“Spirituality can go hand-in-hand with ruthless single-mindedness when the individual is convinced his cause is just” ―
SBC to outlaw women pastors: the Calvinists have won.
I had lunch with a friend yesterday. We discussed several issues within the SBC, including the unexpected vote to outlaw women pastors in the SBC. Believe it or not, Mike Law’s proposed amendment was hugely successful. I wrote about this in Mike Law Says His Amendment Banning Women Pastors in the SBC Will Prevent the Oppression of Women and Children. The SBC Executive Committee Will Allow Messengers to Vote on It. Many in the Executive Committee advocated voting against this proposal. Given the overwhelming approval to extend the right boot of fellowship to Saddleback et al., this should not come as a surprise.
I was not expecting this to pass and had hoped it would go to a committee to “study it.” I was wrong. I quickly educated myself on the process. This vote will need to be confirmed at the SBC Convention next year. If it passes, it will become the law of SBC land. The Roys Report presented Southern Baptists Start Process to Name Only Men As Pastors.
I read the following and imagined the bloodletting that will begin if this passes next year, and unless something unexpected happens, I think it will.
Law, pastor of Arlington Baptist Church, has compiled a list of 170 women serving in pastoral roles. Fewer than a third are senior pastors. The remainder include associate pastors and children’s pastors.
Who will be the Tomás de Torquemada of the SBC, visiting all 170 women and turning them over to Satan? I wonder if the SBC folks have taken this to its logical conclusion. Imagine if the SBC insists on all 170 women being stripped of their ordination. Mike Law will find more women pastors and be tasked to visit each church, turning over every pew and looking for hidden female pastors.
This whole thing is so sad and didn’t have to be handled this way. Cooler heads could have prevailed and come up with a compromise, grandfathering (or grandmothering?) in the churches with female pastors. But they can’t. After rudely kicking out Saddleback, Fern Creek, and others, the precedent is set. If they don’t boot all the churches with women pastors, they will have a revolt. However, I believe these new rules are being propagated by the Calvinists, who have essentially taken over the SBC. I have talked with some pastors outside of the SBC who cannot understand why this was not a part of the constitution of the SBC since it was founded. I have answered that the current crop of Calvinista theodudes that have insisted on these changes. And they have been successful.
However, I predict it will be harder and harder for the SBC to claim their churches are autonomous. As the list of “dos and don’ts” grows, so does the possibility of a successful lawsuit against the SBC as an entity. For example, instead of just suing the local 30th Baptist Church over abuse, the lawyers will add the SBC and maybe one of its entities, like the NAMB, to the list of defendants. I have a friend who is a lawyer who follows the SBC, and he disagrees with me. But the last time we talked was a couple of years ago. I stand by my prediction.
My longtime Baptist friend says she believes the SBC is headed for a split, ala the Methodists. I am beginning to think she is right.
Question for discussion: Al Mohler looked tired and old at the meeting. I think he will be offered a sinecure. There’s a bunch of these in the SBC. Who will be his successor? I guarantee they are jockeying for the position as we speak. For example, could it be Mark Dever or Denny Burke?
The SBC Sex Abuse Task Force presents a “prototype” database.
First, let’s all applaud Jules Woodson, Tiffany Thigpen, and others who attended the Convention. They are working hard to move the behemoth, which is the SBC. I was rather sad that the task force could not have a database with real names on it up and running by the time of the convention. Granted, there were roadblocks. Guidepost Solutions was going to get one going but was removed due to an LGBTQ-supportive tweet. What did they think they were getting with a non-religious company? Plopping Samatha Kilpatrick in an unoccupied office and calling it “Faith-Based Solutions” was rather ill-conceived..
Christa Brown wrote an excellent piece for Baptist News Global. SBC annual meeting reveals little progress on sexual abuse, not even ‘bare minimum.’ Here is her take.
However, although it arrived with much hoopla, what was actually unveiled at the meeting was just a prototype of a database with “dummy names,” as Task Force Chair Marshall Blalock described them in his address to the messengers.
Despite the passage of an entire year, not a single abusive pastor was listed in the database. Not one.
This is not meaningful progress.
The problem never has been how to build a website — you could hire a teenager to do that. The problem has been how to populate that site with the names of credibly accused pastors — something that the SBC has still not done at all.
Furthermore, the SBC’s prototype database is currently set up to eventually list only those who have already “been convicted, confessed or found liable in civil court.” Thus, by design, it will include only the easy and obvious ones.
The task force has stalled out on what it’s calling “category four” names — those pastors who have been determined to be “credibly accused” by an independent investigation.
Even though messengers to the 2022 convention voted overwhelmingly to authorize the inclusion of “category four” names, the task force has now determined this category “requires further study and consideration.”
For example, Johnny Hunt was credibly accused. He now claims it was a consensual event and is suing everyone he can think of in the SBC and Guidepost Solutions. His name could not be added to the database since he was only “credibly accused.” He did not confess. There have been no lawsuits or civil judgments. This is where the rubber meets the road. I guess that the bulk of sex abuse fits under the category of “credibly accused.” These abusers are then free to move from church to church.
Robert Downen, lead reporter on the Houston Chronicle’s 2019 Abuse of Faith exposé, saidthat, without “category four” in the database, “really all that does is put the SBC right where they were when we started investigating them six years ago. … It does very little to move the needle.”
But the SBC wants to protect billion-plus dollars of assets. Here is what abuse advocates are up against. In 2022, Church Leaders posted SBC Executive Committee Member Joe Knott ‘Terrified’ To Implement Policies To ‘Protect Children or Women.’
EC member Joe Knott expressed that he is “terrified” at the thought of the SBC implementing policies “to protect children or women,” policies he believes will open the SBC up to class action lawsuits that pose an existential threat to the denomination.
Knott is a lawyer who lives in Raleigh, NC, and has served as a lay leader in his church for more than 30 years. He is also on the steering council for the Conservative Baptist Network, an association of Southern Baptist leaders who believe that the SBC is drifting away from conservative Christian values and desire to “turn the SBC back to the Bible.”
I said some of this above.
“And everything that we’re talking about today with the Taskforce and implementing policies to ensure this and that—I am terrified that we are breaching our longstanding position of being a voluntary association of independent churches,” Knott continued. “When we start telling churches that they should do this or do that to protect children or women, and it turns out—which it will—that women and children are still going to be victimized, then someone is going to say, ‘You did not do enough.’”
Indicating that his main point of concern was legal exposure, Knott explained, “And when they say that, that is a question of fact, which could support a lawsuit. And not just one lawsuit by one victim but by thousands of victims, if we have not done enough.”
… I guarantee you women and children are going to be victimized no matter how much we spend,” Knott said. “And that is going to make us, potentially, targets of great class action lawsuits, which could be the end of the Southern Baptist Convention.”
Quick question: Does anyone know what is happening at Christ Baptist Church in Raleigh-Joe Knott’s church? Elders are gone. Members have fled. Pastor positions seem available.
Some difficult days are ahead for the Sex Abuse Implementation Task Force, and I can only wish them well.