I was asked by my Director of Missions to write a letter to my fellow pastors in the Frisco Baptist Association about our church’s involvement in the Christmas in August emphasis. Below is the text of my letter.
Iâ€™m writing to ask you to consider putting a critical need before your people: the budget shortfall at the International Mission Board. The 2008 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering fell some $30 million short of the goal, and according to a friend who is a trustee, the immediate shortfall theyâ€™re facing stands at $13 million. SBC President Johnny Hunt has called on churches to celebrate â€œChristmas in August,â€ and Trinity Baptist in Valliant will be participating. I plan to preach mission-themed messages each Sunday of the month, Iâ€™m working on lining up a guest speaker from the IMB for one of those Sundays, and weâ€™re even going to have Christmas dinner on August 30, the fifth Sunday of the month. Weâ€™re not planning to set a goal for this special offering; weâ€™re simply emphasizing the need and trusting God to lead us in how we can contribute.
Will you consider leading your church to participate in this very special emphasis? Dr. Thomas White, Vice-President for Communications at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Forth Worth, is leading an effort there to provide participating churches with materials to aid in its promotion. In addition to the logo you see on this page, there will be promotional videos and other materials available for use by churches. Theyâ€™ve established a web page where these materials can be accessed: http://www.swbts.edu/christmasinaugust. If you donâ€™t have internet access, or arenâ€™t sure how to access these resources in a way thatâ€™s usable in your congregation, donâ€™t hesitate to contact me and Iâ€™ll be glad to help.
This is the first time in the history of the International Mission Board that otherwise qualified missionaries could not be deployed to the field due to a lack of resources. Letâ€™s join together in Frisco Baptist Association to contribute to the meeting of this need, so that no one else who has committed their lives to missionary service will have to be told that we donâ€™t have the money to send them.
For some time now, I have chosen not to comment on Grace and Truth to You. While I am standing by that decision, todayâ€™s post there demands a response. It is time that someone pointed out the absolute ridiculousness that is being promoted, and the personal animosity that makes the very name of the blog ring quite hollow.
The offense begins at the title. Apparently the distastefulness of â€œBaptist Identity and Conversational Terrorismâ€ has been recognized as gratuitous, as it has been softened since its original posting (not the first time hateful words have been changed at that blog). But the damage of the title is done; most who follow these things will have seen the original.
The irony of an accusation of â€œconversational terrorismâ€ coming from this blogger is stunning in its richness. And the fact that it was directed at a respected theologian who happens to be a personal friend has obligated me to respond. I have not been asked by the one offended to respond on his behalf, and knowing what I know of his nature, he would likely prefer that it be left alone. But I cannot, in good conscience, allow this attack on my friend to stand unanswered.
There are not really words available to describe adequately the level of hubris inherent in this silly indictment. Just one example will suffice to support this claim, though the fact is as obvious as a rising and full moon to those who have been closely following this mess.
I have been among many bloggers sharply criticized during the resignation-shortened tenure of the writer of Grace and Truth to You as a trustee of the International Mission Board for their support of men such as Tom Hatley, John Floyd, and even Jerry Corbaley. Due to a disagreement with a pair of policies, this blogger launched an all-out public offensive in the blogosphere, belittling and ridiculing these men, accusing them of being mindless puppets and blood-thirsty warriors, and questioning their honesty and theological integrity. Because of his habitual lack of specificity when making these attacks, they were rightly seen as an affront to the entire board of trustees, a concept he never seemed to grasp.
And yet, there were other trustees on the board who disagreed with these policies, some of them quite strongly. At least one, Dr. Allen McWhite of South Carolina, wrote letters to every trustee and even to all of the presidents of our seminaries in an attempt to gain support for his opposition. Yet he continually showed respect for the board as a whole, and as a result he continues to serve as an effective member of that body.
But because of his outrageous manner in opposing the policies, the writer of Grace and Truth to You faced removal from the board, forced a change in standards of trustee conduct, was censured by the full board, and was ultimately forced to resign. And anyone asserting that it was because of his disagreement with the policies is either mistaken or is intentionally misleading. No, the reason for the utter failure of his tenure on the International Mission Board can be summed up in two words, ironically coupled by his own hand this day: “conversational terrorism.”
Presumably I, along with many of my friends, would be lumped together within the group that this outrageous post calls the â€œBaptist Identity initiative,â€ which is labeled as a â€œfringe movement.â€ This claim is laughable in its absurdity. An objective look at the leftward cant of the theology that has been put forward at Grace and Truth to You just in recent days, as well as the viciousness of many of the regular commenters in attacking any who would disagree with their views, can leave little doubt as to who is on the fringe of the Southern Baptist Convention.
The writer of Grace and Truth to You is not a theological liberal. A theological liberal is one who denies the central tenets of the Christian faith, including the inerrancy and integrity of the Bible (including, obviously, the first eleven chapters of Genesis). That is not applicable to this blog owner. But the time is long past when anyone can claim with any credibility that he is a theological conservative.
Among the many benefits to the Southern Baptist Convention of the legacy of the late Dr. Adrian Rogers are his precise definitions of the theological identifiers â€œconservative,â€ â€œliberal,â€ and â€œmoderate.â€ A moderate, according to Dr. Rogers, is one who â€œmaintains the position of accommodating the liberal view.â€ Pointing out how this applies to the blogger in question would be tantamount to directing attention to the sun at noon on a cloudless day.
Iâ€™m quite content to be labeled as one who stands unashamedly for â€œBaptist identity,â€ for I am persuaded that â€œBaptist identityâ€ is, or at least ought to be, nothing more or less than biblical identity. Were I to find another model closer to the polity and practice I see in the New Testament, I would quickly abandon my â€œBaptist identityâ€ in favor of it. Apparently, there is intended in that label some level of shame, judging by the pejorative way in which it is often employed at Grace and Truth to You. This in itself is telling. Nonetheless, I am happy to own it, and even happier that the owner of Grace and Truth to You has chosen so publicly to oppose it.
Wade Burleson has written a post today regarding an article in a Memphis newspaper about Bellevue Baptist Church‘s mission work in India. His post contains the following paragraph (emphasis original):
Though I am not sympathetic with the anti-missionary viewpoint of the articleâ€™s author, I was struck by a little detail or two related to baptism and ecclesiology. It appears that women from many villages across the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh came to a training center run by an Indian evangelist named Sathuluri who hosted a training program for village women that was fully – and solely – sponsored by Bellevue Baptist Church. During the course of the training event, at least one village woman, and implicit within the article – many more women – were baptized. There was no local church involved in the baptism. Women from all over the state were baptized by an evangelist, but they did not become members of any ‘local’ church that day. The women identified themselves with Christ – baptized at the hands of the evangelist who led them to Christ. This non-local church based baptismal service raises questions of inconsistency when juxtaposed to Dr. John Floydâ€™s, Mid-America’s, and the ‘new’ (2005) IMB Baptism Position Paper that all posit an inflexible insistence that proper baptism is to be conducted only as an ordinance of the local church.
In this paragraph, it is stated as fact that “there was no local church involved in the baptism.” My first reaction upon reading this was, “You mean, other than Bellevue?”
I am firmly convinced that, as the Baptist Faith and Message states, baptism is an ordinance of the local church. I do not believe that this means the only valid baptisms are those conducted in a heated pool inside a brick building by a man with a certificate of ordination hanging on his office wall. Rather, it means that there is no scriptural baptism outside the authority given by Christ to the local church. The church may authorize anyone it wishes, from the pastor to the custodian to a missionary member, to baptize converts anywhere, from the baptistry to a swimming pool to the Indus River.
So when I read about these baptisms, my natural conclusion is to assume that one sent by Bellevue Baptist Church to carry out the work of evangelism is baptizing converts under the authority of Bellevue Baptist Church, which is perfectly within their right and perfectly consistent with the IMB baptism guideline which Wade seeks to undermine with his post.
But this was just an assumption. In order to find out whether my assumption was justified, I contacted Steve Marcum, who serves as Minister of Missions at Bellevue. I found out that my assumption was not, in fact, justified.
Rather than baptizing under the authority of Bellevue Baptist Church, Steve told me that the baptisms referred to in the article in question all took place under the authority of local churches in India. So despite the fact that Wade repeatedly tells his readers that no local church was involved in these baptisms, it just isn’t true.
Another thing that is misleading about Wade’s post are the gymnastics he goes through to link Bellevue Baptist Church with Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary, where IMB trustee chairman Dr. John Floyd is employed. I can only assume that the reason this connection is necessary is to try to show some inconsistency in Dr. Floyd’s position on baptism, an inconsistency that evaporates when the sunlight of truth shines through.
My conversation with Steve Marcum revealed that there is no official connection between his church and the school. It was not founded by Bellevue, and though they have supported it financially through the years and continue to do so, many other churches, ministries, and individuals do this as well; Bellevue is not unique in this regard.
It took me about three minutes to locate the name and phone number for Steve Marcum, who returned my call within the hour. It took another five minutes on the phone with him to confirm the information I have presented here. But rather than check the facts for himself, Wade published a post that contains false and misleading information in order to make a point.
Since shutting down his blog in August, Robin Foster has focused his blogging energies on our joint venture, along with Joe Stewart and Tim Rogers, at SBC Today. That blog has an intentional focus on Baptist distinctives, with occasional commentary on the issues of the day in SBC life. Having met our quota for the week in that latter category, Robin asked me to post his analysis here on my blog, and I’m happy to oblige.
Okay, the man has been censured and suspended. The looming question that should be asked is, “What’s next?”
* My wife and I will gladly pay our own way to International Mission Board meetings
* I will continue blogging about IMB trustee meetings
* I … will continue to publicly dissent, when appropriate, if there are IMB policies implemented, guidelines approved, or actions taken that either violate Scripture, Baptist principles, or Christian charity,
* I will be present and voting at all plenary and executive session board meetings
It seems that Mr Burleson will not submit to the actions of the board’s censuring and suspension of him. Therefore, I was wondering what the BoTs could do in light of these statements by Mr. Burleson assuming he carries these actions out. Some possibilities:
1. The Board could offer another censure, suspend him until the convention at Indianapolis and bring a motion to the floor for his removal as a trustee.
2. The Board could offer another censure and suspend him for the remainder of his time on the board.
3. The Board could do the first or second option in conjunction with forcibly removing him from the meetings he is suspended from. I would not suggest this action to the board (for that matter, I strongly caution Wade from showing up to the board meetings) for the simple fact that it could lead to a SBC version of, “Don’t Taze Me Bro.“
4. The Board simply could ignore him, don’t count his vote in the suspended meetings and the convention not renew his nomination to the board when that time comes.
I would hope that all four factors would not occur. I would hate the thought of those close to him witnessing him being escorted out of a meeting. That is not something they should experience. I would also hate to see the talents of Wade wasted due to his continued defiance of the board.
Here is what I believe all in the SBC should be praying to occur.
1. I pray that Wade does, in his own final actions, abide by the decision of the board.
2. I pray that reconciliation occurs between Wade and the Board of Trustees.
3. I pray that Wade is able to finish out his current term as trustee and that God will be glorified by his service.
It is very probable that Wes Kenney and I will see Wade next week at annual meeting of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, as Wade will serve as parliamentarian. Please be in prayer as our state convention meets.
Whereas the International Mission Board (IMB) exists for the purpose of leading Southern Baptists to be on mission with God to bring all peoples of the world to saving faith in Jesus Christ;
Whereas the trustees of the IMB are responsible for establishing overall policy and direction for the organization and conducting oversight of its operations in a manner that furthers the IMB’s purpose;
Whereas Wade Burleson of Oklahoma presently serves as a trustee of the IMB;
Whereas Wade Burleson, like every other trustee of the IMB, serves as a trustee subject to the obligation to abide by the Trustee Standards of Conduct and Trustee Responsibilities set forth in the Trustee and General Policy Manual;
Whereas the Trustee Standards of Conduct require trustees, among other things, to observe the following standards:
Whereas the General Trustee Responsibilities set forth in the Trustee and General Policy Manual require trustees, among other things, to observe the following standards:
Trustees are TO INTERPRET international missions in their sphere of influence in the denomination-home, local church, association, state convention, and SBC, as an informed, enthusiastic advocate of global missions. In this respect, trustees are to speak in positive and supportive terms as they interpret and report on actions by the Board, regardless of whether they personally support the action.
Trustees are TO EXEMPLIFY what it means to be Christ-like in decorum and sincerely committed to theÂ Southern Baptist cooperative missions tasks. In this respect, trustees are to speak the truth in love. Trustees are to refrain from speaking in disparaging terms about IMB personnel and fellow trustees.
Whereas the Board of Trustees finds that Wade Burleson has repeatedly failed to abide by the Trustee Standards of Conduct and Trustee Responsibilities enumerated above. Some examples of the ways in which Wade Burleson has violated these standards and responsibilities include the following:
(a) He has repeatedly used his blog to share private communications with fellow trustees with persons who are neither trustees nor senior Board staff, in violation of the Trustee Standards of Conduct. Examples of these include the following: blog post of September 12, 2007 (posting of private conversation with trustee John Floyd);
blog post of September 12, 2007(posting of private conversation with trustee Jerry Corbaley);
blog post of October 23, 2007 (posting of private letter written by trustee Jerry Corbaley to fellow trustees);
blog post of July18, 2007 (posting of private communication with trustee Jerry Corbaley).
He has also shared,by email, private communications with fellow trustees with persons who are neither trustees nor senior Board staff, in violation of the Trustee Standards of Conduct (see, e.g., November 1, 2007 email to trustee John Floyd);
(b) He has spoken in disparaging terms about fellow trustees. Examples of these include the following:
blog post of July 18, 2007 (disparaging comments concerning trustee JerryCorbaley);
blog post of July 20, 2007 (disparaging comments concerning trustee WinstonCurtis);
blog post of September 12, 2007 (disparaging comments concerning trustee Jerry Corbaley and leadership of trustee John Floyd);
blog post of October 23, 2007 (disparaging comments concerning trustee Jerry Corbaley);
(c) He has spoken in terms that are not positive and supportive of the Board when interpreting and reporting on actions by the Board. Examples of these include the following:
blog post and comments of July 10, 2007 (critical of Board policy on requirements forappointment of missionaries);
blog post of July 6, 2007 (same);
blog post of July 3, 2007 (same);
blog post of June 13, 2007 (same);
blog post of June 7, 2007 (same).
Whereas the IMB Executive Committee met with Burleson on the afternoon of November 5, 2007 out of concern for his ongoing violations of the Trustee Standards of Conduct and Trustee Responsibilities and out of a desire to bring about reconciliation between Burleson and the other trustees. Trustee Chairman John Floyd asked Burleson if he would apologize for his violations of the Trustee Standards of Conduct and Trustee Responsibilities and expressed to Burleson his desire to see Burleson appointed to board committees and serve as a fully-functioning trustee, using his strengths and gifts to further the work of the IMB;
Whereas following that meeting of the Executive Committee, two trustee members of the Executive Committee and a senior IMB staff member met with Burleson on the evening of November 5, 2007 for further discussion. Burleson was asked to apologize for the following violations:
(a) Making public private communications with fellow trustees;
(b) Speaking in a way that reflected poorly on fellow trustees; and
(c) Publicly criticizing board approved actions instead of speaking in positive and supportive terms as he interpreted and reported on actions of the Board of Trustees, regardless of whether he personally supported those actions.
Whereas specific instances of each of these violations were cited to Burleson. Burleson acknowledged these violations to the two trustee members of the Executive Committee and the senior IMB staff member. Burleson stated that the violations regarding speaking in a way that reflected poorly on his fellow trustees were unintentional offenses for which he would gladly apologize. However, he stated that he intentionally chose to make public private communications with trustees and that he intentionally chose to publicly criticize board approved actions instead of speaking in positive and supportive terms as he interpreted and reported on board actions. Burleson further stated that he would not apologize for these intentional
violations of the Trustee Standards of Conduct and Trustee Responsibilities. Burleson stated that he had voted against these standards of conduct when they were adopted because he believed in the principle of dissent. Burleson further added that he had refused to abide by these standards of conduct after they were adopted and that he desired to bring the issue to the SBC;
Whereas the Executive Committee subsequently reconvened on the evening of November 5, 2007 to hear from the two trustee members of the Executive Committee and senior IMB staff member report on their conversation with Burleson.
Whereas the Executive Committee determined that it was appropriate to recommend censure by the full Board of Trustees for Burleson’s intentional and unapologetic violations of the Trustee Standards of Conduct and Trustee Responsibilities;
Whereas the IMB Board of Trustees is empowered to enforce the Trustee Standards of Conduct and Trustee Responsibilities and censure individual trustees who do not abide by these standards and responsibilities;
THEREFORE, based on the findings enumerated above, the IMB Board of Trustees hereby orders that the following action be taken with regard to trustee Wade Burleson:
(a) Wade Burleson is hereby officially censured by this Board for his violation of the Trustee Standards of Conduct and Trustee Responsibilities;
(b) Wade Burleson is hereby officially suspended from any active involvement with the Board of Trustees for at least the next four IMB trustee meetings. This suspension means, without limitation, that Burleson will not be allowed to participate in any meeting or business of the Trustee Board, serve on any trustee committee, or be reimbursed for expenses of travel to any trustee meeting or business. This suspension will be reviewed after the four trustee meetings have occurred. The Executive Committee will make a determination at that time whether the suspension should be lifted. If prior to that time, Burleson makes an apology to the Board for his violations of the Trustee Standards of Conduct and Trustee Responsibilities, commits to working within the structure and policies of the Board, and agrees to refrain from blogging about the IMB, the Executive Committee will consider lifting the above restrictions.
For what it’s worth (and readers are certainly free to conclude, “Not much”), I’ve determined to weigh in yet again on the controversy that has surrounded the service of Wade Burleson as an International Mission Board (IMB) trustee. I do so with trepidation, and only in response to Wade’s publication of a letter sent by California trustee Jerry Corbaley to all IMB trustees, in which he details many of the more recent blog conversations that, taken together, contribute to the overall understanding that Wade clearly believes himself to have done nothing wrong at any point in the last two years. I have written a good deal about this subject over the last 20 or so months, and I don’t intend this post to be a recounting of all that I’ve written previously. But I have followed this saga as closely as anyone, and I want to share some observations.
This present round of blog activity centers on Wade and Jerry. I know both men personally. I’ve shared meals with both of them, on one occasion eating with both on the same day. They are both personally very likeable men. I’ve tried to observe impartially all that has taken place, and I’ve come to the conclusion that all of the controversy is, at its essence, all about Wade Burleson.
At the beginning of my blog journey, I was really very sympathetic to Wade. I knew him only from his having been president of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO), and I went out of my way to see things from his perspective. But I began to notice a separation: Those who were observing from afar (and not a few moderates who had left the SBC) were flocking to Wade’s defense, while those who knew him closer up were reluctant to be supportive. Even one former IMB trustee, who agreed with Wade’s opposition to the two controversial missionary guidelines, expressed an understanding of the motivation of those seeking his removal. It was because he had been in an association of churches with Wade, and knew his personality.
When Wade was in his first year as president of the BGCO, some financial restructuring took place related to how birthday offerings were distributed to the Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children and the Baptist Village Retirement Communities. From all I have been able to gather (not having followed it closely at the time), this restructuring was desperately needed. As you can imagine, anytime you deal with funding for children’s homes, it is a sensitive matter, but the negative reaction and controversy that erupted was extreme, and those with whom I’ve talked tell me that this was due in large part to how the situation was handled by the president. He was apparently bombastic and bullying, and his handling of this situation led to the almost unheard-of step of him being opposed for a second presidential term. This opposition, according to one of the organizers of it, was poorly thought out and hastily arranged. With just a few phone calls being made in the days before the meeting, it only failed by a few dozen votes out of nearly a thousand cast.
When I considered this episode alongside the fact that at least two-thirds of the IMB trustees voted to ask the SBC to remove Wade as a trustee, I began to wonder if perhaps the problem was not all the other people with whom Wade has worked in denominational life, but perhaps the problem was Wade himself.
It may be that this latest effort on the part of Jerry Corbaley to have the trustees deal with this is a case of too little, too late. I understand that, from Jerry’s perspective, to have the board continue to tolerate what he views (not without justification, in my opinion) as unrepentant sin is detrimental to whatever else the board does. At the same time, I can certainly understand the trustees, especially those who were recently added to the board and who were not a part of the January 2006 vote, wanting to simply ignore the situation and go on with the work for which they were elected. I honestly don’t know what the best solution is.
Wade clearly has the rare ability to present himself to a wide audience as a very attractive personality. What he seems to lack is the capacity to work closely with people with whom he disagrees while maintaining that attractiveness.
My fellow blogger Tim Rogers has blogged about his experience as he traveled to Ridgecrest for yesterday’s plenary session of the International Mission Board trusee meeting being held there. You can read his live blog accounts here and here. You can also read his reflections on the experience at SBC Today.
Also at SBC Today, you can listen to the audio of Dr. Rankin’s report to the trustees. One of our trustees has written his recollection of the report, and I appreciate that his post begins with an admission that he is a biased observer. All of us have the tendency to bring our biases into our descriptions of events. I encourage you to click the link and listen to the audio for yourself.
I recently read a couple of “First Person” articles in Baptist Press, and left with a good deal of concern over some of the things expressed in one of them. The first article was by Dr. Denny Burk, and it addressed his concern about a decline in literacy in America. It is clear from the article that Dr. Burk is not concerned so much with a lack of ability to read, but a decline in people actually reading, and what effect that might have on the spread of the gospel.
But the article that caused me concern was written by Dr. Grant Lovejoy. In it, he responds to what he percieved as some misconceptions in Dr. Burk’s piece. In his response, Dr. Lovejoy makes the following statements:
“God has never limited Himself to a book as His only means of making Himself known to man.”
“…we should not overstate the linkage between literacy and Christian faith, because that would misrepresent the historical reality of the Old and New Testament eras. Additionally, it overlooks the experience of IMB missionaries on mission fields.”
“Such groups [Christians who are functionally illiterate] have proven to have the doctrinal basics right, by the way. We’ve checked.”
Please read both of these articles so that you can see these statements in their proper context. Then come back and tell me whether or not these statements of Dr. Lovejoy’s are cause for concern.
Literacy and the Gospel by Denny Burk
Gospel’s Advance Can’t Wait for Literacy by Grant Lovejoy
[UPDATE: I just learned that Dr. Burk has posted a response to Dr. Lovejoy's response to his original article. This response to the response can be found here, and it addresses some of the concerns I have mentioned.]
My friend Robin Foster recently posted a quote taken from an entry by Wade Burleson in a discussion forum. In this quote, Wade Burleson suggests that a parallel exists between the anger directed toward him by a fellow IMB trustee and the anger displayed by those involved in cults or dysfunctional families toward the one who reports the abuse taking place. In a comment on Robin’s post, Wade attempts to suggest that his analogy was an attempt to illustrate the reaction of the person who began the comment thread, but reading the remarks in context causes me to doubt that assertion.
I was immediately struck by the continuation of a pattern exhibited by Wade whereby he will say something that can only be taken as a broad swipe at his fellow trustees, and then express shock when those statements are perceived by some as “gossip and slander.”
I left a comment on Robin’s post pointing out this pattern, and was soon (and not so gently) challenged to provide “one – and I mean just one – example” of this pattern. This post, with quotes and links below, are my attempt to meet that challenge. Let the reader judge:
Conservatives who loved the battles of decades past have fallen victim to a crusading mentality of bloodthirst. Since all the liberals are gone, conservative cruasaders are now killing fellow conservatives.
A clear understanding of how this war is proceeding may be seen in the recent actions of the International Mission Board, an agency that I now serve as trustee.
Why have some conservative crusaders now insisted on new policies at the IMB regarding tongues? Again, it seems clear to me that some conservative crusaders have yet to learn how to sheath the sword, and rather than cooperate with fellow conservatives in reaching the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ, they have gone after the head of Dr. Jerry Rankin. I have been told by an authority in the crusading effort that there are some trustees who will settle for nothing less than Dr. Rankin’s “head on a platter.”
Trustees of agencies are being “vetted” or cleared by men and women who are of the opinion that no conservative is worthy of leadership that does not toe the party line.
Crusading conservatives are using private meetings at trustee meetings, an unethical violation of all agencies’ guidelines, to cram their agendas through. Crusading conservatives are influencing nominating committee members of various states to place on the different boards and agencies of the SBC those who are in lock step with crusader goals. Agency heads who are not the appointed leaders of crusaders, i.e. elected by the crusaders themselves, are being forced to resign or simply removed.
Crusaders gather to elect chairmen of the boards and appoint committee chairmen. Crusaders have an agenda and if anyone steps in their way they become vicious. Ask someone who has dared to speak out against a crusader.
I, and others, are now being attacked by conservative crusaders who want to rid our convention of fellow conservatives who don’t interpret Scripture like they do. These crusaders refuse cooperation in favor of conformity, and I really think it is because they have forgotten how to minister in the power of the Spirit through prayer, humility and cooperation.
The quotes above are all from the same post, which I have linked by date. The emphasis that is added is mine, and it is there to show the pattern by which is an accusation is made, but is not applied to anyone specifically, leaving the whole group (in most of the above it is the IMB trustees, but some others as well) under at least the suspicion of having been indicted by the words.
Are there yet more examples, you ask? Surely:
I have said that I believe there are just a few, I reiterate, just a few trustees of the IMB who meet on a regular basis to subvert the leadership of Jerry Rankin.
I have stated that there seems to be an effort by some, not all, to purge anybody from service within the SBC who does not interpret non-essential doctrines he way some leaders say they must be interpreted.
That which I have been most vocal about is a subgroup of trustees who seem to control the direction, agenda and business of the IMB. I have much first hand information about this, but have chosen not to go into detail in my blog at this time.
Are we going to allow principled dissent? I am just one trustee among over 80 trustees from around the world. Surely, the convention is big enough for people who disagree to work together? Cults conform. Christianity connects.
I have felt for some time that there are a few trustees who are dead set on opposing the direction, vision and leadership of Dr. Jerry Rankin.
Surely some trustees who sought to drive the new policy change on “private prayer language” did not do so to embarrass Dr. Rankin, who himself has a private prayer language? Surely, a majority of trustees did not blindly follow trustee leadership without personally thinking through the ramifications of such a significant policy change. Surely trustees understand that the new policy did nothing but disown certain people within our convention since the former policy already prohibited the public practice of tongues. Surely not.
What we tolerate, we validate. If we allow ourselves to be bullied we are ultimately cooperating with our own abuse. It doesn’t matter how much we seethe internally or complain to others, if we allow it to occur we are agreeing that the bullying is a part of this relationship. [This quote is itself a quote from another website. It is contained in a post titled "Bully Baptists vs. Broken Baptists"]
The SBC is ruled by an oligarchy, the tendency is toward isolationism and exclusion, people play politics more than they passionately pursue lost souls, and we are attacked personally and viciously by people who think we should be quiet.
Though a few trustees are guilty of serious errors of judgment, many trustees who voted for the new policies and ultimately my removal from the board did not even comprehend the issues raised through this blog.
These examples are what I have gleaned from skimming just three month’s worth of posts. A slower, more careful look would probably reveal more, but would take more time than I have available.
[UPDATE: Spiritual abuse is a serious subject, and in this post, Wade shares highlights from a friends book on the subject. He claims early in the comment section that he wrote the post “not specifically identifying any particular system as abusive.” It seems to me that one would have to be incredibly naive in order to believe that there was no application to the IMB trustees intended, especially in light of the quotes above. But reading further in the comments, all doubt was removed about the intent in this exchange:
This photo was taken in Richmond, Virginia, in 1865. When it became clear to Gen. Robert E. Lee that he could no longer keep the Confederate capitol from being overrun by the Union Army, the the government abandoned the city on Sunday, April 2, 1865. In an almost comical scene, some 54 city blocks were damaged or destroyed when the city’s officials and Confederate military commanders attempted to keep the city’s remaining liquor, tobacco, and food out of the hands of the advancing Union troops. Riots ensued when residents, drawn by the smell of whiskey being poured out into the street, began filling their hats with the spirits and guzzling them down. Looting followed, and fires burned out of control. When the Union cavalry finally entered the city under the command of Gen. Godfrey Weitzel, their first task was that of firemen.
Today in Richmond, the first round probably begins in a desparate effort to keep the perceieved threat of “narrowing the parameters of cooperationâ„¢” at bay. An IMB trustee, misinterpreting (intentionally or not) Rick Garner’s motion at the SBC Annual Meeting in San Antonio, will likely move that the IMB’s guidelines on baptism and “private prayer language” be rescinded. They will talk about how the convention clearly stated its desire that no policies be established which go beyond the Baptist Faith & Message. Probably, they will say these things with a straight face, oblivious to the damage such an interpratation would do to our long-standing and well-proven trustee system. Most likely, rioting and looting will not break out.
We should all be in prayer for our IMB trustees as they meet this week in Richmond. God will be glorified, and the gospel will be advanced, and our prayer should be that He continues to use the IMB in the advancement of these things.