Thursday, August 16, 2007

The SBC and Women Pastors

I came across a news item today regarding the historic First Baptist Church of Decatur, Georgia calling Julie Pennington-Russell as its senior pastor. FBC Decatur, while leaning towards the liberal Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, still has ties with the Southern Baptist Convention.

The article from was headlined “Former SBC president reacts to Georgia church that called female as senior pastor”. Interestingly, that was none other than Paige Patterson. With a couple of clicks on the internet, I found this information and this controversy was a couple of months old. First Baptist voted June 17 and Dr. Al Mohler had blogged about this on June 5. It leaves me with a couple of impressions.

I fear the SBC has gotten a bit too acclimated to some perverse practices of theology. A woman serving as an overseer of Christ’s church is strictly forbidden in Scripture. 1 Timothy 3:1ff couldn’t be more clear that Christ vests the spiritual authority and care of His church in men.

This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

We should be coming out of our seats, ready to give firm, loving discipline to a church that so clearly errs in obeying the Bible. Yet, this action seems to have gotten barely a yawn from our denomination. I believe if one of our churches just hired a homosexual pastor as some apostate denominations are doing, we’d have a virtual riot on our hands. Yet, this repugnant rebellion against the Sacred Record receives almost universal silence. Why?

First, we’ve become accustomed to receiving money from liberal, CBF churches. The reasoning would go something like this. Even though First Baptist, Decatur has a past history with the Southern Baptist Convention, and even though they contributes money to the Southern Baptist Convention’s Cooperative Program and thereby qualify to be defined as “a Southern Baptist church” they aren’t really Southern Baptist. The bulk of their money goes to the CBF, and I suppose they don’t send messengers to the annual meeting. So, let’s all keep the status quo—no harm, no foul.

But I contend there is harm. Even Paige Patterson, normally pit-bullian in his adherence to pristine theology, was summarized (perhaps erroneously) with a passive viewpoint. The article said Patterson “believes [FBC, Decatur] will eventually leave the denomination.” So, we’ll allow this errant church to continue to call itself Southern Baptist? We’ll wait for them to “eventually leave”? I’m all for showing them to the door.

Second, and much more concerning, we’ve become accustomed to women in spiritual leadership positions. While most Southern Baptists embrace 1 Timothy 3, many are weakening their application. We’ve made an unbiblical distinction between senior pastor and associate pastor. We’ve interpreted “bishop” or “overseer” to mean “senior pastor” only. Many churches will allow women to oversee the spiritual ministries of the congregation in worship (music ministers) or in leading teenagers or children (youth and/or children’s ministers). I think also, we’re tired of resisting evil and settle for far less than we should. After all, we’re not hiring homosexuals like the Episcopalians. That would be really bad! A woman pastor here and there, we can survive…so goes the conventional thinking (and there not really Southern Baptists anyway). As long as there are no gay men in our pulpits, we’re safe.

But we’re not safe. We have a holy God to face and His perfect Word to embrace. And this CBF-supporting, SBC-affiliated, Bible disobeying church represents a clear and present danger to our denomination.


Anonymous said...

Amen. We have way too many groups out there claiming to be churches. Paige Patterson and the other fat cats are living large off the tribute from these apostates. Time to clean house

Dick Clark said...

Rod, when you write: "Many churches will allow women to oversee the spiritual ministries of the congregation in worship (music ministers) or in leading teenagers or children (youth and/or children’s ministers). I think also, we’re tired of resisting evil and settle for far less than we should." -- do you think it wrong to use women in those positions? I know of quite a few churches, large and small, that do this. Some are leading fundamental churches.
I would appeciate your explanation of Paul commending Phoebe, Priscilla (sometimes named before her husband,) Junia, Euodia and Syntyche for their "hard work in the Lord?" Also, women preaching (1 Cor.11:5)? I think these passages must be balanced along with 1 Tim.3, etc.

Rod said...


Yes, I believe women leading in worship and leading youth ministries is a violation of God's design and instruction.

Without getting into the detailed arguments of this issue, the women and passages that you mention as well as several others that you did not mention, all demonstrate the PARTICIPATION of women in ministry. They do not teach the spiritual leadership of women in ministry.

Rob Ayers said...

Good. Another post from you. It's been a while. But you surely pick topics don't you?


Any news about what we discussed the other day?

Liz Eubanks said...

I am an SBC woman and I like what you say. I like your blog. I'll be subscribing to it.

You may see a fairly recent blog of mine on women and the homemaking degree.

Rod said...


Well, I try. Of course, when you don't post for about a month...something substantive or controversial is bound to come out.

Rod said...


Thanks and welcome. I'll hop over to your blog and check out your post.

Nikki said...

I'm glad I've discovered your blog! I especially appreciate this post:-) The entire blog was excellent. I especially liked the last paragraph! Please tell your family "hello" for me!
Continuing to pray for you and yours,