New York Times bestselling author, speaker, teacher, and Living Proof Ministries founder Beth Moore told Religion News Service (RNS) that she is “no longer a Southern Baptist.” The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC0 is the largest Protestant denomination in the United States with more than 14.5 million members in a little over 47,500 churches.
Moore says that she is “still a Baptist, but I can no longer identify with Southern Baptists. “I love so many Southern Baptist people, so many Southern Baptist churches, but I don’t identify with some of the things in our heritage that haven’t remained in the past.”
“I still love the things Southern Baptists believe,” she said and hopes the SBC will turn away from what she calls the nationalism, sexism, and racial divides the public is witnessing and return to core values she partnered with for the last 25 years when LifeWay published A Woman’s Heart: God’s Dwelling Place.
Beth Moore’s Views Conflict With Those of the SBC
The Houston based Moore has been a predominant female voice speaking out against misogyny and sexism within the church. She has shared her story of sexual abuse in the hopes of helping others tell their story as she seeks to not just expose the abuse, but for healing as well. She once shared her story at Saddleback Church saying, “The truth will set you free, but it will make you miserable first.”
Moore told The Atlantic in 2018 that she believes “that an evangelical culture that demeans women, promotes sexism, and disregards accusations of sexual abuse enabled Trump’s rise.”
She sparked a controversial debate within the SBC and evangelical church about whether women should be allowed to preach in church in May of 2019 when she tweeted that she was preaching at a SBC church on Mother’s Day, something that she now says was “really dumb.”
Explaining why she called it “dumb” and how much the reaction affected her, she said, “We were in the middle of the biggest sexual abuse scandal that has ever hit our denomination…and suddenly, the most important thing to talk about was whether or not a woman could stand at the pulpit and give a message.”
At the Southern Baptist Convention’s Caring Well Conference in 2019, Moore addressed complementarian theology saying “Complementarian theology became such a high, core value that it inadvertently…became elevated above the safety and wellbeing of many women. So high a core value has it become, that in much of our [Southern Baptist] world, complementarian theology is now conflated with inerrancy.”
When Moore spoke on a panel about sexual abuse in 2019 at the SBC’s annual meeting, Moore told RNS that “she felt she was no longer welcome.” Explaining that since the last in-person SBC annual meeting “things have only gotten worse” in reference to Black pastors leaving the SBC because of debates over critical race theory and politics overshadowing the gospel.
“I am going to serve whoever God puts in front of me,” Moore said as she mentioned her future speaking events may look different, but she is looking forward to beginning anew.
Reaction to Beth Moore’s Split From the SBC
Cornerstone Baptist Church’s Senior Pastor in Arlington, Texas, Dwight McKissic tweeted: “When the likes of Beth Moore, Charlie Dates & Ralph West-3 of the most gifted, godly & effective spokespersons for the Kingdom leave the SBC-& many others are standing at the door-it certainly indicates-to paraphrase an old Negro spiritual-“There is danger, in the water.”
Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Lindale, Texas, Tom Buck posted: “In light of our BF&M2000 confessional statement, Beth Moore hasn’t been SBC for some time. I’d rather see her return to the doctrinal beliefs of the SBC than leave. However, anyone who doesn’t intend to walk in agreement with our confession should leave.”
Current SBC President J.D. Greear tweeted: “I have loved and appreciated Beth Moore’s ministry and will continue to in the future. Personally, she has been an encouragement to me and I will always be grateful. I am grieved anytime someone who believes in the inerrant Scripture, shares our values and desires to cooperate says that they do not feel at home in our convention. When I first allowed my name to be nominated for President, I said we did not need to change our doctrine or our mission, we needed to change our culture. My time as President has shown me that the vast majority of Southern Baptists are ready to walk into the future unified around the Great Commission. Sadly, it’s many of our leaders that seem bent on pulling us apart. My prayer is that this news will cause us to lament, to pray, and to come to Nashville rededicating ourselves to be Great Commission Baptists who keep the Gospel above all and to become a Convention united around the message that Jesus is the only way.”