Last year I was heartbroken over the passage of two new policies at the IMB, policies that I felt were extra-Biblical and went beyond the basis of our confessional fellowship --- the Baptist Faith and Message. What broke my heart was that people in the Southern Baptist Convention, faithful members of Southern Baptist churches --- commmitted, conservative and evangelical in every sense of those respective words --- were now being prohibited from Kingdom service in the Southern Baptist Convention because of these new policies.
Therefore I began a blog. I knew nothing about blogging, and in fact, I initially began the blog to communicate with some people for another reason, but the blog became the venue where I voiced my concern over the direction we were moving as a convention. I never violated any confidentiality policy of the IMB, never crossed any line of trustee guidelines as I blogged, and I always maintained a written respect and love for my fellow trustees. The one post that caused a stir "Crusading Conservatives vs. Cooperating Conservatives" -- being praised by many, but condemned by some -- was the post where I was accused of using too militant of language (words like crusadors, war, etc . . .).
When I was made aware of the offense of some with the language of that December 10th post, I immediately expressed regret and rewrote it using softer words, but changed none of the content. I stand by everything I have said. I simply felt that grassroots Southern Baptists needed to be aware of the narrowing of parameters of cooperation for missions among Southern Baptists and the narrowing of the definition of what it meant to be a "true" Southern Baptist.
The motion to remove me from the Board in January came as a complete shock. I could not believe it was happening, and if you read the blog posts from those days, you will discover that those were some very emotional times for me. I never dreamed I would be accused of "gossip" and "slander" and other choice things, and of course I adamantly denied all this and asked for proof --- which never came before the vote to remove me. It was mindboggling to me that some would take this action, particularly without ever coming to me personally as a Christian brother should do, and especially since I was never given the opportunity to defend anything I had written, but am fully prepared to do so.
There have been a very small number of trustees who have tried to say that the problem was not my blog, but my relationship with my fellow trustees. That is ridiculous. The only ones who say that are those who are the problem on the Board, because frankly, those who know me and have been with me know that I am only gracious, even to those who disagree with me. I buy their meals, I enjoy their company, and I truly enjoy them as people. However, I live by my convictions and principles and I will not change my mind simply because people want me to change. In addition, I never demand that people live by my convictions. There is room enough in the SBC for us to disagree over the non-essentials of the faith. In fact, that is why I am refusing to capitulate. The IMB should not be able to demand conformity on doctrinal matters that are not covered by the Baptist Faith and Message.
I must be shown from Scripture , or the entire Convention must vote to change the BFM before I will change my view and call something an "essential" of the faith. I can't "repent" of what I have because the previous sentence is the essence of what I am writing on my blog and I stand by it. This is where some have failed to understand my convictions. They are unable to prove from Scripture the very thing they are demanding me and others to believe. Sure, they may have a personal conviction about the issues, or sure, they may interpret Scripture a peculiar way, but we don't agree, and my argument is that we should fellowship with each other, and we should cooperate with each other, though we disagree on some of these "non-essentials" of the faith.
What is fascinating to me is how in six months things have come complete circle. I'm not sure anyone would have ever read my blog were it not for the effort to silence me. I'm not sure the concerns I have expressed would have ever been addressed had not some tried very hard to remove me. I'm not even sure Frank Page would have been elected President without the controversy.
Now, the five concerns I have for the IMB must be addressed and reported back to the SBC. If these issues of concern are dealt with internally, with proper checks and balances implemented to prevent future problems of a similar nature, then frankly the SBC will never need to know the details. This is a matter that should be dealt with internally by the trustees, but last year's leadership prevented that from happening by making some very poor decisions that drug my name, my family and my church through some extraordinarily difficult times.
It is now a new year. There are sixteen new trustees. There is a new Executive Committee of the IMB. Things will be different beginning at the IMB meeting this July in Richmond. I look forward to a trustee meetings where missions is the only thing discussed. An investigative committee should be appointed, one that contains people on it that have not been part of the problem, and the matter can be dealt with outside regular IMB business meetings. I trust this will happen.
Though this past year has not been easy, an incredible amount of needed change has occurred.
God works in mysterious ways.
In His Grace,