Embracing Inclusion and Egalitarianism: A Response to the SBC's Decision to Expel Saddleback
At Riverfront Family Church, we believe in the transformative power of the gospel and the inherent worth and equality of all individuals. Recent events have brought to light the decision by the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) to expel Saddleback Church due to their stance on the ordination of women. As an American Baptist Church, we stand in solidarity with Saddleback Church and want to address this issue with love, grace, and a commitment to biblical principles.
We fully embrace inclusion and egalitarianism, affirming the gifts and leadership capacity of all people, regardless of their gender or gender identity. We believe that God calls and equips individuals based on their faith, character, and the Holy Spirit's leading, rather than their gender. This conviction is rooted in our understanding of Scripture and the teachings of Jesus.
The decision by the SBC to expel churches like Saddleback Church for their belief in the ordination of women is both unjust and unbiblical. We affirm the biblical basis for equality, which is exemplified throughout Scripture. In Galatians 3:28, the apostle Paul states, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." This verse emphasizes the elimination of social distinctions and highlights the unity we share in Christ.
In many ways, Saddleback Church and Rick Warren (who is now retired from the church) are far more conservative theologically than I am or we are at RFC. I fundamentally disagree with their position on LGBTQ+ issues, for example. But I have also learned a tremendous amount from Pastor Rick, Saddkeback, several conferences, books, and teachings that they have provided. I deeply respecy Pastor Rick, even as I disagree with him. Both things are possible.
The SBC's decision to exclude churches for holding differing beliefs goes against the principles of Baptist heritage. The Baptist tradition has long valued the autonomy and diversity of individual churches, allowing for a range of theological perspectives and interpretations. We believe that true unity does not necessitate conformity, but rather a shared commitment to Christ and a respect for one another's convictions.
We want to reaffirm our full commitment to egalitarianism, not just as a practical matter, but as a biblical principle. We celebrate and empower the gifts and callings of both men and women, allowing them to serve and lead in all areas of church ministry. We believe that by embracing egalitarianism, we reflect the heart of God and more fully embody the body of Christ.
As we navigate these complex issues, let us remember the importance of love and respect. We encourage open dialogue, understanding, and a willingness to engage with one another in a spirit of humility and grace. Our commitment to inclusivity and equality is rooted in the love of Christ, and we invite all individuals to join us on this journey of faith.
At Riverfront Family Church, we stand firmly in our conviction to embrace inclusion and full egalitarianism. We believe that every person, regardless of their gender or gender identity, has been gifted by God and is called to contribute to the kingdom of God. We recognize the recent decision by the Southern Baptist Convention as contrary to the biblical principles of equality and Baptist heritage. Let us continue to embody the love of Christ and champion the value and worth of all individuals in our pursuit of a more just and inclusive Church.