I’ve been writing quite a bit the last few days about the issue of women pastors in the SBC and how the issue has become one of the most hot-button topics in recent Southern Baptist history. In fact, I can’t remember a time during my former Southern Baptist life where a single issue had even the establishment elites split over the issue. On the one hand, you have SBC leaders like SBTS professor, Denny Burk, and his peers arguing in favor of an amendment that would forbid Southern Baptist churches from having women pastors while others, like former SBC president, JD Greear arguing that forbidding women pastors is a big no-no, because racism and stuff.
Here’s part of what I wrote yesterday, in case you missed it:
…many messengers who voted in favor of the amendment were only doing so to appease the vocal conservative extreme minority. The vast majority of these messengers did not realize what the consequences of voting for such a biblical amendment would be, and thought that by sacrificing a few unpopular churches, like Saddleback, they could simply keep the conservatives quiet.
Basically, as is being argued by Greear in his blog post, the side-effect of passing this amendment is going to be that nearly 4000 black churches with women pastors are going to play the race card when those churches are disfellowshipped for disobeying Scripture. Yes, a stupid argument, I know. But here’s something I didn’t catch immediately. In that same blog post, Greear argued that the issue of women pastors is an essential issue. Here’s what he wrote:
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 😉
I believe complementarianism is essential to Baptist faith and practice, a defining feature of our Convention, and am grateful our Baptist Faith and Message makes that clear.
Now, one would read that at face level and come away with the conclusion that Greear believes complementarianism is an essential issue. “Essential” issues are typically the defining issues of a movement—after all, the definition of “essential” is “absolutely necessary; extremely important,” according to Google. In theological terms, an essential doctrine/teaching/issue is something that is typically regarded as foundational to the faith and to stray from the proper teaching of this places one outside of the faith. In Baptist polity, an “essential issue” might not place you outside of the faith, but it certainly places you outside of being a Baptist. For example, another essential issue of the Baptist denomination is believer’s baptism. Presbyterians who baptize babies are not Baptists. So if Greear believes Complementarianism to be essential to Southern Baptist doctrine, then not being complementarian should place you outside of the Baptist denomination. Seems simple.
But wait. Is that what Greear believes? Just a few lines down in the same article, Greear writes:
Since the Conservative Resurgence, we have sought to be united on primary things (e.g. salvation by faith alone, the bodily resurrection of Jesus, the inerrancy of the Bible, etc.) and secondary things also (e.g. complementarianism, believer’s baptism, regenerate church membership, etc.).
Here, argues that complementarianism—and believer’s baptism and regenerate church membership—are now secondary issues. So now, according to Greear, Women pastors, baptism, and even being saved, are merely secondary issues, and don’t necessarily place you outside of the faith. But wait, is complementarianism really even a secondary issue? Is women holding the office, function, and title of pastor really that big of a deal? Well, it has to be less of a deal than being saved, which is a secondary issue. Oh, but wait, it is less of a deal. After calling it a “nomenclature problem,” Greear now says it’s a tertiary issue. He goes on to write:
This amendment forces conformity down to tertiary levels in ways that will both violate local church autonomy and are inconsistent with our past practice.
So is rebellion against the clear teachings of Scripture an essential issue in the SBC? Is it a secondary issue? Or is it a tertiary issue? I think Greear is the one with the “nomenclature problem.” Make no mistake about it, women holding the office, title, or performing the function or role of a pastor is not a “nomenclature problem.” That’s about as asinine as Dwight McKissic saying that a woman should have the right to choose to have an abortion in the cases of rape or incest isn’t “pro-choice” or that men who are sexually attracted to other men aren’t homosexuals, they’re “same-sex attracted.” It’s silly, and this is confusing. And it’s meant to be—don’t fall for it. Those churches with women pastors need to repent and obey the Scriptures or be disfellowshipped. It’s as simple as that.