Former Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear has released a mea culpa of sorts about ‘The Unintended Effects of the Law Amendment,’ recoiling at the notion that churches would be in friendly cooperation with the SBC if they appoint, affirm, or employ only men as a pastor of any kind.
Wearing his jacket inside out, Greear argues against the amendment passed by a 2/3 majority at this year’s annual meeting, saying, “I don’t oppose this amendment for theological reasons, but constitutional ones.”
It seemed all good in Greear’s world, who was busy plotting and scheming with other company men on a Trojan-Horse-via-Task-Force play. Then the National African American Fellowship of the SBC (NAAF) started to flex its fists. This race-based special interest group represents 4,000 SBC churches that identify as “Black Churches” and released an open letter opposing ratification because their churches have a disproportionate number of women pastors.
This was a shot fired at Greear and the denominational elites. Their hair instantly bristled and testicles shrunk into their bodies at the specter of facing accusations of racism over unfairly targeting their black brothers for their insistence that sisters lead them.
Despite being told that there was no liberal drift with ladies at the helm, suddenly, the fear of cleaving off the less white wing became a catastrophic nightmare. Greear had to hurry to get this out; sacrificing his principles less he invites suspicion.
Couching his true concern in the guise of a false cover, he writes:
I do oppose this amendment because it binds the hands of the Credentials Committee from differentiating between those churches who have committed (to use Al Mohler’s words) a “grievous error” (in this case, rejecting complementarianism) and those who I believe simply have a nomenclature problem.
I’ve heard the response, “Well, before we disfellowship them, we would give them a chance to change their views and adjust their practices.”…Hopefully when we explain that the best reading of the New Testament points to “pastor” being synonymous with “elder,” they will change their titles accordingly. But what about those who don’t?…
If we ratify this amendment, we have decided a priori that they are not in friendly cooperation and the Credentials Committee will have no choice but to recommend disfellowship. Put another way, the problem with this amendment is not that it gives churches no space to change their nomenclature, the problem is in what it mandates that we do if they don’t. Complementarian churches with inaccurate titling for some of their women in ministry are put into the same category as those harboring known sex abusers or marrying gay couples.
Greear later adds:
That doesn’t feel right. It doesn’t feel right because this level of enforced stricture has never been true of our “rules of cooperation.”
In fact, I’d suggest that for those to whom it does feel right, perhaps they are the ones who aren’t “closely identified” with us.
What feels or does not feel right is definitely not a biblical category.
If the issue is a nomenclature issue, then the Law Amendment will fix that issue. The churches change, not the Amendment. If there are “pastors” not acting as pastors, it should be nothing to give up the title as a right response to being shown a wrong error. If they are acting as pastors and refuse to give up the title, they can follow Saddleback out the door – the SBC showing no partiality on account of a bit of pigmententation difference.
Greear’s perspective of complementarianism is so schizophrenic and shifts in the wind. His understanding of complementarianism’s theological grounding is all over the place. Look at it – this is a man who has not thought it through.
Though Greear is clearly flinching at the thought of what the NAAF leaving the SBC would cause, what did he argue days before the annual conference?
Some have said that we need to be on guard, since the prospect of female pastors in SBC churches is a “growing danger.” I disagree.
The reality is that even the largest estimates of churches with female pastors on staff make for a very small—and, in fact, shrinking—fraction of our Convention.
I can speak specifically about my own state. Here, we have about 4,300 North Carolina Baptist churches. Ten years ago, the number of female pastors was around 200. Twenty years ago, it was around 400. Now, it’s fewer than 20. So, judging by our data, this is not growing, it is shrinking. Anyone who says otherwise is either ignorant, misinformed, or being purposely divisive.
This commenter points out the obvious better than we ever could.
With this many red flags on the field, we suspect we’ve found the one piece of media from Greear that Ed Litton is guaranteed not to plagiarize anytime soon.