What did John MacArthur say about Beth Moore and What underlying message did we miss?
Let’s take a deeper look at the Dr. John MacArthur and Beth Moore debacle
Dr. John MacArthur attended, as the Guest of Honor, and spoke at the Truth Matters Conference in October 2019 at his church, Grace Community Church, as part of celebrating his fifty years in ministry. The theme of the conference was The Sufficiency of Scripture; and the conference was intended to highlight the doctrinal distinctive that set MacArthur’s Bible teachings apart from others.
MacArthur is a Calvinist Baptist who heads up a non-denominational megachurch, Grace Community Church, in California.
If one understands the long held beliefs of the Calvinists, one knows that one point of their defining five point doctrine is Unconditional Election. At first glance, this can be read–and, maybe was originally taught–as something very good: that God chose us before we ever decided to choose him; that he loved us and sought us before we sought him. However, the Calvinist Baptist believe that–yes–God chose us first, but that he only chose some of us first: The Elect.
So, while you may be living as a born again believer, if you are not apart of The Elect of God, you will not gain admittance into Heaven.
One can quickly see how this way of thinking could poison ones reality of the Love of God and the hierarchy of people within the church body. So, would it be any surprise for a Man of God within this body of thinking to want women to stay quiet within the church? Would it be any surprise that a Man of God within this body of thinking to, also, be a strict complementarian?
At this conference, MacArthur got himself into hot water when he made some rather offensive comments, as did other panelist, on the subject of Beth Moore. Beth Moore is a member of the Southern Baptist’s (which is intertwined with the Calvinists) church. Moore is an evangelist, author of many books and Bible lessons and is the founder of Living Proof Ministries.
And, she is a woman.
Beth Moore, herself, has been found in hot water making very bold and public rebuke of President Donald Trump and the misogyny she says lurks within the walls of the church, itself. Beth Moore has, also, been backed against the wall with concerns about how ardently she expresses her views on issues of sexuality, but how she dances around the issue of homosexuality within the church. Beth Moore has been known to be close with another progressive christian author, Jen Hatmaker, who has stated on her Facebook page that scripture no longer applied or that scripture needed to be modified to fit the current culture that we live in concerning homosexuality.
Coincidentally, now, Beth Moore is under attack from the very men that she is wagging her finger at.
But, more than any other thing, it would seem (besides the fact that Beth Moore has been teaching the Bible for more than 20 years) that MacArthur is very concerned with the fact that Beth Moore might consider herself a “preacher” of Gods word, primarily. At least, that is what he veils his concerns behind: that there is no biblical basis for women preachers in the church.
And, he doesn’t even stop with Moore, advancing on and attacking Paula White who was once the senior pastor of New Destiny Christian Center in Florida for preaching the “prosperity gospel” and being “three times married” calling her a heretic.
You can see the exchange for yourself. I have only viewed/listened to the sound clip that is attached to an image of the event, now made infamous, that someone uploaded to YouTube. What we see or hear from the video/sound recording, are three men (one man being Dr. John MacArthur) on stage preparing to play a “word” game, the Host announces. You can read the transcript below and hear the actual recording through the link that follows.
- Host (Todd): …I will say a word and then the three of you need to give a one or a pithy response to the word. Are you ready?
- MacArthur: I feel like I am being set up. (laughing)
- Other man: That is always the case with Todd. Watch out for him. He will try to embarrass you.
- Host (Todd): …Let us begin with an easy one. The word is: Beth Moore
- MacArthur: That is two words.
- Host (Todd): Liberalist!…Alright…Dr. MacArthur, Beth Moore?
- MacArthur: How Many Words do I get?
- Host (Todd): You know, actually, and before you answer this, please think carefully this time, because the last time that you did a one word association the guy wrote a book about it and we don’t want that
- MacArthur: I was thinking of the same word…
- Host (Todd): Okay
- MacArthur: Go home! (A lot of laughter. You can hear women laughing, as well)
- Host (Todd): Well, I see that we are warmed up. Why dilly-dally?
- MacArthur: Um…there is no case that can be made, biblically, for a woman preacher, period, paragraph, end of discussion. (clapping)
- Host (Todd): So, Let me see if I can get a clarification on that…(laughing)…got one. Phil? Anything to add?
- Phil Johnson: No. The word that comes to my mind is narcissistic. I think that the first time that I saw her, I thought, she…she is…this…going back to the last session of what Mike said, this is what it looks like to preach yourself rather than Christ.
- Host (Todd): Alright…
- Phil Johnson: She..in fact…she has said that, she said “…I read the Bible and I try to find myself in the narrative; I put myself in the narrative. And, that is exactly what she does.”
- Host (Todd) changes the subject for a short time and then asks another man about Beth Moore.
- Man #3 (Mike?): I heard John MacArthur say “Period. Paragraph. End of story”. (laughing)
- Host (Todd): Alright. One more and then we will get into our video clips.
- MacArthur: I will just add one thing. Just because you have the skill to sell jewelry on the t.v. sales channel doesn’t mean you should be preaching. There are people who have certain hocking skills, um…natural abilities to sell, they have energy and personality and all of that. That doesn’t qualify you to preach.
- Host (Todd): Dr. MacArthur, we have done this a number of times and I have asked you a number of questions on pretty broad ranging issues. I am perceiving this is actually troubling you.
- MacArthur: Profoundly troubling me because I think the church is caving into women preachers. Ummm..just the other day, the same thing happened with Paula White. A whole bunch of leading evangelicals endorsed her new book. She is a heretic and a prosperity preacher three times married. And..What..What are they thinking? The #MeToo Movement, again, is the culture reclaiming ground in the church. When the leaders of evangelicalism roll over for women preachers, the feminists have really won the battle. (clapping) Umm..The primary..the primary..the primary effort in feminism is not equality. Its not…they don’t want equality…that’s why 99% of plumbers are men. They don’t want equal power to be a plumber. They want to be senators, preachers, congressmen, president, the power structure in a university. They want power–not equality. Um…and this is..this is the highest location they can ascend to that power in the evangelical church and overturn what is clearly scriptural. So…I..I…I think this is feminism gone to church. This is why we can’t let the culture exegete the Bible. And, I need to add a footnote, that when the Southern Baptist met in June and they passed Resolution 9 and they said Intersectionality and Critical Theory are useful tools in interpreting the Bible, that was a watershed moment for that entire movement because if the culture has the right to interpret the Bible they will interpret the Bible and Liberalism will take over. This is in evidence that they are allowing the culture to interpret the scripture. A couple of weeks after that, there was a panel discussion of Southern Baptist leaders who said there should never be another translation committee without a Latino, an African American and a woman on it. Translation of the Bible? How about somebody who knows Greek and Hebrew? (Clapping) So…This is…This is not a minor issue. When you, literally, overturn the clear teaching of scripture to empower people who want power….uh…you have given up Biblical authority. This is not a small issue.
- Host (Todd): People would say…no…that…it…it’s…it’s not our intention, specifically, after the convention of the Southern Baptist Convention, this is not about egalitarianism…this is, maybe, perhaps a soft complementarianism…First if all, is there such a thing as ‘soft complementarianism’?
- MacArthur: I…I…I don’t know about terms. I just know women are not allowed to preach. (laughing and clapping)
- Host (Todd): Do you think that that is the direction that the SBC is headed in?
- MacArthur: Oh! It’s more than the direction. It was a plunge, headlong. But it’s not just that. You can see it in other things that they are tolerant of. Um..You know, I guess in some ways it is remarkable that they have lasted as long as they did when all the other denominations have been gone 30, 40, 50, 60 years ago and they held onto an errancy and they held onto a legitimate hermeneutic, but when you decide that the culture can interpret the scripture and you need cultural cues to translate the Bible, the horse is out of the barn.
- Host (Todd): Do you believe that, on that issue, it is…can the horse be returned to the barn?
- MacArthur: It’s not likely…because, that…that is a result of a democratic decision. They voted on that, right? And, the majority voted that external cultural cues are useful tools in interpreting the Bible. Um..That’s the fruit of inadequate teaching…at a core level…at a foundational level. So, how do you turn that around without going back into the whole operation and changing the way they understand [inaudible in my recording] [end of my recording]
You can listen to the same recording here.
It is interesting when a persons words can be recorded and reviewed and broken down. One can see the underlying themes, bents or “between the lines” messages. And, as such, I think that we can learn a lot about the heart of Dr. MacArthur as he was allowed to continue on speaking, foolishly, in my opinion.
Does scripture support anything that Dr. John MacArthur has said? He thinks so.
Some of the scriptures that MacArthur is basing his argument on are:
And, I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.
1 Timothy 2:12
You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.
I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book;
MacArthur believes that scripture is to be taken literal, without any interpretation and he believes that 1 Timothy 2:12 wholly disqualifies a woman from teaching–especially teaching men on Biblical truths.
On Grace Community Churches website they have a section on The Role of Women. I found the overall piece to be fair and well written–not the same tone apparent in MacArthur’s voice when he references Beth Moore or other female evangelists.
He, also, asserts that culture cannot have any effect on the interpretation of scripture. While this is a heavily debated assertion, I, myself, find the Bible laden with cultural references and find it difficult to not think that God, through his Holy Spirit, would not reveal to us how to apply scripture, once written for the first century church, to our present day lives in the twenty-first century.
And, can a woman preach/teach if she submits herself to the authority of a man or pastor? Would that fit a 1 Timothy scenario? And, if so, does that mean that it is more about a woman’s attitude of submission than it is about her sex?
Whatever your bent and belief on the issue of women preaching and/or teaching the word of God, my greatest concern was the tone of the event transcribed above. There was not a tone of christian love—in fact—there was absolutely a tone of racism and misogyny, as evidenced in the following comment:
“A couple of weeks after that, there was a panel discussion of Southern Baptist leaders who said there should never be another translation committee without a Latino, an African American and a woman on it. Translation of the Bible? How about somebody who knows Greek and Hebrew? So…This is…This is not a minor issue. When you, literally, overturn the clear teaching of scripture to empower people who want power….uh…you have given up Biblical authority. This is not a small issue. ”Dr. John MacArthur
MacArthur would assume that a Latino, an African American and a woman wouldn’t, also, know Greek and Hebrew? I do not know anywhere in the Bible that there are any scriptures on Latino’s or African American’s in the same consideration that he is applying to women. Either way, translating a Bible from Hebrew to English is not addressed in his scriptures about women preaching in the church, anyway! His skills at interpolation are quite keen, I would say. Most interesting is how he lumps all of them together, though, as people who simply want power—his power.
The heart of the man is betrayed by his mouth!
And, then the whole assembly sits around chuckling and clapping as Moore is called a narcissist by Phil Johnson because she tries to put herself in the Bible stories, tries to apply the Bible to her own life? Is that not what we are supposed to be doing? If not, then I have been reading the LIVING word, the bread of life, all wrong, these many, many years. If it is supposed to be my nutrition, and I can view it as my physical sustenance, but I can not apply it to my life and live in and through it, then it very much is NOT living–which contradicts the word of God!
Is secular feminism invading the church?
This seems to be at the heart of MacArthur’s fears. I think that if the love of God permeates the church, the fear of secular feminism would not have any foothold, to begin with. But, when you have a power structure that is corrupt (see more information on the new claims of sexual abuse in the SBC), then 1. their heart is not rooted in the love of Jesus and 2. their focus and fear is on losing their perceived “power”; mans power. Again, a man is to be in submission to God–even if he is the head over a woman–and “power” in and of itself should never be his goal.
At the end of the day, the whole debacle is saddening. MacArthur was busy pointing out the speck in Beth Moore’s eye while behaving just like the world, himself. The display that I heard didn’t sound far off from what I would hear if I were to flip on the television and turn on any liberal news channel.
Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
We are supposed to be a light in the darkness. We are supposed to be a display of Gods Hope and God’s Glory to a fallen people, but instead, MacArthur publicly devoured one of his own sisters for the world to see and mock. We are supposed to show the world “a different way”–a better way. That, he did not do.
I do hope that he and Phil Johnson offer a heartfelt apology for how they and Host Todd behaved.
And, to my original question: Is there a place for women at the pulpit? To that I say, absolutely.
I say to the MacArthur’s of the world that I would proceed with great caution putting God in a box. God’s heart is changed many times throughout scripture through the pleadings and through the failings of man. God sees the hearts of man. God sees what goes on behind closed doors. God sees the victims that we may not see or know about. God honors women throughout scripture and places great honor on women still today. God. Is. All. Knowing. God will not be mocked. God will not be used to manipulate or to abuse. God knows the hearts of his female servants. God is doing a mighty work today opening doors to the hidden sexual sins of men in power.
God used a lowly beast of burden to turn the rebellious Balaam back around. Why wouldn’t he, moreover, use Godly women, those he honors over and over again in the Bible, to speak wisdom during these dark times?