Southern California author and megachurch pastor Rick Warren entered the conversation regarding who should become the next president of the Southern Baptist Convention over the weekend. What followed was an online conversation about whether Saddleback Church should be disfellowshipped from the SBC.
On Saturday, Warren retweeted a video posted by SBC presidential candidate Bart Barber, wherein Barber praised fellow candidate Tom Ascol’s character and faith and called on Southern Baptists to exhibit charity toward one another during the election process.
“Watch how a truly godly Christian leader @bartbarber refuses to retaliate when attacked,” Warren said. “Prideful, petty, applause-hungry posers use [disputable] matters to divide. #SBC needs a humble statesman like Bart, a wise & loving healer who unites us around #MISSIONS.”
Though Warren is a best-selling author and pastor and has been a beloved figure in many evangelical circles for decades, Warren’s SBC-affiliated Saddleback Church has been the center of some controversy in the SBC for ordaining three women on its staff to the role of pastor.
While the women’s pastoral responsibilities are to oversee children’s and youth ministries and they will not be preaching from Saddleback’s pulpit, Saddleback’s move to designate the women as “pastors” drew criticism from a number of SBC leaders, including Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Al Mohler, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary president Adam Greenway, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary president Jason Keith Allen, and then SBC president J.D. Greear.
In June of 2021, an SBC committee began considering whether Saddleback Church should be disaffiliated from the SBC for violating the denomination’s statement of faith, Baptist Faith & Message, which says in part, “While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.”
After Warren gave his endorsement of Barber, Texas SBC pastor Tom Buck pressed Barber to advocate for Saddleback to be removed from the denomination.
“Since Rick Warren essentially endorses @bartbarber, I think this needs to be asked since Rick Warren’s church is in violation of Article VI of BFM 2000 by ordaining women,” Buck tweeted. “Bart, do you believe a church who ordains women should be disfellowshipped from the SBC?”
“It’s pretty amazing the parts of my timeline you guys know and the parts you have forgotten,” Barber replied. “Everyone who disagreed with me here knows what I believe on this question and has nonetheless endorsed me for SBC president.”