As a men’s pastor, I just can’t resist the obvious takeaways from this past weeks YouTube video of an iconic pastor, Dr. John MacArthur, and his response to a question about evangelist, speaker and best-selling author, Beth Moore.
The exchange took place at the Truth Matters Conference hosted by MacArthur’s home church, Grace Community Church. Definitely a home field advantage and a favorable crowd. If it would have been a wedding ceremony, no one would be sitting on the brides’ side.
To “warm up” the panelist, emcee Todd Friel, a masterful host who knows how to work a crowd, said that he would say a word and the panelist would give a “pithy" response to that word. You could sense the panelist felt they were being set up, which was welcomed by the audience as a
soft nervous laughter began to fill the sanctuary.
Then with a deep, James Earl Jones tone, the “one word”, which was really two words, came forth from Friel, "Beth Moore."
Because of the humorous undertone, the crowd continues to laugh with anticipation of a cunning, and somewhat predictable response by Dr. MacArthur. Predictable because this wasn’t the first time he had expressed his beliefs about women preachers, especially those as well-known as Beth Moore.
After a pause and an added comment by Friel, the response was undeniably pithy. It was spoken like a frustrated father talking to a neighborhood kid that just broke a window with a baseball. With a calculated and direct tone, Dr. MacArthur replied, “Go Home.”
Both panelist and participants responded with applause and laughter. Just so that he was clear in his response Dr. MacArthur added, “there’s no case that can be made biblically for a woman preacher. Period, paragraph, end of discussion.”
I’m not going to dive into the depths of a theological debate on the biblical roles of women. There are volumes of ink on pages to help you come to your own conclusion. I could be wrong, but I don’t think this is at the level of what someone believes about the resurrection of Christ. However, as a pastor and leader of men, I want to look at “how” the disagreement was handled.
In this case, the irony of a conference named "Truth Matters” at a church named Grace Community is inescapable and a little humorous. As Tim Keller says, “Truth” without grace is not really truth and “grace” without truth is not really grace." Both are needed particularly where disagreement is present. After all, you don’t need grace for one in whom agrees with your truth. Just remember, when grace is absent, pride will gladly take its place. 1 Corinthians says it like this:
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing…”
We must use wisdom within the current cultural climate. Issues such as women’s rights, race, or sexuality, among many others, are like trip wires on rocky terrain that can detonate a social backlash of epic proportions. As culture continues to work hard on removing God, we should be just as diligent to reflect his love and grace while standing firm in the faith. It’s important because when we belittle one another, we put ourselves in a position of being seen as the opposite of a disciple of Christ. John 13:34-35 says:
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
As a men’s leader, I’ve learned that I can call men up without pushing anyone down, especially women. In fact, the more aware a man becomes of what authentic biblical masculinity looks like, the less he becomes threatened about the achievements of those around him.
I have the utmost respect for both Dr. John MacArthur and Beth Moore. Many souls will spend an eternity with their Heavenly Father because of their ministries. My hope is we can spend what little time we have on this planet compelling people by the love of Christ and not repelling them by the lack of love and grace we show towards one another. The church is not without its flaws. But let’s attempt to see the best, love without conditions, and be outrageously gracious toward one another.
JT McCraw is the men’s pastor at Bethel World Outreach in Brentwood, TN, a John Maxwell certified Life Coach/Trainer/Speaker and founder of the BE MEN Movement, where he provides oversight for this multi-ethnic, multi-site men’s ministry, focusing on activating, challenging & training men for their journey to authentic manhood. Presently they have locations in Tennessee, Texas, Florida, Ohio, Alabama and Arizona. JT lives in Franklin, TN with his wife of twenty-eight years and has five incredible children. You can follow JT on Twitter @jtmccraw.