What kind of SBC will we be? Why we need to care about Beth Moore preaching.


If you are tired of talking about issues related to Beth Moore, that means you are a sane and rational person. I know it’s exhausting, but we need to care about Beth Moore preaching, and here is why.

Those seeking to shift the SBC theologically liberal are counting on you getting tired of talking about women preaching at the corporate worship service. Wearing you down is their aim.

The SBC is a big place – 40,000+ churches. It can and does handle a lot of inconsistency below the surface and mostly out of sight. This is true of any organization of this size. When an individual church has a woman preach on a Sunday morning, it’s an aberration and can be viewed as such. That doesn’t make it right, but it explains how this practice can take place in the past and not become the lighting rod issue it has at the moment.

When the most popular, best-selling female teacher in your convention starts preaching on Sunday mornings, this is no longer an aberration. As a convention, we must formally oppose this practice, or we will quickly de facto become a convention that supports women preaching at gathered corporate worship.

Many have observed that in an organization, “you get what you tolerate.”

The popularity and name-recognition of Beth Moore is forcing the SBC to reckon with whether it is going to tolerate women preaching to the gathered church, and thus get more of it. Not tolerating women preaching can mean a lot of things – from SBC leaders speaking up, to formal resolutions, to ultimately disfellowshiping churches who practice this functional egalitarianism. But the bottom line is, are we going to accept that women preaching at gathered corporate worship is within the framework of our complementarian commitments, or is it not? What kind of SBC will we be?

The BFM2K does not specifically address the issue of women preaching, but it does clearly define male leadership in the church. Is the function of preaching a part of male leadership, or can this function be separated from the role? Furthermore, direct appeal to the BFM2K is not an exhaustive argument, as there are a host of practices the document does not address that we would not tolerate among us.

Perhaps further denominational clarification on the matter of women preaching is needed through formal resolutions and amendments. I would welcome this. But it would also go a long way for the leaders of the convention to speak clearly and say, “This practice is not consistent with our complementarian commitments.” Some have spoken about this clearly, but they are few and far between.

It will not do to plead local church autonomy as a means of keeping the peace. What is at stake is our denominational identity as a whole. What kind of churches are we? The choice is not between a church that allows women to preach and one that does not. Indeed, this is a matter of autonomy. The choice we are confronted with now is between a convention that allows women to preach, and one that does not. What kind of SBC will we be?

The approach of many SBC leaders has been to ignore the issue of women preaching or dodge the question, often with the deflection, “We support and value women who are made in the image of God.” Well of course we all do, but that’s not the question. What kind of SBC will we be?

In our current cultural climate, to not answer the question of whether women should preach is to answer it. Will we be an SBC where it matters that 1 Timothy 2 says what it says? Those in favor of women preaching will not appreciate my framing there. But that’s the point. To avoid the question is to say the answer does not matter.

Perhaps there is a better way to frame the question. Before us is not the issue of whether or not women do preach at the corporate worship service. Clearly, as evidenced by Beth Moore, some women do. The question that we in the SBC, and especially our leaders, must answer is, “Does it matter in our convention whether women preach?”

We cannot have it both ways. We cannot say that it matters whether women preach, and then also refuse to speak clearly and take a stand to oppose this when they do. Inaction as a convention going forward will be to say that it does not matter whether woman preacher, and in that event we can expect more women preaching in the future.

What kind of SBC will we be?

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9 thoughts on “What kind of SBC will we be? Why we need to care about Beth Moore preaching.

  1. Curious why you would use a tweet from a non-SBC pastor/church to make your point. Derwin Gray is not in our convention. They aren’t in any convention I know of.

  2. I think we need to rename the annual Annie Armstrong offering as “Andrew Armstrong Offering”and The Lawrence Moon Offering” so young kids are not as confused as I was.

  3. I don’t believe “What kind of SBC will we be” is the issue. Shouldn’t the issue be, “Will the SBC be obedient to the Word of God?”

    I was a member of First Baptist in Houston when Beth Moore first preached on a Sunday night in 1988. Gregg Matte later became pastor and Beth’s Water’s Edge class grew to 900 men and women. The SBC has completely ignored Beth preaching/teaching men while God’s Word is very clear…women are not to teach or have authority over men. That includes women teaching men in Sunday School classes as well as Bible studies.

    The SBC has not obeyed God’s Word for decades.

  4. I grew up SBC. I grew up with pastors who did not teach us to have Quiet Time with the Lord, oh they told us to read the Bible, but not how. Preachers who didn’t know how to prepare a sermon or properly feed the flock. A great deal of legal, a different program coming down the pipe all the time. Be active, come Everytime the doors open, but no life, no Spirit. Serve, but no teaching on what your gifts might be just serve. Maybe instead of worrying about Beth, the SBC should investigate the untrained men in the pulpits. Why we have so many small churches in our northern states, teach our people how to pray, teach the people to call Spirit filled pastors, who know how to feed the sheep. Teach people to listen at the feet of Jesus, be still and know Him. I am out now, but love where I am at. I no longer wear a heavy yoke, but one fit for me and Jesus. I feed myself, and am fed from the pulpits as well.

  5. Paul’s use of the word desire in verse 8 of 1 Timothy chapter 2 is from the Greek word βούλομαι, which means a personal desire or wish. Therefore as someone who believes we should take the Bible literally we would see this is his opinion and not a direct command just like when he was speaking to the Corinthians about marriage.

    In the SBC we have Annie Armstrong and Lottie Moon offering drives but does that really honor their mission work as women or is it just for the money? What difference is there in their teaching and preaching through missions than that in a pulpit?

    I’m not saying their aren’t discussions to be had over this issue but an outright ban over a personal desire isn’t prudent either. All ministers and teachers must be held accountable to the doctrine of Christ’s church. As such Paul mentioned it was the woman who was deceived but yet we have a male president of the SBC who has been deceived and preaches heresy on gender. Why not focus on that?

  6. I think a big part of the problem is how we allow the discussion to be framed. If we make it about a person (Beth Moore) then we will draw the kind of criticism that is pervasive on social media platforms; namely that we are all just jealous or misogynists. In my opinion, we need to keep the conversation framed around a question of biblical exegesis. What does the bible say, how do we faithfully obey the revelation of our Lord in today’s world and culture? The SBC has gone into the weeds by losing focus on the text the only way back is to regain focus.

    Good article Nate.

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