Southern Baptists oust ‘Third Way’ church

“The Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee voted unanimously Sept. 23 to declare New Heart Community Church in La Mirada, Calif., not in 'friendly cooperation' with the SBC’s purpose . . .  .

The Southern Baptist Convention has kicked out a California church that voted in May to agree to disagree about whether the Bible teaches that homosexual behavior is always a sin.

Acting on behalf of the convention between annual meetings, the SBC Executive Committee voted unanimously Sept. 23 that New Heart Community Church in La Mirada, Calif., does not presently meet the definition of a 'cooperating church' under an article of the SBC constitution banning congregations which “act to affirm, approve or endorse homosexual behavior.” apbnews

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Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Good for them.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Jim's picture

Homosexuality as Dividing Line — The Inescapable Issue

The vote to declare that the New Heart Community Church of La Mirada, California “does not presently meet the definition of a cooperating church” came unanimously as the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention met this week in Nashville. It was a solemn moment and a moment perhaps to be repeated any number of times in coming months and years. Homosexuality was the dividing line.

The SBC Executive Committee was acting in its ad interim capacity on behalf of the Convention itself. Between the annual meetings of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Executive Committee fulfills its functions.


The church eventually split over the issue, with those remaining declaring their intention to affirm their pastor and to become a “Third Way church” that allows for disagreement on the question of the sinfulness of homosexual acts and same-sex marriage.

But, as I argued at the time, there is no third way. A church or denomination will either believe and teach that same-sex behaviors and relationships are sinful, or it will affirm them. In short order, every single congregation in America will face the same decision — do we affirm same-sex relationships or not? Those who suggest that there is some way around this “binary” choice are fooling themselves and confusing the church.


A central fact of free church polity is that every congregation is responsible for its minister and its ministry. The decision to affirm a pastor is a decision to affirm the pastor’s teaching and actions and to take congregational responsibility for them. The claim that the congregation has not taken a position when the pastor they affirm has taken a position is a fiction.

Furthermore, the church — while claiming to have taken no position affirming homosexuality — also informed the Executive Committee that the church “will accept as voting members at least–and possibly as servant-leaders additionally–LGBT persons who we discern are–as leaders–loving, faithful, fitting, worthy, respected, and clean of conscience, that they are disciples in the Way of Jesus.”

There is no third way, and there has never been a third way on a question of this magnitude and consequence. In this sad case it was the issue of homosexuality that defined the dividing line, but there have been many necessary dividing lines before.