“Face Scripture as it is”

“That brings us to the vital principle which underlies all the causes of self-deception. In many ways the root trouble, even among good Evangelicals, is our failure to heed the plain teaching of Scripture…

“Instead of taking the plain teaching of the Bible, we argue with it. ‘Ah, yes,’ we say, ‘since the Scriptures were written, times have changed.’ Dare I give an obvious illustration? Take the question of women preaching, and being ordained to the full ministry. The apostle Paul, in writing to Timothy (1 Tim. 2:11-15), prohibits it directly. He says quite specifically that he does not allow a woman to teach or preach. ‘Ah, yes,’ we say, as we read that letter, ‘he was only thinking of his own age and time; but you know times have changed since then..

“Paul does not say that it was only for the time being; he takes it right back to the Fall and shows that it is an abiding principle. It is something that is true, therefore, of the age in which we live. But thus, you see, we argue with Scripture. Instead of taking its plain teaching, we say that times have changed – when it suits our thesis we say it is no longer relevant…

“If you want to avoid terrible disillusionment at the age of judgement, face Scripture as it is. Do not argue with it, do not try to manipulate it, do not twist it; face it, receive it and submit to it whatever the cost.”

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1959-60), 532-533.

That was spoken by Martyn Lloyd-Jones 50 years ago in 1960, before the rise of Evangelical feminism.  Where I live in Melbourne, there is only one Bible College that could subscribe to this statement (Presbyterian; but also the Reformed College in Geelong); there are very few churches that would subscribe to it.  Many churches and Bible Colleges do indeed hold to evangelical doctrines.  However they are currently also rejecting the plain reading of Scripture in the exact area that Martyn Lloyd-Jones highlights.

Surely it is only a matter of time before the cancer of such Biblical manipulation and twisting spreads to all other areas of doctrine.  Those who do not hold to the plain teaching of Scripture on passages such as 1 Timothy 2:11-15 may not be liberals; but the same may not be said in future of those who have sat under their teaching; for they are indeed using a liberal hermeneutic to re-read passages of Scripture that no longer conform to our society’s view of how things should be.

“If you want to avoid terrible disillusionment at the age of judgement, face Scripture as it is. Do not argue with it, do not try to manipulate it, do not twist it; face it, receive it and submit to it whatever the cost.”

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View a 10:32 minute biography on Dr D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

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4 responses to ““Face Scripture as it is”

  1. Martin, I agree with the principle of “facing Scripture as it is”. But therein lies the difficulty with the complimentarian/egalitarian issue.

    It is not easy to understand where the Bible comes down on this subject. Indeed, one could argue that the Scriptures seem to present a confusing perspective on the role women may play in church. Read this blog written by a Canadian mate, Derek Quellette.

    However, since I believe the Scriptures to be without error, then the confusion must be mine (ours). What seems to be contradictory is rather a matter of our understanding, or lack thereof.

    I think this explains why well-respected reformed-theologians come down on both sides of this issue. I understand that D.A. Carson, J.Piper and J.McArthur come to different conclusions on the complimentarian/egalitatian issue. Why?

    1Cor. 13:12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

  2. Great post, Martin. A Tim Keller has said of Jones, “The Doctor was right.” We all need to face up to this issue, including evangelicals. We probably make the same mistake with other issues, too, and should think and pray about what else we’re blind to.

    I understand that, historically, egalitarianism was not even thought of until the 20th century, and women elders and teachers were not an option until the middle of the century. Our culture is unclear and muddled, and has forgotten what the difference is between and man and a woman – a pretty basic thing! If we go along with the culture on this basic and fundamental issue, then we’re in trouble. Especially when the scriptures actually say some pretty clear things, and it makes prescriptions regarding it.

    Don, I understood that Carson, Piper and MacArthur were all complimentarian. Are you referring to the ‘shades of grey’ within that position?

  3. Hi Don. Actually, while many of us find some passages more difficult to understand than others, that is not the case for other passages. 1 Timothy 2:11-15 is clear as crystal. I would be very surprised indeed if Carson, Piper and McArthur disagreed on the basics of this issue. Perhaps they disagree on the application of some very fine points. No one is arguing for 100% agreement on every aspect of every issue. “Complementarian” is a very broad camp in some respects. The church has had no problems with understanding this topic for almost 2,000 years until feminism arose. Funny that…

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