Predestination is one of the most hated and debated doctrines in the Bible. Yet, Charles Spurgeon said, “I am persuaded that the doctrine of predestination is one of the ‘softest pillows’ upon which the Christian can lay his head and one of the ‘strongest staffs’ upon which he may lean in his pilgrimage along this rough road.” If that’s true, why is the doctrine of predestination avoided, demonized, and reserved for esoteric studies or theological debate? Consider these five reasons why predestination should be preached on Sunday morning to the gathered church.
The Church Needs Depth
The calling of a pastor is to feed God’s sheep. As the church is gathered together, God expects that the whole counsel of God will be preached—not just clever sermon series and topical studies.
Many churches have a shallow view of the way church discipleship should be approached resulting in evangelistic sermons on Sunday morning, more serious doctrinal sermons on Sunday evening (if the church gathers on Sunday evenings), and real serious doctrinal teaching on Wednesday evening when the majority of the church is not present.
This is the most popular structure for preaching and teaching in evangelical circles today and it has caused many local churches to be a mile wide and an inch deep theologically speaking. In other words, you can find many large local churches that know John 3:16 by memory and can walk you down the Romans Road, but they don’t possess a good handle on biblical theology. The idea that you have to grow your church by evangelism on Sunday mornings will have a negative impact upon the church in the long run.
While the church needs to grow bigger, it must grow deeper first! If the members of the church lack proper knowledge of key biblical truths (like predestination), how will they be able to make disciples in the first place? Remember, in the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20), Jesus anticipated that the process of making disciples would involve teaching grand truths like the Trinity because he issued the Trinitarian formula of baptism (in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit) which implies that people would be teaching the Trinity early on—rather than several years after their baptism during a Wednesday evening Bible study.
Predestination is in the Bible
The word “predestinated” in Romans 8:29 comes from the Greek term “προορίζω” meaning “to decide upon beforehand, to predetermine.” It’s a compound Greek term made up of two words:
Pro – Before
Horizo – Determine
This word literally means to determine before hand. No matter what theological gymnastics are performed to get around it, predestination has a meaning that cannot be overlooked or sidestepped. It’s in the Bible for a reason and it’s not reserved for a seminary class.
A number of years ago I was serving as a pastor in Kentucky when a woman visited our church on a Sunday morning. She introduced herself to me after the service and stated her reason for visiting. She said, “I have come to understand that my pastor believes in predestination.” I kindly informed her that not only was predestination in the Bible, but I actually believe it as well. I never saw that woman again after our short conversation. I can hope that she returned to her church and sought to listen to her pastor as he preached the Bible. Far too many people are looking for pastors who will teach them what they want to believe rather than what the Bible actually says (remember Paul warned Timothy about that in 2 Timothy 4:3-5).
It may come as a shock to many believers who have been shielded from the doctrine of predestination as if it’s a dangerous doctrine, but it’s actually a biblical truth that must be preached to the church. It should be preached even on a Sunday morning. Likewise, it must be understood that Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus (and the surrounding cities) by encouraging them in the opening chapter regarding their salvation in Christ and he pointed to the core truth of predestination (Eph. 1:5). He didn’t save it until the last chapter nor did he avoid the subject altogether. It must be pointed out that Paul didn’t reserve the doctrine of predestination as a subject for a theological debate. Instead, he wrote about it and used it as a means of encouraging the church. That’s what biblical doctrine is designed to do by God—encourage the church.
Predestination Points to a High View of God
Have you ever visited a city where a large statue was standing tall in the town square or maybe you’ve visited the Statue of Liberty at some point? The statue appears large as you are a good distance away, but as you draw closer to the point of standing below the massive structure, the statues seems to get bigger and bigger. The more you study the doctrine of predestination, the bigger God seems to be. This is the way Bible truth works. We will never learn so much about God and his saving grace that he becomes small and casual to us.
The doctrine of predestination points to a high view of God. The truth of God’s ability to predetermine the salvation of wretched and guilty sinners who deserve hell is a glorious truth that reveals the bigness of God—a grand subject for a Sunday morning sermon.
We would not want to board an airplane where the pilot advertised to everyone that he only understood about 85% of the instruments on the control panel in the cockpit. We want a confident pilot who possesses a robust knowledge of the entire airplane. In a more serious way, we don’t want to paint a low view of God who doesn’t know everything nor does he have the ability to control everything. This is the view often taught within local churches through a faulty definition of foreknowledge in Romans 8:29.
The word foreknowledge has far more in mind than God looking through the tunnel of time to see what people will do. In fact, the focus isn’t on God learning anything (remember, God doesn’t learn anything) and it’s not focused upon the actions of man. Rather, it’s focused upon the fact that God foreknew people (see Gen. 4:1 and Amos 3:2 as examples of the use of know as more than intellectual comprehension)—not their actions. In other words, God chose beforehand to shower his love on specific people for his glory. This choice of God’s love is connected to God’s work of predetermining that they would be saved.
A high view of God’s sovereignty and his sovereign grace leads to joyful worship and faithful obedience and service to him. In other words, a proper understanding of predestination will increase the depth of our worship of God.
Predestination Crushes Pride
Sometimes people have specific privileges in life that cause them to boast about it. It’s common in the world to see people with great wealth boasting about it, bragging about it, or parading it openly through exotic vehicles, fancy homes, and exquisite boats. The doctrine of predestination should do the exact opposite.
A number of years ago after the salvation of a young man in our church, he was baptized and then presented as a member before the congregation. After the service, I heard a man in the church approach the new convert and say, “Congratulations on your decision to follow Christ.” While it is true that the young man decided to follow Jesus, what’s even more important is that God first decided to love him and worked out a million or more details to bring him to the point of a public profession of his faith in Christ. Before we choose to love God, we must remember that God first chose to love us (1 John 4:19).
A proper understanding of predestination crushes pride. The truth of predestination crushes the idea that we do our part and God does his part in salvation. God will not share in the glory of saving sinners. Salvation, as Jonah said, is of the LORD (Jonah 2:9). He alone will be praised for the saving of dead and helpless sinners.
Predestination is at the Core of the Doctrine of Salvation
The Christian life is a journey of faith whereby we study and learn about the God who has saved us. In fact, that’s what theology is—the study of God. As we study and learn about the saving grace of God, we must learn about the doctrine of predestination.
Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, and for the glory of God alone. The study of predestination places the cause and effect of salvation squarely on the sovereignty of God. How can dead sinners cooperate with God to work out our salvation? The fact is, salvation is not a partnership between man and God. From eternity past to eternity future, salvation is a work of God.
God the Father chooses us.
God the Son dies for us.
God the Spirit causes us to be born again.
God the Spirit convicts us and convinces us of sin.
God the Spirit draws us to Christ.
God has predestined that we will be glorified in eternity future.
Salvation is not man made. We have no right to glory in the work of salvation. It’s totally a work of God and we are the recipients of grace and we respond to God’s work of salvation. Any true study of salvation will have a proper focus on God’s work of predestination.
“We must be willing to do whatever it takes the reach the next generation.”
This sounds like a line that many Christians can embrace, and sadly, many Christians charge hard with this line as their motto for ministry. Unfortunately, even the most passionate Christian can be passionately wrong. While boundaries and prohibitions may seem like bad things that hold us back from reaching our full potential as a local church or an individual believer—God’s boundaries should never be viewed through a negative lens.
Every Christian motto is built upon a theological foundation. It’s either fueled by low theological conviction that takes a backseat to pragmatism or it’s fueled by a high theological conviction that drives decision making and functionality. We want the latter rather than the former. When pragmatism takes priority over theology, the church is driven to do all sorts of things in the name of reaching people for Jesus in ways that Jesus would never approve.
Pragmatism Leads to Worldly Worship Models
An honest survey of church history will demonstrate that the church has been driven to embrace models that do not look like what God had in mind for genuine God exalting worship. From seeker sensitive marketing evangelism models to the Emergent Church that attempts to become so relevant to culture that it becomes irrelevant. If your model for ministry is “whatever it takes” people will begin to dream up and imagine all sorts of tactics for weekly worship that will attract the culture to your church. But, is that what Jesus has called us to do when he said, “go and make disciples” when he issued the Great Commission?
We have all seen the YouTube videos of zip line mishaps, motorcycle accidents, and drone crashes inside church buildings that occurred while churches were seeking to attract people from their community. It seemed like something that would draw in the crowds and make the church seem relevant and exciting, but instead it became an instant video clip for people to laugh at online rather than to connect people to the Savior of sinners. When ministries abandon the Scriptures and point people to cheap attractions rather than to Jesus—their ministries become shallow and look more like a carnival than a church in the process.
Is the Bible sufficient or must we dream up something new in order to reach the next generation? Does your church need a marketing trick to reach the community or is Jesus enough?
Pragmatism Leads to the Embrace of Worldly Ideologies and Methods
There is no doubt that this world with devils filled is threatening to undo us. We live in a broken world with complex layers of injustices and oppression against women, crimes against children, legalized abortion, legalized same-sex marriage, and ethnic division and discrimination. We walk a broken road through Vanity Fair as we journey toward the Celestial City as depicted by John Bunyan in his classic work The Pilgrim’s Progress. As we walk this path filled with traps of Satan and all manner of human depravity—how should the church approach the sins and depraved patterns of our ungodly society?
If the church is fueled by the motto “whatever it takes” we will be led to believe that broken ideas that emerge from a broken culture will suffice. In recent days, the Southern Baptist Convention voted to embrace Critical Race Theory and intersectionality as “analytical tools” to view and approach our culture. Why should the church be encouraged to abandon Scripture and embrace ideologies that have emerged out of the sewer of radical feminism and Marxism in order to reach a God hating culture? Is the Bible really outdated and uniformed regarding the complexities we face in our day? Is Jesus not enough? Does the gospel need help from culture to reach the culture?
Pragmatism will always lead the people of God away from the will of God at some point. If the gospel is working—pragmatism says, “do it.” When the gospel seems to not be working, pragmatism says, “do something else that gets better results.”
We must remember that the Reformation was about the recovery of God’s Word. When the Scriptures are not viewed as sufficient—worship and ministry models will be contaminated by the ideas and methods of the world. When Paul was writing his final letter to Timothy before he was martyred for his faith, he didn’t say, “Timothy, do whatever it takes to reach Ephesus with the gospel.” He said:
Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry (2 Tim. 4:2-5).
The motto—”whatever it takes” will eventually lead you to walk away from the Word of God. Beware of the broken road of pragmatism.
The Southern Baptist Convention fought a 30-year long battle for the Bible known as the Conservative Resurgence, but what happened in Birmingham, Alabama might just prove to validate the woke movement for the largest protestant denomination in America. Did the SBC abandon the sufficiency of Scripture? Many people have made that claim for years citing pragmatism as the modus operandi of the Convention—but this time it happened in an official capacity as a resolution.
Last year prior to the annual meeting of the SBC in Dallas, Texas—I wrote an article titled, “The SBC at the Intersection of Intersectionality” where I warned of the dangers of identity politics within the Convention. I likewise preached on the dangers of intersectionality in a sermon back in January of 2019 in the pre-conference to the annual G3 Conference in Atlanta. Not only was I heavily criticized for the article and sermon—the leaders of the Convention openly denied that it was a real threat. Here we are just a few months later and the entire SBC has officially adopted Resolution 9 – “On Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality.” It’s official—we are encouraged to use these worldly ideologies and philosophies as helpful tools to diagnose and address social ills in a depraved world. The use of such woke tools will not end well for the SBC. We were given an opportunity to stand, and we remained seated. We were given a test on our commitment to the Scriptures and we failed.
The Woke Downgrade
Intersectionality was originally coined in 1989 by Kimberlé Crenshaw, a political activist and radical feminist, in order to describe oppression against women on specific different points of intersection. Today, it’s used in a more broad sense. In short, intersectionality as it has been defined, is discrimination based on overlapping layers of individual classes of discrimination. It’s when a person is subjected to discrimination for more than one classification such as a woman who is black and lesbian. She would classify, under this line of reasoning, for three basic discriminatory marks—being a woman, who is black, and is also a lesbian. According to the definition of intersectionality, where these three marks “intersect” is the focus of her greatest and most severe discrimination which places her at the greatest risk of oppression in our culture.
Although this term was birthed out of a radical feminist postmodern political culture, it’s now being used within evangelical circles to describe people who are oppressed and “held back” from certain advancement within evangelicalism.
We must always remember that words matter and doctrine matters. Therefore, when it comes to the adoption of a resolution using terms like Critical Race Theory and intersectionality, the words in the document must be taken seriously. In the resolution, the following statement is made:
WHEREAS, Critical Race Theory and intersectionality alone are insufficient to diagnose and redress the root causes of the social ills that they identify, which result from sin, yet these analytical tools can aid in evaluating a variety of human experiences, and
If CRT and intersectionality are insufficient alone to diagnose social ills, what about the Scriptures—are they insufficient alone to diagnose social ills? In a day where we’ve already watched the evangelical world attach woke to church—now the SBC has attached woke to the Scriptures.
You cannot attach identity politics to the sufficient Scriptures and still claim to be champions of sufficiency. God’s Word must stand alone. Like a confident lion walking in the afternoon sun on the African plains—it doesn’t need assistance to diagnose and address the social ills of a depraved society. What the SBC did, in passing this resolution, is make a clear statement to the watching world that we believe the Bible is not quite capable of addressing the lived experiences of broken people and may need the assistance of CRT and intersectionality.
When Charles Spurgeon was addressing the compromise among Baptists in England, he penned “The Downgrade in the Churches” where he wrote the following:
A chasm is opening between the men who believe their Bibles and those who are prepared for an advance upon the Scripture. . .The house is being robbed, its very walls are being digged down, but the good people who are in bed are too fond of the warmth. . .to go downstairs to meet the burglars.
When the elect exiles were being pummeled by persecution and severely mistreated by depraved God-haters, Peter didn’t point them to identity politics to diagnose the problem and pursue solutions (1 Peter 1). Instead, Peter pointed people to the sufficient Word of God by quoting the Prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 40:8) in order to encourage them in the faith. We need leaders like Peter in days of confusion, hardship, and a culture filled with devilish ills.
For a Convention that experienced many scars in a lengthy battle for the inerrancy of the Bible, it grieved me as a 42-year old pastor who is a product of the Conservative Resurgence to watch as the SBC voted to adopt a resolution which in many ways denies the sufficiency of Scripture.
The Woke Hermeneutic
As the Baptists in Spurgeon’s day spiraled downward, he could see that the issue was fundamentally based upon their lack of commitment to the Word of God. In his work on the Downgrade, Spurgeon said:
Inspiration and speculation cannot long abide side by side. . .We cannot hold the inspiration of the Word and yet reject it.
The same thing is true regarding the sufficiency of Scripture. Yet, in the resolution that was adopted on CRT and intersectionality—it affirms the sufficiency of Scripture and denies it at the same time. It’s a theological disaster and filled with logical contradictions.
In seminary, pastors learn the science of biblical interpretation (hermeneutics). In other words, how a person approaches the text of Scripture matters. If improper methods are employed, you can make the Bible say all sorts of things that were never intended by the original author. The goal of the biblical interpreter is to rightly handle the biblical text in such a way that the original intent and single meaning of the text is proclaimed and applied to the modern audience. This is essential for biblical scholars, country preachers, urban church planters, and pioneer missionaries.
Many would argue that the SBC has no business arguing over complex ideologies such as CRT and intersectionality. Some people may say, “Let’s stop fighting over semantics and start winning the lost to Christ. The world is dying and going to hell in a hand-basket, and we’re arguing over words and phrases like ‘Critical Race Theory’ and ‘intersectionality.'” To such a response I would say that denominations are dying too. While we’re not called to go and make denominations—we must recognize that denominations can be good tools for cooperating together to make disciples in our commission that comes from Christ himself (Matt. 28:18-20).
However, in order to make disciples, you must be able to rightly deliver the message of the gospel. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17). Therefore, how we handle the Bible matters and when we’re being told that we need new helpful tools to be added to the Bible in order to address the brokenness, sin, injustice, and human depravity within our cities—this is what we call a new hermeneutic.
A denial of sufficiency will open the door to a new hermeneutic and that will always end in disaster. Anytime the text of Scripture is muzzled by subjective experiences of people—the meaning, method, and message will be altered. This is precisely the same broken path traveled by many groups throughout history and in every case, they have all completely capitulated on the authority of God’s Word.
On March 1st 2019, I made a statement on Twitter. As the aggressive push of identity politics continues to invade evangelical circles, I stated:
Intersectionality has convinced many within evangelicalism to:
Replace theology with victimology.
Swap pastors with sociologists.
Trade theologians for political activists.
We will never achieve “reconciliation” and “unity” and “equality” through social justice.
The SBC has made a serious mistake and one that without stern correction will be the tipping point for an already vulnerable and numerically decreasing Convention of churches.
Rushed to vote at the 11th hour due to Convention rules that would not permit the SBC from extending the time of business a third time (total time of the two previous extensions was only 15 minutes), the messengers of the 2019 SBC lifted their ballots to officially adopt a resolution that we cannot afford. And that’s how the 2019 SBC concluded.
Just imagine a world where we had a multitude of local churches who actually believed the Bible was sufficient. No pride, injustice, ethnic discrimination, gender oppression, police brutality, sexual abuse, or any other controversy could withstand the faithful preaching of God’s Word. Imagine how women would flourish with their gifts, ethnicities would find unity at the cross, and the gospel would be proclaimed far and wide. I long for that day, but we cannot get there from here. The resolution that was adopted will not lead the SBC in that direction.
When W.A. Criswell stood before the SBC during the heat of the battle of the Conservative Resurgence, in his sermon he told a story as an illustration to the liberals who were questioning the full inerrancy of the Bible among Southern Baptists. He said:
A friend of mine, a teacher, went to the University of Chicago to gain a Ph.D. in pedagogy. While there, he made the friendship of a student in the divinity school. Upon the young theolog’s graduation, the budding preacher said to my teacher friend, quote, “I am in a great quandary. I have been called to the pastorate of a Presbyterian church in the Midwest, but it is one of those old-fashioned Presbyterian churches that believes the Bible. And I don’t believe the Bible, and I don’t know what to do.” My teacher friend replied, “I can tell you exactly what you ought to do.” Eagerly, the young preacher asked, “What?” And my teacher friend replied, “I think that if you don’t believe the Bible, you ought to quit the ministry!”
I would say that those who prefer sociology over Scripture and identity politics over the sufficiency of God’s Word are no friend of the SBC. Such a person should not be permitted to rise among the ranks of SBC leadership or welcomed to pastor an SBC church.
I conclude with the words of Charles Spurgeon who stood courageously during confusing times in his own circle of churches and pointed to the sufficiency of Scripture:
This weapon is good at all points, good for defense and for attack, to guard our whole person or to strike through the joints and marrow of the foe. Like the seraph’s sword at Eden’s gate, it turns every way. You cannot be in a condition that the Word of God has not provided. The Word has as many faces and eyes as providence itself. You will find it unfailing in all periods of your life, in all circumstances, in all companies, in all trials, and under all difficulties. Were it fallible, it would be useless in emergencies, but its unerring truth renders it precious beyond all price to the soldiers of the cross (Sermon: Matthew 4:4).
In recent days, a debate has been resurrected within evangelicalism on whether or not women should preach the Bible to the gathered church. The lines are often divided between complementarianism and egalitarianism. Both are complicated words that contain baggage and differing levels of agreement such as soft and hard complementarianism as an example. However, beyond the interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:12-13 regarding the roles of men and women in the pulpit—how can complementarianism serve to honor the dignity and value of women?
Perhaps the biggest news story involving the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is the sex scandal that has become a black mark upon the Convention. Regardless of where you stand on the issues of the way the news media portrays the complicity of the Convention as a whole—the fact remains that women and girls have been abused and men have abandoned their post as protector and provider. This is nothing short of tragic.
When we examine the the definition of complemenatrianism, if we’re honest with the term itself, it involves more than prohibitions on women serving. It’s far more than a stop sign for women. The word itself defines the position that points to the calling of men to be the leaders of the home and the local church—not based on their physical stature or mental abilities—but based on their calling that’s rooted in creation.
Male headship is not a product of the fall. It’s an aspect of God’s blueprint for his people that predates the fall. When we examine the creation account, we see that Adam was created first and then Eve. It was Adam who was given charge of naming all of the animals (Gen. 2:20) and Adam likewise named Eve—his wife (Gen. 2:23). Adam was given charge to work (another responsibility of man that predates the fall). Adam’s headship was God’s plan and we find the commentary on this in various places in the New Testament—such as Ephesians 5:31 where Paul quotes Genesis 2:24 as he describes the mysterious relationship between Christ and his bride the church. In that passage, Paul drives home the responsibility of the husband to love and lead his wife. Once again, this is not a post-fall responsibility—it predates the fall.
Male leadership is not part of the curse, it’s one of God’s good blessings for the home and the church (see 1 Tim. 3:1-5 and Titus 1). Such a big view of male headship points to the responsibility of providing and protecting women for the glory of God. In other words, mature manhood is based on something beyond how much a person can benchpress or how far a man can run. You may hold a coral belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, be able to bench press 300lbs., climb a mountain, skin a deer, and shoot class 3 weapons like a champ…but if you don’t know how to lead your wife and protect her physically and spiritually—you’re not a biblically mature man.
In many cultures throughout history, in order to be a man, you had to be able to:
Today, that formula has been replaced by the three B’s:
Today’s manhood is often shallow and superficial. It’s based on how you perform sexually, athletically, and financially. Sadly, the world has very low expectations for manhood. We have forgotten what Voddie Baucham calls the four P’s:
As men take their leadership responsibilities seriously—it serves to protect women from abuse both in the physical sphere and the spiritual sphere. Complementarianism serves to protect women from home intruders and spiritual wolves, heretics, and false prophets. This is God’s plan for both the home and the local church—that Spiritual and gifted men would lead in both the physical and spiritual spheres.
We must make sure the whole wide world knows that abusive men are not overly passionate complementarians — they’re not complementarians at all. Such a man has abandoned his post as provider and protector resulting in the abuse of little girls and women.
Ironically, a more patriarchal complementarianism will resonate among a generation seeking stability in a family-fractured Western culture in ways that soft-bellied big-tent complementarianism never can…And it will also address the needs of hurting women and children far better, because it is rooted in the primary biblical means for protecting women and children: calling men to responsibility. Patriarchy is good for women, good for children, and good for families.
Any move away from the mature biblical manhood and male headship in the home and local church is a move that the SBC and our local churches cannot afford. The SBC has traveled that road before and it was not exactly a peaceful journey. May the Lord grant us wisdom and resolve to stand upon the sufficient Word of God as we navigate through these challenges and confusing days.
It was Charles Spurgeon who once said, “Millions have never heard of Jesus. We ought not to ask, ‘Can I prove that I ought to go?’ but, ‘Can I prove that I ought not to go?’”
When it comes to evangelism, we’ve all witnessed methods that are less than God honoring and fueled by emotion, guilt, or pressure to “do something” for God. Such shallow exhortations lead to improper engagement with the souls of people which often produces false converts through emotionally charged presentations of the gospel.
When we read Jesus’ words in Matthew 9:35-38, it should compel us to engage in evangelism, but we also learn some important facts about the harvest that will help us along the journey.
Jesus Had Compassion for the Lost Sheep
As Jesus looked upon the large crowds of people, he had compassion for the lost sheep. He viewed them as “sheep without a shepherd.” The imagery is striking. Sheep are relatively dumb and defenseless animals who need shepherds to lead them or they will walk right into the mouths of predators, off of cliffs, or away from food into desolate land. Jesus could discern their need and as the Savior of sinners and the Great Shepherd—he was filled with compassion for these people.
In a typical day, we go through the motions of our daily lives passing by people in our towns and communities without considering that many of these people are lost sheep who are wandering aimlessly through life as sheep without a shepherd. It would do us well to consider their condition and to show compassion for their souls as Jesus did. Before we will go into our communities with the good news of the gospel—we must first have compassion for unbelievers.
Recognize the Need for the Harvest
Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” When we consider the harvest of our own communities, is this true? Are churches going out into the fields faithfully sharing the gospel? Is your church faithfully sending out laborers into the field? What about you? Are you faithfully going into the fields to share the good news of Jesus? On a micro level this statement is true of most communities in America.
On a macro level—the harvest globally stands in need of laborers. We need faithful church planters and missionaries to go into the fields and engage the unbelieving world with the message of hope. The world is vastly lost with 3.19 billion people unreached with the good news of Christ. That’s a total of 41.6% of planet earth. Before we will send missionaries out from our churches to train pastors in other dark regions of the world, we must first recognize the need for laborers.
When we have true compassion for the lost sheep and when we see the lack of true laborers for the fields—it will cause us to pray earnestly. The word used by Jesus is “δέομαι” which means to passionately request, beg, and in this case—do direct such passionate request to God on behalf of the need in evangelism and missions. What does such praying look like? It’s more than a shallow prayer asking for God to save sinners. It’s an intentional prayer whereby we are praying that the Lord will send out laborers into the fields. Such prayers will include a self examination and an honest question to the Lord about your place in the fields of harvest. Such prayers include a focus upon:
Unreached People Groups
Emphasis Upon Local Churches
When we pray earnestly, it will affect how we view the needs and how we engage in the work of local evangelism and world missions. An earnest prayer will lead to earnest engagement. Our church service begins each week with our pastor of missions and discipleship leading us in prayer for a specific country around the world. We review their statistics and assess their needs. We then pray for the local church in that particular region and ask for the Lord to send out laborers into that field. We ask for the Lord to strengthen the local pastors and encourage them to be steadfast in the faith. In some cases, we pray that God will save someone in that region from which a church will be birthed. It’s our desire to pray earnestly for the work of missions around the world as a gathered church. This is just one means by which we can engage. I would commend this to you as an example for you to consider.
The Harvest Belongs to God
The harvest (θερισμός) is a farming term that refers to the reaping of crops in the field which involves bringing them in from the fields and properly storing them for use or for the markets. This entire process is called the harvest. We must not lose sight of the fact that the harvest belongs to the Lord. Engaging in the work of missions without a confident heart that God will save his people from their sins is to engage in the work of missions from an improper theological foundation. The foundation matters. It matters when building a house and it matters in the work of missions. When people engage the world from a broken theological foundation it results in broken missional models, programs, tactics, and this leads sadly to—false converts. Doctrine matters.
If the harvest belongs to God, we must remember that he will accomplish his mission. If Jesus died for the elect (Eph. 1:3; John 19:30)—he will save his people from their sins (Matt. 1:21). The harvest is not lost. Such knowledge and such a proper theological foundation should lead us to spend more time in prayer rather than less time in prayer. It should result in earnest prayers that the Lord of the harvest will send out laborers into the fields in order that the gospel will be preached and sinners will be saved.
Without the gospel lost people will not be saved (Rom. 10:17). Yet, when the gospel is preached faithfully and laborers are working the fields—God will save his people. The mission will be completed. It is our duty to work the fields faithfully and continue to pray to the Lord of the harvest that he will send out laborers and that he will open blind eyes and save lost sinners for his glory.
How are you personally and how is your church corporately engaging in local evangelism and world missions for God’s glory? You may wonder how you can begin to make changes or improvements in this area and the first steps will include honest and earnest prayer. In his commentary on Matthew 9, J.C. Ryle said:
By prayer we reach Him without whom work and money are alike in vain. We obtain the aid of the Holy Spirit. Money can hire workers. Universities can give learning. Congregations may elect. Bishops may ordain. But the Holy Spirit alone can make ministers of the Gospel, and raise up lay workmen in the spiritual harvest, who need not be ashamed. Never, never may we forget that if we would do good to the world, our first duty is to pray!
In 1989, according to Pew Research Center, approximately 4% of stay-at-home parents were dads who cared for the children and sent their wives off to earn the living for the family. Today, that number stands at 7%. While that may say much about our confusion as a society—the radical feminist will not be satisfied until the ratio of stay-at-home parents is 50/50 across gender lines.
From the beginning God has designed specific roles and responsibilities for men and women in spheres of society, the home, and the church (Gen. 2:18—helper). God placed a specific calling upon men to be workers. Although the immature man views work as an unfortunate distraction to his play—work was never the problem from the beginning. Work, far from a result of the curse, was God’s original design for men. If anything—a lack of moderation in recreation will prove to be a distraction to work.
Not only has today’s society at large lost its moral compass when it comes to the roles and responsibilities of men and women—the church today is likewise struggling to understand these vitally important issues as well. The desire for women to lead men (the egalitarian view) is not a new development.  Such role dysphoria originated in the very first sin in the Garden of Eden (see Genesis 3) and the subsequent curse of the entire world has brought a multiplicity of egalitarian, feminist, and humanist positions that seek to dismantle God’s original design for men and women—boys and girls.
Male headship and biblical submission have been under attack from the very beginning—and that certainly hasn’t changed to this very day. The curse led women to have a desire to rule over their husband and it likewise led the husband to have a sinful desire to dominate his wife. Both are the unbiblical fruit of a broken world where women are abused on a multiplicity of levels.
Male Headship Protects Women from Physical Abuse
The apex of God’s creation was not the majestic mountain ranges of this world nor was it the beauty of star clusters that sparkle in the night’s sky. The crowning jewel of God’s creation was humanity—as God created both male and female (Gen. 1:27). As image bearers—both men and women possess the same amount of the image of God and are created equal in dignity and value of personhood. However, it’s clear from the beginning that God has different roles and responsibilities for men and women. That is God’s creative design—not the bad fruit of the curse of sin (Rom. 5:12).
Our culture loves to abuse women. Our culture loves to abuse women because Satan loves the abuse of women (visible in his attack upon Eve in the Garden). Often, it’s those who promote themselves as advocates for women who lead in the abuse. Feminists do more harm to women than good. Feminists lead in the murder of hundreds of thousands of little baby girls every year through the promotion of abortion.
Feminists likewise promote a militant homosexual agenda that ruins women’s athletic competitions and subjects women to physical brutality. Not only do transgender women (aka – men who are pretending to be women) dominate women in Track & Field competitions, but they likewise brutally defeat women in MMA contests. The fact that we have women entering MMA rings to fight in the first place, is itself a sign of a culture that celebrates the abuse of women.
Fallon Fox (a man who went through gender reassignment surgery to become a woman) entered the MMA ring to fight Tamika Brents. In the first round, Fallon (a man who is pretending to be a woman) brutally knocked out Tamika. It was bloody and brutal. It left Brents with a concussion and a broken skull. In an interview, Tamika Brents stated the following:
I’ve fought a lot of women and have never felt the strength that I felt in a fight as I did that night. I can’t answer whether it’s because she was born a man or not because I’m not a doctor. I can only say, I’ve never felt so overpowered ever in my life and I am an abnormally strong female in my own right… I still disagree with Fox fighting. Any other job or career I say have a go at it, but when it comes to a combat sport I think it just isn’t fair. 
In the United States, we’re debating the issue of drafting women into military combat situations as a result of a federal court’s ruling in Texas, stating that a male only registration for the draft is unconstitutional. Yet, we pride ourselves as a nation in pursuing women’s equality—but does such role equality lead to the abuse of women? To ignore the roles and responsibilities that God has designed for men and women in the culture, the church, and the home is to dishonor God and abuse women.
Male headship is God’s design. Male headship is nothing to blush about. As a part of his creative genius—God designed for men to be the physical leaders. This means, in the home and society, male headship should bring about the protection of women rather than abuse. It’s not the headship role that abuses women, it’s the abuse of the headship role that leads to the abuse of women. Just as guns don’t kill people—people kill people. The same is true regarding God’s design for male headship.
When men lead properly, it will result in the protection of women. For instance, in the home, when a man hears a sound in the middle of the night in the basement—it could be a result of a home invasion or it could be something as simple as the cat knocking over a paint can on the storage shelf. Leadership requires that he gets out of bed to go and check it out. He doesn’t send his wife downstairs to protect him and their children. When it comes to providing for the physical needs of their home, the husband doesn’t send his wife onto the roof to fix the leak when a roofing shingle fails. Men are called to be leaders and this results in the protection of women rather than their abuse.
Paul said in Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” The ultimate example for husbands to follow is Christ. It was Christ who laid down his life for the church. The husband is called to lead with such sacrificial leadership that if necessary—he would lay down his life for his wife. This loving and self-sacrificing leadership results in the protection of women. Women benefit greatly when men act like men.
Christian men must not use their role as the leader to physically abuse their wives. Such abuse must not be tolerated among the household of faith. Loving church discipline must be engaged in the situations where abuse is discovered within the church and men who abuse their wives and refuse to repent must be excommunicated from the church—and where laws are violated the proper authorities must be engaged. Christians must never tolerate the abuse of women.
Male Headship Protects Women from Spiritual Abuse
Male headship serves to protect women from spiritual abuse on two different levels. First, in the home, the husband who leads his wife as God has designed, will see to it that his wife Is not subjected to spiritual abuse. In short, he will lead his wife theologically. Such leadership takes the choosing of a church and Bible study consumption seriously. Far too often, men sit back without the slightest clue as to what is being taught in women’s Bible study circles which is often filled with aberrant theology and mysticism—even among conservative churches. Faithful headship should see the danger of pornography and unbiblical Bible studies. The husband serves as the gatekeeper to the home. In short, the Christian husband should know the difference between Sarah Young and Elizabeth Elliot. He should likewise be able to say no to Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling while at the same time leading his wife to trustworthy sources like Becoming a Titus 2 Woman by Martha Peace. It is the duty of the Christian husband to possess theological awareness and to lead his wife spiritually.
Biblical male headship within the offices of the church serves to protect women from spiritual abuse as well. While there is an ongoing debate on egalitarian and complementarian lines within evangelical circles—God has made it clear that he has called for men to lead in the context of the church. Not only should women not be elders, they should not teach or exercise authority over men. That involves both the office and function of the office (preaching and teaching the Word of God). Tom Schreiner, in a recent Twitter thread said the following:
But if Paul disallows the function and the office, his view says something about what it means to be a man and a woman. His view on men and women isn’t nominalism; it accords with the created order.
As elders lead in the context of the church—it provides an atmosphere that doesn’t allow for deficient theology among women’s Bible study groups or the physical abuse of women by sinful husbands. Not only will faithful elders who take male headship seriously rightly handle God’s Word—when necessary they will look into the eyes of abusive husbands and biblically reprove and correct them—and when necessary excommunicate them. Male leaders serve to protect women and the church should be a place where biblical manhood and womanhood flourish for the glory of God.
When Paul laid out the biblical boundaries for women regarding teaching and authority in the local church (see 1 Tim. 2:12-13), he had more than preaching sermons in mind. It was the total care of the church—including both physical and spiritual protection of men and women, boys and girls. Male headship serves the church spiritually which flows into the every corner and avenue of life—physically, emotionally, professionally, and more. Without the steady anchor of male headship—not only will the spiritual life of the church suffer—but it will open the doors of the church to the feminist agenda which always leads to the abuse of women.
When the church goes through a role dysphoria—it opens offices and pulpits to women who cannot functionally nor biblically fulfill the role of pastor as God designed. Such a dysphoria leads to dysfunction and eventual death. Just because a church has members doesn’t mean it has life nor does it mean that it has the blessings of God upon it.
Local churches make up denominations. From the spring of local churches flow educational institutions (Bible colleges and seminaries). From educational institutions come local church pastors. This cycle must not be overlooked. The egalitarian ideas and methodologies that are being promoted through a militant social justice agenda are dangerous. Such views must be exposed by the bright light of Scripture and avoided for the glory of God and the good of our churches and denominations.
Egalitarianism — The opposite of complementarianism. The egalitarianism view suggests that God created both male and female equal in personhood and dignity as image bearers. As a result of this equality—there should be zero role and responsibility distinctions that prevent women from doing anything men do in society, the church, and the home.
Fallon Fox is a MMA athlete who identifies as a woman. See the details of the brutal TKO of Tamika Brents here.
Yesterday I had the privilege of preaching Romans 8:26-27 as we continue to walk through the eighth chapter of Romans. The text is centered upon the subject of prayer and Paul explains how the Spirit of God helps us in our weakness.
Prayer is one of those subjects that goes unaddressed by many pastors and consequentially it becomes ignored by many believers. Bad habits often continue on from a child through adulthood without being corrected. This can lead to severe problems regarding the spiritual walk of a believer along with an ongoing pattern that’s passed on from one generation to another.
Consider the prayer life of James, the half brother of Jesus. He became a follower of Christ after Jesus’ resurrection and rose to the leadership role of the church in Jerusalem. He was martyred for his faith in Christ, yet, what we often don’t hear about James is that he was a prayer warrior. He was known by many as “camel knees” since he spent so much time on his knees they were rough and tough like that of an old camel.
Another man that we learn a great lesson from in church history is George Muller. He loved the orphans and cared for thousands of them during his lifetime—however, it was his relentless prayer life that propelled his ministry forward. George Muller once said, “I have joyfully dedicated my whole life to the object of exemplifying how much may be accomplished by prayer and faith.”
According to Romans 8:26, we are weak. Often we pride ourselves in our strength or we live life remembering how strong we once were in the past. We think that if we really worked hard, we could get back to that level again when in all reality it’s simply not possible. Perhaps you remember the days when you once lifted weights or competed in various athletic disciplines. To decline physically is considered normal, but it’s the exact opposite spiritually. So, why do we think about our Christian life in the same way? We think about how we once memorized verses of Scripture, searched the pages of the Bible soaking up the doctrine, and longed to pray to the Lord. But, over time that pattern declined and today your spiritual life parallels your physical life – both are in a state of decline.
According to Paul we are weak and stand in need of the help of the Spirit of God. When we don’t know how to pray, the Spirit of God helps us! This is one of the unique roles of the Spirit of God—as helper he brings us to a place of prayer and encourages us to remain steadfast in the faith during seasons of difficulty and challenging trials. Leon Morris observes, “It is not only that we do not pray very well; it is also the case that, while we often think we know what we need, we are not always good judges of that either.” 
The Spirit of God not only helps us in our weakness, but he intercedes for us in prayer. In other words, the Spirit of God prays for God’s children. When we read the Bible, we find that Paul and Moses struggled in prayer at times, so none of us can pray a perfect prayer. However, the Spirit of God prays with perfection. The third person of the Trinity praying to the first person of the Trinity without the slightest error or sinful motive. This should be of great joy to our hearts. John Knox once said, “Our needs go far beyond the power of our speech to express them.”
Paul says the Spirit groans in our hearts. John Murray explains that the groanings “are the intercessions of the Spirit and the groanings are but the way in which these intercessions are registered in the hearts of God’s children.”  As the Father searches the heart (vs. 27), he receives the prayers of the Spirit that are registered in our hearts. The Spirit of God knows what we need and he likewise prays in complete union with the Father.
When we pray, we often conclude our prayers by saying, “if it be your will.” The Spirit of God has no need to conclude his prayers in such manner. He prays in complete unity with the Father and knows the will of the Father before he prays. In other words, the Spirit prays in complete perfection unlike us in our weakness.
Life magazine photographer, Cornell Capa, once asked Elisabeth Elliot if she was fearful to go live with the Aucas after they had killed Jim. The photographer was asking her if she was concerned that God would not answer her prayer for safety since he didn’t answer her prayer for Jim’s safety. Her answer came back without hesitation: “I prayed for the protection of Jim, that is, physical protection. The answer the Lord gave transcended what I had in mind. He gave protection from disobedience and through Jim’s death accomplished results the magnitude of which only Eternity can show.”
Remember in your weakness to have confidence that the Spirit of God is near and he will help you to pray. Whatever you do—don’t neglect your prayer life.
Congratulations on your recent graduation. You have put in long hours, hard work, and now you find yourself on the precipice of a summer of fun as you look forward to the next step toward adulthood (and not to spoil your fun this summer, but adulting is hard work too).
As you make your plans for the next step in your journey of life, pause for a moment and consider the words of a wise man who once said these words:
Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck. My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent (Proverbs 1:8–10).
Whatever you have planned for the future, remember the words of Solomon. In his own words, he had walked down the pathway of rebellion in this world and tasted of sin. In his own words it was “vanity of vanities” and a wasted life (Ecc. 1).
Over the course of your life, you’ve been warned, lectured, taught, prayed over, counseled, disciplined, and given directions by your mother and father. Don’t despise your training in righteousness—it was and remains for your good.
When you cross paths with people who lack restraint and love rebellion remember your father’s instruction. When you find yourself being tempted to sin and to rebel against your God, remember your mother’s teaching. The season of instruction, teaching, and many prayers around the supper table were not just for formality. They were to prepare you for the season you find yourself entering now. The time spent in the living room reading the Bible was not just to keep you from your video games or your text conversations with your friends. It had a purpose and that purpose was to prepare you for today.
Today you are preparing to leave home. You’re preparing to take the next steps in life and that can be quite intimidating at times. Never forsake the Word of God that was taught to you and that has the ability not only to convert your soul but to lead you and guide you down the path of righteousness (Ps. 119:105; 2 Tim. 3:14-17).
Soon enough you will find yourself crossing paths with a specific crowd of people who love sin and walk down the pathway of rebellion (Prov. 5). They might invite you to join their party. As you evaluate them closely, you will not find the graceful garland or pendants upon them that are marks of God’s Word and the faithful instruction of parents who have loved them and spent time with them in the sacred Scriptures. You should be able to spot such temptation by now. It should appear as bright as a red barn in a massive lush green field. Stand firm (Eph. 6:10-18).
Make sure that you follow the path of righteousness and that you keep your eye on the end goal as you journey on in the faith. Don’t be enticed by the trappings of Vanity Fair—be like Christian in The Pilgrim’s Progress who was fixed on the exit to the wicked city when he entered.
According to statistics—most teenagers leave their church when they leave their parent’s home. Sure they return to visit mom and dad, but they leave church behind. Don’t make that mistake. Remember that the church is God’s will for your life. It does not matter what your plans are from this point forward—keep the local church at the center of your life. No small group Bible study or YouTube playlist can suffice. You need the church (Eph. 4:11-16). You need pastors who will love you and shepherd your soul. Don’t despise their authority (Heb. 13:17). All of those Sunday mornings, evening services, and midweek prayer meetings were not so that you could have more friends or keep membership in a religious club. It was for the good of your soul. You didn’t memorize Bible verses to earn patches on a vest. It was to prepare you for today.
Remember your father’s instruction and your mother’s teaching did not originate with them (2 Tim. 3:16). The wisdom they shared with you and the counsel they provided you through the years came from God’s Word. Keep a warm heart and committed focus upon the Scriptures. It was Jonathan Edwards, who at a young age, penned these words in his list of Resolutions:
Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.
You might have gone through a season where you thought you knew more than your parents—but soon enough that season will come to an abrupt close. When you soon juggle insurance, mortgage payments, tax deadlines, maintenance on your home and vehicle, balancing your checkbook, and a hundred other things your parents do each day—your respect level will grow for them for sure. However, in all of your getting in life—get wisdom and instruction from the Lord.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, Get insight (Proverbs 4:7).
Remember your parents. They love you.
Remember your Lord—He has loved you with a love that is unbelievable.
Remember you need the church.
Remember to not waste your life.
Remember to do everything for the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31)!
Remember to love the Lord with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30)!
When Molly Marshall served as the associate dean of the school of theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky she held to unbiblical positions that transcended to a far higher level than her egalitarianism. Upon being forced to resign due to her theological liberalism that contradicted the Bible and the governing documents of the institution, at a candlelight vigil on April 18th 1995, Molly Marshall stated, “The school of theology is without a tenured woman and probably will be as long as the misogynistic forces are unabated.” While we’ve come so far within the SBC, for many, we’ve been moving in the wrong direction. According to Beth Moore:
I am compelled to my bones by the Holy Spirit – I don’t want to be but I am -to draw attention to the sexism & misogyny that is rampant in segments of the SBC, cloaked by piety & bearing the stench of hypocrisy. There are countless godly conservative complementarians. So many.
In May of 2016, I penned an article titled, “Why Your Pastor Should Say ‘No More’ to Beth Moore” where I communicated several concerns that should be taken seriously regarding Beth Moore’s ministry. Today, I’m publishing a sequel to that article that focuses on why the Southern Baptist Convention should cease partnership with Beth Moore’s ministry on any official level—which would include the ERLC, LifeWay, and local churches who make up the SBC. As I begin, I want to be clear that this is not intended to be a hit piece on Beth Moore personally. I’m sure she’s a great mother, wife, and friend to many people, but her ministry, beliefs, and ideas are problematic and must not be overlooked.
The SBC and Doctrinal Fidelity
Years ago, the Southern Baptist Convention took a plunge into the abyss of liberal theology. During those days, professors were teaching post-mortem salvation opportunities at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. The story of the SBC is one that is quite shocking and a testimony of God’s sovereign mercy. No denomination has ever returned from the abyss of liberal theology with a bright resurgence like the SBC. The story of the Conservative Resurgence (although not without imperfection) is something that all Southern Baptist churches should not forget.
While the SBC has certainly been rescued from theological liberalism—at some point the SBC has become a slave to pragmatism. Sadly, whatever works often trumps what the Bible actually says. This leads people, institutions, and entire denominations away from doctrinal purity. Over time, the SBC learned that a partnership with Beth Moore would be a good decision both pragmatically (due to her popularity among women) and financially (primarily through LifeWay). No amount of financial benefit should warrant a blind eye to Beth Moore’s theological deficiencies.
Charismatic Associations and Gifts
Beth Moore has become more visibly aligned with groups of people who do not align with the convictions and theological positions of the SBC. For instance, in early 2017, Beth Moore was the keynote preacher at a large charismatic conference where she said, “We are settling for woefully less than what Jesus promised us,” She went on to say, “I read my New Testament over and over. I’m not seeing what He [Jesus] promised. I’m unsettled and unsatisfied.” She likewise communicated, “I want holy fire!” The evening ended with many pastors and conference attendees running to the altar where they laid prostrate on the floor weeping and praying for more than an hour. While that may be a mild example, she has likewise appeared on TBN with Joyce Meyer and worshipped in Joel Osteen’s church. The apostle Paul stated plainly that we were to warn the church and avoid those who cause division (Rom. 16:17). Beth Moore chooses to partner with heretics which is a problem the SBC should avoid.
According to the Baptist Faith & Message 2000, the SBC embraces a clear teaching of justification by faith alone in Christ alone. According to Article IV. B., “Justification is God’s gracious and full acquittal upon principles of His righteousness of all sinners who repent and believe in Christ. Justification brings the believer unto a relationship of peace and favor with God.” That is not the position of the Roman Catholic Church which has been denying the material principle of the Reformation (justification by faith alone) for centuries. According to the RCC:
If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema (Council of Trent, Canons on Justification, Canon 9).
Within her teaching ministry, Beth Moore has referred to Roman Catholics as her “brothers and sisters” in Christ. In one video from 2002, Beth Moore stated that God gave her a vision of the unity that God was building among various denominations in which she included both Catholics and charismatics. This ecumenical view of other faiths is problematic and weakens the SBC as a whole. As the SBC looks into the future, it should be obvious that a clear stance on justification by faith alone must be embraced, guarded, and proclaimed. Not only should the SBC be clear on justification, but other doctrinal distinctives must be maintained as well. Unfortunately, many people view distinctives as restrictive or even judgmental in nature. This negative view of doctrinal clarity often leads to the capitulation of God’s Word. Is the SBC interested in remaining in a specific theological lane or is the Convention interested in moving toward a more broad or mainstream protestant position?
The SBC and Women Preachers
When Molly Marshall was serving as a pastor of a local Baptist church, she recounts an incident when the little boys and girls in the church had a disagreement during children’s church. The disagreement was over whether or not little boys could be the preacher when they were “playing church”—to which a children’s worker had to correct the little girls by telling them that the little boys can be preachers too. Molly Marshall stated that the little girls had witnessed her as their example and this was key to their development which is why Marshall believes we develop a specific worldview and read the Bible through that particular lens regarding the roles and responsibilities of women within the church.
In 2017 Barna Research Group pointed out that there was a rise in the number of women pastors. According to their study, “One of every 11 Protestant pastors is a woman—triple as many as 25 years ago.” In a new statistical analysis, “State of Clergywomen in the U.S.: A Statistical Update” the numbers indicate that within “most Mainline denominations, the percentage of clergywomen has doubled or tripled since 1994.”
Dr. Albert Mohler who serves as the president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has recently weighed in on this issue of complementarianism in an answer to a question during an “Ask Anything” podcast where he stated the following:
If you look at the denominations where women do the preaching, they are also the denominations where people do the leaving. I think there’s just something about the order of creation that means that God intends for the preaching voice to be a male voice.
While the mainline protestant denominations continue to shift toward an egalitarian position, this movement demonstrates an uptick across the board. When adding totals from American Baptist Churches USA, Disciples of Christ, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Episcopal Church, the United Church of Christ and United Methodist denominations, the numbers indicate 32 percent of clergy from those denominations in 2017. Compare the most recent percentage total (32%) with numbers from 1994 (15%) and 1977 (2.3%) and the trend is easy to follow. The numbers reveal an explosive growth of women serving in the office of pastor.
With the rise of the #MeToo movement, Beth Moore became the focus of many conversations within the Southern Baptist Convention mostly because of her article titled, “A Letter to My Brothers” which was written a few weeks before the SBC gathered in Dallas, Texas in June of 2018. Since then, she has been very outspoken on issues that we can all agree are problematic such as misogyny, sexism, and discrimination against women. However, is preventing women from preaching the Bible oppressive?
Victimology has replaced theology beneath the banner of social justice. To play the victim card in our culture today is like playing the ace of spades in a card game. The victim approach to ladder climbing is both politically correct and extremely powerful. The social justice movement, unfortunately, places a clear reading of 1 Timothy 2-3 and the roles of women that are rooted in creation within the category of misogyny. Beth Moore has clearly twisted the Scriptures and used the social justice movement to fuel her agenda. Suddenly, anyone who speaks out against her and this progressive deconstructionist trend are shouted down and labeled as misogynists.
Not only did Beth Moore take to Twitter to taunt her opposition on these matters in recent days, she likewise took to the pulpit in a SBC church on Mother’s Day to exercise her perceived privilege and calling as a preacher and teacher of God’s Word. Will Beth Moore mobilize her partnerships with Russell Moore (president of the ERLC) and her open door to the churches of the SBC through her ongoing LifeWay publishing agreement to shift the SBC toward an egalitarian position? Will her supporters within the SBC ignore the Bible and cite the mainstream protestant trends while demanding that we need to get up-to-date with the times? What the future holds for the SBC on such issues is uncertain, but if the positions of current leadership such as J.D. Greear and Russell Moore is any indication—it would not be out of the question to see a woman elected as a vice president or even presidential role in the upcoming years. Such a move would press the SBC down a progressive path through a top-down influence upon the local churches of the SBC.
The Russian journalist and philosopher Fyodor Dostoevsky made the famous statement, “If there is no God, then everything is permissible.” This is true, but the problem with this line of thinking is that there is a God and he has established boundaries and hierarchies, and this goes for both the culture, home, and his church. To tamper with God’s design is to go to war with God himself. Beth Moore has made herself very clear on large theological and methodological positions and for that reason, it would be wise for the SBC to be clear where the denomination stands. If Dr. Mohler is accurate in his evaluation, if denominations where women do the preaching are also denominations where people do the leaving—it would be detrimental to the SBC to follow this trend. We must remember, this is not just about losing people—it’s dangerous to find yourself on the opposing side of God on any issue as Israel learned in 1 Samuel 4:21.
The SBC is not charismatic. The SBC is not egalitarian. To say so is not divisive nor is it misogynistic. It’s time for the SBC to say “no more” to Beth Moore.