#STRask: September 7, 2017

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Published on 09/07/2017

In 4 min. or less, Greg answers questions about women teaching in the church, psychopaths, Christian doctors, and Bible contradictions.


  • Did Paul clam women cannot be pastors or teachers?
  • What about psychopaths who seem hardwired for evil? How does moral objectivism apply to them? Can God hold them accountable?
  • If you were given 30-60 min. in a room with a group of young Christian physicians, what would you talk to them about?
  • How do you reconcile the apparent contradictions in the resurrection accounts?


Melinda: Hi, I'm Melinda the Enforcer. I'm here with Greg Koukl. This is the #STRask broadcast from Stand to Reason, and even though it's the Labor Day week, we have still given you two episodes this week.

Greg Koukl: Yay.

Melinda: Everyone cheers.

Greg Koukl: We're laboring. We're in labor.

Melinda: But not on Labor Day. Send us your questions on Twitter using #STRask, and Greg is on a timer. I won't say any names, but earlier today, somebody on the staff wished they had a bell for you. At particular events where you went over time.

Greg Koukl: Say it ain't so.

Melinda: Your lengthiness is also an asset in certain situations, but sometimes brevity is-

Greg Koukl: Soul of wit.

Melinda: Yeah. Well, no, not soul of wit, but brevity is to be preferred.

Greg Koukl: Brevity is the sole of wit. That's the-

Melinda: Well, not in this case. You're not being witty. You're never witty, but it's just better to brief now and then, so that's what we do on the STR Ask podcast.

Greg Koukl: Sometimes the loquacious lip is appropriate. Other times-

Melinda: It is not.

Greg Koukl: Brevity is the soul of wit.

Melinda: Now, in that context is wit like humor, or is it wit like sharp-wittedness?

Greg Koukl: Like nitwit.

Melinda: Then I might agree for this podcast. Let's get going. First question comes from, I guess this came from our Facebook Live event. I'm not sure why. It was from our Facebook Live event a few weeks ago that you did with Tim on Bible contradictions.

Greg Koukl: Right.

Melinda: I think this is why I saved this because this actually didn't have to do with a Bible contradiction, and you can find that Facebook event on our webpage. This comes from Carrie through the Facebook Live event. Did Paul claim women cannot be pastors or teachers?

Greg Koukl: I don't think so. This needs to be qualified a little bit. The place that is in question is in 1 Timothy, and there you have actually 1 Timothy chapter one and 1 Timothy chapter two, so here I'll give you my own view of this very quickly since I only got four minutes. There is a reference in chapter, oh, it's chapter two and chapter three, so there's a reference that says, "a woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness, but I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet, and for it was Adam who first created and then Eve." Now, here's my take on that. I think he's talking about marital relationships because the word man and woman and the word husband and wife in Greek are the same, and the translation depends on the context.

When it says a woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness, but I do not allow a woman, not women, but a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man." That fits with Paul's teaching on the authority structure in the family. If he's referring to the church here, this means that every woman is under every man if he's speaking generically like that. Now, if that's not what he's talking about in the church, but in the family, he's teaching then that the husband ought to be the spiritual leader of the family, and it doesn't even mean there that a woman can't offer thoughts, but she is not to be the teacher over her husband. Okay? Again, that seems to fit Paul's ideas. I do not think chapter two disqualifies women from teaching in the church even over men, okay? I think that's referring to something different.

However, chapter three does provide a restriction, and there I think that when Paul talks about overseers and deacons, he's specifically dealing with overseers or elders. He seems to restrict that to male leadership, okay? "If any man aspires to the office of overseers of fine work he desires to do, an overseer must then be above reproach, a husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, et cetera, et cetera, "but if a man does not know how to manage a household, how will he take care of the church of God?" This is all language that applies to males, so I think that what God teaches here is that the leadership of the church, that is the elders, which would include the head pastor, need to be male, but there could be other workers in the church that are female, even workers that teach men. I don't see any restriction on that at all.

Melinda: You contradicted yourself because the question was, "Did Paul claim women cannot be pastors and teachers," and you said no, and yet you've just gone on to tell us-

Greg Koukl: Well, I was saying no to the entire statement. Then I qualified, there's one section. The woman can teach men, yes to that, but no to the pastors.

Melinda: Right.

Greg Koukl: Correct?

Melinda: correct.

Greg Koukl: Yes, that is correct. Thank you.

Melinda: We do have an article on the website. Just look at me. Going to say something, but I won't. There's an article on the website that just kind of walks through this in the Greek there, should a woman teach in the church. Greg wrote that even before we started Stand to Reason when you did a study of that passage.

Greg Koukl: Yeah, and this is controversial. There are a lot of people don't like my analysis here, but I gave the reasons why, and in fact, as it turns out, virtually every place where you have these Greek words, in relationship with each other, it's always translated husband and wife unless the context explicitly prohibits that, and there are only a couple of exceptions, and this is one of them, and the other one is where man is the head of woman and Christ is the head of man. You know that passage in Corinthians, and I think that's identifying the same thing. It's not all men are a head of all women, but husbands are ahead of wives.

Melinda: Next question comes from CarmTrop. Let's see. What about psychopaths who seem hardwired for evil? How does moral objectivity apply to them? Can God hold them accountable? If they're hardwired for evil, they don't seem to be capable of doing anything other than evil.

Greg Koukl:

Yeah. Just picking at the words here because it's important. It's not moral objectivity because that's in a subject development that is, does a person have objectivity when they assess a thing or are they influenced by something else? I'm picking here because sometimes people will push back at the idea of moral objectivism because that no person can be totally objective, and that's a mixing of the meanings here. It's an equivocation, so how does moral objectivism apply in this circumstance? Well, things are right or wrong in themselves and the question is whether a person is going to be held morally responsible for doing an act that otherwise would be immoral if they understood what they were doing. Now, I have no reason to believe that a psychopath doesn't understand that when they do a crime that what they're doing is wrong. They just don't care. They have no conscience about it, that is they have no compunctions about it internally. Subjectively, it doesn't bother them to do this, but that doesn't somehow-

Melinda: They don't have to do evil.

Greg Koukl: It doesn't exonerate them.

Melinda: They're still choosing to do evil. They just don't have consciences that bother them about it.

Greg Koukl: Right. It isn't that the act isn't evil if they don't feel bad about it. That would exonerate a whole lot of people from doing bad things because many people don't feel bad about the evil things they do. That doesn't mean that they're not morally culpable, held responsible for that, and so I don't see any reason why a psychopath should be any different.

Melinda: Good. That's good. I'm glad.

Greg Koukl: That was a quick, that was my two minute one.

Melinda: Well, there's only two minute ones like you get something extra. You don't get to add it to another one.

Greg Koukl: Well, there's like the two minute ones at the end, so now I get to have the four minute one at the end because I just got my two minute one out of the way. That's what I mean.

Melinda: Oh, okay. Well, yeah. Sometimes there's a two minute one, but I was just, you don't get two minutes to add to something else.

Greg Koukl: You just wasted another minute.

Melinda: That's fine. I'm the host. I get to do that. So, the next question comes from Lukimi679. If you were given 30 to 60 minutes in a room with a group of young Christian physicians, what would you talk to them about?

Greg Koukl: 40 to 60 seconds? Whatever, 30 to-

Melinda: 30 to 60 minutes.

Greg Koukl: Oh, minutes. Oh. Because that would just be enough time to be telling them all shut up, be quiet.

Melinda: You should.

Greg Koukl: Now what? Making all that noise. 30 to 60 minutes of Christian musicians.

Melinda: Physicians.

Greg Koukl: Physicians?

Melinda: Do you need your ears cleaned? Do you want me to read this again?

Greg Koukl: I have earmuffs on. I'm listening. I mean, what do you call it? Headsets.

Melinda: 30 to 60 minutes with Christian physicians. Doctors. Medical people.

Greg Koukl: All right, since I'm put on the spot, I've already wasted a minute. What I would say probably is I would want to make two points.

Melinda: You should see an ear doctor maybe.

Greg Koukl: Did she just say something? I would make two points. I would want to make the point that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, so I'd want to look in a sense at the human body and showcase that as an example of the creative power of God so that nobody gets confused that that's what's involved in the operation and construction, the structure, the engineering, if you will of the human body, okay? That's one thing. Fearfully and wonderfully made. Secondly, I'd want to look at the invisible self, and that is that human beings are made in the image of God. That's not something physical, but that every patient they treat is an image bearer, and this fact ought to inform how any physician deals with any human patient. Those two things.

Melinda: Oh, good.

Greg Koukl: That was a minute, 51.

Melinda: You're doing really well.

Greg Koukl: Yeah.

Melinda: Next question. How do you reconcile the apparent contradictions in the resurrection accounts?

Greg Koukl: Well, I'd have to look at what those apparent contradictions actually are, what is alleged, and so there are different ways to deal with different challenges. One has to do with the time that the women visited the tomb in the morning. Was it dark? Was the sun coming up? Was it light? Okay.

Melinda: Was there one woman? Was there more than one woman?

Greg Koukl: Well, that's another one, how many women were there.

Melinda: Angels, how many angels?

Greg Koukl: I mean, the fact is, think about it. If you have to make a trip somewhere walking and you get up at dark, it could easily be sunlight, I should say daylight at one point and sunrise at another point. These are not mutually exclusive as being descriptors of when the women visited the tomb, okay? That's one thing. Secondly, there are selective descriptions, and none of these ways of reconciling is unusual. We do these things all the time, so if I told you, Melinda, that I went to Beacon Hill yesterday where they had a parents' thing and I listened to such and so and it was a welcome to the school and all that, and then later on I said to somebody else that my wife and I did it, you would not probably accuse me of-

Melinda: Lying, contradiction.

Greg Koukl: Contradiction, lying, misleading, whatever-

Melinda: I can't trust anything you say.

Greg Koukl: Because in the first case I was just focusing on me, and in the second case I was bringing in other details that I didn't mention in the first case, so this happens a lot in these texts, and it's normal. Human discourse uses this approach, so these are not contradictions. A contradiction is when you say the opposite of.

Melinda: There's no way of reconciling those.

Greg Koukl: Yeah, there's no way of reconciling it, right. I did go, I didn't go, and if you mean go and did and didn't all in the same way of standard meanings, well, then that would be a contradiction, but this normally isn't what's going on here. Now, one other thought I want to offer here about contradictions is that what is at stake with a contradiction or an alleged contradiction. The only thing that's at stake is not the veracity of the account because there could be veridical accounts, truthful accounts of all kinds of things that people give that are at some point, the details contradict. It doesn't mean the event didn't happen largely the way the people described, so that's not in question.

What's in question is whether if there is a bonafide contradiction, whether this is then inerrantly inspired by God, and I don't try to make the case that the Bible is inerrant when I'm talking with non-Christians. It's not my point. It's an in-house discussion. It's not even relevant to my case for Christianity because I don't need an inerrant Bible in order to make the case that Jesus lived and died and rose from the grave. I just need a reliable historical account, and it is standard for reliable historical accounts to disagree on certain points. This actually strengthens the reliability of the account because it shows that two authors were not colluding to make it sounds exactly the same.

Melinda: But wouldn't you say that if accounts are trying to make the case for something as extraordinary as a resurrection, we might want to require more agreement or you know, no contradictions or you want more confidence in the sources?

Greg Koukl: Okay. Well, I haven't acknowledged that these accounts are actually contradictory, but when I'm just putting it in perspective, and-

Melinda: No, I was just… No, even on that basis, that's what I'm even challenging at this point.

Greg Koukl: Well, you know, President Lincoln or President Kennedy in our own day was assassinated, okay? Now, that is a monumental event, but there are varying details in the account, things that just don't match up in the different eyewitness reports. That doesn't mean that John Kennedy wasn't assassinated on that day or the particulars or the broad strokes of the historical narrative can't be trusted. It just means that whenever you have different people telling the story, it is not unusual and not disqualifying for the legitimacy of the account, even something really weighty like the assassination of a president that there are differences in the telling of the story. I actually think that theses alleged contradictions can be fully resolved with regards to the resurrection, but I'm just trying to put it in perspective what really is at stake here.

Melinda: Right, for the apologetic purpose.

Greg Koukl: Yeah. What's at stake here? There's not anything at stake here because these differences are not substantial.

Melinda: When critics bring up supposed contradictions in the Bible, that doesn't necessarily undermine our case from the Bible for the historical events that happened there because all kinds of historical accounts might have contradictions.

Greg Koukl: Have, right, variations. I'd ask the question if somebody could raise it, what does it prove? Let's say you're right. What do we conclude based on the account? Do we conclude that Jesus never rose from the dead? That's really what's an issue here, and I don't think even if there are all these anomalies, it doesn't follow that the main event in question didn't happen.

Melinda: Let me just circle back and make sure people understand though that while for the apologetic purpose, an inerrant Scripture is not necessary to make the historical case, we affirm that wholeheartedly, and it is-

Greg Koukl: We affirm inerrancy wholeheartedly.

Melinda: Right, and it is a central tenant of orthodox Christianity. It's not something, once somebody becomes a Christian, it's not something they cannot accept.

Greg Koukl: It's an important, right, it's a cardinal doctrine, and we're making a distinction here between the apologetics and the theological, right.

Melinda: Right. That's what I'm just trying to make clear for people who might draw the wrong conclusions from what you were saying.

Greg Koukl: I am an inerrantist.

Melinda: Right, or we'd have to fire you. Yes. We wouldn't want to do that though, so that's it for this episode. Send us your questions on Twitter using #STRask, and sometimes as we've seen today, Greg can actually answer things in two minutes. It's a pretty rare thing, kind of like a solar eclipse, but it happens now and then. Maybe it'll happen again in seven years.

Greg Koukl: I did it twice today. You're not going to get two solar eclipses in one day.

Melinda: That's right. We've had our miracles today. That's it for this episode, folks. I'm Melinda the Enforcer with Greg Koukl for Stand to Reason.