Isolation and irrelevancy


In another deliberate and continuous move toward isolation and irrelevancy, the Georgia Baptist Convention (GBC) approved a policy yesterday that gives leadership the right to reject cooperation with congregations deemed to be out of line with Southern Baptists’ ever-narrowing doctrine.

Though broadly defined, the policy has a single purpose: to appease the fundamentalist brothers who want to take a slap at the First Baptist Church of Decatur, Ga., for daring to call a female pastor last year.

Baptist congregations in Georgia can call an idiot, a bigot or even a crook — apparently — as long as the pastor is male. But a competent and called female pastor — like Julie Pennington-Russell — is considered an offense.

“What about local church autonomy?,” you ask. Well conventions are autonomous too.

And the GBC’s most recent use of its freedom is consistent with the irrational, far-right fundamentalism that captured the state association of churches several years ago.

In reality, they did the Decatur congregation a big favor. The tragedy is that many other congregations that see this (and other GBC actions) as nonsense will continue to support such heavy-handedness in the name of “missions.”

Southern Baptists apologized for their defense and advancement of slavery a mere 150 years after abolition. Perhaps Georgia Baptists will want to pencil in 2158 on the denominational calendar as a good time to apologize to women — and people of all gender who think. That is, if they are still in business.

[Photo: GBC Executive Director J. Robert White, a former proponent of women in ministry, who now does the bidding for the fundamentalist big-boys running the convention]

17 Comments

  1. Folks who want to pursue this to see how this kind of thinking plays in the Province of Rockmart, Georgia, will want to go to baptistlife.com faith and practice forum to read how this kind of thinking disrupted the funeral plans of our friend Lamar Wadsworth; the last rites for his Mother.
    His Mother’s pastor at 2nd Baptist in Rockmart would not allow two women to read Scripture from the pulpit in the church where she had been lifelong member.

  2. I am a member of a SBC church and I am getting tired of this repeated sexist, chauvinistic, “out of scriptural context” dogma. My church may be one whose money is soon not welcome – we have a female Music Director. If she were a he, the title would be Minister of Music.

  3. Paul said,

    “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church. What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only? If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.”

    Paul was a prophet who gave the commandment of Jesus Christ. Those who advocate women pastors are ignorant.

    Mark Osgatharp
    Wynne, Arkansas

  4. Whew! For a moment there I thought Mark was not going to show up and straighten us all out with God’s,Paul’s and his low opinion of women.
    Thanks for sharing your usual brilliance on the subject.
    Now you get back to running all the females out of your church who speak aloud, braid their hair, wear jewelry or violate other biblical commands.
    Georgia Baptist Convention “liberals” only restrict female pastors and ignore those other things the so-called “inerrant” Bible says about women.
    But I’m sure a true believer like you is more consistent. Back to your cave.

  5. Ephesians 6:5-8 “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. 6Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. 7Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, 8because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.”

    Colossians 3:22-25 “22Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 25Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.”

    Mark,

    While you are working on getting your women in line, start working on getting those pesky blacks back into slavery. They were in direct violation of scripture when they escaped slavery.

  6. Keep going guys, you are doing an excellent job of displaying your disregard for the Scriptures.

    Mark Osgatharp
    Wynne, Arkansas

  7. Looks like I quoted scripture quite accurately. It seems difficult to get around the “Slaves obey your masters” part if one seeks to take the words in a black and white fundamentalist view. One last statement from me on this – I have never encountered a fundamentalist that can offer any refutation of this logic. Most have said “Well, slavery is / was different”, yet they never explain how.

  8. Mark-
    That would be high regard for scripture and disregard for faulty fundamentalist interpretations.

  9. Stephen,

    You said,

    “Looks like I quoted scripture quite accurately. It seems difficult to get around the ‘Slaves obey your masters’ part if one seeks to take the words in a black and white fundamentalist view. One last statement from me on this – I have never encountered a fundamentalist that can offer any refutation of this logic.”

    I didn’t say you misquoted Scripture. I said you displayed your disregard for it.

    Obedience for slaves is just as mandatory as silence in the church for women. Your problem is that you feel the right to disregard the Lord’s commandment on both counts.

    Mark Osgatharp
    Wynne, Arkansas

  10. I’m glad Mary thought sharing the good news of the resurrection with some men who were not her husband was important. Otherwise, we men might all still be hiding in a discreet location so no one could find us.

    It was no coincidence that the first messenger was a woman. The Gospel destroyed all types of discrimination and stereotypes. Sadly, parts of the church have been working for 2000 years to rebuild some of those walls.

  11. Mark,

    I know a multitude of African Americans that are glad their ancestors understood the context of the New Testament times. If they had understood it in terms of modern fundamentalism, they might still be slaves. If you get a chance to share the gospel with a African American, be sure to tell her / him that their ancestors should have remained in slavery.

  12. Stephen,

    You said,

    “I know a multitude of African Americans that are glad their ancestors understood the context of the New Testament times. If they had understood it in terms of modern fundamentalism, they might still be slaves.”

    Could you please explain what it was about New Testament times that mandated slaves to be obedient to their masters, and at what point in time that commandment became irrelevant. When you are finished, explain the same thing with relation to women speaking in the church. You said,

    “If you get a chance to share the gospel with a African American, be sure to tell her / him that their ancestors should have remained in slavery.”

    I didn’t say that anyone should remain in slavery. I say that if a Christian man finds himself in slavery, the Lord commands him to be obedient to his master. The same Lord commanded women to be silent in the church.

    Mark Osgatharp

  13. Mark,

    The commandment became contextually irrelevant when people understood that New Testament slavery was not the same as the race-based oppressive slavery that existed in the United States. The NT commandment is more akin to defining relations between employer and employee, which is easy to understand if taken in context and not seen through a rigid interpretation.
    Women speaking in the church in NT times? Well, I am not sure exactly what was going on in the particular churches to which Paul addressed this issue, but I do know that Paul gave different instructions to different churches. For example, in the book of Timothy, he gave the instructions that only men should be deacons. He obviously did not give that same commandment to the church in which Phoebe served as a deaconess. I also doubt that Philip’s daughters remained silent in the church.
    Hundreds of thousands of African Americans found themselves in slavery prior to 1865. Should they have remained in slavery by being obedient? If one takes a black and white fundamentalist view of scripture, how can one get around this logic? Mark, I am not really accusing you of advocating slavery, but you cannot take one verse literally and not take all verses literally.

    Mark, lets just agree to disagree and move on. We can spend time on more productive issues.

  14. Stephen,

    You said,

    “Mark, lets just agree to disagree and move on. We can spend time on more productive issues.”

    Nah, let’s not. I can think of nothing more productive the coming to an understanding of Scripture, especially when the issues under consideration have such monumental ramifications. You said,

    “The commandment became contextually irrelevant when people understood that New Testament slavery was not the same as the race-based oppressive slavery that existed in the United States.”

    So are you saying that if a non-raced based slavery existed today that those slaves should be obedient to their masters? You said,

    “The NT commandment is more akin to defining relations between employer and employee.”

    No it is not. The New Testament directly addressed slave/master relationships. Slavery in that day may not have been race based, but it was slavery nonetheless.

    You can’t evade the text by claiming Paul was telling employees to obey their employers. I am free to quit a job any time I get tired of doing what my boss tells me, so long as I have filled any contractual obligations. A slave was bound by the law to his master. You said,

    “Women speaking in the church in NT times? Well, I am not sure exactly what was going on in the particular churches to which Paul addressed this issue, but I do know that Paul gave different instructions to different churches. For example, in the book of Timothy, he gave the instructions that only men should be deacons. He obviously did not give that same commandment to the church in which Phoebe served as a deaconess.”

    Phoebe was a servant in the church just as many women and men are. That does not mean she was ordained to the office of a deacon. Jesus was even called a “deacon” – that does not mean He was ordained to that office. You said,

    “I also doubt that Philip’s daughters remained silent in the church.”

    The Scripture does not say that they spoke in the church. They were prophetesses as were other women. That doesn’t mean they prophesied in public worship. You said,

    “Hundreds of thousands of African Americans found themselves in slavery prior to 1865. Should they have remained in slavery by being obedient? If one takes a black and white fundamentalist view of scripture, how can one get around this logic?”

    So long as they were in slavery they should have remained obedient to their masters, as many of them did. You said,

    “I am not really accusing you of advocating slavery, but you cannot take one verse literally and not take all verses literally.”

    I do take all of them literally. I do not “advocate” slavery, for there is no Scripture that says slavery must exist or that anyone must be a slave. The Scripture does say that a Christian slave is to be obedient to his master – and that is true no matter what race he is of or in what society he lives.

    Ditto for the women speaking in church issue.

    Mark Osgatharp
    Wynne, Arkansas

  15. You said
    “I do take all of them literally. I do not “advocate” slavery, for there is no Scripture that says slavery must exist or that anyone must be a slave. The Scripture does say that a Christian slave is to be obedient to his master – and that is true no matter what race he is of or in what society he lives. Ditto for the women speaking in church issue.”

    According to your interpretation, those who were in slavery should have remained in slavery…so they are commanded to be slaves. How can you have it both ways?

    Do you eat your steaks well done? Have you made sure the animal that you eat was not strangled? You need to check those things because you are commanded not to eat anything with blood or anything strangled. Act 15: 20

    Do you forbid speaking in tongues in your church? 1 Corinthians 12

    Do you have divorced members who have remarried in your church?

    Just checking……make sure you kick out all those divorced people unless they go back and remarry their original spouse, else they are committing adultery.

    Do you have a list of widows that you maintain so only those who qualify can get help from the church?

    One last statement for this post – Everyone in my church is going straight to hell. Each Sunday we have a woman who presents a “childrens sermon” The kids are seated together up front and they are the targets of this sermon. Adults are in there, too and they listen as well. Please pray for us that we will discontinue this sinful practice.

  16. Stephen,

    You said,

    “According to your interpretation, those who were in slavery should have remained in slavery…so they are commanded to be slaves. How can you have it both ways?”

    According to Paul slaves were to be obedient to their masters. But he also said (I Cor. chapter 7) that if they had the opportunity to be free, they should use it. So your reasoning on this point is faulty.

    You said,

    “Do you eat your steaks well done? Have you made sure the animal that you eat was not strangled? You need to check those things because you are commanded not to eat anything with blood or anything strangled. Act 15: 20.”

    So far as Old Testament laws are concerned, they were all abolished when Christ died on the cross (Colossians chapter 2, II Corinthians chapter 3, Hebrews, etc). The decision of the apostles in Acts 15 about eating strangled things and blood was is specifically said to be an accommodation for the multitude of Jews, and therefore has no direct relevance to me, since I have no close association with Jews and therefore my eating habits do not give them any offense.

    You asked,

    “Do you forbid speaking in tongues in your church? 1 Corinthians 12”

    No we do not forbid the use of foreign languages in the church. We do not, however, allow the Pentecostal practice of glossolalial, which is a totally different matter not even mentioned in the Scripture.

    You asked,

    “Do you have divorced members who have remarried in your church?

    Just checking……make sure you kick out all those divorced people unless they go back and remarry their original spouse, else they are committing adultery.”

    Yes, we have divorced and remarried people. We do not accept the unscriptural Roman Catholic doctrine of the indissolubility of marriage. We preach that divorce and remarriage is a sin, but not an unforgivable sin.

    However, your statement here continues to scream out your disregard for the Bible. For if you believe that the Bible teaches that marriage is indissoluble, you ought not to allow divorced and remarried persons in the church. As I asked on the other subjects, when did the Lord’s commandments about marriage and divorce become irrelevant? Did God’s word change just because a whole lot of people got divorced and remarried? You said,

    “Do you have a list of widows that you maintain so only those who qualify can get help from the church?”

    We have never had a widow who depended on support from the church. If we ever did then we should abide by what the Bible says about their qualifications.

    You said,

    “One last statement for this post – Everyone in my church is going straight to hell. Each Sunday we have a woman who presents a ‘childrens sermon’ The kids are seated together up front and they are the targets of this sermon. Adults are in there, too and they listen as well. Please pray for us that we will discontinue this sinful practice.”

    That doesn’t mean you are going to hell necessarily. It just means you are doing something shameful. I would say your remark belies your belief in salvation by works. I will pray for you that you will come to understand what it means to be saved and that you will then come to appreciate the importance of obedience to all of God’s commandments.

    Mark Osgatharp
    Wynne, Arkansas

  17. Mark,

    I am pleased to learn that you are not a fundamentalist at all. You have explained your views on a number of scriptural issues and it is apparent that you really do examine scriptures in the context of the times. I am sorry that we seemed to be on different pages when in fact we were on the same page. We will just disagree on allowing a woman to speak to our as she gives her children’s sermon. I’m sure the Lord will forgive her when he considers that over the past 30 years she had led many a child to the knowledge and acceptance of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    I’ll ignore your accusation that I believe in salvation by works. I guess it could be worse – you could have accused me of being a Calvinist. (I trust you have a sense of humor)

    God bless you and your ministry.

    Visit my blog –

    http://ducksoup-stephen.blogspot.com/

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