Dr. Leslie McFall (1944-2015): Good Order in the Church
Dr. Leslie McFall [1944-2015] was a British scholar who was formerly a lecturer in Hebrew and the Old Testament before becoming a full time researcher. Much of his research was done at Tyndale House, Cambridge, where he had been a Research Fellow. He is best known for his works on chronology, in which he further refined the groundbreaking work of Edwin Thiele. His refinements to Thiele’s chronology are accepted as the most satisfactory explanation of the chronology of the Hebrew kingdom period in Jack Finegan’s influential Handbook of Biblical Chronology, by virtue of which it may be said that he is one of the most significant living authorities, if not the most significant, in the field of the Biblical chronology for the kingdom period. 1) Bio taken from Creation Wiki.
Earlier this month Dr. McFall went home to be with the Lord. As Tyndale House announced in their bulletin:
[Leslie McFall] died at home and had been carrying out research the day before. Leslie was a long-term member of the Fellowship and friend of the House. After the death of his wife Barbara in 1991 he devoted himself undistractedly to scholarship and his purpose, in his own words, was ‘to restore faith in the Word of God’…He will be remembered as a doughty defender of the faith, general handyman at Tyndale House, and good friend to many characterized by an admirable work ethic and personal frugality.
Dr. McFall was a believer in the symbol of headcovering and had been working on a book for over a decade in which he had included a defense of this practice. On Dr. McFall’s website he had posted the contents of this unfinished book “Good Order in the Church” which he invited everyone to browse freely. The first version of this book appeared on the web in 2002 and it appears on his website in its unfinished state. I corresponded with him by e-mail in November 2014 to encourage him to complete his book and to seek publishing for it. Two weeks later he e-mailed me back and said that he had finalized it. He sent me the complete e-book and gave me permission to link to it.
I’m not sure if anyone other than me has the finalized e-book in their hands. Since I possess it I want to ensure it’s not lost so that his research and teaching is not forgotten. I will include a link to the full version below. The most relevant section to the readers of this site will start at page 181 which is titled “Surely You Are Not Asking Women To Go Back To Covering Their Heads In Church, Are You?” Here is a snippet from that section:
Should women have their heads covered when they are “praying or prophesying”? The succinct answer is, Yes. At the theological level, the one thing that most evangelical scholars are agreed on is that according to the teaching of the New Testament, women in New Testament times had a covering on their heads when they prayed and prophesied. What has happened in the pew, however, is that women have gone with the prevailing fashion of the secular world and the covering slowly but surely slipped out of sight. Nothing was done about it at the leadership level (because the church lost its authoritative voice in the early part of the twentieth century, if not earlier) and this gave the practice the green light. Today it is a rare sight indeed to find a covered head in the mainline denominations, despite the knowledge at the scholarly level that the practice does not conform to the apostolic tradition that Paul handed on to all the churches he founded.
The rest of the book has many other relevant sections as well on Complementarianism and 1 Corinthians 11. Though I personally don’t agree with everything he says on the topic, we do end up at the same conclusion that the headcovering is a symbol for the church today. For that, I am grateful. Thank you to Dr. McFall for your faithful service to the church.
- Is Head Covering Related to Spiritual Gifts? A Response to Barry York - July 5, 2023
- A Husband’s Authority is Limited (He is Not Pastor or King) - November 14, 2022
- Statement from Jeremy Gardiner: Leadership Transition - September 26, 2022