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

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Patterson, Greear, Hemphill & Spiritual Authority - A Cautionary Word to New Leaders in the SBC

Ronnie Floyd, J.D. Greear, Steve Gaines (Photo Courtesy MBC Pathway)
Dr. Paige Patterson has been completely removed from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He was terminated last night by the seminary's Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees. The vote was unanimous.

For nearly twenty-five years I have opposed the authoritarian tactics of Dr. Paige Patterson and Judge Paul Pressler. That was not always the case. From 1979 to 1993 I was an active supporter of the Conservative Resurgence. I believed we Southern Baptists were in a “Battle for the Bible.” I served as a driver for Judge Pressler as he toured Oklahoma to “get out the vote” for the SBC in the late 1980’s. I was part of the platform security team for Paige Patterson and his crew in the early 1990’s.

It was at the 1994 Southern Baptist Convention that I began to see the strong-armed tactics of Dr. Paige Patterson. Some believe that the 1994 Convention was also the beginning of Paige Patterson and his loyalists targeting me.

I began to see that the “Battle for the Bible” was actually about power and control in the SBC. And sadly, it began to dawn on me that a particular harmful and false doctrine which harmed women was taking center stage in the SBC. Southern Baptist leaders (all male) began espousing the unbiblical teaching that males have an inherent “spiritual authority” over women, and that pastors (e.g. “the holiest of all males”) have the greatest spiritual authority of all. This doctrine became the driving force behind the male dominated leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention. 

In 2006, Paige Patterson’s disciples who served with me as trustees of the SBC International Mission Board sought to ruin my reputation, end my pastoral career, and threaten my family and church because I stopped those same IMB trustees from doing Paige Patterson’s bidding in firing IMB President Jerry Rankin and a female Vice-President named Wendy Norvelle (you can read about those days in the book Hardball Religion). My fellow trustees went after Wendy because “no women should be in a position of authority over a man.” 

Those IMB trustees failed in their mission to humiliate and silence me,  and I thank them for making me the person I am today. 

Now their leader, Dr. Paige Patterson, is gone. The only question left is what to do with the stained glass windows at SWBTS. I predict they will be removed by the end of an ominous court trial set to take place in Houston, Texas. I have no joy in my heart over Paige Patterson’s termination. Only a sense of justice. 

A New Day Is Dawning in the Southern Baptist Convention

A young generation of Southern Baptists pastors, trained in the politics and spiritual authority propogated by Paige Patterson, had better be careful in aspiring to SBC leadership. Replacing old white SBC pastors who believe in the inherent “spiritual authority” of males over females with young white pastors who believe the same false doctrine will eventually mean these new SBC leaders could make many of the same mistakes Paige Patterson has made. 

Let me show you what I mean. 

J.D. Greear will be nominated for President of the Southern Baptist Convention in Dallas this coming June 12, 2018.  J.D. is pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina. He seems to be a wonderful man with an equally fine family.  He has led Summit to be actively and generously involved  in missions and church planting. However, J.D.'s view of women, and what women “can and cannot do” in the home and in the church, serves as a microcosm of the problems we face in the Southern Baptist Convention.  

My son, Logan Burleson, and his wife, Nicole, love J.D. and attend Summit regularly. I have friends who tell me J.D. is a “shoe-in” to become President of the Southern Baptist Convention. I think the election will be closer than most imagine. But I am also of the opinion that both J.D. Greear and Ken Hemphill,  the other man who will be nominated for SBC President, would serve the Southern Baptist Convention well.

J.D.'s views  (or at least his church's all-male elders' views) regarding men and women reflect the unbiblical doctrine of "male spiritual authority" over women and serves as the foundation for the SBC's poor treatment of women.

J.D. attended Southern Baptist schools, including Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. While most Southern Baptists will be focusing on the soteriology of the two major Presidential candidates (e.g. “Calvinism vs. Arminianism”),  the question every Southern Baptist should be asking each candidate is this:
“What is your view of spiritual authority?”
The problems surfacing in the Southern Baptist Convention over the mistreatment of women directly stem from this unbliblical and harmful view of “spiritual authority.” In the Southern Baptist Convention, pastors see themselves like the priests of the Old Testament: 1. Uniquely holy, 2. Distinctly authoritative, and 3. Unequivocally in charge.

Only prophets dare questioned the priests of old, and it will take modern day prophets to bring SBC pastors to their knees.

Authoritative pastors have been in charge of the SBC for decades. That’s the reason women are overlooked. It’s an issue of wrongly viewing pastors as having “spiritual authority” to the exclusion of everybody else, particularly women (ask Beth Moore). This unbiblical concept of “spiritual authority” is THE problem in the Southern Baptist Convention.

It infects both Calvinists and Arminians.

Oh, sure, there will “resolutions” and “statements” about women, all offered by Southern Baptist pastors or theologians. But until people and gifted leaders (e.g. “pastors”) in the Southern Baptist Convention begin to understand and practice what Jesus Christ and the New Testament teaches about spiritual authority, we’ll continue to struggle with how women are being treated.

Jesus teaches that He is the sole spiritual authority in His Kingdom. All authority rests with Him (Matthew 28:18). Leadership in His Kingdom is based upon giftings, not gender; humility, not hubris; service, not status; character, not control; and esteeming others better than yourself instead of promoting yourself before others.

Any person - whether male or female (e.g. a patriarch or a feminist) - who “grabs authority” by obtaining an office to “rule over people” is disqualifed as a Kingdom leader.

Jesus said as much in Matthew 20:25-27:
25 Jesus called His disciples together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 It is not to be this way with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your servant 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
To be a true pastor in the New Covenant is a verb of service, not a noun of status. But the Southern Baptist Convention has taught for decades that men are to lead, and women are to submit, because God has granted men “the covenant position of authority” and women are to be “under the umbrella” of that authority.

That is pure, unbliblical nonsense. But it’s this faulty and erroneous view of spiritual authority that drives the Southern Baptist Convention’s mistreatment of women.

An Example from Summit Church

Three years ago (May 2015), J.D. Greear had a woman named Elyse Fitspatrick "speak" at The Summit on Sunday morning. Elyse is the author of several books, and according to J.D. Greear, is his wife's "favorite Bible teacher."

J.D. should be commended for having Elyse speak on Mother's Day, 2015. It seems, however, that this invitation for a woman to speak caused some consternation at Summit. 10 days after Elyse spoke, J.D. wrote a blog post entitled Can Women Teach in the Church? He writes:
Our elders have been working on a statement explaining the roles God has given to women in the ministries of our church. That statement is still in the works, but our recent invitation to have Elyse Fitzpatrick share during weekend services has led some to ask whether we believe a woman can preach and teach in the mixed-gender gathering of the church.
J.D. then attempts to answer that question by quoting I Timothy 2 and John Piper. J.D. concludes:
 “In context, I think [1 Tim 2:12] means that women shouldn’t be the authoritative teachers of the church..."
J.D. goes on to define what "authoritative teaching" means:
“Authoritative teaching” in a church is (1) teaching that is binding for that particular congregation and (2) the teaching that comprises that church’s fulfillment of its responsibility to pass on the faith to the next generation. The elders have the “authority” to remove from that local covenant community (under the consent of the congregation as a whole) those that reject this official teaching of the church (Titus 3:10–11).
J.D's teaching on "authoritative teaching" is both unbiblical and harmful to women. There are two biblical reasons I say this:

1. The authority behind Truth is always the greatness of the messagenot the genitalia of the messenger. 

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it (e.g. "the gospel" not the "messenger") is the power of God that brings deliverance to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile." (Romans 1:16).

If God spoke truth to Balaam through an ass, He can surely speak authoritative Truth to the world through both men and women.  Jesus Christ said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life," He is the Truth; and if He is the topic of the message, the authority of the message comes from Him, not the messenger.

2. If you wrongly believe that there is inherent authority in males, then you must treat female messengers of the powerful gospel differently.

This is where it gets weird. To show how a woman speaking "truth" at the Summit is one without authority, J.D. sets up a "hedge of protection" for the congregation lest they perceive (his word, not mine), that the woman has authority when she does not. He writes:
A woman can teach in a large formal setting, like a  mixed Sunday School class or an evening Bible study, but she must not do so in a way that “mimics” the teaching authority of a male elder. Perceptions are important, and if some in the church begin to look to a woman-teacher as their primary shepherd-leader, both she and they have gone into error.
But what about Elyse Fitzpatrick? She spoke on a Sunday morning during the "sermon time" at Summit.  J.D. explains how he and the males at Summit took several steps to prevent the wrong perception that Elyse had some authority over the congregation. He writes:
A teaching elder at Summit (e.g. J.D.) set the context, invited Elyse up to ask her a series of questions, and then (I) wrapped up the service by applying her words specifically to The Summit Church. The elder’s introduction, presence on stage, and application at the end “officialized” the explanation and exhortation given by her for The Summit Church, and made clear she was not teaching (as one with authority) in our church. She explained the content, but we, the Summit elders, bore the weight of responsibility for teaching.
If you watch Elyse Fitzpatrick's message on Sunday morning at The Summit, you will notice she was not allowed things that other male speakers can do at The Summit. For example:
  1. Elyse could not stand as she taught, she had to sit, lest it be perceived she had authority.
  2. Elyse could not "declare" truth, she had to be asked questions from one in authority.
  3. Elyse could not "apply" the Truth to the congregation, only those with authority could do this.
  4. Elyse had to be "introduced" and "followed-up" by a male with authority.
Had Elyse Fitzpatrick spoken truth the way males usually do at Summit, there would have been shock among the Summit men

I've written herehere and here that the problem within the Southern Baptist Convention is a warped view of authority. A wrong view of male authority got Village Church in Dallas in huge trouble, Ironically the problems at Village - male elders disciplining a female victim who sought to annul her marriage to a man over his child pornography addiction - occurred during the same month Elyse Fitzpatrick spoke at Summit (May 2015). J.D. Greear, Matt Chandler, and Mark Driscoll share a common view of male authority over women.

Unbiblical views of inherent male spiritual authority and the resultant harmful treatment of women infects both Arminians and Calvinists, young pastors old pastors, large church pastors and small church pastors. For some unknown and ungodly reason, biblical conservatism is defined in the Southern Baptist Convention in terms of a woman’s submission and a man’s authoritative leadership, rather than the New Testament definition of Kingdom leadership which is always based on giftings, not gender; character, not control; humility, not hubris; and service, not status.

Southern Baptists say we believe the Bible, but we believe more in our list of "rules" about "roles" for men and women than we do the message of the Bible. 

The Good News, the New Testament, the New Covenant signed and sealed by Christ's blood, elevates women to equal status in the Kingdom of God with men. Equal does not mean identical. Men and women in the Kingdom of God are different, but men and women in the Kingdom of God are equal in spiritual authority. There is equal worth (in Christ), equal significance (born of the Spirit), equal authority (we are all "priests unto God"), equal inheritance (co-heirs with Christ), and equal value ("we are the blood-bought redeemed"). 

I did some research on the antonyms of "authoritative" and discovered that "acquiescent" is a good word that describes the opposite characteristic of authoritative. To acquiesce is to "to accept, agree, or allow something to happen by staying silent." 

According to Greear (or at least the all-male elder board at his church), women who teach the Bible can't be in a position of declaring truth authoritatively, because nobody is to submit to a woman teaching truth. Women are the acquiescers; males are the authoritarians. Males give; women receive.  If a male receives "truth" from a woman, then "error" has a occurred because a male can't get anything authoritative from a woman.

There's a Greek word for such thinking - baloney. 

Paige Patterson just lost everything because he consistently behaved according to how he believed. Male authority over females is NOT biblical; it is cultural. And way too many elder boards at Southern Baptist churches have been infected with this false view of male "spiritual authority."

At some point, people in the Southern Baptist Convention are going to need to wake-up to the New Covenant truth that Jesus Christ makes the ground at the foot of the cross equal

Whether J.D. Greear becomes President of the Southern Baptist Convention or Ken Hemphill wins the election, reporters should ask both men significant questions about whether they believe men have inherent spiritual authority over women.

I'll be listening closely to their answers.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Practicing What God's Inspired Word Teaches

As a writer and a firm believer in the inspiration and infallibility of the sacred text, I am always looking out for men and women who put into practice the teachings of Jesus Christ, who comprehend that the New Covenant makes leadership in the Kingdom about service, not status; humility, not hubris; and gifting, not gender.

According to God's infallible Word, men and women can both lead, teach, and organize Kingdom advancements, and both men and women are called by God to encourage one another by loving, serving, and submitting to one another as into the Lord. Christ is King. We are all servants in His Kingdom.

Roles in the New Covenant are shared by both genders. Nobody has spiritual authority but Jesus Christ, and He has it all. We love one another, we serve one another, we esteem one another better than ourselves, we encourage one another, we submit to one another.

This is what the Bible teaches. This is Kingdom living. It is the opposite of the way the world thinks. It is upside-down living. But it frees people. It liberates.

Meet Sallie Borrink

I have found her writings compelling. For all my conservative, Bible-believing friends who can't understand how encouraging, empowering, and equating Christian women to be equal to Christian men, read you some Sallie Borrink at a Woman's Freedom in Christ.

Recently, Sallie wrote:
I had a surreal moment this morning when I realized that sometimes as a conservative biblical egalitarian I feel like I have more in common with the Christian patriarchlists whose work I’ve been picking apart and publicly refuting for the past fifteen years than the Christian egalitarians I should be able to relate to.
Yes, really. Crazy to think about, isn’t it? 
While I may vehemently disagree with the conclusions the Christian patriarchalists come to, they believe that the arguments regarding how women function in the church begin and end with the Scriptures. 
As do I.

I can’t even follow the discussions of many “Christian” egalitarians any longer. Whenever I stop by Facebook groups or some websites to read, my head nearly explodes with the flat out heresy that is completely given a pass. 
In a misguided attempt to be compassionate and non-judgmental, all kinds of blatantly unbiblical discussion is allowed to go unchallenged. I finally had to stop going to such places because it is so distressing. 
The sad part is that the Bible is not the final authority in matters of faith for many Christian egalitarians. It is about feminist ideology, social constructs, progressive politics, and psychology. 
It’s not about what the Bible says when carefully interpreted according to the author’s original intent and the culture in which the recipients lived. It’s about being relevant in current cultural conversations and movements. It’s the Bible + a lot of other things.
And it makes me profoundly sad. 
For me, this question of women functioning in the body of Christ has always been about understanding the truth from Scriptures. What is going on in the culture can never answer that question. 
It is sobering to see so many people going completely off the rails. Instead of being Bereans and trusting God can adequately answer their questions through the Word, they look for anything and everything that will give them the answers they want to hear. 
The Bible has the answers to the questions about how men and women should love and serve each other. It’s sad to see people think that it’s not enough.
Well said, Sallie.

May men and women of your tribe increase - exponentially.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

The Missing Southeastern Presidential Archives

Social media and the Southern Baptist Convention are in a firestorm over the decision by trustees at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary to elevate Dr. Paige Patterson to the position of President Emeritus, to continue paying him an annual salary, and to allow him to live on campus.

Christianity Today and others report Patterson Is Out, but those in the know remember that Dr. Russell Dilday, Dr. Ken Hemphill, and other former Presidents of SBC seminaries were never given such cushy treatment when they were "out."  I also guarantee you that every Southern Baptist pastor who's been told "You're out!" would love their church to define "out" the way the SWBTS trustees define it.

I scratch my head till it hurts trying to understand how President Paige Patterson can be exalted to President Emeritus just a couple of hours after a vote to terminate him as President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary failed by just two votes (15-17). 

Then, of course, it hits me. 

The trustee board is stacked with Patterson loyalists who seem so blinded by their allegiance to a man, they can't see the serious sycophancy. Maybe the school's stained-glass windows stunt clear optics for the trustees charged to ensure Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary takes no misteps.

Trustees almost fired Paige Patterson, then in the next breath they exalted him to President Emeritus. I'd say it's unwise, but in the name of every current SWBTS administrator that Paige Patterson will eventually throw under the bus for the imminent financial collapse of Southwestern, I'm compelled to say it's dangerous. There is hope for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, but that requires the termination and removal of Paige Patterson from every position of leadership.

I urge the SWBTS trustees to reconsider their decision to make Paige Patterson President Emeritus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary before the Southern Baptist Convention meets in Dallas, Texas, June 12, 2018.

More sad and sordid stories will be coming out soon in the secular media. It will not be pretty. "Houston, we have a problem."

I am warning everyone that I can privately. The 2003 rape victim also went privately to Kevin Ueckert, chairman of the SWBTS trustees, prior to last week’s SWBTS trustee meeting. She did not wish to go public. She still doesn't.

The rape victim was hopeful the SWBTS trustee chairman could hold President Patterson accountable for Patterson’s treatment of her But she was told by Chairman Ueckert that he must have documentation that the rape actually occurred at SEBTS in 2003 before he could speak of it to the SWBTS trustees. The  trustees were convening to consider Paige Patterson’s continued employment as President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and documentation was needed of what happened and how it was handled.

The rape victim discovered in the last few weeks that the local Wake Forest police department had no documentation of the rape because Paige Patterson never reported it to them. Of course, she had been told by President Patterson at the time of the rape not to report it because the SEBTS and President Patterson would deal with it. So law enforcement was a dead end.

But the rape victim knew that Southeastern Seminary had the necessary documentation that she could give to Chairman Ueckert. She’d received letters from the President’s office after meeting with him.

Why not just give Chairman Ueckert the letters that she received from Dr. Patterson back in 2003? It would at least prove a meeting occurred, even if Dr. Patterson implied he couldn’t remember such a meeting. 

Well, it seems the rape victim had thrown away her documentation a few years ago because every time she saw them in the cabinets, the memory of what happened to her put her in an emotional tailspin.

But Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary keeps all its Presidential letters in the archives. 

All Southern Baptist institutions keep documents issued by their Presidents on Presidential letterhead. Those documents are the property of the institution, not the President. Back in 2003, copies of institutional letters weren't stored in the "digital cloud." Actual hard copies were kept by the institution in boxes called "archives.”

The archives of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary contain Presidential letters written during Paige Patterson's tenure as well as other documents detailing "The Conservative Resurgence.” (Edit: It is possible that letters from the President’s office were kept in additional places too). 

Let me introduce you to the man responsible for the oversight of the school archives at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2003-2004. 

His name is Dr. Shawn C. Madden. Dr. Paige Patterson hired this former Marine to be the head librarian at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Shawn C. Madden, Ph.D., Major, USMC (retired) now lives in Dallas, Texas. He eventually resigned from his position at SEBTS. 

Dr. Patterson left Southeastern in the summer of 2003,  not long after the meeting in President Patterson's office with the rape victim and three of Paige Patterson's proteges. Dr. Patterson left to become President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. 

When Dr. Patterson went to Fort Worth, Texas, he took a man named Chris Thompson with him. Chris was Dr. Patterson's Chief of Staff at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He's a Paige Patterson loyalist. Chris is now a Southern Baptist pastor in North Carolina. Chris was interviewed by the Religious News Service this week regarding Dr. Paige Patterson's removal promotion to President Emeritus.
"To retroactively punish him for remarks he made years ago is unfair,” said Chris Thompson, a pastor and former chief of staff for Patterson during his 10 years as president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C.
“I don’t know any pastor, or public speaker for that matter, who would ever want to be subject to someone pulling an audiotape from some archive and having to answer for those words 18 years later. Who’s next, is really what my question would be.”
Well, Chris, I'll answer your question "Who's next?"

It's your turn.

(NOTE: I gave my personal cell number to Chris's secretary and asked that he return my phone call. I would not post till Saturday to give him time to call me. Chris did not return my call).

SEBTS Institutional Archives Are Stolen

"(I am) not happy (to say the least) with your actions and methods of securing  boxes from the archives." Those are the words of Librarian Dr.  Shawn Madden in a letter to Dr. Paige Patterson after discovery the archives had been taken without permission from those responsible for them.

Shawn Madden provided me a copy of his letter. In addition, he sent me a copy of a letter written a few months after Patterson became President of SWBTS in July 2003. Dr. Madden gave me permission to publish it:
"Persons not associated with Southeastern entered our archives without informing myself nor my archivists and removed material that at that point was technically the possession of Southeastern Seminary and my responsibility for their security... My concern is that material from the President's office was removed, material that is the possession of this institution and not of an individual. What is generated by the President of this institution is owned by this institution and ought not to have been removed, especially in the dark of night." (Dr. Shawn Madden, a letter written in 2004)
During the ensuing investigation, SEBTS Librarian Shawn C. Madden was told by Michael Lawson, who is currently the Chief of Security for SEBTS, that the archives were taken by Chris Thompson.

Yes, that Chris Thompson.

Dr. Michael Lawson informed Dr. Shawn Madden that Paige Patterson's Chief of Staff came to North Carolina from Fort Worth and "removed the material" in the dark of night when the school was closed.

Dr. Michael Lawson, Chief of Southeastern Security states on his office's webpage.
"The Department of Campus Security exists to maintain a safe and secure campus environment and to protect the institution’s assets in order to facilitate Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary's mission. To meet this mission, we employ Security Officers to monitor our campus 24 hours a day and 365 days of the year, including nights, weekends and holidays. Campus Security also works closely with the Wake Forest Police Department, the Wake Forest Fire Department and Wake County EMS to ensure fast responses to any needs or emergencies that might arise on Southeastern's campus."
I'm calling Dr. Lawson to see if the Chris Thompson video is still available or if someone allowed Chris in the building, without knowledge of those in charge of the archives.

Librarian Shawn C. Madden, Ph.D., Major, USMC (retired) fired off a letter to Dr. Paige Patterson:
"(I am) not happy (to say the least) with your actions and methods of securing (50) boxes from the archives."
Dr. Shawn C. Madden publicly used the term "thief" and "theft" to describe the unauthorized removal of institutional materials from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Madden is emphatic and has written:
"My public use of those terms accurately describes the action in question."
Dr. Patterson was not happy with anyone questioning his actions and let it be known to Dr. Madden. After Dr. Madden eventually resigned as the librarian at SEBTS, Dr. Patterson sent a letter to Dr. Madden's wife about why Dr. Madden was unemployable.
"Shawn's tendency to speak his mind has not helped his situation.  Too many here remember his responses to me when I was departing SEBTS.  That is the past, but we all should learn for the future and I am praying that amidst this sorrow, that lesson may be fully grasped."
 So, Pastor Chris Thompson, you ask, "Who's next?"

You are.

When you come to the Southern Baptist Convention this year in Dallas, Texas, would you kindly look in those boxes and bring any letters from the President about a meeting that occurred in his office in 2003 with a young lady who reported she was raped?

I'd like to give her a copy.

She and her husband are considering coming to Dallas as Southern Baptist messengers. I know you will be one of the SBC pastors present. I hope I can introduce you to the woman SBC pastors should be helping, not shaming.

Or, if you gave those boxes to President Patterson, make sure all the letters are properly filed at Southwestern's new archive center and not destroyed. I am sure it will be a highly sought after research letter.

The rape victim may be willing to have her name known nationwide because the actions of President Emeritus Paige Patterson toward her do not reflect honorably on the Southern Baptist Convention and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

And she hopes what happened to her never happens again to anyone else in the SBC.

Sadly, what I am learning in the last 48 hours is that there are some who are going on a full court press to shame, intimidate, and frighten this rape victim. It is sickening. She is scared.

My wife and I prayed for her and her family this morning. We understand her pain. The person who exposes the problem in dysfunctional systems becomes the problem. I've never known a more forgiving, gracious, kind, and Kingdom-oriented  Southern Baptist than this woman who was tragically and brutally raped at a SBC seminary in 2003.

But she is not used to Hardball Religion.

I am. I will protect this woman's anonymity if that is what she ultimately desires. But I am unafraid to carry her message to the world.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Democracies and Denominations Die in Darkness

The Washington Post has placed a slogan at the top of its masthead - Democracy Dies in Darkness.

The paper, owned by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, is internationally acclaimed and widely known for taking down President Richard Nixon in the Watergate scandal after the President's men broke into an office complex at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. to steal some very important papers. What destroyed the Nixon Presidency was the cover-up of the crime, not so much the crime itself.

Bezos explained why he chose the new slogan for the paper in an interview with The Post's executive editor, Martin Baron.
"I think a lot of us believe this, that democracy dies in darkness, that certain institutions have a very important role in making sure that there is light."
According to Post reporter Paul Farhi, Bezos apparently heard the phrase from legendary investigative reporter Bob Woodward, a Post associate editor. Woodward told Farhi that he referenced the phrase during a presentation at a conference that Bezos attended in 2015 in which Woodward talked about “The Last of the President’s Men,” his most recent book about the Watergate scandal.

Woodward, who has used the phrase in reference to President Nixon for years, said he didn’t coin it; he read it some years earlier in a judicial opinion in a First Amendment case. He couldn’t recall the specifics of the case or the name of the judge who wrote the opinion, but "the judge who said it got it right."

I agree with Woodward. I would add that religious denominations die in darkness as well.

Dr. Albert McClellan, the former Executive Director of the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee, spoke to a writer for The Baptist Program on December 31, 1980, and said,
"In 43 years there have been fewer than six executive sessions (closed door, private meetings) . . . The Executive Committee (SBC) has an open ear for anyone one who wants to speak to it. For almost 25 years the gallery has been two to three times bigger than the size of the Committee, and the gallery has been permitted to ask any question, to give any information, to make any point and to offer any objection."
Since those words were spoken by Dr. McClellan, there has been an exponential increase in the number of secrets kept by Southern Baptist leaders behind closed doors, pulled curtains, or dark places sealed off to exclude listening ears. Almost two-thirds of the meetings I attended as a trustee of the Southern Baptist Convention's International Mission Board were executive sessions behind closed doors.

Someone has rightly said, "You are as sick as the secrets you keep."

Why are secrets kept among leadership in the Southern Baptist Convention? Why do leaders wish to keep people in the dark, and by all means keep records sealed or closed from public eyes? What is the purpose of leaders hiding behind veils?

I would be interested in your opinions, but allow me to offer a couple of possible reasons through the form of two memorable quotes on transparency.
"One man's transparency is another's humiliation." Gerry Adams
"What I'm thinking about more and more these days is simply the importance of transparency, and Jefferson's saying that he'd rather have a free press without a government than a government without a free press." Esther Dyson
Leaders who like secrets are leaders who like control. Oh sure, they may act as if they are interested in helping you, but if you allow things to be kept behind closed doors, then the agenda, the message, and the future will play out the way they those who've run over people to obtain and sustain power want it to play out. Whatever you think of the #MeToo movement, whether good or bad, one cannot deny that leaders who attempted to cover-up and control the agenda and message created the movement.

You never create a stained glass window in your image unless you can protect it from shattering. Secret meetings are like acrylic lucite for stained glass.

My message to the trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary is really a message from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ:
"For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open" (Luke 8:17).
It's an important enough principle, Jesus repeated it to His disciples again:
"There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known" (Luke 12:2).
When those doors swing open, you must be prepared for what awaits. Will you do the right thing in secret? I trust you shall. If not, the 2018 Southern Baptist Convention in Dallas, Texas will make the 1985 Southern Baptist Convention in Dallas, Texas look like a kindergarten picnic.

And rightly so.

Denominations die in darkness.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Never Too Late for Grace; Never Too Old to Change

The old saying "you can't teach old dogs new tricks"--though possibly challenged as to its veracity by The Dog Whisperer--is a common assumption by most.

Many feel that the older a person becomes, the less likely he will ever change. Cynicism only deepens when an older person faces imminent death and "comes to Christ."

 Many Christians feel that "jailhouse" or "fox-hole" conversions can't be real. Professed changes of character late in life, or minutes from death, seem to create cynicism.

But we who believe that the grace of God is often given in different seasons of life point to "the thief on the cross." Just hours before his death, he was converted to faith in Christ. However, even we who believe it's never too late to change don't fully understand the dramatic change that occurred in the thief within the last few hours of his death.

We often point out that of the two thieves crucified beside Christ, one mocked Him and was condemned, and the other one believed on Him and was taken to paradise upon death. But we don't see how bad off both were in the last hours of their lives.

When both thieves were initially hung on the crosses beside Christ, BOTH mocked him. Mark 15:32 says:
"And they that were crucified with him reviled him"
Something happened to one of the thieves. He who had mocked Christ at the 9:00 a.m. hour (Mark 15:32) came to the place by the afternoon where he rebuked the other thief for his mocking of Christ, saying:
Do you not fear God, seeing that you are experiencing the same condemnation? And we deserve our sentence of condemnation, a just punishment for our actions. But this man has done nothing wrong. Then he turned to Jesus and said, "Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom."
The story of the TWO thieves on the cross, who both mocked Christ at the beginning of the crucifixion, is testimony to us all that one is never too old, nor is it ever too late, to change.

In His Grace,


Tracking Sexual Predators in the SBC and the Multiple Allegations against Judge Paul Pressler

Paul Pressler's Stained Glass Window at SWBTS Chapel
The Houston Chronicle reported last month that multiple men have filed sexual assault allegations against Judge Paul Pressler.

Paul Pressler and Paige Patterson are the two major architects of the 1979 Conservative Resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention.

One of the men suing Pressler is Duane Rollins Jr, and the Houston Chronicle reports that Rollins accuses Judge Pressler in the lawsuit of raping him multiple times, beginning when Rollins was 14-years-old.

Normally, one would give an accused man like Judge Paul Pressler the benefit of the doubt.

However, there are three reasons why messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention should be shaken to the core by these allegations against a man whose image is in stained glass at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
1. In 2004, Judge Pressler paid $450,000 in what was to be a "secret settlement" to Duane Rollins. All copies of the settlement were destroyed, except for one copy kept at the law office of Pressler's personal lawyer and former business partner. 
2.  In 2016, a young attorney named Brooks Schott worked in that same law office and was also allegedly "sexually propositioned" by then retired Judge Paul Pressler. Disgusted, the young attorney quit the law firm. The Houston Chronicle reports Brooks Schott accused "Jared Woodfill, Pressler’s longtime law partner and the head of the Harris County Republican Party until 2014, of failing to prevent Pressler’s sexual advances toward him and others, which Schott says were well-known among the firm."  
3. Another man named Toby Twining, now 59 and living in New York, claims in an affidavit that Judge Pressler propositioned him at the River Oaks Country Club in Houston when Twining was a young man.
I would encourage every Southern Baptist to follow closely the excellent reporting of Robert Downen of the Houston Chronicle on this matter. Paige Patterson is also a party to this lawsuit. Duane Rollins claims Patterson had knowledge of the sexual assaults and covered them up.

I have friends who are members of the River Oaks Country Club in Houston, Texas. I've been told that "it was common knowledge that Pressler had a thing for young men." It was seen by other members in the clubhouse.

Years ago, I also heard that the San Francisco Chronicle was about to release a story on the allegations against Pressler. The editors of the paper reportedly backed down after receiving some phone calls from some very powerful people.

In 1989, after the FBI ran a "background check" on Judge Pressler, his name was "withdrawn" as President George Bush's choice to head the Office of Government Ethics. Public statements at the time declared the withdrawal to be about issues other than allegations of sexually predatory behavior,  but one wonders if there was more to the story.


In 1978, Judge Pressler was terminated from his position as "youth worker" at Bethel Church in Houston.  Frank Sommerville, pastor at Bethel at the time, confirmed that the church “received information about an alleged incident involving Mr. Pressler in 1978.”
“Upon learning of the alleged incident, the church immediately terminated Mr. Pressler’s involvement with the youth group and its activities,” Sommerville wrote. “The Presslers subsequently left the church sometime in late 1978.”
Judge Pressler shows how easy to is for someone to cover up allegations of sexual misconduct through his personal memoir. In his autobiography, A Hill on Which to Die, Judge Pressler goes into great detail on the timeline of his departure from Bethel Church. 

He doesn't mention "the incident." He doesn't tell that he was "terminated." 

Judge Pressler writes that he and his wife, Nancy, resigned in 1979 after realizing they could not dedicate themselves to work in the Southern Baptist Convention while at Bethel. In fact, the only statement he makes about Bethel was what a pastor told him at the time:
“Are you going to minister to 250 high-school students or 13 million Southern Baptists?”
In light of recent revelations, I think there are about 500 parents who were glad Bethel terminated him. Unfortunately, many Southern Baptists have no clue that the architects of the Conservative Resurgence are parties in a lawsuit that alleges predatory sexual behavior as well as a cover-up.

In 2007, I recommended that the Southern Baptist Convention establish a Sex-Offender Database so that people who are credibly accused or convicted of sexual abuse of children or women could be tracked and not passed off from one church to another by covering-up the allegations of abuse. 

In 2008, the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention denied my motion

One wonders if men with things to hide helped kill that motion.

What is being reported in the Houston Chronicle these last few weeks leads me to ask a very specific question:
"Had a database tracking sexual predators been in place in 1979, would that database have prevented Judge Paul Pressler and Paige Patterson from ever having influence in the Southern Baptist Convention?"
If you don't care, or worse, if you think the good these two did in the SBC rises above any allegations of predatory behavior or alleged cover-up, then you need to look at yourself carefully in the mirror and see if the gospel has indeed made a difference in your own life.

Stained-glass windows at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary may actually be more stained than Southern Baptists realize.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

"Throw Off the View of Women that Denigrates and Objectifies Them," Dr. Sheri Klouda's Story, Part III

Sheri Klouda was the Professor of Hebrew at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary's School of Theology. She lost her job because the newly hired President of the SWBTS, Paige Patterson, believed that a woman should never "indulge in the exposition of Scripture," and no woman "should ever be in a position of leadership over men."

Patterson's unbiblical view of a man's inherent authority over a woman and a woman's unconditional submission to a man is a toxic belief system that harms women.

Sheri Klouda is evidence of this harm.

The Southern Baptist Convention which proclaims belief in the inerrancy and infallibility of the Scriptures, must begin comprehending that Jesus fulfilled the Old Covenant and made it disappear (Hebrews 8:13) and He inaugurate a New Covenant (Agreement) with the world where leadership comes from humble service, not hubris status; from giftings of the Holy Spirit, not gender of the human race; and from God's appointment, not man's ambition.

Part One of Sheri's story  - "Deep Down I Was Scared" - can be read here.

Part Two of Sheri's story - "Patterson Must Apologise to Those He's Harmed"  - can be read here.

Part Three of Sheri's story - "Throw Off the View of Women that Denigrates and Objectifies Them" in her own words is found below.


Written by Sheri Klouda

In December of 2014, my husband passed away from esophageal cancer. My daughter graduated from Taylor University the following May, and was offered an incredible job with a new company starting up in Dallas. 

Despite the fact that I was a tenured professor at Taylor University, I made the difficult decision to move to Dallas with her and my grandson, who was 20 months old. My elderly grandmother was experiencing a lot of difficulty living alone in her house, so we moved in with her temporarily so we could help her and get established in the area. 

At the time, we had no idea that the job Abigail was offered would never materialize, and I had no idea it would be so difficult for me to find a job, essentially doing anything. After a month of living with my grandmother, she found it too stressful to have a toddler and two dogs living with her. We moved to a hotel, then some old family friends offered their home to us until we could find a place to live. After staying with them for three weeks, and spending hours applying for jobs and looking for a home to rent, it came time to move again and we settled into another hotel. 

Part of the problem centered on the fact that we did not have jobs, and could not show current income, so no one would rent to us, even though I had quite a bit of savings. After a week at another hotel, we decided that if we could not find a home in the next few days, that we would move back to Indiana. 

After taking a loan on my retirement, and agreeing to pay a year’s rent in advance, we finally found a place to live. Little did I know that I would be unable to find a full-time job for the next year and a half. 

I applied for every faculty job I could find anywhere in the United States. I called every connection I knew, and worked as an adjunct at a community college as well as taught part-time online. 

I served as a Regional Director for Museum of the Bible’s Scholar’s Initiative, and applied for secretarial positions all over the Metroplex. I even taught a seminar at Oxford during June of 2016. Abigail picked up jobs in the service industry. I could not even find a secretarial job. 

By December of 2016, I knew we didn’t have enough money to get through more than one more month. Two weeks before we ran out of money, I interviewed for a position as an Administrative Assistant at a Dallas church, where I continue to serve today.

I also continue to teach online occasionally, I am working on a few writing projects, and present papers when I have the opportunity and can afford to attend the professional meetings. But more importantly, I deal with the church’s people and their concerns daily, and that keeps me grounded in my faith.

I believe that I think the SBC is on the cusp of change. 

How they respond will speak volumes about where they go in the future. It can be a time of growth for them as they seek to meet the challenges of their faith in light of biblical teaching.

I will be disappointed in the Southern Baptist Convention if they cannot finally throw off the mantle of an arrogant leader who has historically espoused a view of women that denigrates them and objectifies them, who seems to reinforce the notion that they serve as a major source of wickedness and sin, and who dismisses their concerns as nonsense. 

I think that the Southern Baptist Convention has an opportunity here to separate themselves from Paige Patterson and his position, to stand firm, acknowledge and clarify their position regarding the respect and dignity of women, and spousal abuse in a clear and biblical manner so that there is no longer a question of tolerance in abusive relationships. 

This is the moment to define themselves and put away the assumptions concerning women that they appear to support by allowing Paige to represent them in a significant way.

I would also like to see the SBC actively support women in academic roles in their colleges and universities, particularly in biblical studies and theology. 

The difference between a local church and a university or seminary is very clear. I would like to see them elect more women to decision-making boards in order to give balance. There are many competent women in the SBC who would be an asset as a trustee of a seminary or Baptist university, women who hold doctorates and serve in ministry or corporate leadership positions.

 While I hold a complementarian view, I believe that the Southern Baptist Convention would serve its constituency well by carefully considering the roles of women in ministry, and seek to expand those roles in whatever way possible to meet contemporary needs. 

While I appreciate the recent statement of Steve Gaines, I would also like to see an official SBC statement on marriage and spousal abuse, biblically based and focused on the protection of women and children. Finally, I believe the Convention must emphasize transparency in cases of child abuse and insist on discipline and legal consequences for those who protect or conceal this behavior.


Monday, May 14, 2018

The Whiteshirts Came to Know Him Only After They Knew How Much I Cared to Know Them

(In light of recent writings, those new to this blog may wrongly assume I'm most interested in the SBC. My greatest joy comes from leading people to faith in Jesus Christ. This article first published Oct. 2017)

Some moments move me in ways difficult to express. One such moment occurred on Sunday, October 15, 2017.

As I walked through an area where we set out tables and chairs for people to eat breakfast and visit between worship services, I saw a Chinese family sitting by themselves. I sat down and had an enjoyable conversation with recent emigrants from China who now live and work in Enid. They've been coming to Emmanuel Enid for several weeks.

As I got up to leave, I noticed two young ladies seated at the next table. They looked to be Native American.

Both girls shyly glanced my way as I approached, and then they hurriedly looked back down at their breakfast. I was sure they'd overheard my conversation with the family one table over, and I wondered if the girls were thinking, "Will he stop and talk to us too?"

Many Native Americans experience racial prejudice, even in Oklahoma. It's hard for American Caucasians to understand the feeling of being ignored or overlooked because of the color of one's skin or ethnic background. I did not want to convey to these girls that they were unimportant to me.

People blindness is a dreaded disease I fight hard to never catch.

So I stopped and greeted the girls. Both of them looked up and smiled. 

"Ladies, do you mind if I pull up a chair and join you?"

They smiled again and said no.  I pulled up a chair at the end of their table.

"What's your names?"

Francesca introduced herself first. She told me she was sixteen and had been coming to Emmanuel for a few weeks. She then introduced her sister, Alice, age twenty-four. Alice said this was her first time to come to Emmanuel.

"You two girls are beautiful. Do you mind me asking, 'Are you Native American?'"

Alice blushed, and said, "Yes. We are full-blooded."

"What tribe?"

They told me they were Cheyenne/Arapaho. They explained that their mother is Cheyenne and that their father, now deceased, was Arapaho.

"Are you girls interested in your Cheyenne/Arapaho heritage?"

"Of course!" they said, with what now seemed a perpetual smile.

For the next ten minutes, I sat with Francesca and Alice and told them the story of the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864 and the little two-year-old Arapaho boy who had survived it.

The boy, the son of an Arapaho chief, was left an orphan when his entire family was massacred at Sand Creek. He was plucked from the carnage by a United States militia soldier from Colorado named Lemuel Graham.

Graham, with the help of his friend and fellow soldier Jesse Wilson, hid the Arapaho toddler in a stove for their journey back to Denver, Colorado. They hid the boy because their commander, Col. John Chivington, had issued the order, "No captives, no survivors."

"The soldiers mistakenly thought the boy was Cheyenne, which is easy to do," I told the girls. "For as you know, Cheyenne and Arapaho people have similar heritage and customs."

Upon arriving in Denver with their hidden captive, the militia soldiers Lemuel Graham and Jesse Wilson gave their Arapaho captive his new name - Wilson R. Graham.

"What the soldiers did next with the Arapaho toddler was unconscionable," I said.

The girls looked at me, wide-eyed, anticipating what would be said next.

I recounted how the soldiers placed the toddler Wilson Graham in a traveling circus for their personal financial gain.

The circus went to small frontier towns throughout eastern Colorado, Nebraska, and even Missouri.  Americans would pay a penny to see the "Indian savage" who'd survived Sand Creek.

Wilson Graham was a circus-captive sideshow in the Wilson and Graham circus for three years, from 1864 to 1867.

"The United States and the Plains Indians were at war during the entire time Wilson Graham was held captive," I told the girls. "But in 1867, when Wilson was five-years-old, this Arapaho circus boy became instrumental in bringing peace to the frontier."

I told the girls how in 1867, the President of the United States, Andrew Johnson, sent the United States Indian Peace Commission, composed of high-ranking army generals and politicians, to negotiate peace with the Plainsmen Indians who'd been on the warpath since Sand Creek.

The Cheyenne, Arapaho, Comanche, and Kiowa finally all agreed to meet the Peace Commission at an Indian holy site called Medicine Lodge (Kansas) with one condition:
"You must bring the circus boy with you." 
U.S. Army General William T. Sherman was commissioned by the President to use all resources at his disposal to find the circus boy and bring him to Medicine Lodge. The General who was well-known for scorching the earth in his March to the Sea at the end of the Civil War was now searching the earth to find the little five-year-old boy Indian boy.

Sherman's troops found the boy in the traveling in a frontier city town and had the boy taken to Medicine Lodge on October 15, 1867, accompanied by the Peace Commissioners.

"Girls," I said, drawing my story to a close, "As a result of this five-year-old Cheyenne/Arapaho boy being brought to Medicine Lodge  exactly 150 years ago today (October 15, 1867)  the Medicine Lodge Peace Treaty was signed."

The Medicine Lodge Peace Treaty, October 1867 (Harper's Weekly)

I thought it was remarkable that I was telling this story to two Cheyenne/Arapaho girls on the anniversary of the Cheyenne/Arapaho circus boy being united with his tribe.

I also thought I was finished with the story, but the girls had one question for me.

"What happened to the boy?" 

"He reverted to his Arapaho name Tom Whiteshirt and...."

I stopped talked talking when I heard the girls gasp.

"We are Whiteshirts," they said. 

I was stunned.

I knew that all Cheyenne/Arapaho Whiteshirts in Oklahoma descended from the lone Whiteshirt survivor of the Sand Creek Massacre. 

Francesca and Alice explained to me that their deceased father was an Arapaho Indian named Alfred Whiteshirt. When they'd introduced themselves to me, they'd not given me their surname.

I told them that they were definitely related to the Whiteshirt who was the circus boy. Their eyes were wide, and they had more questions. They'd never heard this story before. 

I told them to wait right there, and I'd go print off an article for them that I'd written about it

When I came back five minutes later, the girls' mother, Mona, was standing with them. She confirmed that she was full-blooded Cheyenne and that she'd been married to their father, Mr. Alfred Whiteshirt. Mr. Whiteshirt had died a few years ago. Mona had never heard the story either, but she was ecstatic that her girls were learning about their heritage. 

I gave them the papers I'd printed off and told the girls that I'd really enjoyed getting to know them and looked forward to visiting with them again.

I didn't have to wait very long. 
Francesca and Alice on the day of their baptism

After the final worship service on that Sunday morning, about two hours after I first met Francesca and Alice, the sisters came to see me.

 I noticed their eyes were filled with tears. 

Both Alice and Francesca told me that they wanted Jesus Christ to be the King of their lives. They desired Jesus to make His home in their hearts. They wanted their hearts to be God's House

As we spoke, the tears that were welling up began trickling down their cheeks. I reminded them of God's love, and how through surrendering their lives to Jesus Christ, everything they'd ever done wrong - past/present/future - would be forgiven by the work of Christ. I explained that with Jesus as the Lord of their lives, He would lovingly and patiently care for them and watch over them forever. 

I assured them that there was "no ritual" nor "chant" to ask Jesus to be their Lord and Savior. It was just a matter of opening their hearts to Him and receiving Him into their lives as King.

Then, as we prayed, I stretched out my hands and placed them on the crowns of their bowed heads as these two descendants of Tom Whiteshirt asked Jesus Christ to be their Lord and Savior. 

Francesca and Alice were saved.

Tom Whiteshirt was saved from temporal death by a U.S. soldier at the Sand Creek Massacre. 

Tom Whiteshirt's great-great-granddaughters were saved from eternal death by Jesus Christ 150 years later. 

Francesca and Alice were both baptized on Sunday, October 29, 2017, testifying publicly of their faith in Jesus Christ. We've purchased for them Bibles and will personally encourage them as they learn what it means to walk in the grace and love of God in a fallen world where people are still being massacred

I know that Jesus saves His people (see Matthew 1:21).

But last Sunday was a reminder to me that Theodore Roosevelt was right
"People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."

Friday, May 11, 2018

Tweet It, Read It, Understand It: The Biblical Basis for Believing Men and Women Are Always Equal

I wrote an article ten years ago (September 2008), which is relevant today due to the current debacle being played out in the Southern Baptist Convention.

If you are a Christian who believes the Bible, take your time to read through this article to familiarize yourself with the reasons why men like Paige Patterson, Wayne Grudem, Bruce WareAl Mohler, and organizations like the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood believe that a man should always lead, and a woman should always submit.

These men teach that if the "roles" of men and women are ever reversed, it's a sign that we are living in a wicked society  It's the reason they fight hard to ignore the giftings of highly educated women and remove them from teaching men Hebrew in a seminary. It's the reason they will tell a woman to return to her abusive husband, submit to him, and pray for him.

This false belief that males have inherent, God-given authority over women is an unbiblical, harmful, and heretical teaching (as I will show below). Yet, these Southern Baptist leaders say they are being "biblical" and those who disagree with them are people who don't believe the Bible or simply pagans.

That's just not so.

Ironically, these Southern Baptists who have promoted the inherent and eternal authority of males over females, may, in fact, be the Christian liberals among us. They seem to deny the clear teachings of Jesus Christ, act contrary to the pattern of behavior for all Christians as outlined out in the New Covenant Scriptures, and are subtly but dangerously falling short in their understanding of the Trinity.

Southern Baptists fought one alleged "battle for the Bible" years ago,  but this modern controversy is over believing and practicing some very important truths about gender equality which are in the Bible, the Bible which we Southern Baptists loudly proclaim we believe.


(Written by Wade Burleson, September 25, 2008)

Growing Semi-Arianism in the SBC and the Consequences for Women If Left Unchallenged

Periodically I will offer a doctrinal post for debate and discussion. Many Christians have little endurance when it comes to doctrinal reading and even less comprehension of how doctrine affects behavior.

This apathy for doctrine has far-reaching harmful consequences.

For this reason, I challenge you to carefully read the following article as it reveals a doctrinal debate within the Southern Baptist Convention that has direct consequences on our Convention’s attitude and behavior towards women.

Let me repeat the last sentence for clarity: There is a current doctrinal debate within the SBC that directly affects our Convention’s attitude and behavior toward women in general.

The Arian Controversy

Arius was a Christian who lived and taught in Alexandria, Egypt (250-336 AD). He became the leading proponent of heretical teaching that would later be identified with his name. Arianism is the belief that God the Father and the Son did not exist together equally and eternally, but that Jesus was created by God the Father and is eternally subordinate to the Father.

In plain English, Arianism teaches Jesus is inherently inferior to God the Father.

Some Christians wrongly confuse Arianism with Aryanism. The latter is the belief that the original speakers of the Indo-European languages and their descendants up to the present day constitute a distinctive, superior race. Hitler was an Aryan, but not an Arian. Aryanism is a belief in human racial superiority. Arianism is a belief in divine patriarchal hierarchy.

In 325 AD, Christian leaders gathered in the city of Nicaea (modern-day Iznik, Turkey) and debated the doctrine of the Trinity. The Council of Nicaea convened on May 20, 325 AD with around 300 pastors present to discuss the Arian Controversy.

After meeting for a solid month, these pastors issued on June 20, 325 AD what we now call The Nicene Creed.

The Nicene Creed is the clearest and most accepted statement on the divinity of Christ in the history of the church.

The Council declared that the Father and the Son are of the same substance and are co-eternal, believing this to be the biblical and traditional Christian teaching handed down from the Apostles.

The Nicaea Council believed that Arianism destroys the unity of the Godhead, and makes the Son unequal to the Father, in contravention of the Scriptures ("The Father and I are one" John 10:30).

The Council of Nicaea ended with the Christian pastors declaring Arius and his follower's heretics.

A Resurging Semi-Arianism in the Southern Baptist Convention

The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood is composed of many Southern Baptists who are introducing to evangelicalism a novel, if not peculiar, view of Christ which has more in common with Arianism than the historic, orthodox view of Christ’s person.

The theologians and teachers who write for the CBMW are teaching what they call the eternal subordination of the Son to the Father as a basis for their anti-New Testament and patriarchal view that the female is always to be subordinate to the male.

Women’s subordination to men, according to the teachings of CBMW, is established because it reflects the truth of Trinity. Women will always be subordinate to men and wives will always be subordinate to husbands because Jesus is eternally subordinate to the Father.

That is the scary doctrine being promoted by leading Southern Baptists, onr deemed heresy by the church nearly two millennia ago, and a doctrine that has disastrous consequences for women in the Southern Baptist Convention.

The Bible calls man's desire to "rule over a woman" a sin. The notion that God designed leaders to be males, and that He designed women in the role of submissive servants to men, is a direct contradiction of the teachings of Jesus Christ.
"Jesus called His disciples together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord their power over people, and their high officials exercise authority over others. It shall not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must serve." (Matthew 20:25-27

The false doctrine of men's hierarchal authority of women 
Some Southern Baptists, like Paige Patterson, Al Mohler,  and Wayne Grudem, believe and teach that the man is equated to God the Father in hierarchical authority. The woman can be equated to God the Son in humble submission. Just as the Son is eternally subordinate to the Father, so the woman is to be eternally subordinate to the man.

For this reason, the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood proposes that God’s unchanging ideal is the permanent subordination of women.

Their teaching is in error, and it contradicts the teaching of the New Testament.

The New Testament teaches that followers of Jesus Christ - regardless of gender - are to submit "one to another" (Ephesians 5:21). It is as natural in a Christian home for a man to submit to his wife in selfless, humble service as it is for the woman to submit to her husband in selfless, humble service. In fact, the great leaders in the Kingdom - male and female - are those who are servants to all (Matthew 5:27).

There is no denying the physical differences between men and women, but to base the spiritual or emotional “subordination” of women to men on the alleged eternal subordination of the Son to God the Father borders on an Arian view of the nature of Christ.

The very word “ordination means “to order by virtue of superior authority.”

To say Christ is “subordinate” to the Father means he has lesser (sub) authority, lesser (sub) superiority, lesser (sub) ordination.

There is a great deal that will be said in the Southern Baptist Convention and the evangelical world as a whole in the coming months and years about the role of women in society, the church, and the home. Sadly, there is a tendency for those who hold to the hierarchical view of a man’s authority over women to label those who disagree with them as liberal.

But it seems to me that some Southern Baptists follow Arian's teachings more than Christ's teachings.

A Southern Baptist leader has refused to let a woman teach Hebrew to men because of her lesser "spiritual authority" Southern Baptist male trustees conspired to remove a woman from a supervisor’s position in the International Mission Board because she was violating her God-given role of "receiving orders" and was sinfully "giving orders. Southern Baptist pastors will advocate that women staying out of the workforce because their role is to be subordinate to men in society.  In fact, some will go as far as to say any society where "women rule" is an evil, wicked society. To these Southern Baptist Arians, women are “the lesser” regarding “authority” when compared to men, and anyone who dares disagree with them is considered a "liberal" Christian or a pagan.

It’s time for conservative, evangelical Bible-believing Christians who believe in the equality of men and women to realize that the great error in this debate is not a denial of the sufficiency, the authority, and the infallibility of God's Word by those who hold to gender equality.

Rather, the great error in this modern debate is the promotion of semi-Arianism - and a denial of Christ's clear teaching in the New Covenant - by those who wish to force their hierarchical views of male authority upon the church, the home, and society.

Peter Schemm, a member of the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, argues that there is room within Christian orthodoxy for the belief in "the eternal subordination of Christ." He argues that people like Giles (and me) who oppose "eternal subordination" and view it as semi-Arianism are simply speaking too harshly for "there is room for both views within evangelicalism."

It is ironic that those who have an affinity for calling themselves conservative evangelicals and label "liberal" those who disagree with them are now proposing tolerance and acceptance of their unique views of the Trinity.

We should accept our brothers (and a few sisters) in Christ who are arguing for "eternal subordination," and we should always treat them with Christian love and respect, but we should never shy away from unchallenging their unorthodox views of the Trinity.

Arius lost the debate in 325 AD, and I predict semi-Arianism will eventually be on the losing side of this current debate.