In a move that is both historic, long overdue, and likely meant to ruffle feathers within the Southern Baptist Convention, Saddleback Church — headed up by “Purpose-Driven Life” pastor Rick Warren — just ordained three women as pastors.
Better late than never…?
The three women in question have been working with the church for decades in various capacities. If not for the denomination they’re affiliated with, their promotions would hardly raise eyebrows. But because these are Southern Baptists, there’s pushback from Baptist leaders who don’t believe women are meant to be in pastoral roles.
Calling them — or any woman — a pastor is, “at best, unwise and confusing,” wrote Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.
A ban on women pastors was added to the Baptist Faith and Message, the SBC’s doctrinal statement, in 2000, stating that “the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.”
“Saddleback has taken actions that place itself in direct conflict with the stated doctrines of the Southern Baptist Convention,” he told Religion News Service in an interview.
It’s much easier to be misogynistic when you can just write the rules to favor men, while pointing to God as justification in order to shut down debate. But if anyone can push back against tradition, it’s one of the largest churches in the country. It also comes on the heels of popular Bible teacher Beth Moore leaving the denomination.
The gatekeepers are bound to panic as the patriarchy gets smashed from within. While it may seem like small steps to those outside the Baptist bubble, this is quickly becoming an issue that stands to divide Southern Baptists in a way that will either pressure the denomination to change or push people out the doors if they don’t. It’s a win-win either way.