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‘Affirm Evangelism by Saying NO to Factionalism’—Rick Warren Pens Open Letter to SBC

But, something changed within the SBC. The current ruling to remove Saddleback Church—and five other churches—states that the church is “not in friendly cooperation with the Convention due to the churches continuing to have a female functioning in the office of pastor.” Each of the churches has an opportunity to appeal, and three have appealed.

At the SBC annual meeting on June 13, each church will have an opportunity to address messengers in attendance, and then a ballot vote will take place.

“A ‘yes’ vote will affirm the decision of the Executive Committee and Credentials Committee.  A ‘no’ vote will overturn the decision of the committees and allow the church to immediately be registered and to seat messengers in accordance with Convention rules,” said the Credentials Committee.

Warren’s letter calls for “no” votes—overturning the Committee’s decision of removal. He outlines significant ways that the current ruling opens a “Pandora’s box of unlimited consequences unless we reject it.”

“It will fundamentally destroy FOUR historic Southern Baptist distinctives upon which the Convention was organized by our founders,” he explained. “It will: 1) change the basis of our cooperation 2) change the basis of our identity 3) centralize power in the Executive Committee and take away autonomy from the churches, and 4) turn our confession into a creed, which Baptists have always opposed.”

Warren continued,

This should be the moment where 47,000+ autonomous, independent, freedom-loving churches say NO to turning the Executive Committee into a theological Magisterium that controls a perpetual inquisition of churches and makes the EC a centralized hierarchy that tells our congregations who to hire and what to call them.

This is a vote to affirm the God-given freedom of every Baptist to interpret Scripture AS A BAPTIST – by saying NO to those who deny that freedom,” Warren wrote. “This is a vote to continue being the denomination of Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong — two strong, godly women who fearlessly spoke to men and challenged them everywhere about the priority of missions, and to say NO to those who would have silenced these Southern Baptist women.”

Warren continued, “This is a vote to affirm our founding documents which insist that our unity is to be based on giving total submission to Christ in our deeds and NOT based on mental submission to man-made creeds.”

“This is a vote to prioritize Baptists working together to heal the hurts of the world in Jesus’ name, instead of nitpicking at each other over our many differences,” he argued.

Warren concluded his letter with a challenge for all those in the SBC. “This is why our church is challenging the ruling: not for ourselves, but for the FUTURE AND NATURE of the SBC, which hangs in the balance. The implications of this precedent cannot be overstated.” He added, “So, I urge you friends to GO AND VOTE NO! at the Annual Meeting in New Orleans.”