Tuesday, December 03, 2013

"Should She Preach?" by Tony Miano - A Review

Highly experienced street evangelist Tony Miano has written a book titled Should She Preach? Biblical Evangelism for Women, and generously offered a free electronic copy to any blogger who would read it and offer a review. I contacted him and he graciously sent me a copy.

Before I begin, while there are things about Brother Tony with which I disagree here and there, I have an enormous amount of respect for the man. I do not entirely agree with the major points of his book but I target that disagreement specifically and only to the brother's position. In no way do I intend to impugn his character or his witness in this review. I love and appreciate him for many things, so I pray the reader will take that into account as I move forward.

I do not want to belabor or repeat the points he makes in this book. As I have had to squeeze reading it around many other responsibilities and priorities, I would like to put out what I have been able to glean in this way and leave fuller reviews to others.

Brother Tony's book does not succeed in proving his case for a few reasons.

His position depends heavily on defining preaching as teaching with authority, yet never defines "authority" and never proves that is what preaching is.

I have found that many among the street preaching community join Brother Tony in frequently going out of their way to use the word "authority" and to exalt and extol the authority of the local church elder and the pulpit from which the elder preaches. While this can be a helpful corrective to much in modern evanjellyfishism and the "Lone Wolf Christian" trend that continues to deceive people into thinking they can be faithful to Jesus all by themselves, I believe this book is part of the body of evidence that many conservative Reformed Baptists (especially) have gone too far in the other direction.

Tony uses the word "authority" many dozens of times in the book, yet I never saw a clear definition of what he means by that word.
For example, page 40:
Historically in the post-apostolic Protestant church, the pulpit has represented the place of authority for teaching and preaching. There were not pulpits per se in the 1st century church. Still, whenever a man stood and took upon himself the task of reading and/or expositing the Word of God, which included the apostle Paul’s epistles (2 Peter 3:16), to a mixed group of adults and children, he was standing in a place of authority.
Or take p118: "I see the public reading of God’s Word, whether during a Sunday morning service or on a street corner as a teaching ministry."
I understand he sees it that way, but that is merely his opinion. Without benefit of an argument, which Tony does not give, I see no reason to accept it. God is the one who already taught, via His Word. We are repeating what He already said. And he says this last about simply reading Scripture aloud. Somehow that is an exercise of authority that a man is allowed do and a woman is not. Clearly the argument is locating the authority at least in part in the messenger rather than in the message itself and the Author of that message.

Or take p139-140:
Serving the Lord on a sidewalk outside a murder mill is service that can carry with it a great deal of authority. Even a Christian who chooses gentle pleading over stern rebukes could still exercise or assert authority over the one to whom he or she is speaking. "Don’t go in there." "Don’t murder your baby." "Give us your baby. We have a family ready right now to adopt your child." "Come over here. Let me talk to you." "There’s a pregnancy center right across the street. Let me walk you over there." "Go inside and compel her to come out! Don’t sit in your car like a coward as your baby is slaughtered!" Read those words aloud in any tone of voice you choose, and then tell me they carry no weight of authority.

Here, "authority" seems to refer to the fact that the speaker is issuing a command. Yet as a good presuppositionalist, Brother Tony ought to know well that we can't know that abortion is evil outside of revelation from God to that effect. Why is it a different situation for a woman to read the sixth commandment to herself versus to read it aloud to someone about to violate it? Does authority come into being just because of the emotions associated with speaking loudly, or using the imperative mood? Does tone of voice affect authority? Brother Tony definitely seems to think it does, given other parts of his book, but he gives no argument to that effect.
As we will see in the next section of the review, Pastor Kirkland's expressed position on the meaning of preaching authority is not very compatible with what Brother Tony seems to mean. However, let me allow Pastor Kirkland to correctly express the nature of biblical authority relating to preaching in his interview, p 157:
"Preaching is declaring what God says. And that's not an opinion, that's not a preference, that's not an idea, it is authority from God himself."

Pastor Kirkland gets it exactly right, but I don't see much consistency of this thought throughout the book. Rather, it comes late in the book as a breath of fresh air through the fog of what I like to call Brother Tony's arguments from extravagant verbiage. For example, p 119:

The public reading of the Word of God is an authoritative teaching activity. While not every instance of the public reading of Scriptures must include the authoritative exposition of the text, the reader is a herald who authoritatively and confidently unrolls the scrolls containing the King’s edicts. He does not plead with the enemy in hopes of suing for peace. He comes with the King’s demand of unconditional surrender. As the herald reads the Scriptures, what come out of his mouth are the very words of God—the very thoughts of the Almighty, which He inscripturated through some 40 divinely inspired men. Because of its inherent, authoritative teaching design and delivery, the public reading of the Scriptures is an activity that men of God should never enter into lightly.

Well, yes, I mean, that is true, though not for the reason that Tony thinks.
Women, therefore, ought not to engage in the public reading of the Scriptures.

Brother Tony apparently believes that enough superlatives attached to the activity in question amounts to an argument, but he is mistaken. He did not succeed in making the connection. All of these arguments from extravagant language about unsheathing the sword, declaring unconditional surrender, etc... all of that Tony wants to connect to the person doing the preaching, when in fact Pastor Kirkland rightly reminds us here that the authority is found in God and not in the person doing the preaching. Just as he says in p159 - "I think by definition preaching is declaring what God says."  Precisely. Not what I say. Yet does that fit at all with what he said on p84?
"Preaching is teaching. Preaching is teaching with authority. Preaching is teaching people, believer and unbeliever alike, the way of eternal life, and doing so with a level of authority that calls the hearer to listen and obey."

Yes, I can accept that it is teaching with authority, but again, it is not the authority of the preacher. It is the authority of Jesus Christ, of whose words we are mere heralds, messengers. We must repeat what He said. If we do not, we speak on our own authority, and our message is worthless. It is worthless precisely because the preacher has no authority on his own.
Brother Tony recognises this later, on p.116-117:
Nehemiah and the others were reading, preaching, and teaching the text of the Law. Who had the ultimate authority during this brief but beautiful moment in Israel's history? Was it Ezra? Was it Nehemiah? Was it the other leaders of Israel who participated in the reading and teaching of God's Word? No. It was the Word of God!... The Book. The Law of God. The Word of the Lord. The Scriptures. This was the authority as Ezra read it aloud publicly from the first-ever constructed pulpit, and it is the authority over every open-air preacher who alights atop a box, step stool, rock, bench, hillside, or tombstone.

Precisely. As he continues:

"To open the Bible in the public square is to assert authority."

Yes, the authority of God. Not of the preacher. My preaching is nothing in and of myself. I know that Tony believes that, but his inconsistency on this point, where he acts in other contexts like the preacher does exercise authority when he preaches, leads him to incorrect conclusions, in this book and also elsewhere.

p117: "It is to declare to all present that you are about to read the edicts of your King (John 18:36-37)."

Yes, so to whose authority are the listeners about to be reminded they are in subjection? The messenger's? Or the King's?

p127: "The person distributing the tracts is not the one teaching the recipients of the tracts. The gospel is doing the teaching...It is this message that is important and not the distributor."

Yet how precisely is this not true of a preached message, say if someone were to read a tract aloud?
Why is the distributor suddenly so important when it's a paper tract and not a spoken tract? Why couldn't this last statement be said of open air preaching?
So, handing someone a tract that says "you need to repent and believe" is not exercising authority but saying it out loud is exercising authority? What is the argument by which we can know that words spoken orally are different than words written on paper? Is the Word of God different when it's spoken than when it's read on a page? Are not Tony's abundant superlatives still true when the words are read silently rather than spoken orally?

And all this is true even if a woman says it to a man in a private setting as well, not least to her husband. If we are to follow Tony's instructions here, if I am sitting with my wife at home and she says "Hey, want to listen to the verse I memorised and help me review it?" I should gently remind her that she is not to teach me. I'm the husband; she is to learn in all submission. If she wants to show me a great passage she read in her Bible reading, again I must remind her that around these parts, I do the Bible teaching, that she is attempting to usurp her role and exercise authority over me, and that she should repent and let me teach her about the Bible. If she wants to talk about what she learned in the Scripture, hey, that's why we have children and she has girlfriends.

Brother Tony 's position would seem to leave little room for the possibility of a man incorrectly expositing the Word of God. Yet is it not the case that a man can stand before a whole room full of redeemed people of God, behind a pulpit, open the Bible, look at them gravely and seriously, speak boldly and firmly, and teach heresy?
Ad fontes! The source of the teaching is authoritative, not the mere messenger. The messenger is the servant of God and God's people, it is his responsibility to correctly represent God's meanings, and if he fails to do so, the people of God have a standing command from God Himself to test, weigh, and reject those false teachings. No man has teaching authority unless he properly repeat God's Word, and in that case, the authority is in the message and not the messenger. Brother Tony would do well to remember this going forward; I sometimes honestly fear for him at the time when (not if) the elder(s) of his church fail him.

Partially as a result, he does not persuasively prove the interpretation of 1 Timothy 2 upon which his position relies in a significant way.

p118 - Quoting Tim Challies: "Speaking with God's authority, Paul is saying that women are not to exercise teaching authority over men. In other words, it is men who are charged with authority in the church and the most important component of this authority is to declare the words of God."

Challies is mistaken about 1 Timothy 2. Paul does not allow women to teach in the church, yes. He does not allow women to exercise authority in the church. But where is the argument that Paul is equating teaching with exercising authority? Authority is the role and power to make decisions that affect others. Why is it not equally plausible that Paul in 1 Timothy 2 was correcting women who were trying to take charge in the church of Ephesus and make decisions about church life and "staff" (if you will), rather than teaching?

One might object that I don't have an argument for that either, and I freely admit it, while Brother Tony doesn't return the favor and admit that he is conjecturing just as much as I. And this is central to his argument. If he doesn't have that, he doesn't have much. 

Also with respect to the quietness of women, do not the cited passages refer to the woman's silence in the church so that it is made explicitly clear that she is not to usurp a man's leadership in the church? She is supposed to learn in silence and not take over a church gathering or whatever.
How does this interpretation fit with other instructions directed toward women in the church?

1 Corinthians 11:4Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head. 5But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved. 6For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head. 7For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man.

Paul says women should cover their heads while praying or prophesying. Where is the argument that women are only doing that among other women, in some special women-only room of the church? How would the men even know that the women's heads are uncovered in that case?

Interestingly, I don't see how 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 helps Brother Tony's case either.
34The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. 35If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.

Not "if they desire to teach something". Rather, it is if they desire to learn anything.

To quote Steve Hays:
...a wealthy couple or wealthy woman would also have slaves and servants at their beck and call.
4. Now, once we think in terms of 1C house-churches, it’s easy to see how the problem Paul is combating could arise. It would be easy for the hostess to abuse her authority or exercise authority over male parishioners (e.g. slaveboys). To some extent, her household is a captive audience. She could also patronize iterate false teachers. So she could use her power to manipulate the situation in one form or another.
5. The house-church arrangement also has some bearing on 1 Cor 11 & 14. While Paul says that such women should learn at home, this is probably not an absolute distinction. The contrast doesn’t lie between church and home, per se, but between your own home and another home which is hosting a Christian worship service. So it’s a question of how to conduct yourself as a guest in someone else’s home—which, in this case—also functions as a house-church. And it’s obviously possible for a wife to undercut her husband’s authority in a public setting or neutral location like that.

And still, church is not the same thing as going out to preach and it is certainly not the same thing as evangelising or reading Scripture aloud.

Brother Tony's position does not make necessary distinctions between what constitutes teaching and what is not.

Some relevant quotes as Tony attempts to extend the governing principles of the church of Jesus to all areas of life:
p65 - "Some would push the point further by suggesting that a woman preaching the gospel in the open-air does not rise to the level of instructing or teaching men, or exercising authority over men."
p69 - "Does it not stand to reason if men are to lead in public worship, wherever that may take place, likewise women should not teach the Word of God or exercise any kind of spiritual authority over men, wherever that may take place?"
p70 - "For some, the question undoubtedly remains: 'Is preaching the gospel in the open-air tantamount to teaching the Word of God and exercising authority over men?' I think a broader understanding and application of 1 Timothy 2:12, such as I have presented above, certainly lends itself to drawing that conclusion."

The conclusion he draws is well summarised on p72:
"However, public evangelism is most certainly a service and work of the Church. This is why, despite the locale of the activity, open-air preaching should be governed by the same biblical principles the apostle Paul prescribed for the Church in Ephesus, including the adherence to the biblical roles of men and women in the Church."

And yet what else is a service and work of the Church?
  • Testimony time. On p169, Pastor Morrow explains that his church engages in periodic get-togethers wherein the people have the opportunity to testify of what the Lord is doing in their lives. Yet what we see is an ad hoc distinction he draws between "sharing a blessing" and teaching.
    Would Tony say it is OK if a woman gets up on the box in public, as long as we call is "sharing a blessing", rather than "preaching"?
    Also, on p173, Pastor Morrow continues:

    ...we do have public reading of the scripture. Now, I have to tell you this. There are times when, in the exhortation time, in the testimony time in our church, which happens by the way every Sunday—it's just part of the service—we take time for the people to exhort one another as the Scripture says. And there'll be times when people will reference Scripture or even reada passage of Scripture that they've been studying that week and exhort us with that passage of Scripture. And sometimes a woman will do that. I haven't rebuked any of them for doing that. I don't consider it actually as teaching or preaching. They're actually sharing what they feel like the Lord has shown them that week.
    I hasten to remind my brothers here that they are not speaking consistently here. Tony tells us numerous times in the book that reading the Scripture and expositing the Scripture is coming "with the King’s demand of unconditional surrender", yet here one of his supporting pastor witnesses thinks it's OK if a woman does that in certain cases. To be clear, it's fine that he does that, but then where does that leave the argument? What is the difference between what Pastor Morrow thinks is permissible and that against which both he and Brother Tony are arguing elsewhere? Why, precisely, is it not preaching or teaching? It sure sounds like teaching to me.
  • Prophesying at home (cf p107 and Philip's prophetess daughters)
    Specifically, with respect to prophesying at home, Miano approvingly cites MacArthur, who says that Philip's daughters possibly were the main avenues by which Luke received his revelations that he wrote in Acts. This, however, is teaching a man. Miano, in striving to make a reasonable exception, unwittingly reveals a fatal flaw in his presuppositions.  If women weren't supposed to teach at all, the Holy Spirit could well have restricted the gift of prophecy to men. But He didn't, and He didn't in part because the Holy Spirit doesn't believe that a woman teaching a man is an exercise of authority on her part, and in part because He doesn't believe that a woman ought not teach a man in any and all contexts.

If a woman's submission and quietness of spirit is to extend to all areas of life in the way it seems Tony is saying, the following are proscribed:
  • My wife should not tell me about a book she read. I might learn something she learned, but it's supposed to be the other way around.
  • My wife should not tell me about her feelings and emotions. That's teaching, and teaching is an exercise of authority. If she doesn't like it, if she wants to actually have a sharing relationship with me that includes sharing and communication, that's not my problem. She has a problem with the Bible!
  • I as a man should not read any female author, for she might teach me something I didn't know, and teaching is an exercise of authority.
    This includes history books, cook books, how-to books, etc. If I decide I want to learn how to knit, I'm probably straight out of luck. Some hobbies are unavailable to me since the only people who know how to do them well are women. I should take up something manlier like noodling or shooting large-caliber firearms. Even if I really want to learn to knit and have a ministry use for knit items.
  • By the same token, I should check all blog articles I read to ensure their author is a man, lest I learn something from a woman.
  • I should block all women on Facebook whenever I run across anything any of them say. I might learn something from them and thus stumble and further their stumbling.
  • I as a man should eschew any class of any kind taught by a woman. University, high school, seminary, community college, online, whatever.
  • Speaking of which, if a man is teaching a class but falls ill one day and his substitute is a woman, I should leave and also probably call the substitute to repentance for usurping male headship and the teacher to repentance for willful role reversal and giving up his God-given authority to a woman to teach men.
  • I as a man should refuse to attend any parent-teacher conferences with a female teacher of my child (that is, if I am unwise or unfortunate enough to be in a situation where my child attends guvmint skule), as she might teach me something about my child's behavior, academic performance, and attendance.
  • Women sidewalk counselors should only speak at a conversational level outside abortion mills, and only when all visible people are female. If a man appears on the premises, she must cease all communication.
  • If the Lord should convict a man through a dream or vision of his need for a Savior and he wanders around and finds a Christian woman and falls down before her declaring "What must I do to be saved?" she must, to obey Jesus, just look at him and trust in God's sovereignty to bring a believing man along rather than exercise authority over him by sharing the Gospel with him and showing him the way to the cross of Jesus.

Brother Tony's position that "The Church is the church regardless of the location" creates impossibilities.

Page 49, with reference to 1 Timothy 3:15 - "Scripture is clear... The Church is the gathered, called-out people of God. The Church is the church regardless of the location."

It is unclear how this gets Tony where he needs to go, rebutting the idea that this passage is about the church? There are particular things that are most definitely church settings, biblically speaking. Two examples: The Lord's Table and agape love feasts, and church discipline.
One also wonders about 1 Timothy 2:8 - men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer? Is that to be done willy-nilly everywhere?
Priscilla and Aquila together taught Apollos in Acts 18:26. That's outside church, it would seem.
Why does Paul use the term "when you come together", such as in 1 Cor 11? And why did Tony capitalise "Church" the first time but not the second? Is this an editing mistake? Or does that mean something he's thinking but not telling us?

Brother Tony and Michael Morrow cite the biblically-dubious notion of a "call to preach" as part of their case.

Brother Tony asks Pastor Morrow on p172: "Is open-air preaching authoritative in the sense that the one preaching is exercising a level of authority over his hearers?"

Pastor Morrow says:
That gets into, is he a called man? In our testimony services in the church or in the open air, we take our church out to the RV camp out here, the camping place. We just go out there and preach. But if a man is called of God to preach the gospel, then when he stands in that formal situation, either indoors or outdoors, he's standing in the place of Christ. Paul said, “I beseech you in the place of Christ, be reconciled to God.” Well, the woman hasn't been called to preach. I do not believe God calls women to preach. And I do believe in a specific definite call to preach the gospel, but it's different from [the fact that] everybody should share the gospel.

Here we see an appeal to another Scripture-free notion of a "calling" to preach. Where in Scripture is this calling evidenced, that it should be expected and awaited and sought-for going forward in the church? Appeals to Paul and Jeremiah, etc, do not get us anywhere, as those were special cases who actually received direct revelation from God, and we in the modern age are supposed to be Sola Scripturists.
Also, it is extravagant hyperbole to suggest that the preacher "stands in the place of Christ". This is nonsense. Jesus Christ died on a cross, a horrible, bloody death, to provide atonement and justification for sinners. I stand in Jesus' place in no way. Paul's beseeching on behalf of Christ is far better interpreted to mean that he is merely communicating the same message as Jesus, and a message about Jesus - be reconciled to God. Why? Because you are obligated to. Why? Because God is righteous and right and true in all He says and does, and you are evil, and wrathful, just punishment will be poured out on you if you refuse.
None of this has anything to do with who I am. It has everything to do with who Jesus Himself is.

p173, Pastor Morrow continues:
...everybody should share the gospel. But I know from my own experience, and after my own experience—my study in Scriptures—that God specifically lays His hand on certain men and they have an authority about them to preach the gospel that other men don't have. And that's being called into question these days, but I can't help it. I'm in the old school, that's what I believe.

Yes, Pastor Morrow knows from his own experience and from his old school origins that this is true. He cannot provide Scriptural backing for his view, for none exists. His idea, if followed through in consistent action, would prevent men from getting on the box to preach the Gospel for no other reason than that he and a few others didn't sense (whatever that is, and however that is done) a calling (whatever that is) on that man's life. One wonders what sort of instrumentation one uses to measure such a thing, or to what Scripture one could point to tell us how to ascertain such a calling. Does one feel a particular warmth when the man is preaching? Does a cross appear supernaturally on his forehead while preaching?

p173 more from Pastor Morrow:
I believe the call to preach the gospel is that. I don't believe there's necessarily a call to preach the gospel in the open air as opposed to preach the gospel in a church. I believe the call is to preach the gospel. Now, I do believe that there are too many fellas who get star-struck. They get all excited about the Paul Washers of the world and they want to go out there and do. In other words, the Bible says that they run before they're sent. And I think that's a real possibility.

So what Pastor Morrow is saying is that he thinks it is a bad thing that a man might become so full of zeal about the Gospel that he might race out there and start preaching out of joy and excitement over his glorious conversion, and Pastor Morrow thinks that's bad. Would he pull such a man down off the box? Greet him with a stern glare and curled lip?
And here we see yet another bugaboo of those who hang out with Brother Tony - the notion that "being sent" is some Scriptural requirement for ministering the Gospel. Of course, since Pastor Morrow thinks that everyone should share the Gospel but not everyone should open air preach, he clearly thinks that OA preaching is in a special category of evangelism, and he wants to diminish men's zeal until someone determines that he is ready.
Why not instead go with him out on the street and train him as he's doing? What is all this business about being sent? Where does the Scripture teach that a man must be sent before he preaches? Appeals to how some people were sent in Acts are insufficient, for those only show us what happened, not what must happen going forward. Who sent the Samaritan woman back to her village in John 4? Who sent the Ethiopian eunuch on his way? Who sent out those who were scattered by persecution in Acts 8 and went about preaching the Gospel?

p173, Pastor Morrow again: "I think the Lord can raise up an army of preachers, but I also think there's a lot of fellows out there doing a lot of harm, because God hasn't sent them."

I would have said "...a lot of harm, because they are acting like fools, and/or preaching a false Gospel, and/or speaking like Pharisees", something like that. How in the world are we supposed to know whether "God sent them"? Is Pastor Morrow a continuationist? Are these "sendings" direct revelation from God somehow? Should those people append the "sending" message they received from God to the back of their Bibles? Revelation chapter 23?

Finally on this point, on p164, Pastor Kirkland pushes back against what his two brothers tried to lay down before about this "calling": "I don't know if I'd really go so far as to say she is not being gentle or quiet, because even we as men are called to be gentle. We're called to even work with our hands and with a quiet spirit in 1 Thessalonians 4. We're called to do that. Yet, a man can also stand on the box and just cry his heart out as he's preaching and loudly declare the word of God."

Brother Tony trades on a few dubious judgment calls.

Tony cautions the reader thusly on p129: "When a Christian woman places herself in close proximity to a man she does not know (a stranger), or even someone she knows but who is not a family member (i.e. friend, fellow student, co-worker, etc.), she places herself in an unknown position of risk. Granted, a Christian man does the same thing. However, a woman usually lacks the requisite ability to physically defend herself if the man attempts to assault her or worse."

Does Tony think that members of his evangelism teams need to take self-defense training before hitting the street? Do they need to be a minimum of 5'11", 200 lbs? Does Tony recommend a minimum BMI? The fact is that all street evangelists face physical danger at any time, and we can rely only on the protection that the Lord decides to afford us.

p132: "Temptation to sin when involved in an intimate, spiritual conversation with a member of the opposite gender is too high a price to pay."

Temptation is too high a price to pay? What about temptation to trust in one's own flesh or smarts while preaching? Temptation to fear when a heckler is becoming violent?
Of course it may be true that some men are sexually tempted very powerfully by women they meet on the street doing evangelism such that they simply must go get a hotel room with her that very instant or at least exchange information for furtive liaisons later. I would like to suggest gently that a man in that position has bigger problems and would probably face the same difficulties multiplied by a hundred in his day to day life and in his church. Does he have no self-control at all?
Call me naive if you like, but I don't see why it's too much to ask to keep such conversations, if they must be man-to-woman, at a certain level of aloofness for that very reason, and that's just a question of alertness, practice, and training. Brother Tony is wise to warn us of the temptation, of course. I appreciate it. I think he is being overcautious, however, and such a warning, taken consistently, would probably prevent most anyone from going out to evangelise. Ever.

p133: "Women should, when practical, avoid evangelizing men in one-to-one conversations, in order to avoid even the hint of impropriety."

Presumably, if I am evangelising on the street, if I get the impression that the man I'm talking to is homosexual, Tony would recommend that I immediately stop that conversation as well so as to avoid the hint of impropriety. What if some passerby thought I was trying to score some gay sex?

p133: "A Christian woman is seen by friends outside of a bar late at night talking to a man...But how might these encounters and meetings appear to unbelievers? Will their first thought be, 'Oh, it’s Jane. She’s probably sharing the gospel with him.' Probably not. And what might be the thoughts of other Christians? Might it be a cause of stumbling for them? Might it provide a sinful opportunity for gossip?"

Brother Tony knows well that unbelievers already think street evangelists are nuts, by and large. Are we talking about Jane's friends, or unbelievers whom she doesn't know? If the former, might they not know that's what Jane does? If the latter, who cares? For all they know, me talking to some guy at the bar district could be taken to be a discussion about how to go get high at some brothel. That is none of my concern.
And as for what Christians ought to think, many so-called Christians are tempted (and give in ever so easily to those temptations) to think that street evangelists are big meanies and judgmental Pharisees. Our presence outside, preaching open-air and handing out pieces of paper that call people sinful, could easily be an occasion for stumbling for such Christians (or "Christians"), by this standard.

p123, right after the beautiful story about Evangeline Booth and her kiss upon the cheek of the poor lost woman, Tony says: "There was no place for a Christian man in the above story."

Yet I can't help but think that Tony wouldn't say that if the jailer were listening while standing right beside Ms. Booth as she shared the Gospel with the imprisoned woman. If he were to be consistent, he'd have to say that Booth should have remained silent if the jailer wouldn't leave. And then the Gospel would never have reached the ears of that poor woman.

Pastor Kirkland continues with this problematic train of thought on p162:
Something that I am very, very conscious of and aware of, and really I want to be guarded from, is when I'm out there I never want to give any appearance that my eyes would be glued to a woman or that I would maybe intentionally give a woman a gospel tract or intentionally approach a woman with a gospel conversation before the eyes of others and go out of my way to do so, not only as a pastor of a church, to be above reproach, but as a husband of a wife and the calling that I have before God in the Word to be the husband of one wife, to be a one-woman man, to be completely and totally sold out to my wife...

I don't begrudge Pastor Kirkland his convictions on this issue, but I must admit that I find his attitude strange and unnecessary. Who in their right mind would think that a guy holding a cross and passing out tracts and shouting crazy stuff like "Jesus is King! Repent!", upon passing out another tract to a woman or even engaging her in conversation, is hitting on her? It stretches the limits of credulity to me.

As Brother Tony requested, I will be deleting my electronic copy of the book as soon as this article publishes. I do think Tony is right to give preference to men in open-air preaching scenarios, if for no other reason than that it would rightly call into question the man's boldness if a woman got up to preach and he were unwilling to. This is a minor point of agreement between us.

In conclusion, as Brother Tony helpfully informs us that he disagrees with Ray Comfort, he cites Comfort's own words in a footnote on page 31. This seems as good a word as any on which to finish my review:

God isn’t averse to using women. He used Deborah as a prophet, a judge, and a deliverer in Israel (see Judges 4:4-10). What specifically is the objection to Him using women in the New Testament age, outside of the defined order of the local church? Is it because more than two people are listening to her or because she lifts the volume of her voice? Then just think of open air preaching as one-to-one witnessing, with some extra listeners and a little more volume. I was overjoyed when a friend sent me video of his wife surrounded by about 80 boy scouts in a public park, listening to her every word—as she lovingly lifted up her voice to tell them how to find everlasting life. How could any Christian object to such a wonderful sight? But if you do still object on the grounds of your interpretation of Scripture, then read Philippians 1:15-18 and put it into practice. Rejoice with me anyway that the gospel is being preached.


Unknown said...

Thank you so very much for taking the time to write such a thorough, thoughtful, and respectful review of my book. I appreciate your candor and the civility with which you disagreed with my arguments.

Thank you.

Rhology said...

It is very kind of you to drop by, brother. Be blessed and abide in Christ.

Sergius Martin-George said...

Why did he ask you to delete the e-book? Were you only allowed to keep it if you agreed with him?

Rhology said...

I do not know why he asked me to delete it. I got the impression that it was a routine request they made of all the bloggers to which they sent an advance review copy. He didn't say anything about whether I agreed or not.

I did not and do not assume any ill motives about it.

Adrian said...

Great review! I also love how you took a respectful approach in your choice of words and difference of opinion. A fantastic example to others.

Like you I disgree with a few things about Tony (I especially don't view his name-bashing/character-assasination of other ministers very highly if at all), BUT I highly respect the godly example he sets in so many other areas. I'm still proud to call him a Brother in Christ.

I've been doing some of my own research into this subject of women in ministry/church from scripture. Kevin Conner's (in my opinion one of the best bible teaches in the world!) book called Ministry of Women has also been a great reference.


I hope to post some things on this subject in the not-so-distant future :)

Thanks again for the great review.

Rhology said...

I'm curious, you said:
(I especially don't view his name-bashing/character-assasination of other ministers very highly if at all)

Now, Jon Speed is expert at this, but I'm unfamiliar with people whom Tony has undeservedly bashed. Do you have a couple of examples?

Adrian said...

Without going into too much detail (as the focus should be about Tony's Book), Tony seems to take a particular hardline stance against those who hold a Charismatic theology. If you’re familiar with his blog www.crossencounters.us (which I think he’s written many great articles on there), several of his posts have labeled ministers such as Bill Johnson, Kris Vallotton, Kenneth and Gloria Copeland, T.D Jakes, Joyce Meyer, and Rodney Howard-Brown etc. as spiritual drug dealers, spiritual snake oil salesmen.

I wrote an open response to Tony on his post ’Spiritual Heroin and Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit: A Personal Testimony’ regarding my concerns of his name-calling of other ministers in the faith (More than happy to share it with you offline, as you can’t see my response on his blog anymore). I think it’s perfectly fine for believers to openly disagree and have discourses regarding the matters of scripture and faith. My exhortation to Tony was to take a different approach as character assassination of other believers does not edify the Body of Christ, especially when it concerns other leaders in the church. I also cautioned Tony to tread carefully as he was ‘touching God’s anointed’. Whether he chooses to believe it or not is up to him.

Eitherway, I’m still celebrating that there are people out there like Tony who are boldly going out there to preach the gospel on the streets. I still view him as a great spiritual role model in this area, even though I don’t agree with everything he says. But that’s the great thing about the Body of Christ. It’s a body, meaning that we were never meant to do it alone – we need each other! We are all laboring in different areas of this great harvest field, all working together and striving to make an impact for the name of Christ until He returns.

As a famous man of God said shortly before he died “I’m going to see Jesus, and I just want to hear Him say ‘well done!’”.

Blessings to you my friend

Rhology said...

Ah, I thought that might be the case.

Look, I'm going to be candid with you. Tony is right to call such men as Bill Johnson out as a blasphemer and a purveyor of evil teaching. Rodney H-B has a LOT of problems and does a lot of blasphemous, foolish things. Jakes, Copeland, and Meyer are not even Christians. They are Word of Faith heretics and fleece many people out of gobs of money while lying to them about "the power of words".

Please, take off the blinders about these wolves in shepherds' clothing. Every one of them will lead you astray. It is your responsibility as a follower of Jesus to denounce these people and do what you can to help others break free from their deception as well. Both their character (in that they have gotten filthy rich off the backs of the poor) and their teaching (WoF heresy, prosperity, and as for Jakes, he denies the Trinity) are wicked, from the pit of hell.

I also cautioned Tony to tread carefully as he was ‘touching God’s anointed

Tony need have no fear of that! Even if you weren't taking that verse out of context (which you are), these people are not anointed by God. They are in fact servants of the devil.

we need each other

Yes we do! And we need to band together to cast out every trace of the leaven of these wolves.

I pray God's grace on you, that He will open your eyes and keep you in His care, and that you will live in accordance with that high calling, to love the truth and correctly identify and hate error, such as that great error propagated by the people whom you've named.

Adrian said...

Then we'll agree to disagree then :)

God Bless.

Anonymous said...

Wow. That escalated quickly.
Thanks for the clear-handed review of the book though.


blogger7777777 said...

God said women aren't to teach or to usurp auuhority. It's New Testament command. I don't see why we need a 10 page exposition on this. May God give us grace to be obedient to His Word

Rhology said...

Seriously, why even comment if you didn't read the post?