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

And Now You Know, The Rest of the Story

Patience can be defined as restrained passion. For passionate people, the virtue of patience should be highly prized for it is not easily obtained. I am grateful for friends who help me see the blessing of patience. Yesterday I needed a great deal.

The article, written by Southern Baptist Texan writer Tammi Ledbetter and released through Baptist Press nationwide, is an article that caused me, after reading it, to immediately pick up the phone and call Tom Hatley, Chairman of the IMB. I needed to ask Tom three questions. I did, and I appreciate the clarification I received from him.

(Question 1). Is the statement in Tammi's article as follows, "IMB trustee chairman Thomas Hatley of Rogers, Ark., told the Southern Baptist TEXAN the committee determined the matter of disciplining a trustee could be handled internally," a misquote of what you actually said? (Update: 4:30 Central Time February 16th, 2006. The above sentence has been changed by the Texan).

I discovered that Tom did not mean to imply that the Board would discipline me, and that if I read the article carefully, I would notice the sentence was not in quotations. In other words, this was the reporter's words, not his. In no way was he referrring to me specifically. I thanked Tom for this explanation, and I told him that people reading the article, including Baptist editors nationwide were adding a subtitle that said, "Trustees to seek discipline internally" and made it sound like the Board would seek discipline behind closed doors. I would never agree to that because this public matter now needed to be addressed publicly.

I reminded Tom that I, and others on the Board, did not want this issue to go before the convention in the first place. We felt the motion to remove was unsubstantiated, without precedent, and occurred without any attempts at mediation. The first time I ever heard of the motion for my removal was the day it was presented. Nobody had come to me privately to tell me what they were going to do.

However, once the recommendation for my removal for "gossip and slander" had been read into the public record, I was fully prepared to provide my defense. In fact, I reminded Tom that I have repeatedly and consistently requested through email that everything that serves as the basis for the recommendation be made public. I have received nothing in writing to show me the basis for the two charges, except one letter from the man who originally made the motion. This letter came TWO WEEKS after the IMB Board meeting and I immediately asked that it be made public. That request was denied.

I wanted Tom to realize that since the Board chose to make this issue public, if there is to be "discipline" it would need to be of a public nature.

(Question 2). The reporter writes "When the original action proposing removal was announced, Hatley said the board first explored others ways to handle the impasse with Burleson" which caused me to ask Tom, "What were these other other ways?"

I asked Tom why nobody came to me to talk to me about the motion to remove prior to it being made. With great candor, for which I am very appreciative, he described a scenario where somebody who felt my blog to be inappropriate suggested to him that a motion to censure me be made because of my blog. Someone else asked the question, "But what if Wade won't stop?" The answer to that question became apparant. The only other option was to remove me.

The problem for those trustees who felt my blog was inappropriate was that if they moved a motion for my censure, but I continued blogging, then the motion to remove could not be addressed by the Convention in 2006. It would be another year, the Convention of 2007, before the vote for my removal could take place. There is a bylaw that states the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention must be informed in writing by a certain date before the SBC in June can even consider a motion to remove a trustee. At our January Board meeting the deadline was only three days away, and therefore, the timetable caused everybody to rush through the process a little faster than they would have desired.

Again, the prospect of waiting another year and a half spurred immediate action.I assume this is why I was never approached. I told Tom I wish someone would have just come to me and said, "Look Wade, we really don't like what you are saying on the blog, and if you don't stop we are going to move that you be censured. If that doesn't work, we will recommend to the convention that you be removed." I told Tom that kind of dialogue is healthy.

(Question 3). Is the record of the minutes with the recommendation for my removal going to be expunged?

The recommendation, read into the offical minutes at the final PUBLIC plenary session of the January IMB meeting used the words "gossip and slander" as the basis for the recommendation for my removal. These are very serious words. In fact, there are legal definitions for at least one of them. I think the gravity of using these words for the basis of my removal was seen the next day when the Chairman told the press I was being released for "loss of trust" and "resistance to accountability."

I was stunned when I read those two phrases the day after the Board meeting in January. I asked Tom why the "loss of trust" and "resistance to accountability" phrases were used with the press when "gossip" and "slander" were used in the official recommendation. It seems Tom had been given the freedom to release to the press the words that he felt best portrayed the Board's feelings of the motion.

I told Tom I wish we had debated the recommendation for my removal the day before for "loss of trust" and "resistance to accountability" because I think we could have made progress in an understanding of the people to whom a trustee is accountable.

But, again, the recommendation for my removal was for gossip and slander. I stand by everything I have written. It is public, it has never violated confidentiality policies, and it is written with the sole intent of making the IMB better, and I can back up everything I have said with documentation.

Either the record needs to be expunged, or I need to defend myself publicly against the allegations of gossip and slander. The "loss of trust" and "resistance to accountability" issues are things that can, and should, be debated. But you will not find those words in the offical recommendation.

Tom felt that some trustees on the Board were intending to make this motion for expungement at our next meeting, and though he could not speak to the action the Board might take, he felt that a motion to expunge may be a forthcoming recommendation. In addition, Tom communicated he would be releasing an offical press release today that should clarify my concerns.

I want to thank Tom for his visit with me. I really feel I understand things much better through our dialogue.

Finally, let me say a couple of things about this entire process.

I have an accountability group that I visit with regularly. These men and women number ten people, and all of them are far wiser than I. All of them offer counsel, and I listen.

One of the wisest of them all is my father, Paul Burleson, the man who has taught me everything good I know in life. This pastor/teacher/evangelist made an interesting statement to me yesterday that has given me great comfort. He said that when I blog, I am blogging the truth. Christians do not need to defend themselves, they just simply need to speak the truth. A consistent willingness to speak the truth may make one unpopular, but when people know the truth, it sets them free.

Thanks Dad.


In His Grace,



Wade

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wade,
I am grateful that they are even mentioning expungement, but I hope there would be someone wise enough in leadership that will see the need for an apology, which would be just as apropriate.

Also, is there any hope or possibility of a convention discussion and approval (or nonapproval) of their excessive and extrabiblical policies, which created all this nonsense in the first place?

Thank you for your courage in the face of the giant.
Anonymous

Scott Bridwell said...

Thanks for keeping us informed. Certainly I feel that the actions to remove you were wrong and I'm glad that some resolution is being found.

That being said I hope this issue doesn't get swept under the rug as if nothing happened. It is time we (the SBC) address the issues that brought us to this point.

Unfortunately my own discussion with a trustee leaves me to believe that they have done nothing wrong. Time will tell.

Paul said...

Wade, I wonder if expunging the record is wise. I say that for several reasons. This situation actually happened and will be resolved in one way or another. Re-writing history is often dangerous. If 100 years from now a similar action were to take place there would be no record to guide those in that situation. And we know what happens to those who do not learn from history. I also think it would be a far greater thing for the record to reflect what was actually moved and passed so that a correction could properly be made in the record as well. Let the record itself be the thing that vindicates, not the absense of a record altogether.

Generations to come need to see the reasoning for the motion to recind the motion to remove. They need to see our leadership having the ability to say, "We made a mistake and here's how we are going to correct it in a Biblical and God-honoring way."

I'm thankful that Paul didn't expunge the accusations against him from the Corinthians so that we can see how he dealt with that situation. I'm thankful that the gospel writers didn't expunge the record of false charges against Jesus so that we can see what the result was and how we might do better. I think there is a great learning opportunity for the SBC in all of this, and for the right thing to be done at the same time.

Bowden McElroy said...

Wade:

I understand that it is important to you that the allegations of gossip and slander be expunged.

I must tell you, as an SBCer who is concerned about the governance of our convention, expunging the record is at best a non-issue and at worst a terrible mistake.

To expunge the record is to pretend the allegations were never made. That may make sense from a parliamentary point of view, but I see it as deceit and delusion.

The fact is serious allegations of your character WERE made. If accurate, you need to be censured.

If inaccurate, the person(s) who wrongfully brought the allegations should be disciplined.

What I fear is happening is that Wade's reputation may be saved; but the SBC membership is left with a Board of Trustees who can slander a minister's integrity and get away with it.

Dropping the matter and even apologizing is not enough. Some one should be censured: either you were guilty of slander or those who brought and seconded the motion were.

hashbrown said...

Wade,
I am thankful for your updates. I am fairly new to this bro-ha-ha. It looks like after reflection there has been some change of hearts.
I am curious if you feel like there is anything that you wish you had done differently or regretted personally.

Hashman

Buddy said...

Wade, Thanks for keeping us informed. I'm anxious to read BP this afternoon.

Wade Burleson said...

Paul and Bowden,

You make some excellent points that I never considered.

However, the only way that the events could be left in the record was if there was an apology for the action in the first place. What I don't understand why it is "the right" thing to take it off the table now, and at the same time "right" to put it on the table in the first place. If it is right to take it off now there might need to be an apology for putting it on the table in the first place

We'll see.

Wade Burleson said...

Paul,

One other comment. I have no interest in disciplining or censuring the person or person(s) responsible for the motion. I have voiced my objections to their actions personally, and I believe what they did was done with good intentions but very, very poor judgment.

I can forgive. The matter is one of correcting the record. Other people's names are not on the offical record, and I have conscientiously not revealed any names. Let's just do the right thing about the current, official record. I have no interest in putting other people under such intense public scrutiny.

art rogers said...

It sounds like at least some are listening, and I am grateful for that. I agree that the record should remain intact. In can be added to, but should not have anything taken away from it.

I remain frustrated at the SBTexan. It seems that the stories they are running have a clear slant running against and those who have supported you, etc.

I am from Texas, and though I don't live there now, I could be moving back there soon. This paper is suppossed to benefit me as a conservative Baptist, but I don't see them doing their due diligence to create honest and accurate stories.

I look forward to Chairman Hatley's release today.

Bowden McElroy said...

Wade:
I understand you are a forgiving person and don't want to put others under intense personal scrutiny. I think that is admirable.

Admirable but misguided. Please understand I have no personal vendetta against these persons: I don't even know who they are.

I am interested in correction as well as forgiveness. I am a firm believer that words are cheap; anyone can say "I'm sorry". The issue is TRUST. How can I -- an SBCer watching this from afar -- trust that the BoT has made a course correction if no one has been confronted about immoral behavior?

Because that is what we are talking about. Either you were in fact guilty of gossip and slander or others were rushing to judgement and using policies and procedures to strong-arm you into ceasing your principled dissent. I see that as immoral, unbiblical, and just plain wrong.

I would be happy for them to censure themselves: an admission of wrong-doing, an apology, and, if they were in a position of leadership (i.e. chairperson of a committee) within the IMB Board, stepping down from that position of leadership (not from the board itself, necessarily).

Otherwise, I am left with the impression that the BoT, who are supposed to be looking out for my interests regarding the IMB, is more interested in damage control than reform.

Rob Ayers said...

Wade,

Perhaps, maybe, Dr. Hatley is seeing the benefit of blogging? Otherwise, he would not need to revisit and send out a clarification of a reporter's "interpretation"! He could have placed this information on his own blog - and it would not be changed or watered down by a third person! Just a thought.

Rob Ayers

P.S. - I look forward to meeting with you in Columbia next week.

Wade Burleson said...

Bowden,

If it is any consolation to you, the few trustees who are responsible in painting a very bleak picture of having me on the board, and worked to convince others I should be off, now have the prospect of working with me for the next seven and one half years. I'm not sure that brings them much comfort.

Wade Burleson said...

Rob,

I agree.

wade

Clif Cummings said...

Wade,
It seems as if the personal issue between you and the rest of the IMB board has a very high possibility of being resolved to the glory of God. I surely hope so.
HOWEVER, I echo the concerns of the first anonymous commenter. What are the possibilities of a convention discussion of the IMB establishing extrabiblical guidelines AND guidelines beyond the Convention approved BF&M 2000? If this is allowed to remain, I fear it opens the door for each SBC agency to establish their own set of rules for their personnel.
I believe you would be in agreement with this statement: The real issue of concern was never about Wade Burleson... it was about limiting the parameters of cooperation in missions. When and how do we get back to addressing that concern as messengers in Greensboro?
In HIS Grace,
Pastor Clif

Wade Burleson said...

Clif,

I look forward to blogging about your concerns :)

Former M said...

Expunging the record "protects" the Board of Trustees, but skirts the issues. Long term, it harms the institution.
It is the coward's position to back down from bullying the wrong kid on the playground, pretending it didn't happen. Not assuming responsibility for one's actions is irresponsible and signals a lack of accountability.
Truth frees. Covering the truth is a sham that does not follow God's purposes, only those of personal pride and politics.
The rest of the story, then, is that the BOT would like to pretend that there was no motion to remove Wade as a trustee. This would grant them the freedom to ride rough shod over others. I don't counsel my congregation to pretend there is no diagnosis of cancer. I counsel them to face the issue and respond to the facts rather than hide from the emotional trauma.
Expunging the record will do little more than encourage more political maneuvering. It is a knee jerk reaction out of fear. We are commissioned by Christ to make decisions based on love and trust, not fear.

Rob Ayers said...

Wade,

I look forward to your further thoughts as to how to have a discussion at the Convention concerning the topic of the guidelines. I have already talked with and e-mailed Dr. Hatley - he was courteous and kind eneough to call me after I emailed him. I do not see that a majority of trustees feel that the policy morphed the BF&M, but merely "clarified" it.

My response to him was that the clarification was outside SBC polity as I understood it - the Convention formulates policy (BF&M) as the template for hiring and firing, while the entities manage the nuts and bolts of the Convention mandated confessional statement.

As I see it, there are two ways for the Convention to address it (if I was a lawyer, I could probably come up with more ways). 1. Pass a resolution addressing the "thoughts of the convention" concerning the policies. Resolutions are non-binding of course and subject to interpretation. That is why conservative conventions passed resolution after resolution while moderate/liberal decision makers merely ignored them. 2. Press a motion that the BF&M is the hiring template for all SBC entities, thus making the policies persona non-grata. Transcripts of the debate would be fully known so that the intent of those who passed it would not be misinterpreted. However, this would require okay from the Committee on Businsess which could rule it out of order.

If anyone out there is familiar with SBC procedures/polity in depth, what would be the proper procedure to get something like this accomplished? I will stand back now and listen.

Rob Ayers

Vicki A. Davis said...

I could have cried when I heard there is a possibility for reconciliation. I wrote some about it today.

The whole situation is near and dear to my heart just because I began blogging and following the SBC Blogosphere in November. I am just a layperson but fear our church leaving the true doctrine of God as laid out in the Holy Bible over power and human thought.

I will pray for you, Wade and feel that like Job, God will restore you as you pray for your friends who kicked you when you were down.

Thank you for being simple, not over wordy, not overimportant, and humble. This is a big responsibility and I will be praying for you over the next weeks. It is tough when we must decrease so HE can increase.

Lord, bless Wade and be with him and the IMB. Let them model for our local churches the way we are to act when we disagree. Let them love one another. Give Wade the strength and faith to forgive those who have hurt him most. In Jesus name. Amen

Missionary in the 10/40 Window said...

Wade,
I have been watching all of this from the mission field. I cannot give my real identity or my location because of security concerns for me, my colleagues and local believers. I have met you a couple of times and have family and friends in your church.

Anyway, this is a bit "off subject", as far as this comment thread is concerned, but I wanted to say, in a non-patronizing way, how proud I am you for your handling of this situation.

As a missionary "on the field", quite frankly our biggest concern has been that the whole situation would take the attention away from the "main thing". You have provided a positive, healthy, Jesus-like response (at least in my opinion) and persevered through an extremely difficult personal struggle, all the time, pointing attention back to a lost and dying world. Quite frankly, that is the kind of trustee that I want on my Board!

Overseas, we honestly don't care about the politics that goes on with in the SBC, the IMB, or any other entity. It is distracting to us. Fortunately, we don't hear a lot of it; I think God shelters us from it. We only care about it as if it adversely affects us. Not necessarily in a personal way, but if it affects our ability to function.

So please, keep keeping your and their eyes on Jesus. Anything else just falls short.

darren said...

I am grateful that hopefully a God honoring, Biblical process of making some wrongs right toward you Wade is being done.

However, I also echo Pastor Clif's concerns that the original issue of the change in policy for missionary candidates be addressed.

Glad to hear you will be blogging about it in the future. I am concerned about what the implenation of these policies has already done and what they will do in the future

Anonymous said...

Wade, you have probably already seen this, but this is what Clyde Meador emailed to all the personnel on the field. The IMB has elected to retain the elements in their press release that you have objected too.

TO: ALL PACRIM PERSONNEL
FROM: CLYDE MEADOR

February 16, 2006

Many of you have asked about and are interested in recent developments regarding the IMB Board of Trustees. To keep you up-to-date on developments, I am copying below a press release that we have sent out today. Let us all be faithful in praying for our trustees, and for the Lord's clear direction to them in these days. Thank you.

IMB trustee chairman, officers will ask full board to withdraw its request for the SBC to remove Burleson

RICHMOND, Va. (BP)-The executive committee of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board's trustees has decided to ask the full board of trustees to consider a motion that would reverse the motion passed at its January meeting to recommend the removal from office of trustee Wade Burleson of Oklahoma.

The trustee executive committee -- which consists of the board's chairman, first and second vice chairmen, recording secretary and chairmen of the board's five primary standing committees - met in Atlanta Feb. 10 to review the Burleson action. IMB Trustee Chairman Tom Hatley will ask the trustees to seriously consider reversing the motion passed in executive session during their Jan. 9-11 meeting in Richmond, Va.

After the January meeting, Hatley stated the action was taken because of "issues involving broken trust and resistance to accountability, not Burleson's opposition to policies recently enacted by the board." Southern Baptist Convention messengers elect trustees to convention boards and agencies at the convention's annual meetings. Without a motion to reverse the vote of the January meeting, the IMB trustee recommendation related to Burleson would be acted upon at the SBC meeting in Greensboro, N.C., June 13-14.

Hatley will make the recommendation for a motion to reverse the approved removal motion at the trustees' next full board meeting, scheduled for March 20-22 in Tampa, Fla. He issued the following public statement Feb. 16:

"As chairman of the International Mission Board, it is my intention to ask our board of trustees to reverse our action in January recommending to the Southern Baptist Convention in June that Wade Burleson be removed from office as an IMB trustee.

"We have determined that we have the ability to seek management of these issues through internal processes that were not known during our January meeting. We have never reached this stage of conflict before and did not know of all our options until recently.

"I have consulted with our board officers and our standing committee chairmen, and they agree with me that we should move forward with a motion to withdraw our request for SBC action.

"As a board, we continue to affirm our missionaries, our president and our staff, and we stand with them in leading Southern Baptists to reach the harvest fields of our world.

"We also want to praise the Lord for the generosity of His churches in supporting missions. More than ever we are seeing the peoples of the earth responding to the Gospel. Our focus will not be diverted; we will continue to exponentially increase our impact around the world until every person has heard the story of our wonderful Savior.

"Please note that in the near future I also intend to clarify the recently adopted guideline on baptism and the policy concerning tongues and private prayer language for missionary candidates by addressing the historical and theological framework in which those decisions were made."

The last sentence of the statement refers to two measures adopted by IMB trustees at their Nov. 14-17, 2005, meeting in Huntsville, Ala. The trustees approved a policy stating that a candidate eliminates himself or herself from IMB service if he or she has the practice of tongues or a "private prayer language" as an ongoing part of his or her conviction or practice. They also adopted a baptism guideline stating that future missionary candidates must have been baptized in a church that: practices believer's baptism by immersion alone; does not view baptism as sacramental or regenerative; and that embraces the doctrine of the security of the believer. Exception clauses were included in both the guideline and the policy for special situations. Neither the guideline nor the policy is retroactive and neither will be applied to anyone already in the appointment process.

Ryan W said...

My wife and I are currently in the process to go overseas with the board. To read of all of these goings on pains me deeply. I find that my only solace is that if we can just jump through all of these hoops (new hoops being set up at each trustee meeting), then we will be able to get on the field and leave all of this...stuff behind us.

The disconnect between the IMB (US) and the IMB (overseas) is growing wider everyday. I fear that if we don't get appointed soon, there will be a new hurdle that we may not be able to clear. And we will not be able to partner with the amazing IMB personnel already at work with God in the nations.

Pray for us...

Wade Burleson said...

Dear PacRim Missionary,

Thanks for the communication. I am thrilled that our IMB staff has quickly and accurately informed our missionaries of developments.

blampp@juno.com said...

Glad to see that your "Dad" is still a part of the accountability process.....
Speaks well of your relationship and gives insight to the way you've handled the issues!

Kevin Bussey said...

Wade,

I'm sorry for the "slander" and "gossip" that you and your family have endured. You deserve better! I hope the trustees issue a public apology to you and your family.

I also look forward to meeting you in Greensboro!

Kevin Bussey

Anonymous said...

Dear Brother Wade,
I've been praying for you! Thanks for staying the course and holding to your convictions. The truth, indeed, will set you free.

My remaining prayer is that the decisions made at the November trustee meeting will also be revisited and perhaps reversed or expunged from the record.

As an IMB field worker in a high security region that is seeing hundreds of thousands coming to faith, news of this decision has already crossed the language barrier. Local partners are questioning Southern Baptists convictions to the inerrancy and infallability of the word and they are not alone. Most of the IMB collegues that I have discussed this issue with are also bewildered by this decision.

I don't have a private prayer langauge, but like Paul's warning to the church of Corinth, I don't want to step outside of scripture by forbidding the practice of this gift.

Unless there was an actual incident on the field of private prayer language getting in the way of evangelizing the lost and planting churches, we deserve a theological explanation. I'm looking forward to Brother Clyde's upcoming email explaining this and debating it opening on your blogsite.

Wade Burleson said...

Jim,

Start your own blog. This blog is about the issues not an attack on someone's character.

Anonymous said...

Wayne Jacobsen wrote in his book A Passion For God's Presence on vested interest:

It’s easy for us now to look back at those generations, not sharing their vested
interests, and see how believers sold out to political and personal corruption during
the Middle Ages; to high finance prior to the Reformation; to terror and murder
during the Inquisition; to natural reason during the Enlightenment; and to liberalism
early in this century...We stay captive to deception by the same appeal of
personal interest...So it is with the church today: many people are making
Christianity just what they want it to be, whatever fits their interest...It doesn’t take
great wisdom to unmask deceit—only a desire to look at things the way they really
are, not the way we want to see them.

Wade, it's an honorable man who speaks the truth in love, especially when it may cost you something. Love is willing to pay the price.
JG

Greg Hicks said...

Another apparent inaccuracy in the Ledbetter article is the timeframe which Chairman Hatley plans to release the rationale for the original policy changes. Ledbetter wrote,

"Several weeks from now Hatley will release an historical and theological explanation of the board's November decision to assess missionary candidates' use of 'private prayer language' and mode of baptism."

In the February 16 Baptist Press article "IMB Officers Seek Withdrawal of Request to Remove Trustee," Chairman Hatley is quoted as saying:

"Please note that in the near future I also intend to clarify the recently adopted guideline on baptism and the policy concerning tongues and private prayer language for missionary candidates by addressing the historical and theological framework in which those decisions were made."


Personally, I don't think of "in the near future" and "several weeks from now" as being equivalent ways of saying the same thing in a circumstance like this.

If I were a trustee (particularly the Chair) in the midst of a firestorm like this I would want to get that information out... yesterday.

Somebody help me with this...

Why does it require several days - much less several weeks - to make the facts behind the decision public? How many days have passed already? If the Chairman believes, "Misinformation disseminated through informal weblogs caused confusion in the minds of some Southern Baptists," (from the Ledbetter article) what have they done to correct the misinformation? I have heard nothing from the Board (despite a personal request for information via email to the Georgie trustees) and Wade indicates no one on the Board has challenged what he has posted.

Assuming the Board carefully, thoughtfully, and prayerfully researched, deliberated and discussed the "historical and theological framework" involved in these issues before they decided to change the policies - why not just release a redacted version(removing only names of parties involved where inclusion would cause unnecessary harm) of what they used as the basis for this decision?

OK... I admit it... I'm suspicious...

Rick Thompson said...

I applaud chairman Hatley for his leadership with the Exec. Committee to get this thing reversed (no small task), and for his clarification to the press that he will come forward with further explanation of the policies. The IMB has a process in place for reviewing all policy decisions and to make recommendations for reversal. My prayer is that we will start this process in a timely fashion after Wade's issue is resolved. Obviously, it can only be accomplished when all the emotion from this has waned and cooler heads prevail.

As Wade has pointed out many times, there are bigger issues at play in the broader context of the SBC. I hope that these are also addressed in a positive way at the convention. We certainly would prefer that the spotlight move from where it is now to where it belongs on the convention floor.

There is another issue that I see that no one has talked about yet. And that is the ssue of how a press release gets distorted as it play out in the public forum.

As many of you know, the IMB staff came under heavy criticism during our last trustee meeting because of erronious reporting of the numbers of the policy vote in Novemenber.

The remedy that was worked out was that future releases would be run by the chairman as an added step in the accountability process. I find it ironic, as Wade points out in this blog, that the chairman's words were subsequently distorted somewhat by a reporter from the Texan, the very paper that supposidly "got it right" in the last press release debacle. The sword obviosly cuts both ways.

The rest of the story will be how the Texan corrects itself. And how the trustees who were so impressed with the accuracy of the Texan in our last meeting will feel about it in the next.

Greg Hicks said...

Although I have never met Wade Burleson, I easily generated ten reasons I am inclined to believe him:

1) The Board says what Wade has posted is misinformation but has yet to back that up with specifics, despite being publicly challenged by Wade and others to do so. Since they have Baptist Press as a dedicated channel for their message, they can't say they haven't had an opportunity to get their story out. The silence of the Board has been deafening.

2) Wade is not simply asking us to believe what he is saying - he claims to have documentation to back whatever he has posted, and so far, Wade has delivered on everything he has promised.

3) Others have validated many of Wade's claims. Despite the broad brushed accusations of some of the trustees, I have seen no public dispute regarding any of the specific claims Wade has made. (The trustees may not like that he is saying it, or the way he says it, but they are not disputing what he says.)

4) The Board took unprecedented, drastic action that I sense was intended to silence Wade (In its' history, no SBC trustee board ever recommended the Convention remove a trustee, even though some were clearly heretics; but Brother Wade - well, he has got to go!)

5) Before the action to silence Wade, however, the trustees offered Wade the opportunity to avoid what he has endured by quietly stepping down. This is inconsistent with scriptural guidelines - if Wade is lying, Scripture says expose it publicly - Ephesians 5:11; 1 Timothy 5:20.

6) Since the actions taken to silence Wade became widely known, the Board has consistently backpedaled, including taking steps to reverse the decision to request Wade's removal. (This virtually ensures what they have done secretly will remain secret; Wade will be bound by the trustee rules to remain silent on what transpires from here forward, and the policy change and actions to remove Wade now have little chance of being brought into the light at the Convention). If removing Wade was such a good idea when they took steps to do it, what has changed since? This appears to me to be an attempt to keep what they have done buried.

7) I have read through virtually all of Wade's weblog and see absolutely no basis for the trustee's charges against Wade. Others have done the same and arrived at the same conclusion (see Trennis Henderson's January 31 article, www.abpnews.com/800.article)

8) This has been enormously costly to Wade; I know few men who would suffer what Wade has gone through for the sake of a lie.
Although the remaining trustees appear to have some "suffering" of their own ahead, it is not because of a choice to suffer for the sake of conscious.

9) Although I have never met Wade, others in key positions of leadership who know him well have voluntarily stepped into the line of fire to defend him and have done so knowing there may be repercussions for them as well(kudos to you guys).

10) I was a member at the church Wade's father pastored (Southcliff) during my days at Southwestern. I have enormous respect and admiration for Pastor Paul Burleson and have greatly benefited from his ministry over the years. In my experience, the saying "the acorn doesn't fall far from the tree" is generally true; you can tell a lot about a man from his father. (That's "tall cotton" you are walking in, Wade)

Anonymous said...

To Ryan W,

If you think that you can jump through the last few hoops and get to the field and leave everything behind, you are sadly mistaken.

Unless you are going to a very remote area of the world these political problems are not going away, they will still find you in the remote area, just takes a little longer.

When we went to the field we were determined to stay away from all the bickering and focus on the main thing. We were surprised to find that the IMB is a sub-culture all to itself. There is the facade that is shown to the public that is projected by RVA and missionaries on SSA speaking in churches that only shows the positive. But when you get to the field you discover a whole another culture that only the insiders get to see.

You will be shocked to see the jealousy, and how vicious buget meetings can be. You will be surprised to see how at odds one missionary can become with another. Both will be good friends of yours and both will be godly people. You yourself well get suckered into one of these bad relationships. Its not a question of if, but a matter of when.

Just do your best to keep your lines of communication open with everyone. As soon as there is a problem nip it in the bud with direct face-to-face communication as soon as you can.

Chances are that no matter how hard you try to work well with everyone, there will come a day when someone with authority over you will ask you to do something that you do not feel God telling you to do. It might involve some of the politics happening within the convention, your budget, your ministry, or something to do with your family. Just know that it will happen.

Sometimes a solution is found and sometimes its not, especially if it involves politics. You can do everything you are supposed to do bibically to solve the conflict, you can even be in the right bibically, morally, and ethically, and assume that the other person will give in once you can explain your position. But there will come a time when for political reasons or pride your leader won't budge.

I wish I had a pat answer to tell you what to do. All I can tell you is to be alert and be aware that these things will happen. Try to live peacefully with everyone, and don't be afraid to confront conflict head on. Just remember that when you do, your goal is not to win, but to find a solution that will please God. Stay in the Word and pray continually, God will tell you what to do.

I wish that before I had gone to the field, someone would have told me what it was going to be like so I could have prepared myself.

Today I find myself being forced from the field, because I refused to sign something I felt was unethical. I'm still searching for that win-win solution, but sometimes it just doesn't exist. Thats when you find out how much you really trust God.

Ryan W said...

anonymous,

That is quite a stark reminder that we (fallible people) have to partner with other fallible people to try and be used by God for his glory in the nations. Only by the grace of God does anything good occur.

I appreciate your perspective.

Anonymous said...

Dear Wade,

As an IMB missionary, all I had received on this story were the "official" releases by the IMB. Quite frankly, the first reports made you sound like a scoundrel or renegade. The second reports sounded like political manuevering and that you had enought "wampum" to make them back down.

Until a missionary colleague sent me the link to your blogsite, I had no idea of what had really transpired.

I share your concerns about becoming extra-biblical in IMB requirements, though I've had my fair share of disheartening conflicts with "charismatics" (non-IMB or SBC folks) on the field. I appreciate your candor and integrity on these issues.

I truly believe that the IMB owes you MORE than a reversal of the motion for your removal. Statements such as:
"issues involving broken trust"
"resistance to accountability"
"gossip and slander"
are unbelieveable.
These aren't clever public statements without opening the record for what has, in fact, been said.

I believe that the IMB Board of Trustees owe a public apology.

I wish that there was somewhere for missionaries on the "bottom rung" of the ladder to make our voice heard, but that has diminished greatly in recent years.

May our Lord cause you to stand firm and defend both His name and yours.

Blessings,
Anonymous IMB Missionary

Anonymous said...

"The problem for those trustees who felt my blog was inappropriate was that if they moved a motion for my censure, but I continued blogging, then the motion to remove could not be addressed by the Convention in 2006."

I see nowhere in scripture that tell us to use bylaws (or whatever the rules above are called) to 'deal' with a situation in truth and love. This was an action based on worldly guidelines and it's just plain wrong. I have spent months dealing with interpersonal issues with ministry partners and the timing of our ministry needs never instructed how we were to proceed. We grew stronger, the community witnessed our progress and we have all been blessed. To God be the glory!

Anonymous said...

To Ryan W. (newly appointed missionary)
Your jumping through hoops is good training for missionary service. I’m not a missionary, but Southern Baptist missionaries have been in my family since 1919. That’s when my uncle, Rex Ray, was appointed to China. His 5 year old daughter is buried there.
She left this world saying, “Mama, which one is our house?”
I’ve met many missionaries during my 18 volunteer construction projects overseas for
the SBC. One told me he had been on his knees with Jerry Rankin and he would trust him with his life. This missionary has been on the field many years and is a director. Missionaries complained the required paperwork by the IMB was killing them. He told them he would handle it and not to worry because this is xxxxxxx and didn’t apply to them. They knew he was going out on a limb, but Rankin told him to do whatever he thought best.
Ryan, since missionaries have been made employees of the IMB, they are treated much the same as in business. The missionary above you can break or make your day... as one couple was told, “Tonight I will pray, and tomorrow I’ll tell you what God’s will is for your lives.”
It’s been said, “We went to fight the enemy and found it was us.”
Still, God hits straight licks using crooked sticks.
Rex Ray

Anonymous said...

Concerning the two new policies for missionaries; The aposlte Paul said in I Corinthians 14:18, "I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all;" Can you imagine if Paul got kicked off the mission field because he had a private prayer language!

Anonymous said...

When missionaries start praying to The International Missions Board ,instead of Praying to God then the Mission Board would have the right to tell them how to pray. Since They are praying to God it is time time to let their prayer lIfe be between them and God.

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