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Rick Warren Slams Southern Baptist 'HYPOCRISY' on Women, Seeks to Restore Saddleback Church

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Former Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren issued a tough challenge to the Southern Baptist Convention Monday, calling out the group on social media for what he calls "hypocrisy" when it comes to the role of women in the church. 

"HYPOCRISY: The 2023 SBC will kick out churches for having a woman preach WHILE honoring Charles Stanley, SBC President who was saved through a WOMAN PREACHING!  'As Mrs. Wilson preached, the Spirit struck me to the core! When she gave the invitation I was the first down', Stanley," Warren tweeted.

In a follow-up tweet, Warren wrote, "The SBC allows churches to disagree on interpreting 6 essential doctrines of our salvation in Christ. You just don't dare call a female staff (who's done 100s of funerals & pastoral care for 26 yrs) a pastor. That gets you kicked out. Strange what matters most to some Baptists."

slider img 2Just five days before the Southern Baptist Convention's (SBC) annual meeting in New Orleans June 11-14, Warren, 69, is calling for Convention delegates to overturn the SBC's decision to oust its second-largest congregation – the Lake Forest, California-based Saddleback Church Warren founded – because it has women serving with the title of pastor. 

"This should be the moment where 47,000+ autonomous, independent, freedom-loving churches say NO to turning the Executive Committee into a theological Magisterium that controls a perpetual inquisition of churches and makes the EC a centralized hierarchy that tells our congregations who to hire and what to call them," Warren wrote in an open letter released to various media outlets on Friday, June 2.

As CBN News has reported, the controversy began in 2021, when Warren ordained three women as pastors, prompting discussions within the denomination about possibly expelling the megachurch.

Then in February of this year, after Warren's retirement in 2022, the SBC Executive Committee voted to oust Saddleback for having a woman pastor. 

The committee cited Saddleback's having "a female teaching pastor functioning in the office of pastor," an allusion to Stacie Wood, wife of the current lead pastor of Saddleback, Andy Wood.

As CBN News reported in May, Saddleback has asked the annual meeting of the SBC to overturn the decision by the Executive Committee and let them back in the Convention. Otherwise, the committee's decision will stand. 

"SBC bylaws plainly outline the process for churches determined to be not in cooperation with the Convention to appeal their cases before messengers cast their votes," SBC Executive Committee chairman David Sons said in a statement to CBN News at the time.  

"Since this is the first time in SBC history for this particular item of business to come before the Convention, it's important for everyone coming to New Orleans to be prepared and informed about the process," Sons added.

Since the announcement of his former church's appeal, Warren has campaigned for Saddleback to be restored to the Southern Baptist denomination.  Besides using social media and releasing his open letter, he has also launched a website and a video series addressing what he calls the unprecedented decline of the Southern Baptist Convention. 

Warren is scheduled to give a three-minute appeal to SBC messengers or delegates from the convention floor on the afternoon of Tuesday, June 13.

Besides Saddleback, the SBC will also vote to affirm or overturn Executive Committee decisions concerning two other churches that have also appealed their ousters, according to Religion News Service (RNS). One church was rejected for having a woman in a pastoral role and the other for "a lack of intent to cooperate in resolving concerns regarding a sexual abuse allegation."

The RNS reports Warren is also hoping to change an amendment to the SBC constitution that says the denomination would include only churches with "a faith and practice which closely identifies" with the Baptist Faith and Message. That statement of faith restricts the office of pastor to men.

The SBC's statement of faith says, "While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture."

In order to update the amendment to the constitution, it would have to be passed by votes over two consecutive years by the messengers, according to the RNS

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About The Author

Steve Warren is a senior multimedia producer for CBN News. Warren has worked in the news departments of television stations and cable networks across the country. In addition, he also worked as a producer-director in television production and on-air promotion. A Civil War historian, he authored the book The Second Battle of Cabin Creek: Brilliant Victory. It was the companion book to the television documentary titled Last Raid at Cabin Creek currently streaming on Amazon Prime. He holds an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and a B.A. in Communication from the University of