John MacArthur, a prominent evangelical pastor in the United States has caused controversy for asserting that Bible teacher and preacher Beth Moore should “go home”.
The comments were made at the “Truth Matters Conference,” held last week to honour John MacArthur’s 50 years of ministry, held at his church, Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California.
Panellists were asked to play a word association game and the first word – two words – given by the host were “Beth Moore” and were greeted by mocking laughter by the crowd.
MacArthur followed up his “go home” response: “There’s no case that can be made biblically for a woman preacher, period, paragraph, end of discussion”.
Another co-panellist added his thoughts, accusing Moore of being narcissistic and MacArthur added: “Just because you have the skill to sell jewellery 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.”
Moore is the founder of Living Proof Ministries and a popular speaker at Christian conferences around the world. She has been the keynote speaker at Hillsong’s Colour Conference in 2014, 2015 and 2017. She has not responded directly to MacArthur’s outburst, but tweeted:
“I did not surrender to a calling of man when I was 18 years old. I surrendered to a calling of God. It never occurs to me for a second to not fulfill it. I will follow Jesus – and Jesus alone – all the way home. And I will see His beautiful face and proclaim, Worthy is the Lamb!
“Here’s the beautiful thing about it & I mean this with absolute respect. You don’t have to let me serve you. That gets to be your choice. Whether or not I serve Jesus is not up to you. Whether I serve you certainly is. One way or the other, I esteem you as my sibling in Christ.”
Many prominent Christians have leapt to Moore’s defence, most notably author Sarah Bessey who responded in a blog entitled “Nope, Not Going Home” that has been widely shared. Current Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear tweeted, “Dear @BethMooreLPM, you’re welcome in our home any time.#BFM2000”.
Some of MacArthur’s comments were an attack on the 16 million strong Southern Baptists who restrict the office of pastor to men.
MacArthur had warned that some church leaders were “caving in to women preachers. When the leaders of evangelicalism roll over for women preachers the feminists have really won the battle. The primary effort in feminism is not equality… They want to be senators, preachers, congressman, president, the power structure in a university – they want power not equality. And this is the highest location they can ascend to that power in the evangelical church…”
Here in Australia, popular historian and public Christian John Dickson wrote on Facebook: “Progressive Christians will listen to John MacArthur’s comments about women, and mock. Conservative Christians should listen, and weep.”
Baptist minister Megan Powell du Toit noted, “As others have said, the question and answer leave a lot to be desired. This is a different type of objectification of a woman. She is made the object of their banter. They all knew his opinion already, and the room I’m guessing, needed no persuasion on the doctrine. So this is a performance piece…she becomes a way for them to show their wit (using this word loosely) but also to affirm group loyalty in the process. Instead of affirming loyalty to Christ. It’s a subtle shift we make. In effect, it undermines the Bible, because it allows no room here but to join the group in the laughter.”
Moore has proven to be resilient. In May this year, as news broke detailing a widespread culture of concealing sexual abuse in Southern Baptist churches – Moore’s own denomination – the preacher took to Twitter to express her thoughts.
“I am compelled to my bones by the Holy Spirit – I don’t want to be but I am -to draw attention to the sexism & misogyny that is rampant in segments of the SBC, cloaked by piety & bearing the stench of hypocrisy. There are countless godly conservative complementarians. So many.
“There are countless conservative Complementarians I very much respect & deeply love even though I may not fully understand their interpretations of certain Scriptures as the end of the matter. I love the Scriptures. I love Jesus. I do not ignore 1 Tim or 1 Cor. What I plead for is to grapple with the entire text from Mt 1 thru Rev 22 on every matter concerning women. To grapple with Paul’s words in 1 Tim/1 Cor 14 as being authoritative, God-breathed!- alongside other words Paul wrote, equally inspired & make sense of the many women he served alongside. Above all else, we must search the attitudes & practices of Christ Jesus himself toward women. HE is our Lord. He had women followers! Evangelists! The point of all sanctification & obedience is toward being conformed to HIS image. I do not see 1 glimpse of Christ in this sexism.
“I had the eye opening experience of my life in 2016. A fog cleared for me that was the most disturbing, terrifying thing I’d ever seen. All these years I’d given the benefit of the doubt that these men were the way they were because they were trying to be obedient to Scripture…Then I realized it was not over Scripture at all. It was over sin. It was over power. It was over misogyny. Sexism. It was about arrogance. About protecting systems. It involved covering abuses & misuses of power. Shepherds guarding other shepherds instead of guarding the sheep.
“Here is what you don’t understand. I have loved the SBC and served it with everything I have had since I was 12 years old helping with vacation Bible school. Alongside ANY other denomination, I will serve it to my death if it will have me. And this is how I am serving it right now.”
However it is worth noting that Moore is no darling of far left Christianity and has been attacked from that side for various things including refusing to reject complementarianism completely, and upholding the infallibility of scripture.