I know extraordinarily little about Voddie Baucham. I have no reason to think he isn’t a brother in Christ or even a solid pastor. I do not know how much doctrine we agree on. I do know that he is well known and I have heard his name brought up by various people whom I trust and respect. I am aware that he has a large YouTube audience, and it is there that I ran across him. When I eat lunch in the office, I’ll often pull up some of my favorite Christian teachers, like Mike Winger, or Michael Heiser, and listen to them, but I saw something that caught my eye in the recommended section.
The video was titled, “Society Has Feminized the Office Of ‘Pastor.’” It was an eye-catching title, even without the name attached to it, and I clicked on it right away. I think in general, society is guilty as charged, so I agreed with much of what Baucham said. Jesus was a tough man. He was a carpenter, in a time when carpenters also worked with stone. He fashioned a whip and was intimidating enough to drive the money changers out of the temple. He was tough enough to endure a deadly scourging and still carry His cross most of the way. When Jesus was on the cross, the Bible makes it clear that He surrendered His life; it was not simply taken from Him. He lived a tough life, with no permanent home when He began His adult ministry and walked over the country of Israel. He was tough, in shape, and hung out with fishermen. He wasn’t a clean-shaven office drone, an emotional passive listener or some sort of mother figure. I, too, reject the idea of an effeminate Jesus, but that’s not where I had an issue.
In the video, Baucham brings up the role of women in ministry, and I was ready to set that aside. It’s a controversial issue, and it wasn’t the main point. I must note, however, that he seemed to conflate the idea of women serving in various leadership roles with the men being men and women being women. I have to say that I’m thankful for our differences, and it’s those differences that make women like Carrie a vital part of our team. I can’t imagine what I would do with some of the phone calls we get if we did not have some mature Christian women to handle them. We can use our differences to better minister to a wider set of people.
My problem with the video came when he claimed that we had turned the modern pastor into “this sort of intellectual nerd, who spends all his time in his office, who has all of these academic credentials.” He went on to connect this with someone who was “in touch with their feminine side.” I instantly recoiled. If we were having a conversation, I could have paused and asked him some clarifying questions. Was he suggesting education was a woman’s pursuit and not a man’s? Was he setting up a false dichotomy? What of verses that command us to study? (2 Timothy 2:15) What about the model that was setup by the 12 in Acts 6, where Deacons were created so that the leaders could spend more time focusing on prayer and the Word? Since the video amounted to a one-sided conversation, I was left to do some googling.
I found that Baucham did have a doctorate and emphasized “cultural apologetics,” which his website left undefined. My M.A. is in Apologetics, and I would never hold to the view he seemed to be espousing above, but given his doctorate, and his published works, I didn’t think his comments seemed in line with everything else I was finding out about him. He grew up in a secular home, and his own website said that he was familiar with intellectual challenges to the faith.
Way back in 2012, I ran a blog called “nerd4thelord.” It’s still around, at nerd4thelord.wordpress.com, but much of it is out of date. Baucham used “nerd” in a negative way here. I have no problem with being labeled a nerd, especially as someone who wants to pursue wisdom, as is commended in Proverbs. While I don’t expect all Christians to have the same giftings, we should all be worshipping God with our mind. Being a nerd isn’t automatically feminine, or less masculine, either. I also played football in high school, had a typically masculine job as a Juvenile Justice Officer and continue to enjoy weightlifting, shooting guns and typically “masculine” pursuits. I will also admit to having been a “man-mom” for many years. “Feminine” isn’t automatically bad, and I certainly don’t see studying as being a practice exclusive to the fairer sex.
I agree that our churches are more attended by females than males. Studies seem to bear out that, in general, women are more in tune with emotional messages, while men respond better to logical argumentation. Men use different words, sometimes perceived as more harsh or vulgar, than women do; or at least this has been true in the past. Men tend to be more concrete and less abstract in thinking and illustrations. I do think that some of our current methods do attract more females than males. At the same time, research shows that a father’s attendance is one of the biggest factors on children remaining in church throughout their life. Therefore, we did need to attract more men; and we should be attracting whole families.
If men are more attracted to logical argumentation, then to study is not un-masculine, and more study, and more depth isn’t going to chase men away. It is actually going to invite them into something that is deeper than they may realize. Baucham’s comments may have been a case of saying a bit more than he intended. Anyone who speaks regularly has done this on accident. Certainly, pastors shouldn’t just be in a room by themselves, but we do see them interacting with others, and getting out of the office, providing an example as servant leaders. I won’t hold it against Baucham, but I am concerned about how easy it was to make those comments, how they were received and how frequently ones like them appear in the church.
Unfortunately, right at the same time our young people are crying out for more depth and answers to questions they face from outside the church, there is something inside the church trying to stamp out a renewed passion for deep thinking and apologetics. Especially here in the West, we see something called “Anti-intellectualism” in the church. Baucham’s comments sound like that, at least in isolation, despite himself having studied, and can give listeners the wrong idea about the Christian walk. The comments seemed to be applauded. Folks often cheer at the idea that seminary training isn’t necessary, that anyone can just “feel it out” to find the accurate meaning of Scripture. In our current emotional society, folks want to have their methods of discovering truth affirmed. Emote, do what feels good, not “study to show thyself approved.” Next month, we will dig deeper into the incorrect idea called “Anti-intellectualism” and show how it is hurting the modern American church.