Home Christian News Former SBC President J.D. Greear Weighs in on Removal of Saddleback From...

Former SBC President J.D. Greear Weighs in on Removal of Saddleback From Denomination

J.D. Greear
Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear speaks to the denomination's executive committee Monday, Feb. 18, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Former Southern Baptist Convention president J.D. Greear has weighed in on the controversial disfellowshipping of Saddleback Church from the SBC, a decision that Rick Warren, the church’s founding pastor, will challenge at the denomination’s annual meeting next week. 

Deemed by the SBC Executive Committee to no longer be “in friendly cooperation” with the denomination for awarding women the title of pastor and allowing them to preach at weekend services, Saddleback is one of three churches appealing their removal from the SBC. 

The other churches are Freedom Church in Vero Beach, Florida, which was disfellowshipped for failing to resolve concerns pertaining to an abuse allegation, and Fern Creek Baptist Church in Kentucky, the senior pastor of which is a woman.

As the SBC annual meeting draws closer, online conversations about the various issues on the docket have ramped up. For his part, Warren has been tweeting daily about what he sees as hypocrisy in the SBC regarding Saddleback’s disfellowshipping. He has also launched a video series outlining why he believes the SBC is in decline and what he sees as the solution moving forward. 

Greear, who served as SBC president from 2018 to 2021, has now offered his thoughts. 

In an article published to his website, Greear indicated that he would be one of the “more than 12,000 Great Commission Baptists” representing their churches in New Orleans at the Convention.

While Greear did not explicitly reveal how he intends to vote when the issue of Saddleback’s reinstatement is brought to the floor, he did explain what he sees as the key issues at play in the discussion.

“Over the last several years, particularly when considering concerns about churches’ alleged mishandling of abuse, it became apparent that the SBC needed a clearer process for dealing with questions about the cooperating status of churches,” Greear, who served as SBC president at a time when abuse survivor advocates were at long last beginning to make inroads in the denomination, explained. “The standing Credentials Committee, approved in 2019, was a step in that direction. And I supported the establishment and work of that committee.” 

Greear continued, “I believe it is important for any organization—including the SBC—to have the right to determine its own boundaries of cooperation…The Convention needs a process by which it can assess who is within the organization and who is not.”

Expressing the need for wisdom in maintaining unifying essentials while allowing local church autonomy, Greear said that the SBC believes “complementarianism is an essential element of church belief and practice…What that looks like in actual application among our churches, however, is slightly fluid.”

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“Some churches have chosen to appoint women as lead pastors, which appears to be a clear denial of complementarianism. For churches like this, perhaps we should recognize that they are not closely identified with us,” Greear argued. “In other churches, however, the issue is not one of complementarianism, so much as it is one of nomenclature.”