Last week the Southern Baptist Convention disfellowshipped (dismissed) Saddleback Church in Lake Forest California. The dismissal had been in the works for most of the year. In fact, over the course of the last year, the convention has been very active in dismissing churches for various reasons. To wrap your head around all of the activities the Southern Baptist Convention has been doing, I have compiled 5 takeaways.
1. The Southern Baptist Convention is taking 1 step forward and 2 steps back in its relationship with its women.
It’s not news that The Southern Baptist Convention has recently dealt with issues of sexual assault within the denomination. The Houston Chronicle broke the story a couple of years ago and exposed the extent of the abuse over the course of the last 40 years. It was more than just an embarrassment for the denomination it was an indictment of their theology and beliefs.
For those who think theology has no practical implications look no further than the issues with the Southern Baptist Convention. Their theology regarding women has served as the foundation for abuse within the denomination. This is not just sexual abuse, but spiritual abuse as well. Keeping women underneath the thumb of their brethren is a move of power carefully disguised as piety. If you are interested in the theological reasons why the New Testament does not limit the role of women in the Church and society see my article: Breaking Glass Steeples.
This dangerous theology will continue to cultivate predators within the Church. Furthermore, as long as churches that hold to this unbiblical doctrine continue to promote the unequal treatment of women within the Church and home they will continue to see abuse within their ranks.
2. Saddleback chose conviction over the denomination. If only other churches could follow their lead.
Regardless of your opinion of Rick Warren or his former church Saddleback, they have taken a positive step towards inclusion despite their denomination’s protest to the contrary. It was a bold move considering the Southern Baptist Convention is the largest evangelical denomination in the US. But, make no mistake, Saddleback is also a very powerful institution. Saddleback double-downed on the SBC’s threats to dismiss them. In fact, at the convention, Rick Warren spoke and proclaimed that we should not let secondary issues divide us. Apparently, the Southern Baptist Convention thinks the role of women in the Church and Society is not a secondary issue. That is the message their intolerance is communicating.
3. Saddleback was not the only church the Southern Baptist Convention dismissed.
Saddleback was 1 of 5 other churches that were dismissed. Towne View Baptist Church in Kennesaw, Ga., St. Matthews Baptist Church, Louisville, Ky. Antioch Baptist Church in Sevierville, Tenn., West Side Baptist Church in Sharpsville, Pa., and Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA.
Town View Baptist Church was dismissed due to their acceptance of a homosexual couple with children into their fellowship. Baptist News quotes Pastor Jim Conrad as saying,
“We see them as all of us, as children of God created in the image of God, and anyone who can profess Jesus as Lord should be welcomed into our church.”
St. Matthew Baptist Church was first dismissed by their regional convention in 2018. During that time former pastor Greg Barr stated to the Louisville Courier-Journal
“The Kentucky Baptist Convention had an opportunity to demonstrate to a divided nation that we do not have to agree on everything in order to love each other and partner together in carrying out the mission Jesus called us to. Unfortunately, the Convention chose a different course, our church believes that unity and difference of opinion can co-exist in the service of our Lord.”
Obviously, the Southern Baptist Convention disagrees.
4. There were also recommendations for the committee to dismiss 4 other churches for employing women pastors.
The executive committee approved a recommendation of dismissal for four churches in which a woman serves as a lead or senior pastor: New Faith Mission Ministry in Griffin, Georgia, Timothy’s Christian Baptist in Baltimore, Maryland, Calvary Baptist Church in Jackson, Tennessee and Fern Creek Baptist Church, Louisville, Kentucky.
As stated earlier, this is an exercise in futility as the Southern Baptist Convention seems to be taking one step forward and two steps back with every decision they make. There is little doubt that the seeds are being sown for more significant problems in the future.
5. Not all of the Southern Baptist Convention’s dismissals were bad.
Despite all of the negative press that the Southern Baptist Convention has been receiving, at least two of the churches that were dismissed were let go due to sexual misconduct. Antioch Baptist Church in Sevierville, Tenn., was dropped for employing a pastor who confessed to two counts of statutory rape of a 16-year-old girl. West Side Baptist Church in Sharpsville, Pa., was dismissed for employing as its pastor a registered sex offender who also committed indecent acts with a child.
It’s good to see that the convention is adhering to its new policies regarding sexual misconduct by kicking out those churches that refuse to adhere to their new policies.
The Southern Baptist Convention has been through a lot over the last few years. This is a turning point for them to begin reconsidering some of the decisions they have made regarding their theology. This is a point
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