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Rick Warren Shares With Russell Moore the Scriptures That Convinced Him Women Pastors Are Biblical

Rick Warren Russell Moore
Screengrab via YouTube @Christianity Today

Rick Warren peeled back the curtain on why he believes it is biblical for women to serve as pastors and elders in the church this week (Mar. 8) while speaking with Russell Moore on “The Russell Moore Show” podcast.

At last month’s Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Executive Meeting that took place on February 21 in Nashville, Tennessee, Executive Committee (EC) chairman Jared Wellman announced that five churches had been deemed “not in friendly cooperation with the Convention due to the churches continuing to have a female functioning in the office of pastor.”

One of those churches was Saddleback Church, which was founded and led by Warren for 43 years, until he handed over the lead pastoring role to Andy Wood and his wife Stacie (Echo.Church).

RELATED: Saddleback Church Kicked out of SBC Over Female Pastors 

Last October Wood told Baptist Press that his wife, who has taught during Saddleback Church’s Sunday morning worship services, will continue as one of their teaching pastors. “Stacie and I are grateful to be called to serve at Saddleback Church,” he said. “We are not co-pastors, but rather have unique roles on staff. I’m serving as the lead pastor and one of our Saddleback overseers while Stacie is serving as one of our teaching pastors.”

Stacie’s teaching on Sunday mornings and holding the title of “pastor” is a practice that many SBC leaders say is in contradiction of the denomination’s statement of faith (Baptist Faith & Message 2000) which states, “[The church’s] scriptural officers are pastors and deacons. While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.”

As Moore introduced Warren to his podcast audience, the former pastor of the recently disaffiliated SBC Saddleback Church joked, “Well, I’m ready to join in the former Southern Baptist support group with Beth Moore, with Russell Moore and a few others. This last week I got kicked out.”

Warren shared that he wasn’t surprised at Saddleback Church’s removal from the SBC because of the back in forth regarding what is an independent, autonomous church in the SBC—especially when it comes to sexual abuse in an SBC church versus women leadership in an SBC church.

“It’s not an accident that the same voices that said, ‘We cannot protect women from abuse, because of the autonomy of the local church’ are the same voices that are saying, ‘But we can prevent them from being called pastors in the autonomy of the local church.’ So the autonomy only matters if it’s convenient for you. In other words, they clearly think we have a say in your church over staff titles. But it was it was a misnomer to say, ‘Well, we’re not responsible for this abuse that’s going on because they’re all independent, autonomous churches.’ Nonsense.”

RELATED: Rick Warren Surprises SBC Messengers at Annual Meeting; Reads ‘Love Letter’ in Wake of Disfellowshipping Controversy 

Moore asked Warren how he’d explain Saddleback Church having women pastors in regard to many in the SBC believing that the Baptist Faith & Message 2000 says the office of pastor has to be held by qualified men of Scripture.

“Everybody in the SBC believes in the inerrancy of Scripture,” Warren answered. “Now we’re talking about difference of interpretation. Those particular passages from Titus Timothy and Corinthians have hundreds, literally hundreds, of interpretations.”

Warren continued, saying the SBC “should be able to expel people over sin, racism, sexual abuse, other sexual sins, things like that. But this over women. We can disagree? Over the atonement? We can disagree over election and we can disagree over dispensationalism. We can disagree over second coming. We can disagree over the nature of sin, but we can’t disagree over what you name your staff?”

Warren described the difference between a conservative Baptist and a fundamentalist Baptist by saying he believes in the inerrancy of Scripture but doesn’t “believe in the inerrancy of your interpretation”—nor of his he said for that matter, “which is why I have to say I could be wrong.”

“We have to approach Scripture humbly, saying, I could be wrong,” Warren said. “I know that you’ll never hear fundamentalists say, I could be wrong. A conservative Baptist believes in the inerrancy of Scripture. A fundamentalist Baptist believes in the inerrancy of their interpretation.”