The bee in Owen’s bonnet

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Dr. Owen Strachan, associate professor of Christian theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, is very concerned about church order and protecting the flock of God. The responsibility of the teaching and preaching ministry of the gathered church, according to Dr. Strachan (and the Apostle Paul, we might add), must be shouldered exclusively by those who are biblically qualified.

Which is why, according to Dr. Strachan, the biggest crisis facing the Southern Baptist Convention are the hundreds of ordained sexual predators, rapists, and pedophiles who have been teaching and preaching to God’s people on the Lord’s Day.

Oh. Wait. That isn’t what he said, is it?

No, regrettably, it’s not.

Rather, at a time when Southern Baptists are facing the ugliest, nastiest, most disturbing revelations about the careless handling of sex abuse, the hasty ordination of sexual perverts, and a systemic failure to protect innocence, Dr. Strachan has climbed onto his little platform to denounce with all Boanergian thunder Beth Moore, of all people.

In fairness, it is possible the screams of child victims aren’t heard as clearly at the altitude of sixty five inches.

Indeed, the tone-deafness evidenced in Owen’s latest broadside on women is not just mystifying, it is reprehensible and should be roundly condemned by every thinking Baptist. That any theologian living off the Cooperative Program could survey the ecclesiastic scene at this moment and decide that now was the time to whine about a godly, gifted Southern Baptist teacher exercising her proclamatory calling is worthy of the strongest reproof.

Instead, he’s been given some degree of cover for these ill-timed musings by those who should know better.

This is not to say that Owen’s fringe views are not worthy of consideration, even debate, in the Southern Baptist Convention. To be sure, he is a gifted writer; even an articulate, if curious representative of that narrow slice of Southern Baptist life where the Danvers Statement and the Baptist Faith & Message don’t adequately put women in their place.

But his views, so long as he does not attempt to squeeze Southern Baptists’ confessional framework to make these tertiary aberrations normative, are no threat. In fact, listening to Dr. Strachan expound on themes of masculinity and manliness can be amusing. Particularly when he’s all coifed up with designer hair products and besuited in his best gingham shirts and fancy plaid jackets.

Upon his election to the Midwestern faculty, Dr. Strachan was touted as “a serious man” who would lead a “serious center” that would engage the most “serious and urgent theological and cultural issues of our generation.”

Which prompts the question: is this what a serious scholar does?  Is Beth Moore’s speaking at a church on the Lord’s Day one of the “most serious and urgent” issues of our generation?

But Owen Strachan has a bee in his little Baptist bonnet, and now the convention is buzzing.

Hopefully, by the time we get to Birmingham, other “serious” scholars will address the more “serious issues” that threaten our collective witness and perpetuate cycles of abuse in our churches. And Dr. Strachan can go back to the serious work he was actually hired to do.