Categories
Controversy Reform SBC Author

PragNAMBtism: Dr. Ezell’s position on Women Pastors in SBC Church Plants

*At the time of this posting Echo Church is still listed as a NAMB church plant with a female teaching pastor. 

If the Southern Baptist Convention is going to see true reformation, the 11th Commandment has to end. For those unfamiliar with this rule, it is an unwritten agreement that you don’t talk publicly about anything negative in the SBC, particularly with any of the main entities.

Conservative Resurgence Voices is not a polemics site. But we are willing to speak publicly about what’s going on in the SBC because we truly long for a conservative resurgence. Part of the battle has been convincing some that there is even a need for a conservative resurgence. After all, the SBC is a “conservative” organization. Right?

Hopefully, last week’s piece on NAMB churches utilizing women as pastors has brought more awareness to some of what is going on in our convention. The reality is, this is not the worst of it. Dr. Ezell, and apparently NAMB Trustees, know this is happening. As a result, I’m forced to wonder if they either do not care or perhaps are pushing it.

Bad as the ’80s?

I’ve had several phone conversations since the NAMB piece last week. In most of them, folks were concerned about the direction of the SBC. But in one of them, with a NAMB employee, the topic was brought up by the other party that “This is nowhere near as bad as 1985-1986.”

Well, I was born in 1986 so I cannot speak to that. But this would be similar to me telling you that I was diagnosed with stage 2 cancer and you responding with “Oh yeah? I was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and beat it.” Praise the Lord you beat cancer! But this does not take away from the seriousness of my own diagnosis even if it appears to be at an earlier stage. If left untreated it will kill me.

Maybe people are not publicly denying the inerrancy of the Bible – yet. But the situation we are currently in is that people are saying one thing with their mouths and doing another in their actions. This is a terrible direction. It is pragmatism at its worst.

Dr. Ezell’s Position

It’s never been my desire or hope to get to a point in SBC life where we need to publish an entity head’s emails. But this is where we are. The doublespeak has to end. The political maneuvering has to end. Transparency is what we want.

Let me state a few things up front. First, a lot of what I am publishing from Dr. Ezell has been said similarly by him on social media or in the public arena. Secondly, at least one other SBC pastor received what I received verbatim (his was on 1/12-1/13/2021). So, these answers seem to be pretty public for anyone who wants them.

Still, to be as charitable as possible I’m only publishing what I think needs published. I will leave out the rest. After the fiasco with the Florida Church Plant that had a woman lead pastor, I reached out to NAMB. I got a form letter in reply but asked to speak to Dr. Ezell directly. He did email and said he was willing to answer questions so I sent him this on January 29, 2021:

Dr. Ezell kindly and promptly replied on January 30, 2021. Again, this information has been emailed to more than just me. Understandably, I’m sure Dr. Ezell got a lot of the same questions, so it seems there were some who received basically the same information. So again, this information isn’t really hidden for any who would care to write Dr. Ezell. Here is his 1/30/21 response:

The yellow highlighted portion was done by either Dr. Ezell, or someone else. And I have to be honest, it was very encouraging to read that. It says a few things very clearly:

  1. Only biblically qualified men are approved in the role of pastor which are endorsed and funded by NAMB
  2. SBC Plants are required to whole-heartedly embrace the BFM 2000 and
  3. specifically the role of women. Which just to remind us here the BFM says this: “While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.”

So, again, quite encouraging. Shouldn’t, then, we reasonably assume that what this means is that NAMB will not support churches that intentionally violate the BFM 2000 by having women serve as pastors? That’s what I assumed when I read it.

I was even tempted to leave it there and basically say in my mind, “Whatever is going on with NAMB it must be that Dr. Ezell does not know and things must fall through the cracks at times.”

I think this is probably what a lot of Southern Baptists believe. And when they see reports about church plants with women pastors they think, “Sure, but we trust Dr. Ezell. We know that he’s not allowing this to happen intentionally.”

Thus, I decided not to let it go and on 1/31/21 I wrote this back to Dr. Ezell:

And here is what I think Southern Baptists need to know. I think it is what they deserve to know. On Monday, February 1, Dr. Ezell replied:

Here is what is frustrating as a Southern Baptist. In one email Dr. Ezell assured me that SBC Plants are required to whole-heartedly embrace the BFM 2000 and specifically the role of women. That is, the Southern Baptist Convention has unequivocally stated in its statement of faith that only qualified men can serve in the role of pastor.

Yet, when pressed on this, the real story is: “We don’t look at staff rosters.” That is, “We don’t really care if women are serving as pastors or not.” Now, which is it? Because these two emails are contradictory. A church cannot be whole-heartedly embracing the BFM 2000 and have women serving in the role of a pastor.

After these emails and talking with a NAMB employee, I can tell you definitively and beyond any shadow of a doubt that NAMB’s position is that female pastors are fine as long as they are not the “lead” pastor.

I do not understand the strategy in this. It seems that Dr. Ezell and the leadership at NAMB, without informing the Convention, have reinterpreted the BFM 2000 to mean something its writers never intended it to mean: that women are only barred from serving as “senior” pastors. This is an absolute butchering of the BFM 2000. And what’s more concerning is that this is a classic liberal tactic: To say you affirm a statement when you just redefine the terms. This is not me calling Dr. Ezell a liberal. This is me saying he is undeniably using a liberal tactic.

How can an SBC entity adopt a policy that is in contrast to the clear doctrinal parameters of the Baptist Faith and Message (2000)? Without asking or informing the convention, an entity that is under the authority of the churches in the convention has usurped the authority of these churches and carved its own path. And then, at best, they have been very political in their wording, and at worst they have bold faced lied to Southern Baptists about their strategy.

Since last week’s posting there has been some shuffling around with NAMB’s website. It appears some churches with female “non-lead” pastors have been removed? Is this being done silently?

What about the Trustees?

In a Baptist Press Article that posted February 4, 2021, NAMB Trustee board chairman, Danny de Armas, said this:

“Several trustees related being frustrated by the notion that some are putting forth that the NAMB trustees are not doing our job and that we don’t know what is going on at NAMB. Not only do we know what is going on, in most cases we initiated and, in every case, we affirm the strategies and changes that are being implemented.

This is not a comforting statement. I’m trying to be fair to this statement but it seems rather reasonable that I could plug this in: “Not only do NAMB trustees know that women are serving as pastors in NAMB plants in most cases they also initiated it, and in every case, they affirmed it.”

So, not only are NAMB employees “in” on this. Apparently, so are the trustees? And this is not with the consent of the Convention. How is this happening if the SBC really is under the authority of the local churches?

Does NAMB work for the local churches in the SBC or not? If so, why does it get to do what it wants in terms of disregarding the Baptist Faith and Message? And if it doesn’t work for the churches of the SBC, why are we giving them money under the guise that they do work for us?

I did email Danny de Armas, Chair of the Board of Trustees for NAMB and wrote, “Please brother, we must hold NAMB accountable to planting churches that are in true agreement with the BFM 2000.” He did email me back thanking me for reaching out but did not respond to the comment about the Baptist Faith and Message. Perhaps it was an oversight. But it is hard for me to continually pursue these avenues as a Southern Baptist Pastor only to time and again have my questions ignored, overlooked, or answered deceptively.

Brothers and sisters, this is beyond heartbreaking. It is well past time to contact our NAMB trustees and reiterate to them that our standard of cooperation is the BF&M 2000. Maybe other trustees will listen. As Denny Burk wrote last week, “Our ability to cooperate is materially compromised when a cooperating church ignores what we have all agreed upon as the doctrinal basis for our work together—the BF&M.”

We should believe more than what is in the BF&M, but we cannot believe less (see Why the SBC Needs a Tent Revival).

Does this Really Matter?

Absolutely. The SBC is sick. She has a cancer that is spreading through her churches that if left unchecked will eventually be terminal. One may think “Oh we are just arguing about words here.” No. We are arguing over whether or not we actually believe and practice that the Word of God is our highest authority and wholly sufficient for how we understand the leadership of the church.

Consider what Dr. Mohler said in a 2019 9Marks Panel at the Southern Baptist Convention:

“A lot of younger Southern Baptists…understand that complementarian or the gender relations, that’s a second-order issue. But what they’re missing is second-order issues are also constitutive of the Southern Baptist Convention. And so just understand we had a 30 year battle over 1st and 2nd order issues. One secondary issue we were fighting over was should women be pastors. The convention has declared itself so emphatically on that it’s in the confession of faith. Our confession of faith that constitutes the basis of our cooperation is inherently complementarian…

The Baptist Faith and Message requires an understanding that the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture and that there are distinct roles for men and women in the home and in the church…But this is where I think a lot of younger Southern Baptists are acting as if Southern Baptist can embrace a pluralism on this that would include egalitarianism. No! We spent 30 years struggling with Scripture and each other to define the fact that this fellowship is established upon Complementarianism.”

And on January 28, 2021, Danny Akin tweeted out:

“[W]omen cannot serve as a pastor. Pastors are always men in the Bible. To call a woman a pastor in any capacity is not faithful to the biblical revelation. She can serve in many capacities but it is theologically in error to call her a pastor.”

What does this mean? It means we can argue about whether or not churches that have women pastors are true churches or not. But what we cannot argue about is if they are Southern Baptist churches, because they are not – not if we “wholeheartedly embrace the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.”

Categories
Complementarianism Ecclesiology Gender Reform

NAMB and SBC Egalitarianism

The North American Mission Board (NAMB) has an egalitarian problem. How big of a problem largely depends, in my opinion, on the willingness of NAMB leadership to speak with clarity to this issue.

Two weeks ago, it was revealed that a Florida NAMB church plant had a husband and wife as dual Lead Pastors. It appears the church has subsequently chosen to disaffiliate with the SBC.

This week, I have documented and observed that at least four more current NAMB church plants have women pastors on staff. In the interest of not repeating some of the distractions from last week, the names of these churches are not identified in this post. The decision to withhold this information is not because I want this matter to be swept under the rug, but quite the opposite.

The main issue that needs to be addressed is not ultimately with any individual SBC church, regardless of their error. The issue that must be addressed is whether or not we as a convention broadly and NAMB as an entity specifically approve of women serving in the role of pastor.

Has the SBC, without a vote, become an egalitarian convention based on its actual practice? We must have clarity on this issue.

My intent in sharing this information is not to embarrass or shame anyone. Indeed, one should not be embarrassed by their theological commitments. Presumably all of these churches and individuals believe what they are doing is right. None of the questions which are to follow are directed at the individual churches and people involved. These questions are directed to NAMB and SBC leadership.


A large California church recently became associated with NAMB for their church planting efforts. The plants of this church are currently listed on the NAMB website. Additionally, the Executive Pastor of this church serves as a NAMB church planting trainer.

This church also has five women serving on their staff as pastors.

Two other smaller California NAMB church plants have women listed as pastors on their websites.

 

In the Washington DC area, a NAMB church plant is outspoken about their egalitarianism. This statement is displayed proudly on the churches’ website:

All of these churches above are currently listed on the NAMB website of associated churches, and none of this information appears to be outdated.

Categories
Reform SBC Author Uncategorized

Why the SBC Needs a Tent Revival

Just Keachy

I suppose every post must start somewhere. This one begins in 1673 – the year Benjamin Keach decided to apply Matthew 26:30 tangibly to his church at Horsleydown in London. I suppose I should also mention Keach was Baptist before it was cool; before there was so much Great Commission™ money. This was before the Act of Toleration; a time when Baptists embraced being outsiders to the mainstream.

I know. I’m throwing a few jabs early there. But I’ll save the haymaker for later.

Moving along, in 1673 Keach leads his church to sing a hymn after the Lord’s Supper. By 1690 Isaac Marlow is publicly opposing him in the social media of the day: tracts. They duke it out in the public arena and eventually, the singing Baptists win.

In 1688 Elias Keach, son of Benjamin, is pastoring in the Philadelphia area. It’s not just his influence mind you (I do think it significant enough to mention) but by 1707 the churches in the area have unofficially adopted “the Confession” as their theological foundation.

What is “the Confession”? Well, in 1742 it is officially named the Philadelphia Confession. Why did I start this story with Benjamin Keach? Because the Philadelphia Confession of 1742 is the 1689 London Baptist Confession with two additions: one dealing with the laying on of hands. The other? Singing. 

If you’re going to make it to the “point” of today’s post, you need to know, again, that the 1689 London Baptist Confession and the Philadelphia Confession of 1742 are identical, save these two additions.

A Tragic Era

We now fast forward to 1814 – the same year Colonel Jackson took his little trip down to New Orleans. Unrelatedly, the Triennial Baptist Convention (TBC) was formed (it had a longer name) by Luther Rice.

Fast forward again to 1844. In a 7-5 decision, the Board of the Home Missionary Society declined the appointment of a missionary from Georgia because he owned slaves. In response, Alabama Baptists wrote to the Foreign Mission Board asking if they would appoint missionaries who owned slaves. The answer: No.

Some southerners, “did not attempt to defend the evils in the slavery system, but described the institution as an inherited disease to be cured slowly.”* Others tried to justify slavery with the Bible. This was a sad and tragic era in the history of Triennial Baptist churches south of the Mason Dixon line.

Thus, over the issue of missionaries being denied appointment because of slavery, “a total of 293 delegates” representing a “substantial” number of local churches gathered on “May 8, 1845 in Augusta, Georgia” and formed the Southern Baptist Convention.** Thankfully, Southern Baptists today continue to repudiate the reprehensible view some in the early SBC held toward people of color.

The Tent

Now, what hath London to do with Augusta? Why start this post with Benjamin Keach?

Because, as the faculty blog of SEBTS notes, “In 1845, when the Southern Baptist Convention was formed, every delegate came from a church or association that had adopted the Philadelphia Confession or an abstract of the document.”

Nearly 300 delegates and every single one of them was influenced by Benjamin Keach and the uncool 17th-century Baptists of England. Which, we must also point out that historically the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith (written in 1677) had nothing to do with American chattel slavery. I only mention this because you cannot argue historically that the Confession was a pro-slavery document. The error in the early SBC was in spite of the Philadelphia Confession they held to, not because of it.

So, now, we are ready to get to a point!

Sometimes you will hear Southern Baptists today saying, “What we agree on is more than what we disagree on” or, important for this post, “the SBC is a big tent!”

Now, there is some truth in that. We have differences of style or eschatology, or how flashy our bulletins ought to be, or whether we can preach from an iPad. But despite these differences, we can, and should, still partner together for mission.

After all, at its inception, Southern Baptists said their organization was about “directing the energies of the whole denomination in one sacred effort, for the propagation of the Gospel.”***

However, the SBC in 1845 didn’t merely unite just for the purpose of “mission” but had a very rich theological underpinning. Yes, the SBC partners for mission. But this partnership began with serious theological parameters. Doctrinal parameters must be maintained, for if the tent is too big, the cooperation fails.

Because, theologically, being a Southern Baptist, at least in the beginning, was about a rich and glorious orthodoxy. A Confession that had a high view of God, a biblical view of the local church and its male leadership, and a robust trust in the sufficiency of Scripture, was held to by our Baptist forefathers.

Again, I am willing to admit this was not always applied correctly, but this is not the Confession’s fault, nor is it the Bible’s. It is the hearts of men that are to blame.

Now, I do not imply that one must hold to the Philadelphia Confession of 1742 in order to be a “true” Southern Baptist. But I do, without reservation, say that we must hold clear conservative doctrinal convictions. So, everyone who calls themselves a Southern (or Great Commission™) Baptist, is not necessarily SBC. You can’t say you’re SBC for the sake of “mission” and yet be removed from certain doctrinal standards, like those defined in the Baptist Faith and Message (2000)

The SBC was never designed to be such a big tent that orthodoxy was in question. But even beyond that- it was never designed to allow for, say, paedobaptism. Nor was the tent built for various views of women pastors, or for any to take or leave the sufficiency of Scripture, etc.

The SBC was always meant to agree on not only the gospel, but even other core issues. To partner for mission without that understanding is to misunderstand why the SBC even exists. Southern Baptists did not join in this large association with Presbyterians or free will Baptists “for the sake of the gospel.” Rather, they came together from a likeminded theological position as articulated by the Philadelphia Confession.

Categories
Critical Theory Racism Reform SBC Author

Making a Statement: A Response to the New Statement on Justice, Repentance, and the SBC

I just read the new statement on Justice, Repentance, and the SBC (hereafter referred to as JRS) posted over at https://www.justicerepentancesbc.org on 12/18/2020. I’d like to offer several quick reactions.

Included in these reactions is also my reaction to J.D. Greear’s statement on the JRS statement. I guess you’re reading a statement on statements that are themselves responses to statements (like here and more recently here).

In this post-Thanksgiving 2020 season, we’ve been inundated with a cornucopia of statements. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

So, here are my initial reactions:

1. I’m not sure how many times the SBC can repent for its being founded on slavery. The JRS statement is proudly headlined with “PUBLISHED ON DECEMBER 18TH 2020, THE 155TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE PROCLAMATION OF THE THIRTEENTH AMENDMENT, ABOLISHING SLAVERY AND INVOLUNTARY SERVITUDE”

Which, to me, is in itself another statement. Praise God that slavery has been abolished in our country. But it is placed in the article in such a way as to show a union exists between the JRS and the 13th amendment that doesn’t exist between those who would oppose the JRS.

The SBC has repeatedly acknowledged its ugly, sin-laden history and repented of it. In fact, I challenge anyone to find one Southern Baptist who does not repudiate slavery.

The point, of course, is to label one’s position in such a way that to disagree with it is to disagree with the 13th amendment. As Captain Hook would say, “Bad form.”

2. The original statement is so laden with CRT categories like “power” and “influence” that it is either done in blatant ignorance or maliciously. I don’t understand how those writing this statement could not see this.

To say that those opposed to CRT are just concerned about losing power is to itself affirm the tenets of CRT even if people continue to deny holding to CRT!

3. To accuse brothers, like me, who rightly hate CRT of only caring about “winning” is the height of uncharitableness.

Faithful brothers and sisters who have given their lives to serving Christ are boiled down to simply only being concerned about “winning”. That’s a shameful move.

4. President Greear said “I, for one, remain committed to a posture of humility.” A statement on abasement I guess.

I have a few issues with that. First, J.D. could have exemplified this humility by stepping down as president and giving his position to a minority person. That is if he *actually* believed what he is writing. But it appears to me he does not. If he did, then why hasn’t he humbly stepped aside?

Secondly, why is pro CRT the “humble” position? This seems like virtue signaling to the max. Thirdly, we must be wary of the tactic over the years of moving away from certainty not with the word “doubt” but with the word “humility.” Note that I am not accusing J.D. of being sinister.

But I am saying this historically orthodoxy moves from certainty, to “humility”, to doubt, to rejection. This is not the type of humility we want to have.

Fourthly, and I am not the one who initially pointed this out, this statement reeks of the “Trumpism” so many rail against. It sounds like, “I’m the most humble person I know.” A leader who is humble doesn’t have to tell people how humble he is.

5. “Great Commission Baptists” is going to mean woke Baptists isn’t it? It’s going to mean that if you’re not woke, you don’t care about the Great Commission. This is sad.

6. The SBC presidents’ statement against CRT has stirred this up. Good. It needs to be stirred up.
We need the battle lines drawn so that Southern Baptists can clearly see what is going on and what is at stake here. I don’t agree with the JRS statement (as you have probably discerned) but I’m glad it now exists because it helps to identify that there are two diametrically opposed views here.

7. The issue remains over the sufficiency of Scripture. I don’t care how many times someone says they hold to the sufficiency of Scripture. If they employ CRT categories, they practically deny it (whether sinisterly intentional or just ignorantly).

8. Please pray for the SBC. Nashville is going to be telling toward our future. I remain committed to the Southern Baptist Convention because I refuse to hand over our institutions to a liberal trajectory and wokism. May God bring reformation.

Categories
Abortion Abuse Complementarianism Controversy Critical Race Theory Critical Theory Gender Homosexuality Intersectionality Methodology Racism SBC Author Scripture Social Justice

Will Southern Baptists practice biblical conservatism or acceptable progressivism? (Ronnie Floyd)

In this article from Ronnie Floyd’s Advancing the Vision series, Floyd writes, “The future is not in having cultural conversations apart from the Bible. This will always lead to division. Southern Baptist pastors, leaders, and churches need to be having biblical conversations about cultural matters.”

Categories
History

A History of “Hateful” (Anti-Islam and Anti-Judaism) Statements from Southern Baptists

This page summarizes an article about, “a series of conservative Baptist comments and actions over the last 20 years or so that have antagonized one group or another.”

Categories
Critical Race Theory Intersectionality Methodology Reform SBC Author Scripture Social Justice

The Southern Baptist Convention Should Be Led by Pastors (Tom Ascol)

In this post, Tom Ascol writes, “To put it bluntly, the Southern Baptist Convention needs to be led by pastors. Granted, there are some pastors who are eager to be enablers of or fellow travelers with wayward bureaucrats. I am not talking about those guys.”

Categories
Gender Homosexuality Intersectionality Politics SBC Author

Bostock Is as Bad as You Think (Andrew T. Walker)

In this article, Andrew T. Walker argues, “Democrats, with the wind at their backs, have little desire to defend religious freedom and are advancing a take-no-prisoners approach in their culture war victory.”

Categories
History Missions Pastoring SBC Author

Steve Gaines on Episode 35 of Pastor Well

Steve Gaines talks about pastoral ministry and preaching, the Southern Baptist Convention, and what it was like to follow Adrian Rogers.

Categories
Racism SBC Author Social Justice

“Vietnamese Baptist Church burns amid Philadelphia unrest” (Baptist Press)

According to this Baptist Press article, “SBC Executive Committee President and CEO Ronnie Floyd said he was ‘deeply saddened’ to learn of the burning.”