FBC, Decatur: A Test Case For The SBC

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.


  1. says

    One thing we should note is that an SBC church is not required to affirm the BF&M, they simply must not state that ideas in contradiction to the BF&M are Southern Baptist orthodoxy. Now, let me say, I believe that having a female head pastor (or female pastor of any sort) is unbiblical. However, I do not know how far the SBC can legitimately push this. I think that the best solution may be the financial one: FBC Decatur should be banned from receiving CP funds for as long as they continue to approve of this teaching. And maybe lose their voice in GBC/FBC matters. There is a lot of ugliness that we allow to be called an SBC church, but unless we start requiring adherence to the BF&M to bear our name I think we can only consistently react in a limited way.

    Todd Buruss last blog post..What We Believe- Article IV, Salvation (part 1)

  2. says

    I know nothing about FBC Decatur, so the following is not a commentary on this particular situation, but I would caution against making a necessary connection between egalitarianism and liberal theology. True, many baptist churches in the past affirmed women pastors based on a liberal hermeneutic. Who can forget the keynote speaker at the 2000 CBF meeting who quipped that Paul and Paige Patterson were “both wrong about women.” We should rightly be apalled at such a statement and we correctly label it “liberal.”

    Such a view, however, is certainly not always the case among those who hold an egalitarian view. Many churches and denominations affirm women pastors while at the same time maintaining a high view of Scripture. Rather than saying that Paul was wrong, they say that the original intent of Scripture was not to exclude women from the pastorate. While I may not agree with their exegesis, they have not come to their position because of a denial of inerrancy, or a “red letter” theology. They are not in danger of affirming homosexsuality, open theism, inclusivism or denying Christian orthodoxy. They are Bible-believing, gospel-preaching, conservative churches.

    In my opinion, while it is perfectly acceptable for the Convention to have raised complimentarianism to a second-tier issue, I think we err when we automatically equate such a view with theological liberalism.


    Todd B.s last blog post..Highlights from our State Convention

  3. Todd B. says

    Matt, btw, I do realize you said “usually, not always” but I think this is an overstatement. If we remove the issue from the recent history of the Conservative Resurgence and look at evangelicalism as a whole, I don’t believe that “usually” is a fair description.

    Just wanted to be clear. Sorry if I was not.

    — Todd

    Todd B.s last blog post..Highlights from our State Convention

  4. says

    Other Todd B,
    I would have to disagree with you. I think that the hermeneutic used to justify egalitarianism, which is best exemplified recently in Scot McKnight’s book The Blue Parakeet, does put people “in danger of affirming homosexsuality, open theism, inclusivism or denying Christian orthodoxy.” The reason for this being that, though they claim a high view of Scripture, they are actually talking out of both sides of their mouth and guiding their interpretation by principles such as cultural relativism and “He who writes the story gets the glory” (a phrase used by McKnight to say that Scripture favors men in authority because it was written by men). There simply is no interpretation which allows for female pastors that does not fudge the line somewhere on the idea of sola scriptura, and that type of thinking always leaves the door open for further descent. You cannot open the door wide enough to let female pastors through without also making room for homosexuality and all other sorts of contemporary norms through as well.

    This may not be popular, but following this thinking to its logical end (something Southern Baptists rarely do) makes it plain that the slippery slope is just a downgrade away once you start bending on issues such as gender roles.

    Todd Buruss last blog post..What We Believe- Article IV, Salvation (part 1)

  5. Dr. Paul W. Foltz says

    When you begin to compromise, there’s no stopping point. Women Preachers are forbidden in the Pauline letters. Tl allow them to stay in
    fellowship opens ”pandora’s box” so to speak. Doctrine must never be forsaken, for the sake of union.

  6. Todd B. says

    Todd (Burus),

    To offer an example, I think the position paper on women in ministry by the Assemblies of God is an example of an interpretation that, although in error, is not rightly called liberal.

    I submit there is a big difference between someone who affirms women clergy based on the assumption that Paul was wrong, or that Paul’s words are not Scripture, or are subordinate to Jesus’ words and someone who affirms inerrancy yet argues that the Paul’s words do not constitute a ban on women in pastoral roles.

    Both are wrong. Only one is a liberal.


  7. says

    Before leaving Waco for Decatur, Julie P-R was my pastor.

    That said, I agree that the Georgia Baptist Convention (of which I’m intimately acquainted with) has the “right” to refuse to cooperate with any church.

    But, in light of last GBC’s 2008 decision to reject any and all tithes and offerings from First Baptist Decatur, why the need for further action??

    FBC Decatur was effectively disfellowshipped in the Fall. They can’t give money to the GBC. They can’t send messengers. No, any further action taken against Decatur would be for the express purpose to prevent GBC from supplying Sunday School and VBS materials, IF Decatur were to request such materials. Further action taken by the GBC against Decatur would ensure that GBC dollars were not spent “help[ing] (Decatur) with evangelism.” Wow.

    It seems that any further action is meant to humiliate the church. The GBC is trying to get one last kick in. It’s just tacky and distasteful.

    Big Daddy Weaves last blog post..Southern Baptist Megachurch Pastor Attacks Lifeway Over Novel

  8. says

    Not-me Todd B.,
    But McKnight is “someone who affirms inerrancy yet argues that the Paul’s words do not constitute a ban on women in pastoral roles.” He argues that the prohibitive passages were culturally biased and timely instead of timeless. He doesn’t claim they are not Scripture or wrong, he just claims that they are something that needs to be taken with grain of salt because, basically, we know better today.

    Oh, and I read the position paper you mentioned. First of all, it is pretty much hack work at biblical interpretation. Second, they start with a clearly defined default position and say, “Convince me otherwise.” Then, when they should be convinced (like in 1 Corinthians 14 and 1 Timothy 2) they revert to exactly what I said has to be done: cultural relativizing. In the end, their argument is no different than McKnight’s and is no less of an open door to allow homosexuality et al. into the church. You see this already with people like Tony Jones who argue that Romans was just addressing a problem in the Roman community of rampant promiscuous gay sex and not meant to be applied universally, the same argument the AoG’s used to hand wave away 1 Timothy 2. It’s all these people have when faced with the clear text of Scripture.

    Anyways, for something that is put out by a denomination to describe their position, that paper is simply garbage theologically. They should call it an agenda paper because they clearly walked into the room with their cards on the table and weren’t going to be persuaded otherwise. It’s one thing to have an ambiguous confession (like the BF&M), it’s another to try and pass off bologna as scholarly work on forming an opinion. Sorry, I just can’t get over how pathetic that was.

    Todd Buruss last blog post..What We Believe- Article IV, Salvation (part 2)

  9. says

    Todd B.,
    I think I would disagree. Again, claiming to believe inerrancy and practicing a belief in inerrancy are two different things. This document acted like the writers were the gatekeepers for what’s culturally bounded and what mistakes were made in translation b/c of bias. They didn’t give me a practical sense like they had a high view of Scripture.

    Todd Buruss last blog post..What We Believe- Article IV, Salvation (part 2)

  10. Todd B. says

    Todd Bu.,

    I guess we’re applying the term “liberal” differently. I’m not willing to call someone a liberal for what they might potentially believe in the future. I disagree with the AG on a host of issues, including women pastors. Yet, I affirm with the AG the inerrancy of Scripture, the deity of Christ, the exlusivity of the gospel, the substitutionary atoning work of Christ on the Cross, etc. The fact that I find secondary and tertiary doctrines with which I disagree and find the exegesis to defend these points to be in error, does not mean that those people have denied the faith. I thus would not label them “liberal.”

    Neither would I say that such beliefs “tend toward” liberalism. Back to the idea (comment #7) that we must take every argument to its logical end — I think this tends to be a red herring among Baptists. We take everything to its supposed logical end and then proclaim anathama every point of disagreement with other Christians. Calvinism, e.g., is anathema because its “logical end” is a rejection of evangelism. Arminianism is anathema because its “logical end” is salvation by works. Some would argue, and do (not me of course), that the “logical end” of complementarianism leads to misogyny and wife beating. In my opinion, I think we need to leave the “logical end” argument and deal with what people actually believe.

    Anyway, I do think the issue is important, but I still don’t believe the issue can be so neatly be labeled liberal v. conservative.


  11. John says

    While I am not convinced that scripture prohibits women pastors, I do agree that the GBC can cut loose any church they want. Fellowship is a 2 way street, and either convention or church can break it. If the church doesn’t like the direction the convention is going, try to change it and if that doesn’t work, just leave. If the convention decides that churches who are a certain way cannot stay, then do the same. The BFM changes so often, I can see how this would happen. If we keep narrowing the criteria, it will continue to happen. The early creeds obviously aren’t good enough, so we are forced to continually add to them. Perhaps in the future, if an elder is not married with believing children, or if a church uses praise bands, or the pastor uses versions of scripture that are not approved, then that church will be disqualified. While I may not agree with women leading in the church, the fact of the matter is some, who hold a high view of scripture, disagree with me. Where will we draw the line indeed. And as a side note, I believe that you can still be in the SBC without being in the GBC.

  12. says

    If the convention decides that churches who are a certain way cannot stay, then do the same. The BFM changes so often, I can see how this would happen.

    Ummmm, maybe I’m mistaken but prior to 2000, the BFM was last updated in the 60’s, right? I’m not sure that constitutes being “changed so often”.

    The GBC is doing the right thing for the right reasons. The only real question in this situation is why Decatur and other liberal Baptist churches WANT to stay in the SBC. If the moderates ever gain control of the SBC and revise the BFM to say that women can be pastors or something else equally unbiblical, I won’t be staying around to “fight for the SBC”. I’ll be doing my best impression of Road Runner complete with me saying “Meep meep” as I hightail it out of the SBC. I have no capacity to understand why a church would want to stay when they disagree with something the SBC stands for strongly enough that they included it in the BFM.

    Joe Blackmons last blog post..Book Review: The Holman QuickSource Guide to Understanding Jesus

  13. says

    Todd B.,
    My main sticking point is the justification that they are using. I agree that the terms “liberal” and “conservative” get to widely and quickly applied, but what I am worried about here is how much can be erased by arguing in the way they have for women elders. The argument used to say homosexual activity is not sinful or that sex before marriage is okay is the same as the one hence used to allow women elders, only using different passages. Are we alright with that? I imagine we’re not, but then that means that the only reason why we allow the reasoning to go through for female pastors is because that is a compromise we are okay with, and that is a not at all how we should interpret Scripture. That is why I say that this isn’t truly “inerrancy,” because we are bending the text to say what we want it to in our context when that is not the context of the Bible. This isn’t even a “logical end” argument, it is a “by similar reasoning” argument.

    If you guys disagree with me, please show me a way in which this method of interpretation allows female pastors while denying homosexual intercourse that is not just, “We’re okay with one but not the other.”

    Todd Buruss last blog post..What We Believe- Article IV, Salvation (part 2)

  14. says

    It’s only fair to say up front that I’m a complementarian without apology, and have no plans of changing my mind on that. That said, I think the reason egal’s don’t see their interpretation as liberalism is because they agree with everything the conservatives believe ABOUT the Scripture being inerrant and infallible. Classic liberalism has less to do with interpretation than with the texts being interpreted. What egal’s disagree with is the complementarian INTERPRETATION of the inerrant, infallible word of God, not the inspiration of the text. The reason they don’t allow for the homosexual, slippery slope comparison is because they don’t see the comp’s interpretation concerning women as clearly articulated in Scripture as the homosexual issue. Egal’s will remind us being a woman isn’t categorically a sin, while homosexuality is.

    Egal’s don’t see why comp’s can’t allow for their interpretation under the gospel any more than we can all allow for differing views on what’s on the eschatological horizon. Pre, A, and Dispy’s can all be Christians without being called a liberal and being accused of bringing about the slippery slope that’s going to kill the gospel.

    Not all egal’s are radical feminists, though some are. I truly believe there are egal’s out there who want to follow the Bible, not rewrite it according to what’s culturally popular. As a comp, I hate it when someone labels me as a patriarchal egotistical bigot who wants all women to be abused and finally killed by their husbands. I think we do a disservice to Christianity when we don’t strive to make charitable judgments whenever possible. I think it’s important to deal with who egal’s really are instead of lumping them all in with a bunch of people who deny the Scripture. In fact, I could show how legalism is a quicker slope to liberalism than anything being stewed over with gender roles.

    Darby Livingstons last blog post..When a Wife Should NOT Submit

  15. Todd B. says

    Without suggesting that I agree with the egalitarian view, I nevertheless am willing to treat fellow believers who hold such a view with a bit of charity. The difference between this issue and one like homosexuality is significant. The egalitarian sees evidences of several women in the Bible in various roles of leadership or with giftings typically associated with the pastorate. These lend support, in their thinking, to the idea that Paul’s prohibitions in other places were contextual and not universal. The person who seeks to defend homosexuality has absolutely no biblical precedence to do so except that which he contrives from his own imagination. That, I believe is a significant difference.

    Further, the complimentarian, which I unapologetically am, must explain why certain women in the Bible may be judges, prophetesses, and apostles while at the same time be restricted from the office of pastor. The person who affirms the Bible’s condemnation of homosexuality has no such corresponding dilemma. There is no way to affirm homosexuality biblically except creative isogesis such as suggesting David and Jonathan were gay, supposing the prohibition in Romans refers only to heterosexuals having gay sex but not people who are actually gay, etc. I think there is a HUGE difference here in the two issues.


  16. Wayne Smith says

    SBC Voices,

    You guys are right on in this article and uphold the truth of what God’s Word has to say about Women Pastors. I’ am not against Women in offices in the Church, except for Elder/Pastor. I think others have finally come out of their Closets and now we know who and what they stand for.

    Wayne Smith

  17. Bill says

    Paul forbids women from being pastors. He also forbids women from being deacons. He also forbids women from teaching men. He also forbids women from speaking in church. He also forbids women from praying with their head uncovered. He also forbids women from wearing jewelry or braiding their hair.

  18. Doug says

    Matt, you say:
    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?

    This has to one of the most inane statement I have read in awhile. Granted that liberal conventions often do recognize female pastors (and some gay pastors) you cannot defend your claim that the liberalism started here! This is a throwaway claim with no basis in fact. Speaking from experience, the two most conservative churches in our town (one Pentecostal and one Independent) each have female pastors or co-pastors. My mother was saved 60 years ago under the pastorship a female in the Wesleyan Methodist church. You truly disappoint me when you come out with such a general and off-base claim!

  19. says


    Look at the Emergent movement, PCUSA, ECUSA, and others… Once they allowed female pastors they slowly got more and more liberal. How is that so general and off-base? Some of the biggest convention is America fit my claim.

    Matt Svobodas last blog post..Obama’s Hypocrisy?

  20. John says

    Maybe I’m wrong, but I thought that classic Liberalism started with a low view of scripture, not having a woman pastor. There is a big difference, in my opinion, between interpretation of scripture and viewing scripture as merely the writings of people, not inspired by God. While I would consider myself a complementarian, I would still be willing to engage in mission endeavors with those who view women’s roles in the Church differently. I may not choose to join such a Church as this, I would definitely choose to join in sharing the Gospel with them.

  21. says


    You are right. Liberalism always starts with a low view of Scripture. When I say it starts with allowing women to be pastors I really mean that allowing women to be pastors is the first way that a low view of Scripture usually works itself out in the church.

    Matt Svobodas last blog post..Obama’s Hypocrisy?

  22. says

    While I generally agree with Matt, I disagree with women pastors as the first way a low view of Scripture usually works itself out. I think legalism is the first way a low view of Scripture usually works itself out. It’s just that were not conditioned to see it. For example, those who think God’s word needs extra help by forcing others to abstain from alcohol and breaking fellowship with those who don’t are doing just as much violence to the Scripture as those who can’t seem to find a prohibition against women elders. Legalism is sending far more people to hell than liberalism, but oh it looks better on the outside to so many people.

    Darby Livingstons last blog post..When a Wife Should NOT Submit

  23. Doug says

    Well said Darby…and oh so true. It was the “legalists”, not the “liberals” who Jesus had a problem with and who eventually conspired to have him killed.

  24. Bill says

    Why do we (or how can we) pick and choose which of the prohibitions on women to enforce? I listed six. The SBC seems to be only focused on one.

  25. Doug says

    BTW- Matt – simply declaring your claim is true doesn’t MAKE it true. My point was that your claim cannot be backed up with actual fact. This is what a wise pundit calls “truthiness” – “truth unencumbered with the facts”!

  26. Tom Parker says

    Wow! No comments here by women. Just what if the major position in this blog was wrong? Paul also said women were to be silent in the church. Why is that not being enforced by you guys and the churches in the SBC?

  27. says


    The Facts are that the denominations I listed and others went into liberalism and the first step they took is allowing women pastors.

    Darby and Doug,

    Legalism is not the first step taken from a low view of Scripture. The Pharisees had a very high view of Scripture. Legalism happens when a high view of Scripture is taken without regenerate hearts. Legalism comes from a lack of grace. Liberalism comes from a low view of Scripture.

    Matt Svobodas last blog post..Obama’s Hypocrisy?

  28. says


    So you want to go down the road of saying that everyone who wants mandatory abstention from alcohol and/ or disfellowship with those who don’t believe that way are unregenerate? I showed how the root cause of legalism is a low view of Scripture and it hasn’t been refuted. Legalists have such a low view of Scripture that they think they have to add their own stuff to it. I’m not saying that legalism is liberalism, but I am saying one could make the slippery slope argument starting from legalism as easily as women elders. That said, again, I have always been and always will be a comp, unless God shows me something different in Heaven.

    Darby Livingstons last blog post..When a Wife Should NOT Submit

  29. says

    Wade is way off base on this one. His arguments are just the old moderate arguments that we rejected 20 years ago. We have decided that we as a denomination are going to follow scripture on this issue, not yield to the dictates of our culture.

    Dave Millers last blog post..Sin and Forgiveness

  30. says

    I agree with Matt. Legalism is not a demonstration of a low view of Scripture but of a high view of Scripture. The “legalists” that killed Jesus held Scripture in a high regard, but their hearts were not in the right place. That is why they killed Jesus, because they were upholding the Scriptural condemnation of blasphemy. It just so happened that they wrongly identified Jesus as a blasphemer because their hearts were blinded to seeing that he was God. They sought to hold high the Scriptures, yet in doing so applied them too rigidly.

    The egalitarian arguers are seeking ways out of what seems to be clearly taught in God’s Word. They have a low view of Scripture because they believe it was too easily distorted by the culture and that God wasn’t big enough to make a command that was meant to stretch two millenniums. Anytime you reinterpret God’s Word based on a change in the culture, this is a sure sign that you are letting the winds of worldliness overwhelm the ideas of inerrancy, a sign of a low view of Scripture and a first step on the downgrade towards liberalism.

    Todd Buruss last blog post..What We Believe- Article IV, Salvation (part 2)

  31. says


    Thank you for a balanced article on which we can engage this important theological issue that our current culture is trying to influence. Southern Baptists have clearly spoken on this and you have rightly pointed out that it was FBC Decatur that has abandoned the SBC’s theological moorings.

    Unfortunately, I do not believe that Wade Burleson wants to engage in any serious discussion of the issue(s), but it appears he only wants to throw “bombs”. For example, he deleted over 30 comments from his latest <a href=”http://kerussocharis.blogspot.com/2009/02/absurd-notion-that-church-must-affirm.html”post. It is his right to do so, as it is his blog. Despite his statements to the contrary, the deleted comments were not “mean spirited”. He and others were challenged in a forthright, but respectful manner. However, he would not actually engage anyone who tried to reason with him. I believe that he continues to resort to prevarication and obfuscation and his penchant for continued personal attacks on those who hold to conservative biblical theology. It has become truly sad to see him repeatedly embark on a mission of acrimonious and disparaging behavior.


    Ron P.

    Ron Phillips, Sr.s last blog post..Dr. Bob Pearle Interview

  32. Bill says

    Dave Miller: Are we not already yielding to the dictates of culture? We allow women to speak in church. Some women are allowed to teach adult Sunday School. Women are allowed to pray with their heads uncovered They are allowed to wear jewelry.

  33. says

    The issues you mention above are dealt with in context.

    The context of the prohibition seems clear – women were prohibited from public tongues and prophecy in church meetings.

    I do not believe that women should teach men in sunday school.

    I take seriously the passage in Corinthians and believe that w0men should not wear short, masculine hair styles. the clear implication of that passage seems to be that women are to look like women and men to look like men.

    It is a common dodge to assign all the biblical prohibitions against women in ministry to culture. But every passage in the New Testament that deals with women submitting to their husbands or to not taking authoritative proclamation roles at church is root in the created order – the intent of God in creation, not in cultural issues.

    Sound hermeneutics leave little doubt that women are prohibited from serving as pastors.

    Dave Millers last blog post..Sin and Forgiveness

  34. Bill says

    I understand context. When Paul is talking about tongues he uses the word tongues. On the one hand, the common complementarian position is that Paul is forbidding women from prophesying, yet he gives instructions that women must have a head covering when doing so. I also think, with respect, that it is a hermeneutical stretch to suggest that head covering simply means a normal woman’s hair cut. The text also dictates that women are forbidden to ask questions in church and I don’t see any way to tie that to tongues or prophecy.

  35. Tom Parker says

    Dave Miller:

    You said–“I do not believe that women should teach men in sunday school. ”

    Are you for “disfellowshipping” from any church that does allow women to teach men in sunday school?

  36. Bill says

    Tom: I’m guessing that Dave will say no, since such a position is not laid out in the BFM. Dave is one of the good guys in the SBC blogosphere. I am a (somewhat reluctant) complementarian even though I am pressing him on some of these issues. I think complementarians are inconsistent on where we draw the line between cultural mandate and eternal mandate.

  37. says

    Bill is right.
    I am not even for disfellowshiping the Decatur church, though I am for stating clearly that we do not agree with them.

    If a church ordained homosexuals or blessed their unions, I would vote to disfellowship with them. (I have, at a convention years ago). i would not, though, treat women in ministry the same way.

    I am convinced that the scripture speaks clearly on this, and I am glad that my denomination speaks clearly on it. However, I would not act to or vote for disfellowshiping on this issue.

    Dave Millers last blog post..Sin and Forgiveness

  38. Jonathan McGuire says

    I also share the viewpoint that Scripture forbids women in roles of pastor and elder. My concern is that if we are going to use the BFM as a tool of doctrinal accountability, we need to be consistent about it. Are there churches that teach and practice contrary to the BFM’s teachings on communion? On the definition of church? If so, we need to address those issues as well, right? While there is much in Dr. Mohler’s triage theory that I would commend and despite my personal admiration for him, he doesn’t speak for the SBC. If we’re going to establish sort doctrinal stances by how we will respond regarding fellowship, we (i.e. the messengers) need to address it. If theological triage is needed, why not rework the BFM to make it clear?

  39. says

    Svoboda: 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?

    bapticus hereticus: while the Mohlerites are constructing walls to exclude the rush of female and gay male pastors wishing to join their ranks, the Pattersonites, with their zeal for Jesus, are plotting to remove the Mohlerites from within theirs.

    bapticus hereticuss last blog post..all tripped up?

  40. says

    @ Matt: I let comment #47 post , because I think he was saying something relevant – even though I wasn’t sure what he meant. Thanks again for writing this post, I know it’s getting you some heat but your treatment of the question was reasonable.

  41. Todd B. says

    Guys, the post seems pretty clear to me. Let me interpret post #47 (translation is not at all the same as agreement with its intent):

    The post suggests that Mohler and Patterson are on big time agendas to exclude people:

    Mohler wants to exclude women and gays.
    Patterson wants to exclude Calvinists.

    The sarcasm of the post is not as clear but seems to suggest that Baptists only care about excluding people and that we will not stop at women clergy.

    The problem with bapticus hereticus’ assertion, if I have interpreted it correctly is two-fold. One, it assumes that the goal is exclusion rather than a desire for biblical truth. Second, it seems to equate excluding gay clergy with excluding Calvinists and women pastors. On this comment stream, we have been concerned with whether affirming women pastors should be considered (like gay clergy) as outrageously liberal or (like Calvinism) a 3d tier doctrine on which we are free to disagree and should treat each other with charity.

    The strength of his post, however, is the irony it suggests that many in SBC life seem to see all disagreements as first tier and treat all those with whom they disagree with contempt.

    Just my interpretation and 2 cents,

  42. Ruby Brown says

    Dear fellow SBC commentators, as a loyal Southern Baptist for over 50 years, you truly confuse me. When I first became a Southern Baptist in the big First Baptist Church, Atlanta, GA, in 1957, and attended the First Baptist Church of Decatur, GA for a short time after my marriage in 1958-59, because my new husband wanted to attend a smaller Southern Baptist Church, I submitted to his judgment. My husband was a dyed-in-the wool Southern Baptist with a long family history of being a Southern Baptist, while I was raised in a Primative Foot-Washing Baptist Church by good Christian Parents who were very charitable to other denominations, including , but mildly disagreeing with, the big First Baptist Church in our small town of 300. However, my parents allowed their seven children to attend the big FBC church in my lovely town (I don’t want to embarrass them by naming them in this somewhat embarrassingly ironic commentary) for Vacation Bible School or to attend funerals when our “Primitive School” which had been a Southern Baptist Assembly Grounds, dismissed school for funerals of dignitaries of any denominational color, and this school still allowed Chapel, and preaching in school during chapel, and “missionary” work with students after, and they promoted Bible Study and Bible Memory Programs as well. We all prayed for each other and our country during the drastic days of WWII and we realized that it would take all Christians working together, instead of fighting each other, to fight Communism, Humanism, and all the other “Ism’s” and ‘Cism’s” that were rising their ugly head. In this somewhat crude vernacular of our honorable, but highly uneducated local citizens in book knowledge, they seemed to me to be more effective in producing good citizens, and compassionate Christians, who knew how to cooperate and show Christian love, than some of these hostile dialoguer ‘s who delight themselves in being great debaters like the philosophers on Mars Hill in Athens, Greece, in the Apostolic times. Before I could become a Southern Baptist Member in FBC, Atlanta, GA, I was required to take a six-weeks training class to be a Southern Baptist, which I also submitted graciously too. It was here I first learned of the Cooperative Program of Southern Baptists, and heard the first stories of Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong, and of their love for GOD and of the sacrificial services they preformed under the banner of Southern Baptist for the cause of missions: but this was not the first call of GOD on my life to claim me to the arena of Christian Service and even servitude for the cause of Christ. I heard this call while reading the Holy Scriptures for myself, through faithful church attendance, and by discussing the “Call of Christ” to follow HIM where ever He leads me with a younger brother as we worked in the cotton fields, much as the call came to Abraham to leave his kindred and his country to go to a land, a people, and a church where HE could use me for His glory. My husband and I have been here at the present location, been faithful servants to the LORD in a SBC church that has wondered around in the maze of religious confusion, with people wondering in and out of different churches, and different philosophies for nearly 50 years. My husband and I came to this small town, small church, whose light was kindled by the Great Commission Zeal of Southern Baptist in the 1950’s called “The Bold Mission Thrust”. We got on board with a small struggling, mission church, and never looked back. Even though the Chairman of Deacons, and Chairman of the Nominating Committee couldn’t find a spot for me, a lowly woman, to serve, GOD found a spot for me, and excluded them, the self-righteous bigots. HE allowed me to serve HIM, not in just one place, but in dozens of places, and, yes, some of them have been in teaching men, when no man was Christian Man enough to teach the mixed classes of boys and girls from Primaries up the ladder to young adults, and back down again. Also, GOD has allowed me to teach in mission groups from Sunbeams up the ladder to various offices in the Women’s Missionary Union. I say this with humility, because only GOD could do this, to take a shy little Appalachian Mountain , cotton-picking, buck-toothed, grinning country girl and light her candle. HE picked her up from the dust of poverty, and gave her a mansion on the hill, and a place to serve him in “autonomous bliss”. GOD must have a good sense of humor in the people HE chooses to do HIS bidding. Pharisees all along the way have tried to exclude me from faithful service, and some even in the the GREAT Southern Baptist Convention, have placed their legalistic limits, and others have opened Pandora’s Box of Liberalism, to lure me off the biblical trail. Some may exclude Women, and lift men to lofty positions even though they are wearing the “Emperor’s Clothes, “but JESUS calls whomsoever HE wills anyway without being a respecter of persons. HE will be the final judge of who is worthy for service and entrance into the Heavenly kingdom. My Holy Scriptures tells me that JESUS looks upon the heart and not upon outward appearance. He is the GOOD SHEPHERD and even a child can lead the sheep into the greener pastures of Christian Charity, if GOD cannot find a “man” to stand in the gap, for JESUS said that “no man can pluck us out of the Father’s hand”. My brothers, please don’t be so quick to judge every woman by such severe standards. In heaven, you might be our servants instead of the other way around. We will still need you and you will still us. Are you treating us as you would want to be treated.?

  43. says

    “Egalitarianism usually, not always, is one step closer to deeper forms of liberalism. ”

    This argument is growing tiresome. Most egaltarians that I know would consider themselves conservative… not because of a particular issue, but because of their approach to the Bible.

    I can make more of an argument from a secular standpoint than a Biblical one… just in how man and women are made. However, who am I to say that God can’t and won’t call another Deborah – a prophet – which is one of the highest of the authoritative roles in scripture?

    Not to mention the fact that we might not have a church if it wasn’t for the faithful women serving selflessly.

    Now… I must say that I wouldn’t be comfortable with a female Lead Pastor. I may be wrong. But I sure would work with a church that approached the issue with humility.

    Oh – and PLEASE tell our SBC bretheren to call a spade a spade. IF a woman is over the Children’s ministry she is a pastor to those families. I find it humorous that if it is a male, he is a “pastor” and if it is a female, she is a “director”. If strict complementarians want to be strict, they shouldn’t have a female in that role to begin with.

    Ruby, nice post. Thanks for your humility.

  44. says


    It is funny that you start of ripping the post a little, but then you say you agree at the end…

    Also, I am sorry if you don’t see a difference between a pastor and a ‘director.’ I know of some churches that men are directors because they are not qualified for the ministry, but are qualified to help get people to volunteer and provide some oversight to children. IMO, it is a legalistic view of complementarianism to say that women can’t be over children. I am not uncomfortable with a woman Childrens Pastor, at all. Why? Because the Bible says to not let a woman teach or have authority over a man. Children do not fall under this category. Comps aren’t about being strict in a theological system, rather they are all about being biblical.

  45. says

    The real issue of FBC Decatur is what does she believe – not that she is a woman. After all, all the Baptists of Ga., so to speak, come from Kiokee whose founding pastor, Daniel Marshall, had a wife who was an eldress back in NC at the Sandy Creek Church, Martha Stearns Marshall. When Daniel was arrested f0r preaching, she went to exhorting the officiers of the law, one of whom would be converted as a resul, Samuel Cartledge and serve in the Baptist ministry (mostly in SC) for over 50 yrs. The whole thing is God’s laughter at His children being silly. Whoever desires the office of bishop desires a good work, Isn’t the gender for the one desiring it open to anyone just as in the salvation passages? A large church in MO. was founded originally by a woman, but the Baptists told her that it wouold never be acknowledged. She peached theBible as inerrant and she preached Soverign Grace. An Independent Soverign Grace Baptist Preacher told me he preached a revival for her in her church. She was the mother of a friend of mine, a Godly woman, who studied Pink’s Sovereignty of God and became convinced of it. What most people do not know is that the old Sovereign Gace believers were the leading liberal lights of their day, and they knew their Bibles perhaps better than we do. Evey body was awfully worried about them pesky Baptists infecting their neighborhoods and churches. that is why they arrested and hauled them off to jail. And infect they did. 255 Congregational Churches became Baptists. A friend of mine preached in one in NY back in the 50s/60s? And so many denominations now practice believers immersion. Was it Lottie Moon, who said, “I have never been ordained, but I was foreordained.” Amazing! We are such fraidy cats and fearful of gender confusion. Hmmn!
    .-= Dr. James Willingham´s last blog ..The Climax of the Reformation =-.