You’ve probably heard about it by now.
Prominent pastor, author and theologian John MacArthur made a comment at a conference last week that deeply disturbed me, and many others. While at the Truth Matters Conference in California, He was asked to play a word association game of sorts.
The ‘word’ was actually a name: Beth Moore.
His response was disheartening to say the lease. He quickly retorted with “Go home”. To which the room erupts with laughter.
Go home? Wow.
He proceeded to say that there is no case that can be made biblically for a woman preacher, “end of discussion”. Well, that wasn’t the end of the discussion, because the video clip that’s been circulating continues for another 7 minutes or so.
Phil, someone else being interviewed with MacArthur said “narcissistic”. That she preaches herself. Um, Phil. Have you ever listened to Beth Moore? She preaches the Gospel. And, I might add that she (and many other women in ministry) are being used in powerful ways to reach lost people and disciple faithful and fruitful followers of Jesus.
The conversation continues and I’ll spare you most of the details. But I want to highlight a few quotes.
MacArthur states, in reference to Beth Moore, “Just because you have the skill to sell jewelry on the TV sales channel, doesn’t mean you should be preaching.” He more than insinuates that she merely has hype and hocking skills.
He then states that “the Church is caving into women preachers” and that when the leaders of evangelicalism roll over for women preachers, then feminism is winning the day. Next he says that women want power, not equality and equates the conversation of women in ministry to a liberal political agenda. And later says “this is why we can’t let the culture exegete the bible.”
Well, I’d like to share a few thoughts on this clip, and the many other conversations that happen around the church that reflect a similar position and heart.
Disagree with points. Don’t disparage a person.
I don’t agree with MacArthur. On a lot of things. Theologically, we sit in very different camps. However, it is never okay to sit on a stage and poke fun at the person you disagree with. The arrogant and boastful tone coming from this platform is evident even in this video clip and frankly, it’s childish. There are plenty of ways to put forth your theological opinions without bashing the person and that’s what should have happened.
If you are going to assert yourself publicly as a ‘man of God.’ Act like it.
I don’t care what you think of someone’s theology, it’s never an excuse to tear down a brother or sister in Christ. Make your critique about theological issues, not the people. Disagree in love because like it or not, we are all one body; a body called to unity, grace, compassion. A Body called to build one another other in love.
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.Ephesians 4:1-3
My friends, your language will always reveal your heart. If your language is filled with arrogance, malice, mockery, that’s what is in your heart. If your heart is filled with these things, get alone and get your heart right. Don’t get on a platform and spew it out publicly.
You can do more than sell jewelry.
In the video, MacArthur suggests that Beth Moore is better suited to sell jewelry on QVC than preach the Gospel. I seem to recall many places in scripture where the point is made that there is great rejoicing every time even one person receives Christ and that the heart of God is such that He would send a search party for just one.
It seems to me that the many thousands of people who have come to Christ through the preaching of the Gospel by women is worth it because those people are important to God.
God is using Beth Moore. And you and me and many other women to preach the Gospel. For far too long, women in the Church have been told they’re better suited to sell jewelry than preach the Gospel and I have to wonder how many people have missed out on the invitation to life in Christ because of that.
I don’t want to get into all of the theological reasoning in this post to support women in ministry. I’ll save that for another one. But, let me say this…
The call to proclaim the Gospel is for all who follow Jesus.
The passages used by people who don’t support women in ministry to present their opinion are few and far between. And, when taken in the whole context of scripture and the setting in which they were written, they can’t hold up. That’s not using culture to interpret the bible, that’s just correctly interpreting the bible. There seems to be selective ignorance when people interpret passages about women in ministry and it’s frustrating.
However, the passages that highlight that all Christians are called and equipped to proclaim the Gospel, and that both men and women are called and needed to be leaders in the Body of Christ, are not few and far between. They are in both the Old and New Testaments. And the passages that highlight the reality that there is an urgency for those who are far from Christ to be told about Him are not scattered. They are central to the theme of the Gospel.
People are dying all around us. Literally and figuratively. Because they are without Jesus. And there is no place in scripture that says you may only tell them if you don’t have certain anatomy. The great commission does not say “Go into all the world *unless you’re a women. In that case, go home.”
Women in ministry is not a political issue.
It’s true. Women in ministry is not a push from feminism. I don’t fancy myself as a feminist. And I’m not liberal in my politics or theology. And I obviously support women in all types of ministry and leadership. Please hear this: Women in ministry is not a political issue. It’s a Gospel issue.
The church has always been filled with women, funded by women, and often led by women because in the Kingdom of Heaven “there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
Don’t misunderstand me or this passage; men and women are not the same. But we are equal. The ground at the foot of the cross is level. Not only did God come to save all of us, but by His Spirit, He has equipped all of us. He has sent all of us on mission. And if we’re going to carry out the Kingdom work of proclaiming the Gospel, we need all of us.
Yes. There is a move of feminism where people who have been squelched are retaliating. And I believe there are women who desire power and control above all else- just as there are men with that desire. And I’ll give you this, there is a significant portion of women in ministry who land in a more liberal theological camp. But, they are not one in the same.
And regardless, our response should never be to seed disunity and dissension in the Body of Christ.
Think of what is said in Hebrews 12:14-15: “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Maybe I should note here that the prime suspect for who wrote Hebrews is…. Gasp…. a women. Priscilla, a coworker with Paul, a leader and teacher in the early Church and a church planter.
To equate the role and responsibility of women to preach with an agenda of feminism is to do exactly what John MacArthur shamed the church for doing by allowing women to preach; allowing culture to interpret the text.
Again, I’m not going to go through the theological grounds for women in ministry here, but let me say this. We can never allow our biases to influence our reading of the text. If we’re open, there will always be issues that scripture pushes against our biases and behaviors and ideologies on. For some, it may be women in ministry. For others, it might be slothfulness, or deceit or legalism. Scripture teaches us… all of us who are willing… to become more like Christ. And Christ called women, along with men, to follow Him and to proclaim the Gospel to all of the world.
Don’t go home.
So, friend. My prayer is that you don’t go home. Whatever God has called you to, continue faithfully in it. Whether it is to preach the Gospel privately to a neighbor or publicly on a platform. Be faithful to the calling. Cary out the responsibility with sincerity. Continue to allow scripture to challenge and shape all of who you are, even when it is uncomfortable.
And lastly, pray for those who hurt you.
There will be many more like John MacArthur in your ministry. There will be men and women who try to tell you everything from “you’re sinning” to they “just don’t like it”. But, please. For the sake of all those who have yet to be introduced to Christ, and for the sake of The Gospel, please don’t go home.
If you’re interested in learning more about where I stand theologically on Women in Ministry, please look at the beliefs of The Wesleyan Church.