As he celebrates three decades shepherding a Texas megachurch, former Southern Baptist Convention President Jack Graham is optimistic about the denomination’s future, but fears that the convention might be getting “sidetracked” by doctrinal debates.
The 68-year-old Graham, who celebrated his 30th anniversary at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano this month, told The Christian Post on Tuesday that recent social media debates surrounding the issue of women preaching could be deflecting focus from SBC’s true mission of evangelism.
As the convention holds its annual meeting this week in Birmingham, Alabama, two issues have dominated discussions in the media and online: whether women should have the right to preach and instances of sexual abuse in churches.
While SBC messengers adopted proposals on Tuesday that proponents believe will allow the convention to better review claims of sexual abuse occurring in churches and even expel churches that cover-up abuse, the debate on social media surrounding the SBC’s doctrine of complementarianism has continued.
“I personally think the problem has been exaggerated on social media,” Graham, who subscribes to the SBC’s teaching that Scripture calls on only men to hold the office of pastor, said.
“Here’s what I really believe: We need to get back to focusing on the Gospel and fulfilling the Great Commission to evangelism and missions. And we seem to be getting sidetracked a lot with the issues that are important but not the important thing.”
Graham believes the debate over “complementarianism versus egalitarianism” is an important doctrinal issue that churches and denominations need to have a stance on. But stressed that he defers to local churches to “interpret the preaching ministry of their congregation.” He assured that Prestonwood follows the guidelines laid out in SBC doctrine.
Graham is a little concerned, however, when he sees the debate about women’s roles in ministry spill out on social media. The debate was ignited most recently by popular Bible teacher Beth Moore, who quipped in a tweet that she wanted to “teach a men’s Sunday School class at a church full of Calvinists,” and preach on Mother’s Day too.
“We need to get focused. Southern Baptist churches need to get focused on reaching their communities for Christ,” Graham said. “That needs to be first and foremost and forever. The goal and the mission of Southern Baptist churches.”
Graham estimates that about 90 percent of SBC churches are in agreement with the SBC’s doctrinal statement that Scripture dictates that pastors are to be only men.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith