John MacArthur is an influential pastor, author, teacher, and voice on the American stage today. He turned eighty years old last summer and has, for fifty years, served as the pastor of Grace Community Church, a mega-ministry in suburban Los Angeles. The congregation embraces the tagline, “Unleashing God’s Truth, One Verse at a Time, since 1969.” If he is anything, MacArthur is a student of the Word; his life’s ambition has been to be an expositor of Scripture, faithful and true to the holy writ. His radio program (launched in 1977), Grace to You, is a staple for millions of listeners. Although a proponent of reformed Baptist theology, he earned his bachelor’s degree from Los Angeles Pacific, a Free Methodist school grounded (as is the Church of God) in Wesleyan-Arminian understanding of the Bible. Los Angeles Pacific was merged (as was our own Arlington College) into what is now Azusa Pacific University in 1965.
I stumbled onto MacArthur’s name years ago when I picked up the first edition of one of his books, The Gospel According to Jesus (1988). I was grabbed by his boldness, direct and authoritative writing style, and his call to Christian discipleship that could be measured by its fruit, not just intellectual assent. MacArthur’s clarity has always been one of his strengths.
Last month, MacArthur made his views about women in ministry crystal clear, at the Truth Matters Conference, hosted at his local church. Seated on the platform in a panel with two other men, MacArthur was asked to participate in a word association game; as the moderator threw out a name or idea, each panelist was invited to respond with a word or short phrase, the first that came to mind. MacArthur’s responses, captured on tape and posted on YouTube, have gone viral.
The moderator said, without further framing, “Beth Moore.” MacArthur replied with the words, “Go home.” He then added, “There is no case that can be made biblically for a woman preacher. Period. Paragraph. End of discussion.”
Next, he went on to say, “Just because you have the skill to sell jewelry on the TV sales channel doesn’t mean you should be preaching. There are people who have certain hawking skills, natural abilities to sell, they have energy and personality and all of that. That doesn’t qualify you to preach.”
MacArthur’s position on women at the fore of ministry was made perfectly clear. Ouch.
Beth Moore is a hugely popular Bible teacher with deep roots in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). Her books, workbooks, videos, conferences, and public teaching (before audiences once largely limited to women, but now drawing large numbers of men, too) have been the stuff of tension in her own tribe, as the SBC does not theologically embrace women preachers. Beth Moore has, in some quarters, become an exemplar of anointed Kingdom women preaching, teaching, and leading in the church; she has become a thorn in other quarters, illustrating the abandonment of Scripture. Continue Reading...