From the sprawling Southern California campus of Saddleback Church to the towering spires of First Baptist Orlando, the tension within the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) continues to escalate, manifesting itself in controversial theological debates and many leaders now demanding the denomination draw lines in the proverbial sand.
Saddleback Church, formerly pastored by the notorious seeker-sensitive Rick Warren and now led by the equally egregious Andy Wood, has landed itself in hot water with a certain sect of Southern Baptist leadership for lifting its middle finger to the Baptist Faith and Message to ordain women to the pastorate. Prior to Warren’s retirement, his move to ordain three women to the pastorate prompted an investigation by the Southern Baptist Convention’s credentials committee, which, after significant delay and much public debate, eventually landed a decision to disfellowship Saddleback.
The protracted delay, prompted by an inability of the Southern Baptist Convention to even define the word “pastor” in 2022, before the decision was reached, combined with the political undertones evident throughout the process, has raised more questions than they’ve answered. Yet, many in the SBC are puzzled and alarmed by the divergence in priorities. While Saddleback faces censure for its stance on female pastors, other—equally if not more—alarming issues are being completely ignored.
As we speak, Saddleback is not taking the disfellowship lightly. They have announced plans to challenge the decision at the forthcoming annual SBC meeting in June 2023. Rick Warren, the church’s founding pastor, is openly opposing the Southern Baptist stance on female pastors in a move that has sent shockwaves through a narrow channel of SBC leadership, namely Denny Burk, who argues that Warren is publicly demanding changes to its doctrine.
Join Us and Get These Perks:
✅ No Ads in Articles
✅ Access to Comments and Discussions
✅ Community Chats
✅ Full Article and Podcast Archive
✅ The Joy of Supporting Our Work 😉
But while the question of female pastors draws heated debates within the SBC, an even more alarming issue lurks in the shadows. First Baptist Orlando, Florida’s flagship Southern Baptist megachurch, has been implicated multiple times, openly and clearly, in controversial actions that are far worse than even those at Saddleback. First Baptist Orlando is knowingly advancing a pro-homosexual agenda—and nobody seems to care.
Despite fervent research efforts revealing that the church is baptizing openly gay practicing people, extending them full membership and service privileges, and even allowing these homosexuals to baptize other members, the SBC remains silent and the same leadership decrying Saddleback is openly praising the North American Mission Board, whose former vice chair is one of the lead pastors at First Baptist Church Orlando. The lead pastor of First Baptist Orlando, David Uth, has even declared his intention to partner more with the North American Mission Board to plant more churches embodying this contentious unbiblical stance.
These sobering findings, brought to light by The Dissenter and Justin Peters Ministries, have caught wind among a handful of conservative pastors within the Southern Baptist Convention, but the vast majority of leadership continues to ignore the problem.
Saddleback Church’s decision to ordain women and the Southern Baptist Convention’s subsequent response has indeed opened a proverbial Pandora’s Box. However, it’s disconcerting to observe that other matters of potential dispute seem to be disregarded. Is it political? Obviously so—NAMB pulls a lot of strings in the SBC and carries a lot of weight. How dare any Southern Baptist leader speak ill of it?
As Rick Warren challenges traditional interpretations and the SBC continues its silence on other pressing issues, the question remains: where will these tensions lead the Southern Baptist Convention, and indeed, the wider Christian community? Only time will tell for sure, but it sure looks like the ship has already sunk.