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

A Fair Minded Request

Grace and Truth was established as a single purpose blog. I have heard that if a person blogs it should be regarding something of interest, and it should maintain singular focus. I felt convicted that the average Southern Baptist did not have an understanding, and sometimes a voice, in the direction of the International Mission Board. I have taken my responsibility serving as a trustee very seriously, and before my first meeting in July of 2005 read every pertitent document that dealt with my duties and responsibilities as a trustee.

As I have stated on numerous occasions I have been conscientious never to violate any confidentiality. I have told everyone who desired to speak to me about the work of the IMB to let me know if it is confidential, because if it is not, I believe Southern Baptists need to know of the direction we are moving. I have been fastidious in my efforts tell it like I see it. My wife tells me that often I am too positive, too optimistic, because I am always seeing the good in every situation.

That may be, but I enjoy being positive, and I think if you carefully read this blog you will see that I am positive about EVERYTHING. God is in control, and His word tells us He works all things together for our good.

I have said some things with which others disagree. I am trying to show that a healthy organization not only allows dissent, but welcomes it, because in the end, dissent makes everyone sharper. The people who know me will tell you that I am, indeed, a very soft, gracious person. My only weakness is when I feel people abuse authority or power my soft side turns to steel. It is not my steel fortitude that is the weakness; it is the absence of enough velvet around the steel during those occasional clashes with abusive power. However, other than the occasional lapse of word choice (see Political Conservatives vs. Cooperating Conservatives), I have sought to be extraordinarily positive about our work.

Trustee leadership has been very communicative with me these past three weeks, and I appreciate their hearts in dialogue. I have been asked to prayerfully consider shutting down this blog. Let me be clear. I have said, from the beginning, if I can be shown where my blog violates any policy or procedure of the IMB I will cease blogging immediately. In all fairness to my fellow trustees, blogging by a trustee is something new, and for everyone's benefit I am considering possibly ending the blog until an official policy on blogging can be established in the May meeting.

To help me in my decision I have been sent by email a section of the "Blue Book," the manuel for trustee decorum that is currently in effect, and I have been graciuosly asked to read this section again. This, I am told, is the basis for the unofficial request that I cease blogging until an official policy that is a little clearer can be established.

I have carefully read the section sent to me by email again and again. I originally read it prior to my first meeting. I frankly cannot see where my blog is a violation of the this current manuel on trustee decorum.

However, I am open to wisdom on this matter from many people. I am going to print the current policy and ask your opinion. Please be very careful in your comments. Let's not attach motives to anyone's request. I really believe trustee leadership is sincere, and frankly, I am committed to do the best thing for our International Mission Board and our Southern Baptist Convention. If I can be shown I am misreading the current policy I will cease blogging immediately. If the Board passes a policy that forbids blogging by a trustee I will cease immediately. Thanks for your help in this matter. The current policy read:


Ordered of God - Manual for Trustees

#18, pages 33-34

Trustees have a particular service to render between meetings and after the tenure of service has ended. Being a trustee means that you live on a two-way street. Similar to a messenger from a church to a convention, you are not only to bring your voice to the meetings when serving, but you are to take your interpretations back to the people after adjournment. A messenger should go home to report and interpret the actions taken and seek to build goodwill for the convention. In the same sort of process, a board member returns from the official meetings to have a good word for the institution which he/she is serving. A faithful trustee can and must be one of the best public relations workers the board has. A trustee is a person of influence within the institution and without. Information and interpretations from him/her will be considered accurate by the people to whom the reports are given.


In His Service,


Wade Burleson

98 comments:

Ruth said...

This is my first comment on your blog. I have been reading it since the start of this controversy - and though I do not know you personally, I feel that as a Southern Baptist I am being impacted by these decisions.

I am Sunday School secretary, recording secretary, and VBS secretary for our church. I have supported with both money and time the work of the SBC, including missions. And the truth I see here is very simple: our convention has allowed itself to lose sight of the goal. We have become more interested in politics, personal power, and controlling the typical church member in the pew than in spreading the Good News!

So my vote is that I see absolutely nothing in this quotation from your manual that should require the cessation of your blogging. Those of us who send our money for these missions do have the right to know what is going on that will affect how our money is spent. This is not the Catholic Church, and it is not supposed to be an organization like them where orders come down from on high and the 'little people' are expected to follow blindly.

I also do not see anywhere that you have disclosed anything confidential. Please keep up the good work on keeping fellow Baptists informed on what is happening behind the scenes that we should know about.

Danny said...

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. please STOP the blogging!!!!

Wade Burleson said...

Danny,

How about a reason other than I put you to sleep? :)

Anonymous said...

Wade,
After reading through your entire blog since your first entry, I see nothing that would violate the proceedures of the trustees for the IMB. In fact, if anything, I think after reading the posting of the expectations it should encourage you to keep blogging. It is true that sometimes when we paticipate in new means of communication, that others dont always understand, they many times fear the new-found freedom as an attack at the status quo (think about the printing press, etc.) which they often have a very heavy hand in ordering, however their fear should never be the basis for you determining if your actions are correct. If we start to make decisons based on fear of the new, rather than on the glorious gospel of christ and the responsibilites we have in Him, we travel a dangerous road. I encourage you, Wade, to keep up the blogging. A disemenation of pubic information can only aid us in being better informed, which has been severly lacking in the recent past, so that we might make better decions. While working through conflicts we simply must make compromises, but Wade, this is not one to back down on. If you can be silenced the I think I can guess how all this will turn out: the issue will fade from the spotlight, those influencing policy in a negative way will continue unchecked, and the Southern Baptist Convention will further slide into an oligarchy of landmark fundamentalism. Fight the fight, run the race, keep the faith.

Tony Tyer
Shawnee, Oklahoma

Wade Burleson said...

Eric,

Aliases get you in trouble.

Anonymous said...

Wade,
I have seen "loaded" policies in my day, but this one "overloads." I one sentence it tells you to "take your interpretations back to the people." And then it spends several lines saying, in essence, "but it must be a positive report."

Having said that, it goes on to inform you of your duties in "public relations." But public relations have more responsibility than putting a positive "spin" on everything. For me, public relations is just what it says, relating with the public, and not a "Chamber of Commerce" report.

I see your blogs as relating to the public...but you must discern if everything is to be whitewashed.

Anonymous said...

Wade,
In the first part of this policy it says you are to bring your voice to meetings. What about the voice of constituents? Maybe, as I am new to SBC life, I misunderstand, but I see nothing in this which says you are speaking for anyone, other than yourself. Tell me that I am mistaken.

Anonymous said...

In the same sort of process, a board member returns from the official meetings to have a good word for the institution which he/she is serving. A faithful trustee can and must be one of the best public relations workers the board has. A trustee is a person of influence within the institution and without. Information and interpretations from him/her will be considered accurate by the people to whom the reports are given.

They want you to speak well of them no matter what they are doing, no matter how damaging to the church or to the faith of individual members of the church. They know we are all reading your words and trusting them, and therefore they want those words to be words of praise no matter what. Dissent is no option when the person in question is a public relations worker.

Funny, I always thought the trustees were supposed to be God relations workers instead...

--Southern Baptist who is likely leaving and finding another place to worship God in the next 6 months over the stuff that has been going on

Tim Batchelor said...

In all likelihood they will vote to not allow blogs. That keeps accountability at a minimum. We will in all likelihood revert back to being uninformed and will likely go back to the more comfortable position of "head in sand" and keep sending money believing all is well (because that is what the trustees are told to tell us). At the same time, You may have done all you can do with regard to the issues at hand.

Based on testimony from missionaries on yours and Marty Duren's blogs the past day or two there are more significant issues than baptism and tongues that need to be studied at the IMB. I hope you can be part of the solution.

Wade Burleson said...

Mr. Anonymous Southern Baptist,

Don't do that. The very fact we are discussing these issues is the reason you ought to stay. Be a part of the solution. Leaving solves nothing.

Phillips Lynn said...

Bringing back a good word is always best whenever possible yet, the most important thing that we do as believers is to bring back the truth in any situation no matter how it is received by others. We must never forget to remember Ex. 20:16 and Col. 3:9. Therefore if that which you state in your blog is true then so be it.

WTJeff said...

First of all, it appears that your blog is more faithful to this part of the manual than someone who would merely serve as a PR agent, no matter their opinion. You have been positive, but have stated where you disagree.

I have to agree with Tim, however, that in all likelihood, they will pass a policy preventing trustees from blogging and we will, again, be in the dark. Your blog has confirmed some of my worst fears -- people in positions of power are seeking conformity of thought on non-essential issues -- and been a source of encouragement -- young leadership willing to speak up and become involved in the process.

I would hope some sort of middle ground could be worked out, but don't expect it. This is exactly the type of situation where we all must sincerely pray for the Holy Spirit's intervention, so that the postive steps that have occurred since November will continue.

T A Blankenship said...

Wade,
I cannot see any possible way that you may have violated this policy. I must admit, that when I first began hearing of your blog I thought you were wrong, but after having read what you were saying, and not just listening to the other I formed the opinion that you had done a service to the convention.
I too believe that it will have a positive outcome, for the good of you, the trustees and the convention.
It seems that the IMB by these new rules are imposing upon the local congregations the rule of a heirarchy. They do not have the authority to question the baptismal polity of a local church of our convention. If they would have left the old rule alone on both counts that would have been sufficient.
Thank you Wade for your faithfulness.

Gail said...

Wade, my husband and I are missionary parents and we appreciate what you are doing. Without your "blog" we would not have been informed about IMB Trustee decisions which affect our children. In fact, there are probably many SBC members without computers who are still not informed. When do the trustees communicate their decisions and activities to those that elected them to their positions? PLEASE continue to "blog" remembering to keep confidential that which is confidential.We believe you are doing that. Praying for godly wisdom for all.

Anonymous said...

Wade,

I do hope that your blog continues, at least until the Trustees who seek to no longer be accountable to Southern Baptists shut it down. I see nothing in the policy you have posted that says you're doing anything wrong! You're blog has told Southern Baptists what needs to be heard. If others are uncomfortable with the truth, then something has to be amiss.

Former M said...

"to have a good word for the institution" is the hinge pin of any argument. Your words have been positive in regard to the institution, not so in regard to the actions of the trustees. Your words have spoken to the need to protect and reposition the institution in regard to its mission. You have not been very positive about actions by the trustees. The question becomes, Who is the institution? (administration? missionaries? trustees?)
Your words have been good for the institution as a whole, though they make some uncomfortable. Truth does that, for we are all in need of correction.
The policy specifically requires you to interpret events and data for the public. This has been the focus of your blog. For myself, this is the first time I have ever heard any report or interpretation by an IMB trustee!
Major US corporate scandal may have been averted if trustees of those corporations had taken a proactive role in asking the hard questions rather than simply "putting a good face" on the companies they served. When there are problems, a "good word" is a corrective measure and a warning.

martyduren said...

Wade-
Two things, first Rachelle and Sonya would undoubtedly get along well, as Sonya also thinks you are too nice.

Second, you have not violated the Blue Book as we all know, and, if I remember correctly, were cleared by the IMB attorney of any policy violations.

Larry said...

Bro. Wade!
Stop the Blog.
Also! Burn the Gutenberg press.
Oops. Too sardonic.


Brother you have been most *positive* in holding the views high on this blog of
Grace & Truth. Your views and others.

Please continue to blog with accurate grace and truth *to you*.
Someone famous said:
'KNOW the truth and the truth shall set you free.' Of course, there is a COST to freedom.

If someone with sound reason should
forbid IMB from blogging than so be it. Otherwise (Un-sound reason)
may the Ayatollah become a Baptist.
Oh yes! That would be reasonable.

Blessings to *everyone* who serves the Lord Jesus faithfully at the IMB.
You are *appreciated*, as you walk in the light, as He is in the light. That we may fellowship one with another. And the blood ... cleanses us from all sin.

Kevin Bussey said...

Don't stop!

You have been very positive and I appreciate it. We need more people like you in SBC leadership. You don't put me to sleep although I would like a Cliff-notes version of the Ekklesia. :)

Bowden McElroy said...

"A faithful trustee can and must be one of the best public relations workers the board has."

I echo what 'former m' wrote. And I would add that confusing a demand for conformity of thought with supporting the mission of the board has resulted in poor public relations.

I believe those who brought and seconded the motion to have the convention remove you as a trustee was more guilty of violating the above guideline than the blogging you have done.

Please don't shut down your blog.

fedbeggar said...

Wade,
If they vote to shut down your blog, you could just start podcasting... I am sure the other trustees would take a while to figure out what that is. I am sure they would be unfamiliar with what an mp3 player is as well as and ipod.

The real issue is whether they come up with a policy about whether or not you have to voice agreement with the majority vote of the other trustees. If they vote to shut down your blog they are voting that you can not communicate how you feel, with integrety, to other SBCers. Take the vote to its extreme conclusion. It would require that no trustee talk outside of your meetings, unless they talk about how great everything is. If anyone wants to know what really goes on, they would have to attend the meeting. They (those that oppose) are heading down a ridiculous road, that has little common sense.

No Name said...

Wade,

I see no rules that forbid you to blog. Getting information out to people is imperative. Blogging is a way to get the information out and I see no reason to stop. Blogs give people a forum to express their ideas and opinions. This is our culture.

The trustees should not ban or fear the blog. The only way the trustees should fear a blog is if they fear open discussion of ideas and decisions they make.

If the trustees do pass a rule on blogging then of course you must stop , but until then press onward.

Of course then comes the issue of what "they" will allow you to blog about. If trustees try to pass a no blog rule then how far do they think would go with it? Do they hope to pass a rule that trustees cannot blog or talk about any mission ideas at all? What about a blog that you do and someone else mentions missions without your approval? What about e-mails where trustees share or discuss IMB trustee decisions (Not secret decisions) with friends? Is that going to be OK? It is still just like a blog just a different format. Who will be the blog police?

The trustees could be treading on thin ice with such a rule. They may pass the rule but lose the trust of the people.

Wade move onward.

Todd said...

Wade,

Your blog has helped many to maintain a cool and thoughtful head. You have constantly maintained your love for the IMB and SBC and only desire an enrivonment of cooperation. Those admonitions and declarations to the rest of us have in some ways helped shape a more cohesive and positive response. Apart from your information and reflection many of us would have already done as an ealerier commenter suggests - headed for the door. Many have become engaged who would have never had such an interest or knowledge of just how significant the work of the IMB plays a part in the advancement of the Kingdom of God (and I do not mean the only group to work for that end).

You may well anticipapte another outcry should the Trustess adopt a knee jerk response to blogging and so move to prohibit trustees from blogging. Despite your contention the request is "fair-minded" and does not intend a quelling of information, on this your wife is too right - you are too positive in this interpretation.

Systemic propagandization leads to an uninformed populace whose judgement is impaired by deliberate means of those whose agenda may be less than honorable. There are a number of political movements of the past who have employed such tactics and I should hope we would avoid such antics in the future lest we be led to such an end as others.

kevin said...

I do not think a ban on blogs should be implemented or accepted.

Let them straighten out this erroneous decision (tongues/baptism) first, then they can talk about the appropriateness of blogs.

The book says "but you are to take your interpretations back to the people after adjournment." Now will it be dictated as to how this can be done?

Keep it up; don't stop the blog.
Kevin
www.kevsworld.cc

Anonymous said...

It would do all Southern Baptists a great service if you would share the part of the trustee manual regarding "caucasing".

It seems to me that there are some on the IMB trustee board who want less openness and more action behind the scenes and out of the scrutiny of Southern Baptists.

Oh...and don't quit blogging.

Anonymous said...

Blog on Bro!!! Your conscience should be clear in this matter. Shame on those that want to hide their actions for fear of the truth.

Jake Barker
FBC Holdenville, OK

Anonymous said...

How many times in the past have trustees been requested to stop the "unauthorized subgroups?" Does it still continue? Will trustees at the next meeting also act to hold themselves accountable to the policies already on the books? If not, they have no right to ask you to stop blogging. Keep it up. We need to know what's going on. Perhaps some will not be so quick to define doctrine for the rest of us if they know we are intently watching.

Jim Shaver said...

Any attempt to ban blogging by the Trustees of the IMB would be seen by many thinking Southern Baptists as an attempt to muzzle a fellow Southern Baptist.

The ban would then backfire as new bloggers would rise up all across the SBC to challenge the status quo.

Friend, you have started a blaze which will not be extinguished soon regardless of whether the trustees ban your blog or not.

It is my opinion that you have not violated current policy.

Therefore, stay the course!

Paul Drawdy said...

When I first read the article in the Christian Index(GBC) I thought you may have been out of order with the blog, although I agreed with your stance. Since coming to read your blog I have seen no error on your part.
As a Georgia Baptist, I find it refreshing to read on your blog a little detail in the summary of actions I usually get through press releases in the Index. I am now of the mind that all Committees at the SBC level should have a blog to inform the laity of actions taken by "OUR" Convention.
Paul A. Drawdy
Screven, GA

Anonymous said...

Wade, in this latest blog, you said "I have said some things with which others disagree. I am trying to show that a healthy organization not only allows dissent, but welcomes it, because in the end, dissent makes everyone sharper." And, therein lies the crux of the current situation...the fact that other trustees want an end to your blogging gives clear evidence just how UNHEALTHY the IMB trustee system is.

Instead of you not blogging, allow those unhealthy individuals seek help.

steve w said...

Wade,
You are one of the best PR trustees the IMB has. You have done more to establish trust among your constituents than any other trustee, IMO. Shutting down your blog will destroy more trust than the trustees can imagine. If they think they have problems now, just wait until they shut down your blog.

I say that not as a threat. I say that not because of any action I might take. But the revolt or the mass departure that results will be eye opening, I'm sure. The loss of funds from churches that will decided to send and support the missionaries rejected by the IMB's new policies, will be felt.

All I can say is that they better think long and hard before shutting down your blog.

Chuck Andrews said...

Wade

In the past, a person’s influence was limited to geography and geometrics. That is, the area in which they lived and the number of people they knew or who knew them. But now, with the internet, blogging gives a person a global voice.

The phrases take your interpretations back to the people and go home to report and interpret are now completely redefined. The only thing that now limits influence may be language.

It seems to me that what you have done is exactly what Ordered of God - Manual for Trustees #18, pages 33-34 has instructed you to do. Maybe not as the past envisioned it but you definitly have brought it into the present. Which is where we now live.

As far as the instruction, be one of the best public relations workers the board has -- someone has to define what public relations is. A quick Google search turned up the following:

“Dr. Rex F. Harlow, ARP, Professor Emeritus at Stanford University and a pioneer in public relations education, was given a grant from the Foundation for Public Relations Research and Education to define public relations and spent many months developing the following definition:
Public relations is a distinctive management function which helps establish and maintain mutual lines of communication, understanding, acceptance and cooperation between an organization and its publics; involves the management of problems or issues; helps management to keep informed on and responsible to public opinion; defines and emphasizes the responsibility of management to serve the public interest; helps management keep abreast of and effectively utilize change, serving as an early warning system to help anticipate trends; and uses research and sound and ethical communication techniques as its principal tools.”

Again, it appears to me that your blog, as well as others, may be the greatest PR tool the IMB has had in a long time. With over sixty six thousand hits in two months your blog is by far the best line of communication the IMB has had in a long time. With your positive and encouraging outlook your blog has sought to build goodwill for the convention. With the present and potential problems and disagreements that the new policies are causing, your blog has been involved in the management of problems and issues. With feedback from all over the world, inside and outside the SBC, you have helped the trustees keep informed on and responsible to public opinion. Your blog has definitely drug an antiquated system into the twenty-first century and I imagine, the end results, will help the trustees keep abreast of and effectively utilize change while helping them anticipate trends. Finally, your blog has been a model for sound and ethical communication techniques, very graciously respectful and comprehensively informative yet without breaking confidentialities.

Simply put, I see no reason for you to pull the plug on this blog. In fact, IMO, if the trustees are half the managers I think they are they will stop fearing public dissent, see the importance and influence that blogging can be, and utilize this blog as a course correction invitation for “understanding, acceptance and cooperation between an organization and its publics.”

Thanks,

Chuck

Rod said...

The principle of the manual is to touch base with the people...that's a great principle. The policy assumes you'll have good things to report, but using the analogy they list, the messenger does not always have "good news" to give his/her church.

I may have a very dismal post-Greensboro report for my church.

Blog away, brother. This present controversy shows the need for blogging. Free information cannot be squashed. The 2006 annual meeting must give trustees freedom to speak.

Paul Fries said...

Wade, I have read your entire blog and found it to be very positive! Even in dissent you have been positive in supporting the IMB, therefore, I can see no reason to stop blogging and hope that you will speak against it if is brought before the trustees. In fact I believe it will be a geat disservice to us all if a motion to prevent blogging is implemented.

That said, If you cannot blog then you also cannot comment in any other manner, letter, phone, email, public speaking etc. because all of these methods simply provide info for people in the church to assist in their decision making. Could it be the blog is considered dangerous just as the radio, the tv, the computer, the internet, in times past? Technology is here to stay, we can accept it, use it or do as the church has so often done in the past and that is ignore it and hope it goes away. It won't so let us use it for the Glory of God!

What saddens me the most about all of this is the lack of openness to the problem. Over and over I have been told to not make a decision until I can gain all the facts yet when I have written to those in charge (trustee chair) the facts have not been presented. As Christians, we have the Holy Spirit residing within us giving us the ability to work through our disagreements in a way that brings Glory to the Father...when will this begin to happen?

Paul Fries
DOM, Florida

R. L. Vaughn said...

I personally don't feel the blog would violate trustee decorum, though I guess I can see how statements such as "In the same sort of process, a board member returns from the official meetings to have a good word for the institution which he/she is serving" might be interpreted by some to see it as a violation. I can also imagine some seeing this like a "family squabble" that is being broadcast to a lot of people outside the family. So, while I don't see a problem, I suppose I can understand why some might.

jlady said...

The very fact we are discussing these issues is the reason you ought to stay. Be a part of the solution. Leaving solves nothing.

Unfortunately, as a young Southern Baptist female I don't seem to be in much of a position to do anything from the inside that I couldn't do as well from the outside, particularly at the church I've been attending all my life.

There have even been times in the years since my baptism (and for some odd reason it all seems to have started going downhill that very year) when I felt closer to God entering that building than leaving it because of the things that were said. Granted, part of that was a not-so-great interim pastor, but when half the church says amen to something that makes your skin crawl you know where people stand.

We had an awesome college class leader a few years ago. We were actually talking, rather than just being talked to and for young Christians of an age to really be experiencing the world for the first time that can mean a lot. He spoke to us against a sermon that would have labeled everyone in the building who had lost a job (this being in the worst part of the last few years for layoffs; the church announcement bulletin was full of people seeking work that very week) as non-Christian. He was gone within a month.

We had another teacher a while later who commiserated with me and one other girl about how wrong something that had been said was, but she didn't speak out beyond that one moment. That Sunday I nearly skipped Sunday School to go cry in the church bathroom instead.

To tell you the absolute truth, Wade, you're one of the few rays of light from the inside I've seen in a while. Everyone else who seems to be trying to do anything is a Southern Baptist in Exile of sorts. I just hope they let you keep talking. I;m tired of the ones that try to stand up for all of us just falling silent or going away.

--the anonymous Southern Baptist from earlier

Anonymous said...

Wade,
I have learned more about the SBC and the IMB these past few weeks than I have learned in some 12 years or so of being a Southern Baptist. It is because of this Blog and the knowledge that has been shared by not only you but by the THOUSANDS who have been reading it.

The excerpt and its loose framework do nothing to preclude you from blogging. In fact, I agree with the others that you have found the perfect medium in which to meet the expectations contained in those loosely written guidelines.

The secret caucuses to the power politics are almost like the workings of some sort of elitist secret society, they bring discredit upon the many trustees who I am sure don’t agree with them either. Thank you for bringing these things to light.

I pray that you continue to share the truth with His Grace.

Bill Scott

Anonymous said...

The Aging Freezer said:
That said, If you cannot blog then you also cannot comment in any other manner, letter, phone, email, public speaking etc. because all of these methods simply provide info for people in the church to assist in their decision making.

I would wager the same trustees trying to muzzle Wade have no problems hauling out Dr. Eitel's White Paper nor Dr. Patterson's letter of introduction. These documents were not seen by all Southern Baptists--only a very select few. The existance of the White Paper and the coverup that has been attempted (to keep it from the light of day), says much about those who promulgated it.

The simple matter is that the Caucus Group and those of their ilk desire to control both what is done and what is said about what is done.

You are a threat with or without the blog because they are afraid of the scrutiny of Southern Baptists.

Paul said...

Would somebody take a message to those making this request? Would someone remind them that Jesus was once asked about his ministry and his response was to tell them to go ask his disciples because he hadn't done anything in secret and that wouldn't stand the light of day? Will they simply agree to live by Jesus' standards there?

If so, they'll let you blog. If not, they won't.

Tom D. Webb said...

Wade, if you succumb to IMB pressure to cease using your blog, those who most deserve your trust and accountability will be sacrificed to preserve the interests of insiders and power brokers whose goals can only be accomplished when there is secrecy and controlled dissemination of information to your true constituents, ordinary Southern Baptist church members. If the IMB goal is to further censure dissent by shutting down your blog, the inevitable result will be the very loss of trust and accountability which the IMB said was the reason they recommended your dismissal as a Trustee in the first place. . .only the SBC as a whole will suffer the loss, rather than the IMB Trustee group. Wade, stay the course. There is too much at stake to turn back now. Open communication demands transparency, honesty and truthfulness to everyone who loves the lost enough to provide the best missions program the SBC can offer to the glory of God!

Don't turn back!

In His Grace and Peace,

Anonymous said...

This blog has brought me a report from the IMB trustees. If it is "one-sided" that is because there is only "one side" bringing information. If this blog is shut down, where do we get information from?

I have searched the entire IMB website and I cannot find any reports from the Trustees. Other than blogs, where are we supposed to find these reports? (this is a question for you Wade - not rhetoric.)

Not knowing how the Trustees work, I have a few questions. I believe that any southern baptist knows that there are certainly issues of security withing the IMB. We all know that we have "workers" around the world do THE work that must remain anonymous. However, do these names come to the Board other than for screening to be a missionary? Do you guys help make decisions about specific workers once they are on the field, or is this left to the staff of the IMB? What sort of situations come before the board that you are not allowed to discuss publicly? Do you, as the board, help make decisions about procedures for those working in "unfriendly" areas of the world that do not need to made public?

The bottom line is this - If you had not started this blog and received publicity, when would we have been informed of these changes to the board? I think the answer is "never".

Thanks for your stand, and PLEASE do not stop bringing us information.

Former M said...

I guess we should mention that this is the same issue that faced the Baptist Press (only being positive about SBC actions) and the IMB administration (having to OK any press releases regarding trustee decisions/meetings with the trustee chair). The methods for "conservative ressurgence" demanded control of the press. To maintain power, the same control is necessary.
We can't control what people think, but we can influence what they hear. If we do that well enough, we can direct a lot of their thinking.

Shannon said...

On the other hand, maybe stopping now could be the goodwill gesture that lets you continue to blog in the future.

If you did stop, what other methods of communication could you use instead? An e-newsletter, for example? What about a group blog where all the trustees post?

James said...

Wade,
Don't stop the blog. Those wishing you to do so probably believe that if you (your blog) goes away then the issue will die out.

Regardless, you and the larger issues are intertwined right now, for better or worse. I fear that they are right. If you are silenced, the issue will fade from most Southern Baptists.

Remember Luther's response at the Diet of Worms. He repented of some harsh words written (much harsher than anything you have written), but stated his conscience wouuldn't allow him to recant unless he was proven wrong by Scripture or plain reason. Your silence would be seen as a recantation by many.

A general vote against all blogging by the board would push me to supporting another missions agency.

Anonymous said...

So First Amendment doesn't apply?
Haven't you followed this policy? Haven't you shared your interpretation?
Do they really think that if you stop blogging that you can't communicate with people? Have they not heard of emailing? Have they not heard of people posting emails to their websites?
What, you say, they won't let you email now either, oh, and forget snail mail, too.
Next they'll want YOU to apologize for causing them to act they way they did!
Please!
If you stop blogging, unless specifically voted upon by the trustees and passed....then you've given into them. They WILL come back and use it against you. "See, he stopped blogging before the vote on it, because he knew he was wrong."
Please don't stop.
IMB WORKER

Anonymous said...

Wade,

As an IMB missionary serving on the other side of the world, I have greatly appreciated your blog. We don't always receive news about what decisions are being made and your blog helps those of us on the field to stay informed.

Often, people in the U.S. tell us how much they appreciate the work that we do as missionaries. Please let me take this opportunity to express my deep appreciation and gratitude to you and the millions of Southern Baptist who pray and give so faithfully to allow us to serve and proclaim the good news to those who have never heard the name of Jesus. During this time of turmoil within our beloved IMB, it is especially comforting to know we have advocates like you (and many others who have written on this blog) who are willing to take a stand. Thank you.

Ron Mackey said...

After reading the section from the 'Blue Book', it seems to me to be a confirmation that you are in fact serving and communicating in the best context of a Trustee of the IMB. I would humbly request that you resist the request to shut down your blog. After reading an article in the Alabama state baptist news journal referencing the need for a free press, I am more convinced than ever that what we need here as Southern Baptists is more information given in a fair and Christ-like manner not less.

Phillips Lynn said...

Former M stated "The methods for "conservative ressurgence" demanded control of the press. To maintain power, the same control is necessary.
We can't control what people think, but we can influence what they hear. If we do that well enough, we can direct a lot of their thinking."

Such an effort to control the information we receive from our boards smacks of things we studied in history of 1930's Germany. Maybe some should go back and read the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Therefore I beseech you Brother Blog on!!!

Dennis Wiles said...

Wade,

I haven't been to an SBC annual meeting in years. I'm ususally in Africa on a mission trip during that week in June. Plus, I grew weary years ago of all the political wranglings of the current SBC leadership.

However, I may go this year just to support you and the greater cause of missions. I am very concerned by the current trend reflected by the trustee decisions of the IMB. As a fellow pastor of an SBC church, I appreciate your willingness to share your perspective on your blog. I hope you will continue to write and speak.

aiglos said...

Wade,
Keep the blog going. And I pray that the Trustee's will not prevent 'blogs from being used in the future....as this would shut down a MAJORITY of the M websites. I cannot tell you how many of your Ms are 'blogging, the numbers are too staggering, but I would fear that if the trustees shut down a blog that belongs to one of their own, how long would they suffer the 'blogs of the M's themselves to remain up?

Keep on keeping us informed, please!

Clif Cummings said...

Wade,
During the "Conservative Resurgence" I have clear memories of "ministers meetings" and "power lunches" being held all over the nation by "concerned conservatives." They were preceeded by volumes of letters of invitations and phone calls being made to insure that they were well attented. Needless to say, all this took place at a great financial cost. However, it was done at that time out of necessity in order to inform the mass of Southern Baptist as to the issues of concern.
NOW - 20 years later, we have the availability of the internet and blogs. It is not only the most powerful and expedient way to fulfill your resonsibilities to be "a person of influence within the institution and without," but the most economical also.
I know these comments may not be the most "spiritual", but they are the observations of one who attended such meetings. I had much rather attempt to be a better steward of my time by reading about the actions of any of our SBC agencies on the internet than having to attend a meeting.

By, the way. My letter inviting pastors to a Pastors' Lunch @ First Baptist Duncan on March 6 with you and Dr. Sam Storms is going out today.

In HIS Grace,
Clif

Pastor Steve said...

Wade,

I see how one could interpret the manual as saying you can only report something if it casts the IMB and its trustees in a positive light. That is an understandable desire in some respects. As an SBC pastor for 20 years I have seen plenty of people throwing mud on any and every kind of issue. Anyone who has been around Baptists for any length of time knows that we can be some of the most contentious people on earth. To be fair, the quote you published here seems to say that you should not speak out unless it puts a positive spin on things.

Here is the problem those who want you to stop face: They can't really demand you quit blogging because that is going to be horrible PR for them. It will be seen as a power play used to shut up any dissenting voices.

Here is the problem for you: If you stop blogging they will spin it that you were wrong for doing it in the first place, you have seen the light and everything is fine. Of course, who will know any different since you won't be telling us what's up.

The long and short of it is I see how someone could be interpret that statement to say your blog violating of the policy. But I also suspect they were already predisposed to find some way to stop the blog and this is the best they could come up with.

I am an originalist when it comes to the Constitution, so let me be one here also and ask the question: what did the people who wrote that statement have in mind when they wrote it? Do we know how the authors were and could we ask them? My suspicion is that the original intent was not to stifle principled dissent, but to encourage IMB trustees to promote the work of missions through the IMB.

Have you done that? I think so.

Andrea said...

Wade,

Keep up the good work. I have followed several blogs and learned more about SBC and IMB workings in the last few weeks than in the last 20 years. I agree, you MUST keep up the information flowing ...as stated in the "Manual of Trustees" .."you are not only to bring your voice to the meetings when serving, but you are to take your interpretations back to the people after adjournment. A messenger should go home to report and interpret the actions taken and seek to build goodwill for the convention."

It has been for the goodwill of the convention to hear what is going on in these meetings. In the past we rarely heard or saw a report from the IMB trustee meetings. Maybe that is my fault for not requesting a copy or locating the information.

Blogging is NOT something to be afraid of, it is an extention of our communication system in the 21st century. It is my hope, that we will move forward, and not backward, communication is critical to successfully bringing people together, sometimes disagreements arise, so what - embrace it - research it, debate it.

You have taken a stand - shown us the way to be tactful & gracious, state the argument, researched your material - you have challenged each one that has followed this issue to know why and what they believe. You have encouraged those that once stood on the banks of complacency to become active and make a difference.

Thank you for your example! I no longer will be silent - I will know the issues and read the minutes from meetings.

Andrea

Jeff Richard Young said...

Dear Wade,

It was a mistake for you ever to say that you will stop blogging if the IMB passes a policy to that effect. Since blogging is just a medium, it would be the same as saying that you would stop e-mailing, or stop mailing, or stop calling on the phone, or stop printing pamphlets, if the IMB passed a policy against the use of these media.

What they really desire is to stop the flow of information from principled dissenters within the board to the man in the pew.

If there is any way for you to un-do what you said, please do so, that the information may continue to flow. And please do not submit voluntarily to any "compromise" in which you stop blogging without a board policy against it. It is not wrong to violate an unjust policy to oppose the maneuvers of misguided men.

Speaking of compromise agreements, please do not agree to anything that involves a move on your part. The position you have taken throughout this mess is nearly perfect. Their position, however, on the original policy changes, on the issue of blogs, and in asking for your dismissal (for "slander", actually libel, oooh, that still irks me!) is indefensible. Don't let us down by caving in to their demands, even in the name of making peace or being flexible. Hang in there---you're in the right and we're all counting on you!

Love in Christ,

Jeff

rms said...

Wade,

You are a Southern Baptist that has been given the right and responsibility to speak not only as a Southern Baptist but for the majority of Southern Baptists. From all of the interest your blog is causing it looks as if you are doing your job well.

Correct me if I am wrong...serving by appointment means that you cannot be removed or silenced unless we (as Southern Baptists) who will be at the convention approve otherwise.

Yes, I know some would say that appointments happen because those who are in power "make it happen" but even that shows a lack of understanding on how SBC leadership is put in place...right?

The convention always has the final say. The reason (I believe) the conservative resurgence occured was that the convention no longer spoke for the average Southern Baptist. Over the last several decades the average Southern Baptist has forgotten (or not been taught...or has become complacent) about the bottom up polity of the SBC.

Frankly, it is easy to forget that the Southern Baptists Convention is not an end unto itself! Our boards, conventions, leadership, schools, etc etc exist only to help the local Southern Baptist Church fulfill their roles in the Cause of Christ.

Talcott Parsons once said that social structures/institution are created by people to serve them in various needs and ideals. Over time, the social structure develops a life/existence of it own. Then people begin to serve the institution/social structure instead of visa versa

He believed that this was a natural progression and the only way to stop this is to dismantle the structure/institution.

I do not believe God is through with Southern Baptists (so it does not need to be dismantled :) )but if we are not careful we may need to take corrective measures. I have always believed that what happened 20-30 years ago needed to happen. The pendulum needed to be pushed...maybe it is time for another push to swing it back towards the middle.


Keep on blogging. Freedom of information, thought, and debate within the context of Christ-like spirit-led community is not a bad thing...in fact it is quite healthy

Anonymous said...

It will be a sad day if the SBC IMB passes a rule prohibiting blogging. Why should a representative WE elected be denied the opportunity to tell us what's going on? If people are not allowed to blow the whistle on actions being taken that do not refect the overwhelming constituency of the Convention, the IMB policymakers will eventually become so removed from where "common" Baptists are at that the denomination will be seen as too institutional and irrelevant. Wade - you and I do not know each other, but I think this is a critical decision and one that I know you are not taking lightly. If you allow thee folk to censor information simply because you are writing things that make them uncomfortable, I will be quite disappointed. I appreciate your being willing to submit to the IMB's authority - but I'm simply struggling with what seems like the IMB taking a totalitarian position that deprives its constituency of their right to know about what's going on in the organization where so much of their money is being spent. This kind of attitude will see the SBC continue to lose influence in our nation if there is too wide a divide between official like IMB board members and "regular church people."

Anonymous said...

To blog or not to blog is all Wade's decision. Results of the blog is yet to be determined. But I wonder if the responder,s which seem 90% favorable to you really represent 90% of the SBC.

J. A. Gillmartin said...

Listen, young man, to the heart God gave you. Your will must subserve His will.

Policy manuals aside, you alone know your heart, you alone know your mind, and you alone know what, if any, vows you've made ... so do what you know is the right thing [James 4:17].

Some of the most courageous people in our histories have been those who've had to stand alone, but they stood alone with steel for a backbone.

Blessings,

farouttraveler said...

i am sure that some kind of further censorship will be coming.
Yeah, none of us would know anything if you had not blogged. Just don't get blogged down in blogging. As much as it depends upon you, live at peace with all men. I would not mention anyone's name or position in your blog. If you say, Trustee chairman, we know who you mean. Maybe it is best to not do that. I think there's a way to get the word out there and yet be as gracious as possible.

Anonymous said...

I think the concern is probably that you are not "the best public relations person" that the IMB has. It would be interesting to see how long that has been the standard and when it was accepted as mandatory for trustees. In the 80's and early 90's it was perfectly acceptable for a trustee to denigrate the institution and the administration. I guess now criticism (or any dissention) is no longer allowed.

Anonymous said...

I do not believe your's or any other blog is the issue. Someone may ask you to cease, but the day will not come when the SBC votes that blog's are forbidden. When push comes to shove it won't be about blog's.

Nate Goodwin said...

Wade,
I am truly saddened by all that has been made known by your blog and other blogs. I in many ways had a lot of respect for our trustees and have tried very hard to be open minded about this whole situation. I love the people of the SBC and am so thankful that the Lord allows us to work around the world through the IMB. However, I have truly been sickened by actions taken by IMB trustees that at the least seem underhanded. I never heard of you until I read the BPNews release about the action taken that seeks to remove you from serving as a trustee. At that point I tried to learn as much as I could about what has taken place and what continues to happen in regard to this situation.

Overall, your blog has been the most light into the situation and has honestly encouraged me not to give up on the IMB. I have a very bad taste in my mouth right now because of the politics that are being played such as the request of you to cease your blog. Your blog has done more good in a situation where much harm has taken place. You have handled yourself in a positive manner and I truly appreciate that about you in what must be one of the toughest situations you have ever encountered. Thank you for the communication you have given and the commitment you show to the Kingdom of God and God’s work through the IMB.

Wade, please do not stop blogging!

For those who are asking Wade to stop blogging, I ask you to rescind your request in light of the damage it would cause. I have little trust for the IMB Trustees and some of the directions they are personally taking the IMB right now and this is not because of anything Wade has done. With respect to the trustees, right now in the eyes of many the title is an oxymoron. It is because of how the trustees have handled this situation. As a young leader who did not grow up in the SBC I know now how many of my peers who have grown up in the SBC feel and why they are very disinterested because of the politics that are played. This whole situation is the perfect example of why young leaders are disinterested and departing the SBC. If Wade does remove his blog your damage control will do more damage than control.

Nate Goodwin said...

"you are to take your interpretations back to the people after adjournment."

It seems to me that you are doing your job. Keep up the good work through this blog!

Anonymous said...

If anything, you are fulfilling your obligations under that policy. One HUGE problem, though, is that many of the trustees seem to be cofusing their actions with "the institution." Your "public relations" obligations are to the entity, not its trustees.

There likley would not have been a conservative resurgence were it not for papers, pamphlets, and "newspapers" that went around the convention press and state papers. Blogs serve that same purpose...just more instantly.

That trustees would make a policy "outlawing" blogs by trustees, while simultaneously refusing action against illegal caucas groups (even after one powerful trustee essentially admitted to a state papers that such groups exist) is the height of hypocrisy.

Wade Burleson said...

I have read many comments about a possible official recommendation that may be forthcoming that forbids trustees from blogging.

I think everyone needs to realize that there is no indication yet that this may happen. I believe we as trustees will simple wrestle with the issues and essentially come down on the side of doing what we believe is best for our convention and the IMB. I'm not sure any of us know what that is at this point, but we will get there.

Dan Paden said...

The crux of the situation seems to be here: A messenger should go home to...seek to build goodwill for the convention...a board member returns...to have a good word for the institution which he/she is serving. A faithful trustee can and must be one of the best public relations workers the board has.

All of which amounts to "don't bad-mouth people", and "say good things about the thing you're working on." It doesn't say report only the good things or say things are good when they're not really. Or so I read it.

I wouldn't stop the blogging as long as you can successfully maintain a positive spirit about it.

Anonymous said...

Wade, I have been involved in reform movements in a denomination in another country.
The problem as I see it from afar ( I am a Baptist, but not an SBC although our church is VERY SBC friendly) is that membership of any board requires a public support of that board, even when the decisions of that board violate your own conscience. Otherwise the fair thing is to remove yourself from that particular board when you feel that you can no longer in god conscience support that board's decision. You would then be "free" to publicly criticise that board's decisions.
It is a fair criticism that publicly printing criticisms of board decisions in which you are a board member is a violation of that board's requirements (whether written or unwritten).
Having others from outside any board of which you are a member investigate and speak publicly and print publicly on issues in which you may be vitally concerned is an appropriate way to handle reform without compromising board membership. However, ethically, as a board member, you can really only tell them "where the body is buried" not whose body it is!
I think that the situation has placed you in a difficult position. Are the Policies of the IMB board of such a nature that it demands your immediate resignation from that board in order to combat the policies publicly?
The issue at heart as I see it, is public opposition to Board decisions which you are expected as a board member to support.
i don't think you should shut down your blog. its great to hear your thoughts on a variety of subjects and as a fellow pastor I have really enjoyed your contribution to my personal ministry. I do think however that public discussion of private board matters is not appropriate, unless you have removed yourself from that board. I think that if you wish to change the board 's ethos you, or some people like you, should get yourselves elected to the board to change it from within. But to do so would necessitate shelving public criticism of board policies, whatever that board would be.
To change board policies, you must win the board members confidence as a trusted member. Public criticism of board policies does not win the man, to win his vote.
Praying for you brother... you are loved and highly valued as a servant of God.
Steve

Anonymous said...

you are not only to bring your voice to the meetings when serving, but you are to take your interpretations back to the people after adjournment. A messenger should go home to report and interpret the actions taken and seek to build goodwill for the convention.



Sounds like you are doing exactly what is expected. Keep blogging and letting the people know what is going on. As you have previously stated, it isn't about you or any other person involved, it's about where this Convention is headed.

Anonymous said...

What if you disagree with dirty politics, but you likewise disagree with the direction that Dr. Rankin has taken the IMB?

To be sure, a number of wonderful things have developed under his leadership. What about the move away from formal education for internationals? What good is it if we start hundreds of churches if they are biblical and theologically weak? What is more, what happens after the IMB turns all the seminaries into the hands of the nationals who then in turn allow non-Baptist and liberal professors to train the future generations of Baptist national pastors?

Aside from the recent ruckus over the policy changes, I fear that anti-intellectualism has gripped the IMB with its primary emphasis on church planting. Could you please explain why the IMB seems to no longer care about the formal theological training of national pastors?

Anonymous said...

The problem is we don't have enough blogs. Do as the Lord leads you to do and I pray it is to keep blogging.

Anonymous said...

Do not stop the blog. This is heavy handed control and censorship. I'm a Southern Baptist, and I will stop ALL missions giving if the control freaks are that heavy handed.

This is an outrage.

David
Carrollton, TX

Bro. Robin said...

Bro. Wade

I am a pastor from Perkins OK. I see nothing wrong with your blog concerning your position as trustee. Because of your boldness, I have began to post my own blog. While I am a Southern Baptist, I am concerned with the leadership of our convention and your blog has helped me in being informed. The SBC in the past has been a grass roots organization led by the people who make up the convention. I believe the conservative resurgence was grass roots. If the people don't stay tuned in, the elite will lead the convention to where it was never meant to be.

I hope I can have the opportunity to meet with you one day. Thanks and God Bless!

Tim Sweatman said...

Wade,

Based on my understanding of the policy you cited, you are actually carrying out your obligation to "take your interpretations back to the people after adjournment" by posting on your blog. Indeed, according to this policy we should encourage our trustees to have their own blogs. In fact, the SBC would have been far better served if some of the trustees who support the new policies would have blogged about the reasons for their support.

Regarding any effort to prohibit blogging by trustees, those who favor such an effort need to realize that if they succeed then they will be responsible for driving a generation out of the SBC. This generation does not respect efforts to silence those who disagree, and we don't acquiesce to questionable decisions just because someone says so. We believe in, and demand, free and open discussion of important issues. If the SBC is unwilling to allow such discussion, then the answer Dr. Jimmy Draper's question is that there is NOT a place for us at the SBC table.

Should the board pass a policy that prohibits blogging, I believe you should strongly consider resigning from the board as a demonstration of your opposition to keeping SBCers in the dark about how OUR IMB operates.

Anonymous said...

Wade,

As an IMB staff, I just want to say "Thanks!" for your voice. Tying in with that, I want you and others who read your blog to know that the majority of the IMB staff are glad we have a voice. We truly see ourselves as support staff to our missionaries. Many of the policies and procedures are a top down (as we are learning a Trustee down) model. We merely have to work within the system established. The majority of us work to keep focused on the mission at hand, but unfortunately, the political side gets in the way.

A voice such as your's has to come from the outside of the staff. Coming from inside the staff has a way of being all to quickly distinguished. Thanks to all who are spreading the word around, and who see what's really going on!

Dan Paden said...

The problem is we don't have enough blogs.

Amen.

...you are actually carrying out your obligation to "take your interpretations back to the people after adjournment" by posting on your blog.

And "amen" again. It's too easy to forget in this situation that the whole function of a trustee is to hold something in trust; in this case, the trustees are holding the IMB in trust. They are responsible for its care and well-being to the convention and if each concerned trustee has to resign before making public criticism of policies and procedural violations that threaten that well-being, we might as well close up shop and go home.

Let the convention decide next this Summer if Wade's been out of line. I'd bet anything that they will find, as Dr. Tom of says, that they've made a fundamental strategic error.

Seelen Family said...

Paster Wade,

Are you familiar with John Milton's quote,
"Where there is a desire to learn, there of necessity will be much arguing, much writing, many opinions; for opinions in good men is but knowledge in the making."

Let's continue to grow in our knowledge in order to best serve Him.

Charlie

mixilmash said...

Let me get this straight....you've been bloggin about happenings in open meetings and your responses to such as part of your responsibility to the SBC constituency and the result of fulfilling your responsibility is that you are facing an attempted unprecedented dismissal? This is a no-brainer....how can you even consider stopping when it's your solemn duty? Call the bluff of the peddlers of intimidation, for the genie is out of the bottle now because there is NO WAY that the bloggin genie can be put back into the bottle!! If the attempt to co-opt you isn't successful, then the sunshine policy will prevail; if it is successful, the process will continue under other auspices. Hang in there & persevere in order that TRUTH might prevail!!

Anonymous said...

It appears that the majority of the IMB may now feel that this is a loser at convention for them.

Thinking politically, getting you to stop blogging is a way to win and save face. If you don't stop, they'll say you have violated a clear rule, warranting their recommendation to remove you. Hopefully, you will continue blogging and leave that for the convention to decide.

Blessings and Peace!

Anonymous said...

Let's face it. Only tryants, dictators, communists, and monarchs despise the freedom of speech, ongoing dialogue about issues and the general free-flow of information.

The average convention paper is nothing more than institutional propaganda. This blog is absolutely necessay! How can the IMB Trustees make such drastic decisions, that effect all SBC churches and their members, and act like 1. We dont deserve an explanation or detailed information about their actions, and 2. Those in disagreement, or the minority position on the board, do not have a right to express their dissent.

The Baptist movement was birthed in the whirlwinds of dissent! In my opinion, this is a move of God and may he use this to set our Convention free from those who see themselves as some form of Baptist Aristocracy. Just because we disagree does not mean we are liberals, moderates, or divisive.

Jay R. said...

From what I hear the IMB is not just trying to get you to quit blogging. They are actually taking the steps to shut down the internet. It's true.

James said...

Amen to Mr. Anonymous who addressed the theological education issue above.

I have a friend who grew up SBC, was called to missions and desired to train pastors at international seminaries. However, after years of supporting the cooperative program himself, he has no place to serve unless he goes outside the IMB, because there is no commisioning of theological education.

Dorcas said...

Maybe there is a compromise available. What if another of your fellow Trustees joined your blog to make it a team project? You could also allow a lead time of perhaps 2 days after any given meeting before posting about it. Both of these would show a good faith effort at allowing time to think and edit, and the additional person could provide a greater sense of getting the “full report” rather than just one man’s opinion. I realize the nature of a blog is usually one person’s thoughts … but as the Trustees seem to view it as a secondary news service emanating from the Board … adding an additional voice might help alleviate some concerns. I am definitely not recommending it become some sort of committee project or “official” report of the IMB.

Of course it seems to me you already put a lot of thought and time into your posts. Yet perhaps it wouldn’t hurt to just give more “visual evidence” of it to counteract the impression that some on the Trustee board apparently have that you are running out after meetings straight to your blog to tell “the real truth.” I think they may just feel like your blog gives the impression that any press coming through official IMB sources will now be in some way false or less than truthful.

Welcome them into your blog world. Let them know you are willing to help them join the dialogue.

Wade Burleson said...

A wise suggestion Dorcas.

Anonymous said...

Hey Wade,
Today I received this email. I have removed names and addresses so as not to implicate the sender in my passing this email on. What should I do?
What would you do?
Sincerely, this is not a set up... but highlights the problem of Landmarkism.
Steve

Dear Brethren,

I greet you in the precious name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ whom we serve. I trust this letter finds you in good health and in the joys of the Lord.

Please, come to (address) Philippines and rebaptizes all the members of the ("X") Church Planting Mission Team of the Philippine Mission of "X" Baptist Church, Incorporated and reordained us by the authority of your church and help us preach the gospel for one month in (address) Philippines on April 1-30, 2006. We rejected our errors in the doctrine of salvation by good works and adopted your doctrine by sovereign grace. And now:

"We believe that salvation is by the sovereign, electing grace of God, that by the appointment of the Father, Christ voluntarily suffered a vicarious, expiatory and propitiatory death, that justification is by faith alone in the all-sufficient sacriffice and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and that those whom God has effectually called shall be divinely preserved and finally perfected in the image of God."

We wanted our errors to be burried in water baptism when you come to Philippines and these will not be rememberred anymore nor mention in our preaching and teaching the word of God, but rather we will expose the doctrine of conditional election and the doctine of uneffectual calling that we espose before.

We feel that our baptisms were unscriptural and therefore null and void because the church which baptized us departed from the faith and lost its candlestick to be a New Testament Baptist church and did not endeavor to keep that faith of free and sovereign grace "once delivered to the saints" for which our forefathers have died and for which our brethren would reject us as strange and heretical. But let the undeniable voices of history attest--the doctrine of Christ's free and sovereign grace is the truth of God's word, and to the perpetuity of this eternal truth, we dedicate ourselves.

We are looking forward to hearing from you soon.

Brotherly,

Wade Burleson said...

Very interesting letter Steve. I appreciate your sensitivity in leaving out names.

I happen to believe in unconditional election and sovereign grace as well, as this brother in the Philippines obviously does too.

If I could speak to him I would say, "It is not your belief in election or sovereign grace that saves you, it is Christ. It is not doctrine that saves you, it is the person of Christ. Either your trust was in Christ when you your baptized initially or it was not. If your faith was in Christ for your salvation initially, it would be foolish for you to be rebaptized, because you would be distorting the meaning of baptism to show agreement with a set of doctrines and not identification with Jesus Christ. If you were not trusting Christ when you were initially baptized, then you were not a Christian in the first place and you would need to be baptized."

It is obvious to me that we need a great deal of work on our understanding of Christian baptism.

Dan Paden said...

I actually attempted to leave a link that some might find interesting--the blogger (a new one) has also been a trustee and very active in the convention, and I thought his words on the IMB's strategic error were worth reading. But it was really early in the morning and I fouled up the html. For those interested, the link is here.

art rogers said...

Wade,

I have been out of town and have been delayed in posting my opinion because of that. You have some good advice here and I won't overdo or repeat.

I do want to say that the implication from leadership is that your blog is hurtful to the IMB, thus violating the policy.

While I am sure it has been painful, that does not mean it has been hurtful to the IMB.

Exercise is painful, that's what keeps me away from it. It is, however very good for you, which is why the IMB can be healthy through this process and I maintain a pudgy belly.

There is also a serious principle at stake here. If they silence blogs, they are singling out internet communication above all other communication. It is problematic only in the sense that it is rapid and widespread. The issue, clearly, is control. I don't know how to address it, but outlawing blogs is censorship biased against the internet generation. If the SBC wants to continue to alienate young leaders and young members, then cutting off this line of communication and putting them back in the dark with a leadership they don't trust will do the trick, don't you think?

art rogers said...

I also want to address Dorcas' recommendation. I appreciate her eye for reconciliation, as I know that you do.

I disagree, though, that a group blog should be a compromise. In particular, the submission of entries to the group or leaders of the group cements the censorship while leaving the image of internet communication. I don't think this is acceptable to most of the young SBC. I know that I am not willing to accept it.

Dorcas said...

Art,

Actually I wasn't suggesting a group blog with submissions to one leader who gets to choose what to post. More just Wade and one other person giving a point and counter-point discussion.

Be that as it may, all human communication is censored to some extent or we couldn't live in civilized society together. I myself have friends who from time to time will read my blogs and say - "do you really think you want the world to be reading that?" It does not mean I live under a dictatorship, it just means I am open to wise counsel and a discerning eye.

So to say that Wade allow another voice into his blog isn't to make it something less than it is, only to add something to it so that we benefit even more from the blog form of communication.

Tad Thompson said...

Wade:

I do not think this policy constitutes an end to blogging. As a matter of fact, a blog is actually a great way to accomplish what this policy admonishes. You have been more than faithful to demonstrate your support fot the IMB and your concerns are for the IMB over and above the board of trustees. I find it interesting that using political means to undermine IMB leadership is somehow less offensive than a blog.

That being said, I do see how parties from the other side can interpret this policy in the way that they do.

Greg Hicks said...

On February 12, I sent the following request for information to the IMB trustees from my state (Georgia):

Dear IMB Georgia Trustees,

My name is Greg Hicks and I am writing to request information from you regarding the new IMB policy for missionary candidates enacted by the trustees in January 2006 and the recent decision to recommend that the Southern Baptist Convention remove Pastor Wade Burleson from his position of service as a trustee.

I have read Pastor Burleson's blog and have gained some idea of his concerns and actions.

I am also aware that there are at least two sides to every story. Because there is limited information in the press regarding the board's actions and the perspective of those who voted for the policy and/or to request the removal of Pastor Burleson, I would appreciate the opportunity to hear from you.

As a third generation Southern Baptist who has served in pastoral ministry since 1988 (1986 M. Div. graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary - currently serving as the Pastor of Discipleship and Ministry at Living Hope Baptist Church in Hiram, Georgia) I look forward to your response.


Thus far, I have received but one response:

I was not at the last meeting, but I have voted against both motions concerning baptism and tongues for scriptural reasons.

Continue to pray for our board.

Greg Hicks said...

And this was my response to the one trustee who responded to my request for more information:


Thank you for your response. Thus far, you are the only trustee who has responded to my request for information.

I am disappointed by the Board's decision to screen out well qualified candidates who love the Lord, believe the Bible, and are well within the mainstream of Southern Baptist life. The previous policies, which appear to have served us well, allowed folks who differ on the fine points of non-essential beliefs to cooperate together for the sake of the Gospel. Thus far, I have heard no rationale from the Board for the new policies, much less why they were needed.

Of greater concern to me, however, is the appearance that the Board is attempting to silence Pastor Burleson. I have deliberately sought out the perspective of all involved and my sense is that the request to the Convention to remove Pastor Burleson from the Board is based on the public posting of his views and perspective on the web. Without disclosure of information that would be harmful to our missionaries, he has simply shared his perspective so that Southern Baptists - upon whom our IMB missionaries depend for support - have opportunity to participate in the discussion regarding changes the Board has made.

1 Timothy 3:1-2 demands that Christian leaders must operate "above reproach;" the Board's position seems to be that they are "beyond reproach" - that they can act without accountability toward those they serve. I recently told a group of men in our church that as leaders we should live our lives in such a way that we would not be embarassed if what we do or say appears on the front page of tomorrow's paper. The Board seems to be managing the appearance in public of what they have done and said by punishing the publisher instead of explaining their actions.

While I simply disagree with the policy changes, I believe the Board's actions with respect to Pastor Burleson has eroded the trust necessary to lead.

I will continue to pray that this issue is resolved before the convention meets in June.

art rogers said...

Dorcas,

Thanks for clarifying your suggestion. I agree that a point counterpoint blog would be healthy and prudent.

Thanks also for visiting my blog. :) It's an honor.

Art

Anonymous said...

Isn't a shame that BP cannot give the whole story and that we have to go to ABP or Baptists Today to get "the rest of the story?"
Florence in KY

scott Goodson said...

Dear Wade,

What I get from the manual text that you quoted is that any trustee is to be a good P.R. person.Trustees are only to report back good P.R. to their churches. Your blog contains commentary that is not soley good P.R. for the board. Therefore, it follows that it is in violation.

When you signed on to be a trustee the assumption was/is that you will say things that keep the wheels turning without a squeak.

Check out the history of Community of Praise Baptist Church in Singapore. Look how the board severed ties with that excellent church. Today it is led by my fellow Baylor grad. Steve Findley and is a tremendous global witness for the Lord with no SBC connections.

The old saying, "wait on the Lord not the board" is not found in the bible but the principle is biblical.

warm regards, Scott Goodson

Rick said...

Wade -

Thank you for your blog. I believe it is the best PR the IMB has received in a long time. When has their ever been so much interest in the IMB, her trustees and their meetings. While some may say it is negative press, I would disagree. It seems to me that your blog has brought to the attention of many their need to be involved in the SBC and her processes. Your blog has in no way deterred me from supporting the IMB or our missionaries - but has actually challenged me to become more aware of the happenings in the convention and also to become more involved myself.

I agree that blogging is a relatively new phenomenon and I pray that the trustees would not ban the use of blogs as a means of disseminating information. I believe if they do, they will one day look back - and like the churches that banned the use of the piano in the 1800's - to ask themselves what were we so afraid of? I pray that the board will see the positives and realize that though there are some negatives - they are far outweighed. So many organizations are using blogs to garner support (I think of all the mention of blogs around the Republican and Democratic National Conventions - and the special press access that was given to certain bloggers - to further promote their cause). Why not make use of technology to involve the masses in our great Convention?

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