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.

Christian women, Complementarianism

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

When you gaze out across the landscape of the visible church through an earthly, superficial lens, you’ve got to scratch your head and wonder, “Has evangelicalism lost its ever-lovin’ mind?”.

And the answer is to take off those inch-deep dollar store glasses, fire up the electron microscope of Scripture, look long and deep into God’s Word, and reply to yourself, “Of course it has, silly rabbit. What did you expect?”. The Bible is perfectly clear about these things and why they happen.

Exhibit A: The trend in recent years to invite a woman to preach the Sunday morning sermon in church, to the whole congregation (including men) just because it’s Mother’s Day. Not a brief personal testimonythe sermon. This isn’t anything brand new. Hope Adams (though I’m certain she wasn’t the first in this trend) did it at Ed Young, Jr.’s Fellowship Church in 2014. Lisa Harper did it at CrossPoint.tv in 2015. Christine Caine did it at Willow Creek in 2016. Lisa Bevere did it at CRC Cape Town in 2017, and a host of other famous and unfamous women at famous and unfamous churches have been doing it for years, even at churches that normally obey Scripture and don’t let women preach.

This year, Beth Moore has caused quite the stir by hiding in plain sight the fact that she will be preaching the sermondoing Mother’s Day” this coming Sunday, presumably at the Tomball, Texas, campus of the church she attends (founded and pastored by her son-in-law Curtis Jones) Bayou City Fellowship:

I say “hiding in plain sight” because she has given enough of an impression here that she is preaching the sermon to test the waters and see what the reaction will be, but has worded her tweet vaguely enough that if she meets too much resistance she can still decide to back out of preaching, give a brief word of biblically appropriate Mother’s Day greeting or encouragement to the ladies at another point during the service, and come back and claim with wide-eyed innocence that that’s what she meant all along by saying she was “doing” Mother’s Day. (Someone asked Beth point blank, in a subsequent tweet if Beth’s tweet meant that she would be preaching the Sunday service and Beth did not answer her. If she’s not, why not just say so? And if she is and isn’t ashamed of it, why not just say so?)

I say “presumably” at BCF-Tomball because, even though she publicizes specific details about time and place with other speaking engagements, she has not mentioned (at least not anywhere I can find as of the time I’m writing this) the specific church she’s preaching at on Sunday, and the church hasn’t mentioned on their website that she’ll be the guest preacher. Additionally, unlike other speaking engagements Beth does, this speaking engagement is not listed on the calendar of events at her website and she hasn’t mentioned it (other than the tweet above) on social media. With all this “open secrecy” I will be surprised if the video or audio of her sermon is posted on YouTube and/or the church website.

Why all this cloak and dagger about the highest profile woman in the Southern Baptist Convention, possibly in the entirety of evangelicalism, preaching the Mother’s Day sermon?

Because she knows it’s unbiblical. Because we know it’s unbiblical. And it doesn’t take an electron microscope to see it. It’s right there, in black and white, jumping off the pages of Scripture:

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

It couldn’t be more clear. And for pastors who ought to know better to either fall prey to or intentionally perpetuate the serpentine seduction of “Did God really say you can’t preach?”, using Mother’s Day as an excuse to induce a woman to sin by having her deliver the sermon is a slap in the face – to God, to the church, and to women.

What do his actions say to God? “I don’t like Your way and I won’t submit to it. I don’t trust that Your way is right regardless of what the world says. I’ll do what’s right in my own eyes.” It’s the lesson his church learns from his actions as well.

But why is inviting a woman to preach an affront to Christian women? Take a stroll down to verse 15 of 1 Timothy 2:

Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.

Not only does the pastor who invites a woman to preach adulterate the role God has set aside specifically for men, he also denigrates one of the good and holy roles God has specifically and intentionally set aside for women: the role of literal, and spiritual, mother.

Eve shattered God’s perfect, unique design for women by allowing herself to be seduced into rebellion. But are we daughters of Eve forever doomed to bear the shame and guilt of her sin, never to have a role in building the Kingdom? Pariahs, to be shunned and shut out of God’s plan? No, praise God! Through the cross, the good works Christ has ordained for Christian women to do – including mothering our own children and being spiritual mothers to our daughters in the faith – redeem the prestige of women. Mothering, in every sense in which God intended it, raises the role of women back to its rightful place in God’s plan.

And we don’t need men – especially men who are supposed to be rightly leading God’s people – to come along and entice us to mess that all up again.

But that’s exactly what’s happening.

When a pastor invites a woman to sin by taking over the pulpit, he drags her and the women of his church right back to post-Fall Eden. He trashes the rank and repute of our God-given high and holy role of mother and implicitly says Being a woman isn’t good enough. You have to steal the role of men to be valued and esteemed. 

Ladies, he’s wrong.

We don’t need to be second rate imitations of men in order to “count”. We need to be first rate, full throttle, take it to the limit women of God. God loves us and values us so much more than to give men a special and amazing role and leave us without an equally special and amazing, yet totally distinct, role. The God who spoke the universe into existence and planned out an unparalleled purpose for every single plant, animal, bacterium, and every other atom of the cosmos, did not leave the queen of His creation roleless. He did not bring us into being only to toddle along after the Hairy Ones trying to copy their every move. How unloving of God, and devaluing to women, would that be? Why would you want to act like a man when God blessed you with the gift of being a woman?

If, by God’s good Providence, you’ve “stumbled across” this article and you’re a woman who has been invited to preach, I plead with you: don’t buy the lie. Say no. Your Savior has a whole treasure chest of good works for you to do as a woman. You are worth infinitely more to Him as the woman He created you to be than you are to the world, or a worldly church, as a cheap knock-off of a man.

Let us be the mothers our own children need, raising up a godly seed unto the Lord. Let us be the spiritual mothers longed for by younger women in the faith, daughters orphaned by Christian women who have abandoned them to take on the role of men. The practice of denigrating women, devaluing our God-given role, disobeying God, and darkening the understanding of the church by inviting women to sinfully take the pulpit must stop in the house of God and be replaced by strong godly women, unafraid and unashamed to flourish in the precious role our Lord has blessed us with.

Especially on Mother’s Day.


Additional Resources:

Beth Moore vs. Owen Strahan on WWUTT Podcast
(Related links):
Michelle Lesley’s Twitter thread on Beth’s Sunday sermon preaching
Beth Moore’s Twitter response to Midwestern Seminary professor Owen
Strahan’s article on biblical complementarianism

Divine Order in a Chaotic Age: On Women Preaching by Owen Strahan

Why Asking Women to Preach Is Spiritual Abuse by Josh Buice

Favorite Finds

Favorite Finds ~ January 14, 2019

Here are a few of my favorite recent online finds…

It’s a few years old, but this excellent episode of the Issues, Etc. radio show: This Week in Pop-American Christianity: Priscilla Shirer on Hearing the Voice of God recently came across my news feed. Many false teachers (in this case, Priscilla Shirer) twist or misunderstand John 10 to mean that, if you’re a Christian, God will speak to you audibly. That’s not what it means, as anyone who takes the time to read the passage in context can attest. Pastor and podcaster Chris Rosebrough explains simply, carefully, and biblically, why this teaching is wrong and what John 10 actually means.

 

“I get dozens of emails each month from parents whose teens are leaving the church or being swept away by a false version of Jesus and the gospel…In this list I’ve compiled ten critical topics for the modern teen.” Great for youth directors and parents of teens, but the adults in your church probably need to read this too. Check out Ten Theological Topics for Parents of Modern Teens by our friend Costi Hinn on his blog, For the Gospel.

 

Pornography is usually addressed as a “men’s problem”, but, increasingly, women are succumbing to this insidious temptation. Stephanie offers pastors three suggestions (these would be helpful for anyone) for counseling and discipling women who participate in the sin of pornography in her 9Marks article Helping Women Who Struggle with Pornography.

 

Thoroughly and knowledgeably written by Denny Burk (head of CBMW), What Does It Mean That Women Should “Remain Quiet” in Church? (1 Timothy 2) from Crossway is one of the best commentaries I’ve ever read on 1 Timothy 2:11-14. I’ve added it as a resource to my own article on that passage: Rock Your Role: Jill in the Pulpit.

 

Fasting mirrors the hunger we should have for Christ. Do Christians Fast Because Food and Drink Are Bad? from Crossway explains more.

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Heretical church music, Mistranslating 1 Tim. 2:12, Books for women…)

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


I need guidance in approaching the worship director of the church I started attending 6 months ago (haven’t joined yet) due to his frequent use of Bethel/Jesus Culture/Hillsong/Elevation Church music. I stand there in silence most of the worship time because I just don’t feel comfortable singing those songs. I don’t want to meet with him and be that person who is critical and legalistic but I feel convicted that someone needs to. Should I go talk to the pastor first (we have somewhat of a relationship since I’ve met with him a couple times and agree with his theology)?

It’s awesome that you are discerning enough to know that music from these heretical and New Apostolic Reformation organizations shouldn’t be used by any church. I encourage you to keep having those “powers of discernment trained by constant practice” of distinguishing good from evil (Hebrews 5:14).

I also want to encourage you that inquiring about the theology of a church or its music – especially as someone who is deciding whether or not to join that church – is not being “critical and legalistic”. That is what scoffers say about discernment issues, but it is not the biblical way of viewing “contending for the faith”. Do not allow ungodly people with their unbiblical personal opinions to deter you or even make you feel bad for doing what is right and good and godly.

I agree with you that someone needs to address the issue of the music. It is possible that’s why God put you into this church at this time – to pray for the church, the minister of music, and the pastor about this, and to lovingly explain the issues.

Since I’m not personally involved in the situation, I can’t offer any advice as to whether to approach the minister of music or the pastor first. I would suggest you pray and ask God to give you the wisdom to know which one of them to speak to first, and trust Him to direct your paths. You might want to consider which of these men you feel will be more receptive to what you have to say. If you go to the minister of music first and he brushes you off, I would encourage you to go to the pastor next. I think both of their responses will help you decide whether or not you want to join this church.

Here are some resources that may help:

The Mailbag: How should I approach my church leaders about a false teacher they’re introducing?

Hillsong’s Theology of Music and Worship

The Mailbag: Should Christians listen to “Reckless Love”?

Popular False Teachers (further information on Hillsong, Bethel, Jesus Culture, Steven Furtick)


A popular Christian apologist I follow says that the prohibition against women preaching, teaching Scripture to men, and holding authority over men in the church in 1 Timothy 2:12 is translated incorrectly.

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

He says it should not be translated as “woman” and “man” “but as “wife” and “husband”, and that he believes Bible translators mainly translate it as man woman due to tradition (i.e. men have historically been the pastors and teachers in the church).

This is why linguists – professional experts in the biblical languages – are hired to translate Scripture, not apologists.

Bible translators (of reliable translations) are true to the text, not church tradition or personal convictions. Furthermore, when translators are working on the text, it is not a lone individual who writes down what he thinks the Greek words say and that’s the Bible you end up reading. There are teams of translators, linguists, editors, and even computer experts who work on the text. They check, and double check, each other’s work. So even if one translator was translating according to tradition or opinion, it would be caught by others and not allowed to slip through the cracks.

All of the most reliable English translations translate the words as “man” and “woman”, not “husband” and “wife”.

And just for kicks, I checked this verse in about a dozen of the less reliable translations, and every single one of them translates it “man” and “woman”. Even versions that got other parts of verse 12 incorrect still use “man” and “woman.” For goodness sake, even The Message and The Passion “Translation” possibly the two worst English versions of the Bible (They’re not even translations. The Message is a paraphrase, written by someone who endorsed the heresy-laden book The Shack and has made statements affirming homosexuality. And Passion is the new New Apostolic Reformation version of the Bible, based, supposedly, on new revelation directly from God.) both say “man” and “woman”. And the NAR is totally OK with female preachers, so you know they’re not using “man” and “woman” due to tradition.

So we’ve got one apologist who’s of the opinion that it should be “husband” and “wife” against scads of translators who are experts in their fields and whack job NAR “translators” who approve of female pastors, who all use “man” and “woman”. You would think someone out of all of those people would have translated it “husband” and “wife” if that was the correct translation. It’s telling that even “translators” who push the egalitarian agenda won’t go so far as to change it to “husband” and “wife”. I think the apologist is somewhat out of his depth here.

A few more quotes from said apologist:

Verse 11 and following is directed at women in the context of their relationship with a man to whom they are supposed to be entirely submissive. That is a marriage relationship…1 Timothy 2 talks about the relationship between husband and wife; it’s chapter 3 that talks about church leadership.”

No, verse 11 is not directed at women. Neither are any of the other verses in chapter two or the rest of the book. First Timothy is a pastoral epistle. It was directed at Timothy by the Holy Spirit via Paul as sort of a “policy and procedure manual” for the church. This passage is not talking to women about their marriages, it is talking to pastors and elders about how to run the church. Verses 11-12 are talking about the role and behavior of women (all women, not just wives) in the church setting. They are not to instruct men in the Scriptures or exercise authority over men. That  definitely “talks about church leadership” by excluding women from leadership roles that place them in authority over, or instructing, men.

And keep in mind that when 1 Timothy was written, there were no chapter and verse markings. The text was one continuous flow. If you begin reading in 2:11 and go through 3:13 (try reading it here, adjusting the settings to remover chapter and verse markings), I believe there’s a strong case to be made that 2:11-15 is actually the introduction to the qualifications for pastors, elders, and deacons. The passage (2:11-3:13) starts by stating who is disqualified from those positions and why (2:11-15) and then moves on to who is qualified and how (3:1-13).

Furthermore, if you’ll take a look at verses 8-10 of chapter two, which immediately precede the verses in question (11-12) and provide context, you’ll see more instructions to both men and women. Are only husbands to pray? Are only wives to dress modestly and respectably and adorn themselves with good works? What about single men and women, divorced men and women, widows and widowers?

No other place in Scripture teaches that all women should be under the authority of all men in the church. If this passage is to be interpreted the traditional way, this makes a new and unusual pattern of submission.

And this passage (1 Timothy 2:12) doesn’t teach that either. The statement that women are not to have authority over men doesn’t flip around to mean that all men are in authority over all women. That’s fallacious logic, silly reasoning, and patently unbiblical. The text says what it says and that’s it. You can’t turn it inside out and make an inference from an incorrect converse. That’s being a poor workman and mishandling Scripture.

It’s abundantly clear that “man” and “woman” are the correct translation in 1 Timothy 2:12. If anyone is being more loyal to an agenda than to the text here, it’s the apologist, not the translators.

Rock Your Role: Jill in the Pulpit (1 Timothy 2:11-12)

I Know Greek, So That Verse Is Wrong!


What do you recommend as daily devotionals for children, ages 2 and 10? I am looking to start daily Bible time with the kids before we start school.

I don’t recommend “canned” Bible studies and devotionals, but rather teaching straight from Scripture itself. I’ve explained this more, including a few suggestions for teaching your children, in my article The Mailbag: Can you recommend a good Bible study for women/teens/kids?

If you’re looking at a 5-10 minute time frame, you might want to work your way through Proverbs one verse at a time, or possibly some of the shorter Psalms. I usually set aside a 30 minute block of time and read through a book with my boys one chapter a day, asking questions and explaining things along the way. If you’d like, feel free to use any of my studies at the “Bible Studies” tab at the top of this page, selecting and simplifying the questions you feel are most appropriate for your children.


How can I subscribe to your blog via e-mail?

If you’re on a computer, there’s a little box in the left sidebar where you can enter your e-mail address:

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I don’t know if your phone is the same as mine or not, but here’s what the e-mail sign-up on my phone looks like:

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I was wondering if you had a list of recommended books for women. I’m trying to offer an alternative to an NAR book that has nice ideas and some good thoughts but also strays into Spiritual Formation and, of course, really off-base hermeneutics. 

I don’t really know of any off-hand along those lines that I would recommend. The problem with “Christian” books for women by women is that most of them contain false doctrine. A couple of suggestions:

1. The Bible. If you’re looking for a book with nice ideas and good thoughts, Psalms might be a good place to start. Getting grounded in God’s Word and digging deep into Scripture itself is the best way to guard your ladies against the false doctrine you’re describing.

2. There’s no reason women can’t read books authored by men. If you already have a particular doctrinally sound book in mind that was authored by a man, go right ahead and use that one. I would recommend any of the male authors under my “Recommended Bible Teachers” tab (as well as any of the female authors listed there). You might also find the kind of book you’re looking for at GTY or Ligonier.


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.