Christian Contender

ConflictHave you ever clicked the links on my blogroll? Some of the blogs are  just fun, but a majority deal with contending the faith. By “contending the faith” (a phrase from Jude 1:3), Christians generally mean arguing against errors and false teachings both without and within the Church that would undermine sound doctrine. Though the authors of these blogs are unquestionably more qualified and skilled at refuting aberrations in so-called Christian teaching, I share their deep concerns that liberal theology, pagan practices and hedonism are once again infiltrating churches.

I’ve been accused, as you might expect, of being divisive. That allegation sometimes muzzles me a bit because Scripture does condemn those who cause division. Interestingly, however, those warnings against causing division were originally intended for those who sought to introduce false teaching…not for those who had a concern for maintaining pure doctrine and biblical integrity!

Several years ago, I involved myself in a controversy regarding calling a woman to fill an assistant pastor position. The church had an urgent need, to be sure, and only female candidates presented themselves. Yet I kept coming back to Paul’s words to Timothy:

12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. ~~1 Timothy 2:12-14 (ESV)

I saw this passage as being quite straightforward (and still do). Many in the church, however, believed that Paul was writing within the confines of his patriarchal culture, and therefore his gender restrictions no longer apply.

I seriously considered the possibility that I was wrong in objecting to female pastors, causing me to seriously study the issue from both sides of the debate. As I looked at arguments supporting the ordination of women, however,  I couldn’t help noticing how often they used the very same reasoning that pro-gay theology employs. From that point, I realized that they were twisting Scripture to suit present-day values rather than submitting to its authority. Further study confirmed that, while the Lord gives women a wide variety of ministry opportunities, He reserves church leadership roles for men.

As I found evidence against hiring a woman as pastor, I emailed links to some friends directly involved in making the decision. As a result of sharing what I’d learned, the wife of the senior pastor confronted me for causing division. I meekly apologized and backed down.

Looking back on the incident, I believe the true division came from those who advocated for a woman pastor, wrenching Scripture out of context in order to support their desires. I stood for the Word of God. Thankfully, He intervened, and ultimately the church called a man to that pulpit. They decided, you’ll be pleased to know, that calling a woman would…well, would be too divisive!

The issue of women in church leadership is just one of many that threaten the authority and sufficiency of the Bible. While I desire to focus mostly on the glories of Jesus and His wonderful work of bringing salvation, there will be times that I’ll speak boldly against evangelical practices that violate His Word. I’m sure people won’t like it. I’m equally sure that the Lord calls His people to stand for the truth.

So, I’ll risk being labeled as divisive as I stand against those things that would compromise the Church’s integrity. Fidelity to God’s Word trumps accommodation to culture. I will speak out in favor of Scripture, confident that the Holy Spirit speaks through it with an authority that transcends all culture and time. Though less accomplished than my fellow bloggers, I’m pleased to join them in contending for the faith.

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