Prominent Southern Baptist theologians released a statement last week, clarifying the meaning of the word “pastor” as it has come up for debate recently.
The document, “A Statement Concerning the Baptist Faith & Message and the Word ‘Pastor,’” was released last week by Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Chuck Kelley, president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary; and Richard Land, who served as the president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
The men said in the document that “pastor” means “one who fulfills the pastoral office and carries out the pastor’s functions.”
In comparison to deacons, a role that “both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.”
Additionally, the central responsibility of the pastor is “to preach and teach.”
“It is important to understand that the word pastor was chosen precisely because of its clarity among Southern Baptists,” the document says. “The statement carefully affirms that both men and women are gifted for service in the church, but the role of pastor is biblically defined as is to be held only by men as qualified by Scripture.”
The document comes after Saddleback Church recently ordained female “pastors.”
Rick Warren, Saddleback’s pastor, said the pushback on their decision to ordain female pastors is a “secondary issue.”
“As Western culture grows more dark, more evil, and more secular, we have to decide: Are we going to treat each other as allies or adversaries?
“Are we going to keep bickering over secondary issues, or are we going to keep the main thing the main thing?”
According to The Christian Post, those who oppose the ordination of women as pastors are called “complementarians,” while “egalitarians” believe that some Scripture does restrict the pastor’s role to men, but it is not a universal restriction.
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Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.