Oct 5, 2006

Ligonier's New Progressive Views?

Senior Management Rebukes Me for Expositing Scripture on My Own Blog

Children should be seen and not heard” is an expression I am very grateful was not adhered to by my own grandparents, although it was somewhat in vogue in those days. Although some people take such a demeaning attitude toward little ones, I was blessed to have never received such treatment from anyone.

Imagine my shock, then, when I began attending a church that believed that “women should be seen and not heard!” Oh, surely, I thought, this just applies to the sermon; women shouldn’t teach men during the worship service. But, no! I remember my utter frustration when my mother came with me to visit our church once, and my husband was away on business. Who was to introduce her? I couldn’t speak, for I was a woman. My mother couldn’t introduce herself, for she was a woman. It was actually quite comical watching one of the men in the congregation, who hadn’t even taken the time to find out her name yet, try to introduce this stranger in the midst, as none other than “Jennifer’s mother.”

I thought that particular church was a little on the extreme side, but I’ve met some other men who seem to dislike women “speaking” as well. I recently had a conversation with a man who wanted to know if I was in the same denomination as he was, so that he could speak to my elders about disciplining me for – expositing Scripture!

Did you know that it is a sin for a woman to exposit Scripture? I had never heard this one before, so I asked John Duncan which verse he used to support such a hypothesis. He led me to “Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak.” I tried to explain that the context of that chapter is orderliness in a church service and had nothing to do with whether or not I exposited Scripture on my blog. He didn’t want to hear me exposit that passage, I guess, and insisted that I was sinning by expositing Scripture.

From the first day of this blog, I have had one purpose, which has been stated at the top: “In the spirit of Titus 2, what I wish an older woman would have shared with me when I was younger.” Just in case you are not a Titus 2 extremist like I often find in the patriarchy movement, this means that as an older woman, I am teaching younger women on this blog. I do NOT prohibit anyone from reading my blog. If men choose to read a woman’s blog, that is up to them. It is interesting to note that one of the qualifications of being a Titus 2 woman is to be a “teacher of good things.” Now, if expositing Scripture is not being a “teacher of good things,” I guess I don’t know what is!

Does the Bible prohibit men from listening to women, other than women preaching in a church service? I’ve always wondered what it meant in Acts 2 when Peter was preaching and he said that “your daughters will prophesy.” I wonder when and to whom are those ladies to prophesy? Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines prophesy in Scripture as “to instruct in religious doctrines; to interpret or explain Scripture or religious subjects; to exhort.”

There is a short but interesting story in the book of Acts about a fervent young man who spoke about the Lord in the synagogue, but he only knew the baptism of John. So Aquila and Priscilla took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. Maybe it should have said that Aquila explained to him the way of God, while Priscilla sat by like a doormat.

Do you ever wonder why God gave women a brain?

My husband could have married a dumb-blonde, doormat type, but he was really in the mood for a wife who could think and carry on an intelligent conversation. We have many deep, politically-incorrect, theological and current events debates. He doesn’t want a “yes” wife; he wants someone to challenge him to go farther, to go deeper. At one of our previous churches, I asked the elder’s wife a question about a verse in Scripture. This lady is well educated and very intelligent, but her answer to me was, “I will have to ask my husband his opinion on that verse and get back to you.” I KNOW she had an opinion. Why does she allow herself to be so demeaned?

I am glad that God does not look down on women. He says, “There is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” This does not in any way negate the different roles in which God has placed men and women, nor does it supercede what God says about women not teaching men IN CHURCH, but the greatest liberator of women who ever lived was Jesus, making men and women of equal standing in the Lord. (Here I go expositing again, John!)

I love teaching Bible studies. I teach women, but if a man desires to come to my Bible study, I will not turn him away. I have had my husband voluntarily come to my Bible studies several times, along with many other men. I was not the only teacher available; they could have sat under a male teacher. I’ve had the same thing happen when I teach classes on how to homeschool or nutrition. Should I just turn men away as if they were dirt? I will not treat anyone that way.

There are definitely no “negative” commands in Scripture for either women expositing Scripture or teaching men outside of a church service. (A “negative” command is a “Thou shalt not…” and is a far more serious offense if broken than any other type of command.) John, I really searched, but I cannot find any biblical support for your disdain of my expositing Scripture. Maybe what you really don’t like is my telling the truth of how Scripture relates to the current Ligonier situation. I could understand that. But rather than attacking the messenger, John, please let the Word of God bring conviction to your soul and repent from this current pattern of sin.

I have been studying God’s Word for many years now and I am so filled with His Word that it just spills out of me! I don’t think I could stop expositing Scripture if I tried. Anyone who chooses to read this blog is also free to comment and challenge my exposition of Scripture. I do not claim to “know it all” – far from it - but I do keep Scripture in context, so if you reply, please keep it in context for a fair debate.

John, is this the new direction Ligonier is taking under “Senior Management?” When Ligonier has board meetings, I wonder if Vesta Sproul and Pat Dizney have to keep their views of Scripture quiet while listening blindly to the men’s? Or do Chairman’s wives and wealthy donors get an exception to this rule?

Thanks, Mark, for your stamp of approval on this post!


Lin said...

Jen, God Bless you for this post. I was starting to think I was the only one! There is a legalism to the USE of that scripture (women can't speak in church)that is so very sad.

What is even sadder is that women who fall for this forget that they will stand alone at the Throne.

One reason I have been drawn to both your husbands and your blog is because of the mutual edification that occurs between you two. He seems to relish edifying you and your intellect. (And no one can read his blog without seeing his intellect and Biblical knowledge)

He does not seem to be intimidated at all by your knowledge and skills. Quite the contrary. He sends people to your blog!

You are a teacher in more ways than one. God Bless you.

Disappointed said...

Jen, When I called Ligonier two weeks ago to ask about the lawsuit I was put through to John Duncan. I'm not going to get into that conversation now, but one comment he made seems worth mentioning here: John Duncan told me he is a PCA elder.

Now, I don't know which PCA church John Duncan is a member of, and I didn't think to ask at the time, but I do know that I have never worshipped at or heard of a PCA church that taught the view of women that he communicated to you.

Futhermore, although I have listened to RC Sproul on the radio for many years and read many of his books and otherwise studied the teachings of Ligonier Ministries, I have never heard or read any Ligonier teaching on women remotely like what John Duncan said to you.

That being so, I think it likely that this view of women indicates a new, outside influence on Ligonier. If so, does the board know of and approve of it? That's seems unlikely. They need to investigate this asap and root out the source before Ligonier gets even further off track.

More of the same said...

John, is this the new direction Ligonier is taking under “Senior Management?” When Ligonier has board meetings, I wonder if Vesta Sproul and Pat Dizney have to keep their views of Scripture quiet while listening blindly to the men’s? Or do Chairman’s wives and wealthy donors get an exception to this rule?

Another question John needs to answer given his attack on you is why there are any women on the board of Ligonier in the first place? Even if Vesta and Pat don't exposit Scripture in front of the male board members, what right do they have to vote to oversee men who exposit Scripture in the magazine, on the radio and, now, on TV?

Either John's latest commands for women to be silent even outside of church are just the latest Ligonier hypocrisy, or Pat and Vesta, the women on the Ligonier board, are just wallflowers with no real authority (which would be illegal).

So which is it, John -- blatant hypocrisy or blatant illegality?

always batya said...

I have two questions. If Mr. Duncan really believes what he told you about that scripture, then why did he not approach your husband about it? Why talk to you at all?

Also, if he really believes this about women, how can he work for a ministy that has women on its board?

He seems inconsistent.

Very suspicious said...

Always Batya said, "I have two questions. If Mr. Duncan really believes what he told you about that scripture, then why did he not approach your husband about it? Why talk to you at all?

Bingo! You've discovered another compelling clue that Disappointed is correct in surmising that this new hyper-patriarchy teaching is foreign to Ligonier. Mr. Duncan apparently hasn't fully adjusted to the alien dogma yet, so he didn't realize that by rebuking Jen himself he violated the jurisdiction of her husband's household.

He seems inconsistent.

"Inconsistent" is the nicest adjective you could use to describe it. "Subversive" is more appropriate. The question remains: who is taking advantage of the crisis at Ligonier to introduce this subversive doctrine?

ReformedCalvinist said...

I'd like to address this issue, but first of all I need to confirm your suspicion that I am not now, nor ever have been, a member of a Reformed church. My only such claim, remote as it is, is that I was once in on the starting of a church by some homeschooling friends of mine. Without protest or discord, I allowed them to go their own way after they decided to come under the authority of a Reformed denomination. In fact, I even continued to visit occasionally. I really enjoyed singing the Psalms with them.

I do now, and long have belonged to a church that believes women should be seen and not heard in the worship service; that women should not teach a mixed group; and that women should ask their husbands what to believe. So I know whereof I am about to speak.

It is the height of hypocrisy for an organization replete with women--even at the highest level of authority, the corporate board--to ponificate that you are to be silent concerning their sins because you are a women. I wouldn't even tell you that, and neither would any man in my church. In fact, we've seen disasterous results come from a woman being silent about sin to which she was privy.

The fact that you are supporting your husband in so doing, rather than doing it for him while he idly looks on, removes any vestiges of doubt in our mind as to the appropriateness of what you are doing. The example of Priscilla and Aquilla that you cited is dead-on.

Furthermore, this idea I keep getting from Sproul & Co that only a member of their own denomination can address their sins is hogwash. All the more power to Frank Vance & the Epsteins if they are*, but it makes no difference to the host of witnesses if they aren't. These accusations stand or fall on their own merit, and those who seek to refute them by way of shooting the messenger might as well try to get out of paying a parking ticket on the grounds that the meter maid was a female and thus lacked biblical authority to write it.

*judgment must begin at the house of God. I Peter 4:17

Jen said...

Thanks for all the support here! I am adamantly opposed to women pastors and women preaching in church, because that is God's order of worship. That is why we won't attend certain churches. But in this patriarchy movement, I see the pendulum swinging too far in the other direction. God's standards are clear, and they should be the only standards by which we live our lives.

Just for the record, I am who I say I am.

Teacher said...

Friends, I am not so sure this thing with women is totally foreign to Ligoneir in general. There was a post a while back on Jr's site (Highland Squiblog) about women bloggers:

Wednesday, April 20, 2005
posted by R.C.
10:14 PM
link What Are You Talking About?

There is a kind of embarrassment that can send us into greater embarrassment. Blogging, for instance, because it is, for the moment, a rather widespread practice, causes some of us want to distance ourselves from it. To get too close is rather like getting caught with a Kinkade painting. But it is only worse if, having been caught, we make up lame excuses, explain that it isn’t really a Kinkade, but the work of an important artist that is making some sort of ironic statement about radioactive cottages in the woods. Wouldn’t it just be better to admit how déclassé you are, and move on?

I received an email today, an encouraging one, hoping that I might “blog” more. I received one a few days ago asking for a definition of squiblog. In keeping with yesterday’s release of the New Oxford American Dictionary, let me do a little word chopping. It would be wise for us to remember that meanings aren’t always as discreet as we would like them to be. A blog, for instance, could mean at least two different things. First, it could be an online journal wherein the writer simply shares the news of his or her day. I’m read plenty of blogs like that, complete with lists of how many loads of laundry were completed, and just exactly how the family car broke down. Then there are blogs that have a different purpose. The writer has an agenda beyond recording their day. They want their readers to be changed, to learn, to be sanctified. There is, in short, an important teaching element. And of course, there are blogs that seek to teach through telling us about the laundry and the car.

A squib has precious little overlap with the first definition, and rather much with the second. That is, it is not my habit to tell folks what I had for breakfast. I come to this task, as I mentioned at our conference this weekend, with a very definite goal in mind. My hope is always that those who read these words would grow in grace, that they would understand better what it means to live a more simple, separate, and deliberate life. The only way this even gets in the neighborhood of that kind of “diary” definition of a blog is this, a squib tends to be more informal, more off the cuff. I will not be able, for instance, to string my squibs together and get a dissertation out of it in the end.

But I explain this confusion not for my own sake, not to avoid embarrassment, but to make a point I believe many in the blog world need to learn. People as backward and ancient as I tend to turn to Titus 2 with some regularity. There we see that older women are called to teach younger women. Many of my internet friends recognize this, and so direct their blogs at other women. Trouble is, Titus 2 not only tells us who is the faculty (older women) and who are the students (younger women) but it tells us the curriculum. Older women are told not just that they should be teaching younger women, but that they should be teaching them to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the Word of God may not be reviled.

There are, I’m delighted to report, any number of blogs which teach just these things. (Bearing in mind of course the other weaknesses that come with the internet. Serving your sisters in cyberspace isn’t probably what Paul had in mind, especially if you aren’t ministering to those who are, in real life, your neighbors.) But I have seen others, written by women, that set out, or so it seems, to set the world straight about Auburn Avenue theology, the history of the New Testament church, that seek to change this government policy or that, that direct you to this teacher or some other. Now bear in mind that many of these ladies are pushing the very same things I would push. The trouble I’m getting at isn’t that they are pushing against what I think to be biblical wisdom, but that they are pushing at all.

I have grumbled in the past that the internet, for all its strengths, for all its power in diffusing centralized communication, comes with this exact kind of danger. People are teaching who shouldn’t be teaching. And people are learning where they ought not to be learning. A husband who loses his wife to a hook-up with some internet Lothario is probably better off than one who returns from work to find his wife safely at home, but having been seduced into Rome by some charming blogger.

Because we believe that education is conversation, we do not believe that conversation is always benign. Indeed, conversation changes the world. Nice graphics and a gentle word is just the kind of tool the devil would use to lead us astray. In short, we need to mind our ears, and mind our tongues.

Teacher again said...

By the way, wonder how Mr. Duncan would deal with say...Elizabeth Elliot?

praying and thinking said...

Jen, I am a man. In your second paragraph, I would be tempted to laugh if the situation weren't so serious, sad, and false. I think Spurgeon might have commented to you that the man might have stepped over to you, handed you a piece of paper and pen, and said, "Jen, please write down your mother's name, so that I can announce it to our church." Really, it's not funny, but very serious, pharisaical.

You are right that women have different roles than men, very Scriptural, and you are right about the value of women. I don't mean remotely to assign to Spurgeon the authority and perfection of Scripture, but I think Spurgeon was very right in this which I am going to tell you. In one of his communion sermons, Spurgeon says in the first sentence that he has taken the outline of his sermon from Frances Havergal ("ces," a woman), and he makes unmistakably clear the rich benefit she had been to him in her works, and wants the readers of his sermon to have that benefit.

Adding to your good list of examples, I am reminded of Timothy's mother and grandmother.

P.S. Do you think it is needful or more honorable for a Commenter to sign his or her real name? Please comment on that.

Jen said...

Praying and Thinking, thank you for that anecdote about Spurgeon. I guess he was not a misogynist!

As for it being more honorable or needful to use your real name on blogs, I used to feel that it certainly was best, until I started getting involved in a whole new world. Now I can see that there are times and reasons when it is best to choose another "name." I think a "name," well thought out, is much preferable to "anonymous," though, and encourage commenters never to use that option. Your "name" tells me a lot as well.

Kathleen F. said...

The Acts 2:16-17 passage does indeed indicate that women were "prophesying" at Jerusalem. What could they be prophesying about but the Gospel account, as well as testifying to the miracles they have seen. Couldn't this include the actual "informing" or "correlating" of Old Testament Scripture to proclaim Messiah had actually come? Could this also indicate that women "filled with the Spirit of God" were not keeping silent about the Gospel?

I'm like you, Jen - I have a lot of Scripture stored up in me and sometimes it just spills out.

Beware Saint Andrews! said...

John Duncan once served as a PCA ruling elder, but he's not a member of a PCA church anymore. The PCA considers elders ordained for life even if they're not actively serving in the PCA. Strange. Even so John is obviously misleading people when he says "I am a PCA elder" because he's implying that he's actively serving as an elder in a PCA church. Actually John is a member of R.C. Sproul's church, Saint Andrew's Chapel which is an independent nondenominational church. Also very strange, especially since R.C. calls himself a Presbyterian. But if R.C. has his way John won't be just a member much longer, he'll also be a Saint Andrews elder too!

R.C. has put John before the Saint Andrew's elders and asked them to back John. Not everyone thinks that's a good idea, but what R.C. demands he usually gets. So in the next little while he's planning on putting John before the congregation and putting it to a vote. Most of the members don't really know John that well and they don't know that he's not just a big fat liar he's also a misogynist.

Reformed Calvinist said...

Just to clear up some possible confusion:
I sign my name on this and other Reformed blogs as "Reformed Calvinist" both to claim common ground theologically with my fellows in the blogosphere, and at the same time to distinguish myself from them.

Twenty years ago, coming out of Bible College, I was a staunch 4½ point Calvinist. Over the next decade I saw that whittled down to less than 2 points for reasons that I don't intend to go into here. Thus I'm a Calvinist, but one who has Reformed--a little double meaning there folks.

For a look at the present state of my theology, see the Doctrinal Statement at the Sharper Iron blog, which I had to confirm to join (using, of course, my real name--it's required).

Here, I try to stay out of discussions on doctrines that divide us and focus on either affirming what we agree on or offering an outside perspective on areas I'm more familiar with.

And I am a man.

Jen said...

Beware St. Andrews, I wonder if John Duncan's position on women is consistent with St. Andrew's? I've been to St. Andrews several times and read what they believe. It is not necessary to agree 100% with everything they believe to become a member, as long as you are not divisive, but it is mandatory that elders are in 100% agreement doctrinally. I wonder if the other (14, last time I was there) elders share John's views?

Reformed Calvinist, you gave your game away several posts ago! But you're right, disputing points of doctrine is not the point of this blog. Quite an interesing site; I spent a good deal of time on it today!

luvvom said...

I agree with you 95%, but I would caution you on allowing men who are Christians into your Bible studies that you are teaching on your own. I do believe that falls under 1 Timothy 2:12
"And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence." Here is what John MacArthur says about this Scripture: "Women are not to be the public teachers when the church assembles, but neither are they to be shut out of the learning process. The form of the Gr. verb translated 'let...learn' is an imperative: Paul is commanding that women be taught in the church. That was a novel concept, since neither first century Judaism nor Greek culture held women in high esteem. Some of the women in Ephesus probably overreacted to the cultural denigration they had typically suffered and took advantage of their opportunity in the church by seeking a dominant role in leadership. "Slience" ("quiet") and "submission" ("to line up under") were to characterize the role of a woman as a learner in the context of the church assembly. Paul explains his meaning in v. 12: Women are to be slient by not teaching, and they are to demonstrate submission by not usurping the authority of the pastors or elders."
You're right that you cannot stop men from reading your blog and there is nothing wrong with you teaching Scripture on your blog.

Church Friend said...


There isn't anyone, who knows John, that would accuse him of lying, misogyny or any of the allegations you make about him on your blog.

I know exactly where he stands on complimentarian issues.

He has too many years of faithful service and too many witnesses for you to demean his good name.

It is widely known that the Duncan's mother is a masterful student of Scripture and an educator for more than 50 years. She recently spoke to a group of several thousand women.

John's brother has written a uniquely instructive book on the Role of Women in the Local Church.

You have either intentionally misled your readers or don't want to allow for the possibility that you are wrong, in your evaluation of him.

You (and those you associate with) will only harm your own testimony by further attacking John.


A Church Friend

Mark Epstein said...

Very interesting comments indeed. There are a couple of additional observations worth making, however.

First, the reality of women's elevated position in Christ Jesus is not about "freedom in Christ'; it is about the return to the rightful God-ordained state of men's and women's relationships exemplified in the pre-fall garden.

Secondly, the misogynists who comprise the hyper-patriarchy movement are in an untenable biblical position, not to mention being suspected of some very real control issues from which they (1) need to repent and (2) seek Christ’s freedom from bondage to male insecurity – and this last comment is not some psychobabble. God repeatedly tells us to fear not yet, anytime we see imbalance, we must look at the underlying causative factors. Fear and loathing (hate) are often interconnected, and I do not think hyper-patriarchy and misogyny are any different from the aforementioned fear and loathing connection.

Lastly, your readers must understand that attending one of your Bible studies was no different than my daily obedience to God concerning my responsibility to listen to the “weaker” (more sensitive) vessel that He gave me for our mutual growth and edification, as well as the overall benefit to our family, the Christian community at large, and a world filled with sinners needing a friend (I recall reading that Jesus was a friend to sinners in Luke 7:34). As husband and wife, we reflect Christ far better than we would as individuals. Hyper-patriarchy denies biblical truth (the whole counsel of God), and it blasphemes God in its denigration of His creative genius in providing Adam (before his willful disobedience) the perfect helpmeet typified by Eve before her deception at the hands of the Accuser.

luvvom said...

I'm sorry I miss understood! I thought when you said that you taught Bible studies and that men would come to them and you didn't want to turn them away that you were talking about Christian men from your church etc. I thought you meant physical meetings with Christian people (men).

Practicing Attorney said...

Jen, I'm not sure I see that there is no difference between teaching men in a Bible study at home and teaching them a nutrition class. Be that as it may, I am 100% in agreement with the main point of your post -- that John Duncan's rebuke of you as a woman for referencing Scripture at all on your own blog just because men read it is unbiblical. It's also hypocritical and alien to Ligonier.
Thank you for exposing John Duncan's misogyny and how it is contrary to the God's word.

With that in mind, I urge every St. Andrew's Chapel member or friend of a member who is reading this blog to print out or email this post with comments to share with church members so they will be better informed of John Duncan's misogynist views and deceptive ways before they vote for his candidacy for elder.

To print out this post with comments go here. You can also email: http://tinyurl.com/mstjt

Stacey said...

JEN: "Is this the new direction Ligonier is taking under “Senior Management?”

DISAPPOINTED: "I think it likely that this view of women indicates a new, outside influence on Ligonier."

VERY SUSPICIOUS: "...this new hyper-patriarchy teaching is foreign to Ligonier. ... who is taking advantage of the crisis at Ligonier to introduce this subversive doctrine?"

When I first heard of Ligonier's lawsuit I didn't want to believe it. I also didn't want to believe anyone in leadership could have adopted a view of women as unChristian as John Duncan's. But more reading of this blog and others have convinced me that Ligonier is rotting away. I hope the board does their job and cleanses the ministry.

I think a good place to start with the cleansing of Ligonier is by investigating the source of what seems to be the "women-as-doormats" doctrine. I don't know for sure, but two comments to this thread on Frank Vance's site combined with this suggest very strongly at least one source of John Duncan's view of women: Doug Phillips.

Jen said...

Luvvom, you're right about teaching men in the church; I am talking about OUTSIDE the church here, however. John Duncan's views of prohibiting women from all reference to Scripture in the presence of men is a bit on the extreme side and should be a grave concern to both Ligonier supporters and St. Andrews members.

Jen said...

Church Friend, I gave John Duncan the benefit of the doubt for a long time. I had a long conversation with him that was very pleasant, but this incident is exactly how it happened. He desired to have me disciplined for expositing Scripture on my blog. Maybe his recent relations with certain people in the patriarchy movement have changed his point of view.

more evidence of a link said...

I think a good place to start with the cleansing of Ligonier is by investigating the source of what seems to be the "women-as-doormats" doctrine. I don't know for sure, but two comments to this thread on Frank Vance's site combined with this suggest very strongly at least one source of John Duncan's view of women: Doug Phillips.

The material you link to does support the idea that Doug Phillips is a possible influence in Ligonier's new view of women. A bizarre experience I had at the Vision Forum 2005 film festival last fall is also instructive.

It was Sunday morning, the day after the end of the film festival, and many of the festival participants joined together for a Sunday worship service hosted at the convention center in San Antonio. The preacher was Phillips pal and soon-to-be-defrocked RC Sproul, Jr, and the theme of his message was: submission of women.

To be sure, the Bible does say that wives are to submit to their husbands, so it is a legitimate sermon topic. But it sure appeared odd to pick this topic for a worship service held in conjuction with a film festival.

Maybe the topic of the service was not decided by Doug at all or maybe it was chosen as a not-so-subtle effort to head off a possible doormat uprising in San Antonio, but either way, the choice of topics does appear to reflect a disproportionate emphasis on, to put it in as kind terms as possible: strictly limiting the role of women.

Bob said...

Speaking of women expositing Scripture to men, what about Joni Tada speaking to men at past Ligonier conferences? Surely she exposited at least one Scripture verse? Or maybe the past doesn't count because of Ligonier's new progressive hyper-patriachy view? If so, Ligonier owes an apology for leading people astray with this unbiblical practice in the past. If not, John Duncan owes Jen an apology for the present. You can't have it both ways.

Dennis said...


Teacher apparently missed the R.C. Sproul "Jr." admission of foot-in-mouth disease less than a month later. - Dennis aka TheIronHare

Monday, May 09, 2005
posted by R.C.
11:34 PM

An Apology

I have two apologies to make. The first is comparatively innocuous, and isn’t designed to hinder the reality of the second. I begin with the lesser crime, recognizing that a greater yet looms over me. First, I was insufficiently clear in what I wrote with respect to women bloggers. While reading the first dozen or so people grumble that I was misapplying Paul’s admonition that women should not exercise authority over a man, I simply thought, “Interesting that these folks should fault my understanding of a text I did not quote, while failing to deal with the text that I did quote.” When the second and third dozen followed in the same footsteps, I came to believe that the problem was mine. I jumbled together issues of male and female roles, teaching with or without authority, Internet and in-real-life relationships, and Internet diaries and polemical blogs into one too-brief piece, and made a mush of the whole thing. For that I am deeply sorry. I misused the medium by trying to tackle half a dozen serious issues with an off-the-cuff commentary. Ironically, in short, I hit myself with my own friendly fire.

The more serious confession, however, comes, again without missing any irony, from what I learned in reading sundry responses. I was familiar, before I wrote the piece, with the ministries of Deborah and Priscilla. I am well aware, as is the most ardent patriarch, that the Proverbs 31 woman buys a field. What I failed to grasp was exactly what so many pointed out to me: Titus 2 isn’t designed to be a complete list of what a woman may teach, nor even whom she may teach. Not only did Priscilla certainly bring something more to the table than “Wives, submit to your own husbands” (though I would argue that such isn’t simply a simple, discreet bit of data that we can simply learn and move on from), but I have learned from, been inspired by, and grown in grace through the gifts of women such as Elisabeth Elliot, Nancy Wilson, and, not least, my own dear wife.

What I should have said is this: The Internet, because it allows for decentralized communication, multiplies the dangers that are inherent in our egalitarian age. Once upon a time, parachurch ministries, for all their dangers, had as an advantage that it took some level of financing to get the thing off the ground. That meant, however wobbly, some kind of broad accountability. Now we live in a world where someone with $15 a month can devote themselves to finding thousands of devoted students. Technology has made “Let not many of you become teachers” become a greater danger than it ever had been before. And “Do not lay hands on anyone hastily” (I Timothy 5:22) hasn’t yet been translated into “Do not add Mr. or Mrs. Self-Professed Expert to your list of favorite links hastily,” as it perhaps should be. The Internet, whatever its strengths, makes it easier for people, male and female, to “teach,” albeit without authority, and makes it easier for people, male and female, to sit at the feet of “teachers,” albeit without authority. I sinned in my own lack of care not only in how I said things but what I said. I failed not only to communicate accurately, but more importantly, to communicate biblically. Again, I apologize.

Now, for all those kind folks who cheered me on through this debacle, let me say this: While I am happy now to concede that Titus 2 doesn’t give an exhaustive list of all the things of which a woman may speak, or to whom she may speak them, I’d still like to encourage folks to consider whether they are doing what they are commanded to do before they consider what else they might be allowed to do. If a woman is not first teaching younger women to love their husbands and children, to be discreet and chaste, to tend their homes, then perhaps she shouldn’t be expanding her curriculum to include other subjects. The same is true for men. We too ought to step away from the keyboard if we are not speaking the things which are proper for sound doctrine, that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience.

I do ask for forgiveness as widely as my sin went forth.

luvvom said...

Ladies, we have such freedom in Christ and really if you think of it, we have more than men do in this area. We have the freedom to sit under the pastoral teachings of men and also in both male and female Bible study teachings. We are free to learn under both gender's teachings. Men, however, are restricted to learning under other men only. Remember, God didn't say women can't teach men because they don't have the ability to learn the Scripture, but because Eve was deceived. We are able to learn Scripture, and in fact, Paul commands that we do so. Any woman who finds God's command to us in this area restrictive is only after self-glorification..one who wants to be recognized as the one in authority. We get to be Mary instead of Martha. We get to sit at the feet of God's teachings!

Truth seeker said...

Church Friend wrote:You have either intentionally misled your readers or don't want to allow for the possibility that you are wrong, in your evaluation of him.

You (and those you associate with) will only harm your own testimony by further attacking John."

I think you have it backwards or are not aware of the entire situation. John Duncan has been very much involved in the lawsuit Ligonier filed against Frank Vance. He has also been involved in the lies and coverup following the lawsuit. These are facts you can investigage for yourself.

Wonder what his mom taught him about Christians filing lawsuits, lying, deceiving and misuse of scripture?

There has been absolutly nothing that has happened in the last month for me to believe anything John Duncan says. (Or, anyone at Ligoneir)

John Duncan has ruined his own testimony by his actions. But, for 179,000 dollars a year, perhaps it is worth it to him.

You need to do some homework before you make posts like that because you are very uninformed or blind to truth.

Teacher said...

I am glad he repented of what he wrote.

But this came from his mind and he put it in the first post:
A husband who loses his wife to a hook-up with some internet Lothario is probably better off than one who returns from work to find his wife safely at home, but having been seduced into Rome by some charming blogger."

I think his writing this at all is very telling. It tells us what is in his heart about both men and women. It is very insulting to both.

Sounds like he got blogblasted for what he wrote. And he should have. It was wrong for him, as a pastor, to write that in the first place.

Men like Sproul, Jr., Doug Phillips, Duncan, Doug Wilson have what I call a Napoleon complex. They have to put someone down to feel big. And in their case, they usually twist scripture to do it.

jimmy olsen said...

Jen, although on the surface Duncan's comments seem to come from a merely a misogynistic mindset, I'm more inclined to believe that they are meant to intimidate you into silence on the Ligonier matter and calling them to repentance. It could be as some other posters say, the influence of Doug Phillips, but it seems to me to smell more of a bullying tactic.

Ligonier has a long history of using women as speakers at their conferences and in audio and video teaching series. Joni Tada and Elizabeth Elliot come to mind of course.

Whether misogyny or intimidation, the fact that this man is being considered as an elder at St. Andrews is at least disconcerting and at the most ludicrous. "An overseer, then, must be above reproach..." (1 Peter 3:2)

Jen said...

Luvvom, you must be an optimist! I so appreciate your attitude of thinking how privileged we ladies are, instead of feeling sorry for ourselves. That is absolutely how we must look at things.

My concern here, however, is not self-justification or even self-glorification, but rather that the #2 man at Ligonier wants to discipline me for something that is not a clear violation of Scripture. John has great influence over many people there, and runs the radio show, so his influence goes far. I have seen this attitude in certain men before, and know the direction it continues, if unchecked. Maybe if the folly of this teaching is exposed, it will stop this extremism before it has a chance to grow like a cancer.

Corrie said...


When did Duncan tell you this and was it on your blog or in private email or phone?

I agree with another comment that says this sounds like a bullying tactic in order to shut you up. There are a lot of bullies who use these sorts of tactics and since you are a woman, this is a "no-brainer" tactic to use. I mean, to address what you have said head-on would just be too simple.

It is wrong if this is what he told you. And I would definitely let RC Sproul Sr. know what he told you. I highly doubt he would agree with such a statement.

You are free to comment and expound on scripture all you want. There is nothing wrong with a woman sharing what the Holy Spirit has taught her concerning a verse and for a man to hear it and recognize the truth in what she is saying. The verses in the Bible concern the worship service.

As someone else pointed out, look at all the women who have spoken at Ligonier conferences and spoke to mixed groups! Look at all the women on the board of CBMW and who write authoritative articles for CBMW, an organization that Duncan's brother runs.

I am, as a woman, certainly NOT under every man's authority. When a man shares his thoughts concerning a bible verse he is not my authority nor does he possess any authority over me. I have seen this attitude lately cropping up on a lot of blogs.

You and John are on equal standing and he should respectfully listen to what you have to say because you are a child of God. Is he *your* elder/pastor? Then he is simply your brother in Christ and learning from one another goes both ways.

Jen, it would be one thing if you were trying to claim you have authority over him but I highly doubt you were. :-)

Do men like this really believe that God's word prevents them from learning anything about scripture from a woman? Do some of these men really think so highly of themselves that they are above hearing the word of God spoken by another child of God who happens to be a woman? Can they really claim they can't learn anything about God and His word from a woman?

It is the height of arrogance to claim such a thing and it shows how lacking in Bible knowledge and humility this person really is.

Did Priscilla merely serve cookies and punch to Apollos keeping silent while her husband taught? I thought scripture said that she taught him a better way?

It must be nice to seat one's hindquarters on a throne so high and lofty and above God's lowliest of creatures-woman, all the while plugging one's ears while feigning spirituality.

Jen said...

Corrie, for the record, I had a lengthy telephone conversation with John Duncan on September 25, which is the Monday immediately following Ligonier's announcement of their public statements late Friday afternoon. He wanted me to immediately apologize for everything now that Ligonier put those statements up, but I told him that I needed to verify if they were actually true. I am very glad I bided my time then, before saying anything about those statements, which have since been proven to be more lies.

It was during this phone conversation that John Duncan attempted to solicit church info from me for the purpose of church discipline for expositing Scripture on my blog.

As you can see, I waited a full 10 days before posting the story, both giving him time to reconsider, and also just taking the time to consider the whole incident with a cool head. It was during this timeframe that we received an official letter from Tim Dick asking us not to contact anyone at Ligonier again, although I do want to make it clear that it was John who called me.

Corrie said...

Jen, interesting. He wants to contact your church so they can discipline you for expositing scripture!? LOL

Well, "Katie! Bar the door!". Have they contacted Elizabeth Elliot's elders? I went to go see her when she spoke during *the* church service at a very conseravtive church. Have they started church discipline on Joni Tada yet? How about Mary Kassian? She frequently expounds scripture and many men quote her and even recommend her writings to other men!

Please let us know when John Duncan contacts your elders and how the church discipline turns out.

He is going to contact your church elders for expositing scripture, right? I sure hope this wasn't some idle threat. Because that would equal dishonest tactics in my book.

I am really tired of all these idle threats floating around the blogosphere. My response to the threats I have received (ie., one guy, a pastor, of a leading patriarchal ministry threatened to take "legal action" against me for absolutely no reason) is "Go for it! Good luck!" :-)

This is all so ridiculous. If people would just answer a question with a straight and honest answer all of this would have never happened. It is all smoke and mirrors and very disappointing for those of us who are watching.

Jen said...

Corrie, just to set the record straight here: John Duncan ATTEMPTED to solicit that information from me; I did not give it to him. He was mostly interested in finding out if I was in the same denomination as he was previously ordained an elder - PCA - (although I have sinced learned he is not currently a member of a PCA church). He will actually not be contacting anyone, since I didn't supply that info to him.

Three guesses who the other guy is who threatened you! I don't have any trouble figuring that one out! Wouldn't you think that "threatening" legal action from one Christian to another would fall in the same category as I Cor. 6?

Mark Epstein said...

Corrie and Jen,

Outstanding exchange! And, since your comments are spot on, I will reiterate what I stated somewhere else: This hyper-patriarchy viewpoint is tantamount to insecure/fearful men attempting to lord it over the "weaker" (more sensitive) vessel God gave us husbands as a gift.

To treat a "gift" from the Creator of the Universe in such a disdainful manner is the equivalent of claiming more knowledge than the Gift Giver (i.e., I know Your Word and what should be done with Your gift). I think these "gentle"-men are on some very tenuous ground for a number of reasons, not the least of which being their status as teachers. They are not handling God's infallible Word correctly, and this is not a matter of my opinion-this is provable from Scripture (unless one wants to engage in the milk drinker's "my interpretation" game).

The upshot of all of this is ugly. These men are contemporary Pharisees. Their beliefs concerning women are tantamount to those who ignored the guilt of the man caught in adultery, as they prepared to stone to death the woman caught in adultery at the feet of God incarnate! How did Christ refer to these men? At one point He called them a "brood of vipers." Personally, I am not about to disagree with God. Moreover, I will follow the path our Lord instructs us to walk, which includes subscription to the teaching that "there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female..." Gal 3:28(a)

Corrie said...

Hi Jen,

Yes, I agree that even the threat concerning legal action against another believer is violating the spirit of 1 Cor. 6.

I don't know if you are guessing the same individual who actually threatened me but it came from a man who is a pastor and who runs a well-known ministry.

Why was I threatened? Because I wrote something concerning women wearing pants on his wife's email list and therein started accusations that I was immodest and that I was trying to tempt other men. The accusations concerning my character were ludicrous. There was no basis for those accusations at all. All I did was agree with another writer that pants were not in existance when the law was written concerning women not wearing that "which pertains to a man". The writer made some very good points and I only added to them. I never stated that I personally wore pants but that I had a problem making hard and fast laws when God's word doesn't even make them.

I left the list after being attacked for being an immodest tart.

She wrote me a private post with more mischaracterizations concerning my motivations about pants. I wrote to her and tried to explain to her why she was wrong about me and she was misreading my post.

Her husband wrote me a post and threatened to take legal action against me if I wrote her again.

I had thought that it was okay to respond to her private email since she wrote to me. I didn't realize that it was wrong to respond to private email especially when no such thing was said in the original email to me. I had thought that as Christians we were commanded to reason together for greater understanding and to come to unity within the Body of Christ.

My bad. It has been "my bad" ever since when speaking with the "religious" types.

On this same email list there were many posts that would crop up again and again about how women were not to "run ahead of their husbands" when it came to studying scripture. That if a husband doesn't study it, then a wife should be content in not wanting greater knowledge concerning scripture, either. It was said that it makes a husband "feel bad" about himself when his wife knows more than him.

I agree with your husband, Mark, when he speaks about the abuses in the Patriarchy movement. They add on rules and regulations that even scripture doesn't speak of all the while loading burdens on the backs of other sincere believers which were never meant to be carried.

All these idle threats, so little time. Do you think that making idle threats is a sign of dishonesty? I don't know how many times one of these patriarch types have asked for the name of my pastor and church I attend in order to tattle on me.

I have nothing to hide. I am not saying anything against scripture. I go to a very conservative church, with men only in positions of elder, but you would never find this kind of demeaning attitude towards women allowed in my church.

They are going to church discipline me because I disagree with them? :-) Well, good luck and I would like to see chapter and verse for that one while they are at it.

Now, taking the extra step to threaten "legal action" is, imho, an eggregious violation of scripture especially when used for such a trite and silly matter.

There are many women throughout history who have been martyred for standing up for biblical teachings and refusing to bow to the religious crowd intent on spilling their blood. Good thing it is only idle threats that we have to deal with and not that we have to worry about being burned at the stake anymore, right?

Jen said...

Corrie, when the Bible says, "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake," I never realized it meant that other "believers" would be the ones persecuting me for righteousness' sake. If it were an unbeliever, it would feel like a blessing, possibly, but it's a whole different ballpark for Christians to persecute one another.

I'm glad you had the guts to stand up! We need more of your kind.

Lindon said...

Corrie, I feel sorry for that poor woman and her husband. What bondage to live in. They have made works/legalism more important than humility and love toward a sister in Christ.

Women who do not want to grow in knowledge of scriptures because they do not want to run ahead of their husbands will stand before the Throne---alone---and give an account.

They are also missing the exhortation of Paul to be godly so that their husbands will be saved. How can one be godly without studying scriptures?

All this patriarchy stuff boils down to men who do not know who they are in Christ. Jesus told the disciples during the Last Supper that He came to serve. Serve. Humbleness.

I used to tell managers this in leadership training: If you have to go around convincing everyone in action and deed you are the leader...then you aren't.

All of this posturing by asking for the phone numbers of pastors, etc. because they do not like what you say is ridiculous. We have seen that over and over from Ligoneir supporters.

Think of it, these men do not even know you. Also why would someone like John Duncan think he has authority over Jen? She has a husband and a pastor. Duncan is going to 'tell' on her? Is this silly or what? This is abuse of scripture. I think the whole thing of asking for this information is a bluff anyway. Something to make you go hide in your hole and not dare say anything more. Can you imagine if they did call your pastor? Is Duncan going to say that Jen is expositing scripture 'against' me? You know the funny thing about this? Because Jen does know scripture, this threat did not work!! Irony!

This brings me to a conclusion I have come to in the past few years. There are very few men in ministry I have met in the last few years in Christian circles that I would allow to have authority over me.(I can hear the gasps from here) The abuse of authority has reached new highs in churches and ministries. (It is a backlash that has gone too far)

I saw the very same thing in my former seeker mega church where the elders were only interested in saving face not in truth. The extent many of them went to..to cover scandal to save face was chilling. It was all about making sure the media did not find out and retaining their elderships and good media relations. It was all swept under the rug, people paid off, etc.

Corrie asks: Is making idle threats a form of dishonesty.

I think that the patriarchy/misogyny we are seeing is a cover for something. Perhaps pride (power). Perhaps sin. They cannot be Christlike so they become tyrannical in their legalism.

It is a short walk from legalism to throwing rocks. I have thought for a while now...for many reasons (I will not go into here)... that there will be persecution from so called false Christians to the remnant. I am not trying to be dramatic, I am basing this on many things I have seen in the past few years that are inexplicable coming from 'Christians'.

Where are the men who love God more than self? Who will model Christ? I know they are out there...and from what I have read here..Mark Epstein models that.