Thursday, November 07, 2019

Men of the Great Assembly and Women Teaching

The Men of the Great Assembly were a group of 120 Jewish leaders who ruled Judea from shortly after the dedication of the Second Temple (516 BC) to the invasion of Judea by the Greeks under Alexander the Great (332 BC).

The formation of the Great Assembly is described in Nehemiah chapters 8, 9, and 10. Today's Israeli Parliament, called The Knesset (Hebrew for "assembly") also has 120 members, imitating the Great Assembly of Ezra's day.

Few Christians understand the significance of the Great Assembly and the effect it had on Jesus' ministry in Judea. 

1. Be deliberate in judging.
2. Educate many students.
3. Make a fence around the Torah.
Make a fence. The word pro-fane is from the Latin and it means "outside the fence." The Great Assembly interpreted the Torah and told the Jews how to live so as not to offend Yahweh. If you didn't abide by the judgments of the Great Assembly, you were a profane person. 

The spiritual descendants of the Great Assembly believed Jesus to be profane person

Jesus was to free. Jesus hung around people outside the fence. Jesus empowered women. Jesus paid little attention to religious rules of the Great Assembly. Jesus sought to transform lives from the inside out. 

The Great Assembly: The Foundation of Jewish/Christian Legalism

In 586 BC, Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple, carried away the Jews as slaves into Babylon, beginning what is called for the Jews "The Babylonian Exile." For the next seventy years (586 - 516 BC), the Jews had no Temple to worship Yahweh. 

Ezekiel the prophet saw the glory of Yahweh leaving the Temple before its destruction in 586 BC, and the glory of God never returns to Judea until the birth of Jesus:
"An angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the LORD shone around them, and the shepherds were terrified. "Do not be afraid! For behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the nations, for today, in the City of David (Bethlehem) a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the LORD." (Luke 2:9-11). 
That's the first time the glory of the Lord appears in Judea since 586 BC.

Religion for the Jews continued, but the Spirit of God isn't present. When the second Temple is dedicated in 516 BC, the glory of Yahweh did not fill the Temple like He did at the dedication of Solomon's Temple in the 10th century BC

Any time there are attempts to be sacred without the Spirit, to prioritize rules over relationships, and to point the finger at others rather than to put the focus on oneself, religious legalism arises. 

Here's how religious legalism began among the Jews. 

In October 539 BC, the Persian army conquered Babylon and deposed the Babylonian king (see Daniel 5), Persian king Cyrus released the Jews to return to Judea and re-establish Yahweh worship in a reconstructed Temple in Jerusalem. 

Zerubbabel led the Jews in constructing the second Temple. The Jews dedicated it in 516 BC. After the Temple's dedication, the Jews struggled with Yahweh worship because the walls of the city weren't yet rebuilt. Foreigners had moved in to Judea while the Jews were in Exile. Several prominent Jews, including Daniel, remained in Babylon and didn't go back to Jerusalem. The Jews' attention was focused more on their enemies than their God. 

The Jews appealed to the Persian king for help. In response, a young Jewish scholar trained in the Persian court of Babylon, a scribe named Ezra, left Babylon in 458 BC and came to Jerusalem. 

Ezra created the Great Assembly to help the Jews interpret the Torah and apply it to their lives. Nehemiah followed shortly to rebuild the walls of the city of Jerusalem.

Ezra and Nehemiah helped the Jews build the fence. 

There were a few men who argued with Ezra, telling the scribe that it was Yahweh's desire for all nations (e.g. foreigners) to know Yahweh, and Judah was to keep the "gates open" (Zechariah 8:22-23)

But the Great Assembly prevailed. 

The religious fence was constructed. 

Rules were established to keep Jews inside the fence. Rules were established to keep others out. These rules were interpretations of the Torah by the Great Assembly. But because of Great Assembly's alleged "authority" over the Jews, these interpretations became laws.

For the next 400 years, the fence did its job. 

He was despised and rejected (Isaiah 53:3). He came unto His own, and His own did not receive Him (John 1:11). All who saw Him mocked Him and sneered (Psalm 22:7). They condemned Him to death (Mark 10:33). 

He was profane. He didn't follow the rules. He was "outside the fence."

Those filled with the Spirit will often be called "profane" by the faithfully religious. 

The Modern Equivalent of the Great Assembly in Evangelicalism

Photo: Church Leaders.Com
There's within Christian evangelicalism a group of men, similar to the Great Assembly of Ezra's day, who wish to instruct Christians, churches, and all who follow Christ as to what Spirit-gifted women can or cannot do within "the assembly." 

My son Logan, a very intelligent follower of Christ who seeks to lead others to the freedom that comes from knowing Jesus, sent me an article about Christian women and "where they can teach." He asked if I had read it and if so, what do I think about it.

I had read it before. In fact, I read it three years ago

The article was re-posted on John Piper's Desiring God Ministries website this past week. 

Photo: Charisma News
All I could think of was the Great Assembly. 

There is a pretty big fence being constructed by the evangelical religious on the issue of women. 

After stating it is profane (outside the fence) for Christian women to teach in the place of "church fathers" (think Great Assembly) or to imitate the authority of a males by leading others, Mary Kassion explains how to determine whether a gifted, Spirit-filled woman is acting as a profane person in her biblical teaching. 

In 2016, John Piper published Mary's article with the title Women Teaching Men - How Far Is Too Far? - a very good fence-building title. 

This past week, John Piper republished Mary's article, with a few word changes, under the title "Where Can Women Teach? Eight Principles for Christian Churches."

At least there's progress in the titles. The 2016 title "How Far Is Too Far?" conjures up a fence. I think the modern evangelical Great Assembly is feeling the heat from Jesus' followers.

Below are some of the main fence-building efforts of John Piper and others in the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood as they seek to keep out gifted, humble Christian women from teaching or leading men. 
"Christians gather at many other times and in many other contexts. There’s Sunday school, small groups, prayer meetings, seminars, and conferences. What’s more, Christians often gather for religious edification and instruction with people who don’t go to their church. And they listen to podcasts, watch videos, and read books. The Bible doesn’t specifically address these contexts. As a woman, how do I decide if teaching in these other religious, coed contexts is appropriate?
The way I determine if teaching in a specific religious venue to a coed audience honors male headship is by trying to determine how closely that particular situation mimics the nature, role, and function of a church father in governing and providing public doctrinal instruction for the local-church family.
In particular, I try to pin down where the venue sits on the following eight continuums. The more a teaching venue leans toward the left (the first part of each pairing), the less likely it is that the venue is an appropriate one for me to provide coed instruction. The more the speaking venue leans toward the right (the second part of each pairing), the more likely it is that I might be a helpful teacher in this context.
Context: congregational (church) ⟶ non-congregational. Is this the local church, or is it not exactly church?
Nature: exegetical ⟶ testimonial/inspirational. Am I forcefully interpreting a text of Scripture or sharing from my life and experience with biblical support?
Authority: governmental (directive) ⟶ nongovernmental (nondirective). Am I establishing the official standard for the community?
Relationship: close (personal/relational) ⟶ distant (impersonal/non-relational). Am I in a community relationship with these men? Am I seeking to mentor them?
Commitment: formal ⟶ informal. Have the listeners made a formal commitment to me or to this community?
Obligation: obligatory ⟶ voluntary. Are the listeners obliged to listen to the teaching that takes place in this context? Can they be disciplined and corrected for failing to obey?
Constancy: habitual (ongoing) ⟶ occasional. Does this happen often and repetitively or infrequently?
Maturity: sister ⟶ mother. Does my age and spiritual maturity create a situation where I am speaking as a mother would to her sons.

I have a headache.

Genuinely, I have a headache.

When Christians spend more time fence-building to keep people out, or to keep people from, or to keep people in, you've missed God.

You've created an institution similar to the one that ultimately rejected the mission and purpose of Jesus Christ.
"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free." (John 8:32). 
 A fixation on authority is a sign the Spirit has left.

New Covenant Christian leadership is based on spiritual giftedness and not sexual gender. 


Kate Johnson said...

yes! This! Great analogy, fence building to keep people in/out of specific roles is beyond legalism, something Jesus fought against. Thank you.

Jim Palmer said...

I believe Jesus hated fences!

ReVoLuTiOnArY TeNdEnCiEs said...

Wade though I haven’t agreed with you on some things, I have to say, I have learned and grown a lot in many other areas thanks to you. You have been a blessing to me. I enjoy reading your push back on things whether I agree with you or not. It’s always good to hear someone speaking out in a reasonable and intelligent tone.

I’m this article you wrote, “When Christians spend more time fence-building to keep people out, or to keep people from, or to keep people in, you've missed God.”
There’s some problems with that statement but I get what you mean. However I’d like to point out that the men who are seeking to “keep people out (women in this case)” are not doing so in order to perpetuate a male dominated society. No. They are doing so because they see it as biblical. They are men who love God and love others and seek to obey what they believe God has revealed to them through His Word. Thus they build a fence not because they want women out of the role of being a pastor, but because they do not see it as how God has designed the roles of mankind.
I would suggest that a “fixation on authority” (right or wrong) very well may be a sign that men are seeking to be obedient and honoring to the God who saved them and not one that reflects the departure of the Spirit.
Blessings and thank you for your ministry! May you continue love Him and teach others to follow Him.

Tamara said...

ReVoLuTiOnArY TeNdEnCiEs said...They are doing so because they see it as biblical. They are men who love God and love others and seek to obey what they believe God has revealed to them through His Word. Thus they build a fence not because they want women out of the role of being a pastor, but because they do not see it as how God has designed the roles of mankind.

The problem with this defense is that the same thing could have been said about the men (and women) who saw racial inferiority and slavery/segregation as biblical and the way "God designed the roles of mankind".

And I'm not talking about pre-Civil war either.

"A prophetic declaration is made that from Ham will descend an inferior and servile posterity…a prophetic declaration is made that from Japheth will descend the “enlarged” races. Gov’t, science, and art are and have been Japhetic so history is the indisputable record of the exact fulfillment these declarations
~1918 edition of the Scofield Study Bible on Genesis 10

"The Bible makes some things plain…I’m going to show you that the Bible is perfectly clear on races-just as clear as can be....
You talk about a superior race and an inferior race and all that kind of situation. Wait a minute. No race is inferior in the will of God. Get that clear. If a race is in the will of God, it is not inferior...

You cannot run over God’s plan and God’s established order without having trouble. God never meant to have one race. It was not His purpose at all. God has a purpose for each race...
Let me repeat that it is no accident that most of the Chinese live in China. It is not an accident that most of the Japanese live in Japan; and the Africans should have been left in Africa...Whenever we have the races mixed up in large numbers, we have troubles….
If we would just listen to the Word of God and not try to overthrow God’s established order, we would not have any trouble...

If you are against segregation and against racial separation, then you are against God Almighty because he made racial separation...God made of one blood all nations, but He also drew boundary lines between races...

Many of the slave owners were godly, spiritual people….

When you run into conflict with God’s established order racially, you have trouble. You do not produce harmony. You produce destruction and trouble and this nation is in the greatest danger it has ever been in history...We are facing the greatest dangers we have ever faced, and the religious liberal are riding in now on the crest of what seems to be popular."
~ Bob Jones Sr. Easter sermon 1960

Exchange "gender" for "race" and the above (Danger! Danger! God's established order is under attack!) doesn't sound much different than what John Piper and John MacArthur and their cohort are peddling right now.

I'm sure the Kentucky church that recently made news for banning interracial marriages also see themselves as just obeying what "The Bible clearly teaches".

So, while I don't want to judge the heart and spiritual condition of another who professes Christ as Lord, I have to wonder if the general "love God and love others and seek to obey" or "godly, spiritual people" apologetic is perhaps too generous and letting them off the hook for some really bad theology.

Anonymous said...

On the other hand, maybe the SBC and the RCC (not exactly evangelicals building fences!) and the LCMS really are obeying God.

Seems I remember another time when "did God really say" came into play. We've seen the awful effects of that fall, have we not?

Maybe sometimes God just tells us "do this, don't do that" and no matter if we like it, agree with it, or think we are more woke than God Almighty we just without quibbling.

I for one will not listen to Beth Moore not because she is female but because of what she teaches. I do not believe God is giving her extrabiblical revelation. And having lived in casino country, I learned a bit about "tells." When a person has to frequently tell you to "trust me" I generally don't.

There are denominations that ordain women because they do not see the pastor as in authority. There are denominations that ordain women that do see the pastor in authority and believe they understand scripture better than anyone has in 2,000 years. There are denominations that don't ordain women because they want women in subjection. And there are denominations that do not ordain women because they believe the Bible says not to do so.

Instead of judging the souls of those in any of those denominations, or trying to change them to suit our fancies, seems to me the honorable thing is to figure out what you honestly believe the Bible really teaches, popular or not, and move yourself into a denomination that fits. That might be personally very costly, might mean giving up a good job or retirement benefits for some who are on staff, but much more integrity than trying to change the system to suit yourself.


Christiane said...

staying in a situation and trying to improve it by being 'with' the people who are there is a trial in patience and in love, and most certainly in kindness towards the people who cannot easily leave that situation . . . the very young and the elderly, who need ministry most especially and are vulnerable to abuse from those who would take advantage

standing 'with' the vulnerable in the midst of that kind of situation is, I believe, a noble thing, a self-giving thing

sure, 'finding a better fit' would be more comfortable, but it was not Our Lord's way, no

we are who we protect, and we stand up for those under attack who are innocent, and we know we are needed there when, in order to be effective in that situation, we must be using the fruit of the Holy Spirit in order that good may come

for those who want to 'escape' a bad situation, that is understandable

but for those who stay 'with' and serve the ones who need a shepherd in the midst of a difficult situation, that is something beyond human understanding because it belongs to another kingdom indeed

Anonymous said...


The corollaries that grow out of Complementarianism are mind-boggling. In this case, Kassion somehow concludes in the article that “I have found that as I get older, I have more freedom to instruct younger men”. This, however, seems to violate Complementarianism’s basic thesis that gender roles are absolute. Furthermore, she builds her argument on experience and not on any Biblical exception to “I permit not a woman to teach”. No wonder you have a headache.

Shawn said...

Whole argument based on very bad exegesis. The ‘fence’ that Jesus stood outside of and opposed was not the Torah, as was well taught by Ezra, but the extra-biblical regulations that came about to keep everyone from getting anywhere near the Torah and thus risking violating it. Jesus lived the Torah, lived it better than anyone else.

Ezra was described by the (inspired) text as ‘This Ezra went up from Babylon (not in Persia), and he was a scribe skilled in the Law of Moses, which the LORD God of Israel had given; and the king granted him all he requested because the hand of God was upon him.’ How you got him ‘trained in the Persian court’ I don’t know.

Ezra and Nehemiah taught the Torah, not the Fence. Where did you get that? What did he teach beyond the text of the Torah?

And, again, you mis-identify how the text treats those who ‘opposed’ Ezra. The text does not say ‘argue’, it says ‘stood against (עמד). And the text says absolutely nothing about them saying anything! Where in the world do you get that?

You also persist in raising their opposition to the level of primary in the text when it is one of 44 verses in that chapter and grammatically it is very much back grounded as a side comment. You are letting any sense of exegetical veracity go by the wayside to made a point that cannot be found in that text! Why?

I have noticed lately that the term ‘filled with the Spirit’ or ‘Spirit filled is popping up a lot lately. Usually it is associated with a person (often as not a woman preacher) who is a gifted speaker and thus is declared ‘Spirit Filled’ and so removed beyond the realm of criticism else those criticizing them are said to go ‘against the [Holy] Spirit.’ I have also noted that ‘Spirit Giftedness’ is associated pretty much only with speaking ability, not with any other Spiritual gift.

Christiane said...

It is said in eastern Christianity
that a humble servant of God
can draw thousands to Christ.

ReVoLuTiOnArY TeNdEnCiEs said...

Respectfully, you are comparing apples to oranges. Regarding slavery, they used scripture out of context to back up their beliefs. Whereas complementarians are able to show from the entirety of Scripture, how there is a biblical argument for it.

Tamara said...

To ReVoLuTiOnArY TeNdEnCiEs: It is only because we, as a society, have reached a level of moral clarity and acknowledge slavery and racial segregation are wrong that allows you to claim slave-owners/segregationists were misinterpreting Scripture. There are far and away more "in-context" Bible verses "supporting" the institution of slavery than there are "forbidding" women to teach or have some sort of authority within the church over men.

I completely disagree that complimentarians use the entirety of Scripture. They use 3 out-of-context verses from 1 Tim., 1 Cor. and Titus. And re-interpret Genesis by moving a consequence of the fall (the hierarchy of male authority/female subordination) from chapter 3 to chapter 2 and make it part of God's original creation design.

That is, honestly, all they have and they filter all the rest of God's Word through the meaning they've attached to these out-of context partial sentences...a meaning that, sadly, seems to indicate a low view of women. They ignore or explain away Jesus' ministry and His dealing with women. They ignore or explain away that the first person He revealed Himself to as the Messiah was a woman who then "preached" to the men in her town, with no rebuke from Jesus. They ignore or explain away that He revealed Himself risen to women disciples and told them to "preach" the news to the male disciples. They ignore or explain away that His "Great Commission" in Matthew, etc. has no gender qualifiers. They ignore that women were in the upper room and filled with the Holy Spirit and were heard by the men in fulfillment of prophecy (according to Peter). They add qualifiers that are not in Scripture to the gifts/ministry lists in Romans, 1 Corinthians and Ephesians. They ignore/explain away Galatians 3:26-29. They explain away Deborah. They ignore Paul's female ministry partners/co-laborers. And on and on.

And before you take exception with my assessment "low view of women". Consider that most of this complimentartian/vital importance of women's "roles" now-a-days is coming from men who consider themselves Reformed. And then consider this from John Calvin's commentary on 1 Timothy 2:

"The first is, that as the woman derives her origin from the man, she is therefore inferior in rank. The second is, that as the woman was created for the sake of the man, she is therefore subject to him...
Paul looks beyond this — to God’s eternal law, which has made the female sex subject to the authority of men. On this account all women are born, that they may acknowledge themselves inferior in consequence of the superiority of the male sex."

That sounds,sadly, much like the core belief underlying John MacArthur's words here: "It is generally then true that a man, whether he be married or single, must think of himself as someone who has been given by God a responsibility for authority in one sense or another. A woman, whether she is married or single, must recognize the fact that in general, as a woman, she must have a spirit of submission to all men.”

But to close, a quote from one more John...John Stott this time:
“The hallmark of an authentic evangelicalism is not the uncritical repetition of old traditions, but the willingness to submit every tradition, however ancient, to fresh biblical scrutiny and, if necessary, reform.”

That applies to the tradition of slavery as well as the tradition of the subordination of women to men.

Ken F said...

"Seems I remember another time when "did God really say" came into play. We've seen the awful effects of that fall, have we not?"

Hi Linda,
That verse you refer to is often badly used as a clobber verse, as if questioning an interpretation of a particular passage is the same thing as rejecting God. The problem with that question in Genesis was not really the question itself, but rather how it was addressed.

If someone is badly interpreting the Bible and making false claims about what God said, I sincerely hope that people will oppose such false teaching by asking, "Did God really say?"

Rex Ray said...


I gave it a ‘shot’; read Nehemiah 8,9,10 in the Living and NLT, but couldn’t find the “120 Jewish leaders who ruled Judea”. I counted and got only 94.

I couldn’t add any more to the many good comments, so I’ll mention the saddest words in the Bible;

“My God, why have you forsaken me?”

(This may be the only time Jesus referred to his Father as God. I believe God could only answer him with tears because when Jesus became our sin, God couldn’t comfort sin.)

God had not revealed that his Son would be alone because Jesus told his disciples:

“The time is coming…when you will be scattered, each going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because my Father is with me.” (John 16:32 NLT)

‘Sustained rapid heartbeat caused by hypovolemic shock also causes fluid to gather in the sack around the heart and around the lungs. This gathering of fluid in the membrane around the heart is called pericardial effusion, and the fluid gathering around the lungs is called pleural effusion. This explains why, after Jesus died and a Roman soldier thrust a spear through Jesus’ side, piercing both the lungs and the heart, blood and water came from His side just as John recorded in his Gospel (John 19:34).”

The link above does not explain why Jesus had a rapid heartbeat. I believe it was caused by Jesus feeling the absence of his Father and he died of a broken heart.

Tamara said...

To Gerald Polmateer - I think you need to re-read what I wrote a little more carefully.

1) I have absolutely no idea how you could have gotten the notion from anything I wrote that society's "level of moral clarity" on slavery/racial segregation (it's wrong) applied to any other area other than slavery/racial segregation. Nor do I understand why you thought it was germane to introduce gender dysmorphia and abortion into this discussion or imply I might not consider them grievous.

2) I didn't speak of women as "insubordinate". I quoted men who used the terms "inferior" and "submissive". If you find those terms derogatory, take it up with the men who said them (well, obviously, John Calvin is dead, so you can't take it up with him but feel free to go at John MacArthur. Please!).

3) There is no place in the Bible that speaks of "roles" - proper or not - related to gender or inherent DNA. Wade written several blog posts on this very subject if you care to do a search.
Our only "role", as redeemed believers, is to seek to be transformed into the image of Christ, walk in a manner worthy of our calling, etc. and that applies to both men and women. That also covers the "how young men and women treat each other". What you call "weakness", I call lack of good teaching/theological foundations (and I consider the fixation on "roles" evidence of lack of good teaching).

4) I suspect your wife and her friends only heard/talked about attracting a man or the kind of guy he should be because they were being told that their "proper role" was to be submitted to their future husband. So logically the focus was on attracting that husband so they could begin fulfilling that role. If they had learned their identity was first and foremost in Christ, that all authority had been given to Him, and what being a Christ-follower really meant (spoiler: no gender-specific roles involved at all), then if and when God brought a potential husband into their lives, marriage would have been enfolded into their "being a disciple of Christ", rather than being a goal to reach so they could start being "true Biblical women".

Christiane said...

'moral clarity'?

HERE is country with moral clarity about WELCOMING new life:

Ken F said...

"(This may be the only time Jesus referred to his Father as God. I believe God could only answer him with tears because when Jesus became our sin, God couldn’t comfort sin.)"

Hi Rex,
I think that verse in Psalm 22:1 has been misused by evangelicals. The reason Jesus used the word "God" instead of "Father" is because he was quoting that verse. I have heard that the most likely reason he quoted it was to refer all around him to the whole psalm, much like one only needs to say the first line of a song to refer to the whole song. It would make sense for him to point to Psalm 22 because it so clearly describes what what really going on. The kicker is verse 24:
"For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted;
Nor has He hidden His face from him;
But when he cried to Him for help, He heard."

This verse is completely opposite from verse 1, which means much more was going on than abandonment. Also note the final words of the psalm: "He has performed it." This is very similar to Jesus' words "It is finished."

The early church determined that any separation of the members of the Trinity is formal heresy, and any separation of the two natures of Christ is formal heresy. The belief that the Father separated himself from the Son on the cross is an invention of the Reformation.

RB Kuter said...

Wade, as I read your post I was about to ask, "What is the Southern Baptist equivalent of The Great Assembly?" but then I followed your links and learned about The Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. That was an eye-opener. I guess I should have known about that group but was ignorant and not aware. That's one of the reasons I have always followed your blog site.

It's disturbing when we have a group of power players like this who are not selected or controlled or held accountable to anyone other than themselves. I think this must have been one of the un-Godly aspects of The Great Assembly. It is frightening to consider the influence and control a group like this has upon the general body of believers from which it comes.

I am sure that all of those men and women on The Council are fine, dedicated, genuine followers of Jesus. But there appears to me to be a lack of humility in even participating in such a formation. Who do they think they are? Do they believe they are somehow ordained by God to step into such a role that is not mandated Biblically? Even if there was a post-resurrection Council in Jerusalem, was there ever a portrayal of that being subscribed by Jesus prior to His ascension?

What do they think they are doing? Do they believe they are protecting the church from going astray from God's intended path for His church? Do they not believe that individual followers of Jesus are priests in their own right and thereby have the necessary connection with God to live their lives and lead their individual groups of followers?

For me, the key is "humility", or lack of. I believe that groups like "The Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood" have the tendency to facilitate a "deep state" form of power and control within our Protestant denominations which is not an attractive method for humbly serving as leaders for an institution built upon the ultimate servant-leader, Jesus Christ. Being involved as a member of such a Council certainly would not impress me.

Cindy Meyers said...

Has anyone viewed this latest sermon from John Macarthur? It is in response to the firestorm touched off by his comments at the Truth Matters conference. Someone recorded it at Grace Community Church this past Sunday. See what you think!

Rex Ray said...

Ken F,

Yes, Psalm 22 portrays Calvary. “…They have pierced my hands and feet.” (Verse 16).

“They told him, [Thomas] we have seen the Lord! But he replied, I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands…” (John 20:25 NLT)

Also, Psalm 22:18 states: “They…threw dice for my clothing.” (NLT)

“After they had nailed him to the cross, the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.” (Mathew 27: 35 NLT)

Ken, wonder how long it will be before Gerald Polmateer jumps us for being off topic? :)

Wade Burleson said...


I'm watching it now. Thanks for the link.

I may write on it next week.

Ken F said...

Hi Rex,
I have not been following this blog for long, but it seems that one of its main characteristics is off-topic discussions. I don't think that is bad even if some don't like it.

Rex Ray said...

Ken F

I agree that off-topic discussions may be good. My father was told, “A lot of times your best preaching is when you get off your subject.”

The guy following your comment is so long winded with his comments, I’d wouldn’t want to be in his congregation.

StillWiggling said...

Just a couple of semi-random thoughts that came into my head while reading the above comments.

One, a speaker at a conference I attended a couple of years ago told of a conversation between two pastors who had just met. Pastor 1 said, "How many people come to your church?" Pastor 2 replied, "Wrong question. The correct question would be, are we making disciples."

Two, back in the late 1960s my father was kicked off the board of elders at the rather conservative non-denominational church our family attended, on the grounds that he had demonstrated inability to lead his own family and thus was not eligible to lead the church. The situation at home was that one of my older sisters at age 14 or so was in full-blown hippie-era adolescent rebellion, and any particulars that that might bring to your mind would likely be accurate.... Our parents had to the best of their ability raised us up in the way we should go, and consistently practiced pretty strict discipline, but short of handcuffing her, duct-taping her to the wall and locking her in her room, my sister was not to be controlled. She did what she pleased, and no amount of pleading or threatening would persuade her to straighten up and fly right.

So, I ask, how was my father supposed to control her? The higher-ups in the church applied what they believed to be the letter of the law and kicked him off the board. Apparently they did not consider that she was past what many believe to be the age of accountability and thus she herself was to be held accountable for her actions, not her parents. I don't know whether my father argued the point or fought his dismissal in any way or not, but even at my tender age of 12 or so at the time I thought it terribly unfair.

Tamara said...

Gerald Polmateer said...

"One cannot do hermeneutics on the basis of an absence of something. DNA was never an issue in the Bible..."

Whether one is male or female is determined by their immutable DNA...which is why a man doesn't get to just announce he's a woman and - voila - he is one.

I guess I could have put it more crudely and said the Bible says nothing about "proper roles" that are based on what one's genitals look like..and we could have gone from there. :-(

The rest of what you wrote...well, yes. I agree. It is important for Christians to be properly trained/discipled so they can make disciples of others. There's nothing in Scripture that limits the ability to make disciples (and you then equate that to leadership) to those with one kind of genitalia. As I already said, Jesus Christ included no gender-based qualifications or limitations in His "Great Commission".

Your reference to the house codes in Ephesians 5 & 6 brings us back to my previous point...the one you seemed to take issue with.
Those codes bring Christ into the 3 absolute power-authority relationships in the Greco-Roman world (ones in which the "subordinate" member was legally considered "property"): master and slave, paterfamilias and children (including adult children), husbands and wives.

We no longer (again having reached a level of moral clarity on this one subject) try to teach about the proper relationship between a Christian master and his/her slaves. Anyway, Wade has written excellent blog articles about Ephesians and all this as well so I don't need to repeat his scholarship...I strongly suggest you read them.

But regardless...the unique covenant relationship between a husband and wife addressed in Ephesians can not be extrapolated out to cover the relationship of all women to all the quote I already posted by John MacArthur tries to do by saying all women must have a spirit of submission to all men. And Beth Moore's failure to recognize what HE believes she "must" do seems to the basis for his attack on her.

You also said: "I know plenty of people who have gone to John MacArthur's church and have worked there who do not agree with everything he believes, but everyone of them say he is a very gracious man." I've heard differently from people who have interacted with him but all that's neither here or there.

Do you personally think his (and the rest of the panel's) treatment of Beth Moore, in any way, qualified as "gracious"? It doesn't matter if he *thinks* he knows what the truth is regarding God's call upon another believer.
He's not the Potter. He's a vessel just as Beth Moore is.
Should he apologize for his ungracious and arrogant words; for claiming to say he knows the mind of God regarding another of His disciples?

Tamara said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tamara said...

Gerald Polmateer said...

Tamara try not to mix up what the world teaches and what God actually does and has done

I'm not.
Do you understand what the word "role" means?
All those things you listed are things some people DO (or are supposed to) in certain situations...they are not a fixed, prescribed, unchanging "role" assigned to one or the other half of the human race.
You, yourself, say both husbands and wives are told to love their spouse.
So it's NOT a "proper role" that is assigned to one gender only...because you, yourself, said both wives and husbands are to love their spouse, right?
Do you get what I've been saying?
You are arguing with me by supporting what I've said.

I'm so perplexed by your reasoning...maybe I'll attribute it to being late at night and leave it there. You keep talking about discipleship which I've agreed is good and necessary and needed and commanded. So can we just agree that God desires both men and women to be disciples and make disciples and move on?

If you have no idea what someone said about Beth Moore, which was part of the article you are currently commenting on:
1) why did you enter into this discussion?
2) why mention that some people find John MacArthur gracious if you're unwilling to consider what he should do if he's been ungracious?

Thank you for the discussion. I'm not sure there is anything to add beyond this.

Rex Ray said...

Gerald Polmateer,

On Fri Nov 08, 10:43:00 PM 2019, you said, “I have plenty to do with the men I meet with each week in training them to make reproducible disciples.”

Have you heard that the other way around? I mean, people trained their pastor.

Once a pastor said, “I found a paper listing my goals to lead the church I’d given the church ten years ago. That’s the craziest paper I’ve ever written.”

His paper said he would choose a board and would lead them to make decisions that God wanted the church to accomplish. Also he would lead the church to switch from the ‘Old Texas Convention’ to the ‘New Texas Convention, and lead them to accept the BF&M 2000.

At baptisms, he stopped saying, “I have a convert…”. And he stopped saying, “My deacons…” and “My ushers…”

Ken F said...

Hi Gerald,
Have you always been in paid ministry? Have you ever had a job in the secular world working with and for women?

Ken F said...

Hi Gerald,
Thanks for answering. My question was more about gender roles, which is why I asked you if you have experience working with and for women. For example, have you ever had a boss who was a woman?

This is an interesting statement you made: "My Bible says to focus on Jesus not what other men say." This seems to imply it is wrong to focus on what other men say. If this us true, then you are leading men into error by explaining what you believe. If what you say is true, you should only quote Bible verses and nothong else.

Unknown said...

Thanks Wade for a great article!
As far as women using the gifts God has given them, Throughout the Old and New Testaments God chose to speak through women (prophetesses) as well as men. Most of their messages were for men. It should be our goal to follow God's example and the actions and words of Jesus. The man-made fences quench His Holy Spirit.

Anonymous said...

"Below are some of the main fence-building efforts of John Piper and others in the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood as they seek to keep out gifted, humble Christian women from teaching or leading men."

I could have been mistaken of your position but I thought it was about the mere public speaking and testifying of women in the assemblies. Many wives would indeed have problems with a woman teaching and leading their husband. Its not merely "a male" issue. The way I read many of the passages in the Bible concerning woman teachers is to allow them to lead and instruct other women and also allowing them to testimony of their faith and sharing the Gospel (sons and daughter shall prophesy)in the assemblies. Concerned that you are moving toward a Platonic theology.

Anonymous said...

Continuing from the last post, I don't believe the eight steps are a manner of legalism but rather of someone applying a rule of thumb.

I personally have some issues with the Council of Biblical Manhood, their theology is very odd in places (the application of the Trinity for example). But I distinctly remember problems that arose in the 80's when churches began to allow women in leadership and affairs started to pop up everywhere. I will give you a good example of what I mean. There is a video where Paula White talks about meeting Jonathan Cain..and it dates back their initial meeting on the airplane to 2011 WHEN HE WAS STILL MARRIED. I do think you have a point on the fixation of headship but practically and bibically boundaries and guidelines are still needed. A lot of the problems that arose in the early church occurred when other women came into the fold leading and interrupting the family systems. I still see it at times today not just history. I do believe that older women over 60 were indeed leaders. Robert Morey suggest this in his writings as well.

Wade Burleson said...

Anonymous 6:12 PM Nov. 09,

“I’m concerned you are moving toward a Platonic theology.”

With respect, I am about as far removed from Platonism as Donald Trump is from the 2020 Democratic Platform. :)

I believe Christian servant leadership is based on spiritual giftedness, not sexual gender. And, I believe that’s the standard teaching of the New Testament.

Ken F said...

"My temperament is found among two percent of the men and one percent of the women. I think that alone is rather telling."

Hi Gerald,
What do you mean by this? Are you saying you are in the top 2%, bottom 2%, somewhere in the middle? Do you believe temperament is predisposed or developed by choice? Do you believe more people should have your temperament, and if so, how should one go about changing their temperament to be like yours?

Ken F said...

"my temperament is one that is labelled as a natural born leader. The top two percent on a bell curve among people are the true leaders."

Hi Gerald,
Your comment reminds me of this quote:
“Power is like being a lady… if you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.” -Margaret Thatcher

Rex Ray said...


…if you have to tell people how great you are, you aren’t.

GOOD ONE! I’m tired of hearing what you know who has done.


Your joke about Trump adopting the Democratic Platform, reminds me of the guy that said, “I’m going to save a lot of money Christmas because at Thanksgiving, I’m going to bring up Politics.” :)

Come to think of it, everyone is coming to our house for Thanksgiving.

Victorious said...

I believe that when a man leads men and woman, he will speak with a greater impact and be able to lead them better than a woman would. I think that has been shown in society and in the church in every society around the world.

Could that be because historically men have been afforded the opportunity to grow and mature in their giftings and that women have often been denied the same opportunity? I think you will agree that a male of @25 yrs. of age will most naturally speak with less impact than one of 30-40 or more years? Growth, maturity, and impact are the normal, natural results of time, opportuity and experience.

We should remember numerous women who tirelessly advocated for reform; i.e.
1) Dorothea Dix's efforts to change the practice of warehousing the mentally ill in prisons
2) Elizabeth Cady Stanton's passion in the fight for women's rights
3) Lucretia Mott was a Quaker, suffragist and abolitionist
4) Margaret Sanger left nursing to find practical methods of birth control for women
5) Carry Nation brought an awareness of the millions of women suffering at the hands of a drunken husband and co-founded the Women's Christian Temperance Union branch in Texas

....Sojourner Truth, Margaret Mead, and Harriet Tubman are also among the hundreds that could be mentioned as having an impact on both men and women. They dared to ignore the stereotype often quoted and rise to the occasion.

I believe God is encouraging women today to study the scriptures for themselves and they need not be ashamed for accurately handling the word of truth. 

Ken F said...

Hi Rex,
I've worked for some amazing leaders and others who were not so amazing. In my experience, there is an inverse correlation between a person's leadership and the claims they make about their leadership.

I'm also at a loss to name one great leader in the Bible who claimed to be a great leader or a natural born leader.

Ken F said...

"Jesus was and is who he claimed to be. The men he chose as apostles led what became the church."

Hi Gerald,
While I completely agree with your last comment I don't see how it addresses my comments. What is the connection?

Ken F said...

Hi Gerald
It would help me if you could show in the Bible where a great leader self-identified as a great leader. For example, where does Jesus claim to be a natural born leader, or that he is among the top two percent on a bell curve among people are the true leaders.

The question is not who are the great leaders in the Bible. Rather, the question is which of those leaders called themselves great leaders. I don't recall any of them doing that, so I am just asking for examples.

Ken F said...

Hi Gerald,
I think we might be understanding those passages about Jesus in different ways. While I agree that Jesus identifies himself as Lord, Messiah, and I AM (divinity), I don't see him saying that he is a natural leader, or a gifted leader, or that he is on the top 2% of men in terms of leadership. And I don't recall any other great leaders in the Bible talking about their leadership skills. The only leaders in the Bible that I can remember talking about their great leadership abilities are all listed as bad examples (e.g., Nebuchadnezzar before his famous humbling experience). Please let me know if I am remembering incorrectly.

I am also wondering how you came to believe that your leadership is among the top 2%. I don't see anything in the bible that describes such a standard or a means for determining whether or not a person meets such a standard. How do you know you are among the top 2% rather than, say, the bottom 2%?

Ken F said...

"My Bible says to focus on Jesus not what other men say."

"About the 2% is something I studied in graduate school."

Hi Gerald,
If I follow your logic, none of us should pay any attention to you at all because you got your ideas on leadership by what other men said (what you were taught in college) rather than what the Bible says.

Ken F said...

What was your reason for making the assertion that some unnamed statistical method places you in the top 2% of leaders? Are you suggesting that it should give your comments more weight than others here?

Ken F said...

You are avoiding my question by nit-picking over the question of whether you are in the top 2% of all men or all leaders. So I will repeat my question with clarification:
What was your reason for making the assertion that some unnamed statistical method places you in the top 2%? Are you suggesting that it should give your comments more weight than others here?

Ken F said...

"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough."
-- Albert Einstein

My question was very simple. If you cannot explain it simply then you don't understand what you are talking about.

It appears that you are attempting to use your natural born leadership status to give more weight to your comments. But the only thing that gives weight to any of the comments here is the fact that the writers are fellow humans who are created and loved by God. Our natural abilities, gender, race, education, experience, etc., cannot add more weight. And when we attempt to use them to add weight, we tend to diminish ourselves and others.

Ken F said...

You are avoiding my question. In my last question I did not ask you how you determined whether or not you are in the top 2%. Rather, I asked you why you think it is relevent and necessary to bring it up here? Do you think you need to mention it to add credibility to your comments? Or do you think it helps to undermine the comments of others? What is your point in telling us this about yourself?

Ken F said...

Is English your primary language? I am wondering why you avoid answering my question. Why should I care whether or not you are a natural born leader? How does it make a difference here on this blog?

Ken F said...

Why won't you say why you insist on identifying yourself as a natural born leader in the top 2%. How does that make a difference in the conversation? Does it mean you believe that your comments have more credibility than the comments from others? Or are you saying that only natural born leaders in the top 2% understand statistics? You have not explained the connection.

Ken F said...

"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."
- author unknown

It's obvious by now that you are not going to explain why you think it is necessary to tell us you are a natural born leader in the top 2%.

As for statistics, if you truly understood statistics you would not make the mistake of equating correlation with causation. If in fact "Women typically work more in serving jobs than men" it does not necessarily mean that women are better made for serving jobs than men. It could be the result of men not allowing women to work in other jobs. But this assumes that your statistics are correct. How are you certain that it is not the other way around? What are your sources? Have the results been peer reviewed? The veracity of your statistics depends on how different jobs are subjectively catalogued, as well as sample size and demographics of the people sampled (what country, what ethnicity, etc.)

But for the sake of argument, let's assume that "Women typically work more in serving jobs than men" is true. That would make women more Christlike than men because Jesus came to serve rather then be served.

Ken F said...

It sounds like you are saying the major problems in our churches would be solved if more men like you were in charge.

Ken F said...

For some fun with statistics:

Anonymous said...

I noticed you would like to debate James White, on this. What about this new young guy out of Southeastern Baptist... Jonathan Harris? He is actually defending John MacArthur's position and saying that he is being mischaracterized as well.

Anonymous said...

Wade, stated this earlier in the posts that he would like to debate James White, Mr. Polmateer.

To Wade,
The more I think about this egalitarian perspect, and perhaps its a matter of words, that perhaps that better term is mutualism. Egalitarianism is a secular humanistic term that assumes "equal rights, privileges" and comes out of the French Revolution as a mantra. Do you not know this Mr. Burleson? Also, complementarianism in the 1980's books on family systems did not assume that roles were not flexible, in fact they were. The basis was that roles were flexible and seeking to strengthen each other. The dialectic opposing view was traditionalism which relied on strict boundaries and roles. Please don't bite into this term "egalitarianism" Mr Wade which is liberal and can be utilized and transferable within any type of family system. That is why the term is being pushed.

Anonymous said...

Wade, I would encourage you and all who made comments to watch strikes a great balance concerning the new women of Rome versus the older more traditional women of Rome.

Rex Ray said...


Thanks for getting Gerald to expose himself for what he is. That makes you in the top one percent. :)

He reminds me of the guy who showed people his badge that allowed him to go anywhere.

He ignored the advice not to cross a pasture. A bull started chasing him. The advisor yelled, “Show him your badge!”

Rex Ray said...


For all you’ve done, have you prophesied, cast out demons, or done miracles?

Well, you know what Jesus told those guys.

I believe why you’re irritating is because people don’t appreciate those ‘tooting their own horn’.

Ken F said...

What is your source data for your claim of being in the top 2%? What was the methodology for assessing you fall in the top 2%?

Ken F said...

I am not the one making claims about myself, you are. It sounds like you are claiming some kind of authority based on some kind of statistical method. So it is fair for us to ask you why we should believe you.

Ken F said...

Wow. Do you realize you are using tactics used by despots and cult leaders? You entered the conversation by pointing out how much of a natural leader you are, without providing evidence, and then proceeded to insult or demand answers from everyone here who questioned you or disagreed with you. You expect answers without providing any. And you appear to require unquestioned obedience.

I have had enough experience with leaders of all types to know that I am grateful that you and I don't have a personal relationship and that I am not under your authority. I don't doubt that you are making disciples, but I wonder what kind of disciples you are making.

I suppose the dialogue between you and me has progressed about as far as it can go.

Rex Ray said...


I copy/paste this:

Gerald Polmateer said...I wrote "Ken, my temperament is one that is labelled as a natural born leader. The top two percent on a bell curve among people are the true leaders. They are those who are able to identify a problem and give a solution…" Wed Nov 20, 10:13:00 PM 2019

What percent on the bell curve of true leaders do you think Wade is?

You don’t know because he hasn’t told us. Maybe that should be your example and stop bragging.

Rex Ray said...


Can you read English? You’re so wrong your funny. (I did not ask a question about Wade, but said he should be your example.)

Rex Ray said...


You said, “Quote me where I made any reference to "the bell curve of true leaders" in any post anywhere.”

On November 11, 02:00:00 PM 2019, you wrote:

“Ken, my temperament is one that is labelled as a natural born leader. The top two present on a bell curve among people are the TRUE LEADERS.

If I was a ‘follower of yours, I’m afraid I might end up drinking ‘Cool-Aid’. :)

Ken F said...

"My Bible says to focus on Jesus not what other men say."

"the information is available in government documents"

Do you not see the blatant incongruity between these two quotes of yours? You say you only listen to what Jesus says, but you expect others to listen to what the government says? Nice.

You keep making unsubstantiated claims about where you fall on a certain bell curve. While it's possible that you are telling the truth about this, you refuse to tell us how this was determined. For example, were you a participant in a government or university study? Or were you assessed in some kind of standardized test with an appropriately credentialed evaluator? Or did you self-assess yourself based on something you read on the internet? Or did you just make it up? This is a fair question to ask you since you keep asserting it so frequently. But you refuse to answer. Why is that? It is either because you don't want to answer or you cannot answer, or both. And instead of answering, you accuse those who question you of being intelligent and uneducated.

I don't believe you. If what you say about your location on the bell curve were true you would be able to explain very easily how this was determined. But more importantly, if you were a true leader you would not be so condescending, arrogant, and avoidant.

Ken F said...

"If you know what a bell curve is among people then you will find the top two percent (3 sigma) of the people are leaders."

What is this based on? A normal distribution requires a random variable. What is the random variable for your curve? And who did the sampling? What was the sample size? What was the sampled populations If you cannot cite actual sources it means you are making it up.

Ken F said...

Here you go again. Instead of naming the test that identified you in the top 2% you insist on lecturing me on statistics. This tactic of yours is called deflection. The reason I don't believe you is because no true leader would resort to such dysfunctional tactics. By now, I believe you are a fraud.

Rex Ray said...


I don’t think Gerald is a fraud; he’s more like the rooster that crows but it’s the hen that lays the eggs.

Ken F said...

Hi Rex,
On a completely different topic, I think you might find this article interesting:

Ken F said...

"When did I ever mention one test?"

This is good news - we finally agree on something.

Rex Ray said...


Great link. I know several that dominate conversations.

After Gerald’s comment on Fri Nov 22, 08:49:00 AM 2019, I’m beginning to think he’s a ‘good guy’ that got off on the wrong foot.

Ken F said...

I agree that we apparently misunderstood each other. Would you be willing to clarify some points you made that I apparently misunderstood? Here they are:

1) "Where did I ever say how much of a natural born leader I am?"
It was in the statement that you made numerous times in this thread and repeated at the top of your last comment. Are you saying you have the temperament of a natural born leader even though you are not actually a natural born leader? This seems like a distinction without a difference. I don't understand how you can claim you never claimed to be a natural born leader when you so clearly stated multiple times that you have the temperament of a natural born leader.

2) "My temperament is found among two percent of the men and one percent of the women. I think that alone is rather telling."
I asked you why this is relevant. What were you attempting to communicate to us by stating this? Was it to give more weight to your comments? If it is telling, what is it attempting to tell us? Do you agree that when someone makes a truth claim it is ok for others to challenge the veracity of that claim?

3) You continued to cite general statistical concepts without demonstrating why you fall on that particular bell curve in the top 2%. I was hoping you would explain how you discovered you were on that curve rather than a different curve.

There are other points you made that I dont understand, but the ones above would be a good start.

Ken F said...

Thanks for the clarification - it helps quite a lot. Had you explained this earlier I would have thought differently of you. When I kept asking you for an explanation you kept citing generic un-named sources and assumed that I have no background in statistics. It led me to think you were a blowhard. My background in statistics is from an engineering and mathematics perspective while yours appears to be from a sociology perspective.

Can I ask a few follow-on questions. Unless you are talking about a multivariate distribution, the bell curve only describes a single numerical variable. When it comes to putting leadership on a bell curve, what is the variable? I know what it means to put numbers like IQ, or height, or weight, or mean income on a graph, but what is the number that determines leadership and how is it measured? It seems to me that it would have to be some kind of subjective number that rolls up a number of subjectively evaluated characteristics. It seems that results could vary widely based on what factors are considered. For example, where would leaders like Stalin, Hitler, Muhammed, David Korean, Joseph Smith, etc., fall on that curve? These men obviously had many disciples, but I don't think you would advocate putting them in charge of Christian ministries.

The other aspect of statistics that you seemed to overlook is sample size and sample population. For example, one cannot make a bell curve with a sample size of four. Likewise, it is impossible to make sample of the entire world population. So bell curves like the one you describe are based on a reasonably sized representative populations, which means there is always a margin of error. Do you have any references that describe how leadership is determined through statistical means? I am not asking for a primer on statistics. Rather, I am aking for objective, peer-reviewed evidence that leadership can be put on a bell curve.

Finally, did you mean to suggest that women are naturally made for serving jobs because that is where they fall statistically? In other words, should statistics be used to justify gender roles?

Rex Ray said...


Have you heard the names of people that are ahead of others?

One step ahead = Thinker
Two steps ahead = Leader
Three steps ahead = Pioneer
Four steps ahead = Martyr

Ken F said...

If you ever remember the names of those studies on leadership I would be interested in reading some.

Is there any possibility that you were remembering temperaments being measured in a histogram rather than a bar chart? A bar or pie chart would make a lot more sense for measuring population percentages of non-continuous data. For example, things like blood type and eye color do not have numerical values, but we can estimate how common they are in a population based on statistical sampling and represent the results in a bar chart or pie chart. It would make a lot of sense to do the same with temperament types. Otherwise there would have to be some kind of numerical value assigned to temperament type, and it's not clear to me how this would be done.

Ken F said...

Good info. Thanks.

Ken F said...

I also thank you for working through this. It can be difficult to sort out misunderstandings and disagreements in forums such as this.