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The Egalitarian Shift in the Committee on Committees

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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.

30 replies on “The Egalitarian Shift in the Committee on Committees”

Thank you for bringing this to the forefront. Unfortunately, I’m not surprised. As I read many blogs and news sights that write to this issue it has become obvious that this festering sore is about to burst open.

Is there a link you can provide with the names of the members on the committee? I’d like to know who specifically is on it.

Thanks for the link. I was upset to see that my state, TN, I one of those represented by two women. I was even more surprised to see both of the women came from our local association. Do DOM,s from local associations make recommendations for this committee? Seems odd the both cam from us and we have a brand new DOM.

I was thinking about your title, “An Egalitarian Shift…”
On that other site I frequent, there were several SBC pastors who seemed to think the SBC is undergoing a “doctrinal shift.” They used that term as a positive rather than negative. Do you believe the SBC is in the process of changing course doctrinally? It truly seems we’re seeing some kind of incrementalism going on here to me, a chipping away at the issue such as having a majority of women on commuters… until we accept women in the pulpit. Is our doctrinal position shifting along with our committee structures?

Trying to reply for your response to my assertions …

Hello, friend. I appreciate your reply. Yes, not sure why the “reply” thing is off. Not your fault.
My response here is friendly from one fellow Christian to another brother in Christ.
No, my translation of the Greek is perfect. What makes you think the context here is the church? We’re in 1 Timothy:
Look at 2:1-2 – “I urge that requests, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made in behalf of all people, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.”
Paul’s telling people to pray for those in authority OUTSIDE THE CHURCH so they will live the quiet life. Paul’s concern is that the pagan authorities will do something that will lead to an untranquil life for the Christian community in Ephesus (check out Acts 19 for what might happen again).
2:8 – “Therefore I want the men in every PLACE to pray.” What places?
5:13 – the young widows are going from “house to house.”
So, these examples only show that Paul can reference issues outside the church, ESPECIALLY if it meant the safety of the church from outside authorities (again see Acts 19. Both that chapter and the two letters to Timothy are about events in Ephesus).
BUT … even if these events were only referring to inside the local church, that in no way means that Paul cannot refer to marriage and issues between spouses. Look at 1 Corinthians! I know you know that the phrase “Pastorals” was added on much later. Even so, pastoring involves much more than what goes on INSIDE the local church building.
There is no evidence that Paul is referring to men and women inside the church service in this passage. None. Verses 13-14 doesn’t say that or imply it. Adam and Eve were spouses. If anything, the reference to “childbirth” should give it away that he’s referring to a married couple.
Important: Why do you believe that “man was created first before woman and woman was first deceived” means what you think it means?
The “order of creation” as the phrase is understood only appears twice in the bible, and in one of those times, Paul explains that husband and wife (or men and women, if you prefer) both originate from the other, implying the origins are mutual (1 Cor 11:11-12).
Again, my translation is in no way flawed, and you haven’t noted anything that suggests otherwise. If you have some verse or argument that proves me wrong, please let me know. Honestly, I’d prefer to be proved wrong than not.
Again, I appreciate your understanding in this. It’s great that we’re both wrestling with this issue. I believe God uses it.

Paul’s telling Timothy to lead the church to pray for those outside the church such as governmental rulers so that the church can operate in peace. Is not the”Christian community” you speak of the church in Ephesus? Paul’s speaking in context of how the people if the church interact with each other.
You’re argument with me here is pointless. I’ve often said there’s no point in continuing to argue with people who have made up their mind. My mind, heart, and soul are unbending on this issue. So is yours. Nothing I say here will change your mind and nothing you say will change mine. I’m done.

Yes, you are correct I think on why Paul is telling the church to pray so they will be in peace. Paul would know; look what happened to him in Ephesus in Acts 19.
If I may, my argument here is perfect. It is Scriptural and historical. It takes the Greek words as they mean. And you cannot refute any of it with any evidence whatsoever. Here’s why you can’t: 1) you haven’t studied this subject enough. Now that’s completely fine. We ALL have to start somewhere. And we can’t ALL be as thoroughly knowledgeable on EVERY subject in the Bible. If this subject does interest you, please keep studying. I can recommend books that support egalitarianism AND books that supports complementarianism. 2) The second reason you can’t refute my position is that you’ve never heard such arguments to the contrary. I know that, because I used to be where you are. No one ever told me that there were biblical egalitarians who believed the bible is inerrant and were making Scriptural arguments for why men and women were equal and why women can be pastors. But when I finally learned those arguments, the Scriptures opened for me and I saw what God was really saying. And it’s powerful!
I hope this helps, friend.

Responding to your point: I appreciate your help. What do you think the translators are right? Not to brag, truly, but my Greek is better than most people’s, including most committees of translators.

Yes, I believe the translators are right and I believe your translation is incorrect.
For the record, I was a member of the UMC until I was in my late 30s. I was exposed for many years to the error you’re projecting before coming to the realization that it was wrong. It’s not my intent to anger you though I know why I’m about to say will, but I truly believe with all my heart and soul that anyone who pushes egalitarianism is at best I error and at worst a false teacher and an enemy of God.
I got kicked off another site for stating my intolerance for what you’re teaching. I’m hopeful I’ll be allowed to speak my heart here.

I’m sure you will be allowed to speak your heart.
No, no, your concern doesn’t anger me in any way. I appreciate that it was heartfelt.
From my own stance, I’m a conservative evangelical. I believe in the inerrancy of Scripture. I was complementarian before I went to a complementarian seminary. I learned hermeneutics from complementarians, but my studies of Scripture have absolutely convinced me that egalitarianism is the best reading of inerrant Scripture and is God’s will.
I’ve noted a little bit of my take on 1 Tim 2:12-15. Here’s a brief synopsis of my observations of Scripture.
Gen 3:16 – the subjugation of women is a result of the Fall.
Women can be …
Prophets – Exod 15:20; Judges 4:4; 2 Kings 22:14; Isa 8:3; Luke 2:6; Acts 21:9; 1 Cor 11:5
Judges – Judges 4:4
Apostles – Rom 16:7
Co-workers of apostles – Rom 16:3
Deacons – Rom 16:1; 1 Tim 3:11
Pastors – 2 John 1:1; 1 Tim 5:2 (compare presbuteros in 1 Tim 4:14; 5:1-2, 17, 19).
Teachers – Acts 18:26
Women can exposit or explain Scripture – 2 Kings 22:16-19
God can speak his Word thru women – 2 Kings 22:15
Secular and religious authorities can seek a woman’s political & religious counsel – Judges 4:6-7; 2 Kings 22:13-14
Men can seek a woman’s judgment – Judges 4:5
She can pray or prophecy in church (i.e., speak): 1 Cor 11:5
Women could even write Scripture (i.e., the Word of God) – Luke 1:46
Again, small sample. I could show you how Paul applies Joel 2:28-29 in his letters to advocate for equality among men and women.
I could show you how the subjugation of woman in the Fall of humanity in Gen 3 is played out thru the book of Genesis (chps. 4, 6, 18-19, among many) and even the Judges 19.
Conservative evangelical scholars of the New Testament and Old Testament know all this, and they write all this in their books and articles. The only places they do not are those few spheres of traditional evangelicalism where if you do point all this out, you lose your job.
Historically …
The early Church Fathers (100 AD to 400 AD) believed women were ontologically inferior to men, meaning that they were inferior in their being, which is why they were to be subordinate to men. That view held until the 19th and 20th centuries. Egalitarian Christians pointed out Scriptural teachings on humans (including women!) were made in the image of God. They pointed out “love they neighbor as self”, divine impartiality, “priesthood of all believers”, and the fulfillment of Joel 2:28 in the New Testament Church. Traditional Christians had to admit that patriarchy had been more-or-less wrong in believing women were ontologically inferior, but that admission eliminated the basis for female subjugation. It was George Knight III who invented complementarianism in 1977 with the book New Testament Teaching on the Role Relationship of Men and Women. He accepted the egalitarian point that women and men were equal in being but added that women were nevertheless subject to men as their “role.” This was a completely new idea that no one had thought of before. His idea picked up steam in the late 1980s and early 1990s, being codified in church laws thereafter. Again, it is an idea newer than egalitarianism!
The idea of an “Order of Creation” in terms of hierarchy based on chronology is a new idea. No one considered it until recently. Even the early Church Fathers who believed women were inferior to men, still believed that female subjugation was a result of the Fall!
And don’t get me started the Eternal Subordination of the Son (ESS) debacle!
So, my position is thoroughly grounded in Scripture and in history. However, my primary interest is the gospel. I want the Church to help eliminate patriarchy because it is a curse upon God’s good creation (Gen 3:16). I want to see the Church’s pool of potential pastors, leaders, and preachers doubled because women are no longer prohibited from doing God’s will.
I hope this helps. Again, I’m not angry at you or anyone else. We all inherit some false views of the bible and faith, but we just have to work with study and prayer to eliminate false doctrines.

Nicolas,
Please get your foot out of my door. I’m not buying what you’re selling. I’m well read and we’ll studied in the complimentarianism vs. egalitarianism. I’m a 59 year old pastor with multiple degrees and I’m not at all interested in playing the old academic pedigree game with you.
I could write a book on the subject. But I have a church to shepherd and time is too precious to spend entertaining your errant ideas.
I believe you are deceived and I believe you are deceiving others. And your deception does anger me.
I’ve heard all the arguments you’ve presented here before. I wasn’t impressed by them then and I’m even less impressed with them now.
And we certainly have different views on what it means to be a “conservative evangelical.”
Now if you’re interested, I ran across a fantastic article over at Founders.org explaining why women can’t be pastors or lead in the church. You’d do well to jump over there and read it.

Nothing you noted in this article conflicts with either the bible or the BFM2000. And you know that. Women have served on SBC committees for decades. Is just because the number is 57%? What is the acceptable percentage? You won’t answer that, and we both know why. But if you did give a percentage, I would’ve asked you why that particular percentage, and you couldn’t answer.

It’s like when CRT-supporters complain that the percentage of minorities on a committee or trustee board is too low. You have the same mindset as them, just on another issue.

Tokenism! What vile libel! Prove it! Otherwise, you go talk to God about your behavior, you get your family and friends to pray for you so you can gain some spiritual maturity. And some biblical knowlege.

Hey Nicholas, thanks for reading.

I did cite the BFM 2000 to show that Southern Baptists believe leadership in the home and in the church ought to be carried out by godly men. It’s, frankly, cowardly, foolish, and a rejection of God’s good design, to push women into the leadership positions men are called to.

For a position such as the Committee on Committees I do not have a particular percentage in mind so I don’t understand the “We both know why” comment.

In regards to tokenism, I thought I’d share my wife’s observation and I am grateful for her bringing it to my attention. Thanks again for reading and interacting.

Thank you for your reply. So you agree with me that you said offered nothing to suggest having women on the committees (neither church nor home) is wrong? Good. You not having particular percentage in mind is what we both knew. Given that there have been women on SBC committees for decades, you’re saying there is an egalitarian shift on committees based on an increase in the percentage. So what percentage is acceptable to indicate their is not egalitarian shift? If you say that percentage is 0% then the egalitarian shift happened decades ago during and furthered by the Conservative Resurgence. If more than zero but less 57%, what number would have not concerned you? 10%? 25%? Yes, I know you don’t have a percentage in mind; that’s the point. You don’t seem to have any grasp of the issue whatsoever, which would be fine if it weren’t for the vile comment about tokenism. You shared it the comment. You endorsed it. I’m pointing at you. It was a baseless, unchristlike slur. It assumes 1) that the women appointed cannot do the job, and 2) that the people who appointed them know it and put them on anyway just because they’re women. Is that what you are saying?

I guess we didn’t read the same article. I never said women “can’t do the job”. I explicitly mentioned that actually. This is about God’s design for leadership.

If you’re not SBC, why are you commenting?

So you’re saying then this isn’t tokenism? That women can do the job and the people who appointed them know they can do the job? Correct your article.

Your conception about God’s design for leadership is contrary to the Bible, contrary to the BFM2000, and contrary to decades of faith and practice within the SBC by even the Conservative Resurgent leaders and framers of the BFM2000. I am SBC. The question is why are you SBC when you are against what it stands for?

Take out the tokenism comment.

Here are the women who served on the committees to make the BFM2000 and the 1998 amendment on the Family: Susie Hawkins; Heather King; Rudy A. Hernandez; Rudy A. Hernandez; Mary Mohler

That’s 4 too many, unless there were two women named Rudy A Hernandez. In that case 5 too many.

Yes, four. I go by Scripture and there is nothing in the bible that prohibits these four women from doing this. I understand where you’re coming from, but Scripture should be our standard.

I’m curious as to what Scriptural example you can present of any democratic committee made up of mix gender ever making decisions for the church?

There are none.

And even if there were 1 Tim. 2:12-14 would bar a woman from chairing that committee as she would in effect have authority over men.

I think you’re responding to me (?).
The point is that there is nothing in Scripture that prevents women from serving in such positions, and the SBC has permitted it for decades, including all during and after the Conservative Resurgence.
To your second assertion, 1 Timothy 2:12-14 in no way prohibits women from serving on such committees. Let’s take a look.
“I do not permit woman/wife (gynē) from to teach or domineer (authenteō) man/husband (anēr).”
The word gynē can mean either “women” or “wife” and anēr can mean either “man” or “husband”. So is Paul talking about a married couple or general man and woman. Well, Adam and Eve were husband and wife, and Paul notes childbirth in verse 15. Could be a married a couple. Note this: In verse 8, Paul uses the plural men, and in verses 9-10 he uses the plural women. BUT … in verses 11-12, he suddenly begins to speak in the singular (woman and man). Look at verse 15: “but she will be preserved (σωθήσεται [singular woman, NOT plural women) thru childbirth is they [plural] continue in faith.”
In verse 11, Paul begins to speak about one specific woman and one specific man. A married couple, husband and wife. She is teaching and domineering her husband. SHE (the wife) will be preserved thru childbirth if THEY (the husband and the wife) continue in the faith.
1 Timothy 2:12-14 concerns a husband and wife. It in no way prohibits women from serving on committees. I hope that helps, friend.

Nicolas,
Yes, I’m replying to you. I’m not sure why I don’t see a “reply” botton on my phone under your name, so I have to do it this way. Unfortunately your translation of the Greek is faulty. The Greek “an-ayr’ is the word translated “man” and “goo-nay” is translated “woman” there in most Bibles. Yes, those words can be translated “husband” and “wife.” Since the context of Paul’s Pastoral epistle to Timothy is the church and not marriage the better translations here are “man” and “woman.”
The command here is that in the church women cannot teach men or have authority over them.
Verses 13 and 14 simply tell us why this is the case. Man was created first before woman and woman was first deceived.
Surely you can understand that Paul’s letter to Timothy was written to givr him instructions regarding the church rather than marriage? You’re taking the verses completely out of context and that’s leading you to a flawed translation.

I’ve heard the “husband” “wife” instead of “man” “woman” argument many times. And that bucket never holds water. Every reputable Bible translates those verses “man” and “woman” and I’ll wager those translators were much more skilled in Greek usage than you or I.
Hope that returns the favor.

If we are only going by what’s not explicitly prohibited in Scripture, then we’re really going to get between a rock and a hard place. But, it looks like we’re already there.

If we’re going by the precedent outlined in Scripture, then men being called to lead in a local church body should absolutely carry over into any denominational leadership. That would be consistent with Scripture. Anything less would be inconsistent than the design for leadership that God Himself has called us to.

Odd. I am sometimes unable to reply to comments directed at me. Website function; not the fault of the content provider here. Look, those who differ from me on this issue, you are all good Christians, and I highly respect you all. We are all serving Christ here. We all proclaim the gospel, work for the Kingdom of God. We all get things right and get things wrong. God works thru our positives and our negatives. Sometimes I think we Christians only move forward in our mission because the Holy Spirit sticks his foot out so we *trip* in the right direction. We agree with each other, we disagree … I’m just thankful that we are all engaged in God’s work. And God wins! That should make us optimistic about the future, both long range and short range. If you believe I am wrong in my views on this matter are wrong (and if you are right), pray that God opens my eyes. I shall do the same for you. One day, when the Spirit resurrects us from death into New Creation, we can all get together, laugh, and joyfully kid whoever was wrong. You guys are great. I’m more than ready to keep discussing the matter because it’s important to me. Administrator, I know you mean well; it’s fine to disagree and critique, but please remove the “tokenism” comment. I apologize for being too sharp with you on the subject. God convicted me on it. It rubbed me the wrong way, but my response was my fault, certainly not yours. Keep going with your ministry here. You are appreciated.

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