Christian women, Church, Complementarianism

Unforbidden Fruits: 3 Ways Women MUST Lead and Teach the Church

Originally published April 20, 2018

Ladies, we whine too much.

Like petulant little girls, we look at what’s off limits to us, stomp our Mary Janes on the floor and cry “Why can’t I? I want to!” instead of giddily jumping into all the opportunities God has blessed us with. Instead of being happy and thankful for what we have, our greedy little fingers stretch out to grasp what God has said we can’t have because it’s not good for us or anybody else.

God has instructed pastors – who are, in turn, to instruct us – that, in the gathered body of Believers, women are not to preach to men, instruct men in the Scriptures, or exercise authority over men. And that’s what we focus on, and whine and kick our feet about. That part – the childish rebellion and discontent with the role God has graciously placed us in – that’s on us.

But pastors, we badly need your help on this one. Many pastors do a wonderful job of rightly and biblically explaining what women are not to do (And may I take a moment to say, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. I know how difficult that can be and that you take a lot of undeserved flak for simply teaching God’s Word on this subject.), but that “no” teaching has often not been coupled with the “yes” teaching of what women must do and how they must lead in order for women, and the church, to be healthy and function properly.

You’ve loved us well to tell us not to bite at the apple from the forbidden tree, but we also desperately need you to take us on a tour of the Garden and introduce us to the all-you-can-eat buffet of pear and peach and cherry and pecan trees that we have the privilege and the responsibility to feast on.

🍊 The Other Institution 🍊

Did you ever notice that the “do” for women in the church comes before the “don’t”? We tend to totally skip over that enormous little word that kicks off 1 Timothy 2:11: “Let a woman learn…”. We have no idea of, nor appreciation for, how huge and groundbreaking it was for the Holy Spirit, through Paul, to proactively instruct pastors: “Hey, get these women in here, make sure they listen up, and train them properly in the Scriptures so they’ll be equipped to fortify their homes with biblical truth.”

We completely miss the fact that, though God installs men as the teachers and leaders in one of His foundational institutions – the church – He has very much made women the functional, boots on the ground, day to day, teachers and leaders by example – of His other foundational institution – the family. The church didn’t even exist for the first few millennia of human history, but the family has existed since Creation. And people who are members of families populate and lead the church. Raising and molding those people is a tremendous position and responsibility. A position and responsibility God has largely given to women.

Wives pray for our husbands’ growth in Christ. We build them up with Scripture. With a gentle and quiet spirit, we set a godly example for them as they observe our respectful and pure conduct. We encourage and help them in their leadership roles at church.

Moms pray for our children’s salvation. We pour the gospel into them at every turn. We train up our children in the way that they should go – in the nurture and admonition of the Lord – so that when they are old they do not depart from it. We teach them to love and serve and invest in the church both directly and by modeling these things for them.

And our single, widowed, and childless sisters work right alongside us in this labor, praying for church leaders and members, nurturing children at church whose parents are unsaved or unequipped to raise them biblically, encouraging and assisting brothers and sisters in Christ.

We grow and develop, nourish and support, exhort and sharpen the population of the body of Christ.

Men may lead the church, but women raise the church.

🍐 Woman to Woman 🍐

Essential to the health of any church is the component of women training women, whether in the formal setting of a Bible study class and structured women’s ministry programs or an impromptu “let’s get together for coffee this week” discipleship discussion.

Though we receive instruction in Scripture from our pastors, elders, and teachers, there are some counseling and teaching situations it’s not appropriate for a man to address with a woman, or that a woman understands better than a man. There are issues women face that men just don’t “get” in the same way a sister in Christ does. There are insights and perspectives a woman can use to explain Scripture to another woman that a man just doesn’t have. There are times when a woman needs someone to walk through a long term emotional journey with her that requires a personal intimacy which would be inappropriate for a man to engage in with her. And in the same way men are better equipped than women to train men to be godly husbands, fathers, and church members, women are better equipped than men to train women to be godly wives, mothers, and church members.

God knew all of this back when He breathed out the words of Titus 2:3-5…

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

…and, again, 1 Timothy 2:11:

Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness.

Women must be trained properly in the Scriptures so we can take that training and pour it into other women, teaching and sharpening them into godly women, wives, mothers, and church members.

🍑 Super Models 🍑

Women instruct our brothers and sisters in the church in biblical truth when we lead by example. When we sin against someone, we go to that person and ask forgiveness. We demonstrate the importance of meeting together with the Body by being faithful in our church and Sunday School attendance. We model servanthood by serving the church and our brothers and sisters. We paint a picture of biblical compassion by ministering to the sick and others in need. We show Christians how to carry out the Great Commission by sharing the gospel. We set an example of trusting God when others see us depending on Him through difficult situations.

And one of the most important biblical concepts women have the privilege and responsibility of teaching the church through our example is submission to authority – a lesson the church is sorely in need of these days.

Because God blessed us by creating us as women, we have an opportunity to model submission to authority in a unique way that God has chosen to deny to men.

As we submit to our husbands, we teach the church what it means to submit to Christ. How to walk in humility and obey Him out of love. How to put selfishness aside. To trust Him to take care of us. To deny ourselves, take up our cross daily, and follow Him.

When we submit to God’s design for leadership in the church and joyfully carry out the work He has planned for us as godly women, we teach the church to submit to God’s authority and love Him by obeying His commands. We instruct our fellow church members in respecting and submitting to the pastors and elders God has placed in spiritual authority over us.

Submission to Christ, to God’s commands, and to pastors and elders is the bedrock of a healthy church. God has graciously given women the role – and the duty – of teaching these and other biblical principles to our churches in a way that men cannot -through our example as godly women.

 

Remember the series of fun little nutritional books that came out several years ago called Eat This, Not That? The idea the books centered around was, “Don’t eat that unhealthy thing. Eat this similar but healthy thing instead.”

Sadly, many Christian women have only been getting half the story. “Not that” (preaching to/teaching men and exercising authority over men) is biblically correct, but it’s not biblically complete. If all you tell someone is “Don’t eat that,” without showing her the “Eat this,” part, what she needs to eat to be healthy, she’s going to starve, and the church will be malnourished as well.

Christian women need our pastors to teach us to eat the fat of the land of being properly trained in the Scriptures and drink the sweet wine of leading and instructing the church the way God gifts us and requires us to. Only then will the Body be healthy and well nourished.

Favorite Finds

Favorite Finds: August 25, 2020

 

Here are a few of my favorite online finds…

 

“As “true” Christian women, we consecrate ourselves to fulfill his calling and purposes for our lives. By his grace and in humble dependence on his power,” we can pursue that which is pleasing to the Lord in these 15 Ways to Honor Christ as Women by Susan Hunt.

 

“At first blush, these two texts seem to settle the matter in favor of the complementarian position. After all, this is the sense adopted in the vast majority of English translations. How could they all be wrong? Clearly Paul does not intend for women to be teaching/preaching within the church, right?” An excellent apologetic on this aspect of complementarianism in Why it is important not to conflate prophecy and teaching in discussions about women preaching  by Denny Burk.

 

“God’s design of the worship of his Church transcends pandemics and culture. This season shall pass and local churches will once again assemble together, embrace one another in Christian love, and celebrate the body and blood of King Jesus through the Lord’s Supper as we long for him to return and make all things new.” Some insightful observations and exhortations in  Josh Buice’s thought-provoking article There Is No Such Thing as Virtual Lord’s Supper.

 

“Abuse does not call for the abandonment of God’s good design, but the restoration of it through the power of the Gospel. The answer for every form of abuse is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” Tom Buck handily addresses the issue of abuse eroding biblical headship and submission in this article for Founders Ministries: Complementarianism is Not the Problem.

 

Four pianists, eight hymns (do you recognize all of them?): enjoy!

 


The resources listed above are not to be understood as a blanket endorsement for the websites on which they appear, or of everything the author or subject of the resource says or does. I do not endorse any person, website, or resource that conflicts with Scripture or the theology outlined in the Statement of Faith and Welcome tabs at the top of this page.
Complementarianism

Seven Reasons 1 Timothy 2:12 Isn’t the Crazy Aunt We Hide in the Closet when Company Comes Over

Originally published January 12, 2018

A while back I was scrolling through my Twitter feed and happened to catch part of an interaction between two women discussing a false teacher. I couldn’t come close to the exact wording if I tried, but the gist of it was…

Discerning Christian Woman: Divangelista X is a false teacher and preaches to men.

Non-Discerning Christian(?) Woman: How can you say she shouldn’t be preaching to men? So what! She’s out there helping so many people and charitable causes! People love her! I think she’s great!

Discerning Christian Woman: Well, I’m really not as concerned about the fact that she preaches to men as I am about the false doctrine she teaches.

I didn’t butt in because neither of them was talking to me, but what I wanted to say was, “Why?” Why, Discerning Christian Woman, did you back off the completely biblically valid point that this false teacher is rebelling against Scripture by preaching to men? If you had been discussing a male false teacher who was running around on his wife, you probably would have led your argument against him with his sin of adultery, with the false doctrine he teaches relegated to a level secondary importance.

Ladies…pastors…why are we so embarrassed to stand up boldly and say that women who preach to men are in unrepentant sin and disqualified from teaching regardless of what their doctrine might be?

It’s a simple little thing called the fear of man. Or, more specifically, fear of woman. We’ve seen women whose feminist ideals are challenged. Even feminists who call themselves Christians have been known to fly into a demonic rage, bent on destroying any person, pastor, or church who dares to topple their golden “I am Woman, Hear Me Roar” calf. No one wants to be on the receiving end of that kind of vitriol.

We’re more afraid of the wrath of woman than the wrath of God.
And shame on us for that.

God doesn’t call us to be wimps, people. He calls us to stand on His Word no matter the cost. The great men and women of the faith who have gone before us have done just that, giving their lives rather than renouncing Christ, refraining from sharing the gospel, compromising the Lord’s Supper, stopping the translation of Scripture into the language of the people.

And we’re worried that feminazis might yell at us or make trouble at church.

We need to stop blushing ashamedly and stand unapologetically firm when it comes to denouncing female teachers who preach to men. Here are seven reasons why:

1.
Women preaching to men is personal sin.

When a woman takes it upon herself to disobey Scripture by preaching to men, she is sinning. If we’re the Christians we claim to be, how can we see someone mired in sin and not want to rescue her? It is not loving to ignore someone’s sin, or worse, affirm her in it. To do so is the ultimate act of selfishness, because we’re more concerned about the the consequences for confronting her and how that will affect me than we are about her soul and her relationship with Christ. John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”. Sometimes laying down your life means dying to self and confronting sin out of love for someone else.

2.
Women preaching to men is public rebellion.

When a woman stands up in front of a group of men and women and unashamedly preaches to them, she is initiating a public act of aggression against Christ and His church. I don’t care how sweet and pretty and “aw, shucks” she is – that’s what she’s doing. She is leading a rebellion against God’s clear command for all the world, and the church, to see. This is a blot on the reputation of Christ’s Bride whom He wishes to be “holy and without blemish“.  Christians are people who submit to and obey Christ, not leaders of rebellions against Him.

3.
Women preaching to men is false doctrine

She may not say it with her lips, but when a woman preaches to men in defiance of Scripture, she’s teaching false doctrine through her behavior. What is the false doctrine she’s teaching? “I don’t have to obey God’s Word, and neither do you. If there’s a part of the Bible you don’t like, you’re free to disregard it.” Call it antinomianism. Call it whatever you like. But it’s one of the oldest and most fundamental false doctrines.

4.
Women preaching to men undermines
the authority of Scripture.

Christians are “people of the Book.” We are to live under the authority of the written Word of God breathed out by the Holy Spirit. Those who truly love Christ love His Word and want to be obedient to it. When a woman preaches to men in defiance of God’s Word, she is stating with her actions that Scripture has no authority over her. That she can do whatever she wants regardless of what God has spoken. Those who follow her learn, “I am the authority in my life, not God.”

5.
Women preaching to men is God’s judgment on the church.

My people—infants are their oppressors,
    and women rule over them.
O my people, your guides mislead you
    and they have swallowed up the course of your paths.
Isaiah 3:12

The fact that God allows a thing to take place in no way indicates that He is pleased with it. When God allows people to persist in sin, it’s not that he’s blessing that person or church, but that He’s giving them over to sin in judgment.

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God,
God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.

Romans 1:28

(To the church at Thyatira)
But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart,
and I will give to each of you according to your works.
Revelation 2:20-23

6.
Women preaching to men undermines
God-ordained male authority.

Jesus Christ is the head of the church. That means He gets to make the rules for it, not us. And one of His rules is that men are to be the pastors, elders, and those in authority, not women. When women try to push themselves into positions designed for men, it waters down and cheapens the beauty of male leadership the way God designed it, just as it would if men tried to push their way into the roles God has designed for women. And just as a woman would feel disenfranchised if a man tried to usurp her position as an older woman teaching younger women (Titus 2:3-5), biblical pastors perceive the threat to their God-given authority as more and more women take the pulpit.

7.
Women preaching to men is
an indicator of further false doctrine.

I have researched dozens of female teachers, and every single one of them who unrepentantly preaches to men also teaches other forms of false doctrine (usually Word of Faith {prosperity gospel} or New Apostolic Reformation). Every. single. one. If you see a woman unrepentantly preaching to men, that is God’s warning signal to you to stay away before you’re engulfed in even more false doctrine. Refusing to speak out against women preaching to men is to put fellow Christians in a gasoline-doused house of straw without a fire detector. It forces them to stop and search for the fire or examine it to see if it really is a fire – which could end up getting them killed – whereas, if they had a fire detector they would know to make an immediate exit.

 

Every family has that one crazy relative that you just pray will act normal for once – or that you could lock her in the closet – when company comes over. (In my family, I’m pretty sure that’s me.) First Timothy 2:12 is not the “crazy aunt” of the family of God. There’s no need to be embarrassed about putting her front and center for the world to see. She is beautiful and precious and serves an important purpose for God’s glory and our good. Let’s let her out of the closet and be proud of her.

Christian women, Complementarianism, Ministry, Sin

Throwback Thursday ~ Women Preaching: It’s Not a Secondary Doctrinal Issue

Originally published August 3, 2018

When it comes to Christianity, are the specifics of what people believe important?

I think most of us would answer a resounding “yes” to that question. Of course, the various concepts we believe are important. You can’t just believe anything you like and still be a Christian. There are certain things you must believe in order to become a Christian at all, and there are certain things you will come to believe because you are a genuinely regenerated Christian. But what are those things, and how do we know which is which?

Maybe you’ve heard the terms “essential doctrines” or “primary, secondary, and tertiary theological issues” or “first, second, and third tier levels of doctrine”? For years, theologians have been attempting to organize beliefs of the Christian faith – all drawn from the Bible, naturally – into nice neat categories in order to make things a little simpler. As someone who thrives on organization and categories, I’m grateful for their efforts. But if you begin to study this categorization of beliefs, you’ll find that we haven’t reached an across the board consensus yet.

Generally speaking, “essential”, “primary”, or “first tier” doctrines are those which you, biblically, have to believe in order to become a Christian and/or be considered a Christian. For example:

✢ Sin is a thing, and I am a sinner.

✢ God exists and is the supreme authority of the universe.

✢ Jesus was God in human flesh.

✢ Jesus rose bodily from the grave.

See how this works? If you don’t believe you’re a sinner, you’re not saved. If you don’t believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ, you’re not saved. Here’s how our friend, Pastor Gabe, briefly outlines essential doctrines:

 

(Gabe later tweaked the acrostic a little and added an “S”, which I think is helpful.)

The vast majority of brand new Christians have only the most basic understanding of most of these tenets at the moment of salvation. But it’s not an issue of fully understanding – or else we’d all have to be theologians in order to get saved – it’s an issue of believing. Someone who is genuinely regenerated may not completely understand how the Trinity works (honestly, no one does), but when she’s introduced to the biblical idea of the Trinity, she believes it, learns more about it, and does not reject it.

There is typically agreement among most reputable theologians regarding what constitutes first tier doctrine. Scripture is clear about these things, and several of these issues were settled long ago by the church fathers in assorted church councils (Nicea, Chalcedon, etc.)

Secondary issues are routinely defined as non-salvific but still extremely biblically important, if not quite as biblically clear-cut as primary issues. Doctrines surrounding baptism (credo versus paedo, affusion versus immersion), for example, are usually cited as a secondary issue. A disagreement on a secondary issue doesn’t mean one person is saved and another isn’t, but it normally prevents close partnership in ministry activities involving these issues. For example, my Presbyterian friends and I can join together in pro-life ministry, but we would most likely not plant a church together.

Tertiary issues are non-salvific, less immediately urgent, biblical issues in which the Bible is even less clear-cut and open to wider (yet still biblical) interpretation. These are issues over which Christians can disagree and still maintain close doctrinal fellowship, even in the same church, if they’re in agreement on first and second tier doctrine. Eschatology – the order and timing of events at Jesus’ second coming – is a doctrine that’s often considered third tier. Someone can hold a different eschatological view than mine, yet it doesn’t affect our ability to worship together, work together, or participate in the ordinances together in the same church.

Some theologians add a fourth category – issues of adiaphora, conscience, or Christian liberty. Usually these are issues of much less importance that the Bible either doesn’t specifically address, or doesn’t give commands about one way or the other. Individual Christians may use biblical principles to inform their consciences and decide for themselves. These would be things like whether or not to take your child trick-or-treating or deciding whether to dress formally or casually for church.

While theologians are largely in agreement about primary doctrines, there is wider spread disagreement on which doctrines are secondary and tertiary (many consider eschatology to be a second tier doctrine, for example) and whether or not there is a need for a category of adiaphora, since such issues are normally not considered to be “doctrinal” issues. In fact, there’s enough space for disagreement that pastors and theologians often wisely refrain from making concrete lists of secondary and tertiary doctrines.

But when we’re talking about the different levels of doctrine, what you won’t find is questions like these: Is murder a first, second, or third tier doctrine? What about gossip? Rape? Adultery? Lying? Gluttony? Pride?

And it’s not because these issues aren’t important or because the Bible doesn’t address them. It’s because they’re in a different category from the other issues: the category of sin. They aren’t doctrines upon which salvation hinges, they aren’t open to interpretation, and the Bible is clear that we are absolutely not to do these things.

In 2005, Dr. Albert Mohler wrote an excellent article about the different levels of doctrine entitled A Call for Theological Triage and Christian Maturity. He carefully explains the importance of each level of doctrine and what it covers in a plea to keep each level’s urgency in its proper place of significance during discussion, debate, and decision-making.

It was a helpful article to which I always refer people who have questions about tiers of doctrine, and I agree with Dr. Mohler’s thoughts wholeheartedly (as I usually do) …except on one point:

“In recent years, the issue of women serving as pastors has emerged as another second-order issue.”

Women serving as pastors, women preaching, women teaching men Scripture in the church, and women exercising authority over men in the church is not a secondary issue. Nor is it a primary or tertiary one. It does not belong in the category of “doctrine” in the same way baptism and eschatology do. It belongs in the category of sin in the same way murder, gossip, and adultery do. Let’s take a look at the reasons for this.

I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 1 Timothy 2:12

(The preponderance of Scripture supports and affirms this concept, so to keep things simple, we’ll use this verse as an exemplar.)

✢ The prohibition in 1 Timothy 2:12 is a clear command against a certain behavior. And when we behave in a way God has prohibited, that is called “sin”. All of the tenets in the three levels of doctrine are affirmative statements regarding beliefs (you must believe in the resurrection of Christ, we believe in baptism by immersion, etc.). None of them are commands, in the negative, against sinful behavior (Thou shalt not murder, I do not permit a woman to teach… etc.)

✢ Secondary and tertiary doctrines can be open – to varying degrees – to biblical interpretation. Every stripe of non-heretical eschatological thought can provide you with chapter and verse passages that can, depending on the angle from which you approach the subject, be biblically plausible and scripturally supported. There is no biblical support for anything God prohibits. No one can cite a properly handled, in context Bible verse in which God says, “It’s OK to commit adultery,” or “Women are allowed to preach.” There can be multiple views on a secondary or tertiary issue that can all be considered biblical, but there can only be one view of sin that is biblical.

✢ Differing beliefs on true secondary and tertiary issues are not sin. My Presbyterian friends have a different view of baptism than I do. That doesn’t mean either of us is sinning. I may think their interpretations of the verses they believe support paedo baptism are incorrect, but they are not breaking any of God’s commands. Differing behavior (again, we see the distinction between doctrinal belief and sinful behavior) on issues of sin is sin. If someone behaves differently from God’s command about lying, she is sinning. If a woman behaves differently from God’s command in 1 Timothy 2:12, she is sinning.

✢ Differing beliefs on secondary and tertiary issues are not born of disobedience and rebellion toward God. Usually, it’s quite the opposite. When someone has studied a theological issue enough to hold a particular position on it, it’s usually because she is striving to please God and to be biblical in her beliefs. Differing behavior on issues of sin is born out of disobedience and rebellion toward God. Someone who steals has already decided in her heart that her desires are better than God’s command. A woman who knowingly holds improper authority over men in her church is doing so because she has already decided to defy God’s clear command against such.

✢ Because different beliefs on secondary and tertiary issues are not born of rebellion and are not sin, they do not require church discipline. Sin does require church discipline. If someone in your church is openly dishonoring her parents, she is sinning and should be subject to church discipline. If a woman is pursuing a career as a pastor, she is sinning and should be subject to church discipline. 

Since the publication of Dr. Mohler’s article (and perhaps as a result of others teaching the same thing) the idea of the violation of 1 Timothy 2:12 being a “secondary doctrine” has spread in a most unhelpful way, leading many Christians to treat the issue in a c’est la vie, “We can just agree to disagree on this,” manner.

No, we cannot.

We would not say, “We can agree to disagree,” on lying or adultery or homosexuality or abortion, and we cannot say it about women preaching, teaching men, or holding unbiblical authority, either. We disciple and teach a sister in Christ who is unaware of what the Bible says on these matters, and if she is committing any of these sins, we begin the process of church discipline. But it would not be loving toward her, or honoring God, to allow her to continue in biblical ignorance or in willful sin.

Furthermore, the violation of 1 Timothy 2:12 brings with it dangers to the church that true secondary and tertiary issues, and even many sins, do not.

I have mentioned several times when dealing with this issue that women preaching to men is highly correlated with women teaching false doctrine. I have researched scores of women teachers. Every single one of them who unrepentantly teaches men also teaches false doctrine in some other aspect of her theology (usually Word of Faith or New Apostolic Reformation). In other words, if a woman teaches men, you can just about take it to the bank that she also teaches false doctrine. False doctrine and heresy are infecting the church – via female preachers – at an alarming rate.

We dare not simply “agree to disagree” on this.

The violation of God’s command that women are not to instruct men in the Scriptures nor hold improper authority over men is a sin like any other. It is not a doctrinal issue in the same sense that other second and third tier doctrines are. If left undisciplined, however, it can lead to first tier doctrinal issues infiltrating a church and eventually destroying it. It is detrimental to the church to label and treat any sin as a secondary doctrinal issue.

False Teachers

Sharon Hodde Miller

If you are considering commenting or sending me an e-mail objecting to the fact that I warn against certain teachers, please click here and read this article first. Your objection is most likely answered here. I won’t be publishing comments or answering emails that are answered by this article.

 

I get lots of questions about particular authors, pastors, and Bible teachers, and whether or not I recommend them. Some of the best known can be found above at my Popular False Teachers tab. The teacher below is someone I’ve been asked about recently, so I’ve done a quick check (this is brief research, not exhaustive) on her.

Generally speaking, in order for me to recommend a teacher, speaker, or author, he or she has to meet three criteria:

a) A female teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly preach to or teach men in violation of 1 Timothy 2:12. A male teacher or pastor cannot allow women to carry out this violation of Scripture in his ministry. The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be living in any other sin (for example, cohabiting with her boyfriend or living as a homosexual).

b) The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be partnering with or frequently appearing with false teachers. This is a violation of Scripture.

c) The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be teaching false doctrine.

I am not very familiar with most of the teachers I’m asked about (there are so many out there!) and have not had the opportunity to examine their writings or hear them speak, so most of the “quick checking” I do involves items a and b (although in order to partner with false teachers (b) it is reasonable to assume their doctrine is acceptable to the false teacher and that they are not teaching anything that would conflict with the false teacher’s doctrine). Partnering with false teachers and women preaching to men are each sufficient biblical reasons not to follow a pastor, teacher, or author, or use his/her materials.

Just to be clear, “not recommended” is a spectrum. On one end of this spectrum are people like Nancy Leigh DeMoss Wolgemuth and Kay Arthur. These are people I would not label as false teachers because their doctrine is generally sound, but because of some red flags I’m seeing with them, you won’t find me proactively endorsing them or suggesting them as a good resource, either. There are better people you could be listening to. On the other end of the spectrum are people like Joyce Meyer and Rachel Held Evans- complete heretics whose teachings, if believed, might lead you to an eternity in Hell. Most of the teachers I review fall somewhere in the middle of this spectrum (leaning toward the latter).

If you’d like to check out some pastors and teachers I heartily recommend, click the Recommended Bible Teachers tab at the top of this page.


Sharon Hodde Miller
Not Recommended

Sharon Hodde Miller is the “teaching pastor” of Bright City Church in Durham, North Carolina, where she regularly preaches during the Sunday morning worship service.

Sharon also holds a Ph.D. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in “women and calling”. She has authored two books and is a regular contributor to Christine Caine’s Propel Women and Raechel Myers’ She Reads Truth. She has also contributed to Ann Voskamp’s blog.

As I researched Sharon, I noticed something about her biographical information that usually appears in articles in which she is quoted, on websites, etc. While nearly all of these bios proudly present her as pursuing or holding a Ph.D. right off the bat, I don’t recall having seen an article or website in the dozens I looked at that also proudly presents her as a “pastor.” One reason for that is that some of the articles I looked at were published before Sharon and her husband planted Bright City Church in September 2018, which I believe is the first place she has served as a “pastor,” so one would not expect to see her listed as a “pastor” in these bios. However, in the year since she started “pastoring,” as of today, her bio on her own website, at She Reads Truth, her Twitter profile, the cover of her second book (released August 2019), and recent articles refer to her as “leading” (not “pastoring”) BCC “with her husband.” Sharon’s Facebook profile and Baker Books (which, again, released Sharon’s second book last week) call her a “pastor’s wife.” Is it possible that things have just been busy over the last year and Sharon just hasn’t had time to update some of these bios? Of course. We all get busy and forget or don’t have time to tend to details like that. But it does seem curious that someone who is heralded as having a Ph.D. in “women and calling” isn’t equally heralded as a female “pastor.” Why not be up front about it somewhere besides BCC’s website?

Sharon is friends with, under the influence of, and endorsed by Beth Moore. The two frequently interact on Twitter.

In her early years of ministry, Sharon spent a year working for Lysa TerKeurst’s Proverbs 31 Ministries, and considers that experience one way “God has equipped me on my journey.”

Sharon’s first book, Free of Me, was endorsed by false teachers Ann Voskamp, Christine Caine, Lysa TerKeurst, and Jennie Allen, (also, disturbingly, by J.D. Greear, who is currently president of the Southern Baptist Convention and a personal friend of Sharon’s). Sharon’s second book, Nice, was endorsed by Lysa TerKeurst, Bianca Olthoff, and female “pastor” Andi Andrew.

Sharon considered Rachel Held Evans a friend and wrote a tribute to her after her death saying “the church lost a powerful voice,” “her convictions were rooted in a genuine love for people,” “She advocated for those on the margins,” “that is why so many of us loved her,” and “I learned so much from [Rachel].” Rachel also promoted Sharon three times on her own blog.

Sharon has shown sympathy for and alliance with “woke” racialist Kyle James Howard for publicly slandering doctrinally sound pastor, Josh Buice.

Sharon has had numerous friendly interactions on Twitter with advocate of homosexuality, Jonathan Merritt. He calls her a friend.

In a 2016 Washington Post article, The high cost of popular evangelical Jen Hatmaker’s gay marriage comments, Sharon comments positively on Jen Hatmaker, calling her a “trailblazer” and saying,

“[Miller] believes Hatmaker represents a wave of evangelical women ‘who are not content to silo their faith,’ or to publicly support only the things that every Christian agrees on. ‘I happen to think that’s a good thing.'”

Sharon maintains a friendship with Jen on Twitter, and also recommended Jen’s blog (as well as Ann Voskamp’s and feminist/”preacher” Sarah Bessey’s) in her article Why I Am Thankful for Bloggers, a list of bloggers she is “thankful for,” “blessed by,” “God is using them,” and that these are “writers who influence me.”

Sharing her thoughts about IF: Gathering’s emphasis on social justice, Sharon was quoted in the Sojourners article Evangelical Women Look Beyond Bible Study to New Causes:

This was about expanding our vision outside of ourselves,” said Sharon Hodde Miller, a doctoral student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School who is studying women in seminary. “It could play out in a variety of different ways but encompassed social justice, racial reconciliation, poverty, or thinking about the neighbor next door who is a widow.”

Sharon also wrote a blog article endorsing IF: Gathering and encouraging her readers to attend, follow IF on social media, etc. About the leadership team of IF – which included Rebekah LyonsAnn VoskampJen HatmakerLauren ChandlerAngie SmithBianca Olthoff, and Christine Caine – Sharon wrote:

“This leadership team gives me the tingles–it’s like the Holy Spirit A-Team.”

The fact that Sharon is a female “pastor” ought to be more than enough evidence that those looking for a doctrinally sound teacher should steer clear of her and her materials, but the seemingly endless list of her ministry partnerships with false teachers belabors the point. Sharon is not someone Christians concerned about sound biblical doctrine should follow or receive teaching from.