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Albert Mohler addresses current issues in SBC life at forum

Colin Smothers, Denny Burk and Albert Mohler discuss current issues facing the SBC at a forum hosted by the Kenwood Institute at Kenwood Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky. Feb. 16. (submitted photo)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) – The president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary believes change is needed in several important areas of Southern Baptist life. Albert Mohler spoke about sexual abuse reform, the future of the SBC Executive Committee and the so-called “Law Amendment” at a forum hosted by the Kenwood Institute.

Mohler was interviewed by Colin Smothers and Denny Burk at the event Feb. 16. The Kenwood Institute is a part of Kenwood Baptist Church in Louisville.

On Paul Pressler and sexual abuse reform

“The allegations in the case are beyond horrifying,” Mohler said regarding the recent settlement reached in the lawsuit against former Texas judge Paul Pressler. He reminded the audience that in addition to the most recent settlement, there had been a previous settlement also.

“And that means, at the very least, we have what I think amounts to a massive scandal related to someone who had a lot of influence in the Southern Baptist Convention,” Mohler said.

Pressler was an active force in the SBC Conservative Resurgence of the late 1970s and early 1980s. He served as member of the SBC Executive Committee and in youth ministry at several churches over the years.

Relying on Pauline qualifications for leadership, Mohler said, “…we’re talking about someone who is not beyond reproach.”

“This is a reproach and it’s a horrifying reproach.… I think most of us who have been in leadership in the SBC are feeling the pressure and kind of the nausea of that reproach,” he said.

The information that has been released in the Pressler case convinces him “that something’s broken in an SBC in which you can have someone fulfilling a public role when they have evidently some credible accusation that is known by people in a local church.”

Mohler says this case is one of the reasons that there must be a “structural system in the SBC” so that a person can “… call somewhere and say, ‘Here’s a problem.’”

On the future of the SBC Executive Committee

Pointing to the legal liabilities and financial challenges faced by the SBC Executive Committee and the ongoing need for the SBC to have representation 365 days a year, Mohler said the challenges faced by the entity are going to force Southern Baptists to make “some very hard decisions about going forward.”

Though he said he had “strong beliefs and convictions” about that future direction, he said what the EC needs right now is “very competent, stable leadership that Southern Baptists trust to guide that entity through a very difficult time.” 

He believes considerations must be given to the cost, structure and what the entity’s “necessary, but limited, responsibilities are going to be.”

Using language he said Southern Baptist messengers used in 1925 when they formed the Executive Committee, he called the entity a “dangerous necessity.”

Mohler said EC interim president and CEO Jonathan Howe and the next permanent leader of the entity are “bearing a very, very heavy burden on behalf of Southern Baptists and, frankly, it’s a thankless job.” 

He encourages Southern Baptists to work with them “to try to make this work.”

On the Law Amendment

Mohler recounted discussions from the floor of the last two SBC annual meetings as he discussed the Law Amendment vote that is scheduled to take place at the 2024 SBC Annual Meeting in Indianapolis.

In 2023, messengers overwhelming deemed California’s Saddleback Church and Fern Creek Baptist Church, located just a few miles from Southern’s campus, not to be in friendly cooperation with the SBC based on the role women play in pastoral ministry.

A vote on Saddleback was delayed in 2022 when the SBC’s Credentials Committee asked messengers for a group to study what the term pastor specifically meant in the Baptist Faith and Message. Saddleback did not have women serving as elders at the time, but had ordained women and was allowing a woman to preach regularly in the church weekly worship services.

Virginia pastor Mike Law introduced an amendment to the SBC Constitution in 2022 to add language related to women serving in pastoral ministry.

The motion was amended by Texas pastor Juan Sanchez at the 2023 SBC Annual Meeting and received the first needed vote of a two-thirds majority. The second vote is scheduled for this June.

The language would deem that only churches that affirm, appoint, or employ “only men as any kind of pastor or elder as qualified by Scripture” would be in friendly cooperation with the convention.

Mohler said he is in favor of the amendment.

“I see it as not only something that we need to pass, but we need to just have it as a part of our bylaws in such a way that it settles a question,” he said.

That question being related to the Southern Baptists belief “that the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture,” he said.

Mohler said he believes that if the amendment fails, the issue will not go away but would be reintroduced annually.

    About the Author

  • Brandon Porter

    Brandon Porter serves as Associate Vice President for Convention News at the SBC Executive Committee

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