Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Teaching co-ed college Sunday School… “Losing it” with attackers… “Tough” vs. “fluff” Bible studies… Why “Bye Begg”?)

Welcome to another “potpourri” edition of The Mailbag, where I give short(er) answers to several questions rather than a long answer to one question.

I like to take the opportunity in these potpourri editions to let new readers know about my comments/e-mail/messages policy. I’m not able to respond individually to most e-mails and messages, so here are some helpful hints for getting your questions answered more quickly. Remember, the search bar (at the very bottom of each page) can be a helpful tool!

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


I’ve been asked to teach a college/career Sunday School class. It’s couples that are married, some engaged. I would probably be able to co-teach with a man. Should I as a woman not be teaching that class since it has men and not really youth?

It’s really great that you’re giving this some thought and asking that question!

You’re correct – college aged young men are men, even if they are young. You should not be teaching them, your church is wrong for asking you to teach them, and your pastor is wrong for allowing women to teach men in your church. It isn’t just wrong for you, individually because you would be violating Scripture, it’s also wrong because, if you did it, you would be leading these young men to think that it’s OK for women to teach men. You would be teaching them by your actions that it’s OK to ignore or disobey any command of God that’s inconvenient or that we don’t like. (This is one of the reasons I also discourage women from teaching youth/teen boys.)

As far as “co-teaching” goes, it depends on what you and your church mean by that term. What the term “co-teaching” actually means is that you and another teacher(s) take turns teaching the class the Bible lesson. If that’s how you and your church are using that term, then, no, you shouldn’t be co-teaching. It doesn’t matter whether you’re teaching every week or every other week or once a month or whatever. You’re still teaching men the Bible, and that’s still a sin.

However, some churches/Christians will say that, for example, a husband and wife are “co-teaching” a Sunday School class when what they really mean is that the husband is doing all of the actual teaching and the wife is taking care of the administrative duties of the class like making the coffee, taking attendance, organizing fellowships, contacting those who have been absent, etc., but not doing any of the actual teaching. That is absolutely fine, but they need to stop calling it “co-teaching” – a) because it’s not, and b) because it leads others to believe they and their church are sinning when they’re actually not.

I would encourage you to give some thought and study to my Rock Your Role series of articles, starting with Jill in the Pulpit and Rock Your Role FAQs (start with #13), then make an appointment with your pastor to politely and kindly ask him why he’s allowing women to teach men in your church. If he brushes you off or tries to make you feel like the bad guy, it’s time to find a new, doctrinally sound church. Churches that allow or encourage women to teach men are just as much in sin as if they were allowing or encouraging church members to steal from the offering, or remain in a homosexual lifestyle, or if they taught that abortion is OK. No one should be joined to a church that’s in active, unrepentant sin.


Curious- Do you ever lose it? As in raise your voice and yell at someone who attacks you over doctrinal issues?

I don’t personally recall ever having lost it quite like that, but that has nothing to do with my stellar level of self control or personal holiness or anything like that. It has more to do with the fact that when I’m attacked, it’s virtually always online – social media, email, or blog comments – and virtually always by strangers. That affords me ways of dealing with the person or comment that aren’t feasible when you’re dealing with a friend or loved one in person.

I have gotten into a few exchanges on social media in which I was convicted that I crossed the line of anger or I squandered time in an argument that I should have stewarded better. In those cases, I’ve repented and asked the person’s forgiveness. And I’ve tried, since then to have a much stricter Matthew 7:6 policy.

The handful of times I’ve been attacked in person by someone I know, I was usually prepared because the meetings were pre-arranged for the specific purpose of excoriating me for standing on the truth of Scripture and decrying false teachers and false doctrine. I had my notes and thoughts in order and was prepared beforehand not to lose it.

The one or two times I’ve been spontaneously attacked in person by someone I know were relatively brief in duration, and I pretty much stood there in stunned silence with my mouth agape at the shock of a professing Christian acting that way. Even after all these years, I don’t think that’s something I’ll ever get used to.

So, to my recollection, no, I’ve never lost it like that in a similar situation, but mainly because I haven’t been in a similar situation.


I’m a co-leader of a women’s group at our church.. at first the other leader and I were on the same page.. no fluff. We are currently doing J.I. Packer’s book, Knowing God, and all I hear is, “It’s too hard!”. They all want fluff but 3 of us..How do I change their minds?… I’ve been praying on how to handle this. I can’t do fluff! They want Beth Moore type stuff. That is a hard pass for me. What should I do?

Atta girl! Fluff is not the answer, and we should always take a hard pass on false doctrine.

What should you do? You do exactly what you do with a toddler who only wants to keep eating candy rather than healthy food: You keep feeding her healthy food. You don’t give in to unbiblical, unhealthy childish whims. There’s not a single biblical passage that teaches us to coddle Christians in their immaturity. Scripture always instructs us to grow up.

That being said, we start babies on baby food, not steak. I haven’t read that particular book by Packer. Perhaps it is a little too tough for them, and the reason they’re suggesting “fluff” type authors and studies is that that’s all they know to suggest as an alternative.

Can I make a couple of suggestions? When you finish the Packer book (or, if you think it’s wiser, just discontinue it now)…

  • Grab one of my Bible studies and take them through it. Maybe one of the shorter ones like Colossians or Ruth. All of my studies are free, so if it turns out not to be a fit, nobody has lost any money. Also, you know where your ladies are, maturity-wise, and you can simplify or skip any of the questions you think are too tough for them at this moment. You can tailor the study for the ladies of your particular church.
  • If you absolutely have to do a book study rather than a Bible study, I would recommend my friend Allen Nelson’s book From Death to Life: How Salvation Works for two reasons: a) It’s a lot shorter, and probably simpler, too, than Packer’s book, and b) Often the reason women clamor after false teachers is because they’re not genuinely saved (John 10). This book is a wonderful, simple exposition of the gospel.

“Tough” and “fluff” aren’t your only two options. The key is to meet your ladies where they are, set the bar a little higher, and help them grow to maturity.


Why is Alistair Begg no longer listed at your Recommended Bible Teachers tab?

I was disappointed to have to remove him, but if I’m going to be fair and consistent about who I recommend, it had to be done.

It has been brought to my attention that Alistair Begg endorses the idea of a woman preaching or teaching the Sunday morning message in church (in other words, preaching/teaching to men) as long as she has been invited and given permission to do so by the pastor and elders. He has invited and permitted at least one woman to do this at his own church. This is unbiblical.

Listen as Begg explains in his own words in this sermon (starting around 30:12) on 1 Timothy 2:9-15b. (I would encourage you to listen to the whole sermon – in which he says many good things – for context.)

Christian Women (2) – Alistair Begg | September 16, 2019

Some may also recall that in 2019, Begg shared the stage with Beth Moore (also Tony Evans and others) at Baylor University’s National Preaching Conference, much to the chagrin of and numerous protests from his followers. In response to a follower who expressed concern, a statement1 from Begg’s ministry indicated that he accepted the invitation to speak without knowing who any of the other speakers were. He kept the engagement, but has not appeared with any other false teachers since then that I know of.

I did not remove Begg from my recommends at that time because I was hoping it was (and, so far, seems to have been) a one time goof that would teach him to use greater wisdom and discernment in the future. We all do dumb things from time to time, and well known pastors are no exception.

Begg’s statements in the sermon video above, however, are not a one time lapse in judgment. They are the well thought out, planned, and implemented policy of the church he pastors.

I’m not saying Begg is a heretic on par with Benny Hinn or Kenneth Copeland. Far from it. I don’t even consider him a false teacher. I just no longer feel comfortable saying, “Hey, this is a great teacher. I recommend that you follow him,” (i.e. putting him on my list of recommended teachers) when there are others I decline to recommend who hold the same erroneous position.

Earlier in the sermon Begg humbly admits (as should every good pastor) that he and his church don’t claim to have everything right, but that they will continue to grow in Christ and make corrections. If and when he corrects this error (and any others that might come to light), I’ll be delighted to reconsider him for inclusion on the list.

1This is not a website I endorse. It is linked only as evidence of the statements in this paragraph.


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.

Podcast Appearances

Podcast Guest Appearance – Bibledingers

Don’t worry, this episode was not about complementing Arians! :0)

It was so great to sit down and chat with my new friends Ryan and Nick over at Bibledingers recently!

We talked about all things complementarian – the biblical foundation for the complementarian position, the Scriptures egalitarians twist to try to justify their position, godly women in the Bible, and the crucial roles women play in the church and the home. The guys even had some great words of wisdom for all you husbands out there!

Listen in here or check out episode 78 of Bibledingers on your favorite podcast platform!

Be sure to visit the Bibledingers website for blog articles, videos, gear, and all the Bibledingers’ social media links. Subscribe and follow!


Articles / resources mentioned or touched on in the episode:

Rock Your Role: All Things Being Equal

Rock Your Role article series

The Mailbag: Counter Arguments to Egalitarianism


Got a podcast of your own or have a podcasting friend who needs a guest? Need a speaker for a women’s conference or church event? Click the “Speaking Engagements” tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page, drop me an e-mail, and let’s chat!

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Asked and Answered

Good 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!


[Instagrammer asks a question in the comments or DMs me a question]

I love my Instagram followers! Most of you are very sweet and kind, and you ask some really smart questions!

But a lot of you a) don’t seem to know that I have a blog, and b) aren’t familiar with how I use Instagram and how I do correspondence. I totally get that. A lot of you are new and Instagram seems to have a high turnover, and a much higher “hit or miss” with posts than other social media platforms. (Plus, I’m a weirdo and don’t use Instagram the way most influencers do. I mainly use it to tell you what’s on the blog each day.)

So, let me try to help. If you’ve commented or DM’d me a question and I haven’t answered, I would encourage you to watch “Questions” and “Get Info” in my highlights. (In fact, you might want to watch “Need a church?” “Warning,” and “New?” too.)

This is included in the “Questions?” highlight from a Mailbag article. I think it will be helpful to all of my social media and blog followers.


I’m in the market for a new Bible. What would you recommend? I really appreciate your ministry!

Thank you so much for your kind words. And thank you to all my followers who take a moment to encourage me with your comments. As you might imagine, and have probably witnessed, I catch a lot of flak via email and social media from people who don’t like or misunderstand things I’ve said and written. The encouragement is greatly needed and appreciated.

You’re right on time with your question! Amy and I answered it on a recent Glad You Asked episode of the podcast, and that answer was largely based on my blog article The Mailbag: Which Bible Do You Recommend?


God bless you, I wanted to reach out to see if you do Bible studies or if you know any through Zoom with other ladies.

It depends on what you mean by “do Bible studies”. If you’re asking whether or not I teach Bible studies in a video or livestream format, the answer is no, for two reasons. First, at the moment, I don’t have time. Second, I really think you should be meeting in person with a small group for Bible study – ideally with women from your own church and with oversight from your pastor. I understand there are situations in which that isn’t possible, but that is the ideal I want to encourage women toward. God’s plan is the in person assembling of the local church, not Zoom.

I do write Bible studies, though. They are all free, all suitable for groups or individuals, and all designed to teach you how to study or teach straight from the text of Scripture. If you’re new to that idea, I would encourage you to find a friend or a small group of friends, pick one of my studies, and work through it together.

You can find all of my studies and more helpful resources at the Bible Studies tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page.

And speaking of Bible studies…

Are your Bible studies able to print off?!

Yes. Click the “Bible Studies” link above for all the info and instructions.

Can you recommend a good daily devotional book for a 17-year-old girl? Our granddaughter is having surgery in a few days and I was hoping to send her a little get well soon package and I would like to include a devotional.

What a blessing to have a godly grandma! I’m sorry, but, on principle, I don’t recommend what I call “canned” Bible studies and devotionals. I recommend that Christians read and study straight from the text of Scripture. (You can read more about why at the “Bible Studies” link above, and in my article The Mailbag: Can you recommend a good Bible study for women/teens/kids?.)

May I make a suggestion? Instead of a devotional, how about a new Bible? Or perhaps you could find a small “for those recovering from illness/surgery” gift book of selections from the Psalms, or a “coffee table” type book that is mostly artwork or photography, accompanied by Bible verses. There are also “Bibles” that are Psalms and Proverbs only. (Just make sure all of these books use a reliable translation of Scripture.) If you want to go a little higher tech, consider an iTunes gift card so she can download her favorite (doctrinally sound) Christian music, or a subscription to AGTV.


The women’s group of the church that we are attending will be doing a Priscilla Shirer simulcast. I have read your article about Ms. Shirer and have decided to abstain from attending the event. How do I lovingly but truthfully tell the women in this group why I am refusing to attend and why I feel this is not someone whom we should be promoting? (unless of course, Ms. Shirer has changed her stance since your article was written). My husband and I believe [our pastor] to be of sound doctrine [but] I am certain that he is oblivious to P. Shirer. [I] hope that you can help me “find the right words” to discuss this with those involved.

I am so sorry this is happening in your church. I have been in exactly that situation, so I know what it’s like.

Here are a couple of articles I think will be of help:

The Mailbag: How should I approach my church leaders about a false teacher they’re introducing? I would suggest approaching your women’s ministry leader (or whoever is most immediately in charge of the simulcast) first, then working your way up the chain of command until you’ve spoken to the pastor, if necessary.

The Mailbag: Should I attend the “Bible” study to correct false doctrine? (I know you’ve already decided not to attend the simulcast, but I think some of the info in this article will still be helpful.)

Just a note to all of my readers on the “unless she ‘has changed her stance since your article was written'” part: You’ll notice at the top of my article on Priscilla it says, “This article is kept continuously updated as needed.” (I think I’ve remembered to put this at the top of all of my articles on particular teachers? If I missed one, let me know.) Translation: “Yes, I originally wrote this article in 2015, but I go back and update it – fix links, add or delete info, etc. – whenever I feel it’s necessary.”.

If any teacher I’ve ever written an article about genuinely gets saved, repents of her false teaching, etc., I promise you, unless I’m somehow Providentially hindered, you will hear about it from me ASAP. That is not something I’m going to neglect to update you on (and rejoice with you about!) immediately. In the meantime, you can safely assume that the information in my articles is still accurate and applicable and that the teacher is either still status quo with the info in the article, or has gotten worse.


I have several Bible apps, and recently you gave info in one of your mailbags that YouVersion app is not recommended, and knowing now what I didn’t know then, I uninstalled it. I did find it easy to navigate and the search capability was good, but I no longer want anything to do with it. If you could kindly lead me to one that is as user friendly, I need an app that you recommend that is as simple as me. Lol

I like to keep things simple, too. I hope you’ll find my article My Favorite Bible & Study Apps to be helpful.


Our church has a mixed adult Sunday school. My conviction has been silence as I do not want the appearance of teaching men. I am discouraged as most of the responses in the hour of teaching is from the women in the group even though our church only allows men to be in teaching positions. I would genuinely like to hear your thoughts on this. I have appreciated your podcast and website information.

I know it can be discouraging when it seems like men are being less manly or exhibiting less leadership than we would hope. I would encourage you to kindly talk to your pastor or elders about your concerns and ask for some insight as well.

In this particular situation, it may be wise to answer fewer questions, or make fewer comments than you normally would, not because you would be teaching (or even giving the appearance of teaching), but because it might give the men more space to get a word in edgewise. If this dynamic is really problematic, I wonder if it might be helpful to split the class into a men’s class and a women’s class. Perhaps that way the men would feel more comfortable contributing. Maybe that’s something you can discuss with your pastor or elders.

I’ve explained why women answering questions and participating in the discussion in a co-ed Sunday School / Bible study class isn’t teaching men or a violation of Scripture in my article Rock Your Role FAQs #4.


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

Throwback Thursday ~ Fencing Off the Forbidden Fruit Tree

Originally published April 26 2016

Often, with regard to 1 Timothy 2:12, husbands and pastors will reassure a woman that it’s OK for her to teach that co-ed Sunday School class or step into a church leadership role reserved for men because she’ll be doing so “under his [husband’s or pastor’s] authority.”

But is that biblical?

When God tells us (in context, rightly handled, of course) not to do something and we do it anyway, that is sin. Only God has the authority to say what is sin and what is not. No one – not your pastor, your husband, your parents, your best friend, the Pope, nobody – has the authority to tell you that it’s OK to do something God has said is sin. That authority belongs to God alone.

Try inserting any other sin into that situation. Does your husband, pastor, or anyone else have the authority to tell you it’s OK to lie? Cuss? Covet? Of course not. And why would they even consider doing such a thing?

My point exactly.

The issue here is that this particular sin (teaching/exercising authority over men) has become so acceptable in the church that we no longer even see it as sin. If your husband or pastor gave you the go ahead to preach to or teach men in the gathered assembly of the church body, and you were to ask him to show you in Scripture where God says it’s OK for him to allow you to do that, he would quickly realize that he is not basing his decision on Scripture (because there is no Scripture that allows him to give you that permission), but on his own personal opinion that it’s OK. And that opinion has been heavily influenced by the fact that this sin is now so widely acceptable in the church at large.

Beth Moore is a perfect example of why husbands and pastors should not allow or encourage women to violate God’s word by teaching men. Beth Moore started out teaching a women’s Sunday school class in her home church. It grew. Men wanted to attend the class (a problem I’ve addressed here). She was hesitant, so she talked to her husband and pastor about it. They both told her it was OK because she would be teaching the men “under their authority” (despite the fact that there’s no passage of Scripture that allows them to say that or gives them the right to lay some sort of “mantle of authority” on her) That initial compromise led to another and another. Fast forward to today, and this is still the argument Beth Moore – in all of her false doctrinal glory – uses for preaching to men if she bothers to defend herself at all. And she has influenced thousands of women (and their husbands and pastors) to do the same.

But it doesn’t matter how sound our doctrine is, when women stand in front of co-ed groups and teach (or accept positions of authority over men in the church) we are teaching more than just what’s coming out of our mouths. We’re teaching that group of people by example that it’s OK for women to teach men. That God’s Word can be ignored and disobeyed in this area while we stand there urging them to obey it in other areas. How can a woman exhort a group to obey God while she is standing there disobeying Him herself?

It’s my prayer that we’ll begin to see more husbands and pastors uphold God’s Word and protect their wives and female church members from sinning by encouraging them to fulfill all of the wonderful roles God has for women in the church and by fencing off that one tree in the garden that bears the forbidden fruit of teaching and exercising authority over men.

Adapted from a Facebook mini-blog.


Additional Resources:

Rock Your Role

Rock Your Role: Jill in the Pulpit

Rock Your Role FAQs

The Mailbag: Counter Arguments to Egalitarianism

The Mother of All Rebellions: Having a Woman Preach on Mother’s Day

Why Asking Women to Preach Is Spiritual Abuse by Josh Buice

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Michelle’s personal info… Female apologists… Cardinals are dead loved ones?… MacArthur a Mason?)

Welcome to another “potpourri” edition of The Mailbag, where I give short(er) answers to several questions rather than a long answer to one question.

I like to take the opportunity in these potpourri editions to let new readers know about my comments/e-mail/messages policy. I’m not able to respond individually to most e-mails and messages, so here are some helpful hints for getting your questions answered more quickly. Remember, the search bar (at the very bottom of each page) can be a helpful tool!

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


Could I get your home address? I have some questions that I don’t want on the internet.

Where do you live? What church do you go to?

Have you ever gotten an email or DM/PM from someone you don’t know asking for personal information out of the blue like that? I have.

I love all of my followers and I love that by following me, reading my blog, listening to my podcast, etc., you feel a kinship, maybe even a friendship, with me. I dearly wish we could all be friends in person – and if you’re a genuinely regenerated Believer, one day we will be – for eternity! I can’t wait!

But while we’re on this broken, sinful earth, I’ve heard all the same “stranger on the internet” horror stories you have, along with the warnings not to give out personal information to said strangers.

That’s why my Contact and Social Media page – the only place I’m aware of where my email address is available – clearly says in the very first sentence (right under “Important information. Please read before e-mailing“):

I handle all correspondence with readers via email or social media private message (i.e. no phone calls or snail mail).

The next paragraph begins:

I regret I am unable to answer most emails/PMs unrelated to speaking engagements, and I cannot engage in discipleship or counseling relationships with individual readers via email/PM.

In addition to the fact that I don’t have the time that’s required to engage in email relationships (I’m sorry, I wish I did.), if you need one-on-one counsel or discipleship God’s plan is the local church, not the internet. It’s not right for me to get between you and your pastor or you and a Titus 2 older woman at your church, and it wouldn’t be the best for your spiritual growth, either. This is just one of the dozens of reasons it’s imperative that you be a faithful member of a doctrinally sound local church.

I’m honored (I mean that!) that any of y’all would want me to answer your questions individually or give you personal counsel, but even if I could, it wouldn’t be God’s design or what’s best for you. And for safety reasons, although I’m sure none of you have sinister motives, I have no way of knowing whether you’re you or some whacko is impersonating you, so if you ask for personal information from me, it’s not that I don’t love you, it’s just that I don’t know you, so you’re unlikely to receive a reply.


What are your thoughts on female apologists? Do we treat them the same as “female pastors”? These women frequently speak at mixed gender conferences on Biblical topics. I question, though, what’s the difference between letting a woman get behind the pulpit at a Saturday conference for both genders versus a Sunday morning?

That’s a very good question – one many more Christians should be asking – and the answer is, “There isn’t a difference.”. If something is a sin on Sunday morning, it’s just as much of a sin on Saturday afternoon, Tuesday at midnight, or Thursday at brunch.

It doesn’t matter what a woman’s title is Wait, that’s not quite accurate. It does matter if a woman bears the title of pastor, overseer, elder, bishop, or the title of any other biblical office or position that Scripture restricts to men. There is never a time when it’s biblical for a woman to bear such a title. Why? Because if she bears the title of, say, “pastor,” and she’s doing the job of a pastor, she’s sinning by violating Scripture’s prohibition against women pastors. If she bears the title of “pastor” and she’s not doing the job of a pastor, then her title is a lie, which is also a sin.

But beyond those biblical titles and offices (for example: there’s no biblical office or position of apologist, conference speaker, etc.), it doesn’t matter what a woman’s title is. What matters is whether or not she’s violating Scripture by teaching men in the gathering of the Body. When the Body is gathered for teaching and/or preaching, whether that’s on a Sunday morning for church, on a Saturday at a Christian conference, or whatever the day, situation, event, or venue, women are not to instruct men in the Scriptures. Period. I don’t care what she calls herself, what she says she’s trying to do, or who gave her permission to do it. God’s Word doesn’t give her permission, and she’s violating Scripture.

When the Body is gathered for teaching and/or preaching, whatever the day, situation, event, or venue, women are not to instruct men in the Scriptures. Period.

A couple of resources you may find helpful:

Rock Your Role: Jill in the Pulpit

Rock Your Role FAQs

Fencing Off the Forbidden Fruit Tree


How can we minister to unbelievers who believe cardinals are loved ones visiting1, or other signs they believe are their lost loved ones communicating with them?

To those of us who have been saved a long time and have never run into this idea culturally, it seems silly and laughable. But try to remember how scary death and the afterlife seemed before you got saved. Lost people have no way of making sense of death. No hope and peace of an eternity with Christ. Of course they make up ridiculosities like “There’s just nothingness after you die,” or “Everybody goes to Heaven” … or cardinals. They’re trying to comfort themselves, and this is the best that fallen mankind has been able to come up with. Only Jesus makes sense of death and eternity.

Only Jesus makes sense of death and eternity.

Most people who remark on the appearance of a cardinal this way probably “believe” it about as much as they “believe” there’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, or “step on a crack, break your mother’s back,” or that they’ll really have seven years’ bad luck if they break a mirror. It’s just something people once heard somewhere and they say it so they’ll have something to say at the moment.

So the first thing I’d probably do is say something like, “Oh really? I’ve never heard that before. Where does that belief come from?” or “Very interesting. Why do you believe that?”. And listen. Being interested in someone’s beliefs not only demonstrates that you care about her, but it’ll give you a better grasp of where she’s coming from, spiritually (maybe she really does believe cardinals embody the spirits of the dead), and hopefully it will give you an opportunity to share the gospel with her. And that’s what she desperately needs if she believes this cardinal ma-lark-ey. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist!) :0)

1In case it’s not obvious, this is not a Christian site and I’m not recommending it for anything other than the explanation of this superstition.


I listen to John MacArthur’s podcast daily. I love his study Bible and have learned so much from him. A friend recently sent me [a link from a so-called discernment site]. Are you aware of Pastor MacArthur having any ties to the Free Masons? Praying for discernment. Thank you for your help and guidance.

I’m so glad you’re seeking to be discerning rather than just believing whatever random thing you’ve heard on the internet. Good on ya!

This is just one of the many silly false accusations about John MacArthur that are floating around out there. (Frankly, by now, I’m kind of surprised nobody has accused him of being a robot from Mars.) But why believe me? Listen to Dr. MacArthur in his own words:

But I’m really glad you asked, because this is a great opportunity for me to share a couple of quick discernment tips with everyone:

  • Consider the source. Ever heard that before? It’s certainly true of blogs and news sites and discernment ministries. Some are reliable and trustworthy. Some are not. If you’re not sure, don’t just blindly trust the information from that site, especially if it’s largely speculation, conjecture, opinion, or just plain sounds nutty (or is backed up only by other sites fitting that description). Do your homework. Use sources you know to be trustworthy that are backed up by Scripture and other trustworthy sites.

    (Personally – and this is the kind of thing you learn from experience, so it never hurts to reach out to somebody like me and ask if you’re new to this discernment stuff – I would never trust a website named GodIsTerrible dot whatever – the website shared with the reader who sent in the question. I know it’s based on part of a KJV Bible verse, but I don’t really care what the blogger’s motive was for choosing that domain name. Without context, it’s blasphemous and deliberately deceptive, and that’s not someone I’d consider trustworthy on anything biblical.)
  • Straight from the horse’s mouth. If you want to know what someone believes, it’s always best to go straight to the source, particularly if it’s someone you know or have reasonable access to. If it’s someone you don’t have easy direct access to, like Dr. MacArthur, go to his website, find the search bar, and start searching. You can even use an internet search engine. I found the video above by typing “John MacArthur masons” into Google. It was the second hit.

Keep up the great work of being a good Berean!


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.