Saddleback Church, Pastor Rick Warren's church from the time of its planting until he retired two years ago, was one of five churches disfellowshipped from the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) earlier this year for hiring or appointing women pastors.
A sixth church – Freedom Church in Vero Beach, Florida – was removed because of its failure to cooperate with the Credentials Committee regarding a sexual abuse allegation against its senior pastor.
All six churches have the opportunity to appeal the decision at the SBC's annual meeting in New Orleans on June 13-14, and Saddleback intends to do just that.
So leading up to the meeting, Warren will be addressing what he calls the unprecedented decline of the SBC in a four-part video series titled "SBC at the Crossroads."
In part one, "Denial or Revival?" he commends viewers for showing that they care about the SBC and discusses his departure from the SBC concept of complementarianism, which is that men and women have equal value but different roles in the Church.
"There are biblical alternatives … to both complementarianism and egalitarianism," he claims. "Both of those positions have strengths. They both, in my opinion, have unbiblical weaknesses, and they ignore important Bible verses. So actually, I'm neither. I am neither one of them. I reject them both."
He promises to flesh that out in a future video and concludes part one by saying anyone who wants God's blessing on their life will not get "distracted" by "arguing and debating … secondary issues."
Dr. Richard Land, president emeritus at Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina, does not expect Warren's appeal will go well for him, as the Bible still clearly states that a pastor is to be "the husband of one wife" (I Timothy 3).
"I'll make a prediction for you: He will lose in New Orleans," Dr. Land states.
And as cryptic as Warren has been so far regarding his newfound understanding of women in ministry, Land is puzzled.
"I am at a loss," he confesses. "I've known Rick a long time and admire Rick, admire his ministry. One of my friends suggested to me, 'Well, you know, he is a Californian; you have to grade on a curve.'"
The remaining three videos in the series have yet to be released.
Editor's note: Orignial headline revised.