On Nov. 30, Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) President Bart Barber released a statement regarding the announcement of former SBC president Johnny Hunt‘s restoration to ministry after being credibly accused of sexual abuse in May’s Guidepost Solutions report.
Barber reminded Southern Baptists of the resolution they adopted in 2021, titled “On Abuse and Pastoral Qualifications,” which states that “any person who has committed sexual abuse is permanently disqualified from holding the office of pastor.”
The current SBC president knows the resolution well, because he was a member of the Committee on Resolutions that authored it.
“I would permanently ‘defrock’ Johnny Hunt if I had the authority to do so,” Barber said.
However, Barber explained that because the SBC is a fellowship of autonomous churches, he doesn’t possess the authority to remove Hunt from a position of leadership or authority within SBC churches.
Nevertheless, Barber pointed out that just as he doesn’t have the authority to “defrock” Hunt, the four pastors who “declare Johnny Hunt to be restored” in ministry don’t have the authority do so either.
“They do not speak for the Southern Baptist Convention,” Barber stated. “Indeed, it is not clear that they even speak for their own churches. For those Southern Baptist churches who practice ordination to ministry, the authority to ordain is generally considered to arise from the congregation, but no indication has been given that any of these four congregations have consented to or given their authority to this process.”
Barber shared that although Hunt is no longer a member at First Baptist Church of Woodstock (FBCW), his “offensive actions” took place while he was. Therefore, since FBCW lead pastor Jeremy Morton has shared that the church was not part of Hunt’s restoration process, Barber characterized the four pastors’ process as unbiblical.
“The idea that a council of pastors, assembled with the consent of the abusive pastor, possesses some authority to declare a pastor fit for resumed ministry is a conceit that is altogether absent from Baptist polity and from the witness of the New Testament,” Barber said. “Indeed, it is repugnant to all that those sources extol and represent.”
The SBC president encouraged others take these pastors’ pronouncement “as the individual opinions of four of Johnny Hunt’s loyal friends.”