"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

A Great Article

Bob Nigh of The Baptist Messenger, the state Baptist newspaper for Oklahoma, covered a meeting that was held in Tulsa last week with over 80 pastors. Bill Sherman of the Tulsa World was also present. Both men wrote articles after the meeting, and in my opinion, both did the best job of any thing I have read to date of clearly presenting the issues we face as a convention.

Bob's article is entitled We Are At A Crossroads.

Tomorrow I'll post winners of the contest!

Keep supporting the SBC. We are doing a great work! Also, let's stay positive. God is good and in control.

In His Grace,


Wade

20 comments:

Ben Stratton said...

Bro. Wade,

I was wondering what the churches and pastors in the Tulsa Metro Association (I am assuming this is your local association) believe about baptism. If you had to guess how many of them still reject "alien baptism" and rebaptize those having non-Baptist immersion? I have never been to Oklahoma, so I was wondering how this state compares to others on this issue. Thanks

Paul Fries said...

Great article!! One of the keys to all of this is getting people involved, whether pro or con, involment is good. I encourage all who read this article to email it along to pastors and church members and let them search the issue for themselves. At the very least it will cause people to ponder and ultimately each person will have to commit to what they believe and that is good.

Former M said...

The principle behind "those who live by the sword will die by the sword" applies to the current issues. A rise to power by excluding those who disagree charts the course in which the convention is still embroiled. It is no simple task to alter that course. Is that not why Jesus told Peter to sheath his sword?
The current course of the SBC is the same course of exclusion the leadership embarked upon 26 years ago. Such a course does not understand the word "enough." Jesus prayed for unity of the quality and degree he enjoyed with the Father. Such unity must be based upon grace, not the merits of theological agreement.
If 25 years of conservative ressurgence to gain control of the SBC took effort, there are likely another 25 years' of effort ahead to alter the course successfully. Reform will be a hard battle. There are no room for swords in an effective change of course.
God grant you wisdom and the courage needed. Christ died in a display of His love, calling us all unto Himself. Salvation has never been about having all the right answers. It has been about the right allegiance to the only Lord.
Xaris kai irinis kai agapi
and the greatest is love.

Wes Kenney said...

I hope this is an appropriate place to ask my question, as it doesn't relate directly to this post.

I pulled the following quote out of your post comparing the old policies with the new:

In addition, the IMB is now in the absurd position of sending a prospective missionary back to his home church for "rebaptism" when the missionary candidate himself, the pastor of the missionary candidate, and the home church of the missionary candidate all believe that the candidate's baptism is biblical.

My question is this: Should a baptism be accepted by the IMB (or anyone else, for that matter) on the basis of the home church's assertion that it is valid with no allowance for the investigation of that assertion? I am in full support of the principle of the autonomy of the local church, but I have seen cooperating churches (CP contributors) do some decidedly unbiblical things. Support for the Cooperative Program, while laudable, is not a guarantee of doctrinal integrity.

Wade Burleson said...

Wes,

The IMB has every right to examine the candidates faith and baptism.

Sure, some churches make mistakes.

However, if the candidate was baptized by immersion, after having come to faith in Christ, and the candidate is trusting Christ alone for salvation (not baptism), and the SBC church has received the baptism, then the IMB should not reject it.

Some SBC churches receive the baptism of a prospective member who was baptized in a FreewWill Church, Congregation Church, Methodist Church, AOG Church, etc . . . because the baptism was SCRIPTURAL (by immersion, after having come to faith in Christ, identifying the convert with the family of Christ), but the NEW policies of the IMB would require that candidate to be REBAPTIZED.

That is the problem.

Wade

iamingod-J Horner said...

Bro Wade, This is my first "blog". I wasn't quite sure what one was until today. A friend from church emailed me your site and I must say I am concerned. I am a member of a SBC church in FL. When asked what denomination I am I usually respond, "I am a Christian and I worship at FBC." I have tried to avoid "church politics' b/c I personally feel like they distract from the mission at hand- which is the Great Commission. I am not educated enough in this matter to make much of a comment. Ergo, I will simply send an encouragement to you, your wife and church. Was it not said at Paul's trial before the Sanhedrin, "We find no evil in this man; but if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him, let us not fight against GOD."? I believe you are right to acknowledge His sovereign hand in all of this. If you are in the wrong, Bro Wade, be certain that Yahweh will correct you. If, however, you are in the right just know that He will be your defense and all events will go according to His perfect will. All you have to do is be in submission to the one in control and trust that all will unfold as He directs. Have faith and know that you are in the prayers of many. Serving HIM Only, J Horner

steve w said...

Wes,

I think Wade answered your question. The only thing I would emphasize is that one of our foundational beliefs as Baptists is the autonomy of the local church. Whether a local church has every doctrinal T crossed and I dotted or not, there is no hierarchy of human authority to which local Baptist churches are accountable. Jesus is the head of the church. Each church is self-governing, and her regenerate membership is responsible to bring the church in line with God's Word. The reason the autonomy of the local church is a Baptist belief is because Baptists believe it is biblical. Many of us believe the new IMB policies are a direct assault on this basic, fundamental tenet of Baptist faith and Baptist history.

I hope I'm not sounding like I'm lecturing you -- please understand that is not my intent. It's just that some of us are flabbergasted the majority of the trustees don't seem to understand this.

- Steve Walker

David Stembridge said...

I ditto Mr. Horner's comments, with this word from Psalm 34:7 "the Angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and He delivers them!"

Keep up battle Wade, we'll hold your arms up when you're tired!

GodsPeace!
David

Tommy Alderman said...

Wow. The more I think about it, and the more I read about it - the more troubled I become.

This re-baptism business is frankly absurd on its face, on its side, and from every other angle - and it is most troubling that its absurdity apparently goes unnoticed by the IMB.

In Holy Scripture, folks were not baptized into local churches - they were baptized into the Body of Christ.

There is no Scriptural authority for any local church or any other group to receive or reject a person's baptism as long as "the candidate was baptized by immersion, after having come to faith in Christ, and the candidate is trusting Christ alone for salvation (not baptism)."

For either the SBC or the IMB to reject a person's baptism on any other grounds is utterly unscriptural and, again...patently absurd.

All this while approximately 150,000 die every day, most of whom will die in their sins and be damned to an eternity in hell.

Wes Kenney said...

Steve,

I appreciate your comments, and I agree about the foundational nature of autonomy.

I guess what I don't see is that this decision is an assault on that autonomy. While I would grant that it can be fairly charactarized as being disrespectful of a church's autonomy, it's not as if the IMB is telling churches what baptism they should accept, only what baptisms they will accept. If a member of a church that accepted someone's RCA sprinkling as a legitimate baptism, I think we would all stand with the IMB in requiring that that person be scripturally baptized before they could serve on the field. And there would be no outcry about what that requirement did to autonomy.

I am not necessarily arguing the merits of these requirements (at least in this thread). I guess my point is, if we are willing to accept certain limits, then the debate should no longer be about local church autonomy.

And by the way, nobody said I didn't need a good lecturing...

I appreciate your attitude.

Tom D. Webb said...

This Christian shouts a hearty AMEN! to the remarks on this thread. Based on what Wade has already said, the article in The Baptist Messenger was exactly on-point in reporting virtually every aspect of this episode! I don't want to be premature. However, I think I smell victory in Greensboro! Victory for the SBC. Victory for the Missionaries. Victory for those who are otherwise lost and without hope in the world. Yet, first and foremost, VICTORY to the glory of Christ and The Great Commission that He graciously gave His chosen people!

In His Grace and Peace,

Anonymous said...

The whole baptism issue goes back to one thing... Landmarkism. It has roots in the SBC and many who have "been around a long time" know all about it and still believe in it. I believe that the tongues issue is a direct "hit" at Dr. Rankins leadership.

Unfortunately, this is the result of politics in any large organization. This is why you need to keep it up Wade.

Anonymous said...

Bro. Wade,

This is not a direct response to link to Bob Nigh's article (albeit the article is well done) but rather a response from "the field" to this whole issue.
I currently serve as an IMB missionary in a closed access area. Prior to serving with the IMB I pastored for almost 10 years within the SBC. I am a graduate of Golden Gate and an SBC affiliated university in Texas. I also have the privilege of being an "MK" - having spent all of my formative years overseas with parents who were SBC missionaries. Additionally, my grandfather served as an SBC church planter and pastor for forty years and I have numerous family members who have served or continue to serve in leadership roles within the SBC. All of that simply to establish my SBC credentials. I love the SBC and the IMB and the work we do.
I do not, however, always (or sometimes it seems often) agree with the decisions handed out by Dr. Rankin, his executive staff or regional leadership. I myself have often wondered why certain field leadership decisions were either advocated, agreed to, or tacitly allowed by the trustees. I share this to establish that I'm not a staunch defender of the IMB leadership. I do personally know Dr. Rankin and a number of other key leaders within the IMB and while I often disagree with their field policy decisions I know them to be men of God who desire to see this world come to faith in Christ.
I don't speak in a private prayer language but I am not a cessationist. I would have no problems qualifying under the baptismal guideline but find this guideline to be close to a landmarkist position that I couldn't possibly agree with. I'm strongly conservative and have no problem with the 2000 BF&M, however I'm concerned by this trend to pick on non-essential doctrines and uphold extra or un-biblical standards to our personnel.
With all of that as an introduction, I want to commend you for taking your position. We need more trustees like you who are willing to speak up against policies like this. Further, we need our trustees to have the freedom to discuss and dialogue with the SBC constituency regarding IMB policies and how they are developed. I'm deeply troubled by the trustees' actions in seeking to remove you for reasons that appear spurious. Frankly, we need even more openness about how decisions are being made both by the trustees and by executive and regional staff. We need FAR more input from the field than our current system allows or advocates. It has become difficult, if not impossible, within the IMB's "corporate culture" to ask the question "Why?" Anyone who does is labeled a misfit, a troublemaker or has their character attacked. I want you to know that this attitude, possibly led/developed by some of the Trustees, has at times penetrated our executive, regional and field leadership. Step by step, we are steadily moving toward becoming an organization that does not tolerate disagreement, discussion or debate.
I also commend you for your Christian character in response, your love for the lost of this world and your desire to see policies changed. I admire your refusal to attack individuals and your steady focus on the issues at hand. So...from the field...I want you to know that you are appreciated and prayed for.

Connie T. said...

As a member of a SB church my baptism was accepted when I joined. I was baptized in a creek by the pastor of a small independent Bible church. Growing up I knew I didn't want to attend a Baptist church because you had to be "baptised into their congregation". That went against everything I was taught about baptism. In my home town the only baptist church required that you be baptized into their congregation in order to take communion. If your weren't, you had to leave the sanctuary before the Lord's Supper was observed!

Eleven years ago my husband and I finally visited a baptist church at the invitation of a friend. One of the first things I wanted to know was if this particular church would ask me to be re-baptised. The answer was no, thankfully. It is sad to think that I would not be qualified to serve as a missionary with the SBC.
I was dicussing this with a friend recently who elected to be re-baptized when he decided to enter the ministry years ago. He said, " I know what Baptism means. If I were to be baptized a hundred times it would not be to my detriment." I suppose it would not, but it takes away from the sacredness of the first and only time it was necessary.

I hope the IMB sees the problem in their reasoning and makes an effort to rescind this rule. Resolution would be what I pray for.
Wade and Rachelle, you are definetly being prayed for in your neighboring state!

Anonymous said...

Dear Wade,

As another active IMB missionary, I would echo the previous comment by the anonymous IMB missionary from a closed country. It seem to me that the IMB has become a "top down" organization, rather than field based. Especially when it comes to policies affecting how we will win the world to Christ.

It now seems apparent that this all pervasive "top down" attitude has infected many layers of IMB leadership...even on to the field, itself. How can people who have never lived where we live and serve make policies for us, without consulting us?

Finally, if you can, what were the reactions to the two new policies in question by the IMB staff?

Anonymous said...

This is to give some perspective to the question the anonymous m asked concerning IMB home staff.

I work at the home office. Many of us are really upset with the two new policies. We see ourselves mostly as support to the IMB missionaries. We are grieved at the fact of the narrowing of vision we see.

The questions and concerns that Wade have brought to our attention throw this blog are the same questions and concerns that many of us have. Unfortunately, out of job security, we have to watch what we say, and who we say it to. People who speak out, or tend to go against the current, seem to disappear or hit a glass ceiling.

We truly wish we could just be supportive of what God is doing and be a support to the missionaries we consider ours, instead of being part of a political machine that seeks to replace God.

Anonymous said...

Brother Wade,

Something does not seem right...the last three (at this time) anonymous posters are saying something very important...but must do it under the cloak of anonymity, fraring (correctly) for the calling that God put in their heart, but under the threat of men who have not "walked in their shoes." Does this not speak volumes?

Anonymous said...

The courageous are "...standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings." We IMB folk are hurting. Thank you for undergoing these things with us and for us. Together, may we "know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death"--the glory of God made manifest in this tired, old sinful world. --IMB, overseas

Anonymous said...

Wade, again, I thank you for the blog you have going. It's a great place for voices to be heard, whether they are known or unknown.

I wanted to add to comments with two postings from other anonymous bloggers. One made a comment about something not seeming right about the fact many of us are anonymous. The other made a comment about the undergoing of suffering as our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world.

It is sad that many of us have to post anonymously for fear of uncertainty of what could/would happen to us. For your voice, Wade, thanks! You are definitely in a place where you can speak for those of us who remain anonymous.

If those of us who are anonymous became named, we could quickly be silenced without even causing a bump in the road. Our voices are so minute in the larger scale of the IMB, whether abroad or at home, that we would disappear without anyone ever knowing what happened or why.

Many of us with the IMB, abroad and home, are suffering. We wish to see God do what He wills. We wish there was no hindrance of what He is doing and what He has in store. Unfortunately, our minute voices in our smaller systems, just isn't enough.

Wade, for your stand and your voice that pulls together the anonymous ones, I say thanks!

the tentmaker said...

“When can we come to the place of realizing that we are all conservative, evangelical people who love the Lord Jesus Christ and are concerned about winning the world for Christ, and when will we stop saying, ’You must interpret Scripture the way I do in order for you to cooperate with me on the mission field?’

If you remove the word "conservative" from the above statement, you have very clearly articulated the position of the, so called, "liberals" in the 20 year takeover of the conventiion by the conservatives. The tactic (appeal to reason) didn't work then and it won't work now, because the power structure will probably not allow you to speak at the convention. Or, if they do you will be sandbagged with a ringer speech both before and after your remarks. These speeches will be designed to whip the conventioneers into an emotional frenzy, convincing them that you are the devil himself.
I applaud you for your efforts. I pray for your success, and I pray for your convictions. I also pray for you, your family and your ministry, should you be thrown out of the convention on your ear.