Phil Johnson over at Pyromaniacs has struck up some heat on a post that he titles “The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of the Discernment Divas”. In this post and in his subsequent comments he makes his position plain that women are not allowed to publicly point out error of a “duly ordained pastor”. Phil classifies many “housewives and homeschool moms” as bad discerners who are discernment divas. These “divas” believe that God has called them into a ministry of discernment but their abilities are not in rational understanding of doctrinal truth but an ability “to use a really sharp tongue” which Phil says is counter productive and embarrassing. Phil doesn’t seem to mind that this may offend a lot of women as he tells Friel that he is a descendent of the John Knox clan. It was John Knox who offended more than a few when he wrote the book The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women in 1558. In this book, Knox wrote that women compared to men were blind, weak, sick, impotent, mad, frenetic and their counsel is foolish. Knox also quotes Augustine favorably as saying: “How can woman be the image of God, seeing (says he) she is subject to man, and has none authority, neither to teach, neither to be witness, neither to judge, much less to rule or bear empire?” When such harsh things are said about women even questioning whether women can be the image of God, would it be wrong for me to say that looking back on this kind of classification of women that Phil Johnson has associated himself with by aligning with John Knox’s Monstrous Regiment book, sounds sharp, counter productive and embarrassing and may have been a bad discernment decision for Phil?
In the audio file that accompanies Phil Johnson’s blog post, we can hear Todd Friel saying “There are two kinds of discernments that are a kind of discerner that are on the table right now. You have the monstrous regiment, and you have valid legitimate people who are concerned about theology. That’s us.”
Who are the “valid legitimate people who are concerned about theology” who are allowed to present public criticism of Christian leaders and their bad doctrine? They are males. In his blog post Phil gives an answer to Denise who had written “Certainly God didn’t gift believers with the Holy Spirit and with spiritual gifts according to their gender.” Phil responds:
Of course He did. He gave us gifts that are in accord with our calling and office. Certain offices in the church are closed to women
No matter how broadly you want to interpret 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, one of the clear implications of that text is that it’s not fitting for a woman who has no teaching authority in the church to raise a public objection against a teaching elder whose office is recognized by the church. That’s not to say the pastor is infallible or above critique, and there is (of course) a proper venue for a lay woman to share her concerns or ask her questions, but a blog on the Internet is not that venue.
If any woman fancies herself a gift to the church as a guardian of sound doctrine because she thinks she has a special “gift of discernment” that entitles her to go online and write insulting epithets against a duly ordained and divinely-called pastor, She is seriously mistaken and grossly out of line–and she is an embarrassment to propriety and feminine modesty.
How are we to compare this kind of discernment with the Scripture?
1. It is the Holy Spirit who decides who gets His gifts.
1 Corinthians 12:11
But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.
Men have not been given the right or responsibility to decide who will receive the Holy Spirit’s gifts.
2. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are for the common good.
1 Corinthians 12:6, 7
There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons.
But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
No man has been given the right to withhold the gifts of the Holy Spirit for the benefit of all.
3. We are all told to seek the gifts for the purpose of the edification of the church.
1 Corinthians 14:1
1Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.
1 Corinthians 14:12
12 So also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church.
No man has been given the right to tell a member of the body of Christ that he or she cannot be zealous for the spiritual gifts.
4. Those who have been gifted by the Holy Spirit are told to use their gifts as a go-between (the term employ) bringing the gifts of God to the benefit of the church as a good steward.
1 Peter 4:10–11
As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
No man has been given the right to demand that a servant of the Lord not be a good steward by using their gift publicly.
5. We are told not to quench the spirit
1 Thessalonians 5:19
19 Do not quench the Spirit;
The gifts are not delegated by pastors, but by God Himself. When we quench what God has given for the edification of the Church, we are guilty of quenching God’s Holy Spirit.
6. We are to be faithful to God with what He has given us because we must stand accountable to Him in the end. We are not to judge one another unjustly nor are we to put a stumbling block in another Christian’s way.
12 So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.
13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way.
I would like to ask my brothers and sisters in Christ to judge from the Scriptures. Where does the Scripture give men permission to silence the gifts of the Holy Spirit that are given for the common good? If we are to fear God and love the body of Christ, we need to respect the Holy Spirit and His gifts. If He chooses to gift a woman, who dares to silence her gift for the use of the body of Christ?