Is the Southern Baptist Convention Evangelical or Fundamentalist?: Some Thoughts on the Beth Moore Controversy

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dmyers's picture

Beth Moore’s charge that complementarian men are motivated not by scripture but by misogyny, sexism, power, etc. is slanderous, arrogant, and completely revealing. She’s a full-on feminist who shouldn’t be preaching even in an egalitarian church. 

Aaron Blumer's picture


I'm not sure she meant to paint all complementarians as motivated by mysogyny etc. 

It's really hard to tell where she is on this from Twitter. I'd be interested in seeing a more systematic communication from her on that. Sometimes she is very respectful of many complementarians. One of her tweets quoted in the article above:

There are countless conservative Complementarians I very much respect & deeply love even though I may not fully understand their interpretations of certain Scriptures as the end of the matter. I love the Scriptures. I love Jesus. I do not ignore 1 Tim or 1 Cor. What I plead for is s to grapple with the entire text from Mt 1 thru Rev 22 on every matter concerning women. To grapple with Paul’s words in 1 Tim/1 Cor 14 as being authoritative, God-breathed!- alongside other words Paul wrote, equally inspired & make sense of the many women he served alongside.

She may have been more accurate than she intended with the phrase "I may not fully understand." ... because complementarians have done all that "alongside" study many times over and written their analysis at length.

The problem is that, like so many others these days, the issue quickly becomes very emotional and drama-driven and careful thought about the biblical evidence is quickly lost in the scuffle.

One thing I do know: there are indeed some "complementarians" who are only taking the label as a kind of legitimizing of their demeaning attitudes toward women. I've seen it personally... But I have no idea how much can be extrapolated from that. Are there "many" such complementarians? "Most"? I don't see any benefit in speculating. Somone should do the research and find out.

But it's certainly not "all."

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Jay's picture

I have been watching this SBC spat unfold over the last few months (maybe a year now - it kind of kicked off while Paige Patterson was in hot water), and there is a LOT more going on than just the last few weeks worth of tweets.  Furthermore, if you haven’t seen or experienced the casual misogyny that sometimes passes as “complementarianism”, then of course she makes no sense.  I very much doubt that those who are misogynistic or even abusive would see their actions in any kind of way that demonstrates wrong or patronizing/demeaning. The term “mansplaining” is used for a reason.

Some of us see what Beth Moore was taking about months ago and get where she is coming from, and some complementarians just see Beth Moore fulfilling Genesis 3:16b-17 and nothing else.  Beth has not always communicated clearly but had publicly said so and owned her failures.  I’m not seeing a lot of that in the hardcore complementarian vitriol directed against her.  

Thabiti weighed in on this via Twitter.  It’s worth a read, then a deep breath and some thought that does NOT occur on Twitter.  Then come back and actually, rationally, discuss the problems that both sides point out.  And for Heaven’s sake, put down the flamethrowers.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Jay's picture

This tweet illustrates what I just said perfectly:

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

T Howard's picture

I'm not as worried about Beth Moore and her views of complementarianism as I am her erronious views of the sufficiency of Scripture. There is no way I'd permit our church to promote her conferences or use her women's Bible studies.

That's before the complementarianism debate started.

WallyMorris's picture

The author of this article wants to "broaden the tent" so that the tent will allow women to preach/pastor. He seems to promote the broad view of Evangelicalism which even allows Harris to deny the physical, bodily resurrection of Christ (he alludes to Harris' teaching in his article as part of the broad theological spectrum at TEDS, something which he seems to favor). The current debates/battles in the SBC were inevitable since the SBC never really applied/followed Biblical separation in the Conservative Resurgence, a "top-down" movement which had limited effect on the local SBC organizations.

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

Bert Perry's picture

...on what Jay noted, here's a bit about Mrs. Moore describing her experience with theological peers.  If you google around, you'll find a lot more examples of rather boorish behavior by people ostensibly on the "complementarian" side of the equation as experienced by Mrs. Moore and others. 

And to a degree, that makes sense; if your self-worth depends on being at the top of the heap and not needing to deal with your own faults, at least a subset of male headship makes a lot of sense to you.  In the same way, if complementarian theology is taught in a truncated way--say it allows for describing a young lady as "built" in a sermon and approving of the teen boy who described her that way--it also means that many who don't intend any wrong are going to fall into those patterns simply by osmosis.

So while I affirm a complementarian view including male headship, I am also aware that there are pitfalls that can arise and are indeed logical.  One needs a strong foundation to explain, for example, what the difference is between noticing that someone is "beautiful" vs. "built".  

Another thought that comes to mind is that if your first response when addressing this controversy is to attack Mrs. Moore, or attack the author of this article, then you're engaging the ad hominem fallacy instead of the controversy, and ironically deepening the trenches along the battle lines.  Bad form, and bad tactics.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

WallyMorris's picture

Not any need to perceive pointing out the obvious as an "attack" - The author of the article wants to broaden the "Evangelical Tent" and is using this issue as a way to make his point. Sorry, Bert - Not an "attack", even though I know you love to use logical terminology in your posts.

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

TylerR's picture


Fea is a moderate evangelical. He sees this argument as an indication of a divisive spirit over a secondary issue. Thus, it's a fundamentalist spirit. Is it secondary? Oliver van Osdel and many other prominent Baptist fundamentalists had Amy Stockton in their churches to preach for years ...

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?