1Jn 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from
God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
Heb 5:13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.
Recently Phil Johnson and Todd Friel made some sweeping statements about women bloggers; particularly women who have discernment and home school their kids.
Here are some of Phil’s comments that I would like to address:
A comment on his blog:"Certainly God didn't gift believers with the Holy Spirit and with spiritual gifts according to their gender."
Phil Johnson answered:
Of course He did. He gave us gifts that are in accord with our calling and office. Certain offices in the church are closed to women.
No matter how broadly you want to interpret 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 one of the clear implications of that text is that it's not fitting for a woman who has no teaching authority in the church to raise a public objection against a teaching elder whose office is recognized by the church. That's not to say the pastor is infallible or above critique, and there is (of course) a proper venue for a lay woman to share her concerns or ask her questions, but a blog on the Internet is not that venue.
If any woman fancies herself a gift to the church as a guardian of sound doctrine because she thinks she has a special "gift of discernment" that entitles her to go online and write insulting epithets against a duly ordained and divinely-called pastor, She is seriously mistaken and grossly out of line--and she is an embarrassment to propriety and feminine modesty.
End quote. ( my emphasis)
1 Corinthians was written to the entire church at Corinth, both men and women. 1Cor. 14 is in fact, speaking about behavior in the local church, certainly not at the marketplace, the internet, or a parkinglot.
Scripture doesn’t say God gifts His children according to gender.
1Co 12:4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.
1Co 12:5 And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord.
1Co 12:6 There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons.
1Co 12:7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
1Co 12:8 For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit;
1Co 12:9 to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit,
1Co 12:10 and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues.
1Co 12:11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.
Then chapter 14:
1Co 14:34 The 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 says. 35 If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.
Chapter 14 is about the orderliness that needs to take place in the local assembly of believers, that is,“in the churches”, plural,or “in the assemblies”. The role of women in the NT teaches that they are to have no authority over men nor teach men in church. This is clear. But to place all forms of speech and expression of one’s insights, that is, to muffle all women on the Internet especially if they are criticizing a public pastor-teacher, is to misapply this text of Scripture. God doesn’t call for a gag order on women, rather to be quietly learning in the church service (see below where MacArthur explains this more fully). In fact, the more informal arenas such as a Bible study or Sunday school class that of course is taught by a man, can be opened up by the teacher for questions and interaction and this is permissible. Even MacArthur agrees with this. And if this is permissible in such settings, then all the more online. There is no authority over others online; it really is a free and fair place for exchanging of ideas. I might add this is why there is no such thing as an “online church”.
John MacArthur states in his study Bible:
“14:34, 35 women keep silent in the churches. The principle of women not speaking in church services is universal; this applies to all the churches, not just locally, geographically, or culturally. The context in this verse concerns prophecy, but includes the general theme of the chapter, i.e., tongues. Rather than leading, they are to be submissive as God’s Word makes clear (see notes on 11:3–15; Gen. 3:16; 1 Tim. 2:11–15). It is not coincidental that many modern churches that have tongues-speaking and claim gifts of healings and miracles also permit women to lead worship, preach, and teach. Women may be gifted teachers, but they are not permitted by God “to speak” in churches. In fact, for them to do so is “shameful,” meaning “disgraceful.” Apparently, certain women were out of order in disruptively asking questions publicly in the chaotic services.”
This is hardly the venue of an Internet blog.
In a Q&A at GCC MacArthur again deals with this passage of Scripture:
Larry: I got, I guess it's a controversial question on gifts of teaching. It's in Corinthians 14:26-34, I guess. And basically I've heard different interpretations of verses 34 where it says, "Let women keep silent in the churches for they are not permitted to speak." My interpretation of what it's talking about, and correct me if I'm wrong, that's why I'm here, is that they do not possess any of the gifts listed in verse 26, which are teaching and edifying gifts. And I don't know if that is right or wrong. Maybe you can help me there.
JOHN: Well I don't think it has anything to do with gifts. In fact I think it may assume that they do have the gift of teaching, otherwise it wouldn't have to control how it's used. You understand what I'm saying? If he says, "Let the women keep silent in the churches," that may mean that there will be a temptation on the part of the women to want to teach in the church, which indicates that perhaps they do have the gift and so it has to be regulated.
In the public service of the church the men were to lead. The women were to learn in subjection, but the older women were to teach the younger women and there's nothing in the Bible at all that says that women cannot have the gift of teaching or other gifts. The point here that in the assembly of the church, when the church comes together, the prophets were to take over. He said the spirits of the prophets will be subject to the prophets and the women are to be silent. This is a affirmed in I Timothy where it says I permit a woman not to teach nor to take authority over men, but to learn in all subjection and so forth. This is the God ordained pattern. Doesn't mean that women are dumb. It just means that God has designed women to be different and their role is different within the church. But it doesn't mean they don't have the gifts.
And here MacArthur states:
“If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home. The implication is present in this statement that certain women were out of order in asking questions in the church service. If they desired to learn, the church was no place for them to express their questions in a disruptive way. Paul also implies, of course, that Christian husbands should be well taught in the Word. Many women are tempted to go beyond their biblical roles because of frustration with Christian men, often including their own husbands, who do not responsibly fulfill the leadership assignments God has given them. But God has established the proper order and relationship of male–female roles in the church, and they are not to be transgressed for any reason. For a woman to take on a man’s role because he has neglected it merely compounds the problem. It is not possible for a woman to substitute for a man in such things. God often has led women to do work that men have refused to do, but He does not lead them to accomplish that work through roles He has restricted to men.
There are times in informal meetings and Bible studies where it is entirely proper for men and women to share equally in exchanging questions and insights. But when the church comes together as a body to worship God, His standards are clear: the role of leadership is reserved for men.”
Again, the Internet is not the local church. There's no disruption of a church service by questions, because the Internet is not the church.
Elsewhere in the comment section on Phil Johnson’s article, he said:
I didn't have the Sola Sisters in mind when I said that. I appreciate most of what I have read at your blog. But I was thinking specifically of the pugnacity and snippy, catty tone we often saw in Ingrid's blog posts, the scattershot approach and conspiracy-theory mindset behind the Lighthouse Trails campaign, and the type of women who plastered my Facebook page with endless, angry, deliberately insulting rants (and still do sometimes) because they think my criticism of the Piper-Warren connection wasn't sufficiently vehement.
In short, I was referring to those very vocal (mostly, but not all female) self-styled "discernment" specialists who seem to think screeching, angry emotions are as good a response to heresy as carefully reasoned, biblical answers.”
First as a side note, I’d like to point out that while there may have been ungraciousness on the part of some women bloggers, the tit-for-tat Johnson ensues is wrong. He’s just as catty and snippy as those few women he has a problem with. In other words, it doesn’t help his argument for him to rant about the ranting of women.
Also, pastors have no authority over anyone outside of their own church. It is only within their own church can elders exercise church discipline for example. See James White on “Shepherding”. She does not violate Scripture in criticizing “duly ordained” men by criticizing them online (more on this in a moment). In fact 1Cor. 14:34-35 is about the local churches, not some “universal church”.
Adjectives like “catty”, “insulting rantings”, “screeching”, “harpy”, “shrill” ,“divas” ,“angry emotions” are very subjective in their description and may not be accurate at all, (and maybe even reveal a personal offense, not a biblical violation) as well it dismisses the validity of the concerns of discerning women, as well as being just being sexist against strong women who do discern and as a result have voiced their grave concerns. Indeed, this is not a “carefully reasoned, biblical answers” itself. Where have these women bloggers not used Scripture correctly in showing error? Moreover, isn’t the misapplication of Scripture itself (1Cor. 14:34-35 for even the Internet), the very thing Johnson and Friel are claiming to want women to avoid—the very thing Johnson just did? If this is how Johnson deals with women not whom he primarily has an issue with, the name-calling and applying silence to all women who are critical of pastors, I can’t imagine how he deals with those he does primarily have issues with. Is this how he deals with women in his church? I hope not, and I rather suspect he really doesn’t. So why the inconsistency with his behavior and claims online versus those at GCC?
I found an interesting quote from Donna Morely, wife of The Master’s College professor, Brian Morley.Now granted, I think women speaking to a congregation is in violation of Scripture, in fact I think women teaching Christian things in college or seminary violates Scripture, so I am definitely far more cautious and conservative than Donna. However, Donna does make an interesting point:
"I have personally heard Joni Eareckson speak to the entire male/female congregation at Grace Community Church (Dr. John MacArthur’s church). Does this make Pastor MacArthur a hypocrite, after his above quote? No, not at all. Joni wasn’t usurping authority over the men nor was she speaking authoritatively. She was lifting others up spiritually, through encouragement, rather than by exegetically teaching scripture." ~ an excerpt in Donna’s Morley’s book, Choices That Lead to Godliness (p. 114-120)
I found the irony interesting. While Phil says women are not to teach men in church, a woman has taught men at his church. I would say Tada was indeed violating Scripture. Often times women get behind a pulpit and claim to be “sharing their hearts” but in doing so, they end up exhorting and teaching men. This is the foot in the door we’re to avoid. A blog however, doesn’t take place in a church. It doesn’t usurp anyone’s authority because there is none. Its just a publication of one’s own thoughts and insights. A blogger certainly does not have a captive audience.
Contrary to Johnson’s sweeping gag order on women bloggers who criticize pastors, MacArthur invites the criticism of others:
“One final thought to add is this: I believe that it is appropriate to respond publicly to that which has been taught publicly. If someone has published something in a book or on a blog or preached it in a sermon (which has then been made available online), it is now subject to public critique. I certainly believe this is true with regard to my own teachings. Anything I have preached or published (and therefore made public) is consequently subject to public criticism. And I don’t consider my critics to necessarily be unloving just because they disagree with me. In fact, I welcome their feedback, because it is part of the sharpening process.”
Now the comments by Johnson, especially his gag order on women, lead to some fair questions and a few observations:
*Who’s on the approved list of homeschooling discerning women bloggers who are allowed to criticize pastors? He mentioned he has no problem with some.
*What are his standards for the approved group versus the non-approved group?
*How does he determine who is ordained and above being criticized, at least by women bloggers? And why women bloggers? Where was the ear-boxing to diva, screeching, hysterical, critical men? Alas, there was none. Perhaps nameless offenders are easier to verbally slap than men. I sure can’t account for it.
*Which pastors are allowed to be criticized? Benny Hinn, Rick Warren, and Joel Osteen only? Why?
*On the one hand Johnson approves of certain discernment women bloggers, but then he applies 1Cor. 14:34-35 to all women, both in the church and on the internet, so which is it? Again, public teachers are open to public criticism.
*Why are women prohibited from publicly questioning, even exposing public teachers-pastors--pastors who themselves teach outside of the local church? Is that not fair game? Teach publicly, you get to be criticized publicly if needed.
*If its a matter of tone, then that's just nothing more than personal preference, not a biblical violation. If its a matter of a woman being critical, then that again, is not shown to be prohibited by Scripture either. Rather the call to arms and discernment is for all Christians.
*Does this far-reaching interpretation of 1Cor. 14:34-35 then include women evangelizing a Mormon man at the door or any man for that matter, in a public setting such as a gym or store or parking lot?
*Should a woman be silent in church when a man approaches her with false teaching, say, Annhiliationism or Hyper-preterism? Or should she destroy such arguments that set themselves up against Christ? Is she not supposed to defend her faith both inside and outside the local church?
*Does Phil include Rick Warren in being “duly ordained”? Does he view Warren as a brother in Christ? Is he not just as false as Joel Osteen? Is he not more dangerous?
*Why is it ok for Phil Johnson, Todd Friel, or Frank Turk to criticize pastor/teachers , but claim women bloggers cannot also do so? I might add that Turk and Friel are masters as sarcasm and mockery themselves—something that is often ungracious.
Are women not part of the battle for truth and against error? Are we not also called to earnestly fight the good fight of the Faith? Are we not called to discern and warn others when we see a false teacher? Is the war only for the men folk? Are women to keep quiet when they are facing a false teacher? Again, I find MacArthur’s insight helpful here:
“The modern canonization of compromise represents a detour down a dead-end alley. Both Scripture and church history reveal the danger of compromise. Those whom God uses are invariably men and women who swim against the tide. They hold strong convictions with great courage and refuse to compromise in the face of incredible opposition.
Where are the men and women today with the courage to stand alone? The church in our age has abandoned the confrontive stance. Instead of overturning worldly wisdom with revealed truth, many Christians today are obsessed with finding areas of agreement. The goal has become integration rather than confrontation. As the church absorbs the values of secular culture, it is losing its ability to differentiate between good and evil. What will happen to the church if everyone proceeds down the slippery path of public opinion?” – John MacArthur, “Reckless Faith” p. 51
This is all discerning women bloggers are doing, motivated, at least for some of us, by a heart for the Truth, a love for the souls of others, and a clear knowledge of impending disaster. Will standing alone be called “vocal”, “screeching”, or “hysterical”? Where are the vocal men who see the absolute urgency in our day to divide from error, expose it for what it is, and be bold about it? Very few and far between. They are so few that we can count them on one hand. Many play the “truth in everything” game, unwilling to come down boldly and decisively against false teachers and their cheerleaders, and some by their laziness and lack for zeal of the Lord and His Gospel and His people, actually embolden men like Warren and Driscoll. If the solid men were truly solid and bold for the truth and against error, instead of this tepid, lukewarm wait-and-see disaster of a position (something Satan uses to his advantage), many of us discerning women would be able to help arm them for the battle in other ways. You don’t see Spurgeon or Pink hesitate in dealing with those in error. In fact we see Spurgeon call for “War! War! War!” on the RCC and he even takes to task the Protestants who encourage Rome. Where are the Reformed men doing that today? Too bad some men aren’t just as bold and tenacious about false teachers as they are about women daring to criticize them or some pastor who teaches publicly (one wonders why Johnson and Friel don't take on the Feminists like Warren, Piper, Keller, and Driscoll who DO think its ok for women to teach IN CHURCH just as long as its not in the "office" of elder). In other words, the problem isn’t merely the false teachers; it’s those who give them a wide girth, platform, and time to do the work of Satan among what used to be considered “solid” circles in Christianity.
"The preachers of false doctrine dislike nothing more than the premature detection of their doings. Only give them time enough to prepare men's minds for the reception of their 'new views,' and they are confident of success. They have had too much time already, and any who refuse to speak out now must be held to be 'partakers of their evil deeds.' As Mr. Spurgeon says, 'A little plain-speaking would do a world of good just now. These gentlemen desire to be let alone. They want no noise raised. Of course thieves hate watch-dogs, and love darkness. It is time that somebody should spring his rattle, and call attention to the way in which God is being robbed of his glory and man of his hope.'
~ Spurgeon September 1887, Sword and Trowel http://www.spurgeon.org/s_and_t/dg04.htm
The urgency of the poison of the downgrade of today’s “Christianity” is intensified by the Internet. What used to take months or years to spread, now can take seconds to spread worldwide. Multiply that with the constant obsession of seminars and conferences, seminaries, books, and journals, and the urgency is far more clear. And that’s not taking into account the influence of TV. and radio. Because of the instant access to information, no pastor (especially one that is Internet savvy and himself uses the Internet to promote his books, church, sermons, missions, articles, conferences) should be ignorant of whom they are promoting, linking to, sharing the platform with. In short, no pastor worth his salt should not do his homework.
Examples of this abound but one glaring and consistant example is John Piper. How else could Driscoll and Warren get a footing inside Reformed circles with a platform to obfuscate their audiences with a little error mixed in with a bit of truth? There was plenty of information on Warren for Piper to have known years ago, let alone last year, before inviting him to the DGC, to know that Warren is a heretic. Not only was it a bad idea to invite Warren, something Piper chuckled at, it was straight up sin, something NONE OF THE WELL-KNOWN FIRE BLOGGERS, SANDWICH WEBSITES, or many of the "apologetic" "experts", or Famous Bloggers, WILL ADMIT TO. Yet some of these have no qualms about slicing and dicing a couple of vocal women bloggers. The hypocrisy just drips all over this one.
Jude, another one who saw the urgency of fighting for biblical truth, stated:
Jud 1:3 Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. 4 For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
And Peter too:
2Pe 2:1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.
Who’s the “you” in “among you”? Everyone ELSE but YOUR church? None of YOUR elders or pastors? Not YOUR favorite author or conference speaker? Do you think its merely a "theory" that a heretic could rise up among your leadership, but you actually think that just pretty much won't happen? If that's what you think, you are already on the road to deception.
Just how do false teachers creep in unnoticed? How do they secretly introduce destructive heresies? By announcing themselves? Or hiding behind the cloak of Christianese, an approval of another professing Christian who just couldn’t POSSIBLY be lead astray nor lead US astray. How do these false teachers get in and stay in and teach if not by the treachery of men ALREADY INSIDE?
Act 20:17 From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church….29
"I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the
flock 30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to
draw away the disciples after them. 31 "Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and
day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.
Who’s the “among you” here? How do the savage wolves sneak in? Is it not at least by the help of those “duly anointed” elders that aren’t supposed to be criticized by women bloggers? Could this not be the fruit that shows they are indeed not qualified and therefore not “duly anointed” after all?
These online blogging “anointed” men seem find truth in everything (that is, find what’s “good” and ignore the heresy)and slam others who plead with them to stop dancing with the devil’s defenders. Those who have a larger platform from which to speak (pastor-teachers) should be the most vocal in outrage against those who aid and abet false teachers, yet because of their truth-in-everything and low view of Scripture, they find such thinking and action repulsive. The plea for outright rejection of such false brothers is considered, irrational, unbiblical, snarky, shrill, and hysterical. Not so in Scripture, its commanded:
Rom 16:17 Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. 18 For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.
Scripture doesn’t say to wait and see what a Confederacy with the wolves will bring about. It doesn’t say hear them out, give them a platform, pulpit, microphone. It says reject such a man.
Was Jude hysterical in his urgency and straightforward warnings? Was Paul? Paul even shed tears many times over the errors heading the way of his disciples. Is that irrational? No. It’s based on a love for the souls of men, of God’s Word, and impending doom.
So if a woman discerns the wolf under that false sheep’s clothing, is she to be silent? If a man is drowning and we see it, but we’re women, so we’ll just walk on by and hope some strapping young lad will do something to save his life, that’s ok? What would be dangerous and unloving in the earthly, would be doubly so in the spiritual, would it not?
“Scripture never discounts the female intellect, downplays the talents and abilities of women, or discourages the right use of women's spiritual gifts.” - John MacArthur, “The Biblical Portrait of Women: setting the record straight”