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Greear foresees ‘nationwide hunt’ if SBC amendment passes

NASHVILLE (BP) – J.D. Greear says he doesn’t have a problem with what the Baptist Faith and Message says about who should serve in the office of pastor. But he does have a significant issue with a proposed amendment to the SBC Constitution.

Greear, pastor of Summit Church in Durham, N.C., shared his concerns on Baptist Press This Week.

The amendment, which received a first affirmative vote at the 2023 SBC Annual Meeting in New Orleans, would add a sixth paragraph to Article III of the constitution stipulating 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 SBC. For passage, it requires a two-thirds majority vote in Indianapolis in 2024.

“I think the majority of Baptists believe that there are two offices that are given in the current New Testament church,” Greear said, pointing to the office of pastor and deacon.

Further, he sides with the Baptist Faith and Message as it affirms the office of pastor is “reserved for men as explained by 1 Timothy 2 and 3.”

But this is where his agreement with the proposed amendment ends. He believes passing the amendment would require the SBC’s Credentials Committee to go “on a nationwide hunt.”

He’s concerned the amendment would open the door for people to report churches to the Credentials Committee who have women on staff serving in roles such as children’s pastor, youth pastor, care pastor or other positions that include the word pastor.

“You should not call them pastors,” Greear said, but “at the same time, we try to allow latitude in some of the applications of those doctrines. And, you know, one of the approaches [is] the way one of my seminary professors said it. Southern Baptists historically have affirmed the center rather than really tightly policed the borders when it came to some of the secondary things.”

He believes tasking the Credentials Committee with investigating churches with support staff members who have the word pastor in their job title “will undo the Southern Baptist genius of cooperation that has led to our mission vitality” because he doesn’t believe it is a primary issue when it comes to Southern Baptist cooperation.

Greear, a former SBC president, published a blog in July that unpacked his case.

The following day, the amendment’s proposers posted, “We dare not compromise a single word of God’s Word,” to their X (formerly Twitter) account.

“The logic of that tweet [is] that if we don’t pass this amendment we’re compromising the Word of God,” Greear said.

“The problem with that is Southern Baptists have a long history of agreeing on primary and secondary things, even as they allow freedom in tertiary things or how we apply things.”

Greear compared the use of the word pastor in the title of staff positions to “tertiary things” such as predestination, limited atonement and irresistible grace.

He said if the convention passes the amendment, the Credentials Committee “will have no choice” but to disfellowship churches using staff titles in this way.

    About the Author

  • Brandon Porter

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

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