On Being a Pastor
Beth Moore is a female pastor. She does more than just teach Bible studies to women, she teaches from the pulpit to entire church congregations. Further, she frequently preaches in guest roles in churches across the country. Is this something that is in line with what the Bible teaches?
The role of pastor is not one to be taken lightly. Many people don’t seem to grasp the sheer magnitude of the responsibility of the role. The Bible lays out extremely strict qualifications. A lot of this can be due to a high view of self, and a low view of God. This leads to a low view of Scripture. Consequently, what we find ourselves battling in churches is a slew of pastors who fly onto the stage by way of ropes, or dance around in silly costumes, or use superhero sermon series. They have turned the preaching the very word of God into a circus. And it is downright shameful. Another consequence of this is when you have high profile people preaching, who were never qualified to begin with, who fall into horrendous sin. They leave the ministry for a short while, only to emerge pastoring yet another church – where they are still unqualified. They fail to grasp that many sins have a lasting and detrimental consequence.
“Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.” James 3:1
Many people have lessened the severity of God’s judgment upon those who preach and teach. It is no wonder that the content of these preachers is full of shallow, pragmatic, emotionalism and is totally devoid of any substance. No wonder that these “pastors” and “teachers” are so quick to jump on a bandwagon that will make them more appealing to the masses, such as the Liberal Agenda and the “11th Commandment of Thou Shalt Being Nice” to quote a phrase from Bro. Voddie. What they fail to grasp is that the Bible teaches that we are commanded to judge rightly, and that part of a pastor’s role is to call out the wolves in order to protect the flock.
Part of the role of the pastor is to teach sound doctrine, to equip his flock to grow in sanctification and to denounce false doctrine. Many believers are untaught, and false doctrine is so very appealing in many ways. Especially when false doctrine is taught in “effort to evangelize.” Anytime we water down or compromise on what Scripture says, in order for it to be received better we are not “speaking the truth in love” as we are commanded to do in Ephesians 4:15. This is a subtle way that many pastors are contradicting God’s Word.
For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict. (Titus 1:7–9)
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“Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction” 2 Timothy 4:2
“To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them – not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; nor lording it over those entrused to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.” 1 Peter 5:1-4
“An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since and overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless – not overbearing, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.” Titus 1:5-9
“Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap. In the same way, deacons are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons. In the same way, the women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything. A deacon must be faithful to his wife and must manage his children and his household well. Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.” 1 Timothy 3:1-13
The Woman’s Role in the Church
This entire debate boils down to an issue of Complementarianism vs Egalitarianism. Those most believers will understand that there are just those two categories – there are variations of each also. Please note, when I am discussing Complementarianism, I am not in agreeance with the abusive form of patriarchy that is seen in a lot of conservative circles. Women are not commanded to submit to all men, just her husband. We can take this a step further and even ascertain that this is an issue of the culture seeping into the church – the Feminist Agenda is toxic. It is no more about the fair treatment of women as it is about pushing an agenda that belittles and castrates men. But these are issues that are better addressed in their own separate article.
Please take a moment to read this article to understand the vital significance of complementarianism: https://strivingforeternity.org/whats-the-difference-between-egalitarian-marriage-and-complementarian-marriage/
Our culture has minimalized the importance of the Biblical role God has given to women. The primary role of women is the caretaker of the home and the raising of children. This is the highest glory of a woman. (Natural exceptions of course, in regards to barrenness, etc, but that doesn’t negate the responsibility for the barren woman to help nurture and speak into the life of children within her realm of influence.) In order for her to be able to do this well, she must be well educated in matters of Scripture. She must be able to teach well and to exegete the scriptures. At any stage of life, whether it is singleness or chasing young toddlers or coping with an empty nest – a woman can participate in her role and devote herself to glorifying God fully. See 1 Corinthians 7. This role is just as equally God-honoring and God-glorifying and absolutely necessary for the church body like any other.
“Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.” Titus 2:3-5
The Bible doesn’t say that God doesn’t give some women a mind that is able to more comprehend the knowledge of the scripture and the ability to exegete passages than others. Knowledge is indeed a gift. Teaching is a gift. But just because a woman is given this ability doesn’t mean that she has the calling to take on the authority of the role of teacher or preacher within the confines of the church. That’s because the position of preacher has a MASSIVE significance. It means something. This mirrors the same roles that we see in the home: where the husband is a servant-leader to his wife and the wife is a partner in life’s greatest work and a strong helper for him. This is a beautiful picture of how the church is in Christ, and how the members of the Trinity submit to one another. These living theological illustrations are here so that we might know Him more.
“But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created then Eve.” 1 Timothy 2:12-13
Biblically the authoritative office of the church is Pastor, Elder, and Deacon. The Pastor and Elders are teaching roles and the Deacon is a service role. What about Sunday School or a home-based bible study? If it is church-sanctioned – it falls under the authority of the church and the leadership rules still apply. We can see this in 1 Timothy. Even if the woman doesn’t hold the office of pastor, elder, deacon then she still can’t exegete the Bible to men in a church-sanctioned setting. But if it is just a group of friends getting together for a Bible study there is no reason that a woman can’t offer insight or even lead a home-based non-church-sanctioned study.
Women can also teach church history, or Greek or Hebrew. There isn’t any reason that a woman can’t write theological blogs (like I am doing) or write theological books. As long as she is not taking on the mantle of a role that God has designated for men.
In Scripture, we do not see God calling or endorsing women to teach the Bible in church. At all. In the Old Testament, there were not any women priests. In the New Testament, there was not any woman who had the position of pastor. In fact, this wasn’t even an issue until the feminist movement in the last century.
Acts 18:26 “and he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquailla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately”
We do see Priscilla and Aquilla helping Apollos, in their own home. She was not a church pastor nor was she preaching in a church. She and her husband met with Apollos in their own home to discuss doctrine. This is significant. Women can and should learn the scripture – and there is nothing wrong with women being involved in educational theological discussions. But the role of pastor, the authority of teaching to a church body is left to men alone.
What about Deborah you may ask? Deborah was a judge. Not a priest. And she was given that position as an act of judgment and discipline to the nation of Israel. What about Phoebe? She was the wife of a deacon – the wives of deacons are involved in the function of ministry too, just not an authoritative role.
Either Scripture is totally sufficient for all knowledge of God, and all aspects of godliness including the way the church functions or its not. If Scripture is totally sufficient, as it claims to be since it is the very Word of God – then Beth Moore is in error. The pattern of ministry that she is using will continue to be replicated in churches where her material is utilized. And the most loving thing we can do is to beg and plead with her to repent.