Christian Marriage, Council for Bibl. Manhood & Womanhood, Doug Phillips & Vision Forum, Doug Wilson, Marriage

What is a Husband’s Role in His Wife’s Spirituality?


What is a husband’s role in his wife’s spirituality?  Is he responsible for sanctifying her?


Husband, wife, sanctification, Biblical role, Christian Marriage


I need help with this one.  David Sons has an article that was posted at Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW), Pursuing Your Wife (Part 3): The Goal of Dating is Not Marriage.  I like a lot of the article about a husband striving to pursue relational intimacy with his wife, but let me show you the tweet that made me click on the article’s link.



To me, that implies that a man is responsible for his wife’s faith.  That it is a husband’s “works” that will accomplish what she needs spiritually.  Am I misreading that?  Here’s some more from the article, but please read the whole article to be sure I’m not getting anything out of context.  It’s pretty short.

In Ephesians 5, Paul challenges husbands to a great pursuit, saying, “Love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:25-27).

Paul exhorts husbands to model their love and service for their wives after the model of Jesus’ love and service for the church. When Jesus called the church to himself, he did so with the intention of presenting her holy and blameless to the Father.

He does this through calling the church to himself (pursuit), cleansing her from her sinfulness (justification), and making her holy through his Spirit and his Word (sanctification).

His pursuit of the church was for the purpose of creating a covenant relationship with her, so that she might one day perfectly display the splendor of God’s glory (Eph. 2:19-22). Jesus did not simply pursue us to have a relationship with us; he pursued us so that, through this relationship, God might be seen as glorious (Eph. 1:3-6), and that our joy might be made full Jn. 15:11).


My goal as a husband is now to work diligently for the sanctification of my wife.


So, for me, the issue isn’t that the husband works for the good of the marriage.  It is important for spouses to be working on their marriages, but I question specifically the “sanctification” aspect as the husband being responsible for his wife’s faith or her sanctification.   What are your thoughts?  What specifically is a husband’s role with regard to his wife’s faith and spirituality?  

I think this idea is important to discuss especially in light of what we have seen going on in Christian Patriarchy in teachings by Doug Phillips, Doug Wilson, and so many others where many women are not free to live their own spiritual lives, because their spiritual lives are owned by their husbands, and essentially spiritually abused by them.


***Update:  After reading Cindy’s comment, I decided to see what John MacArthur says about sanctification:

True sanctification, according to Scripture, is the process of God’s transforming work in your life. In the moment of your salvation, you are declared justified by the Lord through the sacrifice of His Son and freed from the guilt of sin. From there, sanctification frees you from the pollution of sin, helping you destroy sinful patterns and relinquish your former wickedness.

And just as with salvation, sanctification is not accomplished by our will or actions—it’s the work of the Lord in the lives of His people. In 1 Thessalonians, Paul prayed that the Lord would complete His sanctifying work in their lives.

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass (1 Thessalonians5:23-24).

The word translated here as sanctify literally means to be set apart—in its noun form it is usually translated as holiness. So in basic terms, sanctification is the Lord’s process of separating us from sin and setting us apart for holiness. Paul’s prayer is that the Lord would bring about that transformation in the lives of the Thessalonian believers—that their lives would reflect a decreasing frequency of sin and an increasing frequency of holiness. (Source)


236 thoughts on “What is a Husband’s Role in His Wife’s Spirituality?”

  1. If we are sinful and remain sinful until we are translated and are changed in God’s presence, how can sinful flesh make sinful flesh holy? If we cannot even make ourselves holy because this is the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit within us (from the outside in), how is it that anyone in this condition can remotely believe that they can make another person holy???? Hmmm.


  2. Satan delights in this teaching. It keeps men busy and not abiding in Christ. Of course, they tell you it is the same thing. But then, they also think they are prophet, priests and kings of the home, too. Some serious narcissistic teaching out there. Problem is we have a few generations of it under our belt in much of Protestantism so it is more serious than folks think.


  3. From the reading of just these two verses in Ephesians in isolation from the text, it may sound to some (with a motive) that this is what men are supposed to do. Paul does not stop there, however. He explains what that love looks like. Men are to care for women in the same way that he would care for his own body.

    This passage says “love her this much” and then it goes on to say “this is what you need to do to demonstrate that love.” But when you’re misinterpreting the text to fit your motive, I guess that this doesn’t matter.



    Hi JA,
    Check out the above link from my former church. He has gone over the top with making “works” fit into the Bible nicely. He sounds very Biblical when you listen to his sermons, etc. but everything ends in what you can do for the Lord. He also says that gray areas are not gray because God calls us not to stumble others. So I guess we should all have the same convictions?:0


  5. loveoneanother:

    Wow, that is a very long series he’s done. It’s very common to have very black/white thinking in legalistic places.

    I checked out the 8 distinctives ( on the church website and noted:


    It struck me the distinction between leader and congregant – the hierarchy is pretty clear.


  6. To point out the abusiveness and unbiblical practices of Vision Forum and Gothard a number of years ago, I pulled information out of Maurice Lamm’s book, “The Jewish Way in Love and Marriage.” (He was an orthodox Rabbi.)

    I believe that, among other things, that CBMW violates the basic principles of hermeneutics (methods used to understand the true meaning of a text), particularly in their teachings of Ephesians 5. (Jocelyn Andersen calls their error “Gender Biased English Translation Theology.”) To discern the meaning of a text, one must understand the language in addition to the culture in which the text was communicated, as well as the intended audience of that text — my sole interest in reading Lamm. I found it quite lovely and, of course, saw the promise of Christ just dripping from his words.

    (Disclaimer: Though I occasionally visit Messianic churches and can sometimes do “Davidic dance” in worship, if my back will allow, I don’t integrate Jewish practice into my Christian life. I also don’t believe that a Jewish Rabbi who rejects Jesus has greater wisdom that might somehow trump Christian theology which the Holy Spirit illuminates within the understanding of the Christian Believer. I’ve been falsely charged with these and other accusations because I quoted from Lamm.)


  7. JA,
    Yes, He is all about leadership having seminary and being “Well Educated”. However, he refuses to have a board of elders because the last board at the church he pastored kicked him out and there was a church split. I have family that is still there and They are run ragged with the pastors expectations. There is a constant guilt trip. When some of the leadership confronted him on the aggressive sanctification, they were told it was clearly biblical and he would not change his mind. Three pastors left.


  8. loveoneanother: I’m glad you are out of there, but hope your remaining family will soon see the truth. That’s very difficult leaving loved ones behind at a spiritually destructive place. 😦


  9. The thing that truly grieves my heart is not the ministries that are clearly off base, but the ones that are subtly off base. You mention that you liked the article, but found the tweet interesting. I feel like by the time you truly realize what a church is teaching, it’s too late. You have committed your time and energy. There is a guilt too because when you bring it up to others, they staunchly support the Pastor. Then, you feel like you are less holy than everyoNo else.


  10. That’s just it, loveoneanother. There were parts of the article that I felt were right on, but if you take that one quote alone – – it is Biblically off – – waaaaaaay off. A husband is not responsible for his wife’s sanctification. That is God’s business. Even strict complementarian John MacArthur says that above in the quote. So, here we have a PASTOR saying this kind of stuff and it is being promoted on a very popular site promoted by church leaders, so it obviously has their full endorsement. If a man thinks he gets to control his wife’s sanctification, we’ve got some big problems. That can be a the core of huge spiritual problems between the couple (and entire family, actually).


  11. Loveoneanother,

    You wrote, “I feel like by the time you truly realize what a church is teaching, it’s too late.”

    I read a great blog post recently from a former follower of Gothard who said that your know it somewhere in your mind before your mouth can utter it. Your critical thinking keeps trying to kick in, but there are so many different things working against you that you tend not to pay attention to the problems, or you explain them away.

    And I thought of the “sweat equity” that Van Vonderan wrote in “The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse” concerning all that you end up investing a group before your realize what’s going on. It is heartbreaking.

    Zimbardo notes that these types of groups use a lot of social power to keep people trapped. These situations are always hard to exit gracefully or easily, and that is used against a person. It’s hard to leave the group, and it can be hard to gracefully get out of individual conversations in those groups. You end up damned either way.

    I was amused by that “aggressive sanctification” post about fuzzy logic and unstated assumption, and the use of language to change thought. How ironic, for the guy does it so well himself. 🙂


  12. Yes Cindy,
    He is so academic in his language and is good at painting a bad picture of God’s work in sanctification. Everything is very black and white. God’s grace is what saves us and continues to sanctify us. There was a lot of talk about husband’s leading their wives and that if your wife was not spiritual that the blame was on the man. Men can certainly influence their wives, just like wives can influence their husbands. But, ultimately we all have free will and we cannot control each others spiritual life.


  13. Loveoneanother,

    You might enjoy reading about informal logical fallacies. All of these characters use them. There’s a really nice book for kids called “The Fallacy Detective” that is really nice and it reads pretty easily if you feel like your mind is mucky with twisted words. (Then you can give the book to your kids.) Some of those more academic texts are hard to read. These manipulative pastors usually roll several fallacies together. It’s astounding. They use sales techniques, too. (A good example is that of consistency: “Foolish Christians will reject what their pastors tell them to do,” and for most people, it is seen as a challenge to prove that they’re not foolish.) Manipulators capitalize on these human qualities to deceive.

    You brought up the point that these teachings also make everything over into overly simplistic rules — like a relationship only working in one direction. In Ephesians, if men are literally washing their wives with the water of the Word, don’t wives do the same for their husbands in life? Does this really refer to teaching, or is it also talking about Scripture and how it applies to our lives? We’re supposed to encourage others in godliness, but wives aren’t supposed to do that with their husbands? It makes no sense, especially when the early part of the verse talks about mutual submission.

    The next conclusion that one makes is that the husband is the mini-savior for the wife and her intermediary priest. This is why agents for CBMW claim that it’s more important for a wife to submit to her husband, even if her conscience troubles her about a matter. She’s got to follow chain of command through her intermediary.


  14. I’ve got to get off these soapboxes here. Julie Anne, you keep throwing them out there for me. I have trouble resisting climbing up on them.


  15. The God’s grace is what sanctified us was my opinion. Confusing how I put it in the middle of the paragraph.


  16. Cindy K.,
    I think I need to definitely get some books to help me with all this theological stuff-lol. I do personally beleive the Bible teaches that the man is the head of the household. Ultimately, he is responsible for final decisions, but he doesn’t have the power to change everyone’s relationship with the Lord. That is the Holy Spirit’s job.


  17. I think I need to definitely get some books to help me with all this theological stuff-lol. I do personally beleive the Bible teaches that the man is the head of the household. Ultimately, he is responsible for final decisions, but he doesn’t have the power to change everyone’s relationship with the Lord. That is the Holy Spirit’s job.


  18. Loveoneanother,

    I likely fall out with you on the gender issue (and I take flack from my egalitarian friends). I don’t think that there is a Biblical prohibition on women in ministry, but I would argue that the case that one can make for men only in governance roles is stronger because women are not specifically mentioned with men in these passages about it. (A specific reference to men is more robust than an argument from silence, though in the absence of prohibition.) The gender issue is intramural — it’s not central doctrine, and I don’t care if people prefer one or the other, so long as they do not foster abuse. And I took a single marriage vow: to submit to my husband as unto the Lord, though what that means to me and what it means to others proves to be very different.

    That said, I recently read a wonderful book that is clear and concise – and I think it is a good starter book on the subject. The author attended both Geneva College and the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary, too, so she should be able to pass muster with the CBMW crowd in terms of her education. She is a math teacher, and she breaks down ideas into very clear logical arguments. I loved it, and she talks a great deal about sanctification and justification, too. It was a joy to read.


  19. “She’s got to follow chain of command through her intermediary”

    These guys go on and in bashing Catholic priests for being intermediaries, yet they teach men to do it in their own homes.


  20. Julie Anne,

    What many of these guys at CBMW and at the Gospel Coalition teach is more Roman Catholic, though even the RCC doesn’t require as much of their parishioners as they do. With all of the emphasis on the Reformed theology in these circles, it is ironic and sad. How hypocritical! Most people in this genre look with great disdain on the RCC, but they don’t realize that they’re just preaching their own version of freewillism by promoting the concept of the husband as the woman’s intermediary priest. Some also add church leadership into this hierarchy as well, so congregants have intermediaries, too, even if they are male. A woman just has an extra and more immediate one.


  21. Cindy, I never thought of this before now, but maybe that’s why in some ways it felt familiar to me. I had a lot of Catholicism in my childhood and went to a Catholic high school.


  22. It’s only been in recent years via the Internet that I learned churches taught that a husband sanctified his wife. Sanctification as I understand it, is accomplished by the Holy Spirit. The HS can use people and circumstances in our lives i.e. as a husband in this sanctifying, but the act of setting part for the purposes of God is something wrought about in the heart of a wife, or any believer, as he or she yields to the work of the HS.

    Ephesians 5 tells first century husbands how to *agape* not lead or sanctify. That is reading into the text. Jesus loved sacrificially so that he might sanctify, or set apart, his bride/body so that he might present the church, his bride/body, to himself as a glorious spotless bride. The only similitude to a husband and wife relationship is a husband sacrificially loving to the degree that he sets apart, sanctifies, in his own eyes his glorious bride. Kind of like the husband only has eyes for his wife who he sees through the lens of his sacrificial love as a bride dressed in splendor without spot, wrinkle, or blemish. He always rejoices in the wife of his youth (Prov 5:18) which in the early stages of relationship couples typically only see the best, (not the flaws) in the one for whom they have great affection.

    The teaching that husbands sanctify their wives and present them to God is dangerous. First, it puts too much pressure on mere men. Second, it can lead some wives to be lazy in their walk and depend too much on the supposed sanctifying of their husbands. Third, what does this say of the value of wives (women) in relation to men (husbands)? If husbands do not need a human to present them to God, why do women? What is it about the nature of women that requires wives be presented to God by their husbands? Fourth, what does this say of never married women, divorced women, and widows? If husbands are the ones who sanctify and present their wife holy unto God, where does this leave women who have no husband? Are unmarried women less sanctified and holy because they have no husband to do this? Are they not represented to God?


  23. This was also discussed on Love, Joy, Feminism today in a cross-post from Yllom Mormon from “Created to Need a Help Meet” by Michael Pearl. Here’s Michael’s take on the matter:

    “Is it worth the trouble for couples to learn to function as one? Yes! God designed her to be your helper. Remember, she came to you as a kit to be assembled. You took her out of the box and complained that she did not work properly. God gave you the directions in Ephesians 5. You must sanctify and cleanse her so you can present her to yourself as a fully functioning help meet. She wants to be your helper. “…but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband. (1 Corinthians 7:34)”. ”

    (Pause for recovery)

    Post is here:

    I do not believe men have the responsibility nor the authority nor the capability to sanctify their wives. Sanctification is between the Christian and Jesus. If it were husbands’ responsibility, then only married people would be able to live a full Christian life.

    The whole “I-must-sanctify-my-wife” bit reeks of controlling, manipulating and dehumanizing women. That’s not what Jesus was about.


  24. I’ve studied a lot of theology and the teachings of various denominations and groups over the years, but I never heard of the idea of a man being responsible for (or otherwise directly involved in) the sanctification of his wife prior to the rise of Neo-Calvinism. I can see how it fits with their strong focuses on authority, hierarchy, and patriarchy / complementarianism. But it seems to me a major distortion of both the doctrine of sanctification and the nature of marriage.

    For one thing, the Neo-Cal idea of sanctification (which is drawn partly from some of Calvin’s teachings, but is not in alignment with historical Calvinist views as expressed in the Westminster confession) conflates justification and sanctification and ends up very near a Roman Catholic view of both. This distortion of how sanctification is accomplished and the human vs. divine role in the process leads to the distorted view of a man’s role in his wife’s sanctification. I don’t think most people would object if they were merely saying that both husbands and wives can help each other grow in spiritual maturity and become more holy and Christlike, by encouraging each other, exhorting each other, being examples to each other, and praying and serving together to advance his kingdom. But they are specifically placing the man in some sort of priestly or intermediary role in which he aids in making her more acceptable to God — an idea totally contrary to traditional Christian teachings (especially Protestant theology).

    And for another thing, the Ephesians 5 passage from which this strange doctrine is drawn gives zero indication that the husband has a role in sanctifying his wife. it says, “25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, 26 cleansing her by the washing with water through the word.” The her in verse 26 is the church, not the man’s wife. This is merely saying a husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church, then goes on to give and example and explanation of how much Christ loved the church. That example is not at all intended as an illustration or command of what the husband’s role in the wife’s life is to be.

    That is, Christ’s sanctification of the church is provided as just one example of how he loved us, not as a parallel for how the husband is to love his wife. The passage could just as truthfully have said “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and became God incarnate …” or “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and rose from the dead …” That is, Christ did those things out of love for the church, but that doesn’t mean they are the same things the husband is expected (or even able) to do for his wife. The command to the husband is to love, and the rest is about Christ’s love for the church, not about how the man is supposed to love his wife. This seems to obvious to me (both theologically and grammatically) it surprises me that read the passage in such a way as to support this nonsensical idea of a husband sanctifying his wife.


  25. I’ve heard that kind of CBMW simple minded view of Eph. 5 all my life, but I don’t think Paul is talking about the wife’s spirituality at all. He is just telling these new believing men that, yes, your wife is included in verse 20. Submit to each other, everyone, and verse 21 says yes even to your wife and your wife to you. You mister man, have the earthly world system’s power at your finger tips to bring her up to your privileged level in society. That is how you can submit to her. And as an emotional appeal to men to lay aside their ‘rights’ he says that even Christ who is head of the church has submitted His life to cleaning off the church of the dirt collected from who knows where in order to have it stand equally in righteousness as Himself before God. Anyway, when I look at Paul’s writings through the lense of equality, it makes perfect literary sense. Any other way always makes me think the translaters couldn’t pass wring 101.
    I also don’t believe that the scripture commands wives to submit to husbands as much as it is telling wives that in that society you may submit. We are not to be in bondage to anyone but you are not sinning if you need to submit to your husbands societal provision, you are not required to leave and live on the street so to speak, just like Christian slaves were not commanded to run away but if freedom could be procured then that would be good.
    Sorry for the rambling, I just get so worked up by these patriarchs.


  26. I’ve heard that kind of CBMW simple minded view of Eph. 5 all my life, but I don’t think Paul is talking about the wife’s spirituality at all. He is just telling these new believing men that, yes, your wife is included in verse 20. Submit to each other, everyone, and verse 21 says yes even to your wife and your wife to you. You mister man, have the earthly world system’s power at your finger tips to bring her up to your privileged level in society. That is how you can submit to her. And as an emotional appeal to men to lay aside their ‘rights’ he says that even Christ who is head of the church has submitted His life to cleaning off the church of the dirt collected from who knows where in order to have it stand equally in righteousness as Himself before God. Anyway, when I look at Paul’s writings through the lense of equality, it makes perfect literary sense. Any other way always makes me think the translaters couldn’t pass wring 101.
    I also don’t believe that the scripture commands wives to submit to husbands as much as it is telling wives that in that society you may submit. We are not to be in bondage to anyone but you are not sinning if you need to submit to your husbands societal provision, you are not required to leave and live on the street so to speak, just like Christian slaves were not commanded to run away but if freedom could be procured then that would be good.
    Sorry for the rambling, I just get so worked up by these patriarchs.

    Julie Anne, disregard this same comment in moderation, I misspelled my email.


  27. I appreciate the way AnotherTom explained that.
    I haven’t done an exhaustive search, but one place that explicitly speaks of husbands sanctifying their wives also speaks of wives sanctifying their husbands. 🙂 It is writing from the position of a believing spouse to an unbelieving spouse.
    “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband . . .” 1 Cor 7:14
    I’ve seen nothing yet to indicate that one believer sanctifies another believer.


  28. loveoneanother,

    While out for lunch today, I saw a bumper sticker and a license plate frame for “Compass Bible Church”. Not knowing if it was a church in my area or not, I googled it when I got home. Turns out it’s south of here. I looked at their “About” page and thought everything sounded pretty good until I got to #s 6-8. Funny that it would be part of this discussion today.


  29. Joannah,
    Glad to hear there is another in socal. Yes, the legalism is very subtle and it seems like a great church from the outside.

    Cindy K.,
    I was stuck out in the ocean on a boat That broke down. What an adventure. Anyway, wasn’t ignoring your response. Back safe and sound. I respect all your knowledge and wisdom and I consider the differences in beliefs about wives and husbands not that big of a deal. We are all one in Christ.


  30. Julie Anne & Cindy K,
    Thanks for saying this is RC teaching. I was born and raised in the Midwest in the 60s and 70s, with nothing but Roman Catholics and me, the Missouri Synod -Lutheran. I didn’t even know what Baptists were until I moved to the Southwest.

    I asked my OPC pastor if this was RC, and he said yes it was. Why can he see this? He was born and raised Roman Catholic, and was seriously considering becoming a priest. If you are a 4th generation Dutch Reformed Calvinist you can be manipulated by the New Calvinists.


  31. Overall, I don’t think the piece was bad. In fact I found it quite helpful. That has nothing to do with whether this is a good guy or not, an entirely different question that I’m not reaching.

    I don’t see anything exceptional in a man being meant to sanctify his wife, or as Paul wrote cited above, a wife sanctifying her husband. In fact, we see in places like James 5 that sanctifying one another is just the normal Christian life. We’re supposed to assemble together, as Paul wrote, for the better and not for the worse as is typical in churches, described in Ezekiel 34. And that “better” is mutual sanctification, also described in Ephesians 4 as “truthing in love.”

    None of this implies that anything is supposed to be done through our own works. We’re told all over the placer to do this or that, but that allows no inference that we’re supposed to do it ourselves. In fact, Jesus not only said that apart from him we can do nothing, but that apart from his Father he couldn’t do anything.

    A lot of things in the Bible straighten out when we lose the mistaken inference that we’re supposed to do it ourselves. God told Elijah to anoint Elisha to be prophet in his place, Hazael to be king over Aram, and Jehu to be king over Samaria. But the only part he did was Elisha, over time. Elisha took care of the other two, and Jehu by means of someone else. When we get it done, rather than doing it ourselves, whether by God or some other, we did it.


  32. Carmen S,

    It isn’t just about the intermediary priest stuff. (You can say sacerdotalism instead and impress people — same difference.) That’s just a part of it. And I hate to call it “Romanist” (a pejorative if you’re Catholic which I once did not realize), because even they do not assign so much authority to husbands. They, at least, require priests to train and study. Roman Catholic theology does not even teach some of these things. I trained as a nurse with the Sisters of Mercy, and even with the RC traditional view of women, they qualify as egalitarian.

    Many of the rock star Calvinists today also teach a Roman Catholic version of sanctification by merging justification and sanctification as the same process. Luther challenged the salvation by works mentality of his day by separating out justification as something different from the process of being made holy over time (sanctification).

    Jesus justified us before the Father by bearing our penalty to free us from the consequences of the Law. In God’s presence, it is obvious that we are not holy while in this flesh. Isaiah and John fell on their faces before Him and became acutely aware of their lack of holiness, as dead men. If you think of a court of law with the Father as the judge, when we come before Him, we are guilty and cannot make ourselves pure again. We deserve death. Jesus steps in and says, I will (and have) gone to prison and served their death sentence for them myself by laying down my own life. The Father looks at us and says, “I see the blood of my Son. You are counted as righteous.” Luther argued that this declaration — the imputation of my sin to Jesus and His life to us — was forensic. Jesus died once for all. His Blood on the Cross was effective. I don’t have to earn this status — And I CANNOT earn it. I cannot become the opposite of that which I am not.

    Under that grace that came to me through faith when I believed, I am counted as righteous, though in reality, I am not. My flesh is at war and at enmity with God, but because of the grace that came to me through Jesus, I get the legal status of righteousness — in right standing before God. Then begins the process of fear and trembling and the daily mortification or putting to death of my flesh which is also an act of grace. We are not made holy all at once, but we start the journey of the process. The process of continual and dynamic change (almost like getting to know someone in a courtship in a way) happens over time. That process is the sanctification process.

    The two (justification and sanctification) are intimately related, but they are not the same thing. My sentence has been more than commuted — Jesus took my place. I do not earn that justification every day. I can never do anything to earn it. I’m guilty. I’m unholy and full of sin, and I’m helpless to do anything about it. Now, the sanctification process that God begins as He works in me through the Spirit is governed by Him, and I can make that process hard on myself or I can cooperate with it. God watches over the Word in my heart to perform it and works in me through the Spirit to will and do of His good pleasure. I cannot even really affect the sanctification process, either. I can act holy, but because He works to conform my heart and gives me the mind of Christ which I renew as I am transformed, nothing that I do on the outside (through good works) has the ability to change the disposition of my heart. God does all of that as His sovereign work.

    I believe that every person has a will, whether you believe in free will or determinism. Even Jesus while qualifying as fully human had to experience the quality of human willfulness yet decided to go to Calvary. He did that for us because He was like us and tempted in every way we are. But I think that Calvinists are so worried that if they even admit that man has any will at all, it is tantamount to saying that man’s will can trump God’s will. The nutshell of the distinction of Calvinism is God’s complete and perfect sovereignty. In this fear of perhaps theoretically giving man any choices or will or freedom, the Rockstar Calvinists take this so far that they end up denying the new birth and the Gospel of Reconciliation.

    Sonship Theology and teachers from Tim Keller to Tullian Tchividjian to Voddie Baucham and especially John Piper bought into ideas that came from a distortion of Covenant Theology. Those who originated this trend were so afraid of giving man any spiritual power in theory, that they argue against any inner spiritual power imparted by the Holy Spirit in the inner man of the Christian. (I think that most of the Rockstars just parrot some of the people who came up with this idea.) The power of sin over me gets buried when I get baptized, and I walk in newness of life, and the Holy Spirit gives me spiritual discernment. I am given the spirit of love, power and a sound mind. God imparts the wisdom and sensitive conscience that can discern truth from error. I’m still full of sin, but I have help and hope that I didn’t have before I believed.

    These Rockstars often teach against this miracle of transformation in Christ. I think that this is because of this fear that someone will understand that if man is powerful then somehow God is less powerful. Or that the power God imparts to man will be thought of as something that can override Him. They say that we merely behold God and over time, His holiness infuses into us from the outside in. This is what Piper says when he says, “beholding as a way of becoming.” Tullian T says we have to preach the Gospel to ourselves every day, as if what we learned yesterday really doesn’t take. It glorifies the power of sin.

    What they’ve done in the process is make justification a thing to be earned. We can’t have that new creation in Christ experience until after years and years. A theonomist who posted here some months ago said that Hebrews 10 is not talking about a believer but is talking about the time after the society has been transformed into one that loves and worships God. It is not for today. It is coming, even though the verse also talks about how sacrifices of animals are no longer needed, echoing the promise and the liberty that has already come through justification.

    Paul Dohse approached Voddie Baucham about this matter and Voddie said that justification is like a completed highway, but then he said that we “still drive on it.” It is still something that we have to traverse as redeemed believers, though we have been called righteous. He’s saying that we have to earn righteousness. And John Piper is the worst one. He breaks down Romans 8 into some fantasy process and his proof texts are laughable. His view completely contradicts the Westminster Confession in his description of the place of works in the life of the Believer. He says that works are like planks that we use to build a bridge across the abyss that separates our unholy selves from the realm of a Holy God. We have to build that bridge through good works which he calls a golden chain. And somehow from Romans eight, he says that God has a rope around our waist to keep us from falling into hell. (That’s not in any version of Romans that I’ve ever read.)

    So all that is meant to demonstrate that the sacerdotalism or intermediary priest issue is not the only Roman Catholic like doctrine being advanced by groups like CBMW and the Gospel Coalition. Their view of sanctification is also one that argues that holiness infuses into us from the outside to affect the inner man over time and through good works. This is not Reformation Theology. It actually uses the same language and terms that are found in Roman Catholic theology.

    Now I need a nap or a power snack or something….


  33. Oh, and if you want to know why Piper is always crying (other than to manipulate through what Taunya Henderson once described to me as “timely tears”)? We’re all just poor, terrible sinners. We have no power over sin. The enemy is not a footstool for our feet. We are still slaves to our desires, and we are not seated with Christ in high places. We have to grovel around and glorify sin, because there is no real new creation. It’s an impotent Gospel that has a form of godliness, but I believe that it denies the power thereof.


  34. Thanks Cindy K. You gave a much more in-depth explanation of what I referred to in my paragraph above about the Neo-Cal views of justification and sanctification and how they differ from the traditional Calvinist (Westminster confession) views of those doctrines. Exactly what I had in mind.


  35. But Peter Attwood,

    You wrote, I don’t see anything exceptional in a man being meant to sanctify his wife, or as Paul wrote cited above, a wife sanctifying her husband. In fact, we see in places like James 5 that sanctifying one another is just the normal Christian life. We’re supposed to assemble together, as Paul wrote, for the better and not for the worse as is typical in churches, described in Ezekiel 34. And that “better” is mutual sanctification, also described in Ephesians 4 as “truthing in love.”

    Given your own presuppositions about mutuality, I agree with you.

    The problem is that those who propagate this stuff say that mutuality is an horrendous sin.

    If you go back and consider the ramifications of their presuppositions — that a woman is the indirect image of God and must go to man (MacArthur says that a woman’s best spiritual source is a man), and that this demands gender hierarchy, this takes on a whole new implication. It doesn’t sound bad in isolation, but as part of the complementarian package, it is wickedness.

    Also consider that they have defined all women as the daughters of Eve as easily deceived (and the corollary to that is that men are rarely if ever deceived and possess superior critical thinking skill). Woman was really responsible for original sin, but God held Adam accountable because Eve was something like a child. She didn’t even qualify as a free moral agent. That takes all of this a step further.

    They’ve created a paradigm that redefines a woman in such poor terms, she is morally hapless and helpless and something less than a man that it NECESSITATES an intermediary. The paradigm demands it, and they created this paradigm with that motive. I don’t believe that you can look at their Ephesians 5 interpretations without considering the implications of these other beliefs.

    So if they believed in mutuality between the genders, if they didn’t redefine women as an ontological lesser (of lesser substance that was taken from man as her source material, once removed from God), I wouldn’t find their interpretation of Ephesians 5:25-27 so difficult. But they don’t, so I don’t believe that you can conclude that it is generally benign.


  36. HI, Another Tom!

    I know that we are like-minded on this matter, and I loved your description, but as I noted before, I’m all wound up from this stuff, Julie Anne set out a soap box, and I’m disgusted by this stuff because it demotes Jesus to some kind of catalyst that elevates man. I don’t know if I’m doing any good by ranting or if anyone’s getting anything out of it, but I felt like it couldn’t hurt. I think it was cathartic, anyway.

    There’s some GREAT PREACHING going on here today by everybody, and I’m honored to have read it. I’m proud, too. EVERYBODY added great comments that made my heart sing. We’ve glorified Jesus, and not man.

    Sola fide. Sola gratia. Solo Christo. Sola Scriptura. (not Rockstars or Calvinistas) Soli Deo gloria. Forever, Amen!


  37. They do have all these problems, sure. And it’s not peculiar with them. Going back to Genesis 3, it is evident that woman-hating and all the poisonous doctrines adorning it arise out of the fundamental enmity between Serpent and Woman that was laid down there. That woman-hating doctrines turn up wherever Satan gets listened to, given what the Bible teaches, should in no way surprise us.

    Still, when someone is right about something, he’s right. So Jesus had some things to say to the Pharisees, but when they were right he agreed with them or even commended them. Stipulating to issues where we can agree isolates where the real problems are, and this way we don’t find ourselves at war with truth just because there’s something wrong with whoever is professing it.


  38. Here’s another thought about Roman Catholicism that may not be obvious. Mass has to happen all of the time (daily) in that system because of the merged justification and sanctification. They have to offer the elements every day, and according to some of the Reformers anyway, it is seen as tantamount to hanging Jesus on the Cross every day. It has to keep happening and it has to be offered or done for the people, or they will lose their justification. You have to keep earning it, and the Catholic priests have to keep offering up the elements and offering them to the people because it doesn’t last.

    My mom once pointed out that the priest consumed the wine that remained in the chalice because they were probably all alcoholics (an unfair joke that stereotypes priests), and this is all that I understood of the practice. I later learned about transubstantiation, and understood that because the wine was seen as the actual shed Blood of Jesus, if any was not consumed, it was almost an admission that the Blood of Jesus was ineffective. It is more than symbolic. And the practice seems to intensify this idea of the necessity of the practice as salvific and needful to keep one’s justification. That tradition is not by any mistake and is directly related to these concepts.

    But the Protestants believed that the sacrifice of Jesus and His Blood needed to be shed just once. We observe the sacrament of the Eucharist, and Protestants differ on exactly what happens through communion, though we all know it as an act of obedience and a duty of our faith. But it also affirms that Jesus died once and justified us once, and for all time for all people who would believe in Him. We don’t hang him up on the Cross again, day after day, because we don’t have to keep earning justification — or as Voddie put it “we still drive on that completed highway.” We don’t drive on it. We benefit from it and bear the status of the completed act on Calvary.


  39. Peter – – As I said in the post – I liked the article overall, too. The problem that I see is that particular sentence. “My goal as a husband is now to work diligently for the sanctification of my wife.”

    It’s kind of like some of us experienced in our abusive churches. There’s a whole lot of stuff that makes sense coming from the pulpit. The pew sitters sit there and nod their heads, take it in. Then there’s one whammy sentence that makes you question yourself. But everything else was right on, so you just let that one whammy sentence slide. However, after you’ve been a while, you start to realize that even though that one whammy sentence isn’t discussed much, it is a foundational teaching – not so much by words, but by actions.

    This is probably why seeing that sentence combined with CBMW very disturbing. Some of these guys DO think they are supposed to be intermediaries and are the ones to sanctify their wives. Doesn’t it make sense? Shoot, just look at how these guys are so quick to determine one’s salvation. I have a list of these Neo-Cals who regularly tell me to “repent before it’s too late.”

    I don’t know if any of the above makes sense. I’ll just hit “post comment” for kicks – lol.


  40. Peter Attwood,
    I can agree with you that there is nothing particularly strange with the content of the article linked to in JA’s post. But, as others have noted, there are those who teach that the husband has a priestly role as an intermediary between his wife and God and that a woman is sanctified by the husband in a way that is very much like the role of a priest toward the congregation in Catholic theology. With this teaching as a backdrop, a statement like “My goal as a husband is now to work diligently for the sanctification of my wife” becomes loaded language with an entirely different meaning than simply the idea that one spouses should help each other grow spiritually. I do not know for sure if the author of the article was using the words in this loaded way or not. But given that the article is posted on the CBMW site, and given the fact that leaders in that group do in fact teach a sacerdotal / priestly view of a husband’s role in marriage, it is to be expected that people familiar with these teaching would see red flags by the use of such language. So the words he wrote may or may not be right, depending on the meaning he pours into the words.


  41. Here’s another idea to bake your noodle. This is from Rabbi Lamm’s aformentioned book (pg 151):

    Rabbi David Abudarham, a medieval liturgical commentator, said, “When we recite in our prayers ‘God who sanctified us,’ we may interpret it ‘God who married us,’” for the Hebrew root of both “sanctified” and “married” is k-d-sh.

    It is God who makes us holy, and Paul understood the close relationship of the meanings of these words and how related they were through the kedesh concept. The concept of marriage itself was redeemed by the law. Before marriage, there was only concubinage or cohabitation. The Law set marriage before God apart from this.

    These guys have the analogy all backwards. The history of marriage itself and the concept of being one flesh (that three stranded cord when man and woman are in union under God when the union is pursued righteously) holds in it the promise of Jesus in a sense. But this right standing before God only came through the Law.

    If that’s the case, Paul isn’t so much giving instructions in marriage in this chapter as much as he’s emphasizing what the Jew understood — that Jesus has replaced the Law. We don’t follow a list of rules anymore. We follow love that was bestowed upon us when Jesus took unholy people and declared them righteous and then cares for them to prepare them. It’s part of the process of marriage. It’s talking about the real thing that Jesus did for us — He did what the Law could not do because it was weak through sinful flesh. He’s saying that we don’t follow the Law anymore, but through what Jesus did, we follow the Law of Love. We should care for one another.

    This is why I sometimes ponder whether these guys who pound away to advance these ideas have any clue of what Jesus really did for THEM. It is a MIRACLE. And I think that they miss a lot of that.


  42. Cindy,
    I’ve read the excepts that you have posted from “The Jewish Way in Love and Marriage”. I LOVE that book! What an eyeopener. John MacArthur explodes that the defense against his stance is just “the culture”. This is Jewish culture from the time of Jesus. I’ve listened to MacArthurs’ sermons and he includes things from Jewish culture, but obviously he’s being selective, and I wasn’t aware of that. What gives?


  43. Julie Anne,

    Your comment made great sense. In different words, you pointed out something that James wrote. I’ll show you my faith by my works.

    That always brings to my mind something powerful about spotting spiritual abuse. Christians, especially in discernment ministries, tend to only like to address doctrine. But if you look at the Scriptures that pertain to false prophets, false teachers and pharisees, only 10% talk about doctrine. 47% are about behavior. 31% are about fruit. (12% are about motive.) It isn’t what they say most of the time. It’s not how they interpret doctrine, though there are usually seeds of problems in the doctrine. A little leaven goes a long way. But most of what they do shows the problems. (Paul Martin of Wellspring Recovery and Resource Center presented these Scriptures at a conference once. It was eye opening for me.)

    These guys can repeat until they are blue in the face that they mean “equal but different.” But how that fleshes out and everything that they require confirms that women are not equal. A subordinate is not an equal. A person created to service another is not an equal. What they require of people does not reflect equality at all. It reflects a lesser being serving a greater, privileged one. And that’s the backdrop of CBMW.

    They show us faith and show us works, but they don’t show us their faith by their works. At least I don’t think that they do.


  44. That’s a good point. It’s also important to remember that the priesthood of all believers is not the priesthood of no believers, which is the effective teaching of most American Christians – this doctrine quite obviously deriving from individualistic American culture. Unlike spiritual gifts, or even the ministries of Ephesians 4, priest is simply what a disciple of Jesus is. It’s not functional; it’s ontological.

    Of course a husband is to be a priest to his wife, and the reverse as well. Priestly ministry in women is quite common in the New Testament and also in the Hebrew scriptures. For instance, a fundamental aspect of priesthood is teaching, and the Proverbs especially make teaching essential to what a mother is. In Proverbs 31, the law of kindness is on her tongue.


  45. What you’re describing is Ro0mans 1, suppressing the truth in unrighteousness. It is not simply doing away with the truth but subverting it and pressing it into the service of the Lie – a thing first seen in Genesis 3, whewre every word of Satan is accurate and adds up to a lie.

    Then we get mousetrapped into arguing with the truths, instead of discerning the Lie and taking those truths away from it.


  46. Hmmmm.. “a fundamental aspect of priesthood is teaching.” How so? I’m trying to think of a scripture passage regarding priests that mentions teaching, but I’m coming up blank.


  47. Peter Attwood,

    Don’t forget that heavy hitters in CBMW and TGC rallied in 2000 to have the whole phrase “priesthood of all believers” struck from the Baptist Faith and Message Statement (of the SBC). It wouldn’t fly, so they settled for the change to “the priesthood of THE believer” as a compromise. They can now say that the priesthood does not apply to all — it does not apply to women per the Danvers Statement which was also ratified that same year by the SBC.


  48. I don’t think that the husband is the priest of the wife. I need a couple of Scriptures for that. We are all kings and priests and sons. We don’t need to be priests for one another.

    I think that we’re more on the same page than not, though. I almost don’t care about some of the fine points, so long as people aren’t abusing wives, demoting Jesus to some special purpose created being (or sticking Him in a dress), or running around saying that people aren’t even really Christians.


  49. Carmen S,

    I think that Lamm understood more about the loving kindness of God as a Jew than many of the religious leaders today. You can tell that he loved God and that he knew that God loved him. I see more of Jesus in his words because of the prophetic nature of many of the Old Testament ideas in the foretelling of hope. I think that it also bears testimony to how the whole Word speaks wisdom, even if we don’t embrace all of what God has to offer us. And you can tell that he was humble, too.

    As to MacArthur, he did spend a year at Bob Jones U before he dropped out and headed to California, so maybe he was indoctrinated with some of the same garbage that comes through Piper and characters like Gothard. ??? It makes you wonder what on earth the women in his life were like in the earlier part of his life, doesn’t it? I think that all of these guys have some mighty big chips on their shoulders. You’d almost have to in order to draw some of these conclusions, unless you were indoctrinated and couldn’t think yourself out of this.

    I pray that MacArthur has a really compelling encounter with Jesus before he moves on from this life and has an opportunity to rethink some of these things. We can stand on streets of gold one day and look back on all of this and see clearly what God was doing in all of us. (I sure can’t make sense out of some of these things now!)


  50. Teaching as a function of the priestly office:
    Deut. 17:9-11, 31:9-13, 2 Kings 17:28, 2 Chron. 15:3, Nehemiah 8:1-8, Jeremiah 18:18, Micah 3:11, Malachi 2:7, Matthew 2:4, Romans 15:16


  51. In the Catholic Church, the Sacrament of Matrimony is the only one of the seven that the priest does not “do”. The husband and the wife confer the Sacrament on each other. The priest is the witness before God. The goal of matrimony, aside from having children, is the mutual salvation of each other’s soul. The husband and the wife are responsible for each other. It’s not a one way street.

    Also, the Catholic Church juxtaposes sanctification and justification. You are sanctified, that is, cleansed and set apart for God; and then, your life is about justification. At the end of your life, you are finally holy, and can enter the presence of God. Of course, we also believe in purgatory, where “left over” sins, as it were, are purified out of us. That’s a whole other can of beans, so I’ll stop here.


  52. You know I rarely get truly angry but I must say some of what those “men” said about Julie Anne And Dee really tick me off. What a bunch of clowns, speaking of clowns take a look at Doug Phillips being a tool. Barf

    I have found one thing to be true, it was women that stayed with Christ and they did not run away like the men did, well except John. These man mens stood by and said nothing when Phillips ran rickshaw over his congregation, many Homeschooling families, and any opposition If one looks at the fallout of VF closing you see a bunch of manly men raising all kinds of righteous anger when they said nothing about it when it was going on. That is typical its the same rhetoric they blabber on about concerning any opposition. Julie Anne, Dee and the other folks trying to help keep it up, these guys, and most of them are men, are tools nothing more. I should know I have been a tool a times and we can spot each other.


  53. Sheila,

    I wholeheartedly disagree that this is what the Catholic Church teaches. Especially concerning the idea about juxtaposed justification and sanctification. It denies the whole concept of infused grace. They wouldn’t have been able to argue at Trent that justification and sanctification were different. Justification can be lost and self-sanctification through works becomes the means of hanging on to it.

    I can undersand that this is what you believe, and I’m happy to agree to disagree with you.


  54. 1 Cor 7:14

    “For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.”

    If this doesn’t blow a hole in the erroneous concept that husbands exist to sanctify their wives I don’t know what does.

    Not only does this scripture demonstrate the reciprocal nature of one partner being ‘sanctified’ through the other, but it also highlights that such sanctification is not the result of either partner’s hard work and enforcement of ‘godly behaviour’, but rather the outcome of one partner’s simple trust in the Almighty, who is able to sanctify (or consider holy) whomever He wills and in whatever state they are in.


  55. I’ve only had time to skim the comments, and maybe somebody else has already said something to the same effect, but my theory is that a husband’s role is simply to love his wife. He is to treat her in the same manner he would like to be treated by her. If and to the extent he fails to do so, he is not loving her. Not that I have managed to live up to any of this very well.


  56. Well, if this were true I would have been completely out of luck when I was married. It would have been nice had he been concerned about his own spirituality, let alone mine. I don’t have a quarrel with complementarian living as long as they are content and functioning. When a man becomes a dictator or a woman becomes unhappily passive, it’s not functioning. Why anyone would think he can work toward his wife’s sanctification, though, kind of escapes me. The picture of a God-honoring family is a lofty ideal. Real life is harder to live.


  57. Concerning husbands and wives sanctifying one another — based on the whole of the information about the close tie in meaning between the term of “marriage” and “holy” in Hebrew which I’m presuming is true even though I learned it as part of my Jewish studies —

    I’m going to argue that when Paul talks about husbands and wives sanctifying one another, based on both the suggestion in Eph 5:25-27 and the direct statement in 1 Cor 7:14, that marriage makes this an even stronger statement. This supersedes any reference to a believer encouraging another to live righteously, spurning them on to aspire to greater holiness by abhorring and mortifying sin.

    Also from page 151 in Lamm’s book:

    By formalizing marriage, Judaism saved marriage. By stamping it “legal acquisition.” it made firm that which was vague and inchoate. It held the family fast – so fast that the family eventually held together the whole exiled and hopelessly dispersed Jewish community. This surely hinted at the betrothal blessing, when God is praised as me’kadesh ammo Yisrael al ye’dei chuppa ve’kiddushin, “He who sanctifies his people Israel through marriage and betrothal.” Through the laws of marriage, God enhances family life, personal morality and Jewish survival.

    Paul was a pharisee’s pharisee, and he certainly knew the significance of the language and what the Jew understood of marriage. The words are drawn from the same root and share so much meaning that it is right to translate sanctify with marriage.

    Marriage in meant to deepen true intimacy as each party is set apart for the other and apart from all others. The language carries with it, inherently, this significance of what Jesus will do for us in a way that far supersedes what the Law was ever able to do. We can go into the Holy of Holies to be in the presence of God through what Jesus did. We went from the shadow of what the Law did (for both us in covering our sins and in terms of rescuing marriage from cohabitation) through the Blood of Jesus which rent the veil separating us from God’s presence. (And intimacy is meant to bring fruitfulness in both of these realms.)

    This adds another whole layer on to the text that an American who doesn’t read Hebrew and doesn’t understand this past culture. The very word is pregnant (no pun intended) with the promise of God bringing us into communion with Him through the Blood of Jesus. The Law was a foretelling of the better promise, just a taste of what Jesus would do for us on the Cross.

    Paul and the Jewish converts to whom he addressed his letters understood this in a way that we don’t even think about. And there is a ton more of info like this that supports a woman’s autonomy under old Judaism, too. What these men teach is not what even ancient Judaism observed. They ask of us what God Himself does not by demanding that people follow complementarianism (or risk being labeled as an open theist and one who worships a false God).


  58. This is from page 218 in Lamm. Keep in mind that k-d-sh or kiddesh means “holy” (state in which God, places, or things are set apart/made sacred). This is all something that was blatantly obvious to Jews of that day who used this language all the time. :

    “Praised be Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe who has sanctified us with His commandments and has commanded us concerning illicit relations; and has prohibited us those who are merely betrothed; but has permitted to us those who lawfully married to us by chuppah [nuptials] and kiddushin [betrothal]. Blessed art thou God, who has sanctified His people Israel by chuppah and kiddushin.”

    [Lamm’s Explanation of the Ceremony]:

    Who Has Sanctified Us
    God has not merely allowed human beings an erotic indulgence by legal validation of marriage. God has sanctified us by giving us the institution of marriage. Through it we achieve a closer relationship with Him and a more intimate relationship with other people. Thereby we enrich the family and perpetuate the species, for God created the world with the specific purpose that it be inhabited and civilized.

    With His Commandments.
    The Rabbis pondered whether this blessing could technically be classified as bikhat mitzvah (a blessing that precedes the performance of mitzvah), as the blessing over the shofar, for example. The predominant opinion held that it could not be so classified, since the mitzvah is not completed until after the couple had conjugal relations. In any case, the mitzvah did not depend on him alone, and the bride had not yet formally consented. Nonetheless, the Sages could not bring themselves to exclude such a mitzvah from having a blessing. Thus they instituted a special blessing for the sanctification of the Jewish people for practicing marriage that was properly authorized by the law.

    Jews actually say “Thanks be unto God, King of the Universe, who sanctifies us with His commandments.” All that Paul says on this subject is a heck of a lot more Jewish than it is 21st Century American. Marriage was also thought of by the Jews to be mysterious which is another reason why Paul uses this term in regard to marriage. I am so grateful that I studied NT Greek with a Believer who grew up as an Orthodox Jew who along with the language taught us how the Jews used the Greek language. In respect to the language itself and the depth that this information adds to the meaning of what is written in the New Testament, what I took away from the class was that few understand the depth of what the Word is really saying when they assume an “English Translation Theology.” I didn’t come away from the class with a great working knowledge of Greek. I came away with a sense of awe of the miracle of how the Holy Spirit illuminates our understanding of the Word because I hardly knew the Bible and what it meant, though I had studied it passionately my whole life. Why is it that the “great theologians” who frame out and advance complementarianism don’t know any of this?


  59. All that to say, the statement that we “sanctify” one another is not so provocative, specifically against the backdrop of how the Jews of that day understood the language and persists to this day.

    The real problem in the CBMW blog post concerns how they have distorted the meaning of encouraging one another to be set apart for God and from the world into a statement of how women are inferior in critical thinking, morality, and essence itself and therefore necessitate a spiritual intermediary to have any intimacy with God. A woman is not a creature set apart for God’s use and good pleasure. She is set apart for man’s use and pleasure. It is the exact opposite of what the significance of the word itself means, even to a modern day orthodox Jew.


  60. Cindy,
    Do you have any information on Dr. Charles L. Feinburg, dean of Talbot Seminary, who before his conversion had studied to be a Jewish rabbi, and was MacArthur’s mentor?

    “John MacArthur, Servant of the Word and Flock” ( Iain H. Murray) page 19
    Later he had to enter his teacher’s study, to find him shaking his head in disappointment as he exclaimed, “How could you? How could you? The passage presents the Davidic Covenant culminating in the Messiah and His glorious kingdom–and you talked about ‘not presuming on God’ in our personal day-to-day choices”. The hearer of these words says it was ‘the deepest single impression I ever received in seminary. I can still hear Dr. Feinburg’s heartfelt admonition ringing in my ears. If you don’t have the meaning of Scripture, you do not have the Word of God at all.’

    MacArthur does not have the meaning of Scripture. Did Dr. Feinburg reject what Lamm humbly received?


  61. The comps claim that sin really entered into mankind through Eve, but because she was not strong enough of a moral agent and was just an extension of Adam, God had no choice but to sling the fault of original sin around the neck of Adam. (Think of the law in some States that holds a parent accountable for the penalty of the laws that are broken by their minor children for a forensic example of what they are doing here. God as the judge had no choice but to saddle Adam with the shame of Eve’s crime and treason, because she was not an entity under the law. She was his pet or something. She was like Adam’s child.)

    So as a New Testament Believer, a woman is still, of essence, something of an aged child who is assigned to some male overseer. Nancy Leigh DeMoss has said that John Piper has agreed to act as her “spiritual covering,” and he is called upon in her True Woman conferences to be the first of the male coverings in attendance to legitimize the gathering. You can’t talk about God without a penis in the room, dontcha know.

    Paul, a Jew speaking to many Jews, is saying in Ephesians 5 that we are translated into the Kingdom through the better way of Jesus and no longer through the Law. A comp goes back to the definition of who a woman is and can only see that Paul is saying that his wife needs her new daddy to help her in the midst of her own hapless ability that can’t even stand before God to answer for her own sins.

    Just to emphasize the stark difference between complementarianism and Judaism that prays “thank God I was not born a woman,” look at this from Lamm’s book:

    In Jewish law, the husband is not responsible for his wife’s crimes or her sins. Except when she is involved in irrational behavior or starkly immoral displays, the husband had no right to interfere in her life. Similarly, the particular heinousness of adultery is not that it is an invasion of the husband’s private property; it is a sin against God that threatens the whole structure of the family and society.

    Jewish legalism does not even see a woman in the way that complementarianism does. It’s a pack of lies, folks. A pack of miserable, hellish lies that takes half of humanity and dehumanizes it. Then it demonizes it. Then it punishes it.


  62. You can’t talk about God without a penis in the room, dontcha know.

    Wonder if that is 140 characters? That would be a great Twitter teaser to link here- lol. I’ll refrain. It’s Sunday, after all.


  63. Oh, Carmen!

    (I love the way you think!)

    I knew nothing about this, but I have goosebumps! Is the person who missed the Messianic implications of the Davidic Covenant this Feinberg character? (I see the Messianic implications just dripping from the words of Rabbis when they talk about their studies in the Torah, and often in the Talmud, too.) It’s kind of like the same feeling I have when reading Ayn Rand who understands so much of what freedom in America means but cannot understand the basis of why — and I cannot fathom how she can come so close to understanding freedom apart from knowing Jesus. These guys are practically giving the Gospel when they talk about what the Old Law means, for I know well who Jesus is. They get so close to understanding the fullness of it but never enter in. How can that be, when they understand the richness of God so well, often better than most Christians do?

    Is this a passage talking about how Mac’s mentor didn’t understand what his teacher was trying to convey? He could only see legalism, but the teacher’s point was how it all pointed to Christ?

    I think some of these guys wouldn’t know Jesus if they tripped over Him, frankly.


  64. JA, just drop the “You” in the beginning and shorten “without” to w/o and post on Monday morning. You could skip the apostrophe in “can’t,” too. 😉


  65. “Jewish legalism does not even see a woman in the way that complementarianism does.”

    I agree with you. I was surprised years ago to learn that Jewish lineage is passed down from the mother.
    However, many of the Ultra-Orthodox Hasidic sects are just as bad. In fact many of these communities in New York have come under scrutiny for not reporting sexual abuse of children.


  66. Tweet from someone who went to the Shepherds Conference. Evidently the power went out when JMac was preaching and people have been making a big deal about the fact that he kept preaching by flashlight.


  67. I don’t know what MacArthur’s excuse is.

    If anyone is curious, I studied Greek with Dr. Gary Derechinsky while he pastored in Arnold, MD and did his tent making by teaching at the large Christian school in Annapolis. My seminary brought him in as a hired gun for a couple of classes. He studied at Harvard, Gordon Conwell, Dallas Theological Seminary, among other places. He now pastors a Messianic congregation in California. I cannot express just how excellent he was. My husband and I loved studying under him (and we did it together).

    Somehow, I get accused of being a Kabbalist, but MacArthur does not. But a seminary professor and dean of theology called me a lebsian, too. My husband found that to be quite amusing.

    Gary has some old podcasts on iTunes, if this kind of thing turns people on:


  68. Oh, BTDT,

    This is just a bit off topic, and I don’t intend to introduce it here as a topic of discussion, nor do I want to discuss circumcision. This just highlights another tragic problem with child abuse, particularly in NY among certain Jewish sects.

    Rabbi’s in NY refuse to stop a practice that transmits herpes to infants during circumcisions (during a weird, uncommon fringe circumcision practice that I think is pretty sick anyway). Herpes frequently causes meningitis which is often deadly in a baby. There have been several deaths and many infections.


  69. Cindy –

    I’ve enjoyed reading your comments. Thanks for sharing your wealth of information.

    MacArthur gets away with it because he has the proper front piece for the club 😉


  70. Cindy, I think you are on to something, but let me clarify:

    This was in reference to the first sermon John MacArthur preached as a student at Talbot. “All students had to preach at least twice in the seminary chapel, and as they did so members of the faculty sat behind them on the platform and filled in critique sheets. MacArthur preached on 1 Samuel 7, the passage where the prophet Nathan’s encouragement to David to build a temple was overruled by God. MacArthur took as his main theme the importance of not presuming on God, and supposing that he had preached well, he anticipated receiving the high opinion of Dr. Feinberg at the end of the service. Instead the critique sheet the latter handed to him was blank apart from the words, “You missed the whole point of the passage,”

    Dr. Feinburg was said to know more than thirty languages, including Dutch, which he had taught himself in order to read Dutch Reformed Theology. As I said, before his conversion, Feinburg had studied to become a Jewish rabbi. John MacArthur’s father was the one to urge his son to attend Talbot on account of the reputation of Dr. Feinburg. When the three of them first meet, Jack MacArthur opened the interview with the words, “This is my son, Johnny, and I want you to make him a Bible expositor”. MacArthur’s grandfather, Harry MacArthur, was also a preacher.

    Dr. Feinberg had studied to become a rabbi before his conversion. What did he accept, and what did he reject, in regards to what Lamm did not reject? Does MacArthur have no problem rejecting what Lamm writes because of Feinburg??


  71. Cindy,

    I remember reading about the baby that died from that circumcision practice. So sick, and so sad. And, yes, circumcision alone could fill up a whole other thread.

    Christianity does have Jewish roots. Sometimes, in order to better understand those roots, it’s good to understand how they are viewed and interpreted by those whose faith is historically Jewish. I believe that some practices that Patriarchists claim as “Biblical” are really more of a cultural nature. Some of the ideology they promote is similar to what is practiced in Muslim and Hindu cultures. Does that make these cultures Biblical? No. There is something missing in how the scriptures are being interpreted and applied.


  72. Sheila,

    I am not smarter. And I could have been educated differently than you. I went to a Jesuit school, and even within the school, there was a war between the Vatican I and the Vatican II nuns. They wouldn’t even sit at the same table unless they had to, and their version of doctrine on many counts differed dramatically. (It was this rivalry and antagonism that introduced me to Vatican II. I knew nothing about it before then.) If you asked one group one question, then told them what another representative of the other group said, they’d get furious. I found the Vatican II nuns to have ideas that were much more palatable.

    And then, I come at this stuff as a Protestant, and there is often a belief among Catholics that we unfairly misrepresent them, too.

    So I’m really cool with it, though I my understanding may be different.

    I probably have a Vatican I understanding of marriage which I learned through the number of Hungarian Catholics who were a part of my life as a kid. They did the mass in Hungarian at St. Stevens in my home town, amidst the Pennsylvania Dutch who were mostly Lutheran. And if you aren’t Dutch (and Lutheran), you aren’t much. And they don’t like Catholics very well. I pursued no discussions about the marriage sacrament and had no classes that discussed it when I was in college.


  73. Carmen,

    Do you think that MacArthur accurately reflects the position of Feinburg, though? And could he be consistent with Feinburg’s views in one area and then completely miss the boat concerning anything pertaining to women? I don’t know enough about any of them to venture a guess.

    I do know that when I learned that Mac attended Bob Jones U, I may as well have had a loud “ding, ding, ding” go off in my head with glaring red flags waving in my mind’s eye. Could he have held on to the IFB view and teachings about women, abandoning the rest of what he may have studied there?

    What personal motivation does MacArthur get out of these doctrines? There’s got to be some secondary gain in them, considering the zeal and the burning angst with which he preaches this stuff.


  74. Bridget,

    What a lovely thing to say.

    Frankly, I have only learned this stuff because I have been digging my whole life to make sense out of the falsehoods that I have heard or been made to follow but could not accept as true. The Pentecostals gnostically look down their noses at Baptists, and some of both utterly hate Catholics and see the RCC as the great Beast of Revelation. Baptists can have spiritual pride, seeing all other Christians as just a little bit better than heathens who hate God. Presbys call Lutherans haters of righteousness who disregard the Law, and some deny that Baptists can ever rightfully call themselves “Reformed.” Theonomists call everyone else antinomian. Yet we are called to be one, as Jesus and the Father are one, per what Jesus prayed in Gethsemane. And then Catholics hate Jews and scapegoat them.

    I wanted to find Jesus in all of this. Where was He and where was He not? This connection that has been been created between the Godhead that demotes Jesus to impotency and gender is sick. I’m grateful for the opportunity to talk about this stuff, in the hope that people will realize what complementarianism has done to Jesus. I think that it’s nothing short of wicked.


  75. No husband — no human being, for that matter — can spiritually “sanctify” another. Our spiritual journeys are our own, and while other people can offer clarity and guidance, they can never sanctify us.

    It’s such a strange concept, the idea that a husband should spiritually lead his wife. People should offer spiritual insight and support to EACH OTHER, instead of assuming that males are inherently wiser in spiritual matters than females. It’s another example of so-called “servant leadership”, which is just sexism with a sugary coating.


  76. As a Christian husband, I find it rather easy to understand my role in my family and my marriage since God was so kind to clearly delineate what those are. When our family studies the Bible together, I always point out to them how simple scripture really is. God says: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.” EPH 5:25-26

    The scripture simply tells me that I must be willing to die for my wife and I should study the Bible with my wife. Dying for my wife would not necessarily be that dramatic “you get on the life boat honey” type thing – although if a ship were sinking, it would apply. It means I must daily sacrifice my life and my selfish desires for my wife and, by extension, children and to do it happily and humbly. Reading the Bible, the word, with my wife and family means that I create an environment in which the Holy Spirit can teach each of us whatever God wants us to learn from scripture that day.

    Does reading the Bible help to create an environment which could sanctify each spouse in a marriage? Absolutely, as well as the kids. Could anyone with a straight face argue that sanctifying your wife should be your top priority taken from this scripture when God has just made it clear that you should act like Christ toward your wife up to and including death? Which is more difficult, to proclaim that your primary job is to “fix, clean, set apart, sanctify, make holy” your wife or that your primary job is to become the husband God tells you, in plain words in the Bible, to be – you know, fix, clean, set aside, sanctify, make holy?

    A Christian man who is spending his time focused on being the father and husband God tells him to be won’t have to be concerned about his wife or children’s faith or sanctification, they will follow his example when they see him following his job description found in the Bible.


  77. I’ve been wowed by the wealth of sound understanding being expounded here! – and those layers of Jewish understanding – thank you Cindy! I’ll come back later with some complementary… not with a capital ‘C’!!…thoughts on the Christ/Bride Sanctification/marriage that I have been incubating a while. Also the fallacy of priest/laity propagated by the tyrants!

    Having read through the comments, Angie’s early post was excellent in exposing the fallacy that the Holy Spirit’s job of sanctification can be done by another human. Here I need to qualify that statement in regard to 1 Co 7:14. In order to do that I will need to reiterate, what most of you probably know, but is still worth stating here in ‘three-folds’ applying to man, salvation, time and how they relate to sanctification. Correctly dividing scripture usually eliminates all confusion and misapplication….but rushing an explanation may add to it!!

    Mankind……..…………Spirit – Soul(mind, will, emotions, temperament) – Body
    Contacts……………Spirit realm – People/social realm – Phsical/materal realm
    Salvation…………Past, complete – Present, on-going – Future at the Resurrection

    Scriptures that refer to a PAST or already established state of ‘holiness’ or ‘sanctification’ are ALWAYS referring to the finished work of Redemption that gave us justification and the New Birth. They ALWAYS refer to the SPIRIT of man… the real person, clothed in a soul and housed in a body. They chart the transformation effected by God alone by taking the sin-dominated darkened spirit inherited through Adam’s line, including it in Christ’s death and burial and then birthing a brand new, spirit-being completely compatible with Himself.. Holy, perfected forever!
    A typical example is 1 Cor 6:11 “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” also Heb 10:14 “he has perfected forever them that are sanctified.” He also came to live in this cleansed and Holy Temple … our born again spirit.

    Scriptures that refer to a PRESENT tense process are speaking of what is happening in our SOUL. We have a part to play in this.. we make the choice to go with the life of Christ resident in our spirit man …. or sin, resident in our mortal bodies. It is God Himself that makes us both willing and able to display outwardly, what He has put inside….His own Holy, Love nature in Christ, Who Is our new life. The more we yield to the divine life force within, that never sins and always pleases God, the more it becomes evident that we are HIS and not our own: viz. the more we are sanctified. A good example is Heb 2:11 ”For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren”. I’m so glad He doesn’t disown me while I’m still not getting it right!

    Scriptures that refer to a FUTURE separation from sin it is when we are freed from this flesh, our BODY, where sin dwells. 1 Cor 15:42 sums it up well “So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it shall rise in incorruption.” Until that time we are told to “not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” (Rom 6:13) Also to “discipline my body and keep it under control.” (1 Cor 9:27)

    Having that foundation, it is easier to differentiate who plays a part in sanctification and to not start extrapolating or assuming something that is not God’s design in salvation. So, with that in view, 1 Cor 7:24 is speaking of an UNbeliever, whose spirit is not born again – not sanctified in any part. But by being married, in sacred covenant with a believer, now considered one flesh together, the sanctification of the believing partner is shared/imputed to the other and the offspring of their union are considered clean. This has NOTHING to do with the state of sanctification of a BELIEVING wife in relation to a believing husband. Both, individually are completely and perfectly already sanctified in Christ by virtue of their spirit being reborn in His likeness.. “the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Eph 4:24).

    The husband can do NOTHING for his wife in regard to sanctification of her spirit. God has ALREADY perfected her. Regarding her soul, that is entirely HER own responsibility to walk in the spirit – yielding to the impulses of His love within her own sanctified and glorified spirit, the dwelling place of God’s Spirit.. Doing this she will not gratify the self-centeredness of sin dwelling in her flesh. She is being sanctified by her Saviour, NOT her husband. The husband can not daily present HER body to God(Rom 12:1) so that HE can live for God’s purpose in it! Neither can he resurrect it into a glorious body like Christ’s!

    Justification is a state of the SPIRIT. It is therefore complete and irreversibly unaffected by our performance…. or current outward evidence of Christ-likeness… ie the progress of our SOUL sanctification. It is all included in the Grace of God that gave us new birth in Christ.

    It is no wonder that patriarchal Complementarian theology fudges the distinction of spirit from soul, many believing (against 1 Thess 5:23) that man is only a two-fold being. This gives them all the confusing ammunition of misapplied scripture to remove a wife from her Blood bought privilege of standing tall, sanctified and fully accepted by her own loving Father.


  78. The role of any saint in the life of another ought surely to be to work for the sanctification of the other. Saints are supposed to “edify” one another. What else can this mean, other than to work for one another’s sanctification? Why should this duty be diminished in the context of such an important, “one flesh” relationship between two believers? I suspect you might be reading more into the tweet that raised your hackles than the tweet actually says, which almost goes without saying.


  79. The spirit, soul, body doctrine put forth here has no real support in scripture and conflicts with it at many points.

    For instance, Paul writes that we are to cleanse ourselves from every filthiness of flesh and spirit, which would not be needed if the spirit didn’t need presently to be cleansed from filth. And the woman with the issue of blood felt in her body that she was healed, in keeping with the washing of feet, eating a eucharistic meal, and being dunked in water by which God conveys revelation through the body.

    In fact, the biblical words for spirit convey the idea of breathing out, which is why God is known by his Spirit, and the soul, Hebrew nefesh, has to do with inbreathing or other manifestations of appetite. Thus God breathed his spirit into Adam and caused him to become a living soul, one with an appetite for God and God’s life, whereas sinful lusts war against the soul by fixing its appetites on things that kill or do not give life.

    The spirit reveals that within. So the proverb says that the spirit of man is the candle of the Lord searching out the inward parts of the belly. What goes out from us is what discloses what is within us. And the spirit of faith is its works, by which we know whether there is living faith there (James 2).


  80. John Allman, to love means encouraging/supporting each other’s developing walk with God. That walk is called “sanctification” and it is between the Holy Spirit and the individual.

    To believe that you “sanctify” another means that you see either the Holy Spirit or the other person as incompetent without you. That’s just not true. Rather, it is love that we offer so that each can do his/her own work. If you are doing it for another, you are not doing your own job. Each is enough for each.

    I suspect you might have forgotten about boundaries, John, which almost goes without saying.


  81. @JulieAnne:

    It’s kind of like some of us experienced in our abusive churches. There’s a whole lot of stuff that makes sense coming from the pulpit. The pew sitters sit there and nod their heads, take it in. Then there’s one whammy sentence that makes you question yourself. But everything else was right on, so you just let that one whammy sentence slide.

    In intelligence warfare (i.e. spy vs spy), the same technique is used to pipeline Disinformation (FALSE information) to an enemy. Build your credibility with non-vital true information which the target can verify, then once you’ve established credibility with the target, slip in plausible false information. In fringe literature, there’s a textbook example (with supernatural overtones) in John Keel’s Mothman Chronicles.


  82. @CindyK:

    These guys can repeat until they are blue in the face that they mean “equal but different.”

    That anything like “Separate but Equal”?
    Separate but Equal???


  83. It’s another one of those slippery things. It’s true that people can be equal but different, so that a rule telling a four-year-old he can’t go into the street by himself won’t do for the 40-year old.

    A lot of stuff is covered by Rabbi Hillel’s formulation of the Law, “What you hate do not to others; this is the whole law; now go study,” rendered by Jesus as, “Whatever you want men to do to you, do so to them, for this is the Law and the prophets.”

    It’s noteworthy that this is given in the context of how to pray. Whatever you do is what you’re asking others for, including God, so mind what you ask for in your deeds.


  84. That’s absolutely right, and it started in Genesis 3. You’re invited to either swallow the crap or to end up at war with the truth by rejecting what is right in what was said. By God’s guidance, we have to separate the light from the darkness, which God has been up to since Genesis 1, a task we need to join him in.


  85. Headless Unicorn Guy,

    What do you think that I think?

    I hired the videographer and edited the footage:


  86. Peter

    Thank you for drawing 2 Cor 7:1 to my attention. A word study shows that “filthiness” (Gr.molusmos) is more accurately defined as defilement. This verse is perfectly paralleled to 2 Tim 2:20-1 “Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy (ie sanctified), useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.” The thrust of both passages is to live carefully, making right choices so that we allow nothing to defile or debase our flesh and spirit, so that we are fit for the master’s use.

    There is no inconsistency


  87. Successful Christian Parenting ( John MacArthur, page 188)
    There is nothing to prohibit a man from seeking his wife’s counsel about such matters as where the family should live, what job he should accept, whether the family should participate in this or that activity, or a host of other similar decisions. In fact, the man who is not interested in his wife’s opinion in such matters is a foolish and uncaring husband. But the final decisions are utimately the husband’s prerogative, because he is the one who will be accountable to God for the stewardship of his family”.


  88. Ali,

    I think that Peter is noting something that I pointed out in another thread, and I believe that there is an inconsistency in what you’ve written.

    Christians who believe that there is no distinction between spirit and soul are not “fudging” anything that is not Biblical. You can make a legitimate Scriptural case for both a trichotomist view (man is body and soul with a separate spirit), and a dichotomist view (man is a body with a soul/spirit, terms that Scripture use interchangibly). Both are well within the pale of orthodoxy.

    Your preference for a particular intramural or “non-essential” doctrinal view on any matter that is within the pale is not a distortion of Scripture. Certain doctrinal stances come with strengths and weaknesses. These theoretical concepts were developed to support a particular understanding about Scripture, but in terms of Covenant Theology (CT), they are all part of the package.

    Anyone who has been taught and ascribes to this view will naturally connect different elements of their belief system to make it more meaningful and cohesive in their own understanding (as CT happens to embrace both a limited role for women in ministry and a dichotomist view). It is also not “fudging” if they draw on one concept to support another within their belief system. It’s a healthy and normal part of cognition. (it is yet another different matter if the high priests of complementarianism exploit this connection with fallacy or intimidation.) But the fact that many do connect them is not sinister. That’s how people build doctrinal understanding, both Dispensationals and Calvinists alike. That’s what systematic theologies are all about.

    As I stated in another thread, the connection that you draw between these ideas may help you understand doctrine and may illuminate it for you personally, but considering that CBMW follows a dichotomist view, it is not helpful when trying to defend equality with them and their following. They will claim that you are not following or comprehending Scripture. But if you claim that they are “fudging” as opposed to understanding that their theology is different, aren’t you just operating on the same level as they are? It denies liberty to those who are within the pale of orthodoxy and could be seen as a forcing of your own opinion to assert that there is only one possible view on the matter.

    I see the same kinds of pitfalls in arguing that aorist tense of verbs in the original language or the past/present/future benefits of what the Word promises us. I think that this is lovely and can see that it illuminates ideas for you, but I don’t think it proves anything if you are defending your stance with a complementarian who has been indoctrinated with the “arguments” crafted by CBMW. I admire your zeal and your joy when sharing these ideas, and that has great value. I’m just concerned that you might be billing them as hard Biblical evidence when squaring off with a complementarian. These ideas may be a connection that you make which causes you to glorify God in a deeper way, but I don’t understand them as indisputable Scriptural proofs. That’s where the inconsistencies come through.


  89. Carmen S quoting MacArthur:
    But the final decisions are ultimately the husband’s perogative, because he is the one who will be accountable to God for the stewardship of his family…

    And here, we have the informal logical fallacy of ambiguity raising it’s ugly head. Husbands absolutely will be accountable before God for their stewardship of their families. We will all give an account for those things over which we were given responsibility, too. But we will not answer morally for the errors that other people make, even if we have caused them to stumble.

    In light of the paradigm, however, this is the logical conclusion that is being implied. There is little room for the listener who is confined by other elements of MacArthur’s belief system to believe anything else. But MacArthur didn’t actually say that a husband will intercede for the sins of his wife, so the listener is left to make their own conclusions. And Mac can claim innocence, having laid things out with just enough plausible deniability. But he doesn’t make the statement in a vacuum. It is fuzzy logic.

    He’s setting up a linguistic booby trap of equivocation. Though he hasn’t redefined anything directly, he capitalizes on what he thinks the text means and what the listener thinks. It is a subtle manipulation of language that is “lexical.” It’s not a direct grammatical error, or a misapplication of a term, but he conveys his ideas which are just a little different than his own. It’s just different enough that he can find room to advance other ideas without them being seen as problematic.

    It seems sound on the surface of it, but what he’s really saying (based on the plethora of teachings that say so) is that women can’t manage their own spiritual lives, and this is a husband’s responsibility.


  90. Cindy K, you are correct.

    “Carmen S quoting MacArthur:
    “But the final decisions are ultimately the husband’s perogative, because he is the one who will be accountable to God for the stewardship of his family…””

    And anyway, he can’t spell “prerogative” which definition is:
    1. An exclusive right or privilege held by a person or group, especially a hereditary or official right.
    2. The exclusive right and power to command, decide, rule, or judge: the principal’s prerogative to suspend a student.
    3. A special quality that confers superiority.

    He goes on about how a person needs to listen to others or he’s not doing a good job and then says the person will be accountable for doing a good job while also saying that he has the privilege to do whatever he chooses. These ingredients build a knot of fear and pride inside the heart, a nasty combo that has caused humans to do all sorts of destructive things.

    Whether self-deceptive or merely using a rhetorical device, MacArthur hasn’t enough integrity to deserve an audience.



  91. Cindy

    Thank you for your wisdom and guidance in these matters of which you have very clearly more experience than I! What is the best approach? How can we combat error other than with clear and irrefutable exposition of truth?… mine isn’t always up to that mark, anyway. I guess doubling up on praying 2 Tim 2:23-4 for us and 25-6 for them. Bet you they’d feel the positions should be reversed!!


  92. ” But we will not answer morally for the errors that other people make, even if we have caused them to stumble.”

    This is just dead wrong. See for instance, Malachi 2.8, Mark 9:42, Romans 14:20-22, 1 Corinthians 8:9-13.

    I’ve known for over 20 years that MacArthur deals dishonestly with the scriptures. I’m not disputing that. But since it’s true, we should be able to handle him without doing likewise. Even in this world people know better than this. If you move a traffic sign so as to make people get on the freeway going the wrong way, you’ll do time.


  93. The point is that whether it’s filthiness or defilement, the spirit needs to be cleaned up, which does not square with your doctrine that it’s all just fine and that only the soul and body have a problem. Run through the Bible and you will see plenty of evidence of what kind of trouble the human spirit can be for believers and unbelievers alike, and also that its expression diagnoses what is going on within.

    None of this is to say that soul and spirit are not distinct. Sure they are, or it would not be written in Hebrews that the word of God is able to distinguish between them. But it screws everything up to cram the Bible into this doctrine, when the Hebrew simply makes the spirit the outbreathing of ourselves and the soul the appetite, the taking in, the inbreathing.

    One of the more destructive consequences is thinking of the body as relatively unclean and a problem, whereas the faith treats the body as a major point of contact with God, in which others meet him too. And so-called spiritual things get exalted, whereas there is much more vileness and spiritual pride in the world in the so-called spiritual than there is through our bodily appetites, especially among “Christians.” Whether such are so, in light of Acts 11:26, God knows.

    Out of this world view, which is Greek and gnostic, and not biblical in the least, we get such thinking as women being inferior because the woman was formed from the man – that man was formed from mere dust getting lost in all this. So this doctrine can’t even deliver on rescuing us from woman-hating. That’s rooted in Genesis 3, and can be counted on to turn up wherever Satan, the original hater of woman and the father of it, is believed in any way.


  94. Ali,

    I think that you missed what I was trying to communicate. I hope that you hone your arguments so that you can be even more effective, helping people see the errors.

    I think that the best approach starts with a basic understanding of Covenant Theology (CT) and respect for it as a Biblically orthodox belief system, as it is followed by the primary first target of CBMW. (We don’t have to like it or agree with it, but we have to respect it.) I also think that they use the gender debate to bully people into accepting their *version* of Calvinism. (What they’re teaching in tandem with their gender talmud is not a traditional view of CT, and it’s not limited to the Eternal Subordination of the Son doctrine.) If you can meet them where they are in terms of CT, you become a double threat.

    You wrote: How can we combat error other than with clear and irrefutable exposition of truth?

    I agree that we can only combat error with clear and irrefutable exposition of truth, but if we approach someone trained in Covenant Theology who espouses it as clear and irrefutable truth, and we talk in the language and only from the assumptions of Dispensationalism, heavy duty Arminianism, or something else perhaps, like an Emergent belief system, we will be marked as people who reject God’s sovereignty, or even heretics. They speak a different language, and until we learn to speak it, they won’t even begin to hear us. Our arguments have to pass their muster as well as our own.


  95. Peter,

    I’m sorry that I failed in conveying what I meant more clearly.

    The world clearly teaches that we are going to answer for what we’ve done that has not encouraged others to be Christian. Jesus said “Woe to them” who do. (When the embodiment of love and mercy says “Woe,” it doesn’t mean that we will not face consequences.) We’d be better to have a millstone placed around our necks and drown in the sea.

    What MacArthur hints at here, what CBMW implies in their blog post, and what other of their cohorts also say more clearly but with just enough wiggle room to deny their implications is that men are responsible for the sins of their wives and somehow make intercession for us. When considering the other ways that men are cast as a woman’s intercessor in the rest of these teachings, I think that the intermediary priest husband is necessary. They don’t say these things against the backdrop of a theology which makes this statement benign.

    What I must have failed to convey in my previous comment is that I mean that one Christian cannot make intercession for the sin of another, even though we may have made their choice to sin much easier.

    Look at what Jesus says about lusting after a woman or hating one’s brother? We will answer for our even passive indulgences in unholiness. I can easily see that on that principle, If we carelessly put a person into a choice that required them to lose their life in order to do what is right, we who helped put them in the position of choice to begin with may end up facing a murder charge in God’s eyes. That is certainly no light matter, for them or us.

    But if they sinned, that person still owns that sin. Though I may want to rescue them and pay their penalty for them because the stakes were so high, as a fellow sinner, I can’t.


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