Christ took the punishment for all of our sin on the cross. (Romans 8:1-2, Isaiah 53:1-6)

III. Purposes of/Reasons for suffering:

A. To bring glory to God (John 9, Job)

B. The logical consequences of sin

C. Discipline (Revelation 3:19, Hebrews 12:5-11)

D. To teach us humility and dependence on God (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

E. To grow us in spiritual strength and maturity (Romans 5:3-5)

F. To give us compassion for others, and to equip us to help those who are going through the same thing. (2 Corinthians 1:3-6)

G. To cause the lost to cry out to God for salvation

IV. Extra study resources:

A. Don’t Waste Your Cancer by John Piper

B. Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free by Tullian Tchividjian

C. Matt Chandler: “Suffering” on YouTube

D. “Why Does God Allow Sickness?” on 412Teens.org

E. “The Beauty of Faithful Suffering” on The Gospel Coalition