Ashwin On Qualifications For Preaching, With Reference To Burger King

Ashwin ends his June 13 comment, featured at the end of my “Shocking Truth” post on Doug Wilson, with something that I felt deserved prominence of place beyond that of the “comments” section of Prevailing Winds.

“And lastly, you don’t have to be a trained minister to be a good preacher. All you have to do is read the Bible with the view that it is inspired by God.” (Ashwin, comment on Prevailing Winds, June 13, 2010)

OK. I have not made an issue, and haven’t, of Wilson’s lack of formal, accredited, seminary-based and graded theological training, primarily because I don’t have it, either. Wish I did, and I plan to someday if the Lord opens those doors. But I do think Wilson’s education is relevant, given his pastoring and oversight of a rapidly growing media and ecclesiastical empire that’s quickly becoming fouled by the aberrant (she said kindly) theology of his Federal Vision. It bears little relation to Scripture or to the Gospel most of us were evangelized with and now share with others, and it’s a tragedy of errors not only for his congregation and followers across the nation, but also for the Evangelical wing of Christiandom that has elevated Wilson to prominence, and that ought to — has to — know better.

Or so you’d think, at least until you open up the Christian Book Distributors catalog and your heart sinks under the realization that the level of discernment in Evangelicalism, based on books and other media enthusiastically marketed, is roughly as sludge-under-your-feet low as is Mick Jagger’s commitment to Puritan-era romantic courtship.

Anyway . . .

I highlight Ashwin’s remarks here for another reason — another Shocking Truth Revealed! is that I actually sort of agree with him. Let’s repeat his comments:

“And lastly, you don’t have to be a trained minister to be a good preacher. All you have to do is read the Bible with the view that it is inspired by God.”

Pretty simple, and I know that Ashwin would agree with me that a preacher should also be articulate, literate, and not terrified of the people to whom he speaks. However, Ashwin’s basic point — that the preaching disciple of God must hold reverence for the Word of God — is spot-on. It’s the Spirit’s work, after all, to take the printed language of the Bible and, working through the preacher, reveal it in power as the Word of our God. Without the Holy Spirit, all the learning in the world won’t be “preaching,” just public speaking, and no one has ever been saved through a good speech.

But here’s the catch: Ashwin doesn’t believe, I think, what he says. Our previous correspondence, public and private, reveals Ashwin to be a committed complementarian — “sexist” indicates an attitude of disrespect and disregard I don’t find in him — who believes that the Bible clearly and strictly delineates separate gender roles in home, church, and society, roles that would preclude, utterly and absolutely, the presence of a woman preaching (proclaiming, teaching, announcing the Gospel) from the pulpit.

I’ve been that woman in the pulpit, many times, and, like Ashwin, hold the Bible in reverence as the Word of our Lord and Savior. I also believe that women and men who don’t, don’t belong in the pulpit of an Evangelical Christian church. But I’m a woman, and so, to Ashwin, Wilson, and others who cling to what I believe is a wrong interpretation of Paul’s admonishments to the churches, I shouldn’t ever have been there, shouldn’t ever be there now, and shouldn’t ever be there again.

So, no — it’s not, to Ashwin, a reverence for God’s Word as God’s Word that trumps a lack of formal training, but the ontological reality of being female that trumps-in-reverse even the gifts and calling of the Holy Spirit. Gender — masculinity — is the Big Gun, the thing that sweeps aside the gifts women possess and sweeps into the pulpit men neither gifted, faithful, nor qualified. Of course I’ve seen it happen. You have, too.

Neither of us would want to be pastored by someone empowered only by his own particular talents and experiences — commanding of presence, masterful of subject, stately in demeanor but utterly alienated from the God he purports to speak for — and I pray that neither of us would ever be denied the blessing of sitting at the feet of a pastor on fire for Christ, filled with the Spirit, and brimming with passion for the Gospel and appreciation for the Word — simply because the one so gifted also happens to live in a female body.

Why, that could almost be seen as a strategy for disabling and crippling the Body, while appearing for all the world to be desperately concerned for its health. Fortunately, most evangelicals, having relegated the existence of Evil to a fleeting sense of feeling bad about oneself, are more than happy to be led by a theology birthed by one who only appears to be an angel of light. That one eagerly watches in the wings as the Church he hates operates with one hand tied behind its back, runs the race on only one foot, speaks with only half a voice, sees with one eye, and alienates the very world it tries to reach.

I’ve known preachers and pastors whose directions to Burger King weren’t clear even from the drive-thru thereof and in whose care I wouldn’t leave a gerbil. I’ve known too many of their wives who were clearly gifted in what the Church — but not the Word — sees as “men’s gifts,” and it kills me to see them and the Church around them withering on the vine because their gifts aren’t discovered, believed, encouraged, and celebrated for the glory of the One who gives them, and gives them freely apart from gender.

I pray that Ashwin would hear, and take to heart, that message preached from the pulpit — with the same regard to gender in the distribution of spiritual gifts that God gives. Which is to say, according to the Word I revere as his own, none at all.

2 Responses to “Ashwin On Qualifications For Preaching, With Reference To Burger King”

  1. Ashwin says:

    Just because I like Mr. Wilson does not mean I agree with all he says. But I do agree with a lot of what he says.

    And the one thing I do disagree with him about is the formal division between the preacher and the preached. I think the idea of house-churches now being revived by the Charismatics (yes those devil-obsessed nonsense-spouting maniacs of whom I glad to count myself one) is the way to go.

    I think whoever is inspired should speak out whatever he (or she) has received. If Mr. Wilson was part of such a church, he would not be veering on the edge of heresy that he is now.

    Note that he has NOT crossed the line. I pray that he does not. I also think that John Piper found him at the right time. Mr. Wilson now has mentors to look up to.

  2. Good points, Ashwin! (Although I would hope for wiser mentors than John Piper . . . ). And, by the way, I am also Charismatic; the church I attend is a very small, house-church-like family that, while meeting in a leased facility, maintains the Spirit-openness and affection found in small groups. We don’t have a pastor and are led by two female and two male elders, and I thank God every day for this group of about 10 adults and half as many kidlets.

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