There was a big debate at the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting in Anaheim this summer over women serving as pastors. Saddleback Church (one of the SBC's largest churches) in nearby Lake Forest had ordained three women as pastors in 2021, and lead pastor Rick Warren rose to defend the practice. The SBC basically did nothing – even though women in pastoral roles is contrary to the stated belief of the denomination.
Saddleback now has a new pastor, Andy Wood (pictured above), who is doubling down on women pastors. In a recent interview with The Associated Press, Wood stated that the Bible "teaches that men and women were given spiritual gifts by God" – adding: "The church should be a place where both men and women can exercise those spiritual gifts."
Wood's wife, Stacie, is the congregation's newest female teaching pastor. "My wife has the spiritual gift of teaching and she is really good," he told AP. "People often tell me she's better than me when it comes to preaching, and I'm really glad to hear that."
Dr. Alex McFarland is an author, evangelist, and apologist, as well as an ordained Southern Baptist pastor. McFarland says it's not only against Southern Baptist rules, it violates scripture as well.
"The Southern Baptist Convention, for some years, has really been in a debate with itself over the authority of scripture," he begins. "For some, there is a little bit of a pick-and-choose, cafeteria-style approach."
Which, he warns, makes for an inconsistent witness. "It's unfortunate that the American Church trusts what God says about salvation, but not what God says about church polity," he argues. "Suddenly, merely to capitulate to the egalitarianism of the times, some feel that they are at liberty to redefine what the New Testament says about church leadership."
But the Christian apologist warns once a church or a denomination starts down that path, it's next to impossible to stop the slide. "Heresy comes about in small increments. We ingest false teaching one small bite at a time," he tells AFN.
McFarland is co-host of the daily hour-long program "Exploring the Word" on American Family Radio.