Whither the Baptist Faith and Message?

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In recent years, two Southern Baptist Churches in Georgia have been disfellowshipped due to having a female pastor. While some may question disfellowshipping a church over such an issue, having  a female pastor is in direct violation of the statement of faith around which Southern Baptists cooperate in ministry.

The action is based on a vote by the convention in November 2000 affirming the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message as the state body’s doctrinal statement. The document includes the phrase, “While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.”

“We are keeping faith with the Baptist Faith and Message with regard to women serving as pastor,” Robert White, executive director of the state convention said in a statement. “The GBC has never been opposed to women serving in ministry positions other than pastor.”1

On the other hand, First Redeemer Church, a Georgia Southern Baptist church, recently had two Roman Catholic Presidential Republican primary candidates speak from the pulpit. Newt Gingrich was the most recent candidate to speak referring to the “secular left” of which The Wall Street Journal reported the following.

The harsh language comes as Rick Santorum has successfully courted many of the party’s social conservatives. That fact was further illustrated Sunday by Mr. Gingrich’s visit here to First Redeemer Church, where Mr. Santorum spoke exactly a week ago. Last Sunday evening, the former Pennsylvania senator drew some 3,000 supporters who also filled an overflow room next door. Mr. Gingrich, who attended a Sunday morning service, spoke to about 2,300 people from the main sanctuary.2

Yet, the Baptist Faith and Message is not silent on the political realm [emphasis added].

XVII. Religious Liberty
God alone is Lord of the conscience, and He has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are contrary to His Word or not contained in it. Church and state should be separate. The state owes to every church protection and full freedom in the pursuit of its spiritual ends. In providing for such freedom no ecclesiastical group or denomination should be favored by the state more than others. Civil government being ordained of God, it is the duty of Christians to render loyal obedience thereto in all things not contrary to the revealed will of God. The church should not resort to the civil power to carry on its work. The gospel of Christ contemplates spiritual means alone for the pursuit of its ends. The state has no right to impose penalties for religious opinions of any kind. The state has no right to impose taxes for the support of any form of religion. A free church in a free state is the Christian ideal, and this implies the right of free and unhindered access to God on the part of all men, and the right to form and propagate opinions in the sphere of religion without interference by the civil power.3

Is having a female pastor more of a violation of the BFM than promoting a particular political party by giving candidates access to the pulpit?

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  1. Bob Allen. Georgia Baptists target second church with woman pastor. http://www.abpnews.com/
  2. Gingrich Condemns ‘Secular Left’ at Georgia Church. http://blogs.wsj.com/
  3. The Baptist Faith and Message. Religious Liberty. www.sbc.net
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The above article was posted on February 27, 2012 by Mark Lamprecht.
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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Arthur Sido February 27, 2012 at 3:56 pm

Not just politicians but Roman Catholics. Sometimes seems that the SBC is awfully selective about what violations to get outraged about.

2 Steve Martin February 27, 2012 at 4:22 pm

It’s all about law…isn’t it?

It all revolves around ‘us’.

The Word of God is no respector of our political agendas and is no respector of us.

3 D.R. Randle February 27, 2012 at 4:44 pm

It’s certainly disturbing to have politicians, particularly those who cannot preach the true Gospel, speaking in SBC pulpits. Has the Gospel become less important today than the need to allow political candidates to speak? I certainly hope not.

4 Joshua February 27, 2012 at 10:14 pm

It is sickening that a Southern Baptist Church would let someone enslaved to a false religion like Roman Catholicism speak from their pulpit about the ‘evils’ of the leftists.

This is part and parcel of the church being an ‘institution’ instead of the purveyor and guardian of truth. Nothing new, but still wrong.

5 GP February 27, 2012 at 11:28 pm

Next week’s editorial in The Christian Index: “Here Come the Catholics”.

6 Doc B February 28, 2012 at 1:01 am

“Is having a female pastor more of a violation of the BFM than promoting a particular political party by giving candidates access to the pulpit?”

This is a bit of a leading question, and a straw-man one at that.

Giving candidates access to the pulpit is not promotion of a political party. Now, one could argue that giving candidates access to a pulpit on a Sunday morning is a violation of the church’s responsibility to preach the word. In fact, I’d probably make that very argument in most cases, and certainly would in this case. But unless the church refuses to give candidates in the opposing party access, this isn’t partisan, per se.

As I read the BFM2K, it appears to me it reflects opposition to both a woman pastor and using the pulpit for secular purposes. This church’s sin isn’t partisanship, it is not being gospel-centered.

7 Mark February 28, 2012 at 10:38 am

Doc B,

Thanks for the comment.

You claim the question is a straw-man, but you’ve not shown how. Yes, it is a leading question of which both scenarios grounded in the BFM as the standard.

How is giving candidates access to the pulpit during the Republican (not Democratic) primaries not a promotion of a political party? If the purpose was not promotion, can you help me understand what the purpose was of having Santorum and Gingrich speak from the pulpit? Is it your position that have those two men speak was not for secular purposes?

Would a refusal to give the opposing party be shown by not inviting them to speak? Since Obama is the incumbent I’m sure he will be the Democratic nominee. Are you willing to hold your breath until the above church invites Obama to speak from the pulpit? 🙂

8 Mark February 28, 2012 at 10:39 am

GP,

I’d love to see a Christian Index article “Here Come the Catholics”.

9 Daniel February 28, 2012 at 11:08 am

Most churches give little or no regard to the BF&M, even if they claim it as their statement of faith. A prime example is the practice of open communion, which most SBC churches practice, and which is forbidden by the BF&M.

10 Cathy M. February 29, 2012 at 2:56 pm

Yes, having a female pastor is more of a violation of the BFM than promoting a particular political party since it represents an ongoing defection from biblical authority. On the other hand, I think it is pastoral neglect (perhaps even abuse) when a pastor allows a politician, or any other self-promoting guru to speak to his flock. In the first example, the pastor and congregation have defected while the second example is primarily a failure of the pastor to guard the flock and the doctrine of Christ crucified.

11 David May 20, 2012 at 9:13 pm

They do the same thing in North Carolina! In Charlotte, during President Bush’s second run for office, our Pastor stood up on the podium and said, “He’s a good man, we have to keep him in office.” I was shocked and disgusted! He never mentioned President Bush’s name, but boy he sure got his point across. I went to Sunday School this past Easter and immediately, a man stood up and said, “we have to get this Ammendment 1 thing passed (Marriage is only between a man and a woman).” “We need people to get on the phones and man the computers.” You know, I don’t go to church to be told who to vote for and how to vote on political issues. When I walked in the front door, it said “Church,” not “Political Rally.” God gave me a brain. I don’t need some Pastor to ram his personal agenda down my throat. I am starting to think the Baptist Church might be getting some sort of kick-back from the G.O.P. This is such a gross misuse of power by these Pastors. If the Baptist Church is not careful, they are going to have a huge decline in membership. I am not the only person who is sick of “Politics from the Pulpit.”

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