This week, many across the body of Christ have been deeply impacted by the reports of a response made by John MacArthur at the “Truth Matters Conference”. When asked to respond to the name Beth Moore, his initial comment was simply, “Go home!” His comment did not end with that. As was shared by Charisma News, his comments about Beth Moore, Paula White, and women in ministry was so severe that an outcry has been made by many seeking an apology from MacArthur.
What’s shocking to me as a current Divinity student at one of the nation’s top Christian Universities, is hearing his comment, “There is no case that can be made biblically for a woman preacher.” I may not have 50 years of preaching history or the depth of a scholarly pedigree as Dr. MacArthur has obtained, but there are a few things I have learned in the course of my life.
The Body of Christ: Preach
We can look at both the Hebrew and the Greek words for preach and they both mean the same thing: to call, to name, to proclaim, and to publish. Whether looking at the Old Testament or the New Testament, you will find many examples of preaching. In looking at the New Testament specifically, we find the woman that Jesus met at the well proclaims the gospel or good news of Jesus in her community. This is after He told her of the living water that He possessed and wished to share with her. If it were not for the women who went to the tomb on the third day, no one would ever have known that Jesus rose. This is no insignificant moment in the Gospel accounts.
The further comment by MacArthur regarding the Church being pressured by feminists and women in ministry simply want power goes contrary to Paul the Apostle, when he acknowledged that in the Kingdom, “There’s neither male nor female...” (see Galatians 3:27-29) Paul’s statement speaks to there being no distinction in sonship or being an heir in Christ. We’re not just co-heirs, we’re co-laborers. There’s no indication in scripture that when Paul identifies the five-fold gifts, that they are only for men. In fact, in Acts 18:24-28 we see both Priscilla and Aquila expound in greater depth the word to Apollos. By Dr. MacArthur’s own writings on preaching, expounding is the essence of preaching.
Wounds From The Church
I share all this, not only as a rebuff of what MacArthur has said. The greater issue at hand is the wounding that such comments have on the Body of Christ. Such archaic dogma does not promote freedom, or release the body of Christ into wholeness or the full maturity that is to be found in the Kingdom. It only serves to alienate, and lacerate the hearts of women; whom like their male fellow servants have heeded the call of God to do His will.
The whole body is needed and Paul again makes this clear that no part of the body of Christ can say that it has no need for another part of the body of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 12). While these are not the exact words of Dr. MacArthur, it is not too much of a stretch for anyone to surmise that the inference is there. How many people would not have found Christ or accepted scripture had it not been for women? How many churches would have closed if not for women? To say that a woman has no place in the pulpit is as harmful as the stinking thinking that said a woman’s place is to be barefoot and pregnant.
The Body of Christ: Final Words
These self-inflicting wounds that ministry leaders unleash on the body of Christ must not go uncontested or unnoticed. If allowed to fester, the harm to the generations of saints to come might be catastrophic. As pastors and under-shepherds, it is imperative that care is given to all. It’s my prayer that this event opens up a greater dialogue among the body of Christ. I pray we see and give attention to the freedom that we are to manifest for the world to see. Thus, it distinguishes God’s Kingdom from the ways of the world. It’s my hope that repentance would be made by men who hold fast to “stinking thinking”. Additionally, women can find it within themselves to not harden their hearts from forgiveness. Finally, I pray women don’t allow harsh words to silence their voices because, right now, they are needed the most.