woman preachersNote: All characters appearing in this post are fictitious.

A married woman with two children, ages 9, 13 by the name of Brenda Maxwell is a prominent member of First Baptist Church Big in a large metropolitan area. She is a very gifted communicator with a vibrant, charismatic personality. For quite some time she had been contemplating how she could use her gifts of communication and connecting with people in a greater way in the church. One evening, she read a verse of scripture which says, “But every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven” (I Corinthians 11:5). As she was reading the passage in I Corinthians, she remembered that the prophetess Deborah was one of the Judges of Israel. She quickly turned to the Book of Judges and read, “Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. She used to sit under the palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the people of Israel came up to her for judgment” (Judges 4:4-5). Brenda meditated upon the verses for a few days and came to the conclusion that God was speaking to her about starting a Sunday School class. She approached her husband Kevin with the idea, and he was predictably enthusiastic about the idea. He responded, “I know of no one who is a more gifted communicator, and people always respond so positively to you!” With that, she had her answer. God had told her to teach a Sunday School class in the church.  With her husband’s support, she requested a meeting with her pastor, a well-known man who had served in a number of high-profile positions in the Baptist denomination. When she told him about the task to which she believed God was calling her, he responded with great affirmation and excitement. He said, “I’ve known this was coming for a long time. I knew that the Lord was calling you to do something like that!” He continued, “The next Sunday School quarter starts in three weeks, and the teachers are already in place, however, I see no reason why we can’t go ahead and start the class next quarter.” He suggested that she begin by forming a class for women who were not currently attending Sunday School. Brenda Maxwell agreed, and was excited about her new assignment.  She told the pastor that she would like to do a study on the subject of spiritual gifts, and he agreed. She went home, began studying diligently, and contacted women who were not involved in a Sunday School class.

Three weeks later, at the beginning of the new Sunday School quarter, the new class began.  All the preparations had been made, the people contacted, and a large number of students were present for the first class.  By all accounts, the class went very well and everyone was pleased.  The new teacher was pleased with the crowd and her teaching.  The class was pleased and excited to be taught the Bible by such a gifted communicator, and the pastor was pleased about a large number of new Sunday School members.  “Why didn’t we do this a long time ago?” the people asked.  Word quickly began to spread throughout the church about this wonderful new teacher, Brenda Maxwell.

The new Ladies Sunday School class was seemingly going well when one day after church, the husband of one of the ladies in the class said, “I’m just not happy with my class.  Brother Smith is a good man, but I’m just not being fed. I hear you talk every week about what a wonderful teacher Brenda Maxwell is, and I was wondering if it would be alright if I attended your class?” The wife said, “I don’t see why not,” and the following Sunday the man was seated on the back row of Brenda’s class. When Brenda saw the man in her class she said, “You know that this class is for women,” but the man said that he was just “sitting in,” and to pay no attention to him. Brenda thought, “well, I can’t stop him from sitting in” and continued with the teaching. The man was so impressed with Brenda and her teaching that he began to encourage other men in the church to attend the class.

The next Sunday, an overflow crowd of men and women attended the class. Some of the men hurried about looking for extra chairs to accommodate all of the new students.  Brenda, although nervous, was excited about the large crowd and reasoned that the men were not there because she had invited them. The new attendees left the classroom testifying about Brenda’s insight into the Bible and how that they were “being fed” through her teaching.

The pastor soon received word about what was taking place in Brenda’s class and, though not yet in panic mode, was somewhat concerned. He and Brenda had agreed that she would teach a ladies class, but now both men and women were attending the class. The pastor requested a meeting with Brenda and her husband. During the meeting the pastor expressed his concerns that the class was to be for ladies only and he also expressed his concern that according to I Timothy 2:11-12 women were not to teach or have authority over men. Brenda explained that while she did not necessarily agree that the I Timothy passage was applicable in this situation, she noted that she did not invite or encourage the men to attend her class and also indicated that she was under his authority as pastor and willing to accept whatever remedy he prescribed. Appreciative of her attitude, the pastor told Brenda and her husband that he would like a couple of days to think about the matter and get back with her. The pastor was now faced with a dilemma: Brenda’s class was now the largest and most popular at First Baptist Big. The class had attracted a number of new members and Sunday School attendance was significantly higher since the class began. If he insisted that only women could attend Brenda’s class, it could cause a serious schism in the church. The pastor determined that he would call a special staff meeting to deal with this potentially volatile situation in the church.

The staff of FBCB assembled for staff meeting not knowing what to expect. Staff meetings of this type were rare and they usually meant that a serious problem needed to be addressed.  The pastor explained the situation to them and asked each of them for their opinion. Some opinions were more practical than biblical. One staff member opined, “Pastor, you can’t put the milk back into the bottle. If you insist that men cannot attend Brenda’s class, we will have a mutiny or even a church split on our hands.” However, the majority of the staff argued that the Bible does not prohibit a woman from teaching men, but only from serving in the role of pastor. They argued that there are too many biblical occurrences of women teaching men to prohibit Brenda from teaching men in a Sunday School class. The pastor, though he still had concerns, agreed to let the class continue.

After a while, word began to spread about the teaching ministry of Brenda Maxwell at FBCB. She began to accept invitations to speak at other churches and associational functions and although the meetings were advertised as ladies meetings, men would usually be in attendance.  Brenda believed that God was using her, but sensed that He was calling her to do more. After a season of prayer, Brenda announced that God had spoken to her to begin a full-time public teaching ministry. Of course, Brenda said that her calling was to teach women, but if men attended her meetings she could not control their actions. After all, she reasoned, she was under the authority of her husband and her church, and neither had issues with her stated call. Brenda’s ministry became very successful and she was away from the home for long periods of time. She regretted spending much less time at home as a wife and mother, but assured herself that her husband and her oldest child could handle matters at home. After all, God had spoken to her and she was fulfilling His call.

One Sunday, the pastor at FBCB announced that in three weeks he would be preaching at an important denominational meeting and asked that the church pray for him. One of the deacons approached him and said, “Pastor, have you thought about asking Brenda Maxwell to fill in for you while you are away?” The pastor replied, “No, but I will consider it.”  The pastor had some concerns, but thought about the staff meeting where it had been decided that as long as Brenda was not a pastor it was acceptable for her to speak to a mixed congregation. The pastor asked Brenda to substitute for him and now she often fills the pulpit in his absence. Brenda Maxwell continues to speak to mixed crowds to this day.

In addition to her public speaking ministry, Brenda Maxell has become a prolific author. Her books and Bible studies are among the best-selling books published and distributed by NewLife Book Stores. Although many concerned Christians have expressed their concerns to NewLife about the unbiblical teaching in her books, NewLife executives have chosen to continue selling her materials. Recently, Brenda posted on her blog that she is sad about all of the “heresy hunting.”

Where did the pastor go wrong? He clearly violated the timeless theological principle of I Timothy 2:11-12 regarding the God-ordained roles for men and women that are to be observed in the home, the order of Christian worship, and in church government. He violated the clear command of Scripture that women are not permitted to teach or have authority over men, but are to have a quiet and teachable spirit, graciously submitting to the authority God has given them. Rather than correcting the problem, he exacerbated it via the means of justification and pragmatism. Because he led his church to act unbiblically, the action can most likely never be undone under his leadership. As a result, Brenda Maxwell is occupying a role that God never intended for her. Robert L. Dabney wrote:

A few years ago the public preaching of women was universally condemned among all conservative denominations of Christians, and, indeed, within their bounds, was totally unknown.  Now the innovation is brought face to face. . . and female preachers are knocking at our doors. We are told that public opinion is so truckling before the boldness and plausibility of their claims that ministers of our own communion begin to hesitate, and men hardly know whether they have the moral courage to adhere to the right.[1]

Paul was unequivocal in his letter to Timothy that women were not to teach or assume authorityover men, but they were to recognize and adhere to the God-given roles of men and women in the home, the church’s public worship, and in church government (2 Timothy 2:8 – 3:14) as well as the God-ordained subordinate position of women in the order of creation (Genesis 2:21-24). Therefore, it should also be concluded that, in addition to concerns about her doctrine, Brenda Maxwell is operating outside of the biblical mandate of I Timothy 2:11-15, I Corinthians 14:34-35, and Titus 2:4-5.

 

[1] B.B. Warfield, Robert L. Dabney, and Geoffrey Thomas, Women Speaking in the Church: What Does the Scripture Say?, Michael Gaydosh, ed.  (Vestavia Hills, Alabama: Solid Ground Christian Books, 2014), 4.

    A Reading List For 2015

    January 7, 2015 — 1 Comment

    booksGene Veith said, “One thing, however is certain: Reading can never die out among Christians. This is because the whole Christian revelation centers around a Book.” Serious reading is a lost discipline.  There is no shortage of distractions to keep us from reading.  We can tweet, text, and email away our lives without giving any time to God and His Word or cultivating the discipline of reading good books.  Thoreau said, “Read the best books first or you may not have a chance to read them at all.”  The books on my 2015 reading list may not be the best books, but they are good books and I they will be a blessing to you.

     

    THEOLOGY

    A Summary of Christian Doctrine – Louis Berkhof

    The Cross of Christ – John R.W. Stott

    Recovering a Covenantal Heritage: Essays in Baptist Covenant Theology – Richard C. Barcellos

    Contemplations on the Historical Passages of the Old and New Testaments – Joseph Hall

    BIOGRAPHY

    Living By Revealed Truth:  The Life and Pastoral Theology of Charles Haddon Spurgeon

    41: A Portrait of My Father – George W. Bush

    Thomas Cromwell: The Untold Story of Henry VIII’s Most Faithful Servant – Tracy Borman

    PHILOSOPHY/CULTURE/CHRISTIAN THOUGHT

    The Christian Mind: How should a Christian think? – Harry Blamires

    Christ and Culture – H. Richard Niebuhr

    PASTORAL MINISTRY

    The Christian Ministry – Charles Bridges

    SPIRITUAL GROWTH

    The Mortification of Sin – John Owen

    The Gospel for The People: Sixty Short Sermons for Personal, Family, or Corporate Worship – Charles H. Spurgeon

    BAPTIST CONFESSIONS OF FAITH

    A Modern Exposition of the 1689 Confession of Faith – Sam Waldron

    EVANGELISM

    The Gospel Call & True Conversion – Paul Washer

     

      David DockeryOn December 9, 2013, David Dockery, President of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee announced his intention to step down from the presidency and assume the role of chancellor (in an honorary role) no later than July 2014.  In his farewell address, Dockery said that he intends to participate more in the Manhattan Declaration project which purports to be a movement of Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical Christians for life, marriage, and religious liberty.  Upon the issuance of the Manhattan Declaration, many religious leaders, including many high-profile Southern Baptists, were asked to sign the document.  Besides Dockery, other notable Southern Baptist signatories include the ultra-ecumenical Timothy George, Dean of the Beeson School of Divinity and, of course, the Pope-praising Russell Moore, President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.  While it is no surprise that Dockery, George, and Moore signed the document, Southern Baptists may be surprised to learn that two SBC seminary presidents, Albert Mohler of Southern Seminary and Danny Akin of Southeastern Seminary also affixed their signatures to the Manhattan Declaration.  While the contributions of Dockery, Mohler, and Akin are appreciated, Southern Baptist are asking why their leaders continue to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers by signing documents such as the infamous Evangelicals and Catholics Together, and The Manhattan Declarationand participate with organizations such as the Evangelical Immigration Tablefunded by socialist financier George Soros.

      Notable evangelicals such as John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, Michael Horton, and Alistair Begg refused to affix their signatures to the declaration.  While these men affirm the document’s opposition to same-sex marriage, abortion, separation of church and state, and other moral issues, they could not sign it because it identifies Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Evangelicals as Christians.  MacArthur, in explaining why he did not sign the statement wrote:

       Instead of acknowledging the true depth of our differences, the implicit assumption (from the start of the document until its final paragraph) is that Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Protestant Evangelicals and others all share a common faith in and a common commitment to the gospel’s essential claims. The document repeatedly employs expressions like “we [and] our fellow believers”; “As Christians, we . . .”; and “we claim the heritage of . . . Christians.” That seriously muddles the lines of demarcation between authentic biblical Christianity and various apostate traditions.  The Declaration therefore constitutes a formal avowal of brotherhood between Evangelical signatories and purveyors of different gospels. That is the stated intention of some of the key signatories, and it’s hard to see how secular readers could possibly view it in any other light. Thus for the sake of issuing a manifesto decrying certain moral and political issues, the Declaration obscures both the importance of the gospel and the very substance of the gospel message.

      Indeed, the Eastern Orthodox Church and the RCC are purveyors of a different gospel.  The Apostle Paul, writing to the church at Galatia declared that false teachers who preach another gospel are to be accursed (Galatians 1:1-9).  Writing to the church at Ephesus, Paul commanded them to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them” (Ephesians 5:11).

      R.C. Sproul wrote, “ I have dear friends in the ministry who have signed this document, and my soul plummeted when I saw their names.”  Surely, the souls of many Southern Baptists plummeted when they saw that Dr. Dockery, who has provided exemplary leadership to Union University, pledged to devote more of his time to the Manhattan Declaration project.  They were further disheartened when they saw the names of Akin, Coppenger, Draper, George, Graham, Moore, Mohler, Perkins and Platt associated with a document recognizing false teachers as orthodox Christians.

      Southern Baptists are calling upon their leadership to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness” and to disavow any involvement now, or in the future, with any ecumenical associations such as the Manhattan Declaration, the Evangelical Immigration Table, and Evangelicals and Catholics Together which compromises the gospel, dilutes the witness of the Christian church and confuses a proper understanding of the true gospel among unbelievers.

        Dr. Russell Moore

        Dr. Russell Moore

        In recent days, the term “family values” has taken a beating.  In response to the recent Supreme Court decisions on same-sex marriage, ERLC President Dr. Russell Moore wrote, “Regardless of what happens with marriage, the gospel doesn’t need “family values” to flourish. In fact, it often thrives when it is in sharp contrast to the cultures around it.”  This sparked a useful and friendly email exchange in which one of our elders, Paul Haines, addressed the topic with some of our young men.  With his permission, I have compiled his email correspondence into a post in which addresses some his concerns with Dr. Moore’s article.

        Paul Haines

        Paul Haines

        While there are some good things that Moore said, there are a couple of issues I have with Moore’s article. I will limit it currently to the “family values” issue, since this is what you sent to me.  While I do not believe that “Family Values” is the gospel by any stretch of the imagination, “Family Values” are very important and should not be downplayed.

        Continue Reading…

          The article below is written by Bro. Earl Blackburn, Senior Pastor at Heritage Baptist Church in Shreveport, Louisiana.

          Bro. Earl is the author of Covenant Theology: A Baptist DistinctiveJesus Loves the Church and So Should You, John Chrysostom, contributed to the book Denominations or Associations, and numerous periodicals including The Founder’s Journal, Reformation Today, and Banner of Truth, and has authored several booklets published by Reformed Baptist Publications including Covenant Theology: A Reformed Baptist Overview, Unconditional Election, Why You Should Join A Church, and Which Church Should You Join.

          A slightly edited version of this article is scheduled to appear in the March 14 edition of the Baptist MessageIt is posted here, by permission, in its entirety.

          Continue Reading…

            In 2005, Dr. Joe Aguillard was named the eighth president of Louisiana College (LC).  In his eight years at LC, a football team has been reestablished, a football stadium has been built, and graduate programs have been established including what many consider to the be the crown jewel of Louisiana College, the Caskey School of Divinity.  Established in 2010, the Caskey School allows men preparing for the ministry the opportunity to obtain a world-class theological education at no cost to the student.  Indeed, Louisiana Baptists are thankful that a once-proud institution that had fallen into the hands of theological liberals has reestablished her conservative and biblical theological underpinnings.  However, this God-ordained prosperity is now threatened by an untimely and unnecessary division.

            Continue Reading…