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

Rules for Preventing Dissension

On my wall hangs framed hand-written letters from A.W. Pink to my maternal grandfather, evangelist Fred Cherry, and my grandfather's responses to Mr. Pink. These letters are highly treasured by me, a gift from my grandmother, Virginia Cherry, and they are replete with wonderful instructions for pastors of any age, in any age.

For those of you unfamiliar with the life, ministry and writings of A.W. Pink, I would highly suggest Ian Murray's biography entitled "The Life of Arthur W. Pink." At the end of this highly readable account of Pink's life, Dr. Murray places an appendix with extracts from Pink's writings. I have read the book several times because of my grandfather's friendship with Mr. Pink, but I did not pay much attention to one of the excerpts until today, when a friend of mine pointed it out to me. On page 254 of Murray's biography of Pink there is an extract from Pink's writings entitled "Rules for Preventing Dissension."

I am posting the excerpt on today's blog as a fresh reminder to everyone that those who are causing dissent are those who violate the Biblical mandates from Romans 14. In other words, every Southern Baptist should take a long, hard look into his or her heart to see whether or not any of these following principles, derived straight from Scripture, are being broken.

Rules for Preventing Dissension

Teaching in Romans, chapter 14.

Under the new covenant there is no longer any distinction in the sight of God between different kinds of "meat" or sacred "days" set apart for religious exercise which obtained under the Jewish economy. Some of the early Christians perceived this clearly; others either did not or would not acknowledge such liberty.

This difference of opinion bred dissensions and disrupted fellowship. To remove this evil and to promote good, the apostle laid down certain rules which may be summed up as thus.

First, 'Let ever man be fully persuaded in his own mind' (v. 5) and not blindly swayed by the opinions or customs of others.

Second, 'Be not censorious or condemn those who differ from you' (v. 13).

Third, Be not occupied with mere trifles, but concentrate on the essentials (v. 17).

Fourth, Follow after those things which make for peace and mutual edification (v. 19) and quibble not over matters which are to no profit.

Fifth, Make not an ostentatious display of your liberty, nor exercise the same to the injury of others (vv. 19-21).

Would to God we as Southern Baptists, people who claim to believe in the authority of Scriptures, actually follow them when it comes to preventing dissension.

In His Grace,



Greg Cloud said...


Right on target. Why oh why, indeed.

I was reading a sociology book a few moments ago, one of the textbooks our university uses. In its section on religion, it had a very dim view of evangelical Christianity...for this very reason. We seemingly always have to have someone to put down. The gospel was given to lift up folks from sin, not cast them into condemnation.


tim rogers said...

Brother Wade,
I am a new comer to bloging and would ask that you forgive me in advance if I refer to something that you have already covered. However through all of the issues with the IMB and now the Memphis Declaration it seems to me to be a quesiton that needs to be answered.
If God would have made these writing by Bro. Pink accessable to you before September 2005 would you have blogged the IMB meetings? Would there have been the issue with the IMB if you were not bloging? Would Memphis have come about if you were not bloging?
I know this is 3 questions, but please forgive me.

Wade Burleson said...


Good questions.

(1). I blogged about the IMB initially because I felt minor, non-essential issues were becoming major focal points to determine fellowship and cooperation.

(2). The issue of the narrowing of parameters of cooperation and excluding good, conservative people from serving on the mission field, like our very own Dr. Jerry Rankin, was, and continues to be an issue whether I blog about it or not. I only brought it to light through the blog. In other words, the issue is not the exposure of the problem, the problem is the problem.

(3). The Memphis Summit and the Memphis Declaration is a good thing. It would not have been needed if there were no need for a course correction in the SBC.

tim rogers said...

Brother I do appreciate your openess and honesty. It is a breath of fresh air when conversing with someone that does not know me.
I do understand what comes across as your honest desire to present to the SBC people the hidden agenda's on the boards. I also believe that we should do all that we can to avoid dissensions. I bleive that I need to ask the question; Are our leaders so closed that they will not sit down and dialog with a group like met in Memphis and do what we can to keep the dissension from reaching a climactic point? From what I see posted on blogs there are two trains on the same track trying to get to the same desitination before the other. There is certainly going to be a derailing of one or the other.
I am in NC and only about 30 minutes from Greensboro. I can offer my sanctuary for a group less than 200 if that would be helpful to sit down with our leaders and do what we can to remove the air of paranoia.

yes2truth said...


Of late I have been reading rather than posting and trying to understand this blog and it's purpose.

If I were recently Born Again and a Spiritual babe and having stumbled across this blog, what would I be learning or deducing about the Kingdom of God from the post content here and in the other recent threads?

I think we need to get back to basics and understand that the first century church was non heirarchical. It was egalitarian in make up. There were no pecking orders nor any organisations 'in charge' just local churches which formed the Church of God as a whole.

The system of the Nicolaitanes (heirarchies) Revelation 2 is something The Lord hates.

There were elders (Spritually mature members) who were overseers not leaders. Those who had the gift of teaching - taught.

Shepherds care for their flocks by protecting them, but they don't teach the sheep how to eat grass!

My advice therefore is to disband your unnecessary bureaucratic organisations and let the brethren get on with it. In turn this will save you all a lot of hassle and argument and at the same time less shame on Jesus Christ's name.


Tom Bryant said...

I often think that what is biblical practice for the local church - as in Rome - would be the right practices in our convention.

I hadn't read Pink in a long time. Thanks.

CB Scott said...


The meeting may not have been in Memphis. It may have been some other place. A meeting like the Memphis Summit would have occured sooner or later.

The fact that it happened in Memphis had to do with geography. The fact that Wade was there was a blessing to the other twenty-nine of us that were present. I believe I can get an A-men to that statement from all that were with us in the Wyndham Garden Hotel on May 2-3, 2006.


Anonymous said...

May I suggest that we all meditate on Dr. Pink's admonitions for a long time. After we do that, we should find all of the verses in the New Testament that say "one another" and meditate on those.


Bob Cleveland said...

Wow. Wish I'd said that.

My best friend is a fellow church-member who is about as different from me as can be. He worked in a steel mill all his life; I'm a career insurance professional.

He's skinny and I'm fat. And the list goes on.

We're both just believers. We both have a "prayer languge". But he's much more of the "Word of Faith" sort, and believes in the right of believers to expect physical healing, etc. I don't. And there are other similar things on which we differ.

Neither of us give a flip. If I had a real, hardcore need, day or night, local or thousands of miles away, I'd call him. And I know he'd call me.

He's just my best friend. We love Jesus (our wives are great friends too).

The rest doesn't matter.

That's simply our choice.


brad reynolds said...

Perhaps you can answer this with two words. In your response to Tim are you saying that the disagreements you have with other IMB trustees essentials we should concentrate on according to your advice (via Pink)? And, the need for a course correction (in your words (and mind)) and the problems as you see them at the IMB supercede the peace you advise?

PS – Thanks for the way you handle your Blog. I appreciate it in light of what is posted on other Blogs

Wade Burleson said...




brad reynolds said...

When autonomic churches cooperate there is a need for some organization (bureaucracy) but you’re right in implying it should not detract our mission.
I know Blogs are a concern for many, but I’m confident they will not stop. You are right to imply we should use our time, perhaps, more wisely – I am speaking of myself

Clif Cummings said...

As the age old saying goes: "Brother, that will preach!" But even as I wrote those words the Holy Spirit reminded me of Paul's words in Philippians 4:9 "What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me --- practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you."

Unfortunately, that is exactly what so many of our members are doing: they are practicing what they have learned and received and heard and seen in too many of us!"
I repent! May I be a person who pursues preventing dissension and not be found promoting it!

By HIS Grace, ALONE.

Bob Cleveland said...

One other thought about conflict:

Our pastor has said "It's never right to do wrong, to do right".

In other words, motives and methods must be biblical, regardless of the outcome (which is up to God, anyway).

We don't do anyone any favors by letting ungodly behavior or tactics continue unchallenged, regardess of perceived "results".

There'll be "payday someday". I really don't want to hear Jesus ask me why I didn't speak up.

Ron West said...

For Brad Reynolds:

I hope this does not violate any rules on dissent and in fact I am not sure if this is dissent or just a seeking of clarification. In a previous blog titled Memphis Declaration and Public Repentance you made that statement that you had an OT professor at one of our SB seminaries who stated that the miracles of the Bible were fictional. This would mean he believed the virgin birth, resurrection and ascension of Jesus were fictional as well as all the miracles of the OT associated with Moses, Ezekiel and the other prophets. I wonder if those were his exact words or your interpretation of his words. Would you give me the name of the seminary, the year and the name of the professor you refer to? I would like to contact him if possible and see if this is what he believes. Leaving this open ended as you have done could be considered gossip and also places all professors who teach OT in our seminaries under a cloud of suspicion. I would certainly say this professor should not have been allowed to continue to teach if what you say is true.

Since you said you were in your mid 30s, I assume that you were in seminary in the last 15 years when the conservative resurgence organization had long been in control of each of our seminaries. This would imply they had accepted these teachings.

I guess the reason this concerns me so much is that it is so opposite of my experience in seminary. I attended Southwestern in the 70s and 80s when Robert Naylor and Russell Dilday were presidents. Every teacher I had at that time daily affirmed the authority and truthfulness of scripture. They did this not only by word but by deed. I do not believe Dr. Naylor or Dr. Dilday would have permitted a teacher to continue who taught that all the miracles of the Bible were fictional. It seems that your testimony is that our seminaries have become more liberal under conservative resurgence control. Please clear this up.

LivingDust said...

The SBC, IMB and NAMB are "cooperative" bodies, but thankfully they are NOT the church.

No entity populated by ravenous wolves who thrive on infighting, hidden agendas, political power plays and outright worldliness could be the church.

No entity that requires Christian people to sign a statement of belief or be pulled from there calling could be the church.

No entity that HARMS the cause of Christ by public, distasteful, acrimonious fueding for 25 years could be truthfully described as the church.

Brother Wade, I hope and pray that in Greensboro, God will flush out the wolves amongst His sheep, convict people of their poor, wretched condition and genuine repentance will occur.

Oh yes we need dissension and oh yes we need to repent.

Anonymous said...

It is hard to have it both ways. Now that damage is done. Dissent is openness when we want to get our point across....and openness is dissent and kindly mean spirited when someone differs with us.And, when leaders are selected behind mostly closed doors. Could God choose His Man in an open convention? wayne

Greg Cloud said...


Your comment here is well stated. I, in fact, agree with you.

I think of pastoring far more like being the flock bellwether than authoritative dictator/shepherd. There is only one Shepherd to the flock. I'm supposed to follow the Shepherd, and then the flock follows me as I lead by example. He knows where the flock is by the bell around my neck, whether I'm right there with Him, or leading the others astray.

Good points about hierarchies, too. Temporal power corrupts, and absolute temporal power corrupts absolutely. I wish we could mix more faith in God's provision in with our boasting about what the SBC boards have done. And we refer to missionaries as salaried employees....oh me.

If our boards are so great, why is the US one of the world's largest mission fields? I have met with missionaries to the United States from Australia and the UK. This with 16 million SBCr's in this country? We're not doing something right. Time to get back to King Jesus and find out what.

Thanks, Y2T, for the thought provocation this morning...


brad reynolds said...

Great question. And please allow me to clear it up. The professor I had actually taught in 1992 at SEBTS, for obvious reasons I will not use his name, and he has passed.

I know of none, and I mean NONE who teach at our seminaries currently who would dare believe such heresy (a testimony to the conservative resurgence).

I had this gentleman in class, and he was a gentleman and as a person very liked by students including myself, but that did not blind me to his clarity about his naturalistic worldview. He did not specifically mention any doubts about Jesus, in class, because he taught OT. But he certainly denied all the supernatural miracles in the Pentateuch and explained them away as fictional stories and illustrations to teach us moral lessons, or how it could appear to be a supernatural event to those present (a bush appeared to be burning without being consumed but was actually being consumed). For the sake of clearing this matter and for consideration for the life of one who has passed I have shared this but will not go further.

Hope this helps.

brad reynolds said...


I agree with statemente 1 and 3 about what could not be considered as a church, but concerning statement 2 on another forum for those who hold to a Calvinist doctrine of salvation some pastors have spoken of requiring in their "church" "Christian people to sign" a covenant which I would assume includes some doctrine.

Anonymous said...

brad reynolds
I agree with statemente 1 and 3 about what could not be considered as a church, but concerning statement 2 on another forum for those who hold to a Calvinist doctrine of salvation some pastors have spoken of requiring in their "church" "Christian people to sign" a covenant which I would assume includes some doctrine.

Brad wasn’t the same thing done to the missionaries that were required to sign the BF&M 2000 Document or be fired?

LivingDust said...


I suppose that some folks, despite their seminary education and knowledge of God's Word and even while executing their pastoral duties, walk in the flesh, not in the Spirit.

Perhaps their passion for theological conformity has blossomed into sin and drives them to consider asking brothers and sisters in Christ to sign such doctrinal statements.

Jesus counsels some to buy three things from Him:
Refined gold
White clothes
Salve for their eyes



brad reynolds said...

Yes, the SBC voted two consecutive years, overwhelmingly, to affirm the BF&M 2000 and yes those it employs should conform to the conventions stand or not receive funds from the convention. But the convention is not a church, even though I do not disagree necessarily with churches having membership covenants.

I do not know, nor do I want to "suppose," nor do I want to theorize about what others do. I have a full plate guarding my own heart and caring for brothers I do know, and fulfilling my responsibilities to care for organizations for which I am a part.

Anonymous said...

is this brad reynold's blog or Grace and Truth to You by Wade Burleson? :) I am beginning to wonder:) :)

Ron West said...

Thanks for clearing that up. I was having trouble with the thought that Lewis Drummond, Russ Bush and Paige Patterson were allowing a professor to teach that the miracles at least in the OT were fictional but if so it confirms what I have been thinking. The SBC is more conservative politically today and less conservative theologically than it was 20 years ago.

Of course, if my memory serves me correctly in the original Criswell Study Bible edited by Paige Patterson similar statements were made about OT miracles.

brad reynolds said...

You did make an excellent point about this being Wade's Blog and I honestly believe that no one really cares what this pastor of a small church in Virginia believes, but I think many wonder what Wade believes and so in light of the questions on the missionaries and the BFM2K perhaps Wade can help us. Wade, as one who is being asked by many to allow your name to be placed in nomination for President and as one who has become a leader of many, your thoughts on this would be appreciated.

1. Do you agree with the BFM2K?
2. Do you believe the convention was right in asking its employees (including missionaries) to affirm it?

CharlieMac said...

Y2T and Greg,
We often fail to "read between the lines" when reading scripture. Otherwise how can you say there was no pecking order or hierarchy in the first century church? Peter, James, and John were the recognized leaders. Then Paul came a long and began "planting" non-Jewish churches. They even had a "Jerusalem" conference to attempt to settle differences. Paul encountered disagreement everywhere he went on a large number of subjects about how to "run" a church. And on top of all this internal "political" dissention, they had persecution from secular political powers. So I suggest the life of the first century church was not so different to our experiences today.

Anonymous said...

I think it is ridiculous to expect a person to sign the BF&M Y2K just b/c the convention voted on it twice. If those people who were asked to sign it joined the convention under a previous BF&M, their beliefs aren't going to change just b/c the convention decided to "change the rules" after they were already in! "We voted on it, so you have to believe it."

tim rogers said...

You may remember the BFM2K went to the heart of the belief that the Bible and Jesus were different. John 1:1 tells us who Jesus is, was, and forever will be. The BFM63 left open the door for you to interpret scripture any way you "felt". The BFM2K makes it clear that you interpret scripture with scripture.

brad reynolds said...

I hope I have alleviated your concerns about the theological conservatism. The liberalism that was taught before the resurgence is no longer taught (A tribute to God and his use of men like Dr. Mohler). And concerning the men you mentioned allowing a professor to teach who denied the miracles of the OT, to my knowledge Dr. Patterson did not fire one professor of the old guard at SEBTS (a testimony to his grace), although as a student I was glad many chose to leave. Furthermore, many of the old guard professors refused to let us tape classes.

And I think your memory serves you incorrectly; see the note on Jonah and the whale in the Criswell Study Bible.

Greg Cloud said...


Scripture stands on its own merit..."reading between the lines" can get you into trouble. I'd rather not read more into interpretation than is already there.

Y2T's position comes from a word study of the term "Nicolaitan". This is a compound word--> 'Nico' in Greek meaning to conquer, 'laos' meaning the people or laity. Thus, 'to conquer the people', which many take to mean Nicolaitanism means a hierarchial system by which man or men take over the church from the leadership of the Holy Spirit. I think that this is a valid--but non-essential--doctrinal point.



Anonymous said...


We're all waiting. Can you answer Brad's last questions concerning your thoughts on the BFM2K and the signing of it by IMB missionaries?

Anonymous said...

This IMB M was proud to sign the BFM2K! Not only does it set Jesus apart as the one and only, but it also addresses the importance of family (the building blocks of healthy communities)and it puts to rest the issue of women pastors.

Anonymous said...

Rules for preventing dissension have been discussed in length, but rules for starting dissension have not been discussed. In fact, the slant seems to be those rules would be of the devil.
Webster—“Dissension: To differ in opinion; to disagree.”
Jesus practiced dissension more than anyone in the world and he was killed for it. Did he break rules of Romans 14 when he called men, “You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you…You hypocrites-- murderers—Only an evil, faithless nation…” Even to a friend he said, “Get away from me, you Satan!”
Not to criticize Wade’s blog, but I think we would agree that some of what Jesus said would not be allowed on it. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem the city that murders the prophets. The city that stones those sent to help her.”
O SBC, SBC the convention that fires her missionaries. The convention that refutes some who God has sent to help her.

Yes! We need a new direction. Not just a 30 degree, but a 180 degree. It was stupid of me to suggest we go back to the BFM63. That would embarrass too many. That much repentance would never happen. But if there was a leader like Wade, a BFM06 might not be a creed and once again all Southern Baptist would be treated as brothers in bonding in the glue of MISSIONS.
Rex Ray

Anonymous said...

To anonymous,
You write, “We’re all waiting.”
This “We” business was written to me on another post and I indicated he had a mouse in his pocket. I think this ‘anonymous’ has a mouse and it may be the same mouse.

Anonymous continues: “Can you answer Brad’s last questions concerning your thoughts on the BFM2K and the signing of it by IMB missionaries?”

Now it wouldn’t do for the next post to be a missionary complaining about the BFM 2000 as many have done. (Over 100 forced to forsake their call from God, and fifteen were fired.)

So guess what? The next comment just happens to be from an IMB missionary praising the BFM 2000. (That mouse is starting to smell like a rat.) They write, “This IMB M was proud to sign the BFM2K! Not only does it set Jesus apart as the one and only, but it also addresses the importance of family (the building blocks of healthy communities) and it puts to rest the issue of women pastors.”

This was a missionary writing??? A missionary asked me, “If I just preach the Gospel, am I a Moderate or a Conservative? This summary of the BFM 2000 was done by a doctrinal expert. (Luke 11:52) “Woe to you experts in religion!” Another clue is the way BFM 2000 is spelled—just like the post above it. “Puts to rest the issue of women pastors.” Missionaries are not worried about women pastors. Of the 13 trips I’ve made to Japan, missionaries were happy to work with any Christian pastors—men or women.

These two post are an example of “the end justifies the means.’ Truth is out the window as long as they get what they think is right. What does this someone want? They want to trap Wade into saying something that can be used against him if he decides to run for president.
Rex Ray

brad reynolds said...

As God is my witness I have no desire to trap Wade, but simply to know his position, if he disagrees with me on BFM2K or inerrancy and liberals then I would have concern for him both as a Christian brother and as a Trustee for one of our institutions.

As a heads up, you may get a call soon from one of the thirty signers of the Memphis Declaration, I take them at their word and think they may see your references to me being a mouse or rat or fish at odds with declaration 5 (an excellent statement, by the way), although I have been and surely will be called much worse.

Wade Burleson said...


Where are you called these things? I would be happy to delete the comment. I'm sorry if it slipped through.

Anonymous said...

To yes2truth,
Hey! Long time no see. I had questioned your saying there was no bad doctrine in the early church. Even asked you if Paul’s life was in danger from Christians in Acts 21:21-22.
Soooooo? You said you would study up and get back with me. What happened?
It’s 10 days later and you’re still beating the same old drum—no problems in the early church—non hierarchical—no pecking orders.

How’s this for pecking orders: (Acts 15:13, 19) “Brothers listen to me! My judgment is…” This speaker was the most respected man in Israel. His nick-name was ‘The Just.’ Even the Pharisees said, “We and all the people should obey thee.” (Fox’s Book of Martyrs)

How could Peter and Paul object to his judgment over a thirty minute standing ovation by the multitude for rescuing their laws that Peter had thrown out the window?

I like your conclusion but don’t base it on the early church. Their differences were worse than ours.
Rex Ray

pad said...

Pink is one of my favorite Christian thinkers because often one must unpact every sentence and when you do you discover something profound that acutally makes sense and harmonizes the scriptures. More importantly, truth can actually change one's thinking, and thus impact not only behavior but also how victoriously one lives. Freedom.

Not so with most, if not all of todays Christian writers. Pink was (among other historic theologians of the past) responsibile for leading me back to Reformed Theology and the Gospel of the Grace of Jesus. It brought me to deep repentance.

Thanks to some of his writings and the scriptural basis he made for his beliefs (hermaneutics), my eyes and ears opened and my own beliefs were challenged.

Over many years, the Lord lead me deeply into the Word...it is there that I found many teachings of SBC are scriptually unsound and after seeing that I realized why their methods did not engage the power Holy Spirit in a broad sense. (And that is the problem with most all denominations.)

It is in fact methods: "nickles & noses," "build it and they will come," "salvation by man - if you don't do it God can't do anything on earth," (UGH) "human accountability," "those that live godly will prosper," "divide and grow" (divide and die). It is why churches hire PR firms have fund raiser campaigns. It is why preachers get doctorates without being taught uniquely by the Holy Spirit and their ministry brings no one to spiritual maturity rehashing someone elses sermons and thoughts.

Thank you Pink...for I am finally free of denominationalism.

(Except for our daughter, we all hold degrees from Baylor University. I am profoundly sad what has happened to our university. It is no longer a priority to hire Christian professors - indicative of the gangrene that is present in the leadership and majority of professors. A professor friend of mine boasted well ,,,"what other university would allow me to stand before my class and say 'I am praying for you all today.'" And that is something to be proud of? You won't post this either will you ... so this is for you.)