By Elizabeth Prata
It is a good question and it’s timely. When I talk with the younger women in the faith who seek and apply discernment, they acknowledge that it’s hard to really trust anybody (without doing significant pre-vetting before buying a book, subscribing to a podcast, liking on social media, etc). I was asked just this week ‘who is out there that we can trust?’ (Note: not blind trust, discerning trust).
It’s a grief to ask this question because it’s a grief to see friends and even women we don’t know follow false female teachers. (Or any false teacher). Won’t it be a relief and a joy in the eternal state with no sin and perfect trust in all whom we meet! Until that day, we must ask the question, ‘Where are all the discerning women?’
When I was brought to a Beth Moore Living Proof weekend I mourned over the tens of thousands of women filling the arena and the picture of all of them adoring Moore haunts me today. We ask the question not because we’re smarter than anyone else, frankly, many of us discerners have a woeful tale of having squandered time in sanctification because we followed the wrong crowd or teacher. It’s one of the reasons we’re so fervent about being discerning. (I myself followed Joel Osteen for over a year at the start of my walk!). It’s because we have been graced with a spiritual gift that allows us to spot false teachers (and good teachers).
The Holy Spirit dispenses gifts as He pleases. (1 Corinthians 12:11). One of them is “distinguishing between spirits” (1 Corinthians 12:10) known in modern times as discernment. The people given this spiritual gift in the global body, operating within local churches, are the church’s early warning system.
There are discerning women out there putting out great material in blogs, papers, lectures, studies, and podcasts. Michelle Lesley, DebbieLynne Kespert, The Woman’s Hope podcast co-hosts Dr Shelbi Cullen & Kimberly Cummings, Lauren Hereford of Tulips & Honey (and Facebook group here), Susan Heck, Amy Spreeman, Allie Beth Stuckey, and others. But admittedly, the field is narrow and more full of false teachers.
Recently a young woman asked me to recommend any good Christian books by Godly women or about Godly women. I turned to Banner of Truth books because I know Iain Murray had written a short bio of Amy Carmichael and Banner of Truth had also published the bio of Selina Countess of Huntingdon. Banner of Truth lists 293 authors. Fourteen were women, comprising 4% of the list, if that gives you any idea of the ratio of solid male theologians to female. I believe this ratio holds in the wider global church, too, given the number of false women teachers we see running around.
So the question Where are all the the discerning women? is a good one.