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human reasoning rationalization selfishness thinking Uncategorized

“It’s Meant To Be”

Neal Pollard

Sometimes a person wants so desperately to do something that they rationalize their decision to do so by crediting God with “sending a sign” or by concluding that “it’s meant to be.” In an age where God communicates to man, neither by voice nor directly through His Spirit but by His Word, this can prove dangerous thinking. The dilemma often is when we pray for something having multiple choices or outcomes, and then we have to make a decision. Most of us have been in this position. We want God’s will to be done, and we cannot be 100% sure we did the right or best thing at the time.

The danger comes in confusing our own will with God’s will. We can be certain that we are making the wrong decision if what we seek to do is blatantly unwise or clearly in violation of what Scripture says. Congregations have claimed Spirit-guidance for unauthorized changes in worship or their women’s roles within the church, and they have even claimed feeling God’s working among them or receiving a sign indicating God led them to such innovation. Men and women have dissolved their marriages, having blamed God for the move by saying they felt, or were even led to the conclusion, that such a move (and subsequent involvement in a new relationship) was His will. This simply cannot stand the test of scrutiny.

A famous example of the folly of such thinking comes from Nazi Germany in the 1930s. In 1938-39, Hitler brilliantly and bloodlessly divided his enemies through economic and political strategy. On September 1, 1939, Hitler’s troops occupied Poland and took it over. Incidentally, that day was the anniversary of one of their biggest military victories. On September 1, 1870, they overran Sedan in a day of war and strategy that long stood as a symbol of Germany’s military might. Throughout Germany, the populous lined up behind Hitler, optimistically concluding that a new world order led by Germany–no matter how achieved–“was meant to be.” Hindsight now shows how mistaken a notion this was. On May 2, 1945, Hitler committed suicide. the next day at 2:41 A.M. in a Reims’ schoolhouse, General Gustav Jody signed Germany’s unconditional surrender…five years, eight months, and two days after the occupation of Poland. Of course, world supremacy by a country led by a murderous madman was not “meant to be” nor was it “divine guidance.” Yet, many Germans in the late ’30s and early ’40’s thought so (For more information, follow this link.

Let us be careful not to confuse what we want with what God wants. May we never transpose selfish desires with divine guidance. Otherwise, we may stand to lose more than our nation and freedom (cf. Prov. 14:12). By shaping our mind and hearts through faithful, unprejudiced Bible study and constant prayer, we will be in a better position to recognize–when faced with tough choices–which one better glorifies God and achieves His purpose in this world.

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Polish citizens being overrun on the day Germany occupied in 1939.
Categories
Bible Bible study revelation submission Uncategorized

STUBBORN TRUTHS

Neal Pollard

—And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery (Mat. 19:9).
—Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).
—For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error (Rom. 1:26-27).
—And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all…There is one body (Eph.1:22-23; 4:4).
—And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord (Eph. 5:18-19).
—A woman is not allowed to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet (1 Tim. 2:11-14).

Passages like these are hotly debated, denied, and derided by those who either cast them against other Scripture or subjugate them to current cultural expectations. Those who desire to accept verses like those above as simple truth are often thought to be ignorant or, worse, dangerous.

The same book reveals the person and sacrifice of Jesus. It reveals the nature and attributes of God. It tells us where we came from and where we are going. It speaks of grace and faith. We accept these truths at face value. But when we come to passages that go against the grain of popular opinion (in or out of religion), cultural mores, or religious orthodoxy, we somehow attempt to say they do not say what they say they say. Jehoiakim’s scribe’s knife and his brazier fire did not eliminate truth (Jer. 36:23). It actually intensified the message against him (36:29ff). The number of academic degrees, religious followers, or oratorical skill will not change the truth of Scripture. It is what it is. Our role is to humbly submit to it or forever beat ourselves against it. May we love and revere God enough to always do the former.

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Categories
church church function women's role

Baptized Boys And Bible Class

Neal Pollard

1 Timothy 2:11-14 clearly states, “A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. 14 And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.” Herein, God through Paul limits the role of woman in the work and corporate function of the church. Therefore, she is not to have authority over the man–in whatever circumstance that applies (be it Bible class, worship, matters of organization, i.e., deacons, elders, preachers, etc., or in the home). The loud voices of feminism notwithstanding, God has clearly spoken. This matter is not cultural. It is a principle that goes all the way back to Eden.

However, an unfortunate conclusion drawn by some based on this text (and others, like 1 Corinthians 11:3 or 14:34, for example) is that a Christian woman cannot teach a baptized boy in a Bible class. There are several reasons why this conclusion is flawed.

First, it misses who is in included in 1 Timothy 2:12. The Greek word translated “man” is the verse specially means “man, husband, sir.” All males are not under consideration. The Greek has words for child, including “infant” or “half-grown child” (Mat. 2:21), “child,” “son” or “daughter” (Mat. 10:21), and “young man” (Mat. 17:18). None of those words is used in 1 Timothy 2:12. The Holy Spirit chose the specific word meaning “adult man.”  Boys eleven or twelve are not men!

Next, none practice this conviction in the home. If we believed 1 Timothy 2:12 taught that baptized boys were men, then we should also teach that their mothers can no longer instruct, admonish, or “be over” them as parents. If that adolescent son invites another baptized boy to spend the night, can this Christian mother “have authority” over the visiting boy? If this woman can teach her son the Bible at home, why can she not teach him in a Bible classroom at the building? In this case, what makes it wrong in the classroom would make it wrong at home. If not, why not?

Then, a baptized boy is nowhere else considered a man. He is not considered such to the military, the corporate world, at home, at school, to the DMV, or anywhere else. His status has changed in that, if he is truly accountable, he has gone from lost to saved. However, the water no more makes a boy a man than it makes a woman a man.

It is not sinful to personally hold the conviction that a Christian woman should not teach a baptized boy. It is not wrong for the elders, in their judgment, to have men teaching Bible classes where there are any baptized boys. Yet, we had better be careful not to bind an opinion as truth. When boys reach their teenage years and undergo the process of changing into men, it is wise to place Christian men over them in the classroom. At some point, he matures to the point of manhood and 1 Timothy 2:11-12 would forbid a woman to teach him. Yet, having a woman teach a baptized, prepubescent boy in a Bible class is not “questionable” or “unsafe.” He is still a boy in the classroom, just as he is anywhere outside of it.

Categories
women's role

Whose Voice Should Be Heard? Another Look At 1 Timothy 2:11-15

Neal Pollard

Paul averred that “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17, NIV). Its source is God. Its value is exhaustive.  Its result is practical.  That is how the all-wise God intended it.

In the first letter to Timothy, Paul gives his thesis statement that all he wrote in the epistle was to give the young preacher knowledge of how the church was to conduct itself in various matters (1 Tim. 3:15).  One of several matters addressed in the letter was what role Christian women were to take in “the household of God” (the church) in matters of teaching and leadership.  We read about that in 1 Timothy 2:11-15.  Here is what we find:

  • The Christian woman must receive instruction with entire submissiveness (11).
  • The Christian woman is not allowed to teach or exercise authority over a man (12).
  • The Christian woman is to remain quiet (12).
  • There are biblical reasons for this, reasons that go all the way back to creation (13-14).
    • The order of creation (13)
    • The deception of the woman (14)
  • The Christian woman has an honored role to help the church thrive and grow (15).

What is remarkable is the lack of ambiguity regarding this teaching.  It is clear and straightforward.  No cultural issues or problems are stated to occasion these words.  One does not find contradictory instruction in another New Testament context to offset or clarify the words here. Perhaps it is the straightforwardness of the words that have chaffed many who appear desirous of bending truth to fit the culture.  Such bending is not limited to this issue, but as the culture regresses from truth more and more matters are getting reexamined in order to change truth to fit the culture.

We must understand that all such efforts, in effect, place human beings as the authority in place of God and Scripture.  It causes people to say, “You have read this, but I say unto you.”  The problem is that it is not our place to say that Scripture does not mean what it says.  That authority belongs to Christ, and He exerts that authority through the men who wrote down His will in the New Testament.  It is His voice and their voices that need to be heard.  Whoever they say should teach and lead is whose voices need to be heard.  Any other voice is speaking without the utterance of God (1 Pet. 4:11).

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Uncategorized

Dale Pauls’ Reflections On Women’s Role

Neal Pollard

An article written by Dale Pauls, minister for the Stamford, CT, Church of Christ, is rapidly making its way across the internet (www.gal328.org/good-news-naomi-walters-named-minister-in-residence-at-stamford-church-of-christ/).  I do not know brother Pauls and certainly harbor no personal animosity toward him.  However, I very strongly disagree with his apology (i.e., defense) of women serving in pulpit ministry.  As his statement seems to have drawn so much interest from so many, please allow me to contribute a few observations about this situation.

This is not a new position for him.  For those unfamiliar with brother Pauls, you might assume that he has just studied himself into a position favorable to hiring the Christian sister as a part-time Minister in Residence job.  In fact, a June 1, 2006, article in the Christian Chronicle featuring that congregation revealed they had long established the practice of women deacons, the eligibility of women to serve as elders, leading in worship and even occasionally preaching (from “Exodus Connecticut,” Bobby Ross, Jr., 6/1/06, online ed.).  Thus, the congregation and Pauls were already clear on where they stood on the matter.

The majority of his defense of the position is either his interpretation of history or an appeal to emotion.  Pauls’ declaration was reposted on gal328.org, a site created to appeal to churches of Christ to place women in a fully “egalitarian” (i.e., equal) position when it comes to their role in worship and church leadership.  What is striking from his “Reflections on Announcement” is that his appeal is mostly built around a contrast between his genesis in ministry and the young woman’s.  Essentially, he says that we, as the church, are behind the times and will cause our own serious decline. He appeals to women like this young lady, with the desire and the ability, being unfairly denied the chance to act upon such.  Scant little scripture is asserted for their decision. In fact, direct reference to scripture appears in only two of the 14 paragraphs of his article.

His appeal to scripture for his position begs the question without proving anything. An uncritical analysis of his brief use of scripture might satisfy one who asks for biblical proof.  He asserts that the two passages that restrict woman’s participation, 1 Corinthians 14:33-35 and 1 Timothy 2:9-15, “address specific circumstances in the particular cultural context of their original first-century audiences.” Interestingly, he does nothing to prove that.  Here is why.  There is not proof.  The text allows for no such interpretation.  In 1 Timothy, Paul explains that the epistle was to allow him and Ephesus to know how the church was to conduct itself (3:15).  The role of women is just one of a great many “household matters” dealt with in the letter.  A weak and illogical comparison is made to Paul’s words to slaves to obey their masters, an apples (gender distinctions are present all places for all times) to oranges (slavery has not been all places in all times) comparison.  One is instruction for what a person does who happens to be a slave, while the other, in which Paul leaves his own culture to appeal to the beginning of time, governs on the basis of gender.  His other “proof text,” Acts 2:17-21, deals with the miraculous.  Ironically, this is a text that can be shown to be restrictive to a particular culture and time but Pauls uses these verses to appeal to the “universal” he attempts to establish.

To say that we are holding people back or down, that we do not respect them or believe in grace because we wish to respect, trust and obey Scripture is both dangerous and insulting.  If certain ones are intent on changing God’s command for the sake of their own preferences, they are going to do so.  Jeroboam did the same thing in 1 Kings 12.  But, as Jesus said, “Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). No man can do that, but he can break himself trying.