Recently Saddleback Church was expelled from the SBC for employing a woman pastor within their ranks. The man himself, Rick Warren even came out of retirement to attend the SBC conference in order to debate the Pharisee’s leaders of the SBC about their archaic practices. It’s not entirely clear if Warren thought he would actually change their mind or if he just wanted the last word on the matter. Regardless, he did his best trying to make the case.
Saddleback was not the only church that was ousted from the denomination several other churches were either ousted or left the denomination for various reasons, some of which had to do with the issue of women pastors.
If you are interested in reading more about my argument for why women should be allowed unrestricted access to the pulpit read my article “Breaking Glass Steeples”
Why won’t the SBC Change their Opinion?
The SBC’s unwavering stance can be attributed to three key reasons. Firstly, their decision to part ways with Saddleback, the second-largest church within their denomination, underscores their steadfast commitment to their theological perspective. By relinquishing such a prominent institution, the SBC demonstrates its resolute dedication to its specific beliefs. This deliberate action indicates that they are fully invested in maintaining their position for the foreseeable future. Notably, the voting outcome regarding Saddleback’s expulsion was overwhelmingly in favor, with a remarkable 89% of representatives casting their votes against the church. This decisive majority further reinforces the SBC’s unwavering stance.
Secondly, a significant consideration arises if the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) were to alter its stance on the matter of women in ministry. Such a modification would necessitate acknowledging the failure of previous years during which women were not permitted to fulfill their divinely ordained calling. This admission carries immense weight for a denomination that places great emphasis on its theological convictions.
This second reason creates an additional problem. It directly violates the SBC’s theological position on the absolutism of truth. If they were to capitulate on this issue, then their other social and controversial issues are up for grabs as well. They neither have the mental acumen nor the fortitude to address such a complex problem.
Finally, after the SBC took the vote to expel Saddleback and the other churches they voted on a more restrictive measure that would expand on their current position of women serving in Church ministry. The SBC amended their position to include any type of church leadership including the position of elder.
Mike Law the pastor who proposed the amendment stated: “Now is not the time for half measures or delay.” He went on to argue that those who oppose this measure are afraid of Scripture and what it demands of them. The new measure will threaten nearly 2,000 more churches within the SBC of being expelled from the denomination next year. This will include a significant amount of African American churches.
During a floor debate, Sarah Clatworthy, a church administrator (I think that means church secretary) argued that the “convention should shut the door to ‘feminism.’” Apparently, Mrs. Clatworthy didn’t get the memo that as a woman she has no authority to assert her opinion in a meeting of men. Nevertheless, it is comments like hers that demonstrate how much political ideologies are affecting the SBC’s theology. For an organization that stresses the importance of theology over culture – especially when it comes to issues of social importance they certainly seem okay with compromising when it comes to political ideologies.
I believe that there are some, perhaps many, within the SBC who are attempting to reestablish a white Christian nationalist agenda. As Warren stated to the SBC “Some people want to take it back to the 1950s — that is their golden age for the church, the 1950s, when basically white men rule supreme, and the woman’s place is in the home, and there is not a lot of diversity.” This certainly seems to be the case.
The vitriol possessed by people like this will no doubt influence weak-minded Christians and force their hand to make decisions for the denomination that moves them farther away from the will of God.
Some Final Thoughts
I leave you with a brief story. My 14-year-old daughter recently came to me and said she no longer wants to call herself a Christian. The reason had nothing to do with any shame she has about God. It had nothing to do with shame about Jesus. And it had nothing to do with her desire for worldly things. Instead, she is ashamed to call herself a Christian because of how so many so-called Christians behave in this world. She doesn’t want her gay friends to think she has some secret hostility towards them. She doesn’t want her transgender friends to think she hates them.
Why do her friends think this way? Why does she think this way? Because the children of fundamentalists parrot the intolerance of their parents and as a result provide a terrible example of what it means to be a Christian, which her friends see every day in school. Even though my daughter is only 14, the decisions of denominations like the SBC affect everyone. Theology is not abstract, it has real-world consequences. This is the same problem the Pharisees had. They too did not understand the relationship between head and heart; between knowledge and action. Despite the fact that my daughter is only 14 she understands something that these highly educated leaders of the SBC don’t get.
Sometimes the truth is right there for us to see. The SBC is like Pilate who standing in the midst of truth asked Jesus, “What is truth?” So too, these leaders stand in the midst of truth but they lack the humility to admit their error and move forward into the light of Christ. This is why, they won’t change their stance.
You can purchase the book UNenlightenment HERE.