“There’s a Movement Coming”: A Response to Patrick Mead and Lauren King, Preachers

There's a Movement Coming.001Christians have been warned, and we had better be ready.

Recently, the Fourth Avenue Church of Christ, in Franklin, Tennessee hired Lauren King to be their preaching intern. That King, a Bible major at Lipscomb University, is using the preaching internship for university credit, is remarkable in itself given that female biblical studies majors regularly meet internship requirements by serving in ways other than preaching to mixed audiences. She preached at a Sunday service at Fourth Avenue, and the congregation hailed her bravery and talents. After the sermon, she was interviewed1 and said:

“[I]t’s been so encouraging to have men and women of older generations come to me and say ‘You are brave’. Or come to me and say, ‘My mom had the same gifts you have. She didn’t get to use them. I’m glad you get to,’ and things like that. . . . It’s happening. There’s a movement coming. And I’m just honored and humbled. . . .”

Lauren King is probably right in saying that there is an impending movement toward increased female leadership among churches of Christ. To understand any movement, we must understand its motivation. Is this movement motivated by the word of God, or by the fleshly desires of humans? The movement at which Fourth Avenue is at the forefront cannot be authorized or motivated by the word of God, because the New Testament teaches explicitly that women are not to preach in the corporate Christian assembly:

  • 1 Corinthians 14:33-35. As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.
  • 1 Timothy 2:11-13. Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. . . .

Lauren King’s movement can only be motivated by the cultural climate of our times, which seems to reject any practice that seems patriarchal, such as male leadership in the New Testament church. Faithful Christians reject the movement not because of a disdain for women, but because of a high opinion of God and a respect for the roles that only women can perform well.

Here I will not reply directly to Lauren King’s own apologetic for her ministry as presented in the video, because she does not present any argument in favor of it other than this (to summarize): If I feel that the Lord is speaking to me directly and telling me to do something then I can do it. The New Testament teaches that the Lord is not speaking directly to people today, because the age during which God’s revelation came miraculously has passed.2 Furthermore, it is absurd to think that God is telling Lauren directly something that contradicts what the Bible teaches.

Instead, I want to respond to Fourth Avenue’s Senior Minister, Patrick Mead, who, in the same video, made three brief arguments in defense of the congregation’s decision to have women preachers. Error is effectively disseminated in brief soundbites such as these, but takes longer to correct. Still, we must correct (1 Timothy 1:3-7; 2 Timothy 4:2; Revelation 3:19), and so we carefully and slowly consider:

Mr. Mead’s first argument: Paul, in 1 Corinthians 14:33-35 and 1 Timothy 2:11-13, was not intending to “undo the rest of Scripture.” 

It is irrational to believe that Paul intended to overthrow the rest of Scripture, because Paul’s passages do not contradict any other Bible passage. One gathers from the video that Mr. Mead sees other statements in the Bible about the value of women as implying that women’s role in the church must be equal to those of men. In the absence of a passage that actually implies such, however, and in the presence of passages that explicitly teach the opposite, one cannot agree with Mr. Mead.

Mr. Mead’s second argument: Paul should be read “through” Jesus, rather than the other way around, because the words of Jesus have interpretive control over those of Paul.

Mr. Mead says, “I think the churches of Christ are getting this, that we no longer read all of the Bible as equal, but rather we come to Jesus. The law and the prophets brought us to Him. . . .  Everything Paul said, he was a fellow student with us.”

We would need to consider whether Jesus’ words have interpretive control over those of Paul only if we could see a clear conflict between the words of Christ and the words of Paul. But again, there is no such conflict. In reality, there is no conflict between Paul and Jesus because Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would guide the apostles into all the truth (John 14:26).

Furthermore, it is false that that the inspired words of Paul have less binding authority on Christians than the words of Jesus (e.g., 2 Corinthians 13:10; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Galatians 1-2; 3 John 9). Consider the following argument.

  • Paul clearly thought that he did have apostolic authority over the church, that he was not simply a first-century classmate of ours.
  • If Paul was wrong to claim apostolic authority, he is a liar and not authoritative at all. In short, we should not listen to him.
  • Peter, however, listened to him, treating his writing as being “Scripture” (2 Peter 3:15-16).
  • Therefore, we should treat Paul’s writings as authoritative over the church. We should listen to him.

Mr. Mead’s third argument: Paul’s statements in 1 Corinthians 14:33-35 and 1 Timothy 2:11-13 do not apply to us today.  

Mr. Mead says that in 1 Corinthians 14:33-35 and 1 Timothy 2:11-13, Paul was

addressing a temporary issue in Corinth and Ephesus, and I think that if we know our history we can see what it was. He was not trying to make rules for everybody in every time, or we wouldn’t be allowing widows to be fed if they were of a certain age, and we wouldn’t be allowing women to have jewelry on. No, these were temporary things for temporary times. What the Bible does is that it tells me about Jesus. . . .

Mr. Mead does not tell us what cultural issue may have been on Paul’s mind. While current events may have been in Paul’s mind, he expresses that his major motivation was—by inspiration—the order of Creation. “For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor” (1 Timothy 2:12-13; cf. Genesis 2:18-25).

Mr. Mead is simply wrong to say that if Paul were trying to make lasting rules for the church in 1 Corinthians 14 and 1 Timothy 2 then Christians today would disallow benevolence to younger widows or disallow women from wearing jewelry. Consider each of these issues in turn:

In 1 Timothy 5:9-15, Paul gave instructions about the “enrollment” of widows in the church. This has to do with older widows who have extremely limited prospects for income and future family life and were substantially supported by the church. I know of at least one third-world congregation that has an enrollment of qualified widows who are supported from the church treasury. Those folks are following this passage because it is applicable to them. We no more dismiss 1 Timothy 5:9-15 on the basis of culture than we dismiss 1 Corinthians 14:33-35 on the basis of culture.

Two passages, one from Paul and one from Peter, directly address women wearing jewelry. Here is the first one:

1 Timothy 2:9-10. [L]ikewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.

Paul’s emphasis is on modest and respectable attire and good works. Faithful Christian women certainly follow the passage every day. The passage probably makes reference to a ancient practices whereby women took hours to arrange and decorate their hair.3. Be that as it may, Paul is obviously not forbidding the wearing of all gold. Consider Kyle Butt’s helpful remarks concerning 1 Timothy 2:9-10:

In this passage, we see a literary construction that is common in the Bible—the comparison and substitution of one less desirable thing for another more profitable thing. In this particular case, the gaudy clothes were to be rejected in favor of good works and modest clothes. Jesus used a similar construction in John 6:27, when He stated, “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you…” At first glance, this statement from Jesus seems to be saying that a person should not work for physical food. However, we know that is not the intended meaning, because 2 Thessalonians 3:10 plainly says, “if anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.” What, then, was Jesus’ point? He simply was saying that spiritual food is more important than physical food, and as such, should be given a higher priority.4

Paul forbids costly attire, but “costly” is obviously a relative term, and so Christians (under the oversight of their local elders) must exercise judgment.

Here is the second passage:

1 Peter 3:3-4. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God ‘s sight is very precious.

Peter’s passage no more condemns all wearing of gold than it does all wearing of clothes. Peter, like Paul, taught that women are to wear apparel that does not draw undue attention to them. As Wayne Jackson noted, “The point is this: for both women and men, one may dress well, and even fashionable within his cultural circumstances; however, he or she should avoid being show-offish. Inner traits should be paramount in our public demeanor. Christ should be magnified in us (Philippians 1:20).”5

Faithful, Bible-believing Christians are ready to address error wherever it threatens the life of the church, for which Christ died and which is based on the authority of Christ and the authority He gave to His apostles (Matthew 16:19, 28:18-20; 2 Thessalonians 3:6; 1 Peter 3:15). Faithful brethren will proceed with the Restoration Movement, even if some, such as those at Fourth Avenue, digress and make their own movement. We will continue to call people to Christ by preaching His gospel, which Paul called “our gospel” (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14).


  1. See the video here: http://thecolleyhouse.org/sister-to-sister-it-doesnt-really-matter-what-i-think-about-fourth-avenue

  2. Acts 8:14-25; 1 Corinthians 13:10-13; Jude 3; see Dave Miller, “Modern-Day Miracles, Tongue-Speaking, and Holy Spirit Baptism: A Refutation,” Apologetics Press, https://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=11&article=1399 (2003). 

  3. See Tertullian, “On the Apparel of Women,” book 2, chapters 6-7, http://www.tertullian.org/anf/anf04/anf04-07.htm#P351_73144; “Roman Hairstyles II,” San Diego State University, http://csuimages.sjsu.edu/gallery/oldworld/ancientrome/living/fashion/hair02.htm (n.d.). 

  4. “Wearing Gold and Braided Hair?,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=11&article=1210 (2003), emp. in orig. 

  5. “What about Braided Hair?,” Christian Courier, https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/206-what-about-braided-hair (2014), parenthetical item in orig. 

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  • Excellently and scripturally stated! Loved your Cindy’s comments as well. We are currently in the midst of a four part sermon series exploring the exact comments contained in that video at length, in order to better train our young people and also to help biblically reinforce anyone else who is interested in doing “bible things in bible ways” to avoid ever approving such. That sermon series, as well as a link to Cindy’s article and a couple of other faithful resources can be accessed at http://www.clevelandcoc.com.

  • Jonathan

    I appreciate your discussion on this fairly new issue to the Churches of Christ, which I think some of our brothers in other church traditions have been wrestling with for some time. I am worried what lays ahead for our community will tear us apart when we need to approach the future in a redemptive and unifying way.

    I think we should be careful with proof-texting, especially out of Paul. Paul was basically writing case law, and everything he wrote was meant for certain churches at certain times in certain cultures. Paul even appears to contradict himself in a few places if you’re trying to rigorously prooftext him. The real question is whether the divide of roles in the church is a contextual issue or not, and I, personally, cannot parse that out in my interpretation of scripture.

    Also, your handling of her belief that God has given her a task or called her to this is at very best awkward, and perhaps even insulting. She is not claiming a miracle has been performed (most of what your link which you used speaks to), but that she has a calling to teach and preach the gospel, which is in fact the great commission. It could be that she feels called to carry this mission forward, which I assume you would not besmirch any missionary from doing. I would caution against assuming that God no longer calls people and that the Spirit is not at work in the world.

    One of the beautiful things about the Church of Christ is our willingness to engage each other in these discussions about doctrine, striving together to improve our understanding of Christ, the Church, and God Himself. I am worried that this new discussion will serve to separate and weaken us, as people will fight and argue instead of having honest dialogue about this doctrinal issue that I do not believe is a salvational one.

    Peace be with you, and sorry for the length of the comment.

    • Caleb Colley

      Hi Jonathan,

      Thanks for the comment. I certainly do not want to cause conflict unnecessarily.

      If our situation is that Paul took himself to be writing inspired law for the church and demonstrated his authority to the church by performing miracles, then we are in the situation that Paul’s work is binding on the church.

      I do think that Lauren is claiming a miraculous calling. A miraculous event is one that does not happen in the natural course of things (i.e., in accord biochemical regularities which we call the laws of nature). God is not literally communicating propositions to people through nature. So, feelings (like the “peaceful feeling” Lauren spoke about that made her know this calling was from God), if transmitted from God to people, would be supernatural. She is claiming that God communicated directly to her. She is, in that sense, claiming to be a prophet. The question, therefore, is still whether God is showing us the miraculous in the present day. This is why I included the link that I did.

      • Jonathan

        I am sorry if I was unclear, I have become frustrated with the amount of vitriol one the side against her has generally had towards her, the church that allowed her to intern, and her university. I do not think that you have caused any conflict here at all, just laid out the argument against in a reasonable manner.

        It is something that our church tradition will have to wrestle with as the others have. I understand your argument, and it is framed better than theirs (“having a feeling” is not good apologetics, a preaching major should know better), but I do not think it is entirely clear which is truth. Basically the issue boils down to whether we believe Paul’s discussion is more context driven or more universal in this instance.

        • Caleb Colley

          Thank you. I do not believe Paul left open to us the possibility that he was making a temporary solution for a temporary problem. For Paul, the doctrinal issue was settled by Genesis 1-3, not by what was going on in Ephesian or Corinthian culture.

- 2017