Lamenting what he sees as a heretical “plunge” away from biblical order, Pastor John MacArthur, who leads Grace Community Church in California, skewered popular Bible teacher Beth Moore, President Donald Trump’s spiritual adviser Paula White and evangelicals who support the idea of women preachers in general.
“I think the church is caving in to women preachers. Just the other day the same thing happened with Paula White. A whole bunch of leading evangelicals endorsed her new book. She’s a heretic and a prosperity preacher, three times married. What are they thinking?” MacArthur said of the televangelist who chairs the evangelical advisory board of the Trump administration during the “Truth Matters Conference,” held Oct. 16-18 at Grace Community Church. MacArthur’s 50th year in pulpit ministry was also celebrated during the event.
MacArthur’s reference to White comes in the wake of recent criticism of several prominent evangelical leaders, including Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, who encouraged his two million followers to support White’s latest book, Something Greater, noting that she has lived an “interesting life.”
White’s book also attracted support from other prominent evangelicals such as Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Dallas, and Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University, who said on Twitter: “Paula’s life is an encouragement to so many and I’m sure this book will encourage you.”
MacArthur’s comments on White and women in ministry, however, were sparked during a panel discussion in which he was asked to give a pithy response to “Beth Moore,” who is a prominent evangelical Bible teacher, author and founder of Living Proof Ministries.
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The veteran Bible teacher bluntly replied: “Go home.”
He then followed that up with: “There is no case that can be made biblically for a woman preacher. Period. Paragraph. End of discussion.”
He later added, "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."
He then further explained why the concept of women preachers was so “profoundly troubling” to him.
“The #MeToo movement again is the culture reclaiming ground in the church. When the leaders of evangelicalism roll over for women preachers, the feminists have really won the battle,” he said to applause.
“The primary effort in feminism is not equality. They don’t want equality. That’s why 99 percent of plumbers are men. They don’t want equal power to be a plumber. They want to be senators, preachers, congressmen, 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 and overturn what is clearly scriptural,” MacArthur explained unapologetically. “So I think this is feminism gone to church. This is why we can’t let the culture exegete the Bible.”
He further blasted the Southern Baptist Convention for passing Resolution 9 “On Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality,” earlier this summer as a part of the march towards liberalism.
“… When the Southern Baptists met in June and they passed resolution 9 and they said intersectionality and critical theory are useful tools in interpreting the Bible, that was a watershed moment for that entire movement because if the culture has the right to interpret the Bible they will interpret the Bible and liberalism will take over,” MacArthur argued.
“This is an evidence that they are allowing the culture to interpret the Scripture. A couple weeks after that there was a panel discussion of Southern Baptist leaders who said there should never be another [Bible] translation committee without a Latino, an African American and a woman on it. Translation of the Bible? How about somebody who knows Greek and Hebrew,” he continued, voicing incredulity as the audience applauded.
“This is not a minor issue. When you literally overturn the clear teaching of Scripture to empower people who want power, you have given up biblical authority. This is not a small issue,” he insisted.
When it was suggested that maybe the SBC was headed toward “soft-complementarianism,” MacArthur replied: “I don’t know about terms. I just know women are not allowed to preach.”
When asked if it is the direction the SBC is headed, he said, “It’s more than a direction. It was a plunge headlong.”
He went on to compliment the SBC for holding on to inerrancy and a “legitimate hermeneutic” for as long as they did when other denominations had given up as far back as 60 years ago.
“…I guess in some ways it’s remarkable that they lasted as long as they did when all the other denominations have been gone 30, 40, 50, 60 years ago. And they held. But when you decide that the culture can interpret the Scripture and you need cultural cues to translate the Bible, the horse is out of the barn,” he said.
"That's the fruit of inadequate teaching at a core level."
In an apparent response to MacArthur and her critics on Monday morning, Moore noted in a series of tweets that: “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!”
Moore further noted: “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.”
Other evangelicals like Kyle Howard, a preacher, theologian and Christian counselor publicly rebuked MacArthur for his attack on Moore.
“I have lost all respect beyond Imago Dei for For John MacArthur, Friel, & Phil. To hear them mock, degrade, & publicly slander a sister in Christ like this is wicked. To hear a crowd of pastors laugh is disgusting. This is utterly shameful,” Howard tweeted.
Wade Burleson, a pastor and historian further added: “Mr. MacArthur, I’ve lost respect for your ministry. Your smug response of ‘Go home’ when asked to comment on Beth Moore is not only misogynist, it’s unscriptural, and contrary to the character of Christ.”