Editor's Reflection: Winter 2020 (34.1)

by Jeff Miller | January 31, 2020

Priscilla Papers will recall John MacArthur’s October 2019 “go home” comment directed against Beth Moore. The responses abound—online, from the pulpit, and elsewhere. Among the responders, for example, is CBE International President Mimi Haddad; see her October 23 article, “Racism and Patriarchy—Twin Demons of Abuse,” on CBE’s blog. Similarly, I have decided to use this editorial as a venue for my own brief response.

MacArthur is longtime pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, among other prominent evangelical leadership roles. His comments about Moore go beyond stating his view about women preaching. His comments, in fact, do not faithfully convey Moore’s actions or teaching.

The same is true of Phil Johnson, executive director of the Grace to You radio broadcast, who also commented on Moore in that same context, the Truth Matters Conference. Johnson said that Moore is narcissistic and preaches herself rather than Christ.

In my opinion, these men have acted against Scripture. And not just any Scripture—I’m referring to the ninth commandment: “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor” (Exod 20:16, Deut 5:20 NIV). These evangelical leaders were called upon in a public forum to comment on Moore, and they gave false testimony by knowingly misrepresenting her and her ministry.

You might be surprised that I also believe Moore has acted against Scripture. And not just any Scripture—I’m referring to the Sermon on the Mount: “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces” (Matt 7:6 NIV). The analogy I’m drawing is that Moore’s high-quality teaching is an example of what Jesus calls “sacred” and “pearls.” By making such pearls widely available (through her website, best-selling publications, and innumerable speaking engagements), Moore has made herself vulnerable to those who oppose her. As a result, certain opponents have trampled her teaching and attempted to tear her to pieces.

There is, of course, a significant difference between the way MacArthur has acted against Scripture and the way Moore has. The Ten Commandments are just that—commandments. They are inspired laws in a section of Scripture that has been considered foundational for millennia; to act against them is sin. Matthew 7:6, however, is inspired wisdom literature, and it also appears in a section of Scripture considered foundational for millennia. But some wisdom literature takes the form of a warning, and acting against such wisdom sayings is not sin. Instead, doing so is acting with awareness of the warning. An example of a wisdom warning is Proverbs 22:24–25: “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared” (NIV).

In short, MacArthur spoke against a scriptural command; Moore has long spoken in the awareness of a scriptural warning. Though the Sermon on the Mount had warned her not to cast her pearls before swine, she has nevertheless persisted in her teaching. And praise God for that!