History will repeatedly show that man has great difficulty in abiding in the truth for a long period of time. Innovation may be fought and put down. It may then lie dormant for a while, but all it takes is a little period of spiritual slumber for it to resurrect and once again rear its head. It may slightly take on another form or nomenclature, but make no mistake; the great adversary has waited for an opportune time to foist it upon the church yet again. A little season of ignorance or unawareness is all that is necessary and error will make another attempt to slip in the back door. The same fruit-bearing seeds of digression will find fertile soil in which to nestle.
The past century was one of testing and battle for the defendants of truth. Our great preachers of yesteryear took up the restoration plea and traversed this country preaching against and debating the proponents of innovation. They successfully fought the use of individual cups on the Lord’s Table, instrumental music, missionary societies, Sunday schools, etc… However, the past few years have seen a subsiding in such an unrelenting attack on “the issues.” Thinking the battle was won, some took things for granted and moved on to other areas of concern. While other things did and do need to be addressed, we turned our focus to other matters. The result; we have possibly produced a generation uneducated in the nuts and bolts of why we oppose innovation. Everyone knows we oppose instrumental music, individual cups, and Sunday school but this writer wonders how many people really know why. If something does not change the results will be a repeat of what happened in years past when people gullibly accepted those innovations and hard stands had to be taken and the restoration movement was divided.
It is not enough for people to know that we oppose innovation. They need to know the principles of Bible authority and how they apply to unscriptural practices. If not, sin will lie at the door, presenting itself in a different disguise and people will be deceived by it. With that said, we should wonder how many people really understand the issue of Bible classes and women teachers because it is presenting itself to us again. If our people do not understand the tenets upon which Sunday school must be opposed they will be prone to accept and practice it if called by a different name or practiced in some mild variation. However, if something is unscriptural, it is unscriptural no matter how you dress it up.
WHY WE OPPOSE SUNDAY SCHOOL AND WOMEN TEACHERS
We shall now consider sundry principles that govern the teaching of the Bible. God not only wills that his word be taught but he also wills how it is to be done.
- Two types of teaching.
- Women are allowed to teach privately but NEVER publicly.
Nobody denies that a woman has the privilege of expressing her faith to others in appropriate situations. In Titus 2:3-4, the aged women are instructed to teach or train the younger women. Acts 18:26 relays how Aquila and his wife Priscila heard Apolos preach error and they later “took him unto them and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.” I Cor 11:5 teaches that a woman may prophesy (or impart instruction) but none of these examples place her teaching in a public forum. When the church assembles for teaching, if she is left in doubt or confusion or simply has an inquiry about spiritual matters, she is plainly instructed to reserve her question for her husband at home or in a private setting (I Cor 14:35).
We have repeatedly and accurately affirmed that where a woman may teach she may teach anyone; men, women, or children. This is in a private or informal setting. Where she is forbidden from teaching, she may teach no one! This includes any public gathering or forum. This is so very plain. That is, until people want to practice something unscriptural and then try wresting the scriptures to allow their practice. You may call it a “women’s retreat or seminar”, a “women’s Bible study”, or a “Bible Bowl”, but in any public setting the woman who imparts instruction in spiritual matters is out of her place and is guilty of sin. Any church that participates in such unlawful activity has defied the teaching of Paul and has become guilty of digressing from the divine pattern for teaching.
- When the church is gathered for the purpose of teaching, assembly rules apply.
Surely we can tell the difference between a public gathering of the church and a private gathering of individuals. The habitual worship of the church is publicly advertised, arranged, and conducted. The time is established and members are made aware, exhorted to attend, and the community is also invited. If the brethren call the church together to discuss some subject such as the eldership, marriage, or child rearing, such gatherings are typically announced and people are invited to attend. The rules of I Cor 14 apply in all of these and like situations.
On the other hand, if I pick up the phone and call one or more brethren to come to my home and study the Bible or I casually meet a brother and discuss some spiritual matter with him, we are doing so privately. My home is a private gathering place. I, not the corporate church, do the inviting. And I oversee the activity. In such a scenario, we are not bound by the rules of a “church assembly.” Women, for example would be at liberty to speak or ask questions. There is a difference between public and private activities and we need to be careful to guard that distinction.
- “As long as it is not a worship service…”
WE WILL CONTINUE TO FIGHT INNOVATION
These arguments are not new. They have been issued time and again in debate and sermon. However, we are concerned, yea alarmed, that these principles are being laid aside. At the very least, it is apparent that some are forgetting or have never really learned why we oppose “Sunday School and women teachers.” We know of no congregation that is practicing anything that they call “Sunday School”. We have discovered that a few churches either through ignorance or sadly rebellion are flirting with practices that are inconsistent with their stated stand against Bible classes. Brethren, I personally know of no one who opposes a group of young men and women getting together in private and playing “Bible Trivia”. Why is it necessary though to do such in a public setting and compromise our stand against Sunday school and women teachers? I know of no one who opposes women discussing spiritual matters when they are together in private or teaching young women at home. Why has it become necessary though to follow in the footsteps of the Sunday school churches and host women’s seminars and retreats and allow women to have a formal, organized, public forum in which to teach? All would agree that perhaps it is fine for parents to be together and talk about raising children. Why though do we find it necessary to make it a work of the corporate church, announce such in our assemblies, and turn it into a pseudo Sunday school class? Are we not trying to “beat the devil around the bush” and thus allow him to trouble the church with innovation one way or another? Every congregation has the responsibility to teach its members, but no congregation is at liberty to engage in methods of assembling or teaching that violate the teaching of the very thing they are claiming to teach (the Bible).
I will say this; church leaders and preachers need to thoroughly refresh themselves in the scriptural arguments condemning such digressions and begin instructing their congregations accordingly. We need to realize that some are beginning to drift and practice things that are in direct contradiction to what we have preached lo these many years. This writer, along with many others, has no intention of abandoning our historic stand against these matters. We will continue to fight and condemn trends that lead to departures from the word of God whether they arise from within or without. May God help us to “ask for the old paths and walk therein” and “prove all things, holding fast to that which is good!”