There has been a divisive issue within Evangelicalism lately and it has hit the SBC once again. Wade Burleson recently wrote about the Georgia Baptist Convention’s intentions to disfellowship with First Baptist Church of Decatur, Georgia. I encourage you to read the post yourself. I warn you that it is very long and I cannot go into what exactly Burleson says…
Here is the issue: The Southern Baptist Convention is complimentarian, according to the newest Baptist Faith and Message. We as Baptists, have the right to fellowship and disfellowship with whoever we choose. That is the beauty of church autonomy.
First, I want to say that it is always wrong for a convention to try and humiliate a church just because there are doctrinal differences. I hear that some of the egalitarians feel that is what is happening with this church. If that is true then I think it is truly sad. On the other hand, if the GBC is breaking fellowship with this church purely for theological reasons than I do not see the problem. While we cannot disunite with everyone that disagrees with us on every little issue, the gender debate is no small issue. I think Dr. Mohler very rightly puts it the Comp/Egal issue as a second tier issue. A Call for Theological Triage and Christian Maturity
The GBC has full right to disfellowship with this church. I do not understand the outcry coming from this. Would a fully Reformed convention allow an Open Theist church in its convention? Of course not… I understand why Egalitarian churches do not like to see this happen, but it is not ‘unfair play’ to FBC, Decatur.
We need to realize that all that the GBC is doing is making formal what FBC Decatur has already done. It is not the GBC or SBC that is abandoning First Baptist Church of Decatur. It is FBC of Decatur that has abandoned the convention. Abandoned might be a strong word, but this is what I mean. The SBC has set up boundaries, theological boundaries. If a church denied the trinity the SBC would disfellowship with them because they would of crossed a theological boundary the convention set up. It is the same with female pastors. The Southern Baptist Convention said up the boundary of male pastors only, as Scripture prescribes. It was First Baptist Church of Decatur that disfellowshipped with the Georgia Baptist Convention by stepping over a theological boundary that was set up prior to FBC’s decision to call a woman to pastor there church.
What is best for the convention as a whole?
I am all for churches of different theological convictions uniting for missions, but the line must be drawn somewhere. The SBC has always clearly drawn the line at homosexuality and other forms of theological liberalism, but this Comp/Egal issue is a tough issue. Egalitarianism usually, not always, is one step closer to deeper forms of liberalism. It seems to me that the SBC, by putting it in the BFM has decided to draw the line at Egalitarianism. So, it makes sense to me that the GBC has made this decision. I believe it is best for the convention to disfellowship with churches that have female pastors. If you look at every other convention that has gone liberal it started with female pastors, then gay male and female pastors, why would we open ourselves up to this liberalism?
Although Burleson, shows that FBC, Decatur is growing and the male lead church he uses as an example is in decline, for the sake of the SBC as a whole I feel this is a good decision by the GBC.