Contributors here at SBC Voices have a couple of articles this week on the SBC and gender. These looked to me to be among the most irenic and amicable approaches possible to an issue that is important to the SBC. Elsewhere, teeth have been set on edge with more vicious and forceful discussions.
Brent Hobbs, for whom the title of this article is not written, wrote about Cooperation and Complexity on the Question of Women Preaching. His final paragraph:
This is a big, complex question. And it deserves better than the simplistic treatment it’s received recently. As Southern Baptists we are going to come up with different answers to a lot of these questions. The bigger question for us is will the fundamentalist spirit win, with some of our leaders drawing ever-narrowing circles of cooperation, or will we put down the divisiveness for unity and cooperation?
I think that the “fundamentalist spirit” will be with the SBC always but will not win. The question might be, will we see such stridency and conflict over the issue that it will significantly degrade our cooperative efforts and present us with an denominational version of a Hobbesian nightmare? We’ve slogged along all these decades with a healthy modicum of cooperation among church that disagree on a number of secondary issues and I think we will continue.
Adam Blosser had a thoughtful article on Complementarianism: Prioritizing Our Doctrinal Disagreement in which he concludes,
While we have determined in our statement of faith that we are a complementarian convention of churches, we have chosen not to narrowly define complementarianism in a way that would exclude people on either side of this present discussion. It is my hope that we will continue in that direction.
I appreciate the comity and cooperative spirit of this article but would call attention to his use of a term not in our common faith statement. “Complementarian” as a label has been serviceable all these years, though.
One notes that both of these writers are pastors, not denominational workers or scholars which causes me to invoke and slightly adjust Clemenceau: Questions of theology and practice in the SBC is far too important to be left to the scholars and denominational employees. That is, I’m interested in what Al Mohler says about women not preaching. I’m interested in what Owen Strahan says about us having “massive agreement” on “women not preaching to the church on Sunday.” I’m interested, less so I suppose, in what the unelected Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood says about this. I’m interested though not persuaded by any self-important declaration made by unelected groups which attempt to refine and define our Baptist Faith and Message Statement.
I’m more attuned to what Hobbs and Blosser say about this than any of these people on the denominational payroll. It’s too important to be left to them.
Let’s have prayerful optimism that we can avoid all nightmare scenarios and could we, Lord, borrow Lottie Moon and Bertha Smith from heaven – just for one day, a Sunday?
Philosophers will kindly forgive my casual use of “Hobbesian nightmare.” It was a phrase begging to be used in an SBC context.
Is it just me or do CBFers and moderates have a bit more mirth about them over all this?
I’m ruminating on a Hobbsian nightmare but am unclear what that is – perhaps dreaming that the world was suddenly bereft of Starbucks coffee.