When Molly Marshall served as the associate dean of the school of theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky she held to unbiblical positions that transcended to a far higher level than her egalitarianism. Upon being forced to resign due to her theological liberalism that contradicted the Bible and the governing documents of the institution, at a candlelight vigil on April 18th 1995, Molly Marshall stated, “The school of theology is without a tenured woman and probably will be as long as the misogynistic forces are unabated.” While we’ve come so far within the SBC, for many, we’ve been moving in the wrong direction. According to Beth Moore:
I am compelled to my bones by the Holy Spirit – I don’t want to be but I am -to draw attention to the sexism & misogyny that is rampant in segments of the SBC, cloaked by piety & bearing the stench of hypocrisy. There are countless godly conservative complementarians. So many.
This is one statement in her long Twitter response to Owen Strachan’s recent article “Divine Order in a Chaotic Age: On Women Preaching” where he pointed to God’s divine hierarchy rooted in creation and connected to the design of the hierarchy established in God’s church.
In May of 2016, I penned an article titled, “Why Your Pastor Should Say ‘No More’ to Beth Moore” where I communicated several concerns that should be taken seriously regarding Beth Moore’s ministry. Today, I’m publishing a sequel to that article that focuses on why the Southern Baptist Convention should cease partnership with Beth Moore’s ministry on any official level—which would include the ERLC, LifeWay, and local churches who make up the SBC. As I begin, I want to be clear that this is not intended to be a hit piece on Beth Moore personally. I’m sure she’s a great mother, wife, and friend to many people, but her ministry, beliefs, and ideas are problematic and must not be overlooked.
The SBC and Doctrinal Fidelity
Years ago, the Southern Baptist Convention took a plunge into the abyss of liberal theology. During those days, professors were teaching post-mortem salvation opportunities at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. The story of the SBC is one that is quite shocking and a testimony of God’s sovereign mercy. No denomination has ever returned from the abyss of liberal theology with a bright resurgence like the SBC. The story of the Conservative Resurgence (although not without imperfection) is something that all Southern Baptist churches should not forget.
While the SBC has certainly been rescued from theological liberalism—at some point the SBC has become a slave to pragmatism. Sadly, whatever works often trumps what the Bible actually says. This leads people, institutions, and entire denominations away from doctrinal purity. Over time, the SBC learned that a partnership with Beth Moore would be a good decision both pragmatically (due to her popularity among women) and financially (primarily through LifeWay). No amount of financial benefit should warrant a blind eye to Beth Moore’s theological deficiencies.
Charismatic Associations and Gifts
Beth Moore has become more visibly aligned with groups of people who do not align with the convictions and theological positions of the SBC. For instance, in early 2017, Beth Moore was the keynote preacher at a large charismatic conference where she said, “We are settling for woefully less than what Jesus promised us,” She went on to say, “I read my New Testament over and over. I’m not seeing what He [Jesus] promised. I’m unsettled and unsatisfied.” She likewise communicated, “I want holy fire!” The evening ended with many pastors and conference attendees running to the altar where they laid prostrate on the floor weeping and praying for more than an hour. While that may be a mild example, she has likewise appeared on TBN with Joyce Meyer and worshipped in Joel Osteen’s church. The apostle Paul stated plainly that we were to warn the church and avoid those who cause division (Rom. 16:17). Beth Moore chooses to partner with heretics which is a problem the SBC should avoid.
According to the Baptist Faith & Message 2000, the SBC embraces a clear teaching of justification by faith alone in Christ alone. According to Article IV. B., “Justification is God’s gracious and full acquittal upon principles of His righteousness of all sinners who repent and believe in Christ. Justification brings the believer unto a relationship of peace and favor with God.” That is not the position of the Roman Catholic Church which has been denying the material principle of the Reformation (justification by faith alone) for centuries. According to the RCC:
If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema (Council of Trent, Canons on Justification, Canon 9).
Within her teaching ministry, Beth Moore has referred to Roman Catholics as her “brothers and sisters” in Christ. In one video from 2002, Beth Moore stated that God gave her a vision of the unity that God was building among various denominations in which she included both Catholics and charismatics. This ecumenical view of other faiths is problematic and weakens the SBC as a whole. As the SBC looks into the future, it should be obvious that a clear stance on justification by faith alone must be embraced, guarded, and proclaimed. Not only should the SBC be clear on justification, but other doctrinal distinctives must be maintained as well. Unfortunately, many people view distinctives as restrictive or even judgmental in nature. This negative view of doctrinal clarity often leads to the capitulation of God’s Word. Is the SBC interested in remaining in a specific theological lane or is the Convention interested in moving toward a more broad or mainstream protestant position?
The SBC and Women Preachers
When Molly Marshall was serving as a pastor of a local Baptist church, she recounts an incident when the little boys and girls in the church had a disagreement during children’s church. The disagreement was over whether or not little boys could be the preacher when they were “playing church”—to which a children’s worker had to correct the little girls by telling them that the little boys can be preachers too. Molly Marshall stated that the little girls had witnessed her as their example and this was key to their development which is why Marshall believes we develop a specific worldview and read the Bible through that particular lens regarding the roles and responsibilities of women within the church.
In 2017 Barna Research Group pointed out that there was a rise in the number of women pastors. According to their study, “One of every 11 Protestant pastors is a woman—triple as many as 25 years ago.” In a new statistical analysis, “State of Clergywomen in the U.S.: A Statistical Update” the numbers indicate that within “most Mainline denominations, the percentage of clergywomen has doubled or tripled since 1994.”
Dr. Albert Mohler who serves as the president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has recently weighed in on this issue of complementarianism in an answer to a question during an “Ask Anything” podcast where he stated the following:
If you look at the denominations where women do the preaching, they are also the denominations where people do the leaving. I think there’s just something about the order of creation that means that God intends for the preaching voice to be a male voice.
While the mainline protestant denominations continue to shift toward an egalitarian position, this movement demonstrates an uptick across the board. When adding totals from American Baptist Churches USA, Disciples of Christ, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Episcopal Church, the United Church of Christ and United Methodist denominations, the numbers indicate 32 percent of clergy from those denominations in 2017. Compare the most recent percentage total (32%) with numbers from 1994 (15%) and 1977 (2.3%) and the trend is easy to follow. The numbers reveal an explosive growth of women serving in the office of pastor.
With the rise of the #MeToo movement, Beth Moore became the focus of many conversations within the Southern Baptist Convention mostly because of her article titled, “A Letter to My Brothers” which was written a few weeks before the SBC gathered in Dallas, Texas in June of 2018. Since then, she has been very outspoken on issues that we can all agree are problematic such as misogyny, sexism, and discrimination against women. However, is preventing women from preaching the Bible oppressive?
Victimology has replaced theology beneath the banner of social justice. To play the victim card in our culture today is like playing the ace of spades in a card game. The victim approach to ladder climbing is both politically correct and extremely powerful. The social justice movement, unfortunately, places a clear reading of 1 Timothy 2-3 and the roles of women that are rooted in creation within the category of misogyny. Beth Moore has clearly twisted the Scriptures and used the social justice movement to fuel her agenda. Suddenly, anyone who speaks out against her and this progressive deconstructionist trend are shouted down and labeled as misogynists.
Not only did Beth Moore take to Twitter to taunt her opposition on these matters in recent days, she likewise took to the pulpit in a SBC church on Mother’s Day to exercise her perceived privilege and calling as a preacher and teacher of God’s Word. Will Beth Moore mobilize her partnerships with Russell Moore (president of the ERLC) and her open door to the churches of the SBC through her ongoing LifeWay publishing agreement to shift the SBC toward an egalitarian position? Will her supporters within the SBC ignore the Bible and cite the mainstream protestant trends while demanding that we need to get up-to-date with the times? What the future holds for the SBC on such issues is uncertain, but if the positions of current leadership such as J.D. Greear and Russell Moore is any indication—it would not be out of the question to see a woman elected as a vice president or even presidential role in the upcoming years. Such a move would press the SBC down a progressive path through a top-down influence upon the local churches of the SBC.
The Russian journalist and philosopher Fyodor Dostoevsky made the famous statement, “If there is no God, then everything is permissible.” This is true, but the problem with this line of thinking is that there is a God and he has established boundaries and hierarchies, and this goes for both the culture, home, and his church. To tamper with God’s design is to go to war with God himself. Beth Moore has made herself very clear on large theological and methodological positions and for that reason, it would be wise for the SBC to be clear where the denomination stands. If Dr. Mohler is accurate in his evaluation, if denominations where women do the preaching are also denominations where people do the leaving—it would be detrimental to the SBC to follow this trend. We must remember, this is not just about losing people—it’s dangerous to find yourself on the opposing side of God on any issue as Israel learned in 1 Samuel 4:21.
The SBC is not charismatic. The SBC is not egalitarian. To say so is not divisive nor is it misogynistic. It’s time for the SBC to say “no more” to Beth Moore.