With all of its faults, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) at least has a very minimal doctrinal standard that is meant to unify Southern Baptist churches around a common set of beliefs. And while the denomination’s confession, the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, is ambiguous and falls short in many areas compared to the even more solidly historic and conservative confessions, it does at least serve as a basic creed that defines what it means to be Baptist.
Yet, the denomination has been overrun by liberals over the decades, and while there was a short respite to its progressive drift for a few years following the “conservative resurgence,” the overall drift has not stopped and over the last decade, it has gained serious steam.
There are a handful of conservatives in the Southern Baptist Convention, but the numbers are dwindling fast. Personally, I don’t have much hope for the SBC, but I do love and pray for my friends who are still fighting the seemingly futile battle. Over the last several years, we’ve seen conservatives lose fight after fight at the annual meetings, succumbing to the inevitable progressive takeover—from issues of sexuality to Critical Race Theory. The current battle raging in the denomination is feminism.
The feminist movement, under the guise of Egalitarianism, is a progressive movement designed to undermine the biblical and equally important roles of men and women in the Church, particularly the biblical doctrine of male headship. And interestingly enough, the battle is being fought out mostly by men. And one of the biggest names in the midst of this current conflict is Rick Warren.
In 2021, before his retirement, Rick Warren, former pastor of Saddleback Church ordained three women to the pastorate against SBC’s statement of faith. The historic position and consensus in the SBC, despite outliers who claim differently, has always been that the office and function of pastor or elder is reserved for men in accordance with the clear teaching of Scripture. Yet, it has become Rick Warren’s number one mission in life to change that.
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After ordaining three women to the pastorate, Saddleback was referred to the SBC’s credentials committee where the church was investigated for failure to abide by the Baptist Faith and Message. At the 2022 annual meeting, the results of the investigation were inconclusive and those leading the investigation were unable to make a determination on whether or not Saddleback had violated the biblical command against women pastors by ordaining women to the pastorate.
However, earlier in 2023, the committee finally came to the conclusion that the church had violated the doctrine and removed Saddleback from fellowship in the SBC. It was at this point that Rick Warren began his crusade against the Southern Baptist doctrine and sent himself out on mission to change it.
Warren, though not the pastor of Saddleback Church anymore, has now invested his life in leading the appeal process at the annual meeting in 2023 to disfellowship his former church. Both Warren, and his successor, Andy Wood, have been clear in their intention to continue to support women pastors while remaining in the SBC.
Just last week, Rick Warren published a letter in the pro-homosexual publication Baptist News Global, a troublesome alignment with a notably progressive and permissive pro-homosexual platform. This act should ring the alarms of discernment for all Southern Baptists, as it demonstrates a careless approach to biblical values and a distorted interpretation of our Christian faith.
Warren attempts to sell his plea for unity within the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) as harmless, but it’s a sly tactic to lull faithful Baptists away from their solid, biblical grounding. He’s tempting us to ignore the clear, divine commandments in the Scriptures, like the Apostle Paul’s guidance about the role of women in church leadership.
Warren’s confounded idea of “God-given freedom” is a blatant perversion of the Christian concept of freedom—it’s not a license to reinterpret the Bible to fit our whims, but an emancipation from sin. His idea of unity and mission jeopardizes the very essence of Baptist tradition, dismissing the importance of a unified, biblically-grounded faith.
Yet, he still insists that not only he, but all Southern Baptist churches should abandon their beliefs and embrace what he himself has determined to be right in his own eyes. In a recent post on Twitter, Warren argued that Southern Baptists should allow women preachers because…the Bible says so? Nope. That’s not it at all. Instead, he says they should because Charles Stanley was saved listening to a woman preacher.
Worse, he calls Southern Baptists who disagree with him “hypocrites” because of this. First, let’s assume that Charles Stanley was truly a born-again Christian. Let’s face it, he had a lot of rotten fruit. And while he may have preached the gospel and remained somewhat conservative on some issues over the years, he was also very shallow and compromised in a lot of areas, including his own support for women pastors.
Stanley, a former Southern Baptist Convention president, is hardly the leadership or the example that the denomination needs to decide what’s right for its future. A quick perusal of Stanley’s fruits, and his support for his pro-homosexual son and pastor, Andy, demonstrates the futility of embracing compromise. Just like former Southern Baptist Convention president, James Merrit, whose son is now a flaming homosexual pastor, how those under their leadership turn out is often a reflection of the leadership itself.
This should also serve as an example of why Southern Baptists, if they truly do want to save the denomination, should completely ignore Rick Warren, boot him out for good, shun him, and pretend he doesn’t exist. But that won’t happen. Saddleback Church has brought in way too much money and influence into the SBC and that will likely be the driving factor behind the decision next week on whether or not Saddleback should remain. Rest assured, if Saddleback remains in fellowship, the floodgates to apostasy will be opened, thousands of churches will be empowered to ordain women to the pastorate, and once that happens, well, the United Methodist Church, the PCUSA, and the ELCA should all serve as prophetic examples of the fate of the SBC. Goodbye!