Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Benny repents?, Brother Lawrence, Why the Calvinist label?…)

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!

In these potpourri editions of The Mailbag, I’d also like to address the three questions I’m most commonly asked:

“Do you know anything about [Christian pastor/teacher/author] or his/her materials? Is he/she doctrinally sound?”

Try these links: 
Popular False Teachers /
 Recommended Bible Teachers / search bar
Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring It Out on Your Own
(Do keep bringing me names, though. If I get enough questions about a particular teacher, I’ll probably write an article on her.)

“Can you recommend a good women’s Bible study?”

No. Here’s why:
The Mailbag: Can you recommend a good Bible study for women/teens/kids?
The Mailbag: “We need to stop relying on canned studies,” doesn’t mean, “We need to rely on doctrinally sound canned studies.”.

“You shouldn’t be warning against [popular false teacher] for [X,Y,Z] reason!”

Answering the Opposition- Responses to the Most Frequently Raised Discernment Objections


I saw this video making the rounds on social media. It appears as though Benny Hinn is repenting of teaching the prosperity gospel. Is this true, or too good to be true?

Briefly, it is not true, and his behavior and teaching bears this out. He has made similar claims in the past and continues to teach the same old lies from the same old pit of Hell. The YouTube video making the rounds is 4½ minutes long. What it doesn’t show is that for an hour and a half prior to this 4½ minute snippet Benny conducted one of his regular “healing” services. Furthermore, prosperity teaching is not the only heretical aspect of Benny’s theology, so even if he had repented of teaching the prosperity gospel, he would remain a heretic to avoid.

Repentance doesn’t just mean a blase admission that something is wrong. Repentance is a total change of lifestyle. If Benny were to repent, what we would see would be genuine, long lasting grief over his sin. He would step down from, and dismantle his “ministry,” cancel all of his tours, crusades, and speaking engagements, take all of his books out of print, shut down all of his online platforms and do everything in his power to scrub the internet of his false teaching (at the moment, he has said he’s planning to keep his “most popular” teachings available online for those who want them), return the money he has scammed from people, and park himself in a solid church so he can learn the gospel, be saved, and be discipled in sound doctrine.

If you’d like to believe Benny has repented, OK. Check back up on him in about six months and see if he has done any of the things above to “bear fruit in keeping with repentance.”

For the longer version of the answer to this question, see the resources below.

Benny Hinn and the Fruit of True Repentance at A Word Fitly Spoken

(Be sure to get and read both of Costi’s books if you haven’t already.)

WWUTT 1030 Q&A Benny Hinn, Couples Studies, Christian Fiction? at WWUTT

No, Benny Hinn Has Not Repented by Gabe Hughes

Benny Hinn’s nephew ‘encouraged’ by uncle’s rejection of prosperity gospel, calls for ‘genuine repentance’ at The Christian Post

Benny Hinn and the Fruit of True Repentance at Voice of Reason Radio

Benny Hinn Renounces His Selling of God’s Blessings. Critics Want More. at Christianity Today


[In your “Welcome” tab,] you describe yourself as…….A genuinely regenerated Protestant, Southern Baptist, Calvinist/Reformed Baptist…I am just getting in on the Reformed Baptist conversation. As a Southern Baptist, why do I need to add all the other titles. Why or what did you reform? I am confused. Why can’t you just be Southern Baptist?

You don’t need to use a bunch of labels if you don’t want to, I just want to be specific and clear to my readers what my theology is in case they’d like to know, and so they will know what to expect when they read my articles.

Reformed Baptist theology is different from Arminian (or what Southern Baptists like to call “Traditionalist” theology). If you are Southern Baptist and unfamiliar with Calvinism, you are most likely in a Traditionalist church (you may want to ask your pastor). I think you’ll find the answers to many of your questions in this article (be sure to read the additional resources at the end, too.) I’d also encourage you to read the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith.

(Just a reminder to my regular readers, I don’t engage in or allow Calvinism/Arminianism debates and arguments in the comments sections of my articles or on social media. Please review my comment parameters at the “Welcome” tab at the top of this page before commenting.)


I am, for now, the choir director at my church. I lead the choir and my husband leads the congregational hymn singing. In one question I read [on your blog], I should not be doing that- the answer to the question of whether woman should serve as worship leaders or music ministers was a simple “no”. It would help a great deal to have an extended answer, and then I’ll know whether to tender my resignation and find another way to serve. I can happily go back to just singing in the choir. Thank you for your insight.

It’s so encouraging when I hear from women who want to do the biblical thing! I’m not sure which of my articles you were reading where I simply said “no” to the question of whether or not women should serve as worship leaders, but I have addressed that question in greater length in this article (see #4).

Of course, this article doesn’t address a woman only directing the choir, but rather, serving as the minister of music. I can see some situations in which it might be biblically OK for a woman to only direct the choir.

For example, if it’s an emergency situation like the minister of music getting sick at the last moment on Sunday morning and he has been the one to lead the choir through rehearsals, explain the text of the music to them, etc., and the only person capable of stepping in and directing the choir that morning (just the choir, not the congregation) is a woman, I don’t think that would be a problem. Another example: At my church, the choir occasionally does anthems that center around a tenor solo, which our minister of music (who directs the choir) will sometimes sing. He will step up to the pulpit to sing the solo, and a lady in the choir will direct the choir part of the anthem. I don’t think that’s problematic, either.

Of course, you will need to pray about it and talk it over with your husband and pastor, but, for what it’s worth, my thought on your situation is that if your husband is Scripturally qualified (as well as musically qualified) to step into the pastoral role of minister of music (because men should not hold positions of leadership they’re not biblically qualified for either), and he is overseeing the choir – selecting the music, leading rehearsals, etc. (all the pastoral type things mentioned in the article), then it would not be a problem for you to simply direct them on Sunday morning. Especially if, as it sounds like might be the case, the two of you are temporarily filling in until a permanent minister of music can be found and hired. But, really, the best case scenario would be for your husband (and/or another biblically qualified man to) lead the congregation and the choir. And it would probably be a load off your shoulders!


I have a question that I haven’t been able to find a clear answer to including in your blog. Can women teach men in Bible study say on a Thursday night?

The 1 Tim 2:12-13 Scripture points to Adam being created first then Eve therefore, therefore I would deduct that women should not teach or exercise authority over a man whether it be in church, Sunday School or in a Thursday night Bible study. Am I wrong?

DING! DING! DING! You are absolutely RIGHT! Tell her what she’s won, Johnny! :0)

Yes, you’re correct. You’ll notice in 1 Timothy 2:11-15 that there’s no exception for any day of the week. The prohibition against women teaching men is for any day ending in a Y.

And, you didn’t say where this Thursday night Bible study is meeting, but those types of gatherings of the Body often meet in homes, and there’s no exception for meeting in a home (or anywhere else) versus meeting inside the four walls of a church building, either. When 1 Timothy was written, there were no church buildings. The church was largely meeting in people’s homes. I say “the church was meeting,” because the church is the gathering of Believers, not the building in which they meet. So it’s not OK for women to teach Scripture or preach to a co-ed gathered body of Believers, whether that’s in a church building during worship service or a smaller class or group, or at a Christian conference, retreat, parachurch event, or at a Bible study at someone’s home on a Thursday night.

You’re also correct that I’ve never addressed this specific question directly, but I have touched on it here, here (2nd question), and here (#7 – I just hopped over to this article and added home, workplace, and coffee shop Bible studies to question 7). So let me grab the salient points from those articles and put them together in a more helpful way:

“Teaching” includes any situation in the gathering of the body of Christ in which women would be giving instruction to men in the Scriptures and/or on spiritual matters (which, in a biblical church gathering, would necessarily include Scripture), whether in an official position of teacher (pastor, teaching elder, Sunday School/Bible study teacher, or other leadership position) or any other situation requiring exhorting, teaching, or explaining of the Scriptures.

We need to remember what the definition of “church” is. The church is not a building, it is a body of born again believers gathered for the purpose of worship, prayer, the ordinances, and/or the study of God’s word. Those things can take place in a church building, a home (as with the first century churches in Acts), in a campus or office building, outdoors, in a conference center, in a sports arena, or anywhere else. So, when a body of believers comes together for these purposes, regardless of the building in which they meet, or whether you call it “church” or not, they are the church, and the biblical parameters about women teaching and holding authority over men applies.

I don’t mean this to sound facetious or anything, but sin is sin no matter what time of day or day of the week it takes place on.


Today, I came across a book I had purchased in the past – Practicing the Presence of God from Brother Lawrence. Taking a quick look at the book, I’m inclined to throw it away. It reminds me of Buddhist thinking or New Age garbage. As a monk, Brother Lawrence’s Catholic theology conflicts with biblical Christianity.

Before I became a Christian, I was into New Age thinking and practices. Just reading bits and pieces of this book makes me think New Age thinking instead of what I know from the Bible. I’m going to throw it away…I don’t see any redeeming Christian theology in it thus far. I don’t want to expose anyone else to wrong theology. Just wondered if you have any thoughts on this book?

Unlike the vast majority of books I’m asked about, I have actually read this one. However, it has probably been ten years ago or more since I read it. All I remember is that it was fairly short (which is probably why I read it), and that one of his main points was keeping our thoughts focused on God at all times. And I mean all times. Every waking moment of the day, we are to be consciously, actively thinking about God or we’re not pleasing Him. I remember trying to put that into practice. Even while doing something as mindless as washing the dishes, it was impossible and exhausting. (It did, however demonstrate to me how much of the time our brains are on auto-pilot.)

You’re correct in your assessment of the theology of the book. Brother Lawrence was a Roman Catholic mystic. Roman Catholic doctrine – as it is laid out in their own documents – is patently unbiblical, as is mysticism. Christians should not receive any sort of spiritual teaching from someone with that theological pedigree.

Thank you for throwing the book out instead of passing bad theology on to others.


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Sexual abuse, Feminism, Serpent seed doctrine…)

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!


Can you please suggest an iPhone app Radio station that plays biblically sound worship, praise and messages?

A reader asked this question via Facebook recently. I mostly listen to podcasts, and though I’m aware of a few good sermon apps, I wasn’t familiar with any apps that provide both sermons and music. I asked my Facebook readers for some help and got lots of great answers. You can check out their suggestions here (even if you’re not on Facebook). I’m not personally familiar with all of these sites and apps, so use good discernment and make sure everything they’re teaching lines up with Scripture.


Do you have advice on Christian women and feminism? I have friends who are reading Jesus Feminist. The title makes me cringe.

Secular feminism is not something I handle a whole lot here on the blog, although I have touched on it in these articles:

Toxic (Evangelical) Femininity

Feminist Infiltration and the Emasculation of Christian Men

6 Reasons Godly Women are Stronger Than Feminazis

 

I would recommend that you head over to Sheologians. Summer and Joy have done several very good podcast episodes and articles on the history of feminism and its current influence on society and the church. I cannot remember whether they covered Jesus Feminist or not, so you may want to make use of the “contact us” link at the top of their site and ask. (Tell them I said hi!)


My husband and I are having sexual problems that stem from the fact that I was molested as a child. What should I do?

I have intentionally left out the specific details of this particular reader’s question, first, in order to protect her identity, second, because I have no doubt that many readers have this same general question, and third, because, being a stranger on the internet, I am not the person who can best help anyone in this situation, so I can only give a very general answer anyway.

I grieve with those of you who have had this terrible sin perpetrated against you. I hope the person who abused you was caught and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. It is also my prayer that God has taken what was meant for evil against you and used it for good in your life by drawing you to Himself, teaching you to depend on Him, and deepening your walk with Him.

As I mentioned, although I’m humbled and honored that readers sometimes reach out to me for help with staggering griefs and difficulties, I would be doing you a disservice if I tried to help you via e-mail or a blog article with complicated personal problems that require ongoing counseling from someone you have (or can develop) a face-to-face relationship with.

Generally speaking, it’s important that you understand that, as a child, the abuse was not your fault, regardless of how you responded to it at the time. A physiological response (orgasm) to the abuse does not mean you enjoyed being violated, wanted it to happen, or were “asking for it”. Neither does having kept it a secret, being friendly with the abuser, “allowing” the abuse to continue in order to receive gifts from the abuser, etc. You were a victim.

It’s important that your husband understand that the sexual difficulties you are experiencing are no reflection on him. Sex is a very personal thing, and he may be incorrectly assuming that your aversion to sex is an aversion to his performance or to him, personally. He will also need to come to grips with the fact that there’s no quick, cut-and dried, three or five or fifteen step plan to “fixing” this. It will be a growth process for both of you.

Assuming you’re in a doctrinally sound church, I would urge you and your husband in the strongest possible terms to set up an appointment with your pastor for counseling. Shepherding your souls through life’s difficulties is part of his biblical job description, and if he went to a decent seminary, he was trained in marital counseling.

If you absolutely don’t think you could look your pastor in the eye during the sermon every week after discussing such personal matters, ask him for a referral to a certified biblical counselor (not a “Christian counselor” – biblical counseling, formerly called nouthetic counseling, is different) who can help you and your husband heal by learning and walking out in your marriage the Scriptures that apply to your situation. If your pastor isn’t familiar with biblical counseling, find a referral through the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, the counselor search links here, or contact a nearby (doctrinally sound) seminary or Christian university and ask if you can speak to someone in their school of biblical counseling.

I know it seems like it will be painful and embarrassing to discuss this situation with a third party, but don’t let it continue to fester. It will destroy your marriage. Getting biblical help will set you and your husband free.


What are your thoughts on a woman teaching an introductory class in biblical Greek to adults (men and women) at church?

Not knowing the context and spiritual climate of your church and assuming the class is taught in the same way other academic foreign language classes are taught – alphabet, vocabulary, grammar, etc. – I don’t see any more problem with it than if she were teaching French or Swahili or Chinese.

The biblical prohibition against women teaching men has to do with women instructing men in the content of the Bible, not the language the Bible was originally written in. Greek is just a language like any other. It is not holy or special just because that’s the language the majority of the New Testament was penned in. (Actually, the opposite is true. Greek was the most widely spoken language of the time, so God used it to get His Word out to the largest number of people.)

Even if the teacher has the class translate portions of Scripture or uses a word or phrase from a Bible verse to illustrate the meaning of a word – assuming she doesn’t veer off into preaching on that verse – she is still teaching a language, not giving Bible instruction to men in the way prohibited by Scripture.

As I said, I don’t know the context and spiritual climate of your church so there could be other factors along those lines that need to be taken into consideration as to whether or not it’s wise for a woman to teach this class, but strictly speaking as to whether or not it’s a violation of Scripture, no.


Do you have any teachings on the implications of the serpent seed doctrine?

No, I’ve never written about it because, until I was asked this question, I’d never heard of it.

I did a brief search, and I would say that the implications are racism, false doctrine, and poor hermeneutics. Apparently, the gist of this teaching is that when the serpent tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden, a sexual encounter took place between the two, leading to the conception of Cain. Therefore, everyone who is descended from Cain was conceived from the “serpent’s seed” and is of the devil.

This is a concoction of an evil imagination and has no basis in Scripture whatsoever. In fact, Genesis 4:1 clearly tells us who Cain’s father was. Even Cain’s name tells us God caused Eve to conceive him:

Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.”

I mean, that’s pretty much a mic drop moment with regard to this ridiculous “doctrine”.

Here are a couple of good resources explaining more:

What is the Serpent Seed doctrine?

The serpent seed and the Kenites


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.

Christian women, Church, Complementarianism

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

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.