14 May 2014

Willow Creek on 'Fired-Up Women' in 'Full Service' in the Church

Nothing says 'Happy Mother's Day' like watching women blatantly disobey God's Word. Yes, it seems that this past Mother's Day weekend was the weekend of choice for seeker-sensitive, compromising pastors to welcome women to preach from their pulpit (or, more accurately, their stage). Observe the following tweet:
This was tweeted out by Willow Creek Church Sunday evening, 11 May, following weekend services that were preached by Hillsong darling Christine Caine. For the record, this writer did attempt to elicit clarification from the Willow Creek Twitter account as to how 'full service' was defined. As of the publication of this post, there has been no response. The implication of this quote from Bill Hybels seems to be that, in spite of Scripture's clarity on the issue, women preaching and holding authority over men in the church should not be perceived as a problem.

It would seem that Christine Caine, who has stated in the past that heretical Word-Faith teacher Joyce Meyer is her "spiritual mother," has no reservations about this issue, since she has previously preached weekend services at churches such as Rick Warren's Saddleback Church and Steven Furtick's Elevation Church. It further is unsurprising that this statement originates from Hybels and Willow Creek, considering what was discussed last year in the post Women Elders: The World vs. the Word. One must remember that, even though Willow Creek claims to hold to a 'biblical model of church leadership,' it boasts several female elders.

Yet, there are two (at least) obvious problems with this seemingly profound-enough-to-be-tweeted quote from Bill Hybels.

'Fired Up'?

First of all, man or woman, it does not matter how 'fired up' a person is, this alone cannot qualify a person for service in the church (or anywhere, for that matter). A man may be quite 'fired up' to be a neurosurgeon, but unless he is properly equipped, we better hope that he is not permitted to execute 'full service' in an operating room.

Since this discussion ultimately will lead to the necessary qualifications for preaching, it is wise to first examine the Scriptures to see if this characteristic is one that is seen as primary for those who hold authority in the church:
It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?), and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. (1 Tim 3:1-7)
For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion. For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict. (Titus 1:5-9)
Ignoring for a moment the fact that these verses alone may be used to disqualify women from church leadership (after all, how can a woman be the "husband of one wife"?), what is noticeably absent from these verses penned by the Apostle Paul is the notion of being 'fired up.' Now, depending on one's definition of this phrase, it is of course acceptable as a description of any Christian regardless of his or her service within the church. If someone is not passionate about Christ, His Word, and the proclamation of the Gospel, then that person ought to spend some serious time examining his faith.

But, 'passionate' does not mean silly. It does not necessarily mean what the world would define as 'fired up.' It does not even need to mean animated. Conviction. Loyalty. Boldness. These are of more value than merely being emotional and 'fired up.' There are countless false Christians who are 'fired up'. They are fired up over a false gospel, and for all their zeal, they succeed only in leading others to a false gospel that does not save, but rather damns.

'Full Service'?

Of course, the entire preceding discussion could be written off as a mere reflection on semantics. So let this article then turn to the second obvious problem with Hybels' statement. As a reminder, here is how the quote reads:
It is worth examining this idea of 'full service' in the church. What does 'full service' within the Body of Christ look like for a woman? Are women being oppressed and suppressed if they are not standing behind a pulpit preaching? What does the Word of God say?

To begin, the Bible affirms the equality of men and women. Both are created in the image of God:
God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Gen 1:27)
But it also is clear that God ordained very specific, separate roles for men and women.
Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” (Gen 2:18-23)
Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus affirmed the equality of women before God. His interactions with women demonstrated that the degradation they had received from society was wrong and inconsistent with the divine plan. But, as Dr. John MacArthur notes:
In Jesus’ treatment of women, He raised their station of life and He showed them compassion and respect in a way they had never known. This demonstrated their equality. At the same time, however, Jesus still did not exalt women to a place of leadership over men. (MacArthur, "God's High Call for Women")
Yet, women have always had a vital role within the New Testament church. This is evident from the Scriptures:
Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. When they had entered the city, they went up to the upper room where they were staying; that is, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James. These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers. (Acts 1:12-14)
Now in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which translated in Greek is called Dorcas); this woman was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did. And it happened at that time that she fell sick and died; and when they had washed her body, they laid it in an upper room. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, having heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him, imploring him, “Do not delay in coming to us.” So Peter arose and went with them. When he arrived, they brought him into the upper room; and all the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing all the tunics and garments that Dorcas used to make while she was with them. But Peter sent them all out and knelt down and prayed, and turning to the body, he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, she sat up. And he gave her his hand and raised her up; and calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. It became known all over Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. (Acts 9:36-42)
And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to a riverside, where we were supposing that there would be a place of prayer; and we sat down and began speaking to the women who had assembled. A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul. And when she and her household had been baptized, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us. (Acts 16:13-15)
Now when they had traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. And according to Paul’s custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, andsaying, “This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.” And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with a large number of the God-fearing Greeks and a number of the leading women. (Acts 17:1-4)
After these things he left Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, having recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. He came to them, and because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and they were working, for by trade they were tent-makers. . . .Paul, having remained many days longer, took leave of the brethren and put out to sea for Syria, and with him were Priscilla and Aquila. (Acts 18:1-3, 18a)
Now a Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by birth, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus; and he was mighty in the Scriptures. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus, being acquainted only with the baptism of John; and he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. And when he wanted to go across to Achaia, the brethren encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him; and when he had arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace, for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ. (Acts 18:24-28)
The churches of Asia greet you. Aquila and Prisca greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house. (1 Cor 16:19)
For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well. (2 Tim 1:5)
Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored. (Titus 2:3-5)
Yes, women had a vital role within the church, but not a leadership role. Were the women who were mentioned in the verses above being prevented from 'full service' within the early church?

God has ordained that men and women would fulfill different roles within the Body, just as He has necessarily equipped men and women differently so that all​ that needs to be accomplished can be.

When a person or a church decides that what God has ordained is not enough, dangerous territory is approached. To cast aside God's perfect design is to spit in His face. To reject part of His Word offers no less condemnation than rejecting it in its entirety. One cannot say that he or she loves the Word if he or she is unwilling to submit to that Word—all of it.

The issue of allowing women to preach (or being a woman who preaches) is so much more than what appears on the surface. It is not merely about 'men vs. women' or 'complementarian vs. egalitarian.' It is about the inerrancy, the sufficiency, and the authority of the Word of God. And, ultimately, it is about one's submission not only to that Word, but to the God who wrote it.

Further Reading
Women Elders: the World vs. the Word
Perry Noble on Women Preaching and Being "Barefoot and Pregnant"
Church of England Celebrates 20 Years of Disobedience to God's Word


  1. Erin, You are more kind to Hybels than is deserved. He is little more than a smooth talking, "oily-mouthed" salesman of lies, leading his own parade of deluded souls to hell. His "gospel" has no foundation in the Word of God, but is based upon the wishful thinking theology of the damned. There is no mention of the necessity of holy living (Heb. 12:14), of taking up of our own cross daily (Luke 9:23), of turning our back upon our former life in the flesh (Luke 9:24-27) and completely ignoring the hard verses such as Luke 14:26,27 & 33. He proudly promises escape from hell by a simple head acknowledgement of the historical Christ, but produces only those like Simon (Acts 8:13 & 21-24) who was found to be a false convert still bound up in his sins, whose mouth only praises men (namely Hybels) and whose lives dishonor the Lord they claim to serve.

    The reason why they have such a following is that their disciples are just as lost as their leader and have no hope of salvation being explained from Hybels' mouth. Real evidence of salvation is found in the changed life, the hatred for sin, the obedience to the commands of the Lord Jesus (John 14:15) a few of which were shown above, a fear of sin cropping up and a desire to be pleasing to the Lord in all aspects of life. The demons of hell believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and have enough sense to tremble because of that fact. But the newly converted disciples of Hybels and men such as him care nothing for a holy life, but are more concerned about their "new-found freedom in Christ" which translates into nothing more than to excuse all their sins giving themselves license to continue in the pleasure of any sin and all this in the Name of Christ. What blasphemy!!!

    1. Darrel,
      If you've read much of my material on Hybels and Willow Creek, you know that I've never been soft on either! In fact, I used to attend Willow Creek as a false convert and their teaching only contributed to my self-deception. In this article, my focus was on going back to Scripture, not going after Hybels.

    2. I do remember, albeit vaguely. Your testimony of being saved from being a false convert is quite similar to what the Lord did for me. It is becoming increasingly difficult to listen to or read the likes of Hybels and all the other false prophets. I cannot expect you or anyone else to share my disgust with the likes of this person. Maybe the first line should have been: You are more kind to Hybels than I can be. My beef is with him and those of his kind, not you.

  2. Feminism in the church. I think I'm going to be sick.


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