John MacArthur is back at it again.
His most recent comments were directed at Beth Moore, well-known Southern Baptist teacher-preacher. Here they are in the clip below.
For starters, let’s just say it’s extremely painful to listen to this clip. So. Very. Painful. Well, let’s go further and call it what it is: MacArthur and team reek of arrogance. I believe the aroma is not just an appaling stench in my nostrils, but also Christ’s. Yes, Christ loves John MacArthur and colleagues. But he surely is disgusted with this kind of hubristic rhetoric.
You see, MacArthur has become one of the self-appointed gatekeepers of evangelical Christianity. By self-appointed, I’m not sure he has ever publicly donned himself such. Rather, it’s his public actions that let us know he has appointed himself for this role. He, and many others like him, believes Jesus has appointed him to defend the faith at all costs, call out everyone who is “wrong,” use super-charged rhetoric to emotionally stir his fan base, and other such antics. One great example of this was his Strange Fire Conference 6 years ago, which I wrote about.
What’s even more ironic is that he is now calling out the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), one of the most conservative branches in all of Christianity. That is somewhat shocking.
I honestly believe John MacArthur is a sore spot within the evangelical church due to regular tactics as he engaged in just a few days ago. But let me take a moment to examine what he – and his colleagues – recently offered in the above clip regarding Beth Moore and women. I have 6 specific points.
1) “Go home.” – John MacArthur
For starters, what a statement. What. A. Statement. He offered some pretty conceited soundbites throughout the session, but this is probably the most arrogant thing stated in the clip, simply because it was his first words.
With this retort, I imagine he is offering that either a) Beth Moore needs to go home and learn from her husband or that b) the best place for Beth Moore, and women in general, is the home. Or both.
Yes, yes. I am aware of a couple of passages that speak to “women in the home” (1 Tim 5:14; Tit 2:5; and perhaps 1 Cor 14:35). To keep this article from getting too long, I won’t address this at length for now (I have written extensively on the blog here about women in leadership). Suffice it to say, MacArthur and complementarians of his ilk need to read about the likes of Miriam, Deborah, Huldah, Mary, Priscilla, Philip’s daughters, Phoebe, Junia, Nympha, Euodia and Syntyche. They are in the Bible they say they adore so much. These ladies weren’t just focused “on the home,” or in focusing on their home, some were house church leaders. Wonderful stuff!
Unfortunately, these women get glossed over or explained away as having some “lesser” roles. That’s not what is going on in the Scripture.
2) “There is no case that can be made biblically for a woman preacher. Period. Paragraph. End of discussion.” – John MacArthur
Did I mention these women? Miriam, Deborah, Huldah, Mary, Priscilla, Philip’s daughters, Phoebe, Junia, Nympha, Euodia and Syntyche.
Oh, wait. I did.
Again, it’s easy to explain away these women as “not preaching.” So let’s think this through.
All were leaders. Some prophesied major messages from the Lord (Huldah was chosen over the men!). One was responsible for delivering and reading a letter to a church (Phoebe, which also meant she’d have to be the one to explain things if there were questions). One was an apostle (Junia may not have been in the vein of the original 12 and Paul, but nonetheless an apostle). Some led house churches (like Nympha in Laodicea). Priscilla is normally mentioned first in Scripture when coupled with her husband, so she may have had a strong lead role. She was one who taught Apollos (Acts 18:24-26), who then became a pillar of the church in Corinth.
Pretty wonderful leadership here.
As one person once remarked: Paul did not ask, “What is your gender?” Paul asked, “What is your calling?”
Women can lead, teach, prophesy, and more – including preach. Very much so.
3) Accusing Beth Moore of being narcissistic – Phil Johnson
Good grief! This is just as bad as MacArthur’s statement, “Go home.”
As I saw one person post this past weekend: It is interesting that Moore is being pegged as narcissistic when MacArthur is the one who has a Study Bible named after him. Beth Moore has written Bible studies. But, I mean, the authorized MacArthur Bible is out on shelves.
I’ll let you decide who is more narcissistic here.
Phil Johnson continues: “In fact, she has said that: ‘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.”
The ironic thing is, I would venture to say, that just about everyone in the audience practices the same exact thing. That is the American way. Phil Johnson lambasted the entire audience present in the same breath that he piled on Beth Moore. They just didn’t get it – or perhaps they did and it created an uncomfortable moment.
Now, while I would actually want to guard against an overly American, individualistic interpretive lens of seeing ourselves in the narrative of Scripture, since the Bible was written thousands of years ago to a very different, ancient culture, there is the long-standing, valid practice in church history of reading Scripture for our spiritual formation. We read Scripture to be transformed by the Spirit, which means we see ourselves as being spoken to by God and we also bring our questions of application. That is what any pastor would offer in any homiletical setting.
Unfortunately, the audience didn’t – couldn’t – catch the narcissistic belittling that took place right in front of their noses.
4) The comparison of Beth Moore to Paula White. – John MacArthur
My good gracious! To compare Beth Moore to Paula White is ludicrous. Nothing of the sort is comparable. Moore does not peddle the prosperity gospel – at all. That’s primarily what Paula White does (as well as excuse Donald Trump from any accountability). That water doesn’t hold. Not in a million years.
5) The equating of feminism with power. – John MacArthur
I am not going to spend time addressing feminism, other than to say there is healthy feminism and unhealthy feminism. As with anything.
But let me note this very clearly: Beth Moore is no feminist. She’s never been connected with the movement. Ever.
Still, what’s more interesting is that these older white men are sitting there loathing women who reach for power, while at the same time these men are the actual spiritual power brokers. It’s hilarious. MacArthur has been wielding his power for decades – now spending so much time shaming those with whom he disagrees. His thirst and lust for power is a million times more real than Beth Moore’s. I’d actually say Moore is one of the more humble leaders out there – female and male.
Moore (and most women) don’t want power. They want dignity and an opportunity to live out God’s calling and gifting.
6) Use of the word “liberalism.” – John MacArthur
This is the ploy of many evangelical leaders today. If you disagree with someone, just use the l-word (liberal) or the even nastier h-word (heresy).
While it makes for a great emotional show, it bears very little weight. It shows that people don’t actually know what these words mean within church history. They’re just rhetorical bombs to throw in to mess up what could be a good conversation or debate.
If you want to know how best to chart out whether someone is a liberal or a heretic, start with the church creeds, like the Apostle’s or Nicene creeds. Don’t start with people’s perspectives on women’s roles. It’s laughable and downright immature. It’s actually called bullying, which again, shows that MacArthur and team are the more power-hungry, narcissists.
Honestly, I could offer more: regarding the ironic blow he lands on the Southern Baptist Convention or his comments about engaging culture in efforts to properly interpret Scripture. But what I have offered will have to suffice for now.
Let me end with this.
It is interesting that MacArthur’s “ministry” is called Grace to You and his church is named Grace Community Church. But I find absolutely no grace from him – not just in this clip, but in his normal, public communication efforts. Grace seems more an ethereal entity to pontificate about rather than something to live out. Grace is to be lived out and lived out mirroring Jesus. No, not the “hippie Jesus,” but the real Jesus we find in the Gospels. Interestingly, some of Jesus’s harshest words were to a) his hard-headed disciples and b) the religious leaders of the time. Where would MacArthur fall?
I am convinced that Jesus himself has been truly displeased with MacArthur’s antics for many years now. Thankfully his voice continues to have very little significance in the work God is doing in the church today.