There is no case that can be made biblically for a woman preacher. Period. Paragraph. End of discussion.
• John MacArthur
• • •
Last week, John MacArthur celebrated 50 years in the pastorate at a conference at his congregation Grace Community Church. During the event, MacArthur accused the Southern Baptist Convention of taking a “headlong plunge” toward allowing women preachers after women spoke at the SBC’s 2019 annual meeting.
That, he said, was a sign that the denomination no longer believed in biblical authority.
“When you literally overturn the teaching of Scripture to empower people who want power, you have given up biblical authority,” said MacArthur.
A moderator also asked MacArthur and his fellow panelists to offer their gut reactions to one- or two-word phrases.
When the moderator said “Beth Moore,” MacArthur replied, “Go home.”
John MacArthur put his best fundamentalist face forward again recently during the 50th anniversary celebration of his pastoral ministry. No one should be surprised. I’m certainly not.
What I am surprised about is the softball treatment given Johnny Mac by Christianity Today.
First, I read Jen Pollock Michel’s piece, “A Message to John MacArthur: The Bible Calls Both Men and Women to ‘Go Home.'”
Completely ignoring a direct take on his words, Pollock tries to counter MacArthur’s curt and craven command for women to “go home” with a convoluted argument that emphasizes the historical background of “home” being a place where both men and women fulfilled their respective vocations.
Her piece represents a typical form of evangelical avoidance with which I am well familiar, having been a pretty regular practitioner of it myself for years. Don’t directly take a stand, especially against another believer in public. Instead, go to the Scriptures and figure out some other interpretation that will give you the satisfaction of feeling like you made a solid “biblical” case that sidesteps the controversy but helps you make what you think is an important, related point.
My dear Ms. Pollock, John MacArthur is paying no attention. You didn’t even begin to touch what he’s all about.
Then there is the discussion between Jonathan Holmes, Morgan Lee, and Mark Galli, which contains the excerpted quote above. As you read the article (which is a summary of the podcast), you can see another evangelical trait: I call it “analytical insiderism” — the tendency to be “nice,” to give the benefit of the doubt, to use reason and analysis to try and understand the “worldview” behind the words of a preacher like MacArthur, who may have noticeable flaws, but after all he’s one of our own. Especially when you have a long history with said preacher, as CT does with JM.
The impression I get from the discussion is that John MacArthur has many, many admirable qualities, but he can be a bit quirky, opinionated, and outspoken. The bottom line (with which I agree) of why he is like this is that MacArthur claims to hold a “high” view of Scripture and everything he says is filtered through the inerrancy, authority, and sufficiency of Scripture. Holmes rightly notes that the downside of this can be “this sense of we’re the ones who have it right because we can always default back to ‘this is what the Bible says.’ Somebody might have an opposing interpretation that they’ve gleaned from scripture and it would be invalidated.”
Ya think? Forget “invalidated.” To JM, you’re screwed. There’s a place for you next to Servetus.
In the discussion, Mark Galli is not afraid to say that John MacArthur is a fundamentalist. Holmes says that JM sees himself as “a warrior for biblical truth,” who takes as his trademark vocation “contending for the truth once delivered” (Jude 3). And Morgan Lee raises the issue of JM’s “tone,” especially the offensive way he dissed Beth Moore and the SBC. The three then kind of dance around how people like JM think they are being “loving” when they speak truth, but may have a blindspot in the way they express it. There’s a general agreement that JM may at times be harsh and come across as insensitive, but a hesitancy to lay down direct and unequivocal criticism and disapproval.
Why can’t people just say John MacArthur the preacher is an unkind, pharisaic, contentious ass?
One doesn’t need to point to events like his recent remarks on Beth Moore, women preachers, and the SBC. This man has a 50-year history of making pronouncements and denouncing others in the guise of an unsustainable view of the Bible and a sense of certainty about his own interpretations that appears entirely cocksure and questionless.
It’s time to just say it.