Three entity leaders field messenger questions

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By SBC Entity Staff

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP) — Questions were posed to three Southern Baptist Convention entity leaders in time allotted for messengers’ questions during their respective reports at the June 11-12 SBC annual meeting in Birmingham, Alabama.

Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, responded to three questions from messengers following his report on behalf of the entity.

Travis McNeely, a messenger from and student minister at Woodlawn Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, asked Moore if he still held the same position on a woman teaching or preaching to men under a pastor’s authority that he expressed in 2007 when he said on a 9Marks ministry podcast:

Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), gives a report during the 2019 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting June 12 in Birmingham. VAN PAYNE/BP

“Everybody in the [church] remains under the authority of the pastor. It doesn’t mean you now have the authority to sin, to go against the creational order. It would be very much akin to a woman saying, ‘I’m going to commit adultery under the headship of my husband. I have my husband’s permission to commit adultery.’ Nor does it allow a woman to do what is forbidden in Scripture, which is to teach and exercise authority over a man.”

Moore said he has “very strong convictions about biblical complementarity – that God has gifted both men and women for service within the church, and that God has distinctively given callings to men and to women in some specific ways. [The SBC’s] Baptist Faith and Message confessional document is very clear in terms of our parameters of understanding complementarity there. We have issues on which we all agree and issues that we need to agree completely in order to cooperate and to have a mission together. There are lots of other issues where we have a common agreement but we have different ways of applying that at the secondary or at the tertiary level.”

Southern Baptists “can have some different applications sometimes about what our biblical complementarity looks like in some ways, but we are united around the fact that, as our Baptist Faith and Message says, ‘the office of pastor is limited to men,'” Moore said.

Tom Buck, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Lindale, Texas, thanked Moore for speaking “with great clarity in the past” regarding homosexuality but asked about an endorsement he had given to Living Out Ministries. The endorsement, which is no longer on the Living Out website, said the ministry’s resources are “anchored in biblical conviction,” Buck said.

Living Out’s resources “specifically teach that a same-sex attracted individual is fixed in his orientation, that same-sex couples can be a ‘healthy environment to nurture children,’ and that parents should ‘have any family rule for teenagers about same-sex boyfriends or girlfriends that they should also apply to opposite sexes,'” Buck said. “Since those resources existed at the time of your endorsement, would you please explain the circumstances that gave rise to your endorsement that enabled you to say that those type of resources are anchored in biblical conviction?”

Moore told Buck his endorsement was of Sam Allberry, a coordinator of Living Out. Allberry “has lived through absolute persecution from his Anglican communion for standing up for the biblical truth that marriage is only between a man and a woman and that sexual immorality is wrong and that the Gospel is offered to all who will repent and believe of Jesus Christ, someone who has lived out his life heroically.”

Differences existed “later on in that ministry that caused some parting of the ways,” Moore said.

The ERLC “has been actively working on this issue of homosexuality” in terms of teaching the biblical view of sexual morality, Moore said, and “also in terms of preserving and protecting religious liberty for churches who are called bigoted, called hateful, called retrograde simply for affirming what Jesus has taught to us – that from the beginning He created them male and female – and we will continue to do so.”

John Killian, a messenger from Fayette (Alabama) First Baptist Church and director of missions for the Fayette County Baptist Association, said Roman Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan “was publicly shamed” a few years ago for his handling of money involving victims of sex abuse by priests. A year later, Moore co-wrote an article with Dolan on abortion, Killian said. Moore and Dolan also were in a photo together at the March for Life, he said.

Killian asked Moore, “Do you not think that you are hindered in speaking out on sex abuse due to an alliance that you’ve made with Cardinal Timothy Dolan?”

Moore said, “No, I don’t, because for one reason I have been unceasingly clear on the issue of sexual abuse, including unceasingly critical of the response to sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church from the pope on down.

“We work with lots of people on lots of issues, anybody of goodwill, as the Baptist Faith and Message teaches us to do, and we will work with our Catholic friends in standing up for the right to life for unborn children,” Moore said. “We will work with our Catholic friends when it comes to religious liberty and, at the same time, stand back and criticize them not only for some of the wrong things that they’ve done on this issue but for a lot of things as a matter of fact.”

Executive Committee

Dwight McKissic, a messenger from Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas, and senior pastor of the church, asked at the conclusion of the Executive Committee’s report: “I wanted to know, were there any minorities interviewed for the presidency of the EC and were there any minorities that made the final list? I would also ask that about IMB, but the microphone didn’t function over there [one of several on the convention floor used during convention business sessions and reports] … but I’d like to know for both entities, were any minorities interviewed for the presidency of the EC, did any make the final list for both, the EC and IMB? I would only take an answer for the EC if it’s past that time [for the IMB report].”

Georgia pastor Mike Stone, chairman of the Executive Committee, responded: “As the chairman of the [Executive Committee], I was an ex-officio member of that search team and feel confident to speak on their behalf. I have great sympathy for your question; however, I’m not authorized to give details about the internal workings of that search.

“I will tell you that the search committee itself sought out the resumes of far more minorities candidates than were received by recommendation from the 15 million members of the Southern Baptist Convention,” Stone said. “What we sought out was someone who didn’t have a particular tone of their skin. We were seeking someone … of whom we were persuaded had the hand of God on them to lead our Executive Committee. I’m personally reminded that it is in the context of seeking out a leader that God said in corrective rebuke [in 1 Samuel 16:7], that the world looks on the outside, but God looks at the heart.

“We’ve heard comments about the Rooney Rule [requiring NFL teams to interview minority candidates for head coach and general manager positions]. I want to just say very simply we were not seeking an NFL football coach. We were seeking a God-called man to provide spiritual leadership for the ministries of our Executive Committee. And after hearing the stellar report from Dr. Ronnie Floyd [the EC’s new president] earlier this morning, I’m confident to say heaven heard and answered our prayer.”

New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

Dwight McKissic thanked the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary presidential search committee for their transparency regarding the inclusion of minorities in the search process. He asked Chuck Kelley to share his vision for how the Southern Baptist Convention can raise up minority leadership and ultimately elect minority entity heads.

Chuck Kelley, retiring president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, gives remarks at the 2019 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting June 12. He officially retires July 31. Jamie Dew was elected June 5 as the next president of NOBTS. ADAM COVINGTON/BP

Kelley, the seminary’s outgoing president, responded: “We need to do a better job of getting minorities better known throughout the convention — being able to put African American, Hispanic, and other minorities in leadership opportunities on our conference programs so Southern Baptists have a chance to get to know and see operating and see functioning a greater diversity of people doing all the work of the Southern Baptist Convention. I think that when that happens, when that day comes, and you are as likely to see a minority as an Anglo at any point in Southern Baptist life, that minority entity head is going to pop up to a search committee. Lord Jesus may that day come quickly.”

Messenger Chris Bolt, pastor of Elkton (Tennessee) Baptist Church, asked Kelley, “What advice would you give to the young people in this room as to how to finish well?”

“Obedience. That’s it,” Kelley said. “Just do what Jesus tells you to do. Know that along the way He is going to surprise you. I never had any idea that one day I would be the president of NOBTS. How did I get in this position? Obedience. Just keep doing every day what Jesus puts on your plate to do. When the day comes for a transition time in your life, it will be a good and happy transition time. Stay obedient in every way that you can.”

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