Vol.VIII No.XI Pg.2
January 1972

A Private Matter

Robert F. Turner

Recently, while looking for some comments by David Lipscomb on another subject, I read what he had to say about women preachers. (Queries and Answers, Edited by J.W. Shepherd.) He cited the usual passages on the subject, then said, There is not the least difficulty in explaining all the passages in harmony with these, if we will recognize what is true — that God intended the great burden of prayer, teaching, exhortation, and admonition to be done in private, not in public. (emph. mine, rt) Woman has free access to this great field. We have perverted this order; we do all of our preaching, teaching, exhortation, and I fear, praying often, in public; so interpret the Scriptures by our practices, and not by the will of God. (4th. Edition, publ. 1918)

I will excuse my dearth of private teaching on the obvious basis — I am a preacher. And how will you excuse your failure? Let me guess. You are not a preacher, so you dont know how to do it. We agree it needs to be done — we will talk about it awhile — and then go on in our old ways.

But bro. Lipscomb hit very close to the vitals of many problems. The work of the Lord has somehow become one and the same with some sort of public function — a service of some sort — and the seven- days- per- week concern for souls (ours and others) is missing.

Even Personal Work Programs are often so organized, so wedded to the establishment that the personal touch is smothered. Telling another what YOU know, what YOU did in coming to Christ — even if it is a stumbling account — is far more likely to generate fire than some calculated, methodical plan that lacks people affinity and feeling.

I believe there is a valid and useful place for public teaching. (I preached 314 sermons in 1971— averaging more than one a day, six days a week, straight through.) There is evidence of much good done. 74 articles were written during that time, and given to the public. These too have produced fruit, as indicated in your letters. Church doors should remain open, and saints must continue to assemble to worship God, study and pray. But that which is missing is the going forth — leaving the meeting place with a renewed determination to carry the gospel to our contacts.

And without this sort of going out I am afraid that the coming in soon becomes meaningless. If the great burden of Gods work must be done in private, we had better get with it.