Archive | Theology/Bible

Iron Sharpening Iron: Continuing the Conversation with Sam Storms

I want to thank Sam Storms for his gracious and direct interaction with my response to his earlier essay. I want to reiterate again how grateful I am for Dr. Storms and his long ministry and faithfulness to the Lord’s work. I have been a direct beneficiary of it, and I am truly in his debt. My hope and prayer are that our ongoing dialogue will be a faithful example of iron sharpening iron (Prov. 27:17).

Storms says that I have largely missed the point of his article arguing that women can be pastors. As I understand it, he has argued that the title pastor is a gift not an office—much less an office of senior governmental authority like elder/overseer. For this reason, women can have the gift of pastoring and hold the title pastor. Storms concludes: Continue Reading →

Can Women Be Pastors?

Sam Storms has written a brief article making a complementarian argument that would allow women to serve as pastors.1 He argues that pastoring is a gift not an authoritative office in the church. While all elders need to have the gift of pastoring, it does not follow that all “pastors” must be elders. After doing a brief survey of biblical texts that employ “pastor” terminology, he surmises:

It stands to reason that all Elders must, in some sense, be pastors. But nothing in the way this verb is used should lead us to believe that all pastors must be Elders. No text asserts the latter.

Because a pastor is not the same thing as an elder and is not an authoritative office, Storms argues that women can be gifted pastors serving in the local church. Storms then asks the question: Continue Reading →

Albert Mohler Offers 10 Points on Complementarianism in the SBC

Earlier today, Albert Mohler delivered a timely and needed chapel message on complementarianism. It is a message that is timely not only for our seminary community but also for our entire denomination—the Southern Baptist Convention.

In the last half of the message, Mohler offers ten points on complementarianism in our denominational life. I have the video above cued up to begin at those ten points. Below you can read my notes on the ten points. I have some quotes sprinkled in here and there, but my notes are no substitute for listening to the entire message. I hope you will. Continue Reading →

Adultery or Rape? What happened between David and Bathsheba?

I haven’t followed all the twists and turns of the social media debate about David and Bathsheba and whether their sexual relationship was rape or adultery. But I do know that there is a debate, and it provoked me to take a closer look at the question for myself. I have no dog in the Twitter fight. My goal in this is simply to understand what the Bible says and to believe it. If I have misunderstood what the Bible teaches on this in the past, then I want to correct my views based on what scripture says. Semper reformanda.

My aim in this post is simply to pass something along to you. I’ve been looking at a number of different scholarly works on this question over the last few days, and I have found great deal of help in an article written by Alexander Abasili titled “Was It Rape?: The David and Bathsheba Pericope Re-Examined.” Fair warning: This article gets pretty deep into the weeds. Abisili is doing careful work in the Hebrew and Greek texts, so those trained in biblical languages are probably in the best position to benefit from Abasili’s work.

In this article, Abasili argues that much of the debate among commentators is due to varying definitions of the term “rape.” He argues that modern definitions of rape differ from that found in the Old Testament. He writes: Continue Reading →

Is Egalitarianism within the Pale of Southern Baptist Cooperation?

In the year 2000, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) made complementarianism a part of its foundation for cooperation by including the doctrine in The Baptist Faith and Message 2000. Two additions to the BF&M are worth noting.

Article VI on “The Church”: “Its scriptural officers are pastors and deacons. While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.”

Article XVIII on “The Family”: “The husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in God’s image. The marriage relationship models the way God relates to His people. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family. A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation.”

When Southern Baptists adopted the BF&M 2000, everyone understood the debate about complementarianism and egalitarianism to be a second order issue. Nevertheless, complementarianism was included as a basis for cooperation among our churches alongside a long list of other second order issues (e.g. baptism). Continue Reading →

How to know the difference between the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error

The apostle John explains to his readers how to tell the difference between the Spirit of God and the spirit of antichrist:

1 John 4:6We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”

This means that if you want to know Jesus and if you want to know the truth, then you must listen to His apostolic witnesses. If you refuse to listen to and to believe in the apostolic portrait of Jesus, you are listening to the spirit of antichrist (1 John 4:3).

This is John’s expansion of what Jesus himself said in the upper room discourse. Jesus told his apostles that he would uniquely reveal himself to his apostles and would enable them to faithfully communicate his revelation to the world:

John 14:25 “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you [apostles] all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.”

John 16:13 “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you [apostles] into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.”

The spirit of Christ is saying, “listen to my apostles.” The spirit of error says, “Don’t get hung up on the apostolic teaching; just focus on Jesus.” The spirit of error trades in the lie that we can know Christ apart from the apostolic revelation of him in scripture.

Even though Paul was not with the eleven when Jesus told them that he would guide them into all truth, we know that Jesus intends for us to view Paul as having the same revelatory authority as the other apostles. How do we know that? Because Jesus himself discloses this intention when he appears to Ananias in a vision and says this concerning Paul:

Acts 9:15-16 “Go, for [Paul] is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.”

Likewise, consider Jesus’ words about Paul in Acts 26:16-18:

Acts 26:16-1815 And I said, ‘Who art Thou, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. 16 ‘But arise, and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you; 17 delivering you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, 18 to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, in order that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me'” (italics mine).

Jesus called Paul to be an apostle just as he called the other eleven. Jesus also specifically directed Paul to proclaim his name among the Gentiles. Jesus appointed Paul for this task and intends for Paul’s listeners (and now readers) to heed the message that Paul proclaims.

If Jesus chose and appointed Paul to bear His name among the gentiles, then who are we to gainsay Jesus? Doesn’t King Jesus have the authority to select and enable His own spokesmen? Jesus has chosen to reveal His words and deeds through apostolic witnesses, and he has directed us to listen to the likes of Paul.

When we read the apostolic testimony in the New Testament, we are hearing directly from Christ himself. It was not a generic spirit that inspired the words of Scripture. It was the Spirit of Christ that moved the authors to write what they wrote. Jesus describes the Spirit this way in John 15:26, “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father…He will bear witness of Me.” This is the Spirit that Jesus sends to inspire the apostolic witness. It is the same Spirit that inspired the Old Testament, and it is the same Spirit that Peter calls “the Spirit of Christ.”

1 Peter 1:10-1110 As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful search and inquiry, 11 seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.”

Paul too spoke of “the Christ who speaks in me” in 2 Corinthians 13:3. That means that there is no daylight between Jesus and Paul when it comes to what Paul communicates to us in scripture. Paul speaks for Christ. If we want to be obedient to Christ, then we must obey the canonical words of Paul and of the other apostles. Those who wish to honor biblical authority will avoid attempts to pit Jesus’ words against Paul’s words, for the words of Paul and of the other apostolic authors of Scripture are nothing less than the very words of Christ.

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*The material above is an adaptation of pages 76-84 from my book What Is the Meaning of Sex? (Crossway, 2013).

The Will of the Father and the Will of the Son in the Covenant of Redemption

A couple months ago, I wrote “A Clarification about a New Book on the Trinity” in which I addressed criticism of an article I wrote back in 2004. In my article, I had argued that the Son’s submission to the Father is a feature of the economy not of the immanent trinity. I based this conclusion on a certain reading of Philippians 2:6, which gives us a Pauline depiction of the preincarnate Christ.

Paul says that “although [Christ] existed in the form of God, he did not regard equality with God as a thing to be grasped for” (Phil. 2:6, my translation). The point was not that the Son’s essence or will had become separate from the Father’s. The Son’s submission was “functional,” which I understood to refer to the Son’s mission in the economy. I believed that the economy in some sense commenced in eternity with this agreement between the Father and the Son. Continue Reading →

A. T. Robertson on Women Preaching

A. T. Robertson is without question the greatest scholar of New Testament Greek that the Southern Baptist Convention has ever produced. Indeed, he is one of the greatest scholars of New Testament Greek that has ever lived. In 1906, Robertson wrote a sharp critique of the practice of women preaching in “mixed public assemblies.” His brief remarks appear in the introduction to W. P. Harvey’s booklet Shall Women Preach (Louisville, KY: Baptist Book Concern, 1906). I recently came across this short essay and thought it worth highlighting here. See below. Continue Reading →

Beware of a “Test the Fruit” Hermeneutic

When Matthew Vines’ book God and the Gay Christian came out in 2014, I could hardly have imagined how much of an impact it would have among evangelicals. Nevertheless, it has had an impact. Some of the high-profile evangelicals (e.g. Jen Hatmaker) who have come out affirming gay marriage have done so on the basis of arguments found in Vines’ book.

Among the ideas from Vines’ book that I still see gaining purchase among evangelicals is a particular hermeneutical oddity that Vines draws from Jesus’ teaching about “trees” and “fruit” in Matthew 7:15-20, where Jesus says,

Every good tree bears good fruit; but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.

Whereas Jesus applies this to false teachers, Vines applies the principle in a way that goes against the way Jesus intended it. Vines writes, Continue Reading →

A Review of James Dolezal’s “All That Is in God”

I really wish I had not waited as long as I did to read James Dolezal’s 2017 book All That Is in God: Evangelical Theology and the Challenge of Classical Christian Theism (Reformation Heritage, 2017). As it is, I only picked it up a month or so ago, but I would have picked it up much sooner if I had realized what an important book this is. It’s only 137 pages, but it is without question one of the most significant books that I have ever read. I don’t agree with everything in this book. In fact, there are parts of it that I found quite frustrating. Nevertheless, the main thesis of this book is one that needs to seep down into every nook and cranny of evangelical theology. Continue Reading →

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