"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Russ Moore, Women, and Preaching a False Gospel

In light of the report that Dr. Russ Moore made a proclamation that egalitarians preach "a false gospel," I decided to publish an updated post from few years ago. I respect Dr. Moore (pictured left), the head of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission,  but I sometimes feel his biblical views on gender are the result of teaching given to him by rote in seminary rather than learning obtained by him through research in his study.  It is obvious through casual reading of the Bible--much less concentrated research--that Jesus Christ treats men and women as equals, a behavior that was contrary to the views and practices  of Jews in the Old Covenant. However, regardless of one's biblical understanding of gender, to say that people who disagree with you on the subject are preaching a false gospel is a foolish assessment. It is certain that sinners are saved by the work and Person of Jesus Christ, not their views on the equality of men and women in the church and the home.

Charles Spurgeon began a message on the text "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins" (Hebrews 9:22) with an illustration of three fools. The first fool, Spurgeon said, is the ship's captain who goes below deck during a ferocious storm to read an encyclopedia on the nature of Atlantic winds rather than fighting to keep his ship afloat.  The second fool is the wounded soldier on the battlefield who asks the arriving medic all kinds of questions about the size, shape and model of the gun that fired the bullet which wounded the soldier rather than asking the physician if his is able to heal him. The third fool is the religious person who is constantly arguing the subtle philosophical questions about the origin and nature of evil while ignoring the clear and certain truth that Christ's blood is able to cleanse his sins (Hebrews 9:14). Spurgeon said all three fools have one thing in common: They trifle with subtleties while they ignore certainties.

I would cautiously add a fourth person to Spurgeon's list. It is that Christian leader who turns the gospel of Jesus Christ into a gender gospel, arguing that unless you hold to his (or her) views on the equality of the genders, then you preach a "false gospel." Last week reporter Bob Allen of the Associated Baptist Press reported gave a summary on an interview that Dr. Russ Moore gave to Mark Dever of 9Marks Ministries. In the interview, Dr. Moore says egalitarian couples “preach a false gospel” by viewing men and women as equal partners in marriage. He says:

“God designed us in such a way where we learn about him through family relationships... We learn about the nature of reality in family relationships, and in terms of what it means to image God, by being faithful fathers and husbands and mothers and wives... Often, I think, the gospel is obscured because God has designed a picture of the gospel in the one-flesh union of husband and wife...When that is broken down, you have a false gospel that is being preached.”
 
I am accustomed to hearing such interpretations of Scripture from fellow Bible-believing pastors and theologians and have sharply disagreed with them. That doesn't mean those with whom I disagree do not believe the gospel. I have heard men who hold to Moore's views make the following summary statement:  God's design is for men to serve and lead and women to receive and support. Those who wish to base fidelity to the gospel on such gender beliefs are in danger of doing what Spurgeon calls "trifling with subtleties while ignoring certainties." They so concentrate on a non-essential of the faith they turn that non-essential matter into a measuring stick of faithful gospel preaching.

The Absurdity of Making the Gospel About Gender

The overwhelming New Testament teaching of the Bible regarding men and women in the church is clear and certain--"gender differences are irrelevant in the church of Jesus Christ."  God's people in the New Covenant are called to serve based upon the giftings given to them by the Holy Spirit. "I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy" (Acts 2:17). The Apostle Paul says in Galatians 3:27-28 that "All of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Paul is emphatic that there is no room in the body of Jesus Christ for racial distinctions, no room for class distinctions, no room for gender distinctions. You may disagree with this assessment, but to make faithful gospel preaching hinge on agreement with your views on gender is utter foolishness.
 
Further, those men who refuse a woman to serve, read, lead, or teach (when men are present) seem to be twisting the gospel of freedom in Christ into a gospel of bondage by gender. To restrict a Holy Spirit gifted and empowered woman from edifying other believers through the free exercise of her Spirit given gifts seems to be resistance of the Holy Spirit Himself.  I will never forget when Condoleezza Rice, our 66th United States Secretary of State, spoke to the annual Southern Baptist Convention in 2006. The audience, predominately Southern Baptist men, stood and applauded when Condoleezza explained how we had bombed the Taliban terrorists in Bora Bora to hell. Thank the Lord she didn't actually read a Scripture text about hell. No telling what the some pastors might have done had such a blasphemy occurred in their presence. Christian men should be on the forefront of leading women to see their value in the world, but especially in the body of Christ. Some of the most gifted leaders, teachers, and role models in the church are women!

An ancient Jewish prayer from the Hebrew Siddur (prayer book) went like this: "Blessed are you, Hashem, King of the Universe, for not having made me a Gentile. Blessed are you, Hashem, King of the Universe, for not having made me a slave. Blessed are you, Hashem, King of the Universe, for not having made me a woman." "Hashem" was a Jewish name for the one true God, a name used by Jews in the days of Christ. The same spirit ancient Jews possessed that caused them to believe that only men were created to lead, rule and serve and that women were born to receive, follow and and be there for men, is the same spirit now at work in more than a few evangelical leaders. Interestingly, the rise of the Siddur coincides with the glory of God departing the Temple of Jerusalem in the days of Ezekiel (see Ezekiel 10). Jewish Temple worship continued, but it was during this Spirit-less intertestamentable time period that you have the rise of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and other male only Jewish orders that were constantly focusing on male "authority," male "leadership," and male "power." A preoccupation and fixation on authority (whether it be conservative patriarchalism or liberal feminism), is a sign that the Spirit of God has departed. Jesus Christ explicitly forbids any one individual assuming authority over other adults in the Christian community (Matthew 20:20-28).  In fact, after describing the imperialism of political rulers and the authority fixation of religious rulers, Jesus said to his disciples ... "It shall not be so among you" (Matthew 20:28).

The New Testament covenant of God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ totally turns the world's concept of authority on its ear. The world is concerned about position, power, authority, prestige, control, and ruling over others. Jesus Christ teaches His followers to serve, to love, to express their spiritual gifts to their fullest for the good of others, and to never fear what any person in so-called "authority" can do to them because "All authority ... has been given to Me" (Matthew 28:20). There is to be a mutual equality, respect, and submission within the home between husband and wife (Ephesians 5:21-33). There is to be a mutual equality, respect and submission of men and women toward one another in the body of Christ based upon the gifts that the Spirit gives to each male and female believer who has been baptized into Christ (Acts 2:15-21; Galatians 3:28). References to the churches' teaching ministry and other gifts are found in Romans 12, I Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4 and not one of those passages excludes females from being recepients of any one of those gifts. Let me say that again in a different way. The gifts of the Spirit are never differentiated on the basis of gender in the New Testament -- ever.

But What About Paul's Teaching in I Timothy 2:11-12?

Any student of the Word who reads Paul's Timothy text and draws a conclusion that is contrary to the clear and certain teaching of the rest of the Bible, including Paul's other writings, is playing the fool by "trifling with subtleties while ignoring certainties." "But," you shout, "These two verses tell all women everywhere to be "silent" in the presence of men, and to "learn" in "submission" under them." No, kind sir, they don't. Not even close. Were that the case, these two verses would contradict everything the Apostle Paul has written in Galatians, Romans, I Corinthians, Ephesians and every other book he contributed to the New Testament, not to mention all the other books written by Peter, John, Luke, Matthew, and other early disciples of Christ. I have written a foreword to a book entitled What's With Paul and Women and would encourage you to take an afternoon to read Jon Zen's book, a detailed exposition and exegesis of these two Timothy verses. You will never again resist speaking out when you hear gender gospel preachers resist the Holy Spirit and restrict women in the home or the church by claiming for themselves ungodly positions of power and authority.

One of the advantages of being the pastor of a New Testament church where the Word of God is respected, believed, and practiced is that both men and women lead, serve, teach, and shepherd based upon their gifts. We believe the concept of positions of power and authority held by "elders" is foreign to the New Testament. The word elder means "older." Look to your elders for wisdom. Again, the notion of some raw authority in an office of pastor or elder is foreign to the New Testament. Every believer in Christ is a priest.  Our church has a Leadership Team composed of both men and women. I am a pastor, but there is no inherent spiritual authority in me or any "office" I hold. Jesus Christ alone is the spiritual authority over his people. I serve people. I love people. I lead people only if they are willing to follow--and frankly, if I do a poor job of serving and loving, they ought not follow. One of these days the church of Jesus Christ is going to wake up to the fact that we have so twisted and corrupted the concept of authority and leadership that what we have abandoned the clear and certain teachings of the New Testament.

The ancient Jews kept women in the courtyard and placed a fence around the Temple grounds lest a woman feel compelled to enter the Holy Place. The sacred rituals were performed by male priests. The sacred services were led by male priests. Modern day conservative evangelicals and liberal feminists have absolutely violated the clear and certain teachings of Jesus Christ and seem to wish to resurrect the Old economy of Temple buildings, gender priesthoods, and religious rituals. Jesus abolished all that Old economy stuff in the New agreement. The Temple of God is no longer a building, it is the soul of a believer (see I Corinthians 6:19). The priests of God are no longer just male, they are both male and female (see Galatians 3:28). The rituals of God are no longer holy days, sacrifices, and feasts, but faith in Christ and love for God and our fellow man (see Colossians 2:16; John 13:3). The body of Jesus Christ is to make no distinctions in race, class and gender. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel that sets the captives free to serve as the Holy Spirit gifts. To revoke the privilege of a gifted, believing woman from reading Scripture to men is to violate the clear and certain teaching of the New Testament and risk having the legalism and religious ritualism of Spirit-less religion that marked Temple worship after the days of Ezekiel and before the launch of the New Covenant. If conservative, Bible-believing, Christ-loving, Spirit-filled, graced people do not speak out when our conservative brothers move into error on this issue, then we become enablers of God's people as they turn the powerful gospel of grace into an impotent gospel of gender. God forbid that we continue to trifle with subtleties while we ignore certainties.

25 comments:

Paul Burleson said...

Wade,

Someone said...

"A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song."

I love the song you're singing with your writing. Outstanding!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this, Wade. A couple quotes of yours that were excellent:

"Further, those men who refuse a woman to serve, read, lead, or teach (when men are present) seem to be twisting the gospel of freedom in Christ into a gospel of bondage by gender."

"A preoccupation and fixation on authority (whether it be conservative patriarchalism or liberal feminism), is a sign that the Spirit of God has departed."

"The gifts of the Spirit are never differentiated on the basis of gender in the New Testament -- ever."

"I am a pastor, but there is no inherent spiritual authority in me or any "office" I hold. Jesus Christ alone is the spiritual authority over his people. I serve people. I love people."

We need more of these thoughts and ideas to be prevalent in the groups of men, women, and children that gather in the name of Christ.

No doubt, there would be a lot more people impressed with the Head, who is Christ, and a lot less pain and drama inflicted upon his body by its own members.

ken

ScottShaver said...

I suspect SBC leadership is clinging tenaciously to some old bones in order to keep their shrinking cadre of loyalists satisfied. Has nothing to do with whether egalitarianism is biblically supported or not.

Anonymous said...

YOU MR. WADE HAVE MUCH TO LEARN ABOUT THE LORD ALMIGHTY. YOU HAVE TAKEN IT UPON YOUR CARNAL MIND TO DEFINE THE WORD OF GOD. IT IS THE HOLY SPIRIT WHO IS THE MIND OF GOD. ASK FOR THE LORD TO LEAD YOU TO TRUE BROKENNESS AND LET THE SPIRIT REVEAL HIS WORD. LET THAT NO MAN TEACH YOU. YOU ARE BAIT FOR SIN YOURSELF EVEN SO. I DID NOT TRUST YOUR LETTER TOO MUCH FLESH IN IT.

Wade Burleson said...

Anonymous,

All capital letters is like someone shouting over the Internet. A calm word of encouragement without capitals is far better able to accomplish your purpose.

Wade Burleson said...

Thanks for the kind words, Paul and Ken!

Wade Burleson said...

I'm not sure, Scott! Hard to say what the motive might be, but to rule out leadership on the basis of gender and ignore obvious gifting by the Holy Spirit is not very Kingdom oriented.

jdavid said...

What I find ironic is the way all of the defenders of these "manly men" are crying foul about them being mistreated. What are they so sensitive about? Are they really so easily offended?

It just makes me want to say, "Man up..."

Or maybe a biblical paraphrase would be more appropriate since everything seems to come back to their hermeneutic, "If it is godly wisdom then it will stand on its own merit, if not then it will fall on its face."

Jeannie E. Hess said...

Why are the Jews constantly blamed for sexism? ISTM that anyone with even the most latent degree of anti-Semitism would hate Jewish people even more after reading things like this. The Jewish people did not invent sexism--it was alive and well among the Gentiles (and still is) before Jesus, before the New Testament was written, and long after the canon was established.

Tom Ross said...

Wade

Anonymous wrote, but in lower case the following:-

You Mr. Wade have much to learn about the lord almighty. You have taken it upon your carnal mind to define the word of god. .... You are bait for sin yourself even so. I did not trust your letter too much flesh in it.

The above post is somewhat similar to what the HS was also prompting me to write.

To be wrong in our hermeneutics of even just one Greek or Hebrew word means that our whole understanding is wrongly based. Jesus said that if you fail/do not keep one law within the “Law,” then you fail to keep the whole “Laws.”

In the OP the brand “New Covenant” theology was mentioned as being the “correct” theology to hold to where this view is based on IMHO the miss understanding of just one Greek word, “kainos” and its variation, which is demonstrated in the parable of the “new Wine” in the “renewed/refreshed wineskins” found in Matthew 9:17: -

NIV: - [i]Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into [b]new[/b] wineskins, and both are preserved."[/i]

NASU: - [i]"Nor do people put new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wineskins burst, and the wine pours out and the wineskins are ruined; but they put new wine into [b]fresh[/b] wineskins, and both are preserved." [/i]

Strong’s definition states the following: - NT:2537 - kaino/$ - kainos (kahee-nos'); of uncertain affinity; new (especially in freshness; while NT:3501 {neos} is properly so with respect to age: - KJV - new.

Now in Matt 9:17, an unused brand “New” wineskin can become hard and brittle suck that it is really an “old” wineskin with respect to time and the skin has to be refreshed like “new” again so that it is can hold the new wine without bursting.

Sadly many theologians miss understand the Greek concept used here in the parable and when they see the Greek words, “kaineé diatheékee” they immediately understand it to mean a “Brand New Covenant” instead of the concept of “Refreshed Covenant.” It has come about because of, as you stated in the OP, “a casual reading of the Bible – much less concentrated research –...”

But my experience previously has been that you have blown away my considered words and study with the words, “I reject this.” So be it.

If we are to be critical of another’s Biblical understanding then we should ensure that “all” of our own understanding is above reproach otherwise we are committing the same “sin” as that of which we complain about/criticise.

I agree with you that concerning the fundamental issue of who “Jesus/Christ” is, there is a fundamental agreement between the protagonists who argue/disagree on many “theological issues” that Jesus/Christ is the Son of God who was sent by God to redeem the world according to the terms of the “Covenant” that God has entered into with mankind as, for example, expressed in the likes of the “Abrahamic Covenant” which was made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

We are still in a period of time where the “Hellenistic” influence is still causing us to be trampling the Sanctuary and it will continue until the full measure/time of the Gentiles has occurred. That is to say the 2,300 years. When that time has run its full course, then our eyes will be opened more as God has promised that He Himself will teach us about the things of God from Jerusalem. Until then, his grace, just as it was in the “Old Testament” time will cover our “sins” and perhaps we too are able to show that grace to our brothers in the body as well.

Sadly, fundamentalism will kick in and unless we have complete agreement on every “Biblical” issue then we are enemies to each other and the body will be sick until it is healed through the coming of God’s “complete” understanding in all of our lives.

Shalom

Tom Ross.

PS: - I too admit that I have errors within my understanding of God’s word. They will not necessarily be corrected until I am made perfect before Him.

Aussie John said...

Wade,

It took me far too many years to come to the same thoughts as yourself on the subject at hand,and as a result the cause of pain to a few very able sisters in Christ.

As a result, I'm not surprised when people reveal their loyalty to denominational conventionalities, especially those in "responsible" positions, which, after all, in most cases, are obtained by their demonstration of loyalty to "the way it has always been done".

Thank you for an excellent article!

Wade Burleson said...

Jeannie,

You make an excellent point. The reason I mentioned the Jews (and not the Gentiles) is because the evangelical church does not base their ideology for service and ministry around the pagan Gentiles, but around the model of Old Covenant Jews.

Wade Burleson said...

Tom and Aussie,

Excellent comments!

Kristen said...

It's ironic that they use the term "false gospel" -- because anything that makes the gospel about anything other than Christ's work of salvation and His preaching of the kingdom, ends up being a false gospel.

Sharon Letchford said...

A 'false gospel' - no; 'False teaching' - yes. Putting 'subtleties' up there with 'certainties' is obscuring the gospel and seriously damaging our witness to the lost.

Sean said...

The term "false gospel" is thrown about way too freely.

Kristen said...

Sean - Agreed. That is what I was trying to get at. In declaring a non-essential teaching part of a "false gospel," they are making the non-essential teaching essential to the gospel, and thus themselves making their gospel into something false.

Wade Burleson said...

Kristen,

Pretty profound and solid logic right there.

Kristen said...

Why, thank you, Wade! :)

Ian said...

Awesome post, Wade.

To be frank, I believe the reason why the "gender gospel" is promoted is because the old boys network doesn't want to see its power base eroded. Male theologians are interpreting the Bible to support their own vested interests.

And, as you have pointed out before, the way these people have treated women shows that their hearts are far away from God.

Kathy Stegall said...

Thanks so much, Wade. This post is a great encouragement. I hope you'll all take a look at this book as well.

http://fullrightsofsons.com/

Don said...

I am egal and so agree with most of what you wrote, including that Dr. Moore ends up teaching a false gospel by adding to it.

But I hope for iron to sharpen iron so I comment on this quote of yours:

"Jesus abolished all that Old economy stuff in the New agreement. The Temple of God is no longer a building, it is the soul of a believer (see I Corinthians 6:19). The priests of God are no longer just male, they are both male and female (see Galatians 3:28). The rituals of God are no longer holy days, sacrifices, and feasts, but faith in Christ and love for God and our fellow man (see Colossians 2:16; John 13:3). "

I think your statements here would be news to Paul. In Acts we see him going to the physical Jewish temple along with others of the 12 as well as celebrating the holy festival days found in the OT. In Acts 21 he is even willing to pay for 4 Nazirite vows, which include animal sacrifices. My point is simply that Paul had no problem with continuing to do "Jewish identity things" after coming to faith in Christ.

Wade Burleson said...

Kathy,

I just purchased your book.

Will read it with great interest.

Kathy Stegall said...

Thanks so much for your encouragement, Wade. I am very eager to hear any response you may have.

All for God's glory!

LJH said...

I grew up in a highly legalistic, very misogynistic, Independent Baptist environment, so it has taken a long time for me to crawl out from under the cold slab that was specially reserved for crushing women. I was quite astonished to see an "actual" Baptist espousing the egalitarian views that you hold--and no little grateful. I had determined a few days ago that I finally needed to do a deep, exegetical investigation of my own; and having now had 2 1/2 years of Greek, I feel as though I can at least understand what I'm reading.

The repressive views I heard as a young woman never did sit well with me, but I wasn't equipped to mount a substantive counter-argument. I even embraced it all for many years, almost as a warped badge of that coveted "perfection" via the exalted characteristic of humility--because we all know how spiritual it is to be humble . . .

It should come as no surprise that I ended up marrying a psychopath the first time around--with a decidedly sadistic nature and a bent for cheating and molesting young girls. I eventually fled for my life. That was all many years ago, and I've been remarried for 17+ years to a good man who loves God and respects me.

However, I still hear the old "submission" refrain, as well as the ever-popular authority cliches, both at my church and the seminary I've been attending. What strikes me about it all is the consistent high levels of arrogance that always seems to accompany the various proclamations of "rule" and leadership. Satan has been resoundingly successful has he not?

Thank-you for speaking out on this subject. I also saw your sermon on Hebrews 13:7ff (with Bibleworks open so I could check up on you!). I shared it on Facebook, knowing that I'll probably get some backlash for doing so. The good news is that despite my Dad's naive wanderings into a bad crowd early on, he did leave me with a wonderful legacy. My overriding passion in life is for Truth. It doesn't matter whether it is the Truth of the Bible, the underlying truth of a movement (good or bad), the truth of someone's behavior, or the truth about my own spiritual/emotional/psychological self . . . I MUST follow the truth--wherever it leads.

My husband and I have observed that when we allow the Biblical text to speak for itself rather than imbue it with our previous indoctrination or traditional views, suddenly OTHER passages clarify themselves as well. The harmonious nature of the inspired Word makes itself evident. Truth endures, no matter what--and it clarifies everything and points to God Himself.

Thank-you again. It is encouraging to know that there are at least a few of us Baptists unafraid to buck tradition for the sake of the Gospel. Blessings.