Complementarianism

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 wholeheartedly1 …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…

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.” If your pastor stood up in the pulpit on Sunday morning and said that in words, you’d run him out of town on a rail, and rightly so. Neither should a woman be able to teach that same false doctrine via her actions.

Additionally, I have mentioned several times when dealing with this issue that women preaching to men is highly correlated with women teaching other forms of 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 additional 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.


1In the years since 2018, when this article was originally written, Dr. Mohler has said, done, and supported a few biblically questionable things, leading some to question whether or not he has “gone woke”. While I don’t support his stance on those questionable things, I also don’t believe he has reached the point at which I need to warn against him. To my knowledge, at this time, he is still generally doctrinally sound.

Complementarianism

Throwback Thursday ~ 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, quitting work on translating 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 at crazy Aunt 1 Timothy 2:12’s socially unacceptable brazenness 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.

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.

3.
Women preaching to men is itself 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.” If your pastor stood up in the pulpit on Sunday morning and said that in words, you’d run him out of town on a rail, and rightly so. Neither should a woman be able to teach that same false doctrine via her actions. 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.

First Timothy 2:12 is not the “crazy aunt” of the family of God.

Complementarianism, Rock Your Role

Are Female Bloggers Violating Scripture by “Teaching” Men?

“You say that women shouldn’t teach men (1 Timothy 2:12), but what about men who read your blog? Aren’t you teaching them?”

It’s the canard that will not die. Complementarian women bloggers, authors, and content creators are frequently asked this question, often by dissenters looking for a “gotcha” moment. Other times it’s a genuine concern from Christian women who want to write but still be in obedience to God’s Word as it speaks to the role of women. But, whatever the motivation for asking, it’s a great question that needs to be answered. Biblically.

It is true that God has ordained different roles for Christian men and women. Both roles are needed and important, but different. Part of the role for women is outlined in 1 Timothy 2:11-15. Women are not to preach to or teach men in the gathering of the church or hold other positions of authority over men in the church body.

But notice that key phrase “in the church.” The context of all of the passages dealing with women refraining from teaching men refers to the teaching of God’s Word in the gathering together of the body of believers.

That’s not the same thing as blogging in the public square. The gathering of the church body might take place within the four walls of a church building, at a park for a Resurrection Day sunrise service, at a Christian conference, at a chapel service at a Christian college or seminary, at a Bible study in someone’s home, or a myriad of other venues, but it’s just that – a physical gathering together of the body of Christ for the purpose of worship, studying the Word, sitting under the preaching of the Word, observing the ordinances, prayer, practicing the “one anothers,” and other “churchy” things.

You’re reading this blog right now. Are you practicing the “one anothers” with anyone? Is anyone standing in front of you preaching the Word? Are you actively worshiping? Do you see an offering being taken up? Baptism? Communion? Prayer? Do you consider yourself to be attending church right now? Of course not. You’re staring at a screen reading an article. This is a blog. Not the gathering of the church.

The Greek word for “church” in the New Testament is ἐκκλησία, or ekklesia. It literally means a gathering or assembly. No gathering, no church.1 And because of that, women bloggers and other content creators aren’t violating the Scriptures that prohibit them from teaching men in the gathering of the church. (And, by the way, this all applies to women on social media, too. That’s not the gathering of the church either, praise the Lord.)

When I explain this biblical distinction to the “gotcha” folks, the pushback (that’s a polite word for it) I often get is, “You’re just hypocritically splitting hairs and doing hermeneutical gymnastics to justify yourself!”. No, you’re just conflating things the Bible clearly distinguishes from one another.

Think of it this way: If I say that all sexual activity outside of marriage is sinful, but I joyfully fulfill my marital duty to my husband, am I a hypocrite? Am I splitting hairs or doing hermeneutical gymnastics? No. Because there are right and wrong contexts for sexual activity just like there are right and wrong contexts for women teaching the Bible, writing on biblical topics, and so on. The Bible has defined categories and contexts. The Bible draws lines of distinction. Conflating a biblical “do” with a biblical “don’t”? That’s what’s unbiblical.

But let’s consider something else, too. Even though Scripture doesn’t require it, most godly, doctrinally sound women bloggers and online content creators – including me – aim our content primarily at Christian women. I have set up parameters for my blog (and my book, when it was in print) and for my ministry to do everything I can to place myself under the umbrella of 1 Timothy 2:12. Look at the title of this page and my Facebook page. It specifically says “Discipleship for Christian Women“. My book was always labeled and marketed as a women’s Bible study. If you’ll take a look at the “Welcome” tab at the top of this page, you’ll see I explicitly say that this blog is for Christian women and that I’m a complementarian. When I address the readers of this blog I nearly always address them as “ladies,” both because my target audience is women, and also to remind the handful of men who follow me that they are not my audience; they are, in a sense, “eavesdropping” on what I’m saying to women. My speaking engagements are for women only. I ask men not to use my Bible studies. I’m not really sure what more I need to do to make it clear that my blog and my ministry are for women, not men.

Don’t men bear any responsibility here? Why should the entire burden for women not “teaching” men fall on the shoulders of women bloggers and content creators? Why don’t the Christian men who are ostensibly so concerned about men consuming content from women address the men who are reading our blogs and following our platforms?

But sometimes these “gotcha guys” – who often have ulterior motives of undermining complementarianism – will visit my blog, claim to have learned something, and then turn around and attack me as a hypocrite for “teaching” them. This is akin to a man listening at the door of a women’s Sunday school class, then bursting in and saying, “Aha! You taught a man.” To those men, I would ask a simple question- If a female blogger puts a fence around her blog and you jump over it and trespass on her property, how is she the one at fault?

Along with Christian women, Christian men ought also to be obedient to 1 Timothy 2:12 by not seeking out female content creators for biblical instruction for themselves. While I welcome male readers – especially those who are vetting me for their wives and daughters or the women of their church, or to gain a better understanding of the issues affecting Christian women in order to lead and shepherd them better – I do not want men seeking me out for personal biblical instruction. All of my readers should look to the doctrinally sound teaching of their pastors and elders for biblical instruction. For women, my blog should only be a leisure time supplement to their sermons and classes at church.

Being a godly female blogger or content creator can be a tightrope walk. All of us have fallen off from time to time, and in those cases we ask that you extend us grace and forgiveness, knowing that we didn’t do it intentionally or rebelliously. Praise God for the “net” of God’s mercy and cleansing that catches us and puts us right back up on that tightrope so we can encourage and build up the lovely Christian ladies in our audience. You mean so much to each of us. We love you and want you to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. That’s why we do what we do.


1This is why it is impossible to “attend church” by watching an online church service. You are not “attending church” online, you are watching other people attend church.

This article is an updated and revamped version of the original article by the same title, published on October 23, 2015.


Additional Resources

Rock Your Role – a series examining the Scriptures governing the biblical role of women in the church

Rock Your Role FAQs

Sisters Are Part of the Family of God, Too!

Women Preaching the Gospel? at A Word Fitly Spoken (on the issue of conflation)

Discernment, Holidays (Other)

Jennie Allen and IF:Gathering

IF:Gathering 2022 is coming up next week (March 4-5). IF you aren’t aware that there are serious biblical problems with it, or IF you need some information and evidence to share with friends who are planning to attend, or IF, unfortunately, your church is hosting a simulcast, you need to read this…


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.


This article is kept continuously updated as needed.

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.


Jennie Allen is “a Bible teacher, author, and the founder and visionary of IF:Gathering,” an annual conference for women. She also blogs, hosts the Made for This podcast, and speaks at IF:Gathering and other events.

The IF:Gathering conference organization (now including IF:Pray, IF:Lead, IF:Equip, IF:Table, IF:Local, IF:TV, and Discipleship Collective), around which most of Jennie’s ministry centers, was “inspired by the question, ‘If God is real…then what?‘.” If God is real– is a troubling premise for an ostensibly Christian ministry. The Christian existence does not center around the pablum possibility that God is real, but on the rock-solid, stake your life and your eternity on it certainty that He is not only real but the Creator of, and Sovereign over, the universe, and the only hope of salvation for sinners. If God is real…then what? as the foundation of a Christian ministry is somewhat akin to If 1+1=2, then what? as the foundational concept of a Mensa-esque organization for the top mathematical minds in the world.

As to the “…then what?” part of the equation, Jennie’s and IF’s solution is woefully unbiblical. Jennie has an established history of embracing and partnering in ministry with false teachers, female “pastors,” and women who preach to men. Just a few of the many available examples:

Some of the guests on Jennie’s podcast have included Priscilla Shirer and Chrystal Evans Hurst (ep. 08), Beth Moore (ep. 04), Christine Caine (ep. 09), and “diversity expert” and Black Lives Matter supporter, LaTasha Morrison (multiple episodes).

Since the launch of IF:Gathering in 2014, Jennie has habitually featured false and biblically problematic teachers and female preachers/pastors as speakers and as part of IF’s leadership team:

Top Row: Melissa Greene, Lauren Chandler, Tara Jenkins, Esther Havens, Bianca Olthoff, Jen Hatmaker, Ann Voskamp Bottom Row: Lindsey Nobles, Jennie Allen, Rebekah Lyons, Angie Smith

Speakers featured at IF:Gathering over the years (many of them appearing multiple times) have included: Jen Hatmaker (here, in 2015), female “pastor” and homosexuality advocate Melissa Greene,  Ann Voskamp, Bianca Olthoff, Rebekah Lyons, Lysa TerKeurst, Jill Briscoe, Shauna Niequist, Angie Smith, Kay Warren (Rick Warren’s wife), female “pastor” Jenni Catron, Christine Caine, female “preacher” and author of Jesus Feminist, Sarah Bessey

…(then) female “co-pastor” Keisha Polonio, female “pastor” Jeanne Stevens…

Lauren Chandler, female “pastor” Layla de la Garza, Beth Moore, and others. (2020)

IF 2022 includes a similar tableau of false teachers, female preachers/pastors, and racialists (some are returning speakers, some are new):

My guess is that all of the women who have spoken at IF have no qualms about preaching to men, and there may also be more female “pastors” in the bunch, but I was unable to research each of them, so I will just say, a large number of the women who have spoken at IF disobey God’s Word by preaching to men and/or “pastoring”.

In addition to Beth Moore speaking at IF:Gathering 2020 and IF:Lead 2020, Jennie’s partnerships and displays of affinity with her are far too numerous to list (just Google Jennie Allen Beth Moore, and you’ll see what I mean) and have been going on for years. A couple of recent examples:

A webinar with Beth Moore:

An IF:Gathering video with Beth Moore:

Mutual admiration on Twitter: 

And here’s Jennie at a meeting “with twenty women leaders [including Bianca Olthoff] under the wisdom of Christine Caine and Joyce Meyer.”

Jennie has worked with and has been a featured speaker several times (including 2012, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2020) at the Catalyst conference, which is not only co-ed (so Jennie is teaching/preaching to men) but is also plagued by doctrinal problems and has featured a plethora of false teachers including founder Andy Stanley, Brian Houston, female “pastor” Charlotte Gambill, Brandon and Jen Hatmaker, and Rebekah Lyons among many others.

Just a few further examples of Jennie preaching to men herself include:

Jennie preaching the chapel service at Dallas Theological Seminary (Stopping The Spiral – Mrs. Jennie Allen | February 15, 2022 – Men clearly visible in the audience at 1:47)

Jennie preaching at The Porch (United Together | Jennie Allen, September 15, 2021 – Men clearly visible in the audience at 4:52)

Jennie preaching the chapel service at Oklahoma Baptist University (Jennie Allen – March 10, 2021 – OBU Chapel Message, Streamed live on March 10, 2021 – All students are required to attend chapel.)

Jennie preaching at Liberty University’s convocation (chapel) (LU Convocation – Mar.6, 10:30 AM, Streamed Live on March 6, 2020 – Jennie begins preaching at 40:59) Starting at 38:40 the man introducing Jennie says, “…I believe Jennie has a message for every single one of us…I’m so excited to sit under her teaching because I don’t believe…the principles that she has for us are just for women…I want you to know, especially the men in this room, that I believe that what God has brought through this messenger at this very moment is not just for the ladies in the room. It would be very closed minded for us to think that…every time a man shows up here that’s just for the men in the room and every time a woman comes, that’s just for the other [women]…”

I can’t seem to locate a statement of faith for Jennie or what church she currently attends, so you’ll have to infer what she believes by reading her books and blog, but I have learned a few specifics about her theology. Jennie is a proponent of the unbiblical Enneagram. Jennie believes in extra-biblical revelation, and started IF:Gathering because “a voice from the sky” told her to. Jennie often focuses on “dreaming” (in the sense of future goals or creative aspirations), a concept foreign to Scripture. I downloaded her “Dream Guide” for 2019 and found some of her statements troubling:

 It really is as simple as this. Do the best you can in this world and as you’re going, love God and give Him away to people.

“Do the best you can in this world”? Where does the Bible say that? “And as you’re going, love God”? Like it’s an afterthought or an accessory to your life of “doing the best you can”? No. It really is as simple as this: Repent and believe the gospel, and walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.

When we create and thrive for the good of others, you’re participating in God’s redemptive work of making the world better. 

Again, the Bible doesn’t teach this anywhere. “God’s redemptive work” is not “making the world better.” The Bible clearly says that “the Lord will empty the earth and make it desolate, and he will twist its surface and scatter its inhabitants,” and, “the world is passing away along with its desires.” Furthermore, “God’s redemptive work” is to save people. That’s the entire point of the whole Bible. His redemptive work was completed in the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ to save sinners. And if you want to “participate in God’s redemptive work,” you don’t “create and thrive” (whatever that means) “for the good of others,” you share the gospel with them and disciple them as we’re commanded to in the Great Commission.

..this is our goal, to create beauty out of chaos and thrive.

Also not in the Bible anywhere. Also not our goal. As Christians, our goal is to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ, pursue holiness, and carry out the Great Commission. All of which are in the Bible.

Dreaming is an incredible privilege. It is a stewardship of the opportunities God has put in front of us.

Not to sound like a broken record, but, again, none of this is in the Bible, and the second sentence doesn’t even make logical sense. To “steward” something is to use it wisely and for a godly purpose. To do something with it to the glory of God. Sitting around “dreaming” isn’t doing anything. In fact, since “dreaming” isn’t something we’re instructed to do in Scripture, it’s actually squandering the “opportunities God has put in front of us” – opportunities like sharing the gospel, serving others, studying our Bibles, prayer, worship, etc. – which are things Scripture instructs us to do, in favor of sitting around relying on our dreams.

At the end of the “Dream Guide” are several “conversation card” questions about how you can improve yourself in the coming year. One of them is pretty good: “How could you better plug into and serve the local church?”. The rest are fairly narcissistic, and there’s nothing about studying Scripture, growing in holiness, prayer, or repenting of sin. Additionally Jennie quotes only one passage of Scripture in the entire booklet, and she quotes it from The Message, one of the worst versions (it’s a paraphrase, not a translation) of the Bible out there.

And regarding “being a strong woman in the church,” while Jennie mostly stays vague and neutral, she does touch on a few biblical concepts:

18:35- “What my husband heard from me was: My wife has strong gifts and a strong passion for God, and she wants to serve Him, and she’s not because of me.” As if she couldn’t passionately serve God with her gifts by being a godly wife and serving and submitting to her husband.

22:31- “I know that the obvious question that everybody wants to know the answer of is ‘What about roles and positions in the church?’…But I think we oftentimes get so distracted by that…that we are missing all the work that God has for us. And, you know, my view on that is every local church is going to have a different opinion about that…So wherever you go, Scripture just says, ‘Don’t be divisive,’…but the bigger issue to me is the way we view each other, the way we value each other…” Notice Jennie uses no Scripture to answer the “obvious question” everybody wants to know the answer to, she only gives her personal opinion that we are getting “distracted” by this legitimate, biblical question, and that the bigger issue – to her – is not what the Bible says about the role of women in the church, but “the way we value each other”. It’s a problem that “every local church is going to have a different opinion” about the role of women in the church because there is only one position on that issue that’s biblical. The local church doesn’t get to have an opinion on that issue, the issue is decided by Scripture and the church is to submit to and uphold Scripture’s teaching on it. Furthermore, Scripture does not just say, “Don’t be divisive.” Scripture is abundantly clear what the role of women in the church is to be, and both individual women and church leaders are to obey it.

The fact that Jennie consistently and unrepentantly platforms female “pastors” and women who preach to men at IF speaks much more clearly about her personal (and unbiblical) opinion on the role of women in the church than her finessing answer here.

27:21- The interviewer asks Jennie, “What does submission mean?” Her response is much too long to quote, so I’ll summarize. The first words out of Jennie’s mouth are, “That word? To me?” She then proceeds to give a not altogether unbiblical answer about how she loves submission, but it is mainly her opinion and personal experience with her own husband, not Scripture, and primarily centers around the fact that if she brings something to her husband for a decision and he decides unbiblically, he will have to answer to God for it, not her, and that she will have no accountability to God for any sin she might commit in the process. “It’s gonna be awesome!” she chortles, as the audience laughs along, as though there’s something funny about her husband standing before God and giving an account for his decision, and her blaming him for it. Jennie then pivots to describing how “that word [submit] has been used like a pistol to [many women’s] heads” and says “so the fact that that word has a bad rap makes sense to me…Here’s the problem, guys, we’re divided, but there’s reasons on it for both sides.” She seems to be saying that submitting or not submitting is not based on Scripture’s commands, but on personal experiences and situations, and that both submitting and refusing to submit are equally valid choices depending on our own experiences, feelings, and opinions. (And, no, I am not saying women should “submit” to being abused. That’s not the biblical definition of submission.)

Jennie seems like a lovely, genuinely caring person, and earnest when she speaks and writes, but none of those things qualify someone to teach Scripture. And in this case, Jennie is disqualified by her errant theology and unbiblical practices. I regret that I’m forced to recommend that you not receive teaching from Jennie Allen, her materials and conferences, or anyone connected to the IF organization.


Additional Resources:

IF:Gathering:

Why You should just say “NO” to IF:Gathering at A Worthy Walk

Important questions for church leaders at Berean Research

Almost: Our Encouragement and Concern with the IF:Gathering and
Almost: an addendum since releasing this episode at Sheologians

She Reads Truth, IF:Gathering, and women bible teachers. Part 3, the IF:Gathering at The End Time

If:Gathering: more information, including video claiming direct revelation at The End Time

IF:Gathering – updated review four years later at The End Time

If:Gathering: more information at The End Time

Thinking of attending an If:Gathering? Please read this, it’s eye-opening at The End Time

Book Reviews:

A Review of Jennie Allen’s “Anything: The Prayer that Unlocked My God and My Soul”

Other:

Review of Jennie Allen/Beth Moore webinar, and the ‘big announcement’ revealed at The End Time

Podcast Appearances

Interview with Doreen Virtue on Beth Moore

It was such a pleasure to once again appear on my friend Doreen Virtue’s videocast. We had a warm time of fellowship around the Word discussing Beth Moore, false doctrine, the sufficiency of Scripture, the role of women in the church, and more.

I encourage you to check out Doreen’s website, and follow her on social media. Doreen is most active on Instagram, but you can also catch her on Facebook. Be sure to subscribe to Doreen’s YouTube channel so you won’t miss any of her videos. I also highly recommend Doreen’s book, Deceived No More.

Articles / resources mentioned or touched on in the videocast:

Basic Training: The Bible Is Sufficient

Living Proof You Should Follow Beth (No) Moore

Rock Your Role: Jill in the Pulpit

The Mailbag: Counter Arguments to Egalitarianism

Rock Your Role: Oh No She Di-int! Priscilla Didn’t Preach, Deborah Didn’t Dominate, and Esther Wasn’t an Egalitarian

Rock Your Role FAQs

A Word Fitly Spoken Podcast

The Mailbag (This isn’t a newsletter, but a weekly {Mondays} blog article.)

Popular False Teachers & Unbiblical Trends

Recommended Bible Teachers

Bible Studies

Speaking Engagements


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!