Over 100 Christian bookstores run by the Southern Baptist Convention have pulled from their shelves this month's issue of Gospel Today Magazine, which features a cover story about female pastors.
The Sept./Oct. issue of Gospel Today Magazine, an urban publication with a circulation of nearly a quarter of a million, was pulled this from Lifeway Christian Bookstores for featuring a cover story about female pastors.
Customers to Lifeway Christian Bookstores, located mostly in the Bible Belt with a handful of locations along the West Coast, will now have to request to buy the Sept./Oct. issue of Gospel Today Magazine, which have been placed behind the stores' counters.
The front cover of the latest issue of Gospel Today, an urban publication with a circulation of nearly a quarter of a million, features five smiling female pastors and was titled "Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Female Pastors." In the cover story, the five preachers talk about their roles and responsibilities, struggles and successes.
The Southern Baptist Convention, the nation's second largest Christian denomination, officially opposes females serving as pastors. In 2000, the denomination overwhelmingly adopted a revised statement of faith that said the pastoral role should be restricted to men.
"We have removed the September/October issue of Gospel Today from our shelves because the cover story, featuring female pastors, clearly advocates a position contrary to our denomination's statement of faith, the Baptist Faith & Message," Chris Turner, a spokesman for Lifeway Resources, told The Christian Post.
The Baptist Faith and Message declares that “While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.”
Teresa Hairston, the magazine's publisher, could not be reached for comment. But according to reports by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The Associated Press, Hairston said she was just reporting on an emerging trend in churches, and not trying to promote women pastors.
"They basically treated it like pornography and put it behind the counter," said Hairston, according to AP. "Unless a person goes into the store and asks for it, they won't see it displayed."
Richard Land, president of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, also weighed in the topic of women serving in leadership roles in his recent commentary on women and the election. He rejected misunderstandings that the denomination wants women to be "subservient" to men, citing the SBC's confession of faith that states woman and man are "equal worth before God." But he drew from teachings in the New Testament to support the Southern Baptist position on women pastors. In 1 Timothy 2:12, "the Apostle Paul instructs that 'a woman is not to usurp authority over the man,'" explained Land.
"Most Southern Baptists have understood this to mean that women are not to be pastors of local churches, since the pastoral office is a position of authority," he said.
Although the denomination doesn't agree with women serving as pastors, said Land, it does not oppose women serving in leadership roles in public service, such as the vice presidency.
"For Baptists, who make a strict distinction between the local church congregation and other denominational or parachurch ministries, such a statement would not preclude women 'gifted for service' from serving in leadership positions in the denomination as opposed to the local church."
On the Web: The Sept./Oct. issue of Gospel Today Magazine at gospeltoday.com.
[By Katherine T. Phan - Christian Post Reporter]