Hundreds of Southern Baptist pastors call for SBC amendment to ban female pastors

Signing an open letter from Pastor Mike Law of Arlington (VA) Baptist Church,  "[m]ore than 700 Southern Baptist pastors are calling on the Southern Baptist Convention to prohibit women from serving “as a pastor of any kind” at SBC-affiliated churches." - CPost

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Mark_Smith's picture

The Problem isn't the word "pastor". The problem is the conflation of the word pastor with elder. Many Baptist churches say there is one elder, and he is the pastor. There is no biblical reference to a "pastor" being "male." It is the "elder" that is restricted to being the "husband of one wife" and to rule his family well.

So, other churches have more than one elder. They want to have a spectrum of positions beneath the "lead" pastor. There is a children's ministry leader. Youth leader. Men's leader. Evangelism/Outreach leader. Music leader. On and on. Some want to call those "under leaders" pastors.

But the crowd that has a small church and only one pastor see that as an affront to the use of the pastor...

To illustrate I googled "pastor in the Bible" and the second choice was from the group ACTS 29 listing 17 qualifications of a pastor. The problem is, the list was really qualifications for an ELDER.

That is the challenge. We conflate the 2 terms.

What about the word "minister"? It means to serve. That is what people do who lead various segments of the church. The music minister serves the people by singing and leading in songs. The children's minister serves by teaching and caring for the children. The youth minister likewise. Is a minister restricted to being a male? No. We all are to serve one another. But what happens when you lead in the serving. Is a woman who leads the children's ministry a minister? Yes. Is she a pastor... that depends on how you use the term. She makes decisions on who works where. Who does what. She takes responsibility if something goes wrong or right. Seems to me she is a "shepherd" of the children... and shepherd means pastor.

Is she an elder? No. That is clearly forbidden by the New Testament text.

That's my view.

 

Dan Miller's picture

Mark, yes, I would agree that it would be fine for a woman to serve as a shepherd (not an elder). So she might lead and care for a small group of college female students. She's shepherding. And she might do that in submission to her elders.

But I would NOT agree to call her "pastor." Not because the word "pastor," as understood in the Bible, doesn't rightly belong to her role - it does. But because many, if not most, of our members would understand "pastor" according to it's modern common usage, which is another term for "elder." 

Mark_Smith's picture

Who runs the diaper changing ministry at your church. I'll bet its a woman... Is she the pastor of that branch of the ministry?

If you are convinced pastor means "elder" then you say no. But that is a bridge too far.

I appreciate Baptist doctrine. I took the class. I also took a class in Baptist History. That doesn't make all of it biblically correct. 

As you know, in the KJV, the version of choice for many here, if you search "pastor" you get EXACTLY 1 hit in the NT.... Eph 4:11. And God gave some to be apostles,..., and pastors and teachers". 

Now, maybe that is a slam dunk to you that "pastor" = elder EXCLUSIVELY, but it doesn't to me. All I read is that pastor is one of the spiritual gifts Jesus (God the Son) has given to His church...

Mark_Smith's picture

have pastors that aren't elders... The SBC church that I formerly attended hired an associate pastor right after I left. He is not an elder.... care to explain that?

David R. Brumbelow's picture

Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons.

-Philippians 1:1 NKJV

17 From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church…

28 Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.

-Acts 20:17-28 NKJV

The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: 2 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly;

-1 Peter 5:1-2 NKJV

Notice the same elders are called to oversee (Bishop) and shepherd (Pastor) the church. 

The Bible uses greetings such as greet the elders and deacons; or  bishops and deacons.  It never says greet the elders and pastors, or bishops and elders.  Why? That would be redundant. 

In the New Testament, the terms pastor, elder, bishop, are used to refer to the same office of pastor.  That’s why Baptists have historically believed this.  Back in the 1800s it was common to refer to a local church pastor as Elder Smith. 

David R. Brumbelow

WallyMorris's picture

Titus 1:5  "ordain elders", Grk "presbuteros"  (sorry, can't format for Greek text)

Titus 1:7 "bishop", Grk " evpiskopos"

Same passage & qualifications, 2 different Grk words

1 Timothy 3:1,2  "office of bishop", Grk "episkope"

Almost the same qualifications as Titus 1.

1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 show that it's not just "elders" that are limited to men (Grk text uses word for male, not mankind in general), but also what we call bishop or overseer. Since Acts 20:17,28 use the 3 main words - bishop, overseer, pastor (in verb form) - talking to the same group of men, they are the same "office" but describing different aspects of the work. The fact that the English word "pastor" is found only once is irrelevant. The English word "pastor" is, for some reason, the word that has become most common. If a church wishes to call it's pastoral leaders "elders", I don't care. But they (pastor, elder, bishop/overseer) are limited to men. Many churches have become careless in their choice of words to describe part of their church leadership. The solution is to be more Biblical in our choice of words and not eliminate male leadership in the church because of cultural pressures.

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

Mark_Smith's picture

elders have those orders.... but Pastor is not the same word as elder. Pastor is a Latin word that means shepherd. We use it to mean a lot of things. We use it to mean a person who leads in the local church. 

Let me ask you this. If ALL PASTORS are ELDERS.... then why are there many churches with people called "pastor" in their title that are not ELDERS? 
Example, the Southern Baptist Church I was formally a member of, and I bet there are thousands like it.

Are all ELDERS pastors? No.... wait... if pastor means shepherd then that means overseer... then yes, all elders are pastors.... but wait, many churches have more than one elder, but they only call one man the pastor....

 

I'm confused...

The problem is different people use different titles different ways. In 2000 the small church "there is only one elder of the local church and he is the pastor" crowd slipped that in to the 2000 BFM... but since then (and previous) hundreds of SBC churches used the terms completely differently.

Larry's picture

Moderator

The simplest answer is to look at Acts 20:17, 28 and 1 Peter 5:1 where elders are told to shepherd and oversee. They are all the same office, referring to the same person (multiple people can do this in a church).

If ALL PASTORS are ELDERS.... then why are there many churches with people called "pastor" in their title that are not ELDERS? 

I don't know of any churches that have pastors that aren't elders. They may not call them that, but what are they biblically? It might be a church out of order, or a church that uses the term improperly.

But the Bible gives us the answer.

David R. Brumbelow's picture

“Since their beginning in 1845, every major Southern Baptist writer, minister and other leaders have consistently argued that a Baptist church has only two biblical church officers. These are pastors and deacons.” -Robert A Wring

http://gulfcoastpastor.blogspot.com/2012/03/dr-robert-wring-on-baptists-...

"that its only scriptural officers are bishops or pastors and deacons whose qualifications, claims and duties are defined in the Epistles to Timothy and Titus."  -New Hampshire Confession of Faith, 1833. 

"Its Scriptural officers are bishops, or elders, and deacons."  -Baptist Faith & Message, 1925. 

“Its scriptural officers are pastors and deacons.”  -Baptist Faith & Message 2000. 

David R. Brumbelow

Mark_Smith's picture

Larry wrote:

The simplest answer is to look at Acts 20:17, 28 and 1 Peter 5:1 where elders are told to shepherd and oversee. They are all the same office, referring to the same person (multiple people can do this in a church).

If ALL PASTORS are ELDERS.... then why are there many churches with people called "pastor" in their title that are not ELDERS? 

I don't know of any churches that have pastors that aren't elders. They may not call them that, but what are they biblically? It might be a church out of order, or a church that uses the term improperly.

But the Bible gives us the answer.

You know of no church where the youth pastor is not an elder on the elder board? Really? You need to get out more.