Published May 20, 2023Earlier this week, it was announced that Rick Warren had been installed as the honorary Chancellor of Spurgeon’s College in London. After his installation, Warren took the opportunity to double-down on his support for female pastors and to claim that “my views on ordination are identical to Spurgeon’s.”
I am no expert on Spurgeon, but I am reasonably certain that Warren’s views on ordination are not identical to Spurgeon’s—at least insofar as it relates to the ordination of female pastors. In his book Lectures to My Students, Spurgeon devotes an entire chapter to “The Call to the Ministry.”* In that chapter, I can see at least three differences between Spurgeon’s and Warren’s views on this point.
1. The Gender of “Pastor”
Warren claims that the Bible permits women to serve as pastors in the church and that they should be afforded the opportunity to lead and teach as pastors. Spurgeon does not agree with this. Spurgeon says that the primary “work” of the pastor is “teaching and bearing rule in the church,” both of which are prohibited to women. Spurgeon writes,
Any Christian has a right to disseminate the gospel who has the ability to do so; and more, he not only has the right, but it is his duty so to do as long as he lives. Rev. xxii. 17. The propagation of the gospel is left, not to a few, but to all the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ: according to the measure of grace entrusted to him by the Holy Spirit, each man is bound to minister in his day and generation, both to the church and among unbelievers. Indeed, this question goes beyond men, and even includes the whole of the other sex; whether believers are male or female, they are all bound, when enabled by divine grace, to exert themselves to the utmost to extend the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our service, however, need not take the particular form of preaching certainly, in some cases it must not, as for instance in the case of females, whose public teaching is expressly prohibited: 1 Tim. ii. 12; 1 Cor. xiv. 34. But yet if we have the ability to preach, we are bound to exercise it. I do not, however, in this lecture allude to occasional preaching, or any other form of ministry common to all the saints, but to the work and office of the bishopric, in which is included both teaching and bearing rule in the church, which requires the dedication of a man’s entire life to spiritual work, and separation from every secular calling, 2 Tim. ii. 4; and entitles the man to cast himself for temporal supplies upon the church of God, since he gives up all his time, energies, and endeavours, for the good of those over whom he presides. 1 Cor. ix. 11; 1 Tim. v. 18. (p. 22)Notice that even though Spurgeon sees only qualified men filling the office of pastor, he still affirms the vital ministry of women within the church. This is precisely what the Baptist Faith & Message teaches, which says, “While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.”