Not Arizona! The Murray Buttes on Mars. NASA
“We are all trying to let our mind and heart go their own way—centred on money or pleasure or ambition—and hoping, in spite of this, to behave honestly and chastely and humbly. And that is exactly what Christ warned us you could not do.” ― C.S.Lewis, Mere Christianity
Awhile back, I spoke with Wade about his views on women and the church. At that point, he had not written extensively about his perspectives on women and giftedness. He also explained in depth how his church lived out their beliefs. At the time, I knew that he would speak about it and the inevitable pushback would occur.
There is turmoil in the SBC as various groups are coalescing and challenging various initiatives. There is the Conservative Baptist Network. This groups is essentially Paige Patterson and friends.
Wade Burleson identified another interesting group which I hadn’t noticed. He wrote an illuminating post: A Chilling Crisis of Power, Control, and Authority: An Open Letter to the Southern Baptist Convention. Here is what he said.
That same Executive Committee, behind closed doors, created a task force to investigate the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. That’s a polite way of saying they are going after Russell Moore’s job. Members of the Executive Committee don’t like that Russell Moore has spoken truth to power, and they want Russell to conform to their demands and be silent about Trump.
The Southern Baptist Convention needs Russell Moore. No leader should have absolute power. All leaders, whether religious or political, should tremble at the thought of accountability to people. That’s true liberty.
It’s a dark day when a Convention allegedly built on cooperation around missions demands conformity on political views. The Fundamentalist Forum has been advocating an “investigation of Russell Moore” since 2017. The FF is not even SBC, it’s an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Forum.
I have been expressing concerns about The Founders for quite some time. I even featured a post about the Founders written by Wade Burleson. So it came as no surprise to me when The Founders, once again, decided to go after Wade. I knew they would and so did he.
As usual, Wade is a gentleman. Notice how he called Tom Nettles a *friend.* Wade has taught me much about responding in love to difficult situations. I still have far to go but he is my role model in that department and I am thankful for the conviction I feel when I read his writings.
Wade is moving the bar when it comes to allowing women to participate in leadership in the church. I would imagine there are a few SBC leaders who are hoping that his thoughts don’t get much play since he is challenging some dearly held memes and sticking his toes over some tightly held SBC boundaries.
I might suggest you read his open letter to the SBC linked above prior to reading this post. There are some interesting days ahead for the SBC and I look forward to being an outside observer to the free for all. I will be curious to see where the boundary lines are drawn in the next few years. I know I will have plenty to write about.
Once again, I thank Wade for allowing me to post his writings. He is a stand up sort of guy who never lets his theology trump his love for others.
PS: I think The Founders were tacky for not allowing Wade to respond on their website. Or are they afraid of healthy dialog? It’s hard to tell.
Today, Founders Ministries published an article by my friend, Dr. Tom Nettles, where Tom takes me to task for writing that the Bible teaches leadership in the home, the church, and society is never gender-based.
I think Founders Ministries brought out the big gun (Dr. Tom Nettles) because the article I wrote this week entitled The 2000 BFM and the Theological Triage Tragedy struck a chord.
I learned a long time ago that when a big gun is fired, people are concerned. A writer only receives flak when flying over the target.
I seem to be successful in convincing Christ-followers within the Southern Baptist Convention what true, biblical, Christ-like leadership looks like, enabling them to lay aside the traditions of men.
Tom writes that “Burleson cites Scripture and condenses ideas that are false or have no relation to the position he wants to establish.”
The position that I wish to establish is that leadership in Christ’s Kingdom (eg. “the church”) is always based on gifting, not gender; humble character, not hubristic control; and a spirit of service, not a position of power. In other words, gifted males and females are part of shared leadership in the church, the home, and in society.
Tom writes that “Burleson overlooked passages like Hebrews 13:17.”
Tom writes that “with breathtaking confidence, Burleson asserts that it is a mistake to teach male leadership in the home and the church…(and) the idea of a ‘submissive attitude’ on the part of a woman is a violation of New Testament standard.”
No Tom, you misunderstand. I’m not saying it’s a mistake for females to have a submissive attitude toward males. I’m saying it’s a mistake for males not to have a submissive attitude toward females. I’m also not saying its a mistake for a gifted man to lead. I’m saying it’s wrong and sinful for a man to keep a gifted woman from leading. As far back as 1998, two years before the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message was adopted, I pointed out to Southern Baptists that the Bible teaches mutual submission of the husband and wife, mutual leadership of the man and the woman, and mutual love of men and women (see image below).
Tom, I agree with you! I can’t disprove that John Broadus’s views on women did not accurately present Southern Baptists’ view of women “at the time” (eg. 1850s and 1860s). But John Broadus was wrong! Just as he and the other FOUNDERS (pardon the pun) of Southern Seminary were wrong about slavery in terms of their interpretations of the Bible. Only the Bible is infallible; man’s interpretations of it are not.
As Southern Seminary recently reported, Southern Founders John A Broadus, James P. Boyce, Basil Manly Jr., and William Williams, all owned more than 50 slaves between them. Shame on them. Yet, they all used their faulty interpretations of Scripture to justify slavery.
I’m uninterested in debating Founders’ views on women. I’m only interested in telling others what the Scriptures teach.
Tom quotes the Philadelphia Association and says (in agreement with the Association) that “women in the church of God should be silenced (and that the Bible)... excludes all women whomsoever from all degrees of teaching, ruling, governing, dictating, and leading in the church of God.”
Hogwash. That is not what the Bible teaches. The overwhelming teaching of Jesus and the New Testament is that men and women as gifted by Christ (the Head of the church), and as led by the Spirit, and as called by the church, should serve others without restrictions.
But what about I Timothy 2:9-15? (see Artemis and the End of Us: Evangelical Errors Regarding Women).
But what about I Timothy 2:12? (see ‘The’ Woman of Error in I Timothy 2:12).
But what about I Corinthians 14:34-36? (see A Free Speech Ekklesia for All Brothers and Sisters).
Now, I’m asking you a question. Why do you base your views on three passages of Scripture that at your first glance “prohibit women from speaking or teaching,” but you ignore the overwhelming and clear teachings of the Scripture that all men and women who follow Jesus are to serve as the Holy Spirit gifts them?
The Bible clearly teaches that both men and women are to minister and lead in Christ’s Kingdom and in our Southern Baptist churches.
For further reading, peruse A Biblical Primer on Women in Christian Ministry.
The problem in the SBC is men acting like “Gentiles” (Jesus’ words) and seeking to exert power, authority, and control over people. Power. Authority. Control.
PAC men (Power. Authority. Control. men) are running the SBC, but the days are soon coming when the Spirit will move and Christ will become the Head of His people and this infatuation with authority and control will come to an end.
Spiritual power trips typically end in twisted trysts of sexual submission.
When Jesus is the only authority over His people, then His people – that means every brother and every sister in Christ – are empowered to serve as Christ gifts and commissions us.
I tried to write a comment to Tom’s post on the Founders Ministries website. The Founders would not let it through. So, in closing, I ask you to read my full response to Dr. Tom Nettle’s article. The comment was written “off the top of my head” in about 2 minutes, and I post it here without edits, in case the Founders at some point in the future decide to take my out of ‘moderation.’
WADE’S RESPONSE TO DR. TOM NETTLES:
“Tom, I’m honored you would respond to my writings. The “office of pastor” may have a long and early pedigree in Baptist history and ecclesiology, but you may be missing my point. Slavery has had a long and early pedigree in Southern Baptist history and ecclesiology. Neither one of us would say it has precedent in Scripture (at least I don’t think we would). However, Southern Baptist preachers during the 1850s and 1860s would have defended tooth and toenail the right – those pastors would say the biblical right (I have their sermons) – for Southern Baptists to own, trade, and purchase slaves.
My point is that the BIBLE – nowhere – speaks of “the authority of a pastor to rule over people.” Period. The Bible refers to Christ as the one with authority over His church, and He gifts men and women as He pleases. We are His body, and there is only one Head. A multi-head church doesn’t exist, no matter how long and how often Baptists try to say a “Pastor” has authority over anybody. I’ve written a book called “Fraudulent Authority: pastors Who Seek to Rule Over Others.”
If “ordination” means that a person is bestowed some “mystical authority” over God’s people, then I am against ordaining women – and men.
Christ gifts His people – men and women – as He sees fit. There are no “render by gender” spiritual gifts. The men and women gifted with teaching should teach. The men and women gifted with prophesying should prophesy (preach). The men and women gifted with serving should serve. Those are the “roles” of the church.
Now, if a local body of Christ which incorporates as a 501 C-3 wishes to designate a man or a woman to be a “pastor” of that non-profit, then they must file papers with the state and declare who is the local 501 C-3 “pastor” – for tax purposes and for officiating marriage ceremonies. However, few people realize that “legal authority” in any church is not the pastor, not the members, and not even the congregation. Legal authority – as defined by the state – are those men and women listed as “trustees” on the Secretary of State Certificate of Incorporation, and those so designated in continuing By Laws.
Baptists have historically been “people of the book.” We wrote our Confessions first (1644), and in that London Confession, the “ordinances” (baptisms and the Lord’s Supper) were called “Christ’s ordinances,” not church ordinances, so any convert of Jesus had the privilege of baptizing others they led to Jesus, and any convert had the privilege of sharing the bread and the wine with other. By 1689, after the Presbyterians issued their Westminster Confession, Baptists in London wrote another Confession to more align with Cromwellians ruling England. It’s then that this mystical idea of “an office of pastoral authority” came into existence among Baptists. King James and the Anglicans, Cromwell and the Presbyterians, and other denominations all viewed “the office of bishop” as an office of authority, and only they (eg. “the bishops”) could handled “the ordinances.”
I know you read Gill (as do I), and this brilliant Hebrew linguist convinced me that the ordinances are Christ’s, not the church, and every follower of Christ is a minister.
Some just happen to get paid.
I’m pushing back against this awful doctrine that “Preachers” or “Pastors” (i.e. MALES) have some kind of inherent authority over females. The doctrine of eternal subordination of the Son was ruled heresy a long time ago, but it lives today in the hearts of many attempting to keep females eternally subordinate to males.
I appreciate the friendship with you and Tom Ascol, and I must say, I’m flattered that the big gun is now writing in opposition to what I write.
I must be making progress in raising the awareness of what I deem a more biblical view of women and leadership. Though you know history (as do I), the interpretation of the Bible can change to more accurately reflect the teachings of slavery.
Ask our Southern Baptist pastor friend, Dwight McKissic, or my fellow Teaching Pastor at Emmanuel Enid, Abraham Wright, if they are glad Southern Baptists changed our interpretations of Scripture on the issue of slavery.
Southern Baptist will also one day have a more biblical view of women.
The Holy Spirit will see to it (Acts 2:17).”
More to come…