He has “1689,” the year of what is supposedly his Confession of Faith, tattooed across his upper-hand, touching his knuckles. His hipster face-mane, no doubt coated in organic beard balm of some kind or another, touches down to reach his screen-printed t-shirt. In his hands, he holds a smoldering cigar. On his face, he wears the horn-rimmed stylish glasses that are as common as they are ubiquitous among those masquerading as chic. Standing at roughly the same height as a yard gnome, Joe Thorn is a Baptist and Calvinist pastor with a Napoleon Complex, except instead of invading nations, Thorn ambitiously sells his cool Calvinism (named by some Coolvinism) on a podcast called Doctrine and Devotion.
Thorn stands in stark contrast to most Reformed Baptists, a term used to describe those who hold to the Confessionalism, Covenantalism and Calvinism of the early Reformed (or Particular) Baptists. Reformed Baptists are not to be confused with mere Calvinist Baptists, the great many Baptists who hold simultaneously to the Baptist doctrines of immersion and believer’s baptism, the priesthood of the believer, and the autonomy of the local church while holding simultaneously to the five points of Calvinism known as TULIP. Calvinist Baptists are a dime a dozen, and Southern Baptist seminaries, in particular, are putting out armies of those who fit that description. A Reformed Baptist is a Calvinist Baptist by default, but additionally holds to those first two descriptors (Confessionalism and Covenantalism) that are often wholly absent from the bots being manufactured on the drone assembly lines like Southern Seminary.
Truly Reformed Baptists are so characteristically boring that even their superstars are almost altogether unknown. Our heroes are men you’ve probably never heard of like James Renihan, Earl Blackburn, Walt Chantry, Albert Martin and Fred Malone. Joe Thorn stands out like a sore thumb among the vast majority of other Reformed Baptists, most of whom wouldn’t draw on themselves or film theology videos while puff-puff-passing a smoldering cancer stick. But it’s not just his excruciatingly painful attempt at coolness that bothers me so much about him (although, to be honest, it does). What bothers me about Thorn is that in spite of his hand-graffiti espousing his 1689 Confessional views, the man is no more Reformed – as Spurgeon would say – “than chalk is cheese.” Imposters make me upset, especially when they smell like Dominican cigars and cheap scotch.
Bible Thumping Wingnut already wrote on this, but it so annoyed me by seeing it, I wanted to write about it myself. Their article is posted over at the Wingnut website and you can see it there. The video is below.
In case someone wants to argue it’s “out of context,” click here for the whole video clip.
No. No, Joe Thorn.
If he were a dog, I’d smack him on the snout with a newspaper.
There is not much more contrary to the Regulative Principle of worship than a woman in the pulpit. There is no – zero, zip, zilch, nada – Scriptural warrant for it, and furthermore, we see it (authoritative teaching or preaching by women) explicitly prohibited in the Scriptures within the pastoral epistles (because the act of preaching is intrinsically pastoral in nature).
Furthermore, this flies in the face of everything ever taught by the Reformers, the Puritans, the Non-Conformists, or our Particular Baptist forebears. That the Confession doesn’t explicitly forbid female preaching isn’t testimony to its validity, but is rather a testimony to the fact the notion of a woman preaching to the Assembly is so absurd the mentioning of it was not necessary. The confession also doesn’t forbid the ordination of houseplants, but its neglect to mention these things only speaks to their absurdity.
In A Case for Conscience Resolved, which was uploaded to P&P via pdf several years ago and was written by perhaps the most famous Reformed Baptist (if book sales count) to have ever lived, John Bunyan argues that not only should women not preach in church, they shouldn’t preach even to other women. Furthermore, Bunyan argued that women-only gatherings were foolhardy and prone to all kinds of potential error, not being worth the spiritual risk. Could you imagine someone taking that position today, that not only should women not preach to men (which should be a foregone conclusion to anyone vaguely familiar with the New Testament), but that women should not preach to other women (I affirm this) and that women’s conferences and women-only gatherings are at the very least iffy?
Apparently, Bunyan wasn’t woke. He would even forbid women from leading in prayer.
The command [to pray], says Mr. K., is general to all. But I answer, yet limited, and confined to order and manner of performance. Women may, yea ought to pray; what then? Is it their duty to help to carry on prayer in public assemblies with men, as they? Are they to be the audible mouth there, before all, to God? No verily, and yet the command is general to all to pray. Women of the respective churches of Christ, have no command to separate themselves from the men of their congregations, to perform prayer in their own company without them, and yet the command is general to all to pray.
John Gill, Spurgeon’s predecessor at the Metropolitan Tabernacle and famous commentator, said…
But I suffer not a woman to teach, They may teach in private, in their own houses and families; they are to be teachers of good things, Titus 2:3. They are to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; nor is the law or doctrine of a mother to be forsaken, any more than the instruction of a father; see Proverbs 1:8. Timothy, no doubt, received much advantage, from the private teachings and instructions of his mother Eunice, and grandmother Lois; but then women are not to teach in the church; for that is an act of power and authority, and supposes the persons that teach to be of a superior degree, and in a superior office, and to have superior abilities to those who are taught by them
Spurgeon himself said…
“Sir, a woman preaching is like a dog’s walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.” We will add that our surprise is all the greater when women of piety mount the pulpit, for they are acting in plain defiance of the command of the Holy Spirit, written by the pen of the apostle Paul.”
The first line, above, was Spurgeon quoting another man, with whom he was in apparent agreement.
I could go on.
I don’t know what the σκύβαλον Joe Thorn represents, but I know it’s nothing even akin to Reformed Baptist theology. I pray this man’s influence in the Reformed Baptist community burns up as quickly as one of his cheap cigars.