Categories
Gender Reform SBC Author Scripture

The Egalitarian Shift in the Committee on Committees

 

It’s totally a Baptist thing to have a committee on committees, isn’t it? But for those who do not know, this committee is one of the most important (if not the most important) committees that exists within the Southern Baptist Convention. Baptist Press correctly articulates the situation:  

“The Committee on Committees, with two members from each of the 34 states and regions qualified for representation, has the responsibility to appoint the Committee on Nominations. The Committee on Nominations has far-reaching influence on Southern Baptist life. They recommend the trustees of our 11 convention entities and our Executive Committee to the Southern Baptist Convention.”

A key to a healthy convention is God fearing trustees since they are responsible to watch over our entities on behalf of the 47,000 churches of the SBC. These trustees receive their appointment through the Committee on Nominations. Therefore, you want to have a solid Committee on Nominations in order to ensure solid trustee nominations. This brings us back to the Committee on Committees – this committee needs to be strong since it is charged with appointing who will sit on the Committee on Nominations.

The 2021 Situation

In mid-April of 2021 SBC President, J.D. Greear, named the 68 members of the Committee on Committees. By the way, this is one of the reasons electing a strong conservative SBC President in 2021 is so important since they are the ones who name the persons on the Committee on Committees.

What is the makeup of Greear’s Committee on Committees? Well, there’s quite a bit of makeup actually. It is chaired by Meredith Cook, a member of Neartown Church in Houston, Texas. Along with Mrs. Cook there are an additional 38 women sitting on the committee bringing the total to 39 out of 68 members (57%) being female (source).

Thus, out of the 34 states/regions that comprise the Committee on Committees there were multiple areas that J.D. decided needed no male leadership at all.  

What’s the Problem?

In a Q&A session (that was definitely not sponsored by SWBTS and NAMB) with Dr. Ed Litton on April 29, 2021 I had the opportunity to ask if he thought there was any issue with this committee being a majority (57%) female committee. Several pastors in the room laughed at me and shouted “No!” Dr. Litton smiled at the support in the room and answered (though in a kinder way) along with them, “No.”

As you have probably already figured out, the point of this post is to show why a majority women Committee on Committees in the Southern Baptist Convention is an issue. Here are a few reasons why:

  1.       It Reeks of Tokenism

My wife is the one who brought this point to my attention. She said that she finds it offensive that so many women are on the Committee on Committees simply because they are women. It seems as though J.D. wanted to make a point and it certainly has been made!

  1.       It’s Catering to the Culture

This move seems to be another example of the Southern Baptist Convention seeking to make peace with a godless culture. It is extremely countercultural in our day to preach and live out strong biblical complementarianism in our homes and churches. This seems to be another move whereby we can shout at the culture to look how non-complementarian we are.

Let me quickly mention in response to these first two points that I’ve grown quite weary of leadership in the SBC not exalting the roles of women that we have in Scripture as important and meaningful to our convention. That is, why are women only seen as “empowered” if they serve on a certain committee? Why do we not value the role of a wife and mother in the home, submitting to her husband, nurturing her children, and being a godly member of her local church? Why are we so bent on making women preach or serve in this or that area of leadership as the only real meaningful contributions they can give? 

  1.       It is an Egalitarian Slide

Here is where I will spend most of the blog post. Egalitarianism “holds that women and men properly have equal and interchangeable roles in the home, church, and wider society.”[1] That is, an egalitarian would hold that it doesn’t matter who preaches, pastors, leads the home, etc. in terms of gender. Both men and women are qualified to hold whatever position in the home, church, or society.

Complementarianism, on the other hand, says “that God created man and woman equal in value and personhood, and equal in bearing His image, but that both creation and redemption indicate some distinct roles for men and women in marriage and in the church.”[2]

Unequivocally, the Southern Baptist Convention is a complementarian convention of churches – at least on paper. What paper? Well, the Baptist Faith and Message says this, for example,

“The husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in God’s image. The marriage relationship models the way God relates to His people. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family. A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation” (BFM 2000, XVIII).

So, what does all of this have to do with the Committee on Committees? Quite a lot actually. But first let me say this: I am not arguing for or against in this post whether a woman ought to serve on a committee. That’s not the purpose of this writing. The purpose of this writing is to ask whether or not the most important committee in the Southern Baptist Convention ought to have a majority of its seats held by women.

We have already affirmed in the BFM 2000 that we believe that men ought to lead in the home. We also state that men ought to lead in the church as the office of pastor is only for qualified men (see BFM 2000, VI.). Yet, when it comes to this committee, Southern Baptists are affirming an egalitarian position – that is, the role of leadership here is interchangeable.

A Moment of Crisis

No matter which “side” someone is on in the current SBC debates I think most would agree we are in a moment of crisis. Some might say the “crisis” is people saying there is a crisis! But that would still be a form of crisis.

And here is the point I am making: How can we think it is a good idea – a God ordained idea – that in a moment of crisis in the Southern Baptist Convention, we ought to have our most important committee led by women? Shouldn’t men be leading in all times, but especially during a moment of crisis?

Yes, before you ask, I have read the book of Judges and am familiar with Deborah. I am also familiar with the context of the book and that we do not want to get to a point in Southern Baptist life whereby we are in need of a Deborah to lead us.

The Value of Godly Women

I don’t think this point needs to be made but I’m going to make it anyway. Women in the Southern Baptist Convention are unquestionably valuable. Our churches and our convention would not be where they are today without godly women. This is incontrovertible.

Why then am I saying it’s not a good idea for our most important committee to be led by women? Because God’s very good and holy design in the home, church, and society at large is for men to take up the mantle of leadership. This is not to wonder whether or not a woman is able to select a good candidate for the Committee on Nominations. It’s rather to say that God has not created men to put their wives in that situation.

And I’ll close with this: The Committee on Committees situation is another example where we are losing the battle for the sufficiency of Scripture in the SBC. If we believe the Bible is sufficient to teach us gender roles, then why are we not making proper application on the Committee on Committees? Why do we believe, as the BFM states, that men are designed for leadership in the home and the church, but that the Committee on Committees is an exception?

Some have stated this is about “power” or “control.” The reality is this is true. This is about power. It is about the power and sufficiency of God’s Word. And it is about control. Will we allow this authoritative and sufficient Word to control our convention or will the cultural winds change our course? Do we trust God’s very good design or not?

 

 

 

 

[1] Major Contributors and Editors, “Egalitarianism,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).

[2] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, p. 16.

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
Gender Scripture

The Strange Phenomenon of Women Pastors in the SBC with Nate Schlomann

On this episode of the new CR:V Podcast contributor Nate Schlomann sits down with Jeff Wright to talk about the presence of women pastors in SBC churches.

Reminder: Article V of The Baptist Faith & Message 2000 reads, in part:

“[The church’s] scriptural officers are pastors and deacons. While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture” (relevant point emphasized).

Find it on Apple Podcasts or by clicking here.

Categories
Abuse Critical Race Theory Critical Theory History Homosexuality Intersectionality Methodology Missions New Liberalism Racism SBC Author Scripture Social Justice

Does the SBC Need Another Conservative Resurgence (and Podcast)? with Chris Bolt

On this maiden voyage of the new CR:V Podcast site founder Chris Bolt sets down with Jeff Wright to talk about the doctrinal state of the Southern Baptist Convention, whether or not she needs another Conservative Resurgence, and what this new podcast is all about, anyway.

Find it on Apple Podcasts or by clicking here.

Categories
Abuse Scripture

Women Preachers in the Southern Baptist Convention: Egalitarian Thought (Part 3)

Egalitarians base their argument for indifference with respect to gender in society, the home, and the pulpit on the idea that men and women are created equally. This post series has argued that when it comes to creation order and its implication for ‘gender roles’ in the church, Southern Baptists do not all differ from the world or from egalitarians. Recent rhetoric regarding women teaching, and even preaching, to men in the SBC, is of some concern. It seems like everywhere we turn, we find ourselves covered up in egalitarian patterns of thought.

Categories
Abuse Gender Intersectionality Racism Scripture

Women Preachers in the Southern Baptist Convention: But Wait, There’s Moore (Part 2)

In his 2006 article, “After Patriarchy, What? Why Egalitarians are Winning the Gender Debate” (Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, vol. 49, no. 3, September 2006, pp. 569–76), Russell D. Moore describes how, “Egalitarians are winning the evangelical gender debate, not because their arguments are stronger, but because, in some sense, we are all egalitarians now.” (576) The current state of the SBC is even worse than Moore predicted. In fact, Moore seems to have not only given up on resisting what he calls a feminist movement, but may have contributed to it.

Categories
Abuse Critical Theory Gender Scripture

Women Preachers in the Southern Baptist Convention: We Should Be Worried (Part 1)

There’s a common misconception going around in some circles that anyone who professes Christ yet believes women can be called to the pastorate or preach to men cannot be a true Christian. This is demonstrably untrue. When people believe that women can be preachers called by God it doesn’t necessarily mean those people aren’t Christian, it just means they’re wrong.

But what do the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention think? Southern Baptists reached an agreement about this issue a long time ago and they believe it’s not only theologically incorrect to have women preach, but sinful for women to take up the role of preaching as it goes against explicit commands given in God’s word. This is why women preaching in the Southern Baptist Convention is such an obviously divisive issue.

Categories
Gender

Jen Wilkin on What Pastors Need to Know about Women: Comments and Caution (Part 2)

In this second part of my critique of Jen Wilkin’s talk given at the Acts29 Regional Conference, I will focus on the feminist agenda behind much of Wilkin’s words. Wilkin starts off by listing:

“What do we need from women as a church?”

  1. We need women’s unique perspective.
  2. We need women’s relational capital.
  3. We need women in visible leadership. (Here Wilkin qualifies her statement to say as visible as your church’s complementarianism will allow.)

I’m not going to cover the first two points of this question because I think it’s fairly obvious that what Wilkin has to say about women in these is not only true, but helpful. We do need female perspective in the Church and we do very much need their relational capital. Women tend to have very special relational skills which are evident if you’ve spent any amount of time around groups of women. Instead, I’m going to focus on her third and most hyperbolic statement so far.

Categories
Abuse Gender Non-SBC

A Simple Question for Complementarians (Joe Rigney)

In this post, non-SBC author Joe Rigney writes, “in our egalitarian age, I can imagine significantly more churches that are eager to preach Christ-like headship, and tiptoe around Sarah-like submission.”

Categories
Abuse Racism SBC Author Scripture

Movie Night: The State of the SBC | 9Marks at 9 | #SBC19

“A round table with Mark Dever, Danny Akin, R. Albert Mohler Jr., and H.B. Charles. The 9Marks at 9 event ‘The State of the SBC’ took place at the Southern Baptist Convention in Birmingham, Alabama. June 2019.”

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ookrCXijtzI&w=560&h=315]