Today was a very interesting day for me in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I represent the entire constituency of the Southern Baptist Convention as a trustee, and I feel it is necessary for me to communicate with you some very specific thoughts regarding my good faith effort to continue working with ALL the trustees of the International Mission Board. There are FIVE important things I want the SBC to understand about my service on the IMB.
(1). I do not feel unreconciled, harbor any hard feelings, or dislike any single trustee of the International Mission Board.
My wife is with me here in Albuquerque, New Mexico and we have absolutely enjoyed the fellowship we have had in the hallways, meeting rooms, and around the dinner table with the trustees and missionary candidates of the IMB. I found the conversation to be enjoyable, the spirit to be warm, and the trustees in general to be some of the most wonderful people you would ever want to be around. Only a very small handful of trustees find it difficult to speak to me. But even among those who seem to harbor ill feelings I go out of my way to be friendly, try to get to know them better, and know I would enjoy their company and conversation as much as anyone elses if given the opportunity. In other words, I only look forward to working with every single trustee of the IMB and need no "reconciliation."
(2). Some trustees, according to Dr. Tom Hatley, are "hurt" by some things I have said on this blog, and want me to "repent" of what I have written.
All I can say is what I have already said many times on several fronts, including to the trustees as a whole, and on this blog that there are times when I have used words that have been too "militant" (i.e. "Crusading Conservatives vs. Cooperating Conservatives") and I have expressed regret for the tone of what I have said, but I stand by the content of what I said. My exact words, dated February 4, 2006 reads as follows:
In hindsight, I regret some of the word choices in that post ("Crusading Conservatives"). I stand by everything I said, and will never apologize for saying it, but I just wish I would have said it softer. The secular media and others pick out what they want, and rarely pay attention to the context of the words they choose to use. Anyone who has read all my other posts knows I have a love for all my Southern Baptist friends, even those with whom I disagree.
What else am I supposed to do? My words speak for themselves.
(3). According to Dr.Hatley, some trustees feel that if they voted for the new policies, they were unfairly branded by me as conspiratorial and out to get Dr. Rankin.
It is obvious that those trustees who believe that have not read my blog and only listened to what others have said about my blog. I have both written and stated on many occasions that there are just a few trustees who have sought to undermine and eventually remove Dr. Rankin. I stand by that. I can also prove that. Period.
If some trustees voted for the new policies out of conviction and absolutely had no clue how it would look to have the President of our missionary sending organization being disqualified himself to serve as a new missionary in the very organization over which he presides, then I don't know what to say. Shortsighted maybe? A lack of wisdom? (Nope, already said that). Maybe it is just that these trustees who love Dr. Rankin want to keep our convention "doctrinally pure." I have not given that as an option, so let me address that possibility.
These trustees who voted for the new policies but love Dr. Rankin might say . . .
"We love Jerry Rankin! We would NEVER do anything to "embarrass" or "hurt" Dr. Jerry Rankin, ever! Wade Burleson, we are angry with you that you would imply that we would be a part of a conspiracy to remove Dr. Rankin. We just want to keep the IMB doctrinally pure!!"
My answer: THAT IS THE PROBLEM!
We as trustees have NOT been called by our convention to establish doctrinal parameters for our missionaries that EXCEED the BFM 2000.
If we go beyond the BFM 2000 we then narrow the parameters of cooperation and in effect exclude from participation and cooperation some wonderful, godly, conservative evangelicals who abide by the BFM 2000, but don't interpret Scripture the way the majority of the trustees (at this moment in time) interpret Scripture.
By the way, I am grateful that the Executive Committee of the IMB is recommending that a blue ribbon panel, including people from outside the Board, take a fresh look at the appropriateness of the new policies. I have specifically chosen NOT to speak out against the new policies since the new rule prohibiting dissent, and this post is not criticising the new policies at all, it is simply trying to explain why some trustees may be "hurt" by my blog.
In short, I do apologize if some trustees feel broadbrushed with an allegation that they were part of a group of people out to remove Dr. Rankin. That particular group consisted of just about twelve people out of eighty nine trustees. That is very small number compared to the number of people who voted for the new policies.
(4). I have no desire to publicly embarrass any International Mission Board trustee or Southern Baptist leader with information that places them in a negative or bad light.
I believe we should work within the policies and procedures of the IMB to work through any problems we have as a Board. I was in the process of attempting to work with the people who were part of a problem within the Board by going to them privately when I was removed. It was unwise, unchristian, and an eggregious error in judgment to seek to remove me from the Board in the manner in which it was done. Many who voted to remove me had absolutely no clue what I was dealing with privately, and to this day do not know because I have chosen not to share it except with a select group of denominational leaders and three trustees of the IMB.
Of course, the Board has since unanimously voted, with the encouragement of the Chairman and Vice-Chairman, to rescind the recommendation for removal.
People have asked me dozens of time "Where is the apology for the attempt to remove you?"
My answer: Not every trustee who voted to remove me understood what was going on behind the scenes. Second, those who did want me gone for very obvious reasons made a huge mistake. I was prepared to do whatever it took to correct the problem even to the point of suffering personal embarrassment in order for change to occur---and in the Providence of God, the very act to remove me allowed the problem to begin being dealt with convention wide.
Further, in my love for my fellow trustees I have forgiven those who voted to remove me (remember not all voted to remove me, so it is silly in my judgement to seek to vacate the Board).
Prior to the vote for my removal, I asked three times to speak to the entire Board (I have the emails) regarding the problems we were facing as a Board (a small group driving an agenda contrary to administration and in violation of Board approved policy).
I was denied the opportuntiy to address the Board at that time. There is no need to do so now. As I have stated, the problems are being corrected in ways I never dreamed possible.
So, I look forward to continuing my service on the Board. I do not believe it is beneficial for the cause of missions or the gospel for us to focus as a Board on the problems of the past year. New leadership is being elected. New trustees are coming on. The small (let me emphasize this word again --- "SMALL") group seeking to subvert Dr. Rankin has lost their power.
It's time to let the Wade Burleson issue rest.
(5). Dr. Hatley will end his service as Chairman of the International Mission Board tomorrow by reading a statement regarding his final attempt at resolving "the Wade Burleson issue."
I do not know what will be in the statement. Dr. Hatley has the option of changing the wording or not issuing a statement at all.
Let me be clear that I believe Dr. Hatley would like to end his term bringing harmony and peace to the IMB trustees. I really believe him when he tells me this, and I frankly admire his desire.
I HAVE THE SAME DESIRE.
I propose we move forward. I propose we focus on missions. I propose we stop narrowing the parameters of cooperation beyond the BFM 2000. I propose we support Dr. Jerry Rankin. I propose we support New Directions. I propose we support our missionaries on the field. I propose we love each other with a Christian love. I propose we abide by every policy established by the Board. I propose we carefully evaluate the purpose of policies and always involve our staff in policy decisions. I propose we put the past behind us and move forward.
I have seven years left as a trustee of the IMB. I will do all the above.
This is my good faith effort to be the best possible trustee I can be for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. If the Chairman chooses to keep me off of committees in order to appease certain members of the Board, so be it. I am comfortable that I have done exactly what God called me to do --- nothing more, nothing less.
Let me close by reiterating my love for all my fellow trustees, and my excitement about the possibility working with each of them to SOLELY focus on our mission of evangelizing the world.
In His Grace,
Tomorrow's post will address my signing the BFM 2000 and the results of the election for the new Chairman of the Board.