You may or may not have heard that Dr. Al Mohler stirred up the interwebs today by talking about Women Pastors, Women Preachers, and the Looming Test of the Southern Baptist Convention.
The gist of Mohler’s argument is that the Southern Baptist Convention has already fought and won the battle over complementarianism in the SBC and that the office and function of pastor, including preaching, is reserved for qualified men. In essence, it is not a Southern Baptist position to have a woman preach to men and women or to hold the office of pastor – even if that office is something other than “lead pastor.”
And of course, some have already come out saying that “there is no looming storm” (I’d rather not link to the article honestly). One of the arguments there is this:
“All our seminary faculty have publicly affirmed the BF&M. If anyone can clearly demonstrate where one of our seminary faculty members is teaching contrary to the BF&M, I will join you in calling for their removal.”
To which I say, “So what?” I don’t mean to imply that what our seminary faculty members hold to and teach is not important. Of course, it is important – so important it’s worth going to battle over at times. But what I am saying is, the Southern Baptist Convention is not a convention of Seminary Faculty. It is a convention of churches.
Seminary professors can say this or that, but to fully and accurately assess the health of the SBC you cannot ignore the local church. We are a convention of local churches.
It’s interesting that this is the second time in less than two weeks I’ve heard such an argument. I heard Ed Litton publicly say at an Arkansas meeting of pastors that “CRT is not a problem in the SBC.” He went on to say publicly that the idea of “CRT in the SBC is a conspiracy theory.” What I believe he meant was that CRT is not being advocated in our entities (which I certainly disagree with). But the point for this post is that Ed seems to think the health of our convention can be measured without looking at local churches.
What is the SBC?
On May 5th Adam Greenway tweeted some important questions for SBC 2021. One of the questions he said we need to clarify in Nashville is, “What is a Southern Baptist?” I won’t answer that fully here, but I cannot stress this enough: Without local churches, you do not have the Southern Baptist Convention.
The literal heartbeat of the SBC is the local church. Don’t be suckered into thinking that just because our seminaries sign off on the Baptist Faith and Message (2000) that there is no problem with egalitarianism (and CRT, btw) in the SBC.
All the seminary professors (and entity heads) involved in the SBC can affirm the BF&M. But if you have local churches ordaining female pastors and allowing women to preach to a mixed congregation, then there most certainly is a storm looming that must be resolved in Nashville.
Egalitarianism is an issue in our churches. It has been for years actually. And the only reason it’s not more widely recognized is because people want to play word games with complementarianism. One blog post actually said, “I don’t know any actively involved Southern Baptists who would consider themselves an egalitarian.” Well of course! Because the BF&M 2000 flat out denies egalitarianism if taken with any grain of sincerity. So, almost no one who loves being part of the SBC is going to openly say, “I’m an egalitarian!”
But what they are going to do are things like this:
- Ordain women pastors, or
- Let women preach to men and women, or
- Be okay with a majority woman Committee on Committees, etc
These are examples of functional egalitarianism within the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention. And since the SBC is a convention of churches, don’t tell me there is no looming storm. Don’t tell me there is no denial of the sufficiency of Scripture in the SBC. Don’t tell me there is no moderate drift. On the issue of complementarianism, there are two Southern Baptist Conventions and it is time for us to decide the direction we will go and whether or not we will be faithful to our Lord or not.
Take the Ship
Since the churches that comprise the Southern Baptist Convention are what make the convention, as they go, so sails the SBC Ship. Some have seen the course we’ve charted and have jumped ship. Some are ready to do so even now. It’s hard to blame them. Others deny we’ve even drifted off course.
But in Nashville, we have the opportunity not to deny the drift or jump overboard, but to take the ship. Come to Nashville. Don’t let your grandchildren or great-grandchildren visit the “battlefield” one day in a hundred years and talk about how important a stand conservative Christians took, looking to find your name on the memorial, only to not see it there.
Come and stand with us. There are hills worth dying on.
Take the ship.