A Christian apologist and author – as well as some influential Southern Baptist leaders – are taking issue with a prominent West Coast church that they argue has deviated from God’s Word and caved to a worldly trend.

Saddleback Church, a large and influential Southern Baptist church in Southern California founded and pastored by Rick Warren, last week ordained three women to be pastors at the church. Saddleback described the event as “historic” and quoted one of the women in an interview who stated “the role of women in the church has evolved.” The implication in that statement is the women are not being asked to fill pastoral roles in children’s or women’s ministries, for example.

Christian apologist Dr. Alex McFarland says for Southern Baptists, ordination has one meaning.

“When a church or denomination ordains, it implies fidelity to and compliance with New Testament standards,” he explains to One News Now. “When you look at the New Testament – specifically in I Timothy 3 – over and over, the role of pastor or bishop is described in terms of the male gender.”


He suggests Saddleback may have caved to the fad of the day. “It’s unfortunate when the church is informed by the trends of the world rather than the unchanging truth of God’s Word regarding how to do church,” he shares.

Of particular concern to McFarland is that the move is likely to enable smaller churches that are not firmly grounded in scripture.

“When you’ve got a church [like Saddleback] that is highly visible, large, and influential, it sets a precedent, because so many smaller churches follow after,” he offers.

McFarland says the Southern Baptist Convention needs to speak out and take a stand against Saddleback’s desertion of both the Baptist Faith and Message and the Bible – but he expects it won’t.

“I think the SBC at this point is so fragmented – there’s camps and individuals,” he describes. “I don’t know that there’s enough of a majority in the SBC to take a stand for much of anything, really.”

While McFarland may be doubtful, The Christian Post reports several Southern Baptist leaders have expressed their disapproval of and/or opposition to Saddleback’s decision to ordain women as pastors – including Dr. Al Mohler (president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary), Dr. Jack Graham (pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, TX), and Dr. J.D. Greear (current SBC president).

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