How Deep The Rot Goes: Female Pastors and the SBC

Every now and then, there are moments that serve as windows. We are presented with an opportunity to see things if we are willing to look. The folks over at CR Voices have presented us with such an opportunity. They released an article showing that the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), particularly the North American Mission Board (NAMB), has an egalitarian problem. The article presents some examples of churches associated with NAMB that have women pastors. It can help us get a better grasp on how deep the rot goes. The rot is not just egalitarianism. The egalitarianism is a symptom of the rot. More on the exact nature of the rot toward the end.

Some may make the mistake of saying that the SBC has no real egalitarian problem, “We are only talking about a few churches! What is the big deal? Some things slip through the cracks in a big organization.” The claim is that we are only dealing with a minor problem, an administrative oversight. The error is only in one department of the vast complex of operations that is NAMB and SBC. The solution then is a public statement that the matter is being addressed internally and the few bad apples have already been discovered, measures are being taken, fret not, right ho, Great Commission, and all that jazz.

But you cannot snip this weed off at the surface and expect it not to come back. In the first place, this is not the only time the weed has popped up. Examples abound, but you can begin by looking up Russell Moore’s response at a recent SBC when asked if he still thought women should not preach. He replied with an indirect and uncomfortable monologue which did not answer the question but explained something about children needing mothers and fathers. More to the point, the root of the weed has to come out. But pulling weeds takes work and a mind to get down to the bottom of things. Our present SBC culture and leadership has become a surfacey kind of place, concerned about how things operate and appear on the surface, and eager to deal with surface matters is a surface-level way.

We are infected with a host of pragmatic leadership, and in a secular age. The ancient theologians used to call such a situation a double whammy. I do not refer to that healthy pragmatism that counts the cost before going to war. I refer to a pragmatism that operates only on what is seen rather than what is unseen, a pragmatic leadership that has begun to forget that there is a God in heaven who rules the kingdom of men, and a pragmatic ethos that smells more of the spirit of the age than the Spirit of Christ. This pragmatic leadership is quite good at statements that survey the landscape and reassure all parties that we are still traveling down the middle of the road: “In this public statement we grieve the misogyny that has often marked our nation and, regrettably, our very own institutions. At the same time, we reaffirm our commitment to the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 and deny that it is compatible with radical feminism and women serving in the office of pastor.”

The problem with such middle-of-the-road reassurances is that the road down which we are traveling is headed over a cliff. The road is secularism, down right God-lessness. It is a world that denies Genesis 1:1. In that world, there are women pastors. There are also resolutions commending Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality. (By the way, you cannot consistently reject the latter and affirm any kind of the former. They are twins born of the same mother). That secular world has no place for a substitutionary atonement. It has no place for a virgin birth or a resurrection. It is a road that runs to hell and we need leaders that no longer want to stay in the middle of it. To change the metaphor: Secular root brings secular fruit. Christian root brings Christian fruit. Why is secular fruit growing at NAMB and the SBC? The rot runs all the way to the bottom. It is high time the whole lot of us, and particularly our leaders, acknowledge how deep the rot goes, and get to dealing with it.


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