Bishop Al Mohler Strikes Again

Panel Discussion: Revisiting Inerrancy from Southern Seminary on Vimeo.


Baptists don’t have bishops, right?

That’s what I thought, having been reared in the related denomination of Congregationalism. Growing up, I was taught that we — congregationalists and baptists and others whose polity is considered “congregational” — were vehemently anti-hierarchical. Our tradition started because Henry VIII and the Anglicans had not differentiated themselves enough from Rome. We were, from our founding, anti-papist, anti-bishop.

In congregational polity, nothing is more sacred than individual hermeneutical authority. That is, every believe has the freedom to interpret the Bible, the freedom to follow the dictates of her or his conscience, the freedom to worship with fellow believers.

So it always surprises me when congregationalists or baptists act like bishops. In my book, The New Christians, I wrote,

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“Women In Ministry” – I’m Over It.

She seems quite happy to be in ministry.

Kudos for RHE running a week-long series on mutuality.

And to Scot McKnight for his repeated posts on this topic.

But seriously.

As I sat over my coffee this morning, reading the morning paper and smelling the garlic parmesan sourdough bread that I had in the oven, I thought about RHE’s series and wondered how I could write something that would help her convince “complementarians” to become “egalitarians.” And I’m completely stumped.

It is simply unfathomable to me that entire versions of Christianity today — be they Roman Catholic or Southern Baptist or Amish — restrict ministry to men. I grew up in a tradition that long had women preachers — beginning in 1853, with the first modern ordination of a woman, Antoinette Brown (I preached about that here, in my first (and likely my last) ordination sermon).

The fact is, as I preached in that sermon, God ordains, not man. The process of ordination is simply a human recognition of a divinely given charism. If God has ordained a woman to ministry and you deny or reject that ordination, woe betide you! For Jesus taught unequivocally that to blaspheme the work of the Holy Spirit is the unpardonable sin.

Let me interpret that verse for you: If the Holy Spirit has given the charism of preaching or teaching or pastoral care to a woman, and you deny the authority of that charism because of some head-in-your-ass biblical hermeneutic, you are committing an unforgivable sin.

Let me interpret it more pithily: The work of the Holy Spirit trumps your biblical interpretation.

Chew on that, Complementarians.


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