Who Shapes Our View Of Women Bible Teachers?
I am convinced the Lord uses different types of churches to minister to different kinds of people. Also, I believe there are essential and non-essential doctrines to the Christian faith. Essential doctrines are non-negotiable, while non-essentials provide space for charitable disagreement. However, some differences between non-essential and essential issues distinguish one church from another.
Our church is called Calvary Chapel. This is not because I’m opposed to another church or their name. Nor am I opposed to working alongside of other churches who see things differently than we do. We call our church Calvary Chapel because we believe and hold to the teaching of the churches associated with Calvary Chapels.
There are certain beliefs that we have as Calvary Chapels unique to who we are as a collective group of churches. If I didn’t agree with the distinctives or beliefs we share, I would change our name to be true to my convictions, and to ensure no confusion within the body of Christ, or among other Calvary Chapels.
Recently an article was posted on June 3, by pastor Brian Broderson (PB) of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa entitled, “The War on Beth Moore: What Shapes Our View of Women Bible Teachers?” In the article, pastor Brian alludes to some of the challenges facing Beth Moore, and presents his belief about a woman’s role in the ministry of the church. His position states, that he “changed once he dug into the scriptures and saw the weakness of his (previous) position.” He presents his personal conviction and practice which differs from the position marked by Calvary Chapels in the past. His comments not only present a change in direction, but also raise several insinuations toward those who would disagree with his new discovery. He begins his article by explaining his reasoning for placing women behind the pulpit at recent church gatherings.
LOCATION AND EXPOSITION
PB: “Now just to clarify, the “main stage” upon which my wife and another woman spoke to a mixed audience was not in a church. Where was it? It was in a cowshed. Yes, that’s right, a cowshed. Our main teaching and music venue is in a cowshed, and somehow, when the ladies stepped out of the seminar tents onto the main stage, they were treading on “holy ground” and violating Scripture by teaching the Bible to a mixed audience of men and women, boys and girls … in a cowshed. Go figure.” (The War on Beth Moore: What Shapes Our View of Women Bible Teachers? Brian Broderson)
At the annual Creation Festival Outreach in England held in a “cowshed”, and a recent CGN missions conference and CGN youth workers conference held at the Murrieta Conference Center in California , some women were placed in the pulpit for the main sessions. They taught the expositional Bible studies to a mixed audience including pastors, leaders, and missionaries.
It appears from the article that whether or not a woman teaches a Bible study to a mixed audience only depends on the location. According to the article, preaching and teaching in a cowshed is different from teaching in an actual church building. However, scripture reveals that the church is the people, not the building or venue where they gather. Therefore, whether the church meets in a cowshed or cathedral, the people represent the body of Christ. Location is not justification for the practice of a woman operating in the role and function of a pastor, even without the title of pastor. Pastor Brian shares his thoughts about how he came to the obvious conclusion on this important biblical issue.
SHALLOW LAZY PREJUDICE *
PB: “As I listened and am now hearing again these kinds of arguments against a woman ever teaching a man, the shallowness, laziness, and prejudice of those espousing these views are so blatantly obvious to me.” (The War on Beth Moore: What Shapes Our View of Women Bible Teachers? Brian Broderson)
According to the article, if you don’t agree that a woman should be given the opportunity to fill your pulpit by “teaching” the congregation, the implication is you are shallow, lazy, and prejudiced. The list of the “lazy, shallow, and prejudice” would include gifted theologians and expositors of scripture such as: J.I. Packer, D.A. Carson, Al Mohler, Norm Giesler, Chuck Smith, and more. PB links this shallowness to the lack of a “fresh, hard look at Scripture.” Although I don’t agree with pastor Brian’s new position on the role of women in the ministry, I would never want to refer to him as lazy, shallow, or prejudice because his view was different from mine.
PB: “Shallowness: Why do I say that? They are shallow because they are leaning on tradition and church policy rather than taking a fresh, hard look at what Scripture says.” (The War on Beth Moore: What Shapes Our View of Women Bible Teachers? Brian Broderson)
According to the article, if you believe a woman should not occupy the pulpit in teaching doctrine to men and women, you are guilty of leaning on tradition and church policy, and these traditions are so deeply embedded that those who adhere to these traditions are unwilling to ask important questions concerning church policy.
PB: “… holding on to decades-old, or in some cases even centuries-old, traditions that some have never stopped to consider or question.” (The War on Beth Moore: What Shapes Our View of Women Bible Teachers? Brian Broderson)
Further, the article suggests if you believe women should not teach to mixed audiences in the congregation, the reason is not because of your biblical exposition, but because you are shackled to decades and centuries of ancient tradition. A reference is also made in the article to those who have broken traditions in the past and been proud of that decision.
PROUD TRADITION BREAKERS
PB: “Most evangelically-minded people are proud to be tradition breakers, but I guess in some cases, some traditions are too sacred to break.” (The War on Beth Moore: What Shapes Our View of Women Bible Teachers? Brian Broderson)
According to “The War on Beth Moore” article, if you disagree with having a woman teach for you in the church, the implication is you’re not “evangelically minded,” and you are unwilling to break with your sacred traditions. PB implies that these sacred traditions have been handed down from generation to generation.
GENERATION TO GENERATION
PB: “I say lazy because they seem to be unwilling to take the time to consider what the text might actually be saying and are instead just depending on an interpretation that’s been handed down from generation to generation.” (The War on Beth Moore: What Shapes Our View of Women Bible Teachers? Brian Broderson)
If you don’t believe a woman should be teaching to mixed audiences on any given day of the week, it could be due to a lazy approach when studying scripture. The article implies you haven’t taken time to consider the text you are reading, and you’re only depending on interpretations handed down from the previous generation. With all due respect, it stands to reason, that PB could also be charged with the same approach that he writes of others throughout the article.
MISUNDERSTANDING OF SCRIPTURE
PB: But the question remains: “Why would it be okay for women to prophesy to a mixed group but not to teach? I’ve yet to have anyone give me a good biblical answer to this. Actually, I don’t think there is a biblical answer because I don’t think there is a real distinction. The distinction is one we’ve invented by our misunderstanding of what Paul is actually saying to Timothy.” (The War on Beth Moore: What Shapes Our View of Women Bible Teachers? Brian Broderson)
If you disagree with having a woman occupy the pulpit and expositionally teach to a mixed audience in the congregation, then PB says, “you misunderstand what Paul said to Timothy.” PB suggests that the more rigid distinctions are ones we have invented through misunderstanding the text. But it may be possible that PB has also misunderstood the text, and in turn has invented his own malleable distinction. With utmost respect for PB’s personal convictions I would disagree agreeably.
If you are interested in a biblical answer to the question concerning what Paul said to Timothy, click on the following link: “Women in the Church: 1 Timothy 2:8-15” As the article continues to unfold, I believe we come to the heart of the matter, which is an honest confession concerning pastor Brian’s own personal change of conviction on the role of women in the ministry; which he is free in Christ to express.
AN HONEST CONFESSION
PB: “Here I must make a confession, I used to hold to a more hard complementarian position on this and also taught that women shouldn’t teach men. What changed? I realized that I’d never really given it much thought and that my conclusions were more based on assumption than a deep consideration of the relevant text. Once I dug into the passages, I saw the weakness of my own position.” (The War on Beth Moore: What Shapes Our View of Women Bible Teachers? Brian Broderson)
If you maintain a woman should not teach in the pulpit to a mixed audience, then according to PB’s article, you may have not given enough thought to your position, and your conclusions might be based on assumptions rather than the biblical text. The counsel PB gives is that you should reconsider the relevant text, and if you fail to do so, then you could be in danger of holding others back.
GUILTY OF HOLDING OTHERS BACK
PB: “I don’t want to be guilty of holding back any of God’s servants in the use of their gifts for His glory, and that includes women like Beth Moore and my wife and many others who have an obvious gift to teach God’s Word and are a blessing to many, women and men alike.” (The War on Beth Moore: What Shapes Our View of Women Bible Teachers? Brian Broderson)
If you believe a woman should not teach the congregation of men and women, you could be in danger of holding her back from using her gifts. I would never want to be guilty of holding anyone back from being used by the Lord regardless of their gender. I am thankful for the amazing, godly, women who serve within the church. So much of the ministry would cease altogether if the women in the fellowship stopped serving. They are a vital part of church life. However I realize if I placed a woman in a role and function within the church that God had not called her to then I could be guilty of stumbling her and others in the process. At the conclusion of his article, PB shares a passage from the Old Testament.
AN OLD TESTAMENT CHARACTER
PB: “But I want to conclude my thoughts with just one biblical example of a woman who spoke the Word of God to a king. Her name was Huldah; she was a prophet and a contemporary of Jeremiah. These are her words to Josiah, king of Judah: “Thus says the LORD God of Israel, ‘Behold, I will send calamity on this place and on its inhabitants … but because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before God when you heard his words against this place and against its inhabitants, and you humbled yourself before me, and you tore your clothes and wept before me, I also have heard you,’ says the LORD. Surely I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace; and your eyes shall not see all the calamity which I will bring on this place and its inhabitants” (2 Chronicles 34:22-28). (The War on Beth Moore: What Shapes Our View of Women Bible Teachers? Brian Broderson)
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE ARTICLE
Pastor Brian’s article concludes with an Old Testament passage taken from 2 Chronicles 34. Although it’s a wonderful passage, it’s not a proof text for women teaching men and women in the congregation.
One thing I am thankful for concerning this article is that pastor Brian is now being open and honest about his change of position on the role of women in ministry. I respect him as a brother in Christ. I recognize and appreciate his work as a pastor. I also believe his comments have helped clarify where he and the CGN churches stand on the subject.
At the same time, if you disagree with his position, it doesn’t mean that you are lazy, shallow, or prejudice. It doesn’t mean you haven’t given enough deep consideration to the passages you are preaching. It doesn’t mean that you are shackled to tradition and church policy. It doesn’t indicate you are attempting to hold anyone back from using his or her gifts to glorify God. Nor does it imply that all Calvary Chapels are going in this new change of direction with PB. It does mean however that pastor Brian has taken a different position on the role of women in the church. And it does reveal that his definition of complementarian has changed. PB writes “ I hold a soft complementarian position, as do many other solid orthodox believers……
To some they may think that this recent change is not that significant. A small shift won’t have that much of an impact. Yet it reminds me of the laws and principles of navigation. For every single degree you fly off course, you will miss your target landing spot by 92 feet for every mile you fly. That amounts to about one mile off target for every sixty miles flown. So, the longer you travel off course, the further you will be away from the intended target. The point being, if a pilot is one degree off it can determine whether he lands on an island, or in the ocean.
I pray the Lord will continue to lead pastor Brian in the days ahead as he attempts to navigate this new course. My honest and genuine concern is what else has changed, or may change in the future? My suggestion to PB would be that he would prayerfully consider changing the name of his fellowship. Although that is highly unlikely, it might help clear up any further confusion among Calvary Chapels as to where we stand on this important biblical issue and others that may come up. I realize that Calvary Chapel is only a name, yet at the same time as long as I have been pastoring it has always meant something significant to me. I understand that methods can change and even presentation may differ based upon the personality of a pastor, but that is not the issue at hand.
In addition, I would hope that if there were others who agree with pastor Brian’s change of direction, that they would also pray about changing the name of their church. This would prevent any potential confusion in the future among the Calvary Chapel churches in the United States and especially overseas.
* Before I posted this article I emailed Pastor Brian and informed him that I would be responding to his recent post. I shared with him that my comments were not meant to attack him personally, but only to provide clarity for Calvary Chapels who were confused by his post and may disagree with his change of direction~PJ
*Pastor Brian’s Revisions and Further Clarification
Following the release of “The War on Beth Moore: What Shapes Our View Of Women Bible Teachers?” article on June 3, and the “CGN Statement On Women In Ministry Leadership” on June 6, there was another revision providing further clarification on June 7.
PB: In a recent article I wrote on women Bible teachers, I referred to some who hold a rigid view against women teaching a mixed group including men as shallow, lazy and prejudice. I want to clarify that I wasn't referring to those who disagree with me on the issue. I know there are many great minds and some of my good friends who would hold a different view than I do. I was referring to those who want to label anyone who disagrees with their rigid view as liberal and in some way heretical. They are the shallow, lazy and prejudice ones. I don't think I communicated that very well so I wanted to clarify for those who had questions. Thanks!“ -Twitter June 7, 2019