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Albert Mohler: Having Women Serve as Pastors Has Never ‘Made Sense’ to Southern Baptists

“I think this is where the Convention is,” Mohler continued. “I think this is the logic of complementarianism. I think this is the actual logic of our cooperation, especially since the conservative resurgence [of the SBC], because this is such a crucial issue.”

Mohler went on to contend that while a male-only pastorate is controversial in the media, it is uncontroversial among Southern Baptists. 

“The confusion is fairly recent,” Mohler said. “And it is somewhat abstract. The concrete reality is Southern Baptists believe that the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture…If you want to argue about this at every Southern Baptist Convention ad infinitum, leave that an open question.”

Mohler added that the latest version of the Baptist Faith & Message, including its language excluding women from serving as pastors, was “overwhelmingly adopted” by Southern Baptists in 2000 and “was not controversial inside the SBC.”

Mohler went on to argue that the present controversy is because, “especially in some of the more pragmatically-minded of our churches, there has been a somewhat intentionally blurred line when it comes, I think, to the teaching office.”

“But the idea that you would have the word ‘pastor’ applied to a woman in the Southern Baptist Convention, to the vast majority of Southern Baptists, I don’t think has ever made sense,” Mohler went on to say. “And I would go back to the 70s and 80s and say, even then, I don’t think to the vast majority of Southern Baptists that made biblical sense.” 

Mohler further argued that “Southern Baptists just aren’t going to come” to annual meetings if the issue of women serving as pastors is not settled with the Law Amendment. He added, “Let’s clarify what we believe. This is a very Baptist act. This is voluntary Baptist associationalism. Let’s make clear the basis of that associationalism.”

While Mohler has made forceful arguments in favor of the Law Amendment, some within the SBC disagree with its necessity—even those who hold to the most traditional understanding of a male-only pastorate. Among them is sitting SBC president Dr. Bart Barber

In a May 2023 video, Barber said that while the amendment is “well intentioned,” the solution to the issue isn’t adding language to the SBC constitution that already exists in the BFM2000. Instead, Barber argued, the SBC should clearly define what it means to “closely align” with the BFM2000. 

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Barber and others advocated for a study group to be formed to offer recommendations for assessing what points of divergence from the BFM2000 would disallow a church from affiliating with the SBC. That motion was overwhelmingly voted down at the SBC’s 2023 meeting in New Orleans.