The Louisville, Kentucky-based Southern Baptist Theological Seminary unanimously approved a resolution last week affirming its stance that only men can be pastors.
"It is further resolved that this Board encourages The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary administration and faculty to continue its theological training with this stated conviction —graduating both men and women for service to the church, but with men alone reserved for the office and function, and thereby title of pastor," the resolution states, in part.
As reported by The Christian Post, SBTS trustees passed the resolution at their fall meeting last week. The resolution affirms the stance made by SBTS president Albert Mohler, who helped craft the Baptist Faith & Message 2000, which is the SBC's official statement of faith.
"Our @SBTS trustees made an important statement last week, passing a unanimous resolution defining pastor as both function and office and limited to men by Scripture as confessed by Southern Baptists in the Baptist Faith & Message," Mohler tweeted on Tuesday. "Thankful for them."
Our @SBTS trustees made an important statement last week, passing a unanimous resolution defining pastor as both function and office and limited to men by Scripture as confessed by Southern Baptists in the Baptist Faith & Message. Thankful for them. https://t.co/0jJMmVbnW4— Albert Mohler (@albertmohler) October 18, 2022
The resolution comes after Saddleback Church, which is affiliated with the SBC, ordained three women in May 2021 despite the Baptist Faith & Message 2000 stating that the "office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture."
At the time, Mohler denounced the ordinations as "contrary to Scripture" and "an attempt to redefine and reformulate the convictional foundation of Southern Baptist faith and cooperative ministry."
"The theological issues have not changed since the year 2000 when Southern Baptists spoke clearly and precisely in the Baptist Faith & Message. More importantly, the Holy Scriptures have not changed and cannot change," Mohler wrote in an op-ed published on his website.
Others within the SBC called for Saddleback to be disfellowshipped from the convention, which is the nation's largest Protestant denomination.
During the SBC's annual meeting in June, SBC's Credentials Committee Chair Linda Cooper announced that a decision regarding Saddleback will be placed on hold. The Credentials Committee is tasked with handling issues regarding whether member churches abide by the SBC standards.
While the committee affirms that most Southern Baptists believe leadership roles, such as pastor, elder, bishop or overseer, are limited to men, Cooper told messengers that "the committee found little information evidencing convention beliefs regarding the use of the title of pastor, for staff positions with different responsibilities and authority than that of lead pastor role."
The committee also called for the creation of a study committee that would have reported at next year's annual meeting a "recommendation to provide clarity regarding the office of pastor."
Mohler, however, rejected the idea.
"If we eventually have to form a study committee over every word of our confession of faith, then we are doomed, and we are no longer a confessional people," he said to applause from the crowd.
The Credentials Committee later called off its recommendation for a study committee.
Mohler, alongside New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary President Chuck Kelley and former SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission president Richard Land (1988-2013), issued a statement clarifying the Southern Baptist definition of the word "pastor."
"[I]t is important to understand that the word pastor was chosen precisely because of its clarity among Southern Baptists. The statement carefully affirms that both men and women are gifted for service in the church, but the role of pastor is biblically defined and is to be held only by men as qualified by Scripture," they stressed in the statement published July 29.
Photo courtesy: Unsplash/Ben White
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.
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