'They Don't Believe in Women in Pulpit:' Female Preacher Was Pulled Off Air Because She's a Woman
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The Southern Baptist Convention recently expelled five churches including former pastor Rick Warren's Saddleback Church for having women as pastors.
The denomination's Executive Committee, which officially opposes women as pastors, cited Saddleback for having a female teaching pastor, Stacie Wood, wife of the church's lead pastor Andy Wood, functioning in the office of pastor.
It is an issue that has led to much discussion from both supporters of women preachers and those who are opposed.
"I was baptized in the Holy Spirit at age seven in an old-fashioned tent revival," Pastor Sharon Hardy-Knotts of Baltimore's Faith Tabernacle said during an appearance on CBN's The Prayerlink. "I preached my first message at nine at youth service."
At age 30, Hardy-Knotts was ordained into the ministry. For years she preached on Christian radio with her late father R.G. Hardy. She shared about the time she was booted off the air because she was a woman.
"We were on these stations a good full two years and then one day my radio representative called me and said, 'Sharon I got bad news for you.' She says, 'They want to take you off the air because they do not believe in women in the pulpit,'" explained Hardy-Knotts.
It is a view held by many in the church, including Pastor John MacArthur of California's Grace Community Church, who points to a passage in First Corinthians chapter 14 to back up his belief that women are banned from speaking in the church.
"It's in verse 35, the last part of the verse," MacArthur said in a sermon posted on YouTube called, "Does the Bible Permit a Woman to Preach?" He continued, "It is improper for a woman to speak in church. That's not ambiguous, not at all unclear. It is improper for a woman to speak in church. That's an absolute prohibition."
Pastor Joel Rainey's Southern Baptist Covenant Church in Shepherdstown, West Virginia agrees that women should not lead congregations. "Particularly First Timothy two and three put very clear limits on certain offices, particularly the office of pastor," Rainey told CBN News. "We believe that's limited to scripturally qualified men."
Rainey does believe, however, that the Bible supports the call of women to preach and serve in other roles. "They proclaimed the resurrection. They were deacons and ministers of various kinds. They mentored and developed other leaders including young men and on occasion, they preached to the gathered congregation," Rainey explained.
The SBC controversy began in 2021 when Rick Warren ordained three women as pastors.
During a recent podcast with Russell Moore, editor-in-chief of Christianity Today, Warren admitted that he too, once thought the office of pastor was off-limits to women.
"I had to repent when I actually looked at the Great Commission," said Warren. "I had to say it's not just for ordained men. It's for everyone."
He added, "At Pentecost, we know that women were in the upper room. We know women were filled with the Holy Spirit. We know that women were preaching in languages that other people couldn't hear. It wasn't just men. Women were preaching on Pentecost."
"We claim that we believe that the Great Commission is for everybody, both men and women are to fulfill the Great Commission," Warren also told The Russell Moore Show. "There are four verbs in the Great Commission: 'go,' 'make disciples,' 'baptize' and 'teach.' Women are to go. Women are to make disciples. Women are to baptize and women are to teach, not just men."
Warren also points to John 20 as more evidence for the role of women in the church. In that passage, Jesus directly told Mary Magdalene to go and tell his male disciples about his resurrection.
Meanwhile, Pastor Hardy-Knotts who took the helm at her church after the passing of her father, said while the controversy over female pastors and ministers continues, she will remain focused and faithful.
"The anointing speaks for itself. So, I just continue to be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord and doing what my hands find to do with all my heart and trying to do it in humility," she said.
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