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‘We Should Manifest the Fruit of the Spirit’: Willy Rice Responds to Criticism of Voddie Baucham

Willy Rice Voddie Baucham
Pictured: Willy Rice speaking at 2021 annual meeting of the SBC (image courtesy of Baptist Press)

Willy Rice, who is the pastor of Calvary Church in Clearwater, Fla., and will accept a nomination for the SBC presidency at the 2022 annual meeting of the Convention, has released a statement regarding another potential contender for SBC president, Voddie Baucham. 

After Ed Litton announced that he would not seek a second term for the role of SBC president last week, the field opened up with speculation about who would take his place. One day after Litton’s announcement, it was reported that Rice would accept a nomination, and some evangelical leaders began expressing their desire to see Baucham accept a one as well. 

While Baucham confirmed that he had been asked to accept a nomination, he expressed uncertainty regarding his eligibility. While he planted and pastored an SBC church in Spring, Texas, and is in leadership for more than one SBC-affiliated entity, he is serving as Dean of Theology at African Christian University in Lusaka, Zambia, and is thus not weekly attending an SBC church.

Since a requirement for holding an SBC office is that a candidate must be a member of a church in friendly cooperation with the SBC, Baucham’s eligibility hinges on how his home church in Texas defines membership and whether they still consider him a member in good standing as he serves in Zambia as a missionary. 

Whether Baucham ends up accepting a nomination or not, the mere possibility has sparked both avid support and staunch denunciation among prominent voices within the SBC. Baucham, who has sounded alarm bells about what he believes to be the dangers of social justice and critical race theory, has become a polarizing figure. 

Recent Criticism of Baucham

Shortly after speculation about a possible Baucham nomination began circulating on social media, Baptist New Global (BNG) published an opinion piece authored by Rick Pidcock, which bore the title “Plagiarism is the least thing to worry about with Voddie Baucham, who is a threat to children, women and daughters.”

Baucham has been the subject of accusations that his 2021 book, “Fault Lines: The Social Justice Movement and Evangelicalism’s Looming Catastrophe,” plagiarized the works of other authors and misquoted the authors whom the book critiques. The book’s publisher has denied these claims, arguing that any misunderstanding on the part of the reader is a result of poor formatting, not plagiarism or intentional misrepresentation.

In his opinion piece, however, Pidcock argues that these accusations should be the least of the SBC’s worries, going on to argue that Baucham’s views on marriage and parenting represent a very real danger to women and children. Baucham adheres to a conservative understanding of complementarian theology and has been vocal in his support of parents disciplining their children with corporal punishment. 

Based on what Baucham has said in the past about having an “orderly household,” Pidcock accused Baucham of being “ignorant” and said that Baucham advocates for solving discipline problems “through physical violence with the threat of eternal violence.”

“​​Baucham reveals himself to be one of the most extreme voices of complementarianism,” Pidcock also wrote, quoting a sermon Baucham gave in 2009, in which Baucham said, “There’s a person who’s in an abusive marriage. That is not biblical grounds for divorce and remarriage.”

A separate BNG news article also pointed out that Stephen Bratton, the man who succeeded Baucham as pastor at Grace Family Baptist Church in Spring, TX after Baucham moved to Zambia, is currently serving a 17-year prison sentence for multiple counts of sexual assault on a minor. The victim was one of Bratton’s own family members.