I have prayerfully considered whether or not to post what I am about to write, but events of the last two days have led me to the belief that it is necessary. I have claimed that there were outside influences at work within the International Mission Board these past few years that have hindered the IMB President and staff from implementing their vision to fulfill the mandate to be the missionary arm of the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention.
I have details regarding these outside influences that I have kept private for several months, following at every turn the instructions of trustee leadership to resolve the problem, and when those doors closed, I presented a motion to the SBC. The longer time goes by I see that certain trustees (by no means all, and in fact, it is a DECREASING number) will do everything in their power to discredit me.
One of the attempts to discredit me is a repeated effort by former Chairman Tom Hatley to say I am violating confidentiality and putting missionaries "in harm's way" and thus, I should not be in on "confidential trustee meetings." See the Article in the Florida Witness. I find this charge ludicrous and absurd, but consistent with the pattern of certain leaders making allegations against me without providing one iota of evidence, but simply saying to the Board, "Trust us."
There has not been ONE post removed from this blog since its beginning in December. I challenge anyone to find one sentence that puts missionaries in harm's way or in any way violates IMB confidentiality.
A Real Violation of Confidentiality and a Breach of Christian Ethics
Dr. Curtis Sergeant is the Missions Pastor for Saddleback Community Church, the largest Southern Baptist Church in our Convention. Before Dr. Sergeant took his position with Saddleback he served as an Associate Vice President for the International Mission Board, resigning in 2004.
Dr. Sergeant loves the IMB and believes our potential is unlimited. However, he faced intense opposition from a missions professor at one of our Seminaries and a President from another of our Southern Baptist Seminaries. These two joined forces with a small group of trustees in an orchestrated attempt to find "heresy" in the teaching of Dr. Curtis Sergeant regarding the gifts, ecclesiology and women in ministry. Seminary students being trained under Dr. Sergeant in the 2 + 2 Program were told to write down what they heard taught, to forward it to their seminary professor, and he would deal with it. The way the professor dealt with it was to provide the information to trustees, one of whom then, according to Dr. Sergeant, very accusingly and angrily, confronted Dr. Sergeant. It would seem that for all our talk of folowing Matthew 18, we are teaching our students just the opposite.
Nevertheless, Dr. Sergeant spent valuable time going back through the video tape sessions to "prove" he was not a heretic, time that should have been spent focusing on missions.
But the coup de'Etat was what happened next.
Dr. Sergeant had written his dissertation, but due to the sensitive nature of what he had written, he signed a covenant with the Seminary that his dissertation be restricted. In other words, nobody could obtain a copy of his dissertation without his explicit approval. In the appendix there were statements that would compromise the identity and work of many of our most successful missionaries in a very dangerous part of the world.
That dissertation was obtained by the Seminary President's direct order, against the wishes of Dr. Sergeant, but more importantly CONTRARY TO HIS KNOWLEDGE, and copies were made and distributed in order for people to find "charismatic and ecclesiological heresy." This act ignored a legal contract, became a breach of Christian ethics, and was a very substantive violation of professional confidentiality.
All in the name of purifying the IMB.
Soon afterwards the process for the new policies on tongues and baptism began its journey down the trustee pipeline. Most people know the rest of the story.
This is just one example of a multitude of stories that could be told. I only tell this one because I have explicit permission from Dr. Sergeant and it helps clarify that if you have an allegation of a breach of confidentiality, you better be prepared to prove it. Otherwise, it is simply an unwarranted attack to discredit a brother.
Personal Character Attacks Are Attempts to Confuse the Issue
For too long there has been a culture in the Southern Baptist Convention that if you did not agree with a certain interpretation of Scripture then you were not a "true" Southern Baptist. I have attempted to prevent the IMB from sliding down the slippery slope of a narrow, isolated view of the Word of God that excludes conservative evangelicals who disagree over interprations of the sacred text on minor doctrines from participating in missions.
This struggle for the soul of the Southern Baptist Convention is not for the weak of heart.
All I ask from you is simply this: Listen carefully to what is being said. The issues before us are important for they will help establish the course of the Southern Baptist Convention for decades to come.
The Chairman and Instructions to Wade Burleson
In the same article in which Dr. Hatley says I put missionaries in harm's way, Dr. Floyd says "Burleson has already been instructed on what needs to be done for him to have a productive input in relationship with the board of trustees and the ball’s in his court as to what he wants to do."
The instruction I have been given is to apologize to the Board for the "content" of my blog.
I told Dr. Floyd that since I was prepared to defend every last word I have written, and since I have refused to apologize for the content of my blog from the beginning, and since the recommendation for my removal was unanimously rescinded WITHOUT an apology from me, then why in the world would I apologize now?
I have assured Dr. Floyd that I will continue to build relationships with my fellow trustees, sharing breakfast and dinner with them, seeking to learn about their ministries and their families, and giving everyone the benefit of the doubt regarding the past.
However, I will do everything in my power to ensure that the IMB administration and missionaries, whoever they may be, are free to fulfill the mission for which we hired them, free from outside influence.
In His Grace,