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Are women pastors shameful? A response to John MacArthur

Are women pastors shameful? A response to John MacArthur

John MacArthur's sermon on shameful women pastors

Culture of Shame

Why is there a culture of shame on the head of women who preach the gospel? Faulty teaching is currently harming women and dividing many churches, and that is so sad. The divisive views on women must be answered in a sound and respectful way and I hope that this post will help. One source of the faulty teaching is a brother in Christ who labels women preaching the gospel as shameful women pastors. Several years ago I received permission from Pastor John MacArthur’s ministry Grace to You to use his audio quotes to refute his teaching on women in ministry. His shocking quotes are documented in our DVD production “Women in Ministry Silenced or Set Free?” The videos are now free on Youtube as well. The playlist of the full videos is here.

I also mailed several copies of the completed 4 DVD set for John MacArthur and Phil Johnson’s use at Johnson’s request.  Phil Johnson is John MacArthur’s executive director of the Grace to You broadcast ministry. I have not heard back from Phil Johnson since that time.

I am amazed, but not really surprised, that John MacArthur stepped into the fray again on the subject of women and the gospel. MacArthur is now 80 years old and celebrating 50 years pastoring his church. He has a long history of expounding the Bible verse by verse in a way that can help people understand the Word of God. Yet on the issue of women, he links together verses from other contexts while he ignores verses in the same chapter that show problems with his interpretation.

Clear context?

The context appears “clear” to MacArthur, while other scholarly authors of commentaries find puzzling contradictions in the same passage. We know that the Bible does not contradict itself, so astute students of the Word should expect more from MacArthur since he states that the passages are “clear”. He must explain and not ignore the apparent contradictions.

current controversy surrounding John MacArthur exploded during his 2019 Truth Matters Conference when MacArthur spoke against a popular woman preacher.

During a Q & A session, Todd Friel asked MacArthur to give a pithy statement about Beth Moore. MacArthur’s response was dismissive, “Go home,” he said. Many Christians responded in shock, sending the internet into a tizzy from what seemed like an unChristlike attitude from a respected Pastor. MacArthur countered with an even stronger sermon. He doubled down on the subject of silencing women and sending them home as shameful sinners. In his sermon titled, Does the Bible Permit a Woman to Preach? MacArthur identified an inherited stigma of shame on all women. He also delivered a scathing rebuke for shameful women who preach the gospel. He calls them women in rebellion to God and he attaches their act of public speaking to the same category of sins as coarse language, sexual jesting, and filthiness.

Preaching the gospel will destroy the church?

MacArthur is sure that women preachers will ultimately destroy the church if they are not stopped from preaching. John MacArthur is wrong on this issue and his culture of shame hurts women who want to be Christlike servants. Their desire to be faithful to Christ through using their gifts for the common good, is spoken of as evil. In this post, I unravel MacArthur’s problems with 1 Corinthians 14:34-36. I hope to do future articles on MacArthur’s other proof texts from his sermon as I have time.

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Complexity and Presuppositions

John MacArthur says that 1 Corinthians 14:34-36 is clear. But many of those who have written commentaries on this passage do not claim that these are “clear” passages. In fact, even the apostle Peter wrote that some of Paul’s writings are hard to understand.

2 Peter 3:14–16 (NASB) 14Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, 15and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.

The Baker New Testament Commentary concurs that 1 Corinthians 14:34-36 is difficult. In Volume 18 page 512, they write:

To resolve the difficulties with this text, we need to do as we have done with other passages: consider the structure, the larger context, and preeminently the themes or principles Paul was explicated.

The First International Greek Testament Commentary by Anthony C. Thiselton agrees. He writes about immense complexity on page 1146:

The translation and exegesis is immensely complex. Contextual facts are vital including presuppositions about what the addressees were assumed to understand by language of which we know only Paul’s part of the dialogue.

Bob Utley in his commentary, Paul’s Letters to a Trouble church: I and II Corinthians Vol. 6 page 166, writes that Paul’s words are difficult and paradoxical:

It is difficult to know how to handle this issue biblically because of the seemingly paradoxical statements of Paul, such as 1 Cor. 11:4-5 compared with 14:34.

Our presupositions

We presuppose that Paul’s writings are inspired. Even though Paul’s words can be very complex and require effort to understand, his words appear to be written in such a way that any misunderstanding of Paul’s meaning will cause a glaring contradiction in the text. When Paul is understood properly, his writings will flow without contradiction as with all Scripture. Paul was the apostle who greatly valued women and he worked alongside women and commended them to the church. Paul needs to be understood alongside his actions and his prior teaching.

The Elusive Law

John MacArthur claims that there is a biblical LAW that keeps women silent in the assembly. 

1 Corinthians 14:34–35 (NASB) 34The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says35If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.

We need to find this Law. Where are women told to keep silent in the assembly? Once we find this law, we can start to appreciate Paul’s wisdom.

John MacArthur identifies the referenced “Law” as the entire Old Testament. However, the Old Testament has no command that requires the silence of women in the assembly. Without a clear command, how can women know what God identifies as sin? “For if the bugle produces an indistinct sound, who will prepare himself for battle?” Paul wrote these words about the importance of clarity in 1 Corinthians 14:8. He argues for clear and understandable messages.

An indistinct sound

An unclear and ambiguous command is like an indistinct bugle sound. It has no meaning! Why would Paul contradict himself from his words at the beginning of the chapter and then point us to a biblical law that cannot be located? God gave specific commands because He wants to keep us from sin. We know that Paul did not make up a new law. Where is the specific reference to the silencing Law? This Elusive Law must be found and Paul will help us with that!

I have an entire section on the Elusive Law from 1 Corinthians 14 on my video. Rather than list all the important points in writing, I have included a free online link to my 4th DVD which I believe will be very helpful to understand Paul’s context and his reference to the Silencing Law. This is the best way to explain 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 that I have found. I want those who cannot afford to purchase the DVD set to have access to this teaching, so I have included the link below. Click on the video link below or find the link on Youtube here. The introduction to the video is found here and that explains all of our presuppositions. There are also huge problems with John MacArthur’s interpretation of Paul which he does not address in his sermon and I have refuted them in the video.


Did Paul stop the Preaching of the Gospel by ANYONE?

John MacArthur is determined to shut the mouths of women pastors who preach the gospel. Why? Because he accuses these women of having a selfish ambition to overpower and control men. If such a thing were true, Paul already handled this issue with Christlike wisdom. Paul’s attitude toward those who preach Christ out of selfish ambition is gospel-based.  

Philippians 1:15–18 (NASB) 15Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will; 16the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; 17the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment. 18What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice,

Paul reminds the Philippians of the priority of the gospel. If you find a person who is proclaiming the gospel out of selfish ambition, then rejoice because the gospel of Jesus Christ is being proclaimed! The truth of the gospel is vastly more important than the motive of the heart.

Paul never stopped the preaching of the gospel at any time. The NASB translates Paul’s response in verse 18 as, “What then?” Other translations render it this way:

“What does it matter?” NRSV, CSB, HCSB; “But so what?” CJB; “But that doesn’t matter” CEV; “It does not matter” TEV

What does it matter?

This is a problem for John MacArthur. The apostle Paul affirms that motive doesn’t matter but the preaching of the gospel does matter. How could Paul contradict his “What does it matter?” position to stop the preaching of the gospel in 1 Corinthians 14? When your understanding of Paul contradicts Paul’s clear teaching in his writings, you can be certain that you don’t understand Paul right. John MacArthur needs to explain why Paul celebrated the preaching of the gospel even though he acknowledges a selfish ambition existed. Paul accepts that the gospel is not chained. (2 Timothy 2:9 NKJV). Satan is the one who silences the gospel. Satan wants all Christians to shut up and go home. I am certain that Paul would be appalled if he knew that pastors were using 1 Corinthians 14 to stop the preaching of the gospel.

No learning?

John MacArthur does not address the contradictions in 1 Corinthians 14. All may learn in the assembly but women have to go home to learn from their husbands? Note these problems:

  1. 1 Corinthians 14:23 shows the context as the entire church assembled. Verse 26 mentions “when you assemble” and “each one” participating. If each one is participating as the entire church is assembled, why would Paul contradict this by saying that the women can’t participate in speaking or learning (verses 34-35?)
  2. In verse 14:31, Paul permits all to speak one by one so that all may learn and all may be exhorted. If all may learn, why would Paul contradict himself within just a few verses to write that if a woman desires to learn she has to go home?
  3. If Paul’s concern is that all are edified and none left out (1 Corinthians 14:17, 24, 26), why would he change his view within just a few verses to promote a contrary view that women are to be left out? Why would Paul contradict himself by restricting women from edify others and stop them from learning in the assembly?
  4. Paul identifies that the edification must be done in an orderly manner (verse 40).  Was Paul not contradicting himself by withdrawing the “all my learn” to assert that the learning is for men alone in a public setting? Is there to be no public learning by women?

Paul did not contradict himself and I have provided the answer to these question in my video clip here. I also have a post on not letting a woman learn here.

Women voices are filthy?

In John MacArthur’s sermon on women pastors who preach the gospel, he states that a woman who speaks publicly in the church is shameful. He explains that the Greek word used in 1 Corinthians 14:35 references filthy, silly talk or coarse or sexual jesting which is shameful, disgraceful and improper. However, he does not explain how the voice of a woman used for the public proclamation of the gospel is filthy! That is quite a claim.

MacArthur brings no insight from the 1 Corinthians 14 context where all are encouraged to speak in the assembly and all are encouraged to learn. He also does not explain why Paul states that we should rejoice whenever the gospel is preached. How can Paul take back his rejoicing and contradict himself by identifying gospel preaching as filthiness when coming from the mouth of a woman? MacArthur is certainly not rejoicing whenever the gospel is going forth. Instead, he believes that women who preach the gospel will destroy the church. His interpretation makes Paul contradict himself again and again.

I present my interpretation in the video clip on 1 Corinthians 14. This explains the inspired grammar, Paul’s purpose for writing, and Paul’s context of what he had already said.  Paul can be understood without contradiction!

Paul’s concludes his original command

At the end of 1 Corinthians 14, Paul sums up how the church body should edify one another. Look at verse 39 in the Amplified Bible:

1 Corinthians 14:39 (AMP) So [to conclude], my brethren, earnestly desire and set your hearts on prophesying (on being inspired to preach and teach and to interpret God’s will and purpose), and do not forbid or hinder speaking in [unknown] tongues.

Paul commands two things in verse 39:

  1. Earnestly desire to speak out (prophesy). This is a repeat of 1 Corinthians 14:1, 3.

    1 Corinthians 14:1, 3 (NASB) 1Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy3But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation.

  2. The church is commanded to not forbid the one who speaks a message in tongues (as long as there is an interpreter and the tongues are limited to 3). This references 1 Corinthians 14:27-28. Paul’s purpose is not to silence anyone, but that all can understand the message. Unknown, indistinct words cannot edify anyone.

Paul repeats the command to earnestly desire spiritual gifts. This command contradicts John MacArthur’s teaching that women must not desire to speak publicly.

Context is Key

Paul concludes that speaking must be done properly and in an orderly manner. Notice that Paul is advocating for the edification of all. 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 is out of step with Paul’s clear counsel for all to be edified. The two difficult verses are included for a purpose even though they are confusing to many people. These verses are not “clear” but contradictory to Paul’s command. The text needs hard work by us to understand Paul without Paul opposing himself! Context is key.

Paul is answering a letter

Many people miss the fact that Paul has been answering a letter sent to him from the Corinthians (see 1 Corinthians 7:1). Paul has been quoting and then refuting the Corinthian allegations from their letter to Paul.

Throughout 1 Corinthians Paul quotes from the disputable matters from their letter and he provides corrective answers back to the brethren. The Corinthians were not confused by what Paul meant when he answered back, because he was answering their letter. But without the ability to read their original letter, it is easy for us to be confused. However, if we diligently look through Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, we can identify what appears to be opposing views found side by side. For example in 1 Corinthians 6:12 there is a statement “All things are lawful” and right after that is a logical contrastive, “but not all things are profitable” which contradicts the statement that all things are lawful. Paul has several references to the Corinthian’s letter.

In 1 Corinthians 1:10-17 Paul references divisions and quarrels in the Corinthian church.

People sent from Chloe

Paul said that people sent from Chloe informed him of the contentious divisions and it is likely these people also delivered the Corinthian letter to Paul. Chloe appears to pinpoint the problem to bring to Paul.

1 Corinthians 1:11 (NASB) For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you.

Paul responds to “you, my brethren” and he writes to them as brethren, and as ones promoting the quarrels. He tells them that Christ is not to be divided and that the gospel must be maintained as the key uniting factor. So with Paul responding to the brethren who have been quarrelling and dividing the congregation, we should expect to see references to divisive doctrines and disputes in Paul’s letter. We must make sure that we do not take a divisive reference to be Paul’s view. Contradictory views aren’t Paul opposing himself! 

Paul quotes the Corinthians and then he writes a corrective response to their errors. Which of the two contradictory views is Paul’s view? We need to test the words by the context, and by what Paul has previously taught. The statement that is an error will not be repeated in the Scripture, but the truth is repeated over and over again. Truth has a second witness. Errors stand alone and are refuted, not repeated.

God’s truth has a second witness

As Paul is responding to the Corinthian’s letter he lists the error and he immediately corrects it. The error does not have a second witness. Is it taught elsewhere?  Every sin that is exposed in the Scripture has a second or third witness. If it is a sin for a woman to speak in the assembly, there would be a second witness because God wants us to know His will and He wants to keep us from sin. God repeats Himself for our benefit and Paul did too. Paul wrote about this in 2 Corinthians 13:1.

2 Corinthians 13:1 (NASB) This is the third time I am coming to you. Every fact is to be confirmed by the testimony of two or three witnesses.

Common sense tells us that releasing women to earnestly desire to prophesy for the edification of the assembly, then silencing them saying their voices are improper, disgraceful, or filthy, is a contradiction that is untenable. Which command is from Paul? His consistent encouragement to allow ALL of them to prophesy one by one so that ALL may learn and ALL may be exhorted trumps the out-of-place and not repeated argument for women’s filthy voices to be silenced and women to be sent home to learn from their husbands. 

1 Corinthians 14:31 (NASB) For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted;

Can you see the problem?

Go through 1 Corinthians and see where you can find Paul saying one thing and then immediately refuting that view. Then look back at 1 Corinthians 14. Are there two different views listed in this chapter?

All are commanded to earnestly seek for spiritual gifts (especially to prophesy) to edify the church. Paul’s command is clear at the beginning of chapter 14 and he concludes the chapter in the same way. In-between these encouraging words are very harsh, and divisive views about women. The quarrel view says women’s voices are filthy (improper, disgraceful) and they are not allowed to speak, and must go home to learn. Which one of these views is Paul’s view? And which view is not in lockstep with what Paul has already said? Remember Paul is answering back to the quarrels and the divisive brethren.

Which is Paul’s view?

Which view of women is the divisive view and needs to be corrected, and which view is Paul’s view? Remember Paul cannot contradict himself! Paul is not discussing shameful women pastors.

1 Corinthians 14:34-35 verses are part of the dispute brought to Paul for Paul to bring correction. The silencing of women is part of the quarrels and divisions found among the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 1:11). The two difficult verses are included for a purpose even though they are confusing to many people. These verses are not “clear” but contradictory to Paul’s command and the text needs hard work for us to understand Paul without Paul opposing himself!

Paul’s disgust at those who silence women

Right after the two out-of-place commands silencing women and disallowing them to learn in the assembly (they have to go home to learn), Paul uses a logical disjunctive to start verse 36. The English words “Was it” is a logical disjunctive conjunction.

Women pastors 1 Corinthians 14:36 disjunctive rebuts the opposing view

The disjunctive links together opposites and rebuts an idea.  

Women pastors Logical disjunctive

What is Paul refuting?

In 1 Corinthians 14:36 Paul refutes the bad tradition of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35.  Paul writes:

1 Corinthians 14:36 (NASB) 36Was it from you that the word of God first went forth? Or has it come to you only?

Paul is saying (*Refutation*) Did the word of God first come forth from you (only men) And has it come only to you (only men can receive the gospel and learn in the assembly)? 

Was the gospel FIRST given to you?

Why is Paul asking if they are the ones from whom the gospel was FIRST given? Because it wasn’t men who were first sent out with the gospel of the resurrection. It was women who preached the gospel of the resurrection of Jesus first. The gospel was given to women at the tomb and they were told to go and tell His disciples.

Matthew 28:5–7 (NASB) 5The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. 6“He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. 7Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you.”

If the gospel was meant to be given only from men, then why did God choose women to be the first ones to receive the gospel and why did He chose women to be the first ones to go and tell that gospel to the disciples?

Paul answered back to the men who were restricting women — Did the word of God FIRST come forth from you men? And has the gospel ONLY COME to you men? Those who stop women from preaching the gospel and learning in the assembly are speaking the same words as the Corinthians did to Paul. And Paul is telling them that women handled the gospel FIRST. God’s choice and His way is clear. Women are included in the preaching of the gospel.

Paul refutes the “men only” argument

It appears that these men thought they are more spiritual than Paul and they could correct Paul. Paul writes:

1 Corinthians 14:37 (NASB) If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment.

Paul is saying that If anyone thinks he is a prophet (one who speaks for God) or spiritual (one who corrects error), let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment (Paul had written that all should seek to prophesy SO THAT all may learn and all may be exhorted.) Paul will not let these opposers stop women from learning and he will not let them stop women from proclaiming the good news. Instead, he affirms that the command for the entire assembly to seek earnestly to prophesy so that all may learn, is a command from the Lord Jesus Himself.

Shameful Women pastors or ignorant people who stop them?

Paul challenges those who place their spiritual wisdom ahead of the command of Jesus. Paul writes:

1 Corinthians 14:38 (NASB) But if anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized.

When Paul says that if anyone “does not recognize this” the literal meaning is “to refuse to acknowledge”.

Women pastors 1 Corinthians 14:38 those who refuse to acknowledge

Those who refuse to acknowledge the things (plural) that Paul has written are actually refusing Paul’s source because Paul said it is the Lord’s commandment. Women were the first ones given the gospel after the resurrection, and women were chosen by God to preach that gospel to the apostles. For men now to disregard women and say that women cannot learn in the assembly and they cannot speak forth to edify the assembly, this restriction is against the commandment from God Himself.

What should be done regarding those who refuse to allow women to learn and refuse to allow women pastors to speak? Paul writes disregard and ignore them. Why? Because they are showing their ignorance.

Women pastors 1 Corinthians 14:38 they are to be ignored

Reversing the Shame

The culture of Paul’s day limited women. Jewish tradition also limited women. Women were not allowed to touch God’s Word and girls were not taught the Law as this was considered shameful. Women were regularly disregarded and ignored and their testimony was considered untrustworthy in court. However, the shame that the culture placed on women was permanently removed by Jesus. Amazingly, Jesus chose women to be the first ones to bring the gospel of the resurrection. The men had to listen to them because they were that the ones sent by Jesus.

The gospel was first preached to men by women. From the time of that first command, women worked alongside men bringing the gospel to the world. When the ignorant and selfish ones in Corinth were demanding that women in the churches be silent and women must go home to learn anything, Paul corrected their error by reminding the divisive ones that the command was from the Lord Jesus.

I love Paul

I want to publicly say that I LOVE Paul, and I so appreciate him boldly encouraging women to earnestly desire to prophesy. That command still resonates today. We are to earnestly desire to speak the Word of God to benefit and to encourage and exhort others. And if men tell you that Jesus cannot use a woman like you, then listen to the words of Paul and ignore them! 

Women in Ministry Silenced or Set Free? 4 DVD set

Should egalitarians be fought as enemies of the gospel?

Should egalitarians be fought as enemies of the gospel?

Should egalitarians be fought as enemies of the gospel?

This is an updated post from March 2007.

Should egalitarians be fought as enemies of the gospel?

CBMW (the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood) posted audio tapes from Different By Design conference held in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 2007.  I was amazed at the way that they connected the gospel to the gender issue in such a way that they charged those who do not hold to patriarchy and male-only leadership with not holding to the gospel. I would like to present some audio clips from the first tape by Russell Moore in this post and reflect on his comments.

Audio files show Christian women treated unfairly

The complete audio file is no longer available on the CBMW site ( how it is available in full at Dr. Russell Moore’s website here. The first speaker from the February 2007 conference is Dr. Russell Moore who was the dean of theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville Kentucky and is now the president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention since 2013.

Dr. Moore starts out by stating that evangelical feminism is winning the debate in our churches. The clips below are very short, so it won’t take long to get through them. The shortest clip is only a few seconds long, and the last clip which is the most jaw-dropping clip is just over 1 minute. Below is audio clip #1.

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Women in Ministry Silenced or Set Free? to enter the digital future

Women in Ministry Silenced or Set Free? to enter the digital future

WIM digital

Women in Ministry Silenced or Set Free? is now available for download or viewing online

Update: All of my Women in Ministry Silenced or Set Free? DVDs are available for downloading or viewing online here.

The DVDs also include audio bytes from those who disagree with women in ministry and we break down the arguments and compare the arguments to the Scriptures.

The 4 DVDs are broken up into scriptural passages as follows: 

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Calling God to account for His gifts

Calling God to account for His gifts

God's gifts on Women in Ministry blog by Cheryl Schatz

While God is Sovereign, some men believe that they can set a limit on God’s gifts.  In the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood’s doctrinal stand, they believe that God is allowed to distribute gifts to men and women alike with the gifts listed in 1 Cor. 12:4-26 but that He does not gift women with the gifts mentioned in Ephesians 4:11 or 1 Peter 4:10, 11 for those gifts are for men alone.  Randy Stinson and Christopher Cowan writing an article for the Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood a work of CBMW write that: 

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WIM blog picked as one of the top 55 Pastor Bloggers

WIM blog picked as one of the top 55 Pastor Bloggers

Top 55 pastor blogs on Women in Ministry by Cheryl Schatz

I have been notified that my Women in Ministry blog has been picked as one of the top 55 pastor bloggers on the online Christian Colleges website here.  My blog is listed up women pastors.  Also, my blog has been picked up as a biblioblog by and this biblio blog site.  It is nice to see that the issue of women in ministry has received notice.

biblical-blog on Women in Ministry by Cheryl Schatz

Examining the complementarian view: Does God like to torment women?

Examining the complementarian view: Does God like to torment women?

Does God torment Women? Women in Ministry blog by Cheryl Schatz

Is it a sin for a woman?

There is a hot debate in the church today regarding whether a woman is in “sin” for teaching the Bible to men.  While some say that a godly woman’s teaching of the Bible is okay for use with women and children, but all teaching by women to men is considered sinful.  Others state that a woman may teach the Bible to men as long as it is in her home or perhaps outside on the lawn, but if she were to teach men inside a church building, she would immediately be involved in committing a sin.

The issue of a “special sin” that is only applicable for one gender becomes complicated by the understanding that the church originally met only in people’s homes.  There were no designated church buildings during the early years of New Testament Christianity, so how could the “place” where she taught rather than what she taught, be a source of sin for the godly Christian woman? However, there is an issue much deeper than just the issue of within what building men allow women to teach.  The issue is whether God taunts and torments a woman with gifts that she cannot use.  If God gifts a woman with the spiritual gifts of pastor or teacher is He tempting her to sin when she freely uses her God-given gifts for His glory and for the benefit of His body?

Let’s think this one through.  First of all, it is God’s Sovereign choice regarding whom He chooses to gift.  Many complementarians will freely admit that God has gifted women with the gift of pastor and the gift of teacher.   If only a man is allowed to be a pastor, surely God would not gift a woman with a forbidden gift, would He?

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Julie Pennington-Russell talks about the Georgia State Convention

Julie Pennington-Russell talks about the Georgia State Convention

Julie Pennington-Russell

Thanks to one of the followers of my blog, I received a link to some excellent clips about Julie Pennington-Russell’s talks about the Georgian State Convention and issue of the church being kicked out of the GBC.  The clips were recorded before the official word came announcing the removal of her church from the association.julie_pennington-russell
The Pastor of First Baptist Church, Decatur, Georgia, talks about the moment she found out that her church was kicked out of the Georgia State Convention, and her face-to-face talk with the executive of the convention.  There are several more clips available on the right side bar.

Church led by woman pastor forced out of Georgia Baptist Convention

Church led by woman pastor forced out of Georgia Baptist Convention

Julie Pennington-Russell on Women in Ministry by Cheryl Schatz

On November 11, 2009, the Georgia Baptist Convention adopted a policy that ended its 148-year relationship with First Baptist Church of Decatur, Georgia.  According to the Associated Baptist News,

Pastor Julie Pennington-Russell read a letter at the end of both worship services Nov. 15 from Robert White, executive director of the 1.3 million-member state convention. It informed her that messengers to the group’s recent annual meeting took action to declare them “not a cooperating church,” because “a woman is serving as senior pastor.”

Wade Burleson

The policy that declared the First Baptist Church in Decatur as officially disfellowshipped, resulted from a strict enforcement of the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message (BFM 2000) which made the issues of women pastors as a cause for dividing the church.  No longer is there room for personal conscience as far as women leaders in the church.  Wade Burleson writes that it is dangerous thinking to make the Baptist Faith & Message tier 1 primary doctrine so that “if a Southern Baptist expresses any disagreement with any portion of the BFM 2000, he is not a true Southern Baptist and is not worthy of leadership in the SBC. “

Burleson goes on to explain why this thinking is so dangerous.

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Evaluating the Schatz/Seaver debate

Evaluating the Schatz/Seaver debate

Evaluating the Schatz/Seaver debate



On July 27th, 2009 Mike Seaver and I started a ten session debate on Women in Ministry where I was able to ask Mike questions on his position, he answered my questions and then we each had one response.  Mike is still considering whether he will continue with another ten sessions where Mike will ask me questions, and I get the privilege to answer his questions on women in ministry.

Today I would like to summarize the ten sessions that I had with Mike.

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Aussie debate on women in ministry

Aussie debate on women in ministry


fight3 on Women in Ministry blog by Cheryl Schatz

There is a good natured debate going on over at the Women in Ministry blog conference at the Presbyterian church in Ryde blog between myself and Peter Barnes.  Those who would like to watch an Aussie and a Canadian duke it out over the issue of whether there is a “law” that forbids women to teach the bible to men can see the “brawl” (tooth and nail fight!) happening on this post linked here.

In the meantime I am visiting with my elderly folks for the next few days and will be in and out of my own blog as I have time as I also try to make time to help an Aussie realize that all of his arguments are invalid 🙂

Mike Seaver and Cheryl Schatz discuss/debate women in ministry 10

Mike Seaver and Cheryl Schatz discuss/debate women in ministry 10

Whose commands are women to obey? Mike Seaver and Cheryl Schatz debate women in ministry

Responses to question #5

In the last blog post, Cheryl Schatz posed her fifth set of questions to Mike Seaver regarding their discussion/debate on women in ministry. Links to all the previous questions and responses is at the end of this post.  This discussion will be Cheryl’s response to Mike’s answers on question #5 and Mike’s rejoinder.  Mike’s matching blog post is here

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Mike Seaver and Cheryl Schatz discuss/debate women in ministry 9

Mike Seaver and Cheryl Schatz discuss/debate women in ministry 9

Does God Contradict Himself? Mike Seaver and Cheryl Schatz discuss/debate women in ministry

Women in Ministry Debate – Does God Contradict Himself?

This is question #5 of a 10 question discussion/debate between Mike Seaver and Cheryl Schatz on the issue of women in ministry.  The discussion will take the form of five questions posed by Cheryl Schatz with answers by Mike Seaver and then five questions posed by Mike Seaver with answers by Cheryl Schatz.  Each question and answer session will be followed up in the next post by one response each from both Mike and Cheryl.  Links to the questions and the responses will be at the bottom of this post.

Question #5 by Cheryl Schatz:

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Blog conference on Women in Ministry set for September 1 – 15, 2009

Blog conference on Women in Ministry set for September 1 – 15, 2009

Women in Ministry Blog Conference September 1 - 15 2009

Sign up to receive blog conference email updates at This should be an interesting conference as participants have different views and will be interacting with anyone wanting to dialog and question the presenter on their view.  You will see from the conference promotion that I am a participant.  I look forward to the opportunity to answer questions and interacting with people from a world away down under in Australia.  I do not yet know which day I will be presenting my thesis.  I am sure that it will be announced on the web site so if you sign up for email updates you should be able to get that information.

I hope that many of you will interact with this unique venue so that it is a successful venture for Pastor Dave and the Presbyterian church in Australia.

Mike Seaver and Cheryl Schatz discuss/debate women in ministry 8

Mike Seaver and Cheryl Schatz discuss/debate women in ministry 8

Freedom or Restriction? Mike Seaver and Cheryl Schatz debate women in ministry

Women in Ministry Debate: Freedom or Restriction?

Responses to question #4

In the last blog post, Cheryl Schatz posed her 4th set of questions to Mike Seaver regarding their discussion/debate on women in ministry. Links to all the previous questions and responses is at the end of this post.  This discussion will be Cheryl’s response to Mike’s answers on question #4 and Mike’s rejoinder.

Cheryl Schatz responds:

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Mike Seaver and Cheryl Schatz discuss/debate women in ministry 7

Mike Seaver and Cheryl Schatz discuss/debate women in ministry 7

What authority do men have to restrict women's gifts? Mike Seaver and Cheryl Schatz debate women in ministry

Women in Ministry Debate: What authority do men have to restrict women’s gifts?

This is question #4 of a 10 question discussion/debate between Mike Seaverand Cheryl Schatz on the issue of women in ministry.  The discussion will take the form of five questions posed by Cheryl Schatz with answers by Mike Seaver and then five questions posed by Mike Seaver with answers by Cheryl Schatz.  Each question and answer session will be followed up in the next post by one response each from both Mike and Cheryl.  Links to the questions and the responses will be at the bottom of this post.  Mike’s corresponding post on his blog is here.

#4 Question by Cheryl Schatz:

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First woman elected to Executive Presbytery of AOG

First woman elected to Executive Presbytery of AOG

Beth Grant

First woman elected to Executive Presbytery of AOG

A woman has become the first woman elected to the leadership of the national Assemblies of God USA.

Elizabeth (Beth) Grant, a veteran missionary and coordinator of the Women in Ministry Network, was greeted with a standing ovation from ministers and delegates after her election as the ordained female executive presbyter. The Assemblies’ Executive Presbytery is a 20-member body that serves as the board of directors for the 2.8 million-member fellowship of Pentecostal churches.

She was one of four candidates for the position on the Executive Presbytery that the 2007 General Council set aside for a woman, the first female position on that body.

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Mike Seaver and Cheryl Schatz discuss/debate women in ministry 6

Mike Seaver and Cheryl Schatz discuss/debate women in ministry 6

Who's the boss? Mike Seaver and Cheryl Schatz debate women in ministry 6

Who’s the Boss?

In the last blog post Cheryl Schatz posed her third set of questions to Mike Seaver regarding their debate on women in ministry. Links to all the previous questions and responses is at the end of this post.  This discussion will be Cheryl’s response to Mike’s answers on question #3 and Mike’s rejoinder.


Cheryl’s response:

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Mike Seaver and Cheryl Schatz discuss/debate women in ministry 5

Mike Seaver and Cheryl Schatz discuss/debate women in ministry 5


Are men restricted? Mike Seaver and Cheryl Schatz discussion/debate on women in ministry

Are Men Restricted?

This is question #3 of a 10 question debate between Mike Seaver and Cheryl Schatz on the issue of women in ministry.  The discussion will take the form of five questions posed by Cheryl Schatz with answers by Mike Seaver and then five questions posed by Mike Seaver with answers by Cheryl Schatz.  Each question and answer session will be followed up in the next post by one response each from both Mike and Cheryl.  Links to the questions and the responses will be at the bottom of this post.


#3 Question by Cheryl Schatz:

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New blog conference on women in eldership

New blog conference on women in eldership

I have been invited by Pastor Dave Woolcott to participate in a new blog conference on women’s eldership in the church put on by the Ryde Presbyterian Church in Ryde, Sidney, Australia.   The blog address for the conference set for September 1 – 15, 2009 is The blog is on line now and active and I invite you to participate by commenting on Dave’s blog.

There is a thought-provoking article on “Should a Pastor Rule Over You?”  It is very appropriate to the issue of women in ministry and what the real issues are.

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Mike Seaver and Cheryl Schatz discuss/debate women in ministry 4

Mike Seaver and Cheryl Schatz discuss/debate women in ministry 4

Witnesses and repetition needed? Mike Seaver and Cheryl Schatz debate women in ministry

Are Witnesses and Repetition needed to Prove Women may not teach the Bible?

In the last blog post, Cheryl Schatz posed her second set of questions to Mike Seaver regarding their discussion/debate on women in ministry. Links to all the previous questions and responses is at the end of this post.  This discussion will be Cheryl’s response to Mike’s answers on question #2 and Mike’s rejoinder.


Regarding Mike’s denial that there is a need for a law to have a second witness:

Cheryl Schatz responds:

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Mike Seaver and Cheryl Schatz discuss/debate women in ministry 2

Mike Seaver and Cheryl Schatz discuss/debate women in ministry 2

Judge on Women in Ministry blog by Cheryl Schatz

Facing the spiritual “law” head-on from 1 Corinthians 14

In the last post, Mike Seaver and Cheryl Schatz started a discussion/debate on women in ministry.  Here is a link to Cheryl’s Question #1 given to Mike.  This post will be Cheryl’s response to Mike’s answers and Mike’s response to Cheryl’s response.  Mike’s corresponding post on his Role Calling blog is here.


Cheryl responds to Mike’s answers:

God’s law is always clear and distinct.  Paul explained in 1 Cor. 14 that a word that is not clear is as useless as speaking into the air with no one to hear or understand.  Similarly, a law that is not clear or distinct has no power to prepare a person to identify sin, keep away from sin and judge sin.  The clearness of God’s law prevents us from misunderstanding what God requires.  God has blessed us with a clear message and the clearness of the message guides our conduct.

On the contrary, an unclear word produces confusion, disagreement amongst Christians and an inability to prepare for spiritual warfare.

1 Cor 14:7  Yet even lifeless things, either flute or harp, in producing a sound, if they do not produce a distinction in the tones, how will it be known what is played on the flute or on the harp?

1 Cor 14:8  For if the bugle produces an indistinct sound, who will prepare himself for battle?

1 Cor 14:9  So also you, unless you utter by the tongue speech that is clear, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air.

I have noticed how useful Paul’s words are for judging false interpretations about the law.  Whenever I have asked complementarians to point to the “law” that forbids women from speaking in the congregation, I have noticed the indistinct sounds that come forth without a consensus among complementarians about where this “law” is to be found or even what the “law” forbids.  Instead, we hear indistinct words like “probably” “possibly” “seems to be” “not absolute” “likely” “general pattern”.  Not only is there no “distinct” and “clear” law that can be pointed to in the Old Testament, but no matter what is “guessed” for the original location of such a “law”, complementarians are unable to explain how the wording of the OT quote qualifies as a law.  How does the account of the creation of the woman provide the basis for such a “law” (no other law is ever stated in such an unclear fashion) or what the law even mean?

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Round 8 Interview with the Apostle Paul on women pastors

Round 8 Interview with the Apostle Paul on women pastors

Julie Pennington-Russell is pastor of First Baptist Church, Decatur, Georgia
Julie Pennington-Russell is pastor of First Baptist Church, Decatur, Georgia

This is the eighth in a series of simulated interviews with the Apostle Paul taken from the position of what he might say if we could transport Paul from the New Testament account through a time tunnel into our present day.

Doug, a strong complementarian will be questioning Paul on his own strong hold today.  The issue will be women pastors.   Let’s listen in.  (Links to the previous interviews are at the bottom of this post.)

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King Uzziah and women lepers?

King Uzziah and women lepers?

girl_cook on Women in Ministry by Cheryl Schatz

In an interesting blog post on Pyromaniacs the February 10th post, author Dan Phillips tries to link the rebellion of King Uzziah and his punishment of leprosy with the “unfaithful” act of women who apparently are committing treachery against God by becoming pastors.  Is this really true?  Are women pastors committing treachery against God?  First let’s look at Dan Phillip’s article to see how he equates women pastors with illegally burning incense on the altar.   Taking the opposing view for effect he says:

Surely King Uzziah had every bit as much right to burn incense on the altar as… well, as women have to be pastors in our day!

No matter how wonderful it (women pastors) looks, treachery is still treachery.

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1 Timothy 2, authority and the magical pulpit

1 Timothy 2, authority and the magical pulpit

Many people feel that the pulpit is a place for authoritative proclamation.  However many people also believe that the pulpit gives a man that authority and allowing someone into the “pulpit” who isn’t allowed to exercise authority over the sheep, an authority that the pulpit gives them, is seen as a great sin.

There are several problems with this view.  The first problem is an obvious one, in that there is no such thing as a pulpit in the Scriptures.  Christianity Today says this about the pulpit:

Pulpits, which are associated with traditional churches today, haven’t always been included in churches. In the earliest days of the church, Christians met in homes. In the Middle Ages, pulpits were installed in churches, but sermons rarely were preached out of them…The pulpit became more prominent during the Protestant Reformation, when the preaching of God’s Word became the primary ingredient of worship. The pulpit became more than a place to stand or a structure on which to place notes and a Bible. It became a symbol of the authority of the Bible, the church, and the preacher.

So the pulpit as a symbol of authority is a modern invention not found in the Bible at all.  Many years into the church age what originally was just a piece of furniture convenient to hold one’s notes, has become the symbol of the authority of the speaker.  Somewhere along the way, it appears that the authority of the Word of God which held preeminence during the Protestant Reformation, has been transferred to the messenger.  In our day the word “pulpit” is synonymous for church authority:

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Questions of faith for semi-egalitarians

Questions of faith for semi-egalitarians

USA Today has an editorial written by David P Gushee in which Mr. Gushee challenges complementarians that they are actually semi-egalitarians and they should be willing to openly acknowledge this.  Gushee says that he writes about this issue as a moderate evangelical Christian.

Gushee writes that there are many theologically conservative Christians who accept Sarah Palin as the Republical vice presidential nominee.  Yet at the same time:

…at the local church level many congregations would not accept Palin or any other woman even as associate pastor, or deacon, or youth minister or Sunday school teacher in a gender-mixed classroom.  The most conservative would not consider it appropriate for her to stand behind a pulpit and preach a sermon, or teach from the Bible, or lead a praise chorus, or offer a prayer, unless her audience consisted entirely of women or children.

He notes that even CBMW (Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood) who Gushee calls “an influential advocacy group” and who are against women teaching men in the church, have no problem in allowing for a woman to serve as vice president of the country.  CBMW has replied to the article welcoming Gushee’s questions:

Dr. Gushee is the Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics at Mercer University and challenges complementarians with many questions in the September 15, 2008 issue of USA Today.

CBMW writes:

While we are honored that Dr. Gushee considers CBMW “an influential advocacy group” on gender issues, we don’t claim to represent the “evangelical voting base,” or even all complementarians.

It certainly is a fact that CBMW does not represent all complementarians.  There is a group called Vision Forum who were formerly associated with CBMW from its beginning, but who have since separated themselves from CBMW now calling CBMW in actuality semi-egalitarians.  Vision Forum has written that Dr. Gushee is “spot on”.  In an article regarding USA Today’s editorial, Doug Phillips writes this about CBMW:

It is our view, however, that they have erred by overtly embracing an egalitarian perspective of the roles of men and women in the public arena.

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The unorthodox view of the Trinity related to women in ministry

The unorthodox view of the Trinity related to women in ministry

Wade Burleson has blogged on the Trinity and the unorthodox trend that has come into the church that teaches an eternally subordinated Son of God in the Trinity.

Wade writes:

The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood is composed of many Southern Baptists who are introducing to evangelicalism a novel, if not peculiar, view of Christ which has more in common with Arianism than the historic, orthodox view of Christ’s person. The theologians and teachers who write for the CBMW are teaching what they call “the eternal subordination of the Son to the Father” as a basis for their hierarchal view that the female is to be subordinate to the male. Women’s subordination to man, according to the teachings of CBMW, is not a consequence of sin or a reflection of cultural values, but is built upon the heirachical order God established before the fall as a reflection of the Trinity.

This view of the Trinity has been used by some complementarians who have a lot of sway in Southern Baptist circles to support the functional subordination of women.  I would recommend that you read what Wade has written and then have a read through the comments on his blog as well.  It is a frightening thing to me to see the spread of this unorthodox doctrine and how many have accepted it as gospel truth.

It also comes at a very timely place for us as we are just getting ready to release our new 2 DVD set called “The Trinity: Eternity Past to Eternity Future, Explaining Truth & Exposing Error

The DVD will be availabe by mid October at or from

(October 2008 update:  The DVD is now available and a preview is available on Youtube at

Gospel Today magazine pulled from Christian bookstores’ shelves

Gospel Today magazine pulled from Christian bookstores’ shelves

Gospel Today magazine pulled on Women in Ministry blog by Cheryl Schatz

A Christian magazine is treated as pornography merely for reporting on the trend of women pastors.


The Atlanta Journal reports:

Smiling women on the cover of a slick magazine. Sold from under the counter. Must request it from store clerk.  That’s not something a buyer would typically find in a Christian bookstore. Not unless it’s one of the more than 100 Lifeway Christian Bookstores across the United States, including about six in metro Atlanta.

Gospel Today, the Fayetteville-published magazine, was pulled off the racks by the bookstores’ owner, the Southern Baptist Convention. The problem? The five smiling women on the cover are women of the cloth — church pastors.

So what is the big deal?  The deal is that when a denomination says that a secondary issue of faith is so important it warrants barring people from reading about the other side, Lifeway Christian Bookstores has stepped into the realm of milieu control.  Milieu control is the control of information and communication.  Wikipedia adds that milieu control is about limiting contact in order to restrict the ability to make judgments about information that would present itself against the accepted position:

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Women preaching equated with adultery and homosexuality

Women preaching equated with adultery and homosexuality

Wade Burleson has commented on Irving Bible Church’s decision to allow women to preach the gospel to the congregation on a Sunday morning and the attacks that this church has experienced because of this decision.  Wade writes:

I shiver when I hear my fellow evangelicals call a church that asks a woman to preach the gospel on Sunday morning a church of “grave moral concern.” WE ARE NOT TALKING ABOUT FEMALE PASTORS!

The idea that a woman teaching or preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ is a “grave moral concern” shows us how far the church has fallen from the place of accepting one another as brothers and sisters in Christ who have gifts given for the benefit of “one another”.  Is not the “grave moral concern” rather an issue of saying that “I” (a man speaking) do not need “a woman” teacher?

1 Corinthians 12:21  And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”

Why is it that scripture says we “cannot say” something that we do say?  The scripture says that we do not have permission to say that women preachers and women teachers are not needed by some in the body of Christ.  When we reject God’s gifts merely because of the package that they are housed in, we are rejecting the Lord Jesus in this area.  Jesus is responsible for assigning the gifts.  If he did not want a female to teach a male the gospel, then Jesus should have created a list of female gifts which list would not include teaching.  Then it would be easy for men to disregard something that doesn’t exist.  When are we going to stop saying what scripture has forbidden us to say?  Saying “I” do not need you and your God-given gift should be treated as a serious moral concern.

Irving Bible Church releases women to serve

Irving Bible Church releases women to serve

In the news is Irving Bible Church who recently took 18 months to study the issue of women in ministry from the scriptures, and now they have implemented a clarification of their position on women regarding the use of their God-given gifts for the common good.  They have produced a 24 page paper on Women in Ministry that documents the findings from their study.  It is at this link on the right hand side, the PDF document.  Although at this point they are still holding to the teaching that only men should become elders, their renewed view coming from the scriptures allows them to release women to teach and preach and use all of their gifts for the benefit of the body of Christ.  It is very encouraging to see another church freeing women to serve with their gifts for the benefit of both men and women.

Below is the brief description of their journey from the front page of the above web site:

Women’s Role in the Church

The May 2008 issue of Chatter, a publication of Irving Bible Church, contained several stories, interviews, and research resources based on Women’s Role in the Church. This web section contains those stories as well as additional resources for your reading and exploration.

Unleashing God’s People

When the issue of women’s role in the Church specific to practicing the spiritual gifts of teaching, leading and preaching was raised, the IBC Elder Board embarked on a journey to discover what God had for all of his people and how he might unleash them to glorify his kingdom. Chatter listened to the Elder Board to learn about that journey, what it involved and where we’ve landed today.

When did the Elder Board begin to look at the role of women?
In 2006, people began asking questions about the role of women in the Church specific to teaching and preaching. For example, could they teach adult Bible Communities? Why didn’t we have a woman on our teaching team? There was also a healthy discussion taking place on Table and Fire. We realized as a board how important it was for us to clarify IBC’s position on this, and thus began an 18-month journey of prayer, study and discussion.

Was there any trepidation on the part of the board?
We knew that once we began, we would need to devote a considerable amount of time and prayer toward it. Each of us had wrestled with this issue on some level, and we came at it from different experiences and with varying perspectives. As a group, we were committed to moving forward with spiritual, biblical and intellectual integrity.

Specifically, what steps did the board take?
We held more than 12 meetings in which the ministry role of women was the primary topic for discussion, study and prayer. We looked at likeminded churches that walked this journey before us and read several books and commentaries that held varying viewpoints. In addition, we dialogued with women both in ministry here at IBC and from other churches. We sought godly counsel, and invited three professors from Dallas Theological Seminary—Dr. Jeffrey Bingham, Dr. Scott Horrell, and Dr. Bob Pyne—representing different positions on the issue to present their studies and insights to us.

What were the most enlightening things you learned?
Jesus was completely radical in how he elevated women in his day. He ignored cultural barriers and invited women to be part of his ministry. Throughout the Bible we found God using women as leaders, prophets and teachers to further his kingdom. We also looked at how God effectively uses women in ministry today. The fact is, he’s used women throughout history and today in powerful ways—in teaching, leading and preaching roles—and there’s fruit. We’ve seen it, and we can’t deny it.

Did this lead the board to feel as though the issue is truly black and white?
Not at all. We quickly learned that there are many God-honoring, spiritually mature, biblically astute Christians who have different views on this topic. We realized that, instead of presuming to determine what is “right” for all times and places, we were called to define “what seems to be good to us and the Holy Spirit” for IBC in the spirit of Acts 15:28.

With that in mind, how does IBC plan to move forward?
We are going forward with the strong belief that God wants to unleash all of His children using all of their spiritual gifts to further His kingdom. Women represent 50% or more of the body of Christ, and having them fully unleashed to use all of their giftedness makes us 50% more effective and powerful for Christ. We need the whole body of Christ fully engaged for the kingdom. So we’re not just saying, “It’s OK.” We’re saying, “Come on!”

How do you expect the IBC community to respond?
We hope that people will be excited about women being unleashed for Christ’s kingdom. For those who are surprised by or unfamiliar with this approach, we hope they will interact with the scriptures and prayerfully consider the validity of our position. After 18 months of committed prayer, godly counsel, reading God’s word, and allowing the Holy Spirit to speak, we believe this is the right and best course for IBC.

How will this change what IBC is currently doing?
Truly, it doesn’t change very much. We’re really looking to provide clarity as to what, in many ways, we’ve already been practicing. A noticeable change may include an occasional woman preacher at IBC as God raises up gifted and qualified individuals for that task.

Women in Ministry list of sins?

Women in Ministry list of sins?

*This original post created on August 21, 2008 has been changed/updated on September 11, 2008.  I have given the individual listed below time to show integrity by stopping the stalking and the vitriol, but this individual is not repentant nor will she remove the offenses on line.  It is time to warn the church about the public sin.

As one goes public concerning the biblical teaching that the bible in context does not support a restriction on women teaching the bible to men, it is not uncommon to have one or more people who are so upset by this teaching that they are willing to call a sister in Christ a heretic and resort to tactics that are designed to smear their good name.  This is what has happened to me.  I now have a stalker who is producing vitriol against me personally having purchased my own name three different ways on line and who is directing these named sites to a blog that is set up to mock and defame me. The person’s name is Diane Sellner.  Diane is employed by a ministry that makes a very public issue of calling people heretics and dangerous to the church, whose only crime it is, is to teach that women can be pastors and elders.   I have been receiving the brunt of her anger.

I personally feel very sad for Diane Sellner who has produced such a mocking blog.  Her lies and half truths do not speak well of the ministry that she works for since she has been allowed free reign to post her vitriol and she has received support from them instead of discipline.  No attempt has been made by Diane to contact me privately.  Her “fruit” should be easily seen for what it really is.  Those who mock and attack without care for their brother or sister in Christ are not showing that they operate with the Spirit of Christ.

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Is ordination a requirement for a female Pastor?

Is ordination a requirement for a female Pastor?

Recently one of my blog posts has garnered some interesting comments regarding the issue of ordination. At the same time I received a request from a lady who believes that she has been called by God into ordained ministry. This post will deal with the issue of whether a female must be ordained to be a Pastor and the other comments regarding Paul and his ordination by Jesus will be moved to this post.

First of all there is the issue of whether a body of believer’s decision to reject the ordination of certain people constitutes a binding limit to a person’s gifting and calling from God. The question that I had posed earlier, is whether the leadership’s ordaining of a person actually makes them a legitimate Pastor? Also I was questioning whether the fact that one is rejected for ordination would take away a person’s calling from God to be a Pastor?

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Matt Slick’s radio station to host “Women in Ministry Silenced or Set Free?”

Matt Slick’s radio station to host “Women in Ministry Silenced or Set Free?”

Below is what I posted on Matt Slick’s discussion board. I will add the day and time of the airing of “Women in Ministry Silenced or Set Free?” when the radio station gives me the finalized details.

Scripture warns us not to make a hasty judgment on a matter. When two sides have conflicting interpretations, those who wish to be Bereans should be willing to carefully consider all of the facts from both sides of the issue first in order to avoid making a hasty judgment.

In an effort to allow the hearing of the other side of the story on the issue of women in ministry that hasn’t been given a full hearing on Matt Slick’s radio show “Faith and Reason”, the radio station where Matt hosts his radio program has offered to allow the airing of the 4 DVD set “Women in Ministry Silenced or Set Free?” over four consecutive weeks in the month of February. Listeners will then be able to hear and judge for themselves if the teaching on the DVD set treats scripture respectfully and in context. The entire DVD set is 3.5 hours of teaching and will be broken down into 4 segments to air over 4 weeks.

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From Bobbed Hair, Bossy Wives and Women Preachers to Woman Be Free

From Bobbed Hair, Bossy Wives and Women Preachers to Woman Be Free

I am very pleased that Stan Gundry has given me permission to post his story about how he changed his view from a staunch complementarian to an egalitarian. I would also request that if you have a story about your own journey from prejudice to freedom in Christ regarding women in ministry that you email me at mmoutreach [AT] gmail [DOT] com or use the contact tab at the top to reach me. I also have Stan Gundry’s personal email address. If anyone is interested in contacting him, you can leave a comment asking for information or you can email me directly or use the contact form and I will contact you back.

And now…sit back and enjoy this very compelling testimony by Stan Gundry.

From Bobbed Hair, Bossy Wives, and Women Preachers


Woman Be Free

My Story*

by Stan Gundry

*Copyright © 2004 by Stanley N. Gundry. All rights reserved.

I have agreed to tell my story for two fundamental reasons. 1) I want to give tribute to the person who opened my eyes to a new paradigm through which to view scripture and who did not allow me to be satisfied with the easy answers. These were answers that had been drilled into my head as a youth and were assumed throughout my college and seminary training. 2) Arguments alone often do not convince. This is especially so with theological and exegetical arguments on this subject that for many has so much emotional baggage associated with it. So, when people come to me asking questions and searching for answers on the “women’s issue,” I often just tell them my story–where I have come from, where I have landed, and how and why I got there.

Arguments in which both sides launch aggressive offenses and structure fortress-like defenses can be unnecessarily adversarial. I am not suggesting that such arguments have no place, but let’s acknowledge that their value is vastly over-rated.

Stories cover the same territory, but they are testimonials–and it is hard to argue with someone’s testimony. Some who hear my story may think I became a biblical egalitarian for inadequate reasons; but more often than not, the response has been, “That makes sense. You’ve given me something to think about.” (1.) And a new story begins, or at least takes a new turn in the road.

Bobbed Hair, Bossy Wives, and Women Preachers

My story begins with a book prominently displayed on my father’s bookshelf. Norman C Gundry was a Fundamentalist Baptist pastor who represented some of the best and worst of that tradition. He graduated from the two-year course of the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (then known as BI, but now BIOLA University). He and my Mom, Lolita Hinshaw, married in 1932. Within two years they were on their way to Nigeria as missionaries. After three years in Nigeria they returned to the States on regular furlough so my mother could deliver her second child (me) and so my father could receive a much-needed medical check up. Because my father’s hearing was being destroyed by quinine, the drug of choice to treat malaria, they were unable to return to Nigeria. Throughout the years leading up to World War II and during the War, my father was a “tentmaker,” eking out a barely adequate living, first as a warehouseman and then as a farm hand. On Sundays he would preach in small rural churches and Sunday Schools.

During this time, he gradually came to the conclusion that he was a Baptist, a Fundamentalist, and a Separatist. As is so often true of those in that tradition, he was legalistic and rigid to the nth degree. But he also loved God, loved people, knew his Bible exceptionally well, and had a fervent desire to be “true to the Bible.” He was remarkably free of narrow, idiosyncratic views of biblical teaching, with only a few exceptions. One of those exceptions was “the place of women” as he would have put it. His views on this subject were so extreme that they would almost make Wayne Grudem seem like an egalitarian by contrast. He made sure that the women in his congregation, and especially his wife, knew and kept their “place.”

A fitting metaphor for my father’s view of the place of women was the title of a little paperback book prominently displayed on his bookshelf. Just to the right of his study desk was Bobbed Hair, Bossy Wives, and Women Preachers, authored by the well-known Fundamentalist evangelist of the second third of the twentieth century, John R. Rice. (2.) The title said it all. Bobbed Hair–women as a sign of their submission and obedience to men were not to cut their hair. Bobbed hair was a sign of rebellion against husband, father, and God. Bossy Wives–the man was the head of the wife and the home, and the wife was to keep her place and obey her husband in all things, even if the husband was unsaved. Women Preachers–heaven forbid the thought! Eve had led Adam astray in the Garden and ever since women had been the source of false teaching and the temptresses of men! Obviously they should not be pastors or teachers of men.

My father kept extra copies of Rice’s book on hand to give to those he thought needed its instruction. The summer I left for college, I received my copy, along with a subscription to the paper Rice published, The Sword of the Lord. I confess that I read neither of them. I did not need to; I had been thoroughly indoctrinated by my father’s teaching and modeling. My mother never cut her hair (at least not that anyone could tell), and though the women in my father’s congregation were less compliant, my father regularly alluded to their rebellious actions from the pulpit. Women could hold no offices in churches my father pastored, could not preach, teach, or otherwise lead men. Women could “testify” on Sunday evening; pray publicly at the mid-week service, but not on Sundays; could participate in special music, but could not lead congregational singing or a mixed musical group; could teach Sunday School classes containing boys, but only until they became teenagers. Yes indeed, I had been thoroughly indoctrinated by word and example and really did not need that copy of Bobbed Hair, Bossy Wives, and Women Preachers he gave me as I packed my bags for college.

Asking Questions

I suspect my father was fairly confident that the apple would not fall too far from the tree. But if that was the case, there were three things that he did not count on. He did not reckon with the possibility that I would meet and marry a wise and strong woman who thought for herself, asked hard questions, and would not be satisfied with canned answers. In fact, he probably did not consider that I might actually think for myself on this matter, or assumed that if I did, I would come to the same conclusions he had. But my father also failed to realize the consequences of another rather radical idea he had instilled in both of his sons. He taught us to test everything by scripture–to be “true to the Word” to use his phrase, to follow that out no matter where it might lead.

I don’t remember precisely when I began to realize that the woman I would marry might challenge everything I had been taught about the place and role of women. Perhaps it was when we discussed deep philosophical and theological questions in the college library, and she just assumed that she was my intellectual and spiritual equal. Perhaps it was when she questioned why the president of the small college we attended would call on two or three of the young women to lead in prayer in chapel, when it was apparently sufficient to call on only one of the young men to pray. Over time it became clear that Patricia Lee Smith was a seeker after truth and she would pursue that path no matter whom it made uncomfortable, whether that was the college president, me, my father, my mother, or anyone in the male church hierarchy.

One event stands out as a defining moment and a turning point for Pat. It would also have profound implications for me, though I did not realize it at the time. It was November 1964, one year after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. It was my second year as pastor of a small, rural Baptist church. Our church had invited a pastor from Everett, Washington to lead a weeklong Bible Conference. He had the reputation of being an able Bible teacher. One evening we entertained this well-known pastor for dinner. The conversation over Pat’s spaghetti and meat sauce started out on a congenial note. Chuck was an out-going conversationalist who laughed and joked easily–that is, until Pat asked her question. She started out by saying that she’d been curious about the meaning of 1 Timothy 2:11-15 and she wondered how he interpreted it.

Instead of treating the question seriously and deserving of a reasonable answer, he rudely and abruptly demanded, “Why do you want to know?” Though I had no good answers to Pat’s question about the passage either, even I was shocked by the dismissive nature of Pastor Chuck’s response.

At that moment Pat realized Chuck did not know how to interpret that portion of scripture, and he did not want to talk about it. Yet he was willing to restrict the role of women in the church based to a large degree on one of the most difficult passages to understand in the New Testament. Pat resolved to search for the answers to a matrix of questions surrounding this issue and to share the information with other women, questions like:

  • If women are not to be the leaders and teachers of men, how does one account for Deborah, Huldah, Phillip’s daughters, and Priscilla’s role in the instruction of Apollos? (3.)
  • Why is it that Paul instructs women to be silent in one place and acknowledges with apparent approval that women publicly pray and prophesy in another? (4.)
  • Doesn’t the prominence of women among the followers of Jesus and in the Pauline Epistles suggest something significantly more than women leading and teaching children and other women? (5.)
  • How is it that in the church the benefits of Galatians 3:26-28 apply equally and in very tangible ways to men, Jews, Gentiles, slaves, and those who are free, but not to women?
  • If a woman is to obey her husband, is she not responsible directly to God for her actions? Is he in effect a priest, an intermediary between her and God? Is she to submit and obey even when his instructions are morally wrong or contrary to her understanding of God’s desire for her? (6.)
  • Aren’t husbands and wives to mutually submit to one another as all believers are to submit to one another, and how does this qualify the presumptive one-sided submission and obedience of wives to husbands? (7.)
  • Are all women to submit to all men?
  • Is the husband to be the leader of the home even if the wife has better leadership skills, or the husband is disabled, or the wife has greater spiritual insight and sensitivity?
  • Just when does a boy become too old for a woman to legitimately continue to teach him, and if women really are not to teach men, isn’t it odd that women are allowed to teach them in their most formative years?
  • Does it make sense that God would endow women with gifts but disallow women the privilege and responsibility of using those gifts to their fullest, or for that matter disallow men from the benefits of those gifts? (8.)
  • In fact, doesn’t the Protestant doctrine of the priesthood of all believers give the lie to the view that women are to submit to and obey men? And of all Christians, shouldn’t Baptists and others in the believer’s church and congregational traditions who claim to most consistently live out that doctrine, as well as the doctrine of soul liberty, extend those doctrines to women, acknowledging women as equals in all respects?
  • And isn’t it more than a bit inconsistent for women to have an equal vote in congregational decisions, especially in the selection and/or discipline of male church leaders, if in fact they are to submit to men?

Looking for Answers

I am quite sure Pat already had most of these questions in her mind as she looked across the bowl of spaghetti at Chuck. But he cut her off before she got a chance to ask them. My suspicion is that this man who later went on to become first a seminary and then a college president cut her off because he did not know what to do with 1 Timothy 2. Not only that, he also knew he did not have good answers to the questions he feared would follow. This not-so-pleasant encounter with Pastor Chuck in 1964 was the catalyst that prompted Pat to get really serious in her search for answers. (9.)

I was not much help to Pat, especially in the early years of her research. While I (eventually) acknowledged the legitimacy of her questions, I had few answers, except of course to say that if the Bible says a woman is to submit to her husband, then of course she is to submit. And if the inspired words of Paul are that women are not to teach or exercise authority over men, then of course that settled the matter. And whatever prominence women had in the New Testament, it was nevertheless clear that they were not to be pastors or elders.

Pat was no more satisfied by my rote responses than she was with Chuck’s brush off. But through her own reading, research, and study of Scripture she gradually began to make her own discoveries and form her own conclusions. In 1968 we moved to Wheaton, Illinois, and I accepted a faculty position at Moody Bible Institute. Frequently in the evenings after I returned home from the long commute to Chicago, she would share with me what she had discovered others had written and bounce her own ideas off me. Sometimes we’d debate the issues late into the night. Pat’s a night person, and the later it got, the more cogent her arguments seemed to me, and eventually I would reluctantly agree, or give an inch or two, only to have second thoughts the next morning and recant a good deal of whatever I had conceded the night before. My reservations about where she was headed and wanted to lead me would resurface when I awakened. Why? I wish I could say that my only motive was to be faithful to the Bible. That certainly was a key element in my thinking. But in retrospect, I have had to acknowledge less honorable motives that can be summed up in one word–fear.

Fear. Fear of where it would all lead–could Pat be right and what seemed like the rest of the church wrong? Fear of losing my job at MBI, though there was no credible basis that I was aware of for that possibility. Fear of being taught by a woman, or worse yet, fear of admitting I had been taught by a woman, my wife.

This last fear was the most pernicious and enduring of all. I remember with great shame an episode in the early 1980s, well after I had become an egalitarian, indeed after I had been forced to resign from the Moody faculty for supporting my wife’s egalitarian views as expressed in Woman Be Free. I had been invited to Houghton College to debate the women’s issue with a gentleman who held the traditional hierarchical view. Even back then I normally refused to engage in point by point argumentation of the issues. I simply told the story of how I had become an egalitarian and what I had found compelling that changed my mind–but with one huge omission and distortion. I failed to acknowledge Pat’s key, indeed pivotal part in my journey to biblical egalitarianism. Why? Fear. So I want to say with unambiguous clarity now, Pat started me on this journey and was my teacher along the way.

But I have run ahead of my story. Throughout the rest of my time as a pastor and in my early years on the faculty of MBI, I continued to be troubled by the questions Pat was raising. Over time I came to accept the urgency of the questions and eventually her questions truly also became my questions, and more than a bit more slowly, some of her answers began to become my answers. But I remained troubled by many of the “problem passages,” those passages that had seemed to clearly reflect a predominant pattern of male leadership of the people of God in both testaments and those that seemed to explicitly teach the submission of women to male leadership in the home, church, and perhaps even in society.

In this early phase of my journey it was really Pat who was the researcher. She discovered God’s Word to Women (Katherine Bushnell) (10.) and The Bible Status of Woman (Lee Anna Starr) (11.) She would bounce her ideas off me, occasionally asking me to check out something in the Greek or Hebrew for her. Gradually she began to find answers; a bit more gradually–no, a lot more gradually–I began to accept some of those answers as possible answers to some of the questions that prevented me from embracing the full equality of women, an equality that did not recognize gender as a disqualification from spiritual privilege or any aspect of Christian ministry.

Understanding the Big Picture

In the early 1970s I began to view and understand the Bible less atomistically and more wholistically, and this was a shift that would profoundly affect how I understood the texts related to the women’s issue. And for this too I am indebted to Pat. One of her great strengths is that she has the ability to think synthetically–the ability to have a grasp of the details and then stand back and look at these details, many of which may appear to be disparate, and bring them together in a congruent whole. That is what I observed her doing with the body of evidence related to the women’s issue in scripture. And as we discussed these matters together, I began to see that the passages that were barriers to my moving to a fully egalitarian position needed to be understood in terms of the big picture. It is the big picture that establishes the context for understanding the difficult passages. If one has the big picture right, it is acceptable to admit that for some passages there are several possible interpretations. It is alright to say, “I don’t know, but here are some possibilities.” This insight from Pat was the piece that began to put the rest of the puzzle together for me.

By 1974 in my lectures and discussions with students at Moody Bible Institute, I was affirming a view that was essentially egalitarian. I had come to believe that though it was important to understand isolated texts on their own terms, it was nevertheless futile to believe that the debate between egalitarians and traditional hierarchicalists could ever be settled by debating the exegesis and interpretation of individual texts in isolation. For me, the more significant question had become, how is the grand sweep of biblical or redemptive history to be understood? What is redemptive history all about, and how do the relevant texts fit into that?

When examined with that question in mind, it seemed to me that hierarchicalism, if consistently held and applied, was its own undoing. This view holds that women are by God’s design inherently disqualified from leading and teaching men. It goes against the creation order itself. (12.) But if that is indeed the case, scripture contradicts itself, because women throughout the biblical narrative did lead and teach men, with God’s apparent approval and blessing. Further, if the hierarchical view is correct (submission to male leadership/authority and silence), certain things should follow. Women should be allowed absolutely no public roles within the church, whether that be in worship, prayer, or any other form of public speaking such as teaching, preaching, or prophecy. They should not be allowed to participate in congregational decisions. Nor should they ever be allowed to teach a male, even in settings that are not public. Why? Because it is essential to the very nature of being female. If it is not essential to the nature of being female, the whole hierarchical edifice begins to fall apart because that is the foundation on which it is built.

Relatively few hierarchicalists follow the implications of their foundation to its consistent and logical conclusion. To do so would be the demonstration of the absurdity of the premise. It would be clearly inconsistent with the many indications of scripture that women did in fact do the very things that the foundational premise of hierarchicalism implies they should not do. How then do they deal with the biblical indications of women in these unlikely roles, and how do they justify even the limited participation of women in similar roles in their own churches? The devices are ingenious but hardly convincing even if one accepts the premise. Some instances are viewed as exceptions to the rule, allowed by God because men did not step up to the challenge. Or, women can prophesy, but not have the office of prophet. Or, women can teach, but not authoritatively. Or, women can teach and preach, but only with the permission of or under the authority of her husband, or of men in general. These explanations strike me as contrived and desperate attempts to save the system and to preserve the benefits of male privilege that are built upon it. It’s no wonder that hierarchicalists cannot agree among themselves on just what a woman may do and under what circumstances. As Pat pointed out recently, the only thing that hierarchicalists agree on is that it is the men who get to tell women what they can do.

If the foundation of hierarchicalism is that the creation order itself establishes that for time and eternity women are subject to men, they also see this order reinforced in God’s word to Eve immediately after she and Adam disobeyed God’s command in Eden, “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you” (Gen. 3:16). Instead of understanding this and the other aspects of the so-called curse on both men and women as the natural consequences of human sin, hierarchicalists understand this particular result of the Fall as reinforcement of the divine ideal for humankind–male rule and female submission, in other words, patriarchy. This is the filter through which hierarchicalists view the rest of the Bible, including those passages that would otherwise seem to imply or explicitly support full equality, and, contrary to the patriarchal conventions of the biblical world, are examples of women leading, teaching, prophesying, or ruling.

Yet this is the polar opposite of what was already hinted at in Genesis 3:15 when God said to the serpent that Eve’s seed would crush his head. As the NIV Study Bible so aptly puts it, “The offspring of the woman would eventually crush the serpent’s head, a promise fulfilled in Christ’s victory over Satan, a victory in which all believers will share.” From Genesis 3:15 onward, the overarching theme of all scripture is the defeat of Satan, the redemption of humankind, and the reversal of the effects of the Fall. This includes not only the restoration of the divine/human relationship, but also the restoration of broken human relationships in general and male/female and husband/wife relationships in particular.

When I began to view the Bible and redemptive history in this manner, the big picture began to emerge that helped me put the pieces of the biblical puzzle together as it related to men and women. Starting at the beginning in Genesis 1-3 we are clearly and unambiguously told that both were created in the image of God. They were created for fellowship with God and with one another. Though Adam was created first, Eve was created of the very stuff Adam was made of, bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh, a “suitable helper,” one that corresponded to him. And lest we think Eve the helper was a flunky assistant, the text uses a Hebrew noun (‘ezer) that is elsewhere used to refer to Yahweh; in fact, four times the Psalmist refers to the LORD as “our help and our shield.” (13.) As full and equal partners Adam and Eve were responsible to tend the garden, to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth, to subdue the earth and to rule over the creatures. In other words, together they were given stewardship of the earth because they were equals. And because they were equals, they were each fully responsible directly to God to obey his commands. Thus, when they each sinned against the command of God, each was accountable directly to God for their transgression.

The Fall turned everything topsy-turvy. After the Fall, the relationship between man and woman is quite different than it was before the Fall. It morphed from one of equality and complementarity to one of male domination and patriarchy, and that is the backdrop to all that follows in the Bible. But as alluded to earlier, immediately after the Fall the story of redemption begins, and part of that story is the restoration through time of what had been, and what still was God’s desire for the world and for humanity. God, though, does not in one instantaneous snap of the fingers restore what the Fall had destroyed and distorted. Instead, in his dealings with humankind God accommodates himself to the realities of the fallen world. Patriarchalism, the result of the Fall, remains, and it is accommodated in God’s relationship with and rule of his people Israel–the patriarchs, the judges, the prophets, the priesthood, the monarchy. But it is mere accommodation to the reality of the times and culture; it is not a reflection of the divine ideal for humanity. When the Old Testament and Old Testament history are viewed from the perspective of this big picture, the Old Testament women who break the patriarchal paradigm–Deborah, Jael, Abigail, Huldah, Esther, and the wise and virtuous business woman of Proverbs 31–are not embarrassing exceptions to some divinely instituted patriarchal creation order, as hierarchicalists are compelled to say. Instead, each of these women is an affirmation that the Fall is not the end of the story, that patriarchy is not the divine ideal, and that restoration of what originally was is coming once again.

The Incarnation is the central and decisive event of redemptive history. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Of course Jesus was a male. But more significantly he was human (flesh) so he could be the savior of all of humanity. He who crushed the serpent’s head and took the curse upon himself, repeatedly broke the patriarchal conventions of his time by honoring women and welcoming them into this band of disciples. By his life, death, and resurrection he got the victory over Satan and all the forces of evil, he died in our place and bore the punishment for sin, he conquered death and gives us resurrection life, and he provided for us the supreme example of love and obedience. So, in Christ right relationships are restored and in him “there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female.” “All are one in Christ,” and, “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3: 28-29). It could hardly be more clear that patriarchal order is not the ideal.

Nevertheless, the full realization of the divine ideal awaits the end of history when redemptive history is consummated. In the church of the New Testament era, there were still plenty of accommodations to the realities of the fallen patriarchal order–the Twelve were all men; and however one understands the polity of the New Testament church, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the elders, pastors, or bishops were likely all men. But if we keep our eye on the goal toward which redemptive history is moving, the apparent limitations on women evidenced in the New Testament are best understood as temporary and ad hoc.

In other words, when the big picture of redemptive history is kept in mind, the New Testament is seen as a huge leap forward toward full restoration of what was lost or distorted in the Fall. When I came to understand Scripture in this manner, the problem passages that had troubled me, and that are so often used by hierarchicalists to justify the submission of women, are understood as ad hoc accommodations to the fallen patriarchal culture. And the many scriptural examples of women doing what allegedly they are not supposed to do can be given their full evidential weight of how God, as an “equal opportunity employer,” really values women.

Resolution and Confirmation

My journey to biblical egalitarianism was essentially complete. While I did not, and do not now, claim to have the final answer to every question or difficult passage, I was convinced the framework sketched above was clearly a superior way to account for the varieties of biblical evidence. It has an elegant simplicity that is consistent with the authority of biblical texts. I find it far easier to live with the unresolved problems of egalitarianism than the problems of hierarchicalism, problems that seem to me to be far more serious, calling in question the very unity of the Bible.

But there was one more piece to my journey that is important, though seemingly small and unrelated to anything that had happened up to this point. It was the final piece that confirmed for me that I was on the right path.

In early 1974 I was preparing for a doctoral field exam in American church history by reading selections from some of the more important primary source documents representative of that history. When I came to the early and mid-nineteenth century, I was immersed in the literature surrounding the questions of slavery and abolition. The defenses of slavery by leading theologians and churchmen from the southern states were especially fascinating. Whether the men were from the Baptist, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Congregational, or Roman Catholic traditions, the biblical and theological arguments in defense of slavery were essentially the same.

Abolitionism was said to be anti-Christian. Defenders of slavery claimed that abolitionists got their ideas from other sources and then went to the “Bible to confirm the crotchets of their vain philosophy.” Scripture, it was repeatedly argued, does not condemn slavery. In fact, scripture sanctions slavery. In his parables, Jesus refers to masters and slaves without condemning slavery as such. In the New Testament, pious and good men had slaves, and were not told to release them. The church was first organized in the home of a slaveholder. That slavery was divinely regulated throughout biblical history was evidence that the institution was divinely approved. When scripture, as in Galatians 4, uses illustrations from slavery to teach great truths, without censuring slavery, it was considered more evidence that the institution had divine approval. The Baptist Declaration of 1822 did accept that slaves had purely spiritual privileges [as Christians], but they remained slaves.

The defenders of slavery within the churches all claimed the Bible as their starting point and all developed their defense by appealing to scripture in much the fashion I have summarized above. With one voice southern churchmen defending slavery charged that to reject slavery as sinful was to reject the Word of God. (14.)

I had heard about this line of reasoning before, but to actually read it for myself was an eye-opening experience. I was appalled and embarrassed that such an evil practice had been defended in the name of God and under the guise of biblical authority. How could churchmen and leading theologians have been so foolish and blind? I had been reflecting on these readings several days, then on one, cold, Chicago-gray wintry day as I crept home on that parking lot known as the Eisenhower Expressway, it slowly began to dawn on me that I had heard every one of those arguments before. In fact, at one time I had used them–to defend hierarchicalism and argue against egalitarianism. By this time I was close to home and I still remember the exact spot on Manchester Road just west of downtown Wheaton, Illinois where it hit me like a flash. Someday Christians will be as embarrassed by the church’s biblical defense of patriarchal hierarchicalism as it is now of the nineteenth century biblical defenses of slavery.

For me, that was the piece that once and for all put Bobbed Hair, Bossy Wives, and Women Preachers in the waste basket. And it confirmed my determination to stand with Pat as she completed the book that would eventually be published by Zondervan as Woman Be Free. (15.)


  1. I prefer to the use the phrase “biblical egalitarian” to designate the position I hold, though at times I simply use the term “egalitarian.” I believe it is the most accurate and descriptive because I believe this view is biblically based and because the essence of the position is that all individuals are equally created in God’s image. Consequently, they have equal worth, privilege, and opportunity in God’s Kingdom without reference to gender, ethnicity, or social status. I use “hierarchicalism” or “patriarchal hierarchicalism” to designate the opposite view. I am aware that those who hold this view prefer to be called “complementarians.” That term was invented in the mid-1980s allegedly to portray the position as holding that men and women are complementary to one another. The problem is, though, that egalitarians also believe that in the body of Christ all believers, including men and women, are complementary to one another. So the term does not apply uniquely to those who would now claim exclusive ownership of it. It is difficult not to think that the term was invented as a euphemism to avoid calling attention to the real essence of the position–that men are in hierarchical order over women who are to submit to men. In any case, I use the term hierarchical because I believe it is the most descriptive and accurate term to designate this view.
  2. Originally published in 1941, this book is still available from Sword of the Lord Publishers.
  3. Judges 4-5; 2 Kings 22:14 and 2 Chronicles 34:22; Acts 21:9; Acts 18:26.
  4. 1 Corinthians 11:5 and 14:34; 1 Timothy 2:12.
  5. Romans 16:1-16; Philippians 4:2-3.
  6. Ephesians 5:21, 24; 1 Peter 3:1, 5-6.
  7. 1 Corinthians 7:4; Ephesians 5:21.
  8. Romans 12:6; 1 Corinthians 12:7-11.
  9. I know the reader is tempted to think that “Pastor Chuck” was Chuck Swindoll. I assure you it was not.
  10. First published privately by the author in 1921.
  11. First published in 1926 by Fleming H. Revell.
  12. For instance, see Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), p. 461.
  13. Psalm 33:20; 115: 9, 10, 11.
  14. Documents representative of the pro-slavery arguments as summarized here are contained in H. Shelton Smith, Robert T. Handy, and Lefferts A. Loetscher, American Christianity, Volume II, 1820-1960 (New York: Scribner’s, 1963), pp. 177-210.
  15. Patricia Gundry, Woman Be Free (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1977; still in print from and may also be ordered from and, the online Book Store of CBE).
Women teaching, men’s prejudice and God’s glory

Women teaching, men’s prejudice and God’s glory

Many complementarians have been so used to hearing what women are not allowed to do in the body of Christ rather than what scripture says women should do as followers of Christ, that the focus has become automatically set to see restrictions when the subject of women in ministry is discussed.  With this post I would like to lay out some of the allowances for women in ministry as well as the obligations of mature children of God including God’s female “sons” so that we can contemplate on God’s own instructions.

What should be the attitude of women who are dedicated, mature and reverent followers of Christ?  In 1 Peter chapter 3 Paul has been writing about how women followers of Christ are to show their love for their Lord in the respectful way that they treat their husbands.  Men followers of Christ are also to show their love for their Savior by treating their wives with love and respect as fellow heirs of the grace of God.  Then in verses 8-17 Peter continues on to speak to both men and women about their attitude, their behavior and actions and their obligations.

1 Peter 3:8 (NASB) To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit;
1 Peter 3:9  not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.
1 Peter 3:13  Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good?
1 Peter 3:14  But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED,
1 Peter 3:15  but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;
1 Peter 3:16  and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.
1 Peter 3:17  For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.

Since Peter says that this is written for “all of you”, let’s focus on what we can see about God’s will for women from these verses.  Peter writes in verse 8 that women are to be harmonious (of like mind with all believers) humble in spirit, kindhearted, brotherly (fond of the brethren which is the body of believers) and sympathetic.  How does this work out in practice?  Peter writes in verse 9 that women are not to return evil for evil or insult for insult but they are to practice giving a blessing even when they are reviled because women in Christ are called for the purpose of inheriting a blessing.

Peter goes on in verses 10-12 to encourage women to keep from speaking evil words and women followers of Christ are to do what is good and to pursue and seek after peace.  When women followers of Christ live this way they have the eyes and ears of the Lord Jesus toward them because the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears hear their prayers.

In verses 12-14 Peter writes that God is against those who do evil so that if women are zealous for doing what is good that God will be on their side and look out for them regarding those who do evil to them.  Women are told that even though they may suffer for doing what is good, God will bring them a blessing for suffering for the sake of righteousness.  God tells women that when they are reproached for doing what is good, they are not to fear the intimidation of those who are against them.  God tells women they are not to be troubled when they suffer for doing good and they are not to fear those who try to intimidate them, instead these women are to be prepared to defend their faith in God.  Verse 15 says:

1 Peter 3:15  but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;

Women are not only allowed to give a defense to everyone who asks them to give an account, but they are commanded to do so.  They are not told to be prejudiced against men but to give a defense to everyone.  Women’s obligation is to be ready with a gentle and reverent spirit to give an account to whoever challenges them on their faith in Christ.  When Jesus gifts and equips a woman she is to use these gifts without fear.  In 1 Peter 4:10,11 Peter records that each one of us has been gifted and we are commanded to use our gifts for the use of the body of Christ.

1 Peter 4:10 As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
1 Peter 4:11 Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

If God has gifted a woman to speak she is commanded to speak as one who is speaking the very utterances of God.  She is to do this because it pleases God to gift her.  When she uses her gift God will strengthen her in that gift because this brings honor to Jesus.  Whenever she uses her gift she is bringing glory and honor to Jesus Christ her Lord.

What about if someone challenges a woman follower of Christ that women are to be prejudiced against men and must refuse to use their God-given gifts for the benefit of the men in the body of Christ?  What if someone says that teaching the bible for the benefit of men is an evil act and not allowed for godly women?  What if someone says that women followers of Christ are sinning against God if they refuse to turn away men from hearing them teach the bible?  Peter instructs the women to keep a good conscience and in doing the good works of a mature follower of Christ, if she is slandered by those who hate her good works and who say that her good works are evil, these ones who have slandered her will be put to shame by her good behavior in Christ and her gentle and reverent spirit even during her persecution and her suffering.

1 Peter 3:16  and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.
1 Peter 3:17  For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.

God’s word for women followers of Jesus, is do not fear intimidation and do not be troubled.  Be glad that you are counted worthy to suffer for the sake of the Lord.  Do not return evil for evil or return insult for insult but keep on doing what is good.  Teaching God’s word is good.  Using your God-given gifts is a good thing.  Scripture never once tells women to turn their backs on men and to refuse to use God’s gifts for the benefit of men.  That is prejudice and prejudice is not a godly thing.  God’s way is to use your gifts for God’s glory without prejudice.  Do this good work in a gentle and respectful manner without responding back with evil words if you are insulted and slandered by your brothers in Christ.

Let me tell you a story about our ministry partner Lorri MacGregor.  Lorri was a Jehovah’s Witness for 15 years and when she came to Christ and had come to a full understanding of the truth of God’s word, God called her to teach the scriptures especially to Christians who had no idea how to witness to Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Lorri was faithful to go wherever the Lord called her even though she had many barriers put up in her pathway because she was a woman.  God caused her testimony to be heard by men and women, lay people and Pastors alike.  Many Pastors were so impressed by her testimony and her ability to teach Christians how to witness to Jehovah’s Witnesses, that they allowed her to teach on this subject even though they have never allowed a woman to teach the bible to the congregation before.  Lorri’s ability to make the gospel clear and to teach difficult subjects like the Trinity and make these teachings understandable to the average Christian was clearly noted and she was asked into many churches to share her testimony and her special gift of teaching.  Lorri never refused to teach anyone because of their gender nor did she act in a prejudicial way to the men in the audience.  When some objected to her teaching on the platform, she asked if she could teach from the floor using a music stand instead of a pulpit.  Her humility and her respectful manner allowed her to receive a hearing and because of this many men and women were equipped to share their faith in a way that brought much fruit and brought Jesus much honor.  Lorri’s ability and her gifts were strengthened by her experience coming out of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Pastors saw the benefit of her teaching as a unique gift.

Because Lorri’s desire was to use her gifts for the benefit of the body of Christ and it was not her desire to elevate herself or stand in open opposition to the tradition held by many Pastors and many churches, the doors opened to her for her to teach what is good.  In fact her teaching was so clear and so easy to understand that Lorri was invited into the pulpit in places that had never before allowed a woman to teach the congregation.  Lorri did not make an issue of being a woman teacher, she just used her gifts in a God-honoring way that benefited both men and women followers of Christ.  She was not deterred by those who tried to stop her and who tried hard to put up a roadblock in her pathway.  Lorri stayed the course and followed Jesus through every open door that he provided.  The Lord provided ways for Lorri to serve in her gifts because she trusted him to make a way for her to serve him.

My path has been somewhat different than Lorri’s.  My focus is not to go around the roadblocks but to respectfully and methodically dismantle the roadblocks with the gifts that God has given me.  I deal with the opposing arguments head on and I use God’s word in context using God’s inspired words and his inspired grammar to understand God’s will for women.

If you are a woman who has been called to serve Christ in teaching the bible, yet you have been told that this work is forbidden to women unless women are willing to turn their back on men and refuse to use their gifts for men’s benefit, you need to see the hard passages in scripture on women in ministry in their context.  I would encourage you to get a copy of my 4 DVD set called “Women in Ministry Silenced or Set Free?” so that you may have a tool to help you give a defense to everyone who demands of you an answer and this DVD set can help you give an answer with gentleness and reverence.  Do not let anyone stop you from doing the good works that God has prepared for you.

Matthew 5:16 (NASB)  “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

1 Peter 4:14  (ISV) If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the glorious Spirit of God is resting on you.
1 Peter 4:19  So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should entrust their souls to a faithful Creator and continue to do what is good.

1 Peter 2:15  For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.

Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men,
Colossians 3:24  knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.

Don’t stop doing what is good.  Do your godly works in a respectful way and trust that God will open the door for you to serve him in exactly the way that he has called you.  If we can be an encouragement to you on this blog community, we are at your service.

Spiritual gifts and authority

Spiritual gifts and authority

What has the spiritual gifts got to do with authority? It has plenty to do with God’s granting us all authority to use our gifts as representatives of God himself. In 1 Peter 4:10, 11 God tell us:

1 Peter 4:10 As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
1 Peter 4:11 Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Our gifts come with the ability to use these gifts with the authority from God himself. The one who speaks is to speak as speaking the “oracles of God” or the “utterances of God”.

While authority to operate in our gifts has been given to us, nowhere in scripture is authority given as a power to use over someone else. Jesus gave authority over the demons to his disciples, but the leaders of the church have not been given authority over people.

Matthew 10:1 Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.

It was the worldly people who took authority over others as their right.

Matthew 20:25 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them.

But in the church, authority is only given as an authority to serve and authority to use our gifts. It is never given to be used to take control over another person in the church. The Christian way is service.

Matthew 20:26 “It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant,
Matthew 20:27 and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave;
Matthew 20:28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Since authority is to be used in the church for service and not for domination of one person over another, authority to use one’s gifts belongs equally to men and women in the body of Christ.

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