June 6, 2020

Send In the Clowns

To the contrary….my friend Wyman Richardson says it’s a tempest in a teapot.

ONE MORE: A life well lived.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here’s Beth Moore’s (excellent) website. I don’t see the announcement anywhere that she is a teacher for women only. Looks like she’s a Bible teacher for anyone who wants to be taught.

UPDATE AGAIN: Bill Mackinnon writes “Ten Questions For Complementarians.” I’d like to read some answers. In fact, I wonder where the detailed theological exposition on the Southern Baptist doctrine on authority of men over women is laid out in Southern Baptist theology. Have I missed that one?

UPDATE: Just so you can see what the other side of this issue actually looks like with a human face…Pastor Julie Pennington-Russell is pastor of Decatur First Baptist (CBF, formerly SBC). Atlanta Magazine did a major piece on her and her pastoral ministry. (Please Lifeway, don’t shut down my website!)

Rereading the story of the story of Lifeway Christian stores pulling from sale a magazine with five female pastors on the cover, I was really overwhelmed with the vacuity of evangelicalism.

At what point is someone allowed to say that in those same Lifeway stores, the #1 selling Bible teaching marterials are the resources published by Lifeway by Beth Moore? When are we supposed to notice the dozens and dozens of Beth Moore books and workbooks? The Beth Moore aisle in most Lifeway stores? When are we supposed to notice that Beth Moore’s materials in Lifeway DWARF any male pastor or teacher? When do we get the exercise in pretzel logic that explains there’s no inconsistency in having a female Bible teacher with an audience larger than any pastor in a denomination that opposes women pastors?

When are we supposed to notice the howling hypocrisy of chattering endlessly about the tragedy and threat of women pastors, but pocketing who knows how much money from Beth Moore’s Bible teaching?

Moore can teach more individual Southern Baptists and in more churches (via video, etc) than any other Bible teacher, but as long as we have our Pharisaical lenses on, it can all be explained as within the boundaries we’ve drawn.

And you wonder why people equate evangelicals with an inability to think critically. It’s this kind of nonsense that makes any pretense to principle comedic. It’s the authority of the Bible….as we creatively construe it.

Comments

  1. I have no problem with Beth Moore teaching women, I have no issue with a man buying a Beth Moore book for his wife, mother sister etc, even reading it to know what it says before approving it for the same. I do have an issue with Beth Moore teaching men or functioning in a pastoral role however. So I am against female preachers because I understand that (female preachers) to be against scripture, but female teachers for females seems to be in line with scripture.

  2. Beth Moore can teach whomever she wants. I think she’s a fine person.

    But Lifeway spent the dollars to make Beth Moore the biggest Bible teacher in the SBC. They market her every page endlessly. They have made her the primary teacher of more Southern Baptists than any other person in the denomination.

    But we don’t believe GOD wants women teaching men. Well…at some point. Sometimes.

    This is the SBC’s definition of principle: Whatever we can bend the definition to mean while still doing the opposite.

  3. Hysterical!!! I love it. Too funny. We really ought to just throw out the “evangelical” label. all it does is divide.

  4. R.K.: How about a man like me, a Southern Baptist, reading a book on scripture written by a woman for a general audience?

    Or reading a blog by a woman?

    Or listening to a Beth Moore presentation on the life of Abraham?

  5. I’m speechless. This is idiocy of the highest order. Monk, how in the world do you survive in the midst of such comprehensive silliness?

  6. I’m naive about what Beth Moore teaches, or who she teaches to, but my (perhaps faulty) understanding of her is that she’s a teacher for women. I’m sure, though, that many men learn from her. That seems different to me than being a pastor of a congregation.

  7. iMonk Asked: How about a man like me, a Southern Baptist, reading a book on scripture written by a woman for a general audience?

    RK:I have to say that if it is reference to scripture and it is teaching in a theological sense then I oppose it. If it is simply historical or technical such as dating an artifact then it is fine.
    ———————————————————-
    iMonk Asked: Or reading a blog by a woman?

    RK: I have no problem with reading a blog by a woman so long as she is not teaching theology or doctrine from it. I have plenty of female friends who blog and I read them. They are not teaching, preaching or acting in any pastoral fashion to me or any other male to the best of my knowledge however. Should they do so I would ask them to change their audience or message.

    iMonk Asked: Or listening to a Beth Moore presentation on the life of Abraham?

    RK: Now here you have me at a slight quandary again it is going to depend on what exactly she is teaching is it academic or theological. Since I do have this inherent ambivalence in my position currently I have simply opted to stand on the side of being conservative and not listen to Beth Moore. I do hear she is an excellent orator, but unless my mother asks my opinion on a specific work (my I am unmarried and have no children thus no wife or daughter) I will continue to avoid her work. There are plenty of good solid works on Abraham or any other subject.

    As an example (and sorry Kim, but this is true): I initially refused to listen to the White Horse Inn and read any of Kim Riddlebarger’s works because I thought (obviously errantly) that he was a she. It was not until several years ago that someone corrected me on this that I read any of his works.

  8. Bird: It is different. If we are talking about the technical nuances, then I agree.

    But if we are talking about who teaches more SBCers than anyone, who has been promoted by Lifeway NOT as a women’s teacher but as a Bible teacher for everyone, and if we are being consistent about the theological authority and influence of a woman, then the promotion of Moore by Lifeway makes one wonder how seriously we are supposed to believe this is a matter of principle.

  9. On one level, the whole fiasco is rather hilarious. But on a much more serious level, it’s a real detriment to the witness of the church. Once again, Christians will be seen as a) consumed with internal squabbles that are largely meaningless and silly to the wider world or the unchurched, b) willing and eager to be known for what they are against rather than what they are for, c) unable or unwilling to engage those with a perspective and interpretation that may be different from their own, and d) a little bit misogynistic, unless of course there’s sufficient revenue involved!

    Now just how many people do you suppose are going to be attracted to the love and the transforming redemptive message and power of Jesus Christ as a result of this nonsense?

    I sure laughed, but I also cried.

  10. Brumblebow, your finessing of differences on this subject is really curious to me, I’ll admit, but you’re obviously capable of giving a thoughtful, honest reply, so could you parse this out for me a little further?

    If a woman were teaching theology that a man came up with, is that a sin?

    If she were herself doing Biblically-sound theology, could she share it with men? Could she preach it anonymously?

    If a woman is talking theology in your presence and you happen to learn something, did she sin, or did you? (is it a sin at all?)

    Can a bright young woman with a correct theological understanding confront a church-going male whose understanding is leading him to sin?

    Can a woman explain theology to male children? Teens? Young men?

    Thanks for answering my (potentially awkward) questions!

  11. I’m thinking that a denomination that really does have any doctrine of an office of the holy ministry is in a tough spot to begin with.

  12. aaron arledge says

    If I remember right almost everyone I knew in seminary had to read Sally Morgenthaler’s Worship Evangelism. All of us men learned from a woman.

  13. “iMonk Asked: How about a man like me, a Southern Baptist, reading a book on scripture written by a woman for a general audience?

    RK:I have to say that if it is reference to scripture and it is teaching in a theological sense then I oppose it. ”

    Brumblelow,

    How does that actually work out?

    Suppose a woman writes a book on theology, intended for a female audience. If I told you that I was considering reading it, would you tell me that I shouldn’t? Apparently, yes.

    But what if I intended to buy it for my wife, and I wanted to read it first before giving it to her? (Isn’t that advisable, as part of my spiritual leadership?) But then… When I’m reading it, and I start to detect that I’m learning something, should I put the book down?

  14. >a denomination that really does have any doctrine of an office of the holy ministry…

    In what sense do Baptists not have a doctrine of the ministry? I was ordained in 1980 to what I thought was the Gospel ministry.

  15. I agree with R.K. in that a woman’s biblical role is not as a pastor. This would include; Senior Pastor, any Associate Pastor position or anything that resembles Pastoring. The roles of men and women are separate and distinct in Scripture and I for one would rather err on the side of caution when dealing with the likes of Beth Moore. I understand she is well liked and well received by most SBC Churches but this does not make it right. By the way this issue is rather close to home for me due to the fact that my own mother is a “preacher”.

  16. I have become convinced that denying the ministry of preaching and teaching to women is thoroughly unscriptural, except in the kinds of circumstances addressed by Paul, where women had been previously untaught or where their participation was causing disruption.

    That being said, the issues in this case are:

    1. Whether they agree or not, should a bookstore pull a magazine simply because it is reporting an emerging trend in some churches? That’s just sticking your head in the sand.

    2. Even if Beth Moore were ONLY instructing women, wouldn’t her far-reaching teaching ministry and constant promotion by Lifeway severely undercut the ministry of local church pastors (men) by making her more influential in the lives of church women than they are?

  17. The biggest problem with that article: “Breaking the glass ceiling”. This is a worldly notion. That being pastor is equivalent to being CEO of the church (and many churches act like this, so it’s understandable, but it’s not Biblical).

    Every garbage man, err “Sanitation Engineer”, I’ve seen is a man. We don’t hear feminists raging about the “garbage ceiling”. A pastor is a supposed to be a position of servitude and humility (like a garbage man). Men are called to do this task, so women don’t have to. It also reflects the image of God – Jesus (the man) gives, and the Church (universal, the woman) receives. The man gives sacrificially, to the point of death. The woman submits and supports.

    Michael, isn’t your rant that the SBC is failing? If their main publisher is pushing women leaders, isn’t that just further evidence of their failure?

  18. I think Mr. McCain may be refering to a question of authority.

    From your stand point I am not realy sure how to answer the question raised by female ministers. However as I understand it from going to my wife’s Southern Baptist church all the pastor does is lead the congregation in prayer and deliver a sermon. Once a month you may do “communion” but on your own theology it is just as simbol.

    I personaly do not have a problem with any of this knowing the capacity to which a Baptist minister serves.

  19. Wow, I am a Catholic and so I don’t really have any right to point fingers on this issue. But I have always wondered how the “woman preacher” thing played in scripturally conservative circles. I don’t mean to offend, but the language that I hear on this issue often sounds like it’s from the Taliban or Iran.

  20. The church is the “bride of Christ.” Brides are female. I guess the church should stop teaching men. My mother taught me to pray. I guess that was wrong, too. I wonder if Mary, mother of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, taught him any prayers or encouraged Him in His spiritual life. If she did, was that wrong?

  21. I think R.K.’s comment (first comment) is a good distinction and certainly one that the SBC makes in regard to Beth Moore. She is not a leader of a church — an ecclesial authority — therefore she does not function for the church in the way that a pastor functions for the church, i.e., as head of the bride. The church she belongs to is an SBC church with a male pastor, and it is to this church and this pastor that she is accountable (assuming that some sort of discipline is practiced, such as for certain acts, e.g., adultery, theft, verbal abuse, etc.).

  22. PL:Brumblebow(sic)[Brumbelow], your finessing of differences on this subject is really curious to me, I’ll admit, but you’re obviously capable of giving a thoughtful, honest reply, so could you parse this out for me a little further?

    RK: Sure

    PL:If a woman were teaching theology that a man came up with, is that a sin?

    RK: Teaching another woman or group of women, no. Teaching men, yes. All proper theology originates from God so it is not the origin per say but the mode of communication. It does seem that the contrary immediately springs to mind so if a man taught men from a Beth Moore book that would be OK but this is not a true contrary as the teaching man would still have learned it from Beth Moore.

    PL:If she were herself doing Biblically-sound theology, could she share it with men? Could she preach it anonymously?

    RK: If she were being biblically proper then my understanding of scripture would be that she could not share it with men in a didactic fashion. As for anonymously yes it is still a sin.

    PL:If a woman is talking theology in your presence and you happen to learn something, did she sin, or did you? (is it a sin at all?)

    RK: Again it comes down to intent. If I am teaching and a female is present and because of her actions or comments I learn something new. I am still the teacher, she is still the student. The role of teacher and the intent remain true to the order that God has stated.

    PL:Can a bright young woman with a correct theological understanding confront a church-going male whose understanding is leading him to sin?

    RK: I think again there may be an equivocation on teaching here. If she is simply correcting him and it is imminent then it should be kept short and to the point and then passed off to a leader of the church, again this is not teaching though it is correcting. if it is not imminent then it should be treated as a simple matter of church discipline and discussed with an elder.

    PL:Can a woman explain theology to male children? Teens? Young men?

    RK: Ah! the age question. This is also a touchy subject. I tend to make a cut off at the age of 12 , but that age is most likely due to my own jewish heritage. I will be honest It could be swung either side. Some could argue that a woman should never teach a male at all. Some might argue that a woman could teach a male until he is 20, or married himself or some other factor and I do not think I could at this point come up with a passage that defeats it succinctly. 20 was the age of military service so I think that should be the absolute latest, earlier if the male is married. I personally am for segregation of the sexes when teaching after age 12 also, but again that likely has roots in my own history and not in some logical or factual basis.

    PL:Thanks for answering my (potentially awkward) questions!

    RK: Answering questions makes me think. make me evaluate my own position and presuppositions so to better learn the truth. So, i enjoyed answering your questions. hopefully you found them somewhat enlightening to the question of where does RK Brumbelow sit on this subject and for what reasons.
    A scripture to consider might be 1 Cor 4:6

  23. I think we have maybe missed the bigger point in all this. If my mega-SBC church is typical of SBC churches in general, the serious Bible study going on is done primarily by the women. Our church has 7-9 women non-Sunday AM Bible studies going on including 4 at night for working women. There are none going on for men. I have taught a men’s Sunday AM class and eventually pulled the plug due to low attendance. The scandal is that the men for the most part don’t give a rip about Bible study. This is not unique to the SBC, but we (SBC)definitely have a problem here. Our SBC church believes that the main reason for Sunday AM Bible study is for evangelism. As you said previously, we are a hospital full of sick people with our primary focus on getting more sick people. At least the ladies are hungry for the Word of God.

  24. Michael, it is not just Beth Moore who exposes the SBC’s duplicity on this subject. Every year at Christmas the SBC promotes the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. In the journal and letters of Lottie Moon we read that she taught men in the villages she worked in. Although hesitant to do so she felt that it was more important that these men be taught the gospel and the Scriptures than to continue in darkness. Where’s the outcry?

    Similarly, what about the venerable Bertha Smith? I used to hear Danny Akin talk about how that woman could preach! And he said he never heard more powerful and godly preaching. Is this aloud just because she was Berth Smith? Where’s the outcry?

    What about Amy Carmichael? What about Anne Graham Lotz? When I was at SEBTS we heard Elisabeth Elliot in chapel (over 1500 men and women there together for one of the highlights of my life). Paige Patterson sat right there and watched. Where was the outcry?

    And then there are myriad women who serve God on the mission field in remote places where they are the only ones to take the gospel and the Scriptures. Why does the SBC allow this to happen? Where is the outcry?

    For Lifeway to pull this magazine is a big, duplicitous joke.

  25. For anyone who cares, I’m an egalitarian and I believe these issues are local church decisions.

    Giovanni: Your minimalistic description of the Baptist ministry might as well just say “These people have no church and don’t have the sacraments, so what does the minister have to do anyway?” I think your own church’s ecumenical documents are more generous, even from a Catholic perspective.

    ALL: Go in Lifeway and tell me if Beth Moore is marketed as a teacher to women. Absolutely not. She’s marketed as a general author and they make hundreds of thousands off of her.

    I may have to post on head coverings and the continuance of slavery to accommodate some of you guys.

  26. Well Scott….that’s all different. (Irony alert)

  27. R.K. Brumbelow,

    You aren’t serious are you? These are some of the most frustrating and sad statements I have ever read on this blog (and I’ve read some whoppers). I feel sorry for the women in your life.

    Talk about building hedges around the truth.

  28. Well said R.K. you addressed the topic very well the only place that I may differ with you is on the age question. Which you yourself admit it to be a tricky question. What does one appeal to? The Law, The Prophets, The Gospel. There is no clear cut easy answer to this question. So with the Apostle Paul I am left with that matter of conscience.

  29. Lifeway’s decision is not really a “Biblical” issue but just another sad example of “culture war” Christianity run amok. Please join me. I’ve gone AWOL.

  30. Scott likes ad hominem arguments I think. Scott what is you scriptural basis for this or are you a strict emotionalist? But I think your previous post gets to the heart of the matter the issue is no longer in the Biblical realm. Just because it has been done before does not make something right. One needs only look to the idea of sola ecclesia found with in the Catholic Church to understand.

  31. ALL: Keep this discussion on topic. Stay off the personal comments please.

  32. One detail missing in the discussion of the complementarian view of 1Tim 2.12 is the meaning of the word for “have authority,” which often carries the meaning of improperly seizing authority, and was translated thus by the KJV as “usurp authority.” None of the women pictured on the magazine cover, to my knowledge, seized authority illegitimately, but were recognized, called and chosen by their congregations.

    Further observation of the text would see that this verse is not, in fact, even a command! In the indicative voice, Paul states his practice when facing the kind of situation Timothy was facing in Ephesus. Nowhere is there a command prohibiting women from preaching, teaching, or holding authoritative office.

  33. Mike-It appears to me that Lifeway’s decision is not primarily Biblical or cultural, but economic. Beth Moore sells.

  34. It’s true, Scott. You may disagree with his beliefs but he did go out on a limb to unpack them.

    I’m with you, though; I don’t see how making epistemic decisions about Scripture based on gender makes any sense in the context of real-world ministry, or corresponds with the Holy Spirit. If God intended that women not advance His truth via theology, you’d think he’d have designed them to be incapable of it. What’s ironic is how few women seem interested in competing in legalistic disputations that men have routinely used to agree with one another about the opposite sex’s “weaknesses”; it seems to me that that quality is a God-given strength, and the spirit of teaching theology demands that we learn from Godly theological women how to develop it in ourselves.

  35. My head is spinning!!

    Beth Moore is popular with women from many different church affiliations. Her materials sell, hence, she makes money for the seller. $$ trumps principle, obviously.

  36. Beth Moore ain’t teachin’ women people. She’s teaching all people, which is the ONLY WAY you can teach the Bible.

  37. IM: Beth Moore ain’t teachin’ women people. She’s teaching all people, which is the ONLY WAY you can teach the Bible.

    RK: I absolutely agree with Kat and with the first part of your above statement IM, but not the second half. There are plenty of venues to teach in that you can segregate the sexes, and Beth Moore herself could make it clear that she only seeks to teach women.

    Obviously I am a complementarian 🙂

    “Liberal-way” has been about money for some time. You can find TG Jakes and Joel Osteen there too.

  38. Kat,

    I agree with your comment about Lifeway selling Beth Moore. I was referring to their decision to pull the magazine featuring women pastors. The SBC (along with many other evangelical groups) is led by a contingent of culture warriors that in my view nearly always focuses on the wrong issues.

  39. R.K.:

    I think you are mistaken on Osteen and Jakes, at least in the 4 stores in Ky. When I was researching my Osteen posts, he was not sold at Lifeway. I don’t believe Jakes is sold there eith-er. Lifeway does a fair job sorting out the wordfaith heretics.

    Don’t you feel the SBC would be more consistent to go to a strict separation of the sexes in as many ways as possible? Seating in worship? All ages of Bible study? etc.

  40. I think God has allowed denominations, sort of in the same way Moses permitted divorce (because of the hardness of our hearts). And the egalitarian / complementarian issue is certainly in that category (no one is a heretic here, but we should be in different local churches).

    Also, I don’t think writing a book, and reading a book is really in the same category as “teaching”. A teacher and student have a relationship. Mainly being that the student submits to the teacher. Similarly, a male child has a God-given relationship with his mother (which includes instruction, under the headship of the father in the family).

    My question is, what do female pastor/elder/priest(es?)s/etc. do when they teach from 1 Timothy 3?

  41. Hi imonk;

    Just listened to your podcast and you mentioned about people interpreting the passages on women etc differently as not nessesarily being out to lunch but then you say above that “the word of faith” people are heretics… aren’t they just interpreting passages differently than us??

    If the WOF people are reaching to get their theology you could say the same about the WO people couldn’t you/we.

    In the words of Ricky Richardo; “you got some splainin to do!! (c;

  42. BS: The Word Faith Teachers deny primary doctrines of the faith. They are far different from a disagreeement among believers. Jakes. Meyer. Copeland = a false Gospel.

    Plenty of people have documented this. http://www.equip.org.

  43. nedbrek, I don’t know that God’s ever endorsed denominational partisanship – people arguing about God so much that they feel that they can no longer worship together in the same building, can’t communicate or even trust one another. That doesn’t appear to me to be a work of grace but a refusal of it – just typical human egotism.

  44. Thanks, Michael, for this post today. I’ve enjoyed being part of the conversation. Maybe the saddest part of this story is that surely the name of evangelical Christianity will once more be ridiculed by a world that cannot grasp such a juvenile response to a silly magazine cover. Christians must learn to read the Bible better. Follow the example of Paul. Let the Spirit and not traditionalism rule. Learn what really matters and focus on that. Grace and peace.

  45. IM:I think you are mistaken on Osteen and Jakes, at least in the 4 stores in Ky.

    RK: I very well may be currently mistaken, with regards to Osteen (he was there last time I was in a lifeway but is not on their website now) However TD Jakes (Fakes) is most certainly being sold by Lifeway In just a quick search I see 4 of his books being sold and a movie.

    http://www.lifeway.com/e2/shop/?Ntk=Author/Contributor&Ntt=Jakes%2C+T.+D.&N=0&D=Jakes%2C+T.+D.&Dn=0&Dk=1&Nty=1&Ntx=mode+matchallpartial

    IM: Don’t you feel the SBC would be more consistent to go to a strict separation of the sexes in as many ways as possible? Seating in worship? All ages of Bible study? etc.

    RK: No, in fact I do not find the two related in the least. So long as the teacher is a called male I do not see what the issue is of who he teaches. If the teacher is female and called then she should only be teaching other females. Since the SBC position on female pastors is that they are neither called nor warranted that means that all SBC pastors by extension should be male and so there is no need for segregation during normal activities or worship services.

    I know most of you here are egalitarian so i thank those of you who did not immediately flame my post and allowed the conversation to proceed civilly.

  46. Mr. iMonk, though I may not have used the most gentle of language I am being as truthful as possible. If I was wrong on my assesment of what a minister on your church does, then please point to a resource so I may learn. Also if there are any ecumenical documents that talk about this issue please point them out to me, I am not aware of any.

    I see no problem with female lead ministries as above discrived.

  47. Nicholas Anton says

    If Gal. 3:28 abolishes all gender based distinctions in the established church, does it not also abolish them in the home and in society? Can marriage therefore take place between any two believing, consenting individuals, or should marriage simply not exist? Can a woman be called a man? Can a woman become a father, or a man become a wife? Can, what is classified a man, therefore marry what is classified a man? Can what we classify as a woman, marry what we call a woman, or does this phrase simply make traditional marriage obsolete? After all, isn’t traditional marriage, which is a church institution, gender based rather than sex function based? If “oneness in” Christ abolishes all non uniformity of responsibility including gender based distinctions in the church, home, and in society, does it not also abolish all active and/or passive responsibility? Though the rolls as elders and deacons are servant rolls, they are also responsibility rolls. In a sin controlled world, the abolition of all responsibility roles in the church and the home would in fact abolish the church and home, as well as society as we know it.

  48. Nedbrek,

    What do you mean when you ask “what do female pastor/elder/priest(es?)s/etc. do when they teach from 1 Timothy 3?”

    I would answer that they teach that overseers and deacons need to be above reproach. That is what the list is all about.

    If you are referring to the phrase “husband of one wife”, I have a lengthy discussion about what Paul means by this phrase in a post entitled: The problems faced by Bible Translators: 1 Timothy 3:2.

    So that I don’t abuse my privileges to comment here I won’t reproduce the discussion here, but I don’t believe this is a verse that can be used to categorically deny women roles as overseers or deacons.

    I encourage you to read the discussion. I even have a poll in which you can vote for your preferred understanding of the verse.

  49. All of this swinging swords at phantoms exposes us as who we are.
    The hierarchy that we set up is a human construct.
    This whole conversation makes a tight spot in the middle of my back.
    Is it any wonder that the world thinks we are idiots?
    Christ exposed the frippery of the Pharisees for what it was and now we spend our time worrying about this kind of nonsense.
    A few weeks ago Michael posted an excellent blog about the cross and the absolute central place it has in our faith.
    He got about 6 responses.
    Start talking about women in leadership and the servers overload.
    As Pea Eye would say,” My Lord”.

  50. Getting back to the topic at hand. When I was growing up we had a word for those religious groups who censored what their adherents could read.

    Cult. 🙂

    Before anyone gets too offended, I wouldn’t want to call the Southern Baptist’s this. But making opposing viewpoints available to readers is only dangerous if you are afraid of truth.