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History in the making? BGCT may elect first female president

October 26, 2007

The oldest Baptist group in Texas is set to make history next week at their annual meeting by electing its first female president.   

The oldest Baptist convention in Texas could make history next week with the election of the denomination's first female president

Delegates to the annual meeting of the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT), scheduled for Oct. 29-30 in Amarillo, will choose between two candidates, Joy Fenner, a former missionary to Japan and retired executive director-treasurer of Women's Missionary Union of Texas, and David Lowrie, pastor of First Baptist Church, Canyon, Texas. If Fenner is elected, she will become the BGCT's first female president.

Why would complementarians object to having a female serve as president of a state Baptist convention? After all, the BGCT is not a church. Wayne Grudem, in his massive volume Evangelical Feminism & Biblical Truth: An Analysis of More Than 100 Disputed Questions, answers this common objection well.

Insofar as a parachurch organization such as the BGCT functions in a manner resembling the church, it must follow the commands of Scripture that relate to those particular church-like functions.

Grudem writes: "Some New Testament commands do not apply to parachurch organizations not because they are not churches, but because they are not performing the activity mentioned in those commands. The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood may never observe the Lord's Supper together, and therefore they will not have to follow the New Testament directions for the Lord's Supper. Whether CBMW is a church is not the crucial point. The crucial point is whether that organization is carrying out an activity for which the New Testament gives commands.

"We must continue to insist strongly that the New Testament applies to all Christians in all societies and all cultures and all situations—and in all parachurch organizations! Its commands are valid whenever Christians carry out the activities included in those commands. I cannot imagine the apostle Paul writing to the Corinthians, ‘Follow these instructions if you are doing this as part of the church in Corinth, but if you are doing this as part of a Christian organization outside of the church, then you do not have to obey my commands.' The New Testament never speaks that way, or hints at any such ‘escape' from being accountable to obey it."

The role of president of a Baptist convention mirrors that of a pastor to the degree that it should be filled by a man.

The BGCT rejects the Baptist Faith & Message 2000—the Southern Baptist Convention's confession of faith—which includes articles that affirm complementary gender roles in both the home and church. The BGCT began a leftward drift after leaders of its parent denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, began to reassert the doctrine of biblical inerrancy and theological orthodoxy in the early 1980s.

The BGCT formed in 1853 in Larissa, Texas, and became one of the strongest state Baptist conventions in the United States under the stalwart leadership of such Southern Baptist luminaries as B.H. Carroll, the founding president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and George W. Truett and W. A. Criswell, famous pastors who faithfully shepherded the historic First Baptist Church of Dallas for much of the 20th century.

Should delegates make history and elect Joy Fenner to the BGCT's highest office, it will represent another step away from the stalwart biblical teaching of great Texas Baptist leaders such as Carroll, Truett and Criswell. Let us pray for the BGCT to return to biblical fidelity. 

By the same token, we must not forget to pray for the leaders of our own churches and denominations that they will continue steadfast in the teaching of God's Word and not be blown to and fro by the foul winds of contemporary culture.

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