Johnny Hunt was once the president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Then he was figuratively put out to pasture after the Guidepost Sex Abuse Task Force Report accused him of sexual assault with another pastor’s wife who was complicit in the coverup. Johnny Hunt has denied committing any sort of sexual assault but said that his behavior was inappropriate. Yet, despite being the Pastor Emeritus of FBC Woodstock, Hunt was suspended in this role with an established restoration process.
Second, we have recommended to our former pastor, Johnny Hunt, a clear process of counseling, accountability, and restoration. We also believe it is in the best interest of FBCW to suspend his role as Pastor Emeritus. While we are forever grateful for the supernatural work of God over the last 30+ years at FBCW, we believe this decision aligns with our biblical theology as a church regarding spiritual leaders being above reproach (1 Tim. 3:2).
These have been challenging days. But we believe that through the grace of God, and our mutual commitment to do the right thing together, better days are coming.
In a video accompanied by four pastors, Johnny Hunt has announced his restoration. The four pastors are Mark Hoover of NewSpring Church, Benny Tate of Rock Springs Church, Mike Whitson of First Baptist Church Indian Trail, and Steven Kyle of Hiland Park Baptist Church.
Going against Baptist polity, FBC Woodstock outsourced their job to four megachurch pastors, replicating a process Johnny Hunt has apparently restored 400 pastors with. Johnny Hunt has submitted himself to intense counseling sessions, and they made reference to prior counseling the Hunts attended over the incident that occurred 12 years ago. The four pastors take turns singing Hunt’s praises. Hunt and the other pastors do not comment on the allegations made by Guidepost.
Bart Barber Responds
I would permanently “defrock” Johnny Hunt if I had the authority to do so. In a fellowship of autonomous churches, I do not have the authority to do so. Yet it must be said that neither do these four pastors have the authority to declare Johnny Hunt to be “restored.” They do not speak for the Southern Baptist Convention. Indeed, it is not clear that they even speak for their own churches. For those Southern Baptist churches who practice ordination to ministry, the authority to ordain is generally considered to arise from the congregation, but no indication has been given that any of these four congregations have consented to or given their authority to this process. Also, Jeremy Morton and FBC Woodstock have explicitly stated that they had nothing to do with this process. Although Johnny Hunt’s church membership has apparently been at Hiland for several months now, FBC Woodstock is the church at which the offensive actions took place. The idea that a council of pastors, assembled with the consent of the abusive pastor, possesses some authority to declare a pastor fit for resumed ministry is a conceit that is altogether absent from Baptist polity and from the witness of the New Testament. Indeed, it is repugnant to all that those sources extol and represent.
It is best for people just to regard this pronouncement as the individual opinions of four of Johnny Hunt’s loyal friends. These four pastors do not speak for the Southern Baptist Convention. The voice of the Southern Baptist Convention is best found in the text of the resolutions adopted by the messengers and referenced above.
Bart Barber gets a few key points correct, in that this restoration process is nothing but the opinions of four megachurch pastors.