Burleson’s call for Southern Baptist church autonomy in setting the role of women
Intransigence over permitting women to serve as pastors and deacons is among the principal forces grinding the Southern Baptist Convention down.
Oklahoma pastor Wade Burleson this week takes a clear stand for further discussion and an end to the denomination-destroying disfellowships over the issue. The outspoken former member of the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board writes:
Let me be clear though. I am not advocating that a church should call a woman as pastor. Nor am I advocating that a church should always and only call a male pastor. I am simply open to the arguments on both sides. I see my brothers and sisters in Christ on the opposite spectrum of this issue being both Bible-believing followers of Christ who have simply reached different conclusions on this issue.
Without blinking, he forecasts an eventual conclusion for that dialog:
More pointedly, I would like to make a prediction. History will one day look back on this issue of “women” pastors in the SBC as we now look back on slavery within our Convention.
Meanwhile, the inquisitorial process of refusing to accept donations from or give aid to churches that do choose to, for example, call women as senior pastors, should end. He has demonstrated in previous blog entries that the process is at best only denying the church ministerial talent it desperately needs — a view which has abundant support elsewhere.
In this case, however, Burleson finds theological and other support among inerrantists who are otherwise in theological step with the SBC’s conservative leadership. Specifically, “John Zens (Are the Sisters Free to Function), theologian Dr. Gilbert Bilezikian (Beyond Sex Roles), and the ongoing ministry of Christians for Biblical Equality.
Bottom line, Southern Baptists too often pronounce judgment and condemnation before we dialogue, reflect and consider the consequences of our anathemas. I am simply asking for dialogue, patience and Christian grace. Let’s cooperate, not separate. We unite because of Christ and the glorious gospel, and we fund our kingdom work through the Cooperative Program. If we keep moving down the line toward of disfellowshipping from churches that interpret the Bible different than we do, then we ought to change the Cooperative Program’s name to the Conformity Program. If we don’t stop the nonsense of narrower and narrower parameters of fellowship and cooperation, then pretty soon the SBC will be the size of a mega church and not the largest Protestant denomination in the western world.
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