I have a pastor friend by the name of Chuck Andrews who has gently taken to task a couple of IMB trustees, one who remains anonymous, that Pastor Andrews feels have disparaged me by stating publicly "From (Wade Burleson's) first IMB meeting it has seemed as if trustee Burleson has had an agenda to hurl himself into the national limelight regardless of the consequences.”
My wife and I really appreciated Chuck jumping to my defense. It has been said, "any lie, frequently repeated, will gradually gain acceptance," and since Chuck and his wife Stella know us, Chuck's challenge of the trustees assertion is particularly helpful. Pastor Andrews concluded his rebuttal by writing "the 'Wade Burleson Issue' is much more about the “issues” than about 'Wade Burleson.'"
Thanks Chuck. You hit the nail on the head.
The Issue for Me
I have absolutely no desire to hold office at the SBC level. Zilch. I did not seek to serve as a trustee of the IMB, but due to many family members and church members that are serving on the mission field through the Southern Baptist Convention, I felt to decline the invitation to serve would be like letting go of a lifeline attached to my loved ones. So I agreed to serve.
I did not come to the International Mission Board in a spiritual vacuum. Though I have not been involved in national service since 1995 when I served as Chairman of the Denominational Calendar Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, I kept up with the direction we have been moving by attending conventions when possible and keeping informed through various publications.
I have been concerned for the last decade that we as conservative, evangelical Southern Baptists have been moving AWAY from the simplicity and power of Biblical Christianity to a Westernized version of a surface morality that looks far more like the Pharisees of Jesus day than Christ's disciples.
There have been a progression of events in the SBC that has aroused this concern in my heart. The boycott of Disney, the withdrawal of participation in evangelical alliances, the overemphasis on national politics, the often anti-reformed rants by a handful of "leaders" of the SBC, and the continuing insistence by some to label evangelical conservatives "liberal" simply because they do not conform to a very specific, narrow ideology and morality.
Please understand. I am not asking for Southern Baptists to ever compromise on our view on the person and work Jesus Christ, the sacred text, salvation by grace through faith, the Trinity, or any other essential doctrine of hte faith. However, I am asking for Southern Baptists to recognize that tolerance WITHIN the conservative, evangelical parameters of the Baptist Faith and Message is absolutely necessary for the Southern Baptist Convention to thrive!
An Illustration from History
When the Protestant Reformation began, its aim was to reform the Church. However, the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestants ended up at literal war with each other. During the Wars of Religion in the sixteenth century and the Thirty Years War of the seventeenth century, neither Catholics nor Protestants succeeded in bringing each other to their knees. The outcome of this stalemate was the doctrine of cuius regio eius religio - or interpreted from the Latin, "he who is the ruler, his the religion."
It would seem to me that there has been within the SBC over the half century a "religious war" between liberals and fundamentalists dissimilar to the wars of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in that blood has not been shed, but similar in that the outcome may be the same --- cuius regio ius religio.
In 1974 Broadman Press published Jimmy Draper's book "The Church Christ Approves." This beloved pastor and statesman, who in the 1970's pastored the First Southern Baptist Church, Del City, Oklahoma, made this startling statement in his book:
"Fundamentalism is more dangerous than liberalism because everything is done in the name of the Lord, in the name of the Lord, the fundamentalist condemns all who disagree with him... he uses the Bible as a club with which to beat people over the head, rather than a means of personal strength and a revealer of God. To the fundamentalist, the test of fellowship is correct doctrine. If you do not agree with his doctrinal position, he writes you off and will not have fellowship with you.
There is no room in his world for those who have a different persuasion. He feels threatened by diverse convictions and writes them off as sinister and heretical. As long as you support his position, he is with you. Cross him, and he has no use whatever for you... the fundamentalist tactic is simple: hatred, bitterness and condemnation of all whom they despise... in the name of the Lord they will launch vehement attacks on individuals and churches, in the name of the Lord they attempt to assassinate the character of those whom they oppose, they direct their attack most often on other Christian leaders with whom they find disagreement....
Lessons I Have Learned
I have pastored Emmanuel Baptist Church, Enid, Oklahoma for fifteen years. We have an incredible church. There is a love for Scripture among the people. We teach, live and breath grace. The people are VERY mission minded. We practice loving church discipline for violations of Biblical commands, but we are very careful that we do not demand conformity on the personal convictions of some. The fellowship is sweet. The gospel drives all we do. Lives are changed through the ministries of the people of Emmanuel.
I have learned that the convention is not where we are as a church --- yet.
What drives me as a trustee of the International Mission Board is the belief that we must draw a line in the sand and stop narrowing the definition of what makes a "true" Southern Baptist. We must stop narrowing the parameters of cooperation in missions and evangelism by EXCLUDING PEOPLE who, according to Dr. Draper, do not agree with the doctrinal positions of those in leadership, yet affirm the Baptist Faith and Message.
To close this post allow me to ask a question. In your opinion, is the pastor described below a true Southern Baptist?
1. He believes in the deity of Jesus Christ.
2. He believes in the Triune God --- Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
3. He believes in the sacrificial atonement of Jesus Christ for sinners.
4. He believes in the physical resurrection of Christ from the tomb.
5. He believes in salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
6. He himself has professed his belief in Christ as Lord through believer's baptism by immersion.
7. He has been a member of a Southern Baptist Church for the past thirty four years.
8. He affirms the Baptist Faith and Message.
9. He is an amillenialist and does not accept the premise of the "Left Behind Series."
10. He believes that God has chosen to save a definite number of sinners, called the elect, through the person and work of His Son.
11. He does not believe that the Bible teachings drinking an alchoholic beverage is a sin, but rather, the Christian is to abstain from drunkenness.
12. He and his church accept people into fellowship who have been baptized by immersion after having come to faith in Christ, regardless of the credentials of the person who baptized them.
13. He does not see the Bible forbidding anyone speaking in tongues privately, and if spoken publicly he believes there are several clear Biblical restrictions, but he himself does not have the gift.
14. He is more concerned with the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ and seeing lives changed one by one rather than speaking out against the "evils" of society.
Again, can the pastor described above be considered a true Southern Baptist?
In His Grace,