"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Remember Them Who Rule Over You and Submit!

Paul and Mary Burleson, Wade's parents
To those who are regular readers of Istoria Ministries, the article today is a doozy! 

It's written by my father, Paul Burleson, who is drawing close to "four score" years of age. 

In the 1970s, he served as pastor of a Southern Baptist church in Fort Worth, a church that the Convention recognized as "one of the largest and fastest-growing Southern Baptist churches in the nation."

I can remember hundreds of seminary students flocking to hear my father  speak every Sunday night when I was in high school. Administrators and professors of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary were members of  the church where my father taught, and many "big names" in the Southern Baptist Convention became very close to my mom and dad.

My mom, Mary Burleson, waited till the four kids were out of the home, and then she launched her career, becoming a highly sought after professional editor of books and textbooks. 

When Paul retired from being a vocational pastor at the age of 57, he began traveling the country with Mary, and they held pastors and wives conferences. Paul still teaches regularly, and if you want someone to encourage your people - both old and young - send him an email at vtm@cox.net. 

This morning, I saw a Facebook post that my dad wrote.  I tried to share his post on Twitter, but the link broke. So, I decided to place what Paul Burleson wrote in html (with links) on Istoria.  

I have two thoughts on the article you are about to read: 
1. We should all have more friends like Paul Burleson on Facebook, for he accepts and cooperates with all who disagree.
2. We ought to "share the dickens" out of this post, because it shows a respectful disagreement to the traditional Southern Baptist view that pastors/elders have "authority over God's people."
Thanks, Dad, for your encouragement! And, thanks Mom, for your professional editing of my newest book The Face of Grace!

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A WEEKEND WORD ABOUT A WEAK TRANSLATION OF THE WORD
Paul Burleson

It has happened again!

Wade, our son, who is involved in the current debate about women in ministry in the SBC, has been challenged about his view of authority in the local church with the challenger quoting the Hebrews 13 passage as absolute textual evidence that elders are suppose to rule and that men only are to be elders [think "pastors"].

The writer correcting Wade said this, “Has Pastor Burleson overlooked the verse in Hebrews 13:17 -
"Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account?” (Hebrews 13:17)
Bam!

Close the door on any argument at all. The biggest statement for the idea that elders (pastors) rule over God's people and we should submit to them has just slammed the door shut on any disagreement. Right?

Wrong!

Let’s look carefully at that Hebrews 13 passage.

There are three verses in Hebrews 13 that could, at first glance with a Western mind set, be used for "the right of elders/pastors" to be "in authority over others" within the church., and for this authority to reside in those who hold “the office of elder/pastor."

But let's look at these three verses carefully and see if they say what those who believe in male pastoral authority believe they say. The verses are Hebrews 13:7, 13:17, and 13:24. In the King James Version they read:
“Remember them [presumably elders they say] which have the rule over you, [presumably those who hold the office of elder/pastor] who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.” (Hebrews 13:7, KJV)
Obey them [presumably elders/pastors again] that have the rule over you [they think those who hold the office of elder/pastor again] and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” (Hebrews 13:17, KJV)
“Salute (to draw to one’s self) all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints. They of Italy salute you.” (Hebrews 13:24, KJV)
There are several observations that need to be made about the above three verses:
(1) Notice that the word “elder” does not actually appear in these verses at all
I added the word “presumably” in the above translations to show where some people think that the word "they" should be read as elder/pastor. But the word “elder” or "pastor" is simply not there in the more accurate translations.
(2) The word “over” is not actually in any one of these three verses either. 
We will lay it aside as an unfortunate and an unwarranted addition to the text by translators. It simply is not there in the better English translations.
(3) It’s also worthy of note that the Hebrews 13:7 verse is written in the past tense though “incorrectly” translated by the KJV in the present tense.
So, Hebrews 13:7 is correctly translated this way:
“Remember them who were your guides (e.g. 'your pioneers, those who led the way'), whose faith you are [presently] to imitate, taking note of how they were faithful to the very end of life.”
In context, Hebrews 13:7 as a verse reminding the early Hebrew Christians of all those faithful "pioneers of the faith" mentioned in Hebrews chapter 11 and Hebrews chapter 12, many of whom died for their faith. 

It follows then, in terms of proper exegesis, that Hebrews 13:6 is a reminder not to fear what man can do to me, but follow the example of those who've gone before (the Hall of Faith). And that is exactly the conclusion the writer of Hebrews wishes us to have: 
...so that we confidently say,
“The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.
                          What will man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6).
The entire passage in Hebrews 13 is a help for Christians to learn how not to fear man. 

The men and women of faith listed in Hebrews chapter 11 and Hebrews chapter 12 did not fear man. They gave their lives because of being fearless. It may even include the Apostles themselves. 
To make "them" in Hebrews 13:7 to mean “elders/pastor” is not an option in terms of proper biblical interpretation. 
Ironically, the "them" to whom the writer of Hebrews refers includes Rahab (Hebrews 11:31), women (Hebrews 11:35), and other unnamed women of faith "of whom the world is not worthy" (Hebrews 11:38). Please note that the English word "men" in Hebrews 11:38 is not in the original Greek text. The pioneers of faith, "them who are our guides" and "of whom the world is not worthy" includes men and women. 
 (4) In Hebrews 13:17 three words give us some trouble as translated in the King James Version or read with a Western preconceived idea of meanings. 
As mentioned above, the word “over” is not in the text, so we will drop it. The 3 words are: Obey, rule and submit
"Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you." (Hebrews 13:17).
Obey - is the Greek it is peitho. This word means to persuade, to win over. When it is in the passive and middle voices, it means to be persuaded. In Acts 5:40, peitho is in the passive voice and is translated “they were persuaded."

The obedience suggested in the text is NOT by submission to any authority, but agreement resulting from persuasion (see W. E. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words).

So, according to Vine’s Dictionary, the word peitho (wrongly translated "obey") means to follow the pioneers because you "have been persuaded” by their testimony, their lives, and their faith to the end. 

The word  does not mean obedience the way the Western mind thinks of obedience at all. The “willingness to follow” of Hebrews 13:17 is due to an internal reasoning and agreement that results from persuasion, not an external conformity that is the result of authoritative control.

(Side note from Wade: "It is for this reason, if any pastor demands your submission, you must resist because you have not been persuaded.")

Rule - is the Greek word hegeomai. This word means “to lead, to go before, to be a leader”; it does not carry the connotation of ruling over, but of being out in front doing a particular task in a church (see Strong’s Word Studies).

So, what needs to be seen here is that the Greek word translated “rule” in this verse and verses like it, is not a translation but a redefinition of one Greek word. Hegeomai, which is translated "rule over you" by King James' translators in Hebrews 13:7 and 17 and 24 [Strong's #2233] which is normally translated “count,” “esteem,” “to lead” or “to go before.” 
"Them that have the rule over…” is a substitute redefinition by King James' translators. There is no connotation whatsoever of “ruling over.” Remember that that go before you.
So, according to the Scriptures, true leadership is nothing more than going out in front.
Submit - is the Greek word hypeikete. This word is in the present imperative active tense, and it means “to choose to submit or to follow or to yield”. This is that word’s only appearance in the New Testament, and most likely should be translated “yield.

There is a Greek word that means “to be subject to and obey”. That word is peitharcheo (peith-ar-KAY-o), one of the words built upon “arche” meaning “ruler”. It is found three times in the New Testament, twice in Acts (5:29 & 27:21) and once in Titus (3:1).

There, and in other writings outside the New Testament, it describes obedience to someone who is in civil authority or to God, but that word is not the word used here and it is not ever used for relationships in the local congregation in terms of members "obeying and submitting" to the authority of a pastor/elder. 

Even Paul counted himself as a fellow servant. He said in II Corinthians 1:24:
 “Not that we have dominion [archo] over your faith, but are fellow workers for your joy, for by faith you stand.”
(Note from Wade: Any man in a position of pastor/elder who seeks to "take dominion" over your faith, is violating the words of Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul, and is guilty of spiritual abuse). 
(5) For a better understanding of Hebrews 13:24 see the above for Hebrews 13:7 and the meaning of the Greek word translated “rule”.
So, the better English translations of Hebrews 13:7; Hebrews 13:17; and Hebrews 13:24 would be:
“Remember them who have [past tense] been your guides, [think "the people of faith" in Hebrews 11 and 12] who led the way with the Word: whose faith imitate, considering the strong way they ended their life.” (Hebrews 13:7)
“Choose to yield to those who are out in front leading you because you are persuaded they are likewise being faithful in their task, knowing they will be held accountable.” (Hebrews 13:17)
“Embrace all those who are your guides or leaders, as well as all the Saints. They of Italy embrace you as well.”(Hebrews 13:24)
There is simply no concept in this entire Hebrews passage of anyone "lording over" or being "in authority over" someone else in the church. There is no biblical (textual) justification for an office of any kind in the New Testament local church that carries "inherent authority" vested in it.

This is not to say that there cannot be ministries that people can be called to vocationally (pastors), or volunteer ministries (deacons) within a local church, but the sacred text tells us that gifted men and women of faith, whose lives have been an example of perseverance in the faith, are those people we should allow to persuade us of the truth in Christ, yielding ourselves to what they have to say because of the example they've given us. They are our pioneers. 

The New Testament does not teach that there is some kind of "office of authority" in the church.

Though the establishment of “hierarchies of title, offices, and positions” with inherent "authority over people" is certainly a cultural concept, Jesus, the Apostle Paul, and the entire New Testament tells Kingdom disciples that "it is not to be this way among you." 

Christ's Kingdom Advances When Gifted Males and Females Serve and No One Rules Over Anyone Else

It seems that my writings on biblical leadership in Christ's Kingdom - leadership that is based on gifting, not gender;  on character, not control; and on the persuasion of principle, not any position of power -  have caused a storm on social media among Christ-followers who identify as Southern Baptists.

There are some striking similarities between churches that practice same-sex leadership and men who enter into same-sex marriages. The Bible clearly teaches that marriage is designed by God to be a shared blessing between a gendered man and a gendered woman, just as the Bible clearly teaches that church servant/leadership is designed by God to be a shared blessing between gifted men and gifted women. There are no "render by gender" spiritual gifts in the body of Christ. Men and women receive the gift of teaching, prophecy, knowledge, wisdom, etc...

But because of an infatuation with an unbiblical doctrine called "male authority," males in Southern Baptist leadership work hard to silence gifted females.

Rampant homosexuality in the culture is often the product of radical patriarchy in the church. Both sins are about power, submission, and authority, with one person having the dominance, and the other person having the submission.

In this post, I wish to show you how an evangelical church affiliated with the SBC thrives under gifted shared servant/leadership of both males and females. 

Jesus taught His disciples that they were not to ask questions about "who is in charge." We are to inquire "how may I serve." For nearly a quarter of a century, I have been cautioning Southern Baptists that the major issue in our Convention revolves around "authority"- men have it, especially men in "the office of the authority of pastor" and women don't. 

The great crisis in American evangelicalism today is male infatuation with authoritarianism in the home and church. 

Dr. Tom Nettles of the Founders Ministries writes:
"(Wade) Burleson asserts the idea of a 'submissive attitude' on the part of a woman is a violation of the New Testament standard, a direct contradiction 'to the infallible and inerrant teaching of the New Testament.'"
That's not correct. Nowhere have I ever said such a thing. Women are called by Christ to have a submissive attitude, but I'm declaring that the Bible teaches Christian men should have a submissive attitude as well!

Back in 1998, the Baptist Messenger, our state Baptist paper, published the following letter from me:



As you can clearly read, Dr. Nettles has misrepresented my position, most likely unintentionally.  Maybe Tom can't imagine how a male Christian can have a submissive spirit toward a female, be it his wife, or a gifted servant/leader in Christ's Kingdom, including the local church?

Time To Be Constructive, Not Critical


I've been pastor of the same church for the last 28 years. I served two terms as President of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (2002-2004). I've also served two terms as Vice-President of the BGCO, and served many years on their Board of Directors. I have also served as a trustee of the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, and in 1995, I served as Chairman of the Denominational Calendar Committee of the SBC during the sesquicentennial celebration.

The Director of Missions for the local Cherokee Strip Baptist Association is a member of the church where I serve. Our church has given well over $3,000,000 dollars to the Cooperative Program since 1992. In addition, our church has directly funded local and global mission efforts, spending millions of additional dollars on projects like the following:

1. A community planning center for the largest ethnic minority group in Enid.
2. A soon-to-be-opened women's shelter for abused and abandoned women.
3. A men's prison transitional housing center (the men come to Emmanuel Enid on Sunday).
4. A kitchen and shelter for the homeless in our community.
5. A hospital, orphanage, and community planning ministry in Niger, Africa.
6. Water well drilling equipment and training for over 100 water wells in Africa.
7. Direct mission support to missions in New York City, Guatemala, and a host of other mission points.

I share the above facts to only point out Emmanuel Enid is heavily invested in missions locally and globally. We love cooperating with churches from all different regions, churches who do things different from us. Yet, some have called for Emmanuel Enid to be removed from the Southern Baptist Convention because we have women in leadership roles at our church (I Timothy 3:8-12).

How Emmanuel Enid Does It


Lauren Daigle singing at Emmanuel Enid
Unlike many typical Southern Baptist churches, we believe servant leadership in the local church and the home is never based on gender.

At Emmanuel Enid, we have a Leadership Team composed of 12 people, six men and six women. The 12 include the Chairpersons of our seven standing church committees (Finance, Personnel, Missions, Building and Grounds, Special Events, Emmanuel Christian School, and Deacon Service Committee), plus five trustees. The Deacon Service Committee has 30 servants on it, fifteen men and fifteen women, all of whom all meet the character descriptions found in I Timothy 3:8-13, just like Phoebe met the character qualifications of being a deacon (Romans 16:1).

Pastors at Emmanuel are servants. Nobody has authority over anyone. We serve according to our gifts. To us, a pastor is a "verb of service," not "a noun of status."

If you wish to read an official "white paper" on how Christ is the Head of His church and men and women serve as gifted, then I would urge you to download The Bible and Authority in the Church, a paper written by my father and me, print it off and regularly read it.

If a man or woman in our church has the gift of teaching, they teach. Christians from both genders who have the gift of prophesying preach. We don't have rules about "mixed company" and we don't restrict women from teaching in mixed company because we don't see any universal restrictions against women in Scripture.
"In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy" (Acts 2:17). 
Women preach at Emmanuel Enid on Sunday. When that happens, it is no different than a man preaching. "Sons and daughters will prophesy" is the Scriptural teaching.

Some Christian men seek to restrict females from serving as they are gifted by Christ because of the awful and unbiblical doctrine called "the inherent male authority over women." Many years ago, I wrote a forward for Jon Zens' book, What's With Paul and Women:
"The viper known as 'the doctrine of male authority' has bitten the church. The toxin emitted by this errant teaching affects the females within our assemblies. It debilitates their God-given gifts, denigrates their Spirit-led ministry, and downplays their role as new Covenant priests. Those of us who have seen the church bitten need assistance, and help has arrived. This book will help you suck out the venom of male-only authority within the church. It will do so by helping you be able to articulate Jesus' view of the equality of women and then revealing for you how Paul's words in 1 Timothy 2 are consistent with Jesus' own teaching and ministry. You will be able to point out to others how the modern institutional church has misconstrued and misinterpreted Paul's writings on the subject, while at the same time ignoring Jesus' words and life on the same subject."

Objections to Shared Leadership


Some who read my writings on shared leadership object to what they read and point to three or four verses that at first glance seem to teach that women should be silent and men should lead.

Let's be clear. I am saying the Bible teaches just the opposite of what those objectors say it teaches. I see the Scriptures to clearly declare that Jesus Christ and His early followers taught us that servant leadership is based on gifting, not gender; character, not control; and a spirit of service, not a position of power.

If I'm right, then I must respond to those few verses that seem to say something different than what I see the Bible to clearly teach.
.
For example, what about I Timothy 2:9-15? (see Artemis and the End of Us: Evangelical Errors Regarding Women).

How about I Timothy 2:12? (see 'The' Woman of Error in I Timothy 2:12).

What about I Corinthians 14:34-36? (see A Free Speech Ekklesia for All Brothers and Sisters).

What about Hebrews 13 and "obey those who rule over you"? (listen to this message).

Just like Southern Baptists were once wrong on the subject of slavery, so Southern Baptists today are wrong on the issue of male authority.

The Bible clearly teaches that both men and women are to minister and lead in Christ's Kingdom and in our Southern Baptist churches.

The problem in the SBC is men acting like "Gentiles" (Jesus' words) and seeking to exert power, authority, and control over people. Power. Authority. Control.

When Jesus is the only authority over His people, then His people - His people means every brother and every sister in Christ - are empowered to serve as Christ gifts and commissions us.

Welcome to the Gender Ball Game Dr. Tom Nettles

Today, Founders Ministries published an article by my friend, Dr. Tom Nettles, where Tom takes me to task for writing that the Bible teaches leadership in the home, the church, and society is never gender-based.

I think Founders Ministries brought out the big gun (Dr. Tom Nettles) because the article I wrote this week entitled The 2000 BFM and the Theological Triage Tragedy struck a chord.

I learned a long time ago that when a big gun is fired, people are concerned. A writer only receives flak when flying over the target.

I seem to be successful in convincing Christ-followers within the Southern Baptist Convention what true, biblical, Christ-like leadership looks like, enabling them to lay aside the traditions of men.

Tom writes that "Burleson cites Scripture and condenses ideas that are false or have no relation to the position he wants to establish." 
The position that I wish to establish is that leadership in Christ's Kingdom (eg. "the church") is always based on gifting, not gender; humble character, not hubristic control; and a spirit of service, not a position of power. In other words, gifted males and females are part of shared leadership in the church, the home, and in society.
Tom writes that "Burleson overlooked passages like Hebrews 13:17." 
No, Tom, I haven't overlooked it at all. This message I preached on Hebrews 13:17 was delivered to my church nearly ten years ago. 
Tom writes that "with breathtaking confidence, Burleson asserts that it is a mistake to teach male leadership in the home and the church...(and) the idea of a 'submissive attitude' on the part of a woman is a violation of New Testament standard."
No Tom, you misunderstand. I'm not saying it's a mistake for females to have a submissive attitude toward males. I'm saying it's a mistake for males not to have a submissive attitude toward females. I'm also not saying its a mistake for a gifted man to lead. I'm saying it's wrong and sinful for a man to keep a gifted woman from leading.  As far back as 1998, two years before the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message was adopted, I pointed out to Southern Baptists that the Bible teaches mutual submission of the husband and wife, mutual leadership of the man and the woman, and mutual love of men and women (see image below).
Tom writes that "(Burleson) should consider arguing that John Broadus's argument against women...speaking in a mixed assembly...did not represent the general consensus of Southern Baptists at the time."
Tom, I agree with you! I can't disprove that John Broadus's views on women did not accurately present Southern Baptists' view of women "at the time" (eg. 1850s and 1860s). But John Broadus was wrong!  Just as he and the other FOUNDERS (pardon the pun) of Southern Seminary were wrong about slavery in terms of their interpretations of the Bible. Only the Bible is infallible;  man's interpretations of it are not.
As Southern Seminary recently reported, Southern Founders John A Broadus,  James P. Boyce, Basil Manly Jr., and William Williams, all owned more than 50 slaves between them. Shame on them. Yet, they all used their faulty interpretations of Scripture to justify slavery.
I'm uninterested in debating Founders' views on women. I'm only interested in telling others what the Scriptures teach.
Tom quotes the Philadelphia Association and says (in agreement with the Association) that "women in the church of God should be silenced (and that the Bible)... excludes all women whomsoever from all degrees of teaching, ruling, governing, dictating, and leading in the church of God.”
Hogwash. That is not what the Bible teaches. The overwhelming teaching of Jesus and the New Testament is that men and women as gifted by Christ (the Head of the church), and as led by the Spirit, and as called by the church, should serve others without restrictions.
But what about I Timothy 2:9-15? (see Artemis and the End of Us: Evangelical Errors Regarding Women).
But what about I Timothy 2:12?  (see 'The' Woman of Error in I Timothy 2:12).
But what about I Corinthians 14:34-36? (see A Free Speech Ekklesia for All Brothers and Sisters).
Now, I'm asking you a question. Why do you base your views on three passages of Scripture that at your first glance "prohibit women from speaking or teaching," but you ignore the overwhelming and clear teachings of the Scripture that all men and women who follow Jesus are to serve as the Holy Spirit gifts them?

The Bible clearly teaches that both men and women are to minister and lead in Christ's Kingdom and in our Southern Baptist churches.

For further reading, peruse A Biblical Primer on Women in Christian Ministry.

The problem in the SBC is men acting like "Gentiles" (Jesus' words) and seeking to exert power, authority, and control over people. Power. Authority. Control.

PAC men (Power. Authority. Control. men) are running the SBC, but the days are soon coming when the Spirit will move and Christ will become the Head of His people and this infatuation with authority and control will come to an end.

Spiritual power trips typically end in twisted trysts of sexual submission.

When Jesus is the only authority over His people, then His people - that means every brother and every sister in Christ - are empowered to serve as Christ gifts and commissions us.

I tried to write a comment to Tom's post on the Founders Ministries website. The Founders would not let it through. So, in closing, I ask you to read my full response to Dr. Tom Nettle's article. The comment was written "off the top of my head" in about 2 minutes, and I post it here without edits, in case the Founders at some point in the future decide to take my out of 'moderation.'

WADE'S RESPONSE TO DR. TOM NETTLES:
"Tom, I'm honored you would respond to my writings. The "office of pastor" may have a long and early pedigree in Baptist history and ecclesiology, but you may be missing my point. Slavery has had a long and early pedigree in Southern Baptist history and ecclesiology. Neither one of us would say it has precedent in Scripture (at least I don't think we would). However, Southern Baptist preachers during the 1850s and 1860s would have defended tooth and toenail the right - those pastors would say the biblical right (I have their sermons) - for Southern Baptists to own, trade, and purchase slaves.

My point is that the BIBLE - nowhere - speaks of "the authority of a pastor to rule over people." Period. The Bible refers to Christ as the one with authority over His church, and He gifts men and women as He pleases. We are His body, and there is only one Head. A multi-head church doesn't exist, no matter how long and how often Baptists try to say a "Pastor" has authority over anybody. I've written a book called "Fraudulent Authority: pastors Who Seek to Rule Over Others."

If "ordination" means that a person is bestowed some "mystical authority" over God's people, then I am against ordaining women - and men.

Christ gifts His people - men and women - as He sees fit. There are no "render by gender" spiritual gifts. The men and women gifted with teaching should teach. The men and women gifted with prophesying should prophesy (preach). The men and women gifted with serving should serve. Those are the "roles" of the church.

Now, if a local body of Christ which incorporates as a 501 C-3 wishes to designate a man or a woman to be a "pastor" of that non-profit, then they must file papers with the state and declare who is the local 501 C-3 "pastor" - for tax purposes and for officiating marriage ceremonies. However, few people realize that "legal authority" in any church is not the pastor, not the members, and not even the congregation. Legal authority - as defined by the state - are those men and women listed as "trustees" on the Secretary of State Certificate of Incorporation, and those so designated in continuing By Laws.

Baptists have historically been "people of the book." We wrote our Confessions first (1644), and in that London Confession, the "ordinances" (baptisms and the Lord's Supper) were called "Christ's ordinances," not church ordinances, so any convert of Jesus had the privilege of baptizing others they led to Jesus, and any convert had the privilege of sharing the bread and the wine with other. By 1689, after the Presbyterians issued their Westminster Confession, Baptists in London wrote another Confession to more align with Cromwellians ruling England. It's then that this mystical idea of "an office of pastoral authority" came into existence among Baptists. King James and the Anglicans, Cromwell and the Presbyterians, and other denominations all viewed "the office of bishop" as an office of authority, and only they (eg. "the bishops") could handled "the ordinances."

I know you read Gill (as do I), and this brilliant Hebrew linguist convinced me that the ordinances are Christ's, not the church, and every follower of Christ is a minister.

Some just happen to get paid.

I'm pushing back against this awful doctrine that "Preachers" or "Pastors" (i.e. MALES) have some kind of inherent authority over females. The doctrine of eternal subordination of the Son was ruled heresy a long time ago, but it lives today in the hearts of many attempting to keep females eternally subordinate to males.

I appreciate the friendship with you and Tom Ascol, and I must say, I'm flattered that the big gun is now writing in opposition to what I write.

I must be making progress in raising the awareness of what I deem a more biblical view of women and leadership. Though you know history (as do I), the interpretation of the Bible can change to more accurately reflect the teachings of slavery.

Ask our Southern Baptist pastor friend, Dwight McKissic, or my fellow Teaching Pastor at Emmanuel Enid, Abraham Wright, if they are glad Southern Baptists changed our interpretations of Scripture on the issue of slavery.

Southern Baptist will also one day have a more biblical view of women.

The Holy Spirit will see to it (Acts 2:17)."
More to come...

A Chilling Crisis of Power, Control, and Authority: An Open Letter to the Southern Baptist Convention

Wade and Rachelle, Valentine's Day, 2020
I am a third-generation Southern Baptist preacher. 

I have been pastor of the same Southern Baptist Church for the last 28 years and married to Rachelle for almost 40 years. 

I voted for Donald Trump in 2016, and I intend to vote for President Trump again this year. 

I was the driver for Paul Pressler during the early 1980s as we went from church to church, recruiting Southern Baptist pastors to show up for the Southern Baptist Convention.

I was part of the platform security team for Paige Patterson. I believe in every word of the Bible! I have no hesitation calling the Bible inerrant and infallible, but I also fellowship with many Greek and Hebrew scholars who have a problem with the word inerrant.

Anybody that calls me a liberal hasn't met a liberal. I'm conservative in theology, politics, and lifestyle. 

But I am deeply troubled by what I see in the Southern Baptist Convention.

Demands for conformity have overtaken a desire for cooperation.

Conform, David Uth, Or Else!


Dr. David Uth, Pastor of the historic First Baptist Church, Orlando, Florida, has been pressured and bullied to conform by the Southern Baptist Executive Committee. They've demanded that a woman David chose to speak at the Pastors Conference not speak. This woman, Hosanna Wong, has blessed the people of David's church, FBC Orlando, through an original spoken word she performed during their worship services. David wanted Hosanna to perform a Christ-exalting spoken word at the 2020 Southern Baptist Pastors Conference

The men in power, the men in authority, the men in control, the "SBC PAC men" is what I call them, said "No!" to David Uth. 

They played a game of Hardball Religion with the Pastor of FBC Orlando.

This past Tuesday, February 18, 2020, Mike Stone, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the SBC, violated the Executive Committee's tradition of transparency and moved the Executive Meeting behind closed doors where secret sessions soar as silent and supreme sanctuaries for saints in sin. 

The Executive Committee came out of the darkness, where democracy dies, and declared that no
woman will speak at the Pastors Conference.

Goodbye, David Uth.

He will voluntarily no longer serve as President of the Pastors Conference.

Could you ever imagine the day when the senior pastor of the First Baptist Church, Orlando, Florida, the historic first church in the host city of the Southern Baptist Convention, would be marginalized, humiliated, and blackballed by leaders of the SBC?

David Uth is out as President of the Pastors Conference because he will not violate his principles for the sake of conformity.

But it gets worse.

Conform, Russell Moore, Or Else!


That same Executive Committee, behind closed doors, created a task force to investigate the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. That's a polite way of saying they are going after Russell Moore's job. Members of the Executive Committee don't like that Russell Moore has spoken truth to power, and they want Russell to conform to their demands and be silent about Trump.

The Southern Baptist Convention needs Russell Moore. No leader should have absolute power. All leaders, whether religious or political, should tremble at the thought of accountability to people. That's true liberty.

It's a dark day when a Convention allegedly built on cooperation around missions demands conformity on political views. The Fundamentalist Forum has been advocating an "investigation of Russell Moore" since 2017. The FF is not even SBC, it's an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Forum.

But guess what? The finest independent Fundamentalist Southern Baptists have ever produced, Paige Patterson, is back in the limelight. He opened his newly built home to help film the video announcing the new creation of a right "wing" of the Southern Baptist Convention called the Conservative Baptist Network

Patterson's protege, Scott Coulter - husband of Sharayah Coulter - filed the digital application for the Conservative Baptist Network.

Fundamentalism is all about power, authority, and control. 

In that kind of environment,  sexual predatory behaviors are allowed to fester because those in power will deal with the problem themselves, not involving law enforcement. It's not needed, they believe. They are God's vicars on earth.

Thus, the sexual abuse crisis in the Southern Baptist Convention during the last 20 years.

Conform, Beth Moore, Or Else!


Is it possible for you to imagine that the most recognized and most popular woman in the Southern Baptist Convention is marginalized, denigrated, and excluded by men in leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention? 

When SBC male leaders make out Beth Moore to be the enemy, then we have a historic problem in the SBC. 

It is because of men like Russell Moore and David Uth, women like Beth Moore and Rachel Denhollander, and other people with the courage of convictions, people unafraid to speak what they believe while cooperating with those who disagree, that make our Southern Baptist Convention great. 

We need people who are unafraid to express truth to power, exalt Christ to the nations, and encourage churches to love people and follow Jesus. We need them.

Conform, Wade Burleson, Or Else!


I believe the infallible and inerrant Scriptures teach shared leadership among gifted men and women. I've seen attempts at the national level to remove women from every position of leadership by using the age-old unbiblical doctrine of "male authority." 

The Bible teaches that leadership in Christ's Kingdom is based on gifting, not gender; character, not control; and a spirit of service, not a position of power. 

Of course, I'm declared to be a liberal for this belief.

Oh, my soul.

I'm a biblicist who loves Jesus and His people and chooses to obey God rather than men. I'm humble enough to know that my interpretation could be wrong, and I'm smart enough to know that yours could be too. 

Let's dialogue. Let's cooperate around the major purposes for which we exist.

Let's be a Cooperating Convention. 

Cooperation, by definition, requires two or more groups of people who disagree on secondary and tertiary issues to come together for the purpose of fulfilling more important purposes.

People who know no better think that "to be a Southern Baptist," you must agree with everything the 2000 BF&M teaches. 

Not so. Not even close.

Very few realize that the 2000 BF&M teaches "closed communion," meaning, your church must dismiss all guests and Christians who are not members before serving the Lord's Supper (see The Absurd Notion that a Church Must Affirm the 2000 BF&M To Be Southern Baptist, an article I wrote a dozen years ago). 


Baptist confessions were never intended to be instruments of conformity. The Committee who wrote the 2000 BF&M had this to say about your disagreeing with their Confession:
The sole authority for faith and practice among Baptists is the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. Confessions are only guides in interpretation, having no authority over the conscience.
A confession is a statement of religious conviction, drawn from the Scriptures, and is not to be used to hamper freedom of thought or investigation in other realms of life.
That's why we call our missions emphasis the Cooperative Program.

When men in positions of Southern Baptist Convention leadership, hold offices of power, authority, and control, without checks and balances, they'll begin to marginalize those who disagree with them.

Something needs to be done. 

These SBC men of power, men of authority,  (PAC men, I call them) must learn some humility.

You can do something about the marginalization of good, solid, Bible-believing Christians in the Southern Baptist Convention.


What is the Southern Baptist "Convention"?


It is a gathering of Christians who are members of Southern Baptist churches for two days out of the year. To attend the Southern Baptist "Convention" this year, June 9-10, 2020, you must go to Orlando, Florida, where the gathering will take place.

There are three things you can do to stop the PAC from demanding absolute conformity:
1. Ask your church to be a messenger at this year's Southern Baptist Convention.
2. Show up and resist any demands for conformity by anyone, at any place, at any time.
3. Be prepared to vote for only those trustees or leaders who resist demands for conformity, which means replacing potential nominees with better ones, or potentially existing leaders who've let power, authority, and control go to their heads in a demand for absolute conformity. That would include paying close attention to those men running for President of the Southern Baptist Convention.
You'll be given a choice, I promise.

You have a voice.

We belong to a Cooperating Convention.

We won't survive if we acquiesce to demands for absolute conformity.

"Take Wong Off, Or We'll Jerk the Venue from You"

"Take Hosanna Wong off the speakers list at the 2020 Southern Baptist Convention Pastors Conference or we will jerk the venue from you."
2020 SBC Pastors Conference - MaleLoved
That's the ultimatum given by the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention to Dr. David Uth, President of the Southern Baptist Pastors Conference and Pastor of FBC Orlando.

David Uth has so far resisted the pressure of the Power, Authority, and Control (PAC men) of the Southern Baptist Convention, and he has stood by his decision to invite Hosanna Wong, Teaching Pastor of Eastlake Church of San Diego.

Forget that David Uth and his church will be paying for the entire $300,000 cost of the Pastors Conference.

Forget that David Uth and his church have already been blessed by listening to Hosanna Wong exalt Christ through her unique ministry of spoken word at their autonomous Southern Baptist Church.

Forget that David Uth, as President of the SBC Pastors Conference, has the privilege to name the guests he desires to have speak.

Forget that the Committee of people (13 men and 2 women) who wrote the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message had this to say about the 2000 B&FM:
The sole authority for faith and practice among Baptists is the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. Confessions are only guides in interpretation, having no authority over the conscience.
A confession is a statement of religious conviction, drawn from the Scriptures, and is not to be used to hamper freedom of thought or investigation in other realms of life.
Dr. David Uth, FBC Orlando
Now the ball is in Dr. David Uth's court.

After going behind closed doors, where secret sessions soar as silent and supreme sanctuaries for saints in sin, the Executive Committee of the SBC demanded David Uth acquiesce and remove Hosanna Wong from the stage or they would pull the Orlando Convention Center as the host site for the Pastors Conference, June 6-7, 2020.

Forrest Gump once said, "Stupid is as stupid does."

Today's ultimatum by the Executive Committee of the SBC is stunningly stupid. They have no idea how they've shot themselves in the foot, or maybe to be more clear about the male-dominated SBC, "in the nuts."

It is the unbiblical belief in inherent male authority over females that has led to the SBC sexual abuse crisis.

It is the unbiblical belief in the inherent male superiority over females that has led to the exclusion of gifted females in SBC leadership.

It is the unbiblical belief that God places gender above gifting, control above character, and status above service that has led to this crisis revolving around gifted women in SBC leadership.
"'In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams." (Acts 2:17)
The moment someone tells you that Wade Burleson is a theological liberal, you should instantly know that the speaker has never met a liberal - ever.

I'm staying in the SBC because I wish to save it.

Those using intimidation to remove Hosanna Wong from the stage are burning it down.

The 2000 BFM and the Theological Triage Tragedy

SBC Women: Image by Melanie Grizzel, Christianity Today
American Christians are impatient.

Like American culture as a whole, we Christians want answers to complex problems in 140 characters

Especially Southern Baptists. 

But there are no quick solutions to the problems that Southern Baptists now face regarding resistance to gifted Christian women in ministry and church leadership. 

The clear teaching of Scripture is that Christ alone is the Head of His church (Colossians 1:18). Christ gifts all men and women in His church according to His pleasure (I Corinthians 12), and there are no "render by gender" spiritual gifts. That means, Christ never gives the gift of teaching, or prophesying, or preaching, or any other spiritual gift to only males.  In fact, the sacred Scriptures say just the opposite:
"In the last days, God says,  'I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy'" (Acts 2:17). 
Every Christian is called "to use whatever gift you have received in order to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms" (I Peter 4:10). 

But some Southern Baptists leaders now teach that Christian men have  “spiritual authority” over God's people, and only Christian men should lead others in the home and church. Christian women, they say, are to have “submissive attitudes” and stay in the background - not exercising their gifts - while the Christian males "take the lead." 

That teaching is directly contradictory to the infallible and inerrant teaching of the New Testament which states that Christ alone has all spiritual authority in His Kingdom (Matthew 28:18), and that leadership in His Kingdom is based on a spiritual gift, not a specific gender; humble character, not hubistric control; and a spirit of service, not a position of power.

Jesus called His disciples together and said:
"The Gentiles exercise dominion over people, exercising great authority over them. But it shall not be so among you (Matthew 20:25-26).
The Bible clearly states that all Christians  - both males and females - are to “submit to one another” and are to ”love one another” (Ephesians 5:21; John 13:34). 

Nobody rules over anybody in Christ's Kingdom but Christ. 

Shared leadership between men and women in the home, the church, and the Convention is the New Testament norm.

So what happened to the Southern Baptist Convention?

The Southern Baptist Convention and Female Leadership Prior to 1998

Southern Baptists have always been known as "people of the book." That's why from its formation in 1845 to the end of the 20th century, gifted and humble Southern Baptist men and women shared leadership in our Convention.

American Baptists revered Ann Judson (1789-1826). Her grave is still maintained by a small Baptist church in Myanmar, where she and her husband Adoniram Judson served as missionaries to the Burmese. While her husband was imprisoned and awaiting execution during a war with Britain in 1824, Ann kept Adoniram alive for two years through her constant advocacy of his case. During this time, Ann taught men the Scriptures, translated the Bible into Thai, and served the Burmese for Kingdom purposes on an equal basis to that of her husband. 

In 1863, the Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention appointed Joanna P. Moore as the first female SBC Home missionary. Her assignment was to go to Island #10 in the Mississippi River. It was there Joanna P. Moore taught "African American pastors encamped on that island the truth of the Scriptures."

Lottie Moon (1873-1912), a gifted Southern Baptist evangelist among the Chinese, is so revered today that the Southern Baptist Missions Offering is called "Lottie Moon." Her church in China, Wulin Shenghui Church of Penglai, is protected by the Chinese government as a "historical and cultural site." 

I could go on and on. From Annie Armstong to Beth Moore, from Alma Hunt to Paige Heard, from Hazel Brannon Smith to Sheri Klouda, Southern Baptist women have used their gifts to encourage God's people. 

The graph to the right shows the growth in the average church membership per church from 1920 - 1990. 70 years of growth and 70 years of women leading according to their gifts.

The Effort to Remove SBC Women from Kingdom Leadership Began in 1998


Paige Patterson's views of women are well-documented. He believes "it indicates a wicked society when women lead."

For over 150 years, Southern Baptists were doing fine with shared leadership of Christian men and women. But in 1998, things began to change. 

Paige Patterson appointed a Committee, a group of 13 men and 2 women to "rewrite  the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message." The men on the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message Committee included Al Mohler, Richard Land, T.C. Pickney, and Jerry Vines, men who strongly aligned themselves with Paige Patterson's doctrine.

Al Mohler's article "A Call for Theological Triage and Christian Maturity" shows how he advocates for the concept of "doctrinal triage," an intellectual method by which different doctrines are sorted into various priority levels, like a doctor would triage patients according to the severity of their sickness. The word "triage" comes from the French language and means "to sort." 

“A discipline of theological triage would require Christians to determine a scale of theological urgency that would correspond to the medical world's framework for medical priority.
First-order theological issues would include those doctrines most central and essential to the Christian faith (examples: the Trinity, the full deity and humanity of Jesus Christ, justification by faith, etc...)
Second-order theological issues would include the meaning and mode of baptism (which separates Baptists and Presbyterians) as well as other issues that resist easy settlement by those who would prefer an either/or approach. 
Third-order theological issues are doctrines over which Christians may disagree and remain in close fellowship, even within local congregations (examples: eschatology, church governance, and other issues where believers are able in a Convention to accept one another when third order issues are in question.”
Al Mohler and his fellow committee members moved the question of gifted women serving Christ's Kingdom in leadership roles from a third-order theological issue to a second-order theological issue. 

 I call this a theological triage tragedy.

Never before in a Baptist Confession of Faith, from a time period that encompasses AD 1500 to AD 2000, did a Baptist confession ever limit the role of gifted women in the Kingdom of Christ.

Never.

Other denominations like Anglican, Episcopal, and Presbyterian have systematized their limitations of women. But never Baptists - until AD 2000.

Shared leadership of gifted men and women is the New Testament way, and it also has been historically the Baptist way.

I understand that some in the Southern Baptist Convention today disagree with me on the role of women being a third-order theological issue.

I can - and do - cooperate with those Southern Baptists. However, those who have wrongly made "the role of women" in the SBC a second-order theological issue have a hard time cooperating with those of us who disagree with them on this issue.

It's a problem of their own making.

Let's review what has happened in the last twenty years in the Southern Baptist Convention (2000-2020) since a third-order doctrine was suddenly elevated to a second-tier theological issue level.


Southern Baptist Convention membership has declined precipitously.

Attendance is at historic lows.

Paige Patterson has been terminated from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary for treatment of women that the chairman of trustees called "antithetical to the core values of our faith."

The Southern Baptist Convention has endured the largest sexual abuse scandal among pastors in the history of the evangelical church. Spiritual power trips often end in sexual predatory trysts.

There are many more issues, but I'll stop listing them.

Southern Baptists have a long and strong history. I am a third-generation Baptist preacher, and the Burleson extended family has even more historic roots in the Southern Baptist Convention than my immediate family.

I care about Southern Baptists.

When God says, "I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy" (Acts 2:17), but Southern Baptists say "NO!" to God's Spirit, then one might expect to see what we are seeing in the SBC.

I saw the same thing in 2005 when the trustees of the International Mission Board tried to limit those they sent to the mission field by exalting third-order doctrines (e.g. "who baptized you?" and "do you have a private prayer language") to the second-order doctrinal triage tier. I warned the SBC then, and I'm warning the SBC again.

Christian Fundamentalists get their identity from fighting "others." Fundamentalists in the Southern Baptist Convention were successful in ridding the convention of alleged "enemies" in the 1990s. Most everyone opposed to their control left the SBC.

There was nobody else to control or to fight in 1998. That's when Paige Patterson turned the  SBC toward controlling the "others" among us - our women.

In 2007, I predicted the Southern Baptist Sexual Abuse crisis and tried to do something about it.

Today, the Southern Baptist Convention is facing another crisis. We are subjugating, stifling, and silencing our women.

Twenty years ago the Southern Baptist Convention leadership elevated “the role of women” in the
SBC from a third-order doctrinal issue to a second-order doctrinal issue.

Until "the role of women" in the Southern Baptist Convention is reverted back to the third-level doctrinal tier to which it belongs, the Southern Baptist Convention will continue its precipitous decline.

If you are a Christian man and you can't listen to a woman teach the Scripture, then you may have a hard time hearing the Spirit for yourself (see Acts 2:17).

At this year's Pastor's Conference, Hosanna Wong will speak the Word of God to pastors who gather for the annual Southern Baptist Pastors Conference.

Followers of Jesus who gather to hear Hosanna will be blessed by her proclamation of God's Word and the exaltation of Jesus Christ through the spoken word.

Some Fundamentalists are upset. That's expected. They have to fight someone.

This conservative, Bible-believing pastor is thrilled that finally the SBC is beginning to recognize the truth that when the Spirit moves, "your sons and daughters shall prophesy."

Gifted Women in Leadership and the SBC in 2020

Hosanna Wong,  Disinvited to the 2020 Pastor's Conference
When a very sick patient goes to a doctor, the patient desires the truth. 

No mincing words. No hiding behind politeness. "Give it to me straight, Doc!" 

The Southern Baptist Convention is sick. 

Our problem is power, authority, and control. 

That's right. Power. Authority. Control. PAC. 

Political parties have "political action committees" (PACs) which are the real power behind the parties. Super-PACs are able to raise unlimited amounts of money and exert extraordinary power.

The Southern Baptist Convention is controlled by males who seek to dominate females.

That's sick.

Jesus called His disciples around Him and said:
"You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and powerful men exercise authority over people. It shall not be this way among you" (Matthew 20:25-26).
But it is this way among many Southern Baptists.

This past Tuesday night, a few of those SBC PAC men who lord over others and exercise authority over others pressured David Uth, President of the 2020 SBC Pastors Conference, to disinvite Hosanna Wong to the Pastor's Conference at the 2020 Southern Baptist Convention (Update: FBC Orlando and Dr. David Uth resisted the pressure from SBC PAC men, and have decided to pay for the Pastors Conference themselves, and follow through on the invitation for Hosanna Wong to come speak. Good for them).

Hosanna Wong has the gift of teaching. She's a writer, spoken-word artist, and Teaching Pastor at East Lake Baptist Church, a church that "first and foremost desires people to find and follow Jesus Christ." 

But Hosanna Wong is female.

Rather than follow Jesus and let His people serve and minister as gifted by the Holy Spirit, men in power take authority over others and take control (PAC) over churches, people, and particularly women.

If you want to hear Hosanna Wong, you'll need to attend First Baptist Church, Orlando, Florida, on Sunday morning, June 7, 2020. David Uth is the church's pastor, and after caving to the pressure of SBC PAC men in disinviting Hosanna, he's fulfilling the contract by having Hosanna at FBC Orlando.

People sometimes ask me, "Wade, are you complementarian?" Answer: Yes. Men and women complement each other. "Wade, are you egalitarian?" Answer: Yes. "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28). You can't get much clearer.

But I don't like the words complementarian and egalitarian. They've been hijacked by many to mean certain things that advance an agenda of power, control, and authority over others, PAC for either men or women.

I am a follower of Jesus who believes the Bible. If you want a word that describes me, it is anti-authoritarian.

I don't like PAC men. I don't like PAC women.

The only spiritual authority in a Christian's life is Jesus Christ. The only spiritual authority over a female follower of Jesus Christ is Jesus Christ. The only spiritual head over a male follower of Jesus Christ is Jesus Christ.
"Jesus is the head of the body, the church" (Colossians 1:18).
When Jesus gifts His people, His gifts are never gender-specific. Males and females have the gift of teaching/preaching. Males and females have the gift of service (deaconia). Males and females are gifted to exhort (encourage), to give, to prophesy, etc... (see I Corinthians 12).

Sarah Herrian taught at Emmanuel Enid during all three Sunday morning services a couple of weeks ago. Everyone who heard this Spirit-gifted teacher expound and exegete the Word of God left knowing God better.

At Emmanuel Enid, pastors have no spiritual power, authority, or control over anybody.

In the SBC, males in leadership exert spiritual power, authority, and control over everybody.

That's why the SBC has lost its Hosanna.

________________________________________________________________

Postscript:

For everyone who reads this post and then asks:

1. But what about I Timothy 2:9-15? (see Artemis and the End of Us: Evangelical Errors Regarding Women).

2. But specifically, what about I Timothy 2:12?  (see 'The' Woman of Error in I Timothy 2:12).

3. But what about I Corinthians 14:34-36? (see A Free Speech Ekklesia for All Brothers and Sisters).

Now, I'm asking you a question. Why do you base your views on three passages of Scripture that at your first glance "prohibit women from speaking or teaching," but you ignore the overwhelming and clear teachings of the Scripture that all men and women who follow Jesus are to serve as the Holy Spirit gifts them?

The Bible clearly teaches that both men and women are to minister and lead in Christ's Kingdom and in our Southern Baptist churches. 

For further reading, peruse A Biblical Primer on Women in Christian Ministry.

The problem in the SBC is men acting like "Gentiles" (Jesus' words) and seeking to exert power, authority, and control over people. Power. Authority. Control.

PAC men are running the SBC, but the days are soon coming when the Spirit will move and Christ will become the Head of His people  and this infatuation with authority and control will come to an end.

Spiritual power trips typically end in twisted trysts of sexual submission.

When Jesus is the only authority over His people, then His people - that means every brother and every sister in Christ -  are empowered to serve as Christ gifts and commissions us.