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

We Must Not Be Sidetracked from the Issues

The SBC is a wonderful convention where independent, autonomous churches cooperate with each other for the purpose of world missions and evangelism.

The ability to cooperate with each other is dependent upon our willingness to accept each other in spite of our differences.

I personally affirm the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 --- every jot and tittle. I have signed the BFM 2000 for my service on the IMB.

My concern for the Southern Baptist Convention has been twofold:

(1). Though the BFM 2000 states "the sole authority for faith and practice among Baptists is the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments" (and the BFM) "has no authority over the conscience," any one who expresses disagreement with the interpretation of any of the handful of seond or third tier doctrines placed in the BFM are excluded from SBC service. Southern Baptist confessions should contain only first tier doctrines, and just a few, important second tier doctrines that make us distintively Baptist, but avoid third tier doctrines in order that we might rally around the good news as Baptists and put our differences in individual churches aside.

The greater concern however, is,

(2). There is a movement by some within the SBC to narrow the parameters of cooperation within the SBC by demanding agency employees conform to a particular interpretation of third tier doctrines that are not addressed by the BFM. As a result, some conservative Southern Baptists, who affirm the BFM 2000, are now being shut out from service.

The question then must be raised --- "Who is establishing the doctrinal requisites for the agencies of the Southern Baptist Convention?"

Obviously, the answer should be -- "The Convention by the adoption of the BFM 2000."

But if there are doctrinal requisites for employment at a particular agency that move beyond the BFM, where did they originate, for what purpose were they implemented, and who is responsible?

That's the issue.


The Attempts to Distract


There are some who are now attempting to distract from the issue at hand. They are attempting to make this very personal.

The Scripture says that a soft answer turns away wrath. I desire to be soft with my fellow Southern Baptists, and with the Lord's help, I will be. I would ask that you pray for me. The following are just a handful of comments left in the last three days on various blogs that seem to have the purpose of distraction.

(Comments from Terrence on Brad Reynold's Blog)

What brand of wine do you prefer for visitation? I understand that your companion Ben prefers mixed drinks. I simply wanted to know if you preferred MD 20/20 or Boones Farm?

(Comment from Jim Henry to Wayne on Reynold's Blog)

Are you serious? If you are then you are a bigger kook than Wade. May God have mercy on you

(Comment to Jeremy Green from Anonymous in Oakdale on Reynold's blog)

You asked several questions concerning the signers of the Memphis Declaration and their beliefs. From reading the thousands of words spilled on these blogs, it is evident that they are only interested in defending the use of alcohol. I wonder if homosexuality is next on thier agenda?

What say ye Wade? If homosexual activity permissible as long as it is done in moderation?


(Comment from Volfan007 to Brad Reynolds)

It's hard for me to understand a certain bloggers whining and crying and calling for unity...and he joins with these same type people, and then he calls himself a conservative. i am sorry, but the tent can only be so broad before it breaks.


(Comment from HarveytheRabbit to Brad Reynolds)

It appears to me that the alcohol issue and trustee issue may just be the tip of the iceberg. It seems that these alcohol bibbing, women pastor promoting, charismatic liberals are now upset with Dr. Frank Page .

What if Wade and his cohorts intend to overthrow Dr. Page and run McKissic for SBC President? Dear Lord deliver us from the "Burleson Method."

Awwwwwe help us Lord


(Comment from an Australian named Grosey to Brad Reynolds)

In My Honest opinion, if you guys could help him get his MDiv, he may be a little more hospitable to the conservative position"


(Post from Jeremy Green who will not allow comments on his blog)


I have received numerous emails and phone calls from other conservative Southern Baptists stating that they are also very concerned and several have even stated that he should either resign or the convention should remove him from his position at next year’s Annual Meeting in San Antonio.

(Comment from Les Puryear on his blog)

I'm just telling you how you come across to a lot of us. Disingenuous. Self-righteous. Martyr-complex. Thin-skinned. I am not trying to call you names. I am just describing how you sound to a lot of us conservative baptists.


These are just a handful of examples of what is being said to me and about me.

It is an axiom that when one's argumentation is weak, attack the opponent. There is no need for any of us who see what is needed in the SBC to attack anyone.

I'll do my part, and encourage you as well, to insure we stay above the fray, refrain from personal attacks, and focus simply on the issues before us.

Have a great Lord's Day,

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

Stumbling Blocks and the Weaker Brother

I have been asked by some to give personal information on this blog including some information about Emmanuel's varied ministries, my time management habits, helpful tidbits for sermon preparation, etc . . .

I am working on a few posts pertaining to items listed above, and others, and will sprinkle them into the regular SBC related posts on this blog in the future.

Today I would like to offer to you a message I preached at Emmanuel four years ago. It is entitled Stumbling Blocks.

This message,which can be heard in real audio here, is very relevant today, particularly with the discussions that have been taking place recently within the SBC. It also happens to be the message where I share with my church the now infamous conversion story of the husband and wife with marital problems.

I listened to it again last night with my wife as we worked on different projects. The sermon reminded us both again of the wonderful church we are blessed to pastor, the importance of buidling your Christian ethic solely on the Word of God, and most of all, the timelessness and relevance of the Word of God. I don't know how preachers manage to teach without exegetically and expositionally preaching the Word.

I would be interested in the comments of those who actually listen to the message --- both those who agree and disagree.

In His Grace,

Wade

The Joshua Convergence: "Amen" to All the Principles, "Oh My" to Some of the Messages

This week a group of forty pastors met in Florida at the inaugural Joshua Convergence Conference where they issued a list of seven key principles.

Next month I will be one of seventy Fellows participating in the continuing research of Columbia University's Next Generation American Assembly on the campus of Southern Methodist University. Dwight D. Eisenhower established the Next Generation Program for the purpose of diaologue, research and the issuing of official reports on foreign affairs and international issues related to the United States. The organizational effort and logistics of holding national conferences such as these are not easy, so I can appreciate the amount of effort that went into the Joshua Convergence.

In addition, I have learned to appreciate documents that come out of such meetings, and I wish to give my affirmation to the seven key principles proceeding from the Joshua Convergence. Other than possible differences in the interpretation of the church and worldliness -- as defined by the Bible and not culture -- I find nothing with which I would even remotely disagree. In fact, I would like to attend the next Joshua Convergence, and with a little more notice I just might be able to do so.

I listened to the seven theme interpretations presented by the seven pastors and I would encourage others to do so as well. I enjoyed the messages, and gleaned much from them, but was disappointed in a couple. I have called the men involved in order to speak to them directly, but have not yet received a return phone call. For that reason I will leave them nameless, but would like to issue the following two corrections -- both of which involved me.

One Pastor said in his message:

"Not long after the convention one of them (preachers) went on to say that he went to share Jesus with someone, had a meal with her, and asked her for wine at the meal. She was so moved that a Baptist preacher would ask her for wine that her heart just opened up to receive the gospel of Jesus Christ and she got saved. The very idea that the Holy Spirit of God is moved by the spirit of alcohol is contrary to God's Word and sacreligious."

Oh my.

I think if anyone reads my post they would see that the above paragraph is a complete distortion of what I wrote. I believe that the movement of the Holy Spirit of God upon the wife of a man I had recently led to Christ had nothing to do with the use of alchohol, but rather, God saved her by His sovereign pleasure. However, he used a pastor who loves people where they are, and accepts the sufficiency of Scripture alone for his Christian faith and walk.

Further, my post clearly states I promote abstinence in my church, but do not judge, condemn, or discipline those Christians who use alchohol in moderation. We discipline anyone who commits the sin of drunkenness. It's sad to me when the true principles for which I stand (the sufficiency of Scripture alone for Christian conduct, the freedom for all Bible believing Southern Baptists to participate in denominational missions and evangelism, and the Biblical mandate to love our brothers and sisters in Christ who disagree with third tier interpretations of Scripture) are marginalized by repeated attempts to divert the discussion through distorted portrayals of me.

I am deeply disturbed that a person would call what I teach contrary to the Word of God and sacreligious. To be sacreligious is to be profane. To be profane (Latin for "outside the fence") is to be outside the family of God.

I will seek to work this out with my brother, but I would urge participants in the Joshua Convergence to see truth as not only the Scripture, but a Biblical ethic as well.

Finally, one pastor commented:

"I only have one question.

Those preachers who blog, how do they have time to pastor their church?"


Frankly, I find plenty of time to pastor. Our church is now holding five services a week, averages 1500 in small groups, and will baptize over 100 people for the third year in a row. I preach expositionally through Genesis on Sunday mornings, do a Bible survey on Wednesday nights, preach various expositional series on Sunday nights, and participate in our Refuge service on Saturday night. I visit the hospitals to minister to the sick, conduct funerals, perform weddings, lead our staff meetings, support my kids in their athletic endeavors, take my wife out on dates (after 23 years of marriage!), etc . . . . My church and family are doing quite well. :)

I would ask that those who seek to quote me, reference me, or speak of me, only do it accurately so that I don't have to issue corrections like this one.

Then I would have additional time to devote to more important issues.

:)

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

Update: The preacher in question regarding the first issue has issued a public apology for his misrepresentation of my post. I have accepted his apology and will remove this post if and when the video of the messages is ever removed from the internet.

The Beauty of Substance

David Rogers is a missionary for the International Mission Board. In every century God seems to raise up men of character and fortitude who provide correction and wisdom to His church. Wilburforce, Spurgeon, Toplady, Carey, Luther, and others come to mind as men, who for various reasons, are seen as the lighthouses of truth in their day.

I would put David Rogers in this category --- without hesitation. What is so striking to me about David is his humble heart. He is particularly gifted, but exceptionally modest. He eschews obfuscation and writes with compassionate clarity. He would blush at the words I have just written, but I do so sincerely --- and with purpose.

Words have power, but words spoken from a humble, godly character have divine power. David's words speak to the mind, the heart and the soul.

His post entitled A Reply to Brad Reynolds, Keith Eitel, Paige Patterson, and Robin Hadaway is a brilliant defense of Dr. Rankin and the direction and policies of the IMB under Dr. Rankin's leadership.

It will take you a good bit to read through it, but if you want to understand some of the dynamics taking place in modern missiology, read it carefully. Also, please pay attention to the difference between starting "baptist" churches and "baptistic" churches as described and defined by David. The heart of many of the issues being faced on Southern Baptist mission fields revolve around a person's understanding of what type of "churches" are being planted.

It's nice to see someone contribute substance while avoiding hollow truisms and personal sarcasms. He is one we should look to for leadership because he believes doing it is more important than declaring it.

Thanks, David, for giving this lifelong Southern Baptist hope for, and confidence in, the future of Southern Baptist work around the world.

In His Grace,

Wade

P.S. Title change at the suggestion of Pastor Wes (Thanks).

The BFM 2010: A Not So Good Idea

I anticipate there will be efforts by several different groups to add amendments to the Baptist Faith and Message by the year 2010.

Besides the fact that BFM 2010 rhymes (say it aloud and you will hear it), I think there is very little wisdom in amending, rewriting, or changing our confession of faith.

I realize Dr. McKissic has requested President Page to appoint a committee to look at adding a statement regarding private prayer languages, and I am sympathetic with Dr. McKissic's rationale --- he believes it is unconscionable to exclude Southern Baptists from denominational service based upon doctrinal criteria that go beyond the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. Dr. McKissic wishes a statement to be made by the convention, one way or the other, regarding a private prayer language.

The only way the convention would come out ahead on an issue like this is for the convention to say, "We have people and churches in the SBC who are continualists, and we have people and churches in the SBC who are cessationists. Both groups affirm the BFM 2000 and we will not exclude either from denominational service because of differences on this doctrine, or any other doctrine, not addressed in the BFM 2000."

Reasons an Amendment to the BFM is Unwise

One of the problems with changing the BFM is that, unless there are safeguards, doctrinal interpretations which are not essentials of the faith will creep into the confession. When that happens, the document that was intended for unification becomes a document of polarization.

For example, even though I believe in particular redemption, effectual grace, and that regeneration preceedes faith, I am loathe to place those doctrines in the convention's confession, simply because serving with me on the mission field and participating with me in denominational service should not depend upon you agreeing with me on these doctrines.

Again, many in the SBC are dispensationalists, including pastors on our staff, members of my church, and other leaders. However, there are several who are not dispensationalists in the SBC, including pastors on our staff, members of my church, and other leaders in the SBC. Dispensationalism is an interpretation of the events surrounding the coming of Christ. It should be left out of any confession of our convention --- in order not to polarize and exclude some Southern Baptists.

So it is with a private prayer language. Many of us don't have one, and have never sought one. Thousands of Southern Baptists, and a clear majority of our African American SBC churches do have a private prayer language. However, to say we either affirm or deny the gift of tongues in the convention's confession is beyond the purpose of the convention's confession.

What Then Is Needed?

In essence, what is needed is a clear understanding by our agencies and boards that, while the convention expects affirmation of the BFM 2000 by denominational servants, there should be no attempts to exclude Southern Baptists on the basis of doctrinal interpretations that go beyond the BFM 2000.

In a future post I will show you that one of the reasons the BFM 2000 caused some polarization in our convention is because it came close to injecting third tier doctrines (or doctrines that are not essentials of the faith) into the body of the confession. As a result, there have been several states who have continued to adopt the BFM 1963 as their state confession.

It is not my intention to reverse anything that has been done in the past. There are those who seem to want to try say that I and others do not respect the leaders of the conservative resurgence. That is simply not true. I do respect these men, as I respect every Christian brother.

However, I am greatly concerned that the battle of the 70's and 80's which was supposed to root the liberals out of the convention might now become a battle to root out anyone who disagrees on a specific interpretation of doctrine by those in leadership. In other words, instead of excluding liberals, it is now an attempt to exclude Charismatics.

Tomorrow it may be an attempt to exclude the Calvinists.

Next year it might be an attempt to exclude Amillenialists.

Next decade it might be an attempt to exclude those who are not Landmark.

I pray that we can come to the place where the SBC cooperates in missions, evangelism and denominational service even though we disagree on the above issues.

What is needed is a formal statement that we, as a convention, will NOT DIVIDE over these issues.

Wisdom from the BFM 2000 Committee

President Page Patterson appointed the BFM 2000 Committee which included: Max Barnett (OK), Steve Gaines (AL), Susie Hawkins (TX), Rudy A. Hernandez (TX), Charles S. Kelley, Jr. (LA), Heather King (IN), Richard D. Land (TN), Fred Luter (LA), R. Albert Mohler, Jr. (KY), T. C. Pinckney (VA), Nelson Price (GA), Adrian Rogers (TN), Roger Spradlin (CA), Simon Tsoi (AZ), Jerry Vines (FL). Adrian Rogers (TN) was appointed chairman.

These are fine men and women, most of whom I know personally.

Listen to their wisdom regarding the convention's confession and ask yourself what would happen if we really took these words to heart. The following is found in the preamble of the BFM 2000.

Baptists are a people of deep beliefs and cherished doctrines. Throughout our history we have been a confessional people, adopting statements of faith as a witness to our beliefs and a pledge of our faithfulness to the doctrines revealed in Holy Scripture.

Our confessions of faith are rooted in historical precedent, as the church in every age has been called upon to define and defend its beliefs. Each generation of Christians bears the responsibility of guarding the treasury of truth that has been entrusted to us [2 Timothy 1:14]. Facing a new century, Southern Baptists must meet the demands and duties of the present hour.

New challenges to faith appear in every age. A pervasive anti-supernaturalism in the culture was answered by Southern Baptists in 1925, when the Baptist Faith and Message was first adopted by this Convention. In 1963, Southern Baptists responded to assaults upon the authority and truthfulness of the Bible by adopting revisions to the Baptist Faith and Message . The Convention added an article on "The Family" in 1998, thus answering cultural confusion with the clear teachings of Scripture. Now, faced with a culture hostile to the very notion of truth, this generation of Baptists must claim anew the eternal truths of the Christian faith.

Your committee respects and celebrates the heritage of the Baptist Faith and Message, and affirms the decision of the Convention in 1925 to adopt the New Hampshire Confession of Faith, "revised at certain points and with some additional articles growing out of certain needs . . . ." We also respect the important contributions of the 1925 and 1963 editions of the Baptist Faith and Message.

With the 1963 committee, we have been guided in our work by the 1925 "statement of the historic Baptist conception of the nature and function of confessions of faith in our religious and denominational life . . . ." It is, therefore, quoted in full as a part of this report to the Convention:


(1) That they constitute a consensus of opinion of some Baptist body, large or small, for the general instruction and guidance of our own people and others concerning those articles of the Christian faith which are most surely held among us. They are not intended to add anything to the simple conditions of salvation revealed in the New Testament, viz., repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord.

(2) That we do not regard them as complete statements of our faith, having any quality of finality or infallibility. As in the past so in the future, Baptists should hold themselves free to revise their statements of faith as may seem to them wise and expedient at any time.

(3) That any group of Baptists, large or small, have the inherent right to draw up for themselves and publish to the world a confession of their faith whenever they may think it advisable to do so.

(4) That the sole authority for faith and practice among Baptists is the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. Confessions are only guides in interpretation, having no authority over the conscience.

(5) That they are statements of religious convictions, drawn from the Scriptures, and are not to be used to hamper freedom of thought or investigation in other realms of life.


I will be at the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma's Board of Directors meeting and will be unable to respond to any of your comments.

I do hope you will seriously consider what has been written.

In His Grace,

Wade

An Amoral Tool in the Hands of a Moral People

Donnie Starkey, a church planter in Paraguay, recently left a comment on my blog with a couple of sentences that really struck a chord in me. I have summarized what Donnie wrote below with (transitional words) supplied by me.

Donnie writes, "I began to weigh the pros and cons of the blog culture. I came to (a conclusion). . .(A) blog is a means of communication. It is a tool. Tools are amoral, meaning that they are neither good nor bad. Even the words of the sacred scripture can be twisted to accomplish the desired end of someone evil. That does not make it a bad book. So, blogging is a tool of communication. . . (and)communication is good. We need healthy communication within the Christian world."

From the beginning I have desired for Grace and Truth to be used for the edification of people and the good of our Southern Baptist Convention. Issues have been discussed, some thoroughly, but any personal attacks have been inappropriate.

Blogs are here to stay. May those of us who blog and are a part of the SBC make sure we use this amoral tool of communication for good purposes. For the most part I think we are doing a good job of this.

In His Grace,


Wade

A Look at the Life of Dr. Rufus Burleson

Every now and then people will ask me about my forefather, Dr. Rufus Burleson (1823-1901), of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. Yesterday I received an email asking if I would give some background regarding his life, and so I dug up a couple of articles I had archived and thought I would offer a little information to those unfamiliar with his life.

Rufus Burleson's mother was a direct lineal descendent of Sir William Byrd, founder of Richmond, Virginia. Rufus' parents eventually migrated to a farm near Decatur, Alabama where they raised thirteen children, Rufus being the seventh.

Rufus received a very good education for his day, and in 1846 he entered the Western Baptist Theological Seminary in Covington, Kentucky. He finished the course and received his diploma at this seminary June 21, 1847. Legend has it that while Rufus stood in the shadow of the walls of his alma mater, surrounded by teachers and class-mates, he raised his boyish face toward the skies, stretched his arms to the West, and with both eyes closed as if to shut out the world, he cried: “This day I solemnly consecrate my life to Texas.”

Rufus soon became the pastor of First Baptist Church of Houston, Texas, and through a friendship formed with the town's namesake, General Sam Houston, Rufus had the privilege of baptizing Sam Houston. (The link provides a very interesting story of Sam Houston's wife and the General's battle with alcholism).

Rufus Burleson was present at the formation meeting of the BGCT in September of 1848, and served as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Houston in the late 1840's. Eventually he became the President of Baylor University, a postion he held for ten years.

Other facts regarding Dr. Burleson can be find in this memorial written just a few days after his death by his close friend J.A. Reynolds.

I take very seriously my heritage in the Southern Baptist Convention, and I look forward to many more years of service as we all seek to continue the work begun by our forefathers over a century and a half ago.

In His Grace,


Wade Burleson

The Tongue Is a Fire: A World of Iniquity

This past summer I was in Richmond, Virginia for the July IMB trustee meeting. I wrote of a little sidetrip my wife and I took while in Richmond in a blog entitled Punching Holes in the Darkness.

In that post I discussed meeting the Pastor of FBC Richmond, Dr. Jim Flamming. I had never met Dr. Flamming before. In fact, I had never even heard of him. I recounted the encounter this way:

"When I was in Richmond this week I stopped by the First Baptist Church to tour the facilities and take a gander at the famous bell in the courtyard. I am a civil war buff, and the tour given Rachelle and me by the gracious Senior Pastor's secretary was very enjoyable. At the conclusion of our walk around the church we ran into Dr. Peter James Flamming, the Senior Pastor of FBC Richmond for the past quarter century. Dr. Flamming gave me a book that contains twelve messages he preached at FBC Richmond. The first message was a very enjoyable read entitled "Punching Holes in the Darkness."

Without going into detail regarding the message, the theme revolved around "the beautiful feet of those who share good news" from the book of Isaiah. Dr. Flamming's challenge to his congregation was that they be people who make it a priority to share good news, and in so doing, punch a hole in the darkness around them.">


The post said a few more things, but the extent of my comments regarding Dr. Flamming were those in the above two paragraphs.

A Charge of Liberalism

Several weeks later I learned that a few people had called an acquaintance of mine and chided him for being associated with Wade Burleson, a friend of liberals. My acquaintance then read the "Punching Holes" post, and he himself made the judgment that I was sympathetic with liberals because I wrote about meeting Dr. Flamming.

Besides the fact I continue to be bumfuzzled how the post above could be considered an endorsement of Dr. Flammning's theology, which of course it is not since I did not even know what Flamming's theological beliefs were, I did ask specifically why he was accused of "liberalism." Again, though I did not know Dr. Flamming personally, I knew that he was the pastor of the church where several IMB staffers are members.

In answer to my question I was told, verbatim, "Dr. Flamming denies the virgin birth of Christ."

Further, I was informed that since I wrote on my blog that I went to visit Flamming's church, that my acquaintance was having to distance himself from me, because it was said, "Wade Burleson must be a closet liberal myself." I laughed out loud when I heard that, until I realized the person telling me was serious. I was considered liberal because of a very brief, one time visit, with a man who allegedly denies belief in the virgin birth of Christ.

I then told my friend who was telling me this, "If Dr. Flamming denies the virgin birth of Christ, then he should be considered liberal theologically. But that does not stop me from being nice and civil to him, does it? Further, until I talk to him personally, I will reserve any personal judgment regarding his beliefs."

My Phone Call to Dr. Flamming

On Wednesday, September 20th, 2006, I called Dr. Flamming. Dr. Flamming was not in the office, but just a couple of hours later he called me.

I explained to him the situation and that I was calling to ask him a question.

I asked, "Dr. Flamming, do you deny the virgin birth of Jesus Christ?"

Dr. Flamming, in his deep baritone voice said, "Wade, I am glad you called me to clear this up. People don't usually do that."

He continued, "What you heard about my beliefs is a bald-faced lie. I believe in the virgin birth of Christ. I tried to track down where that rumor began, and what I have come up with is an interview with me decades ago where I was asked, 'Do you have to believe in the virgin birth to be saved?' I said 'no' and then quoted Romans 10:9, If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

I then told the reporter that I personally could not see how you could explain the uniqueness of the person of Christ without the virgin birth, and that I personally believed in the virgin birth, but it was not a necessary doctrine for salvation. Some people seem to have taken just the first portion of what I said, twisted it around, and the rumor that I deny the virgin birth has followed me for over 35 years.

I have tried to bury the rumor. I've preached series on the virgin birth of Christ. I have proclaimed to anyone who will listen to me that I believe in the virgin birth of Christ. But it seems that some just want to cast aspersions my way rather than discover the truth."


I asked Dr. Flamming for permission to post our conversation on the blog, and he said, yes, with just one caveat. He wanted me to explain how strongly he believed in the virgin birth.

Imagine that.

Lessons Learned

I reiterate that I do not know Dr. Flamming, and I am not attempting to defend him or his ministry. The only reason I called him was to ask him about the virgin birth --- the one doctrine I was explicitly told he denied. Is it as surprising to you, as it is me, that he called that allegation "an outright lie?"

I have learned through this experience that until people stop misrepresenting other people, and find it in their hearts to dialogue, rather than cast aspersions, there will never be any peace in the Southern Baptist Convention. I also learned you can't believe everything you hear --- or read.

The CBF has begun their own denomination. They have their own seminary. They have their own missionaries. They have their own way of doing business. Nobody desires the CBF back into the SBC, and nobody in the CBF wants back in the SBC.

That's old news.

It seems, however, that the tactics of a few have not changed. I believe that it is time for all of us in the SBC to stop casting aspersions and actually talk with one another and not at one another.

I pray we get there.

In His Grace,


Wade Burleson

Truth Never Loses In a Free and Open Encounter

From John Milton's Areopagitica, 1644.

"Though all winds of doctrine were let loose to play upon the earth, so Truth be in the field, we do injuriously, by licensing and prohibiting, to misdoubt her strength. Let truth and falsehood grapple; who ever knew truth put to the worst, in a free and open encounter?"

Dr. McKissic is asking Dr. Page for such a free and open encounter as Milton describes.

I Have a Question and Am Interested in Your Answer

I am an inerrantist.

I believe the Bible to be the authoritative, sufficient, and infallible Word of God. It is without error and unable to deceive.

I am a Southern Baptist in heritage and by personal choice.

I believe in the fundamentals of the faith (the deity of Christ, substitutionary atonement, salvation by grace through faith, the final judgment, etc . . . ).

I love the Southern Baptist Convention.

I have been a two term President of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, a two term Chairman of the Denominational Calendar Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, a member of the Nominating Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, and currently serve as a trustee of the International Mission Board.

But more than just loving the SBC, I love the people of the SBC. I love Dr. Paige Patterson. I love Judge Paul Pressler. I love Dr. Jerry Rankin. I love Dr. Morris Chapman. I love Dr. Al Mohler. I love these men and the Christ who has made them all my brothers.

I also love the men and women of the Southern Baptist Convention that are not in the limelight.

I love the Southern Baptist waitress I met last week in Spartanburg who is the President of her local WMU. I love the Southern Baptist taxi cab driver I met in Tampa Bay, a man who patiently listened to me share the gospel, and when I asked why he didn't tell me he was a Southern Baptist deacon at his local church before I shared the gospel with him he just grinned and said he enjoyed hearing 'the good news' as often as possible.

I love our missionaries. I will do anything to help them. I love my family members who served decades in Santiago, Chile with the IMB and my family members who currently serve in Hong Kong with the IMB. I love missionaries live David Rogers, Ron West, and others who unashamedly, and with erudite passion, help us think critically about the way we do missions. I love the security three zone missionary who joined our church by proxy this past Sunday, making it nearly a dozen IMB units that are affiliated with our church in some form or fashion.

I love our SBC leadership. I have enjoyed getting to know Bobby Welch and Frank Page. They both bring different gifts to the table and each was the man God anointed for the particular hour. I particularly love Frank's openness, honesty, graciousness, and vision.

I'm excited about the future of our SBC. I am optimistic by nature, but my optimism about the SBC is more than just inherent in me. If God is good, and He is, and if He has promised to build His church, and He has, I can't help but get excited when Southern Baptist get serious about the gospel --- really serious.

I have tried in the last year to draw attention to what I believe to be a problem within the SBC that has escaped the attention of most. I believe that we have begun to narrow the parameters of cooperation within the SBC to exclude good, conservative evangelical Southern Baptists because they disagree on third tier doctrines that, at least historically, Southern Baptists have refused to divide over. As a result, we are losing sight of the main thing (the gospel) and fracturing over lesser doctrines.

The interesting thing is I probably agree with the majority of Southern Baptists on their interpretation regarding these lesser doctrines, but I am increasingly concerned that we are excluding the minority of Southern Baptists from the joy of participating in service for the cause of Christ through the Southern Baptist Convention.

Now here is my two-fold question:

Why are some in the Southern Baptist Convention so angry toward me? And, why is it that a very vocal few now insist on calling me a liberal?

Early last year I told my wife and my father that I would covenant with them not to become angry or bitter, or seek to retaliate against those who sought to ruin my ministry or career by character assassination, theological labeling, or outright slander. For nearly eight months, I have kept my vow.

I sure want to continue keeping it. It might help me if someone out there could give me an idea on why there is such a reaction against one small effort to stop the narrowing of the parameters of cooperation in the SBC. I need some wisdom on why it is that some Christians treat their brothers so poorly.

In His Grace,

Wade

A Good Word from SBC VP Wiley Drake

"This Press Release is an example of God's people working together on the essentials of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, even though they come from many denominational backgrounds.

If Sonic Flood, the Southern Baptist International Mission Board, and The National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools , were to discuss private prayer language, baptism, evidence of the Holy Spirit, abstinence or moderation with drinks or many other non-essentials to the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; I am sure we could get more than enough material for several Dr.'s degrees.

On the other hand this interdenominational group all love Jesus and believe He is the only way to Salvation. With this spirit, is it any wonder people are being saved, giving their life to missions, and working to get the Bible back into our schools.?

The same reputation as the early New Testament Church had, i.e." my how they love one another"
is growing in this nation wide effort.

All of us should pray for and learn from these folks, how to maintain our own doctrine, and at the same time make the main thing the main thing, as one of our great preachers once said.

Please pray and promote these folks as they are in your area.

God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, are doing a great work. As another of our men of God said, "find out what God is doing and join him."
As 2nd Vice President of The Southern Baptist Convention I am going to do all I can to lead our denomination into this kind of revival and unity.

I have been a Southern Baptist pastor for more than 40 years and will probably be a Southern Baptist when Jesus takes me home, but I confess to God before all men that I have been too narrow. He has forgiven me and I hope all my brothers and sisters from all denominations will find it in their heart to also forgive me for being so Southern Baptist that I was unkind, and thinking we have the only answer.

I'm not going to change in many ways but God has made me realize that I need to seek that New Testament type unity."


Pastor Wiley

_________________________

Well said Wiley. The IMB is to be commended for their creative efforts in reaching young people with the exciting opportunities in mission work around the world.

Have a great Lord's Day everyone.

Feel free to comment, but I've answered my share of questions this weekend and I do not intend to dialogue in the comment section this week.

In His Grace,

Wade

'Ask Any Question' Weekend

I really appreciate everyone who has honored my posts over the last several months by making comments that pertain to what I have written. I would like to show my appreciation by offering to each of you an opportunity to ask any question of me that you would like to ask. I would only ask that the questions be phrased clearly and in the fewest number of words possible.

I promise to answer every question that you ask. You may not like the answer, and it may not be as lengthy as you like, but I will answer your questions honestly and forthrightly.

Please recognize that I do not officially represent any agency. Official press releases and public statements are neither my duty nor my forte. I will be giving you just one man's opinion.

This "Ask Any Question Weekend" will end Saturday night. I will post the first question myself to help you see that the brevity of words in both the questions and answers will help us all learn more.

For this one weekend I will let people post questions anonymously in order to allow some with no blogs to ask questions.

Blessings to you and have a great weekend.

Wade

A Fresh Wind Blowing at the IMB

Marathon runners will tell you that there is a point in a very grueling run when the lungs receive a sudden burst of air that enables the runner, who was previously on the verge of physical exhaustion, to have a fresh wind that enables him to complete the race in winning style. I believe the IMB is experiencing such a fresh wind for three reasons.

(1). Chairman John Floyd

Dr. Floyd is doing an outstanding job as Chairman these last two meetings. He has handled the meetings with Christian decorum, saturated them with prayer, and has displayed true leadership.

In addition, I want to publicly thank Dr. Floyd for taking the initiative to visit with me. Without sharing with you our conversations, I can honestly say this man has listened to my concerns, offered wise counsel, and answered my questions. We may not see eye to eye on all matters, but I am quite able to work within a system where I am in the minority, when leadership answers the questions asked of them by duly elected trustees.

There is a fresh wind blowing from the position of the Chair of the IMB.

(2). President Jerry Rankin

You can't help but admire this man.

Period.

In our plenary session of the IMB last evening he displayed leadership, cast vision, and acted like what he is, the President of the IMB.

I will not go into the details of the public Presidential report, but let me say I believe his report is one of the most significant at the IMB in several years.

We trustees have functioned at these last couple of meetings as trustees and not like a Board of Directors. We are allowing our administrators to administrate, our missiologists to do missions, and we are doing our dead level best to assist our President as he leads our organization. We trustees are not called to micro-manage the IMB, or God forbid, undermine our President, and there is every indication that a fresh wind is blowing in the area of President and trustee relationships.

(3). Jeff Ginn and the Leadership Development Subcommittee

Wow.

That's all I can say about their report. Wow --- in a positive sense. The report is thorough, articulate, professional and easy to read.

Many are aware that some outside the IMB organization began to imply two or three years ago that there was inadequate theological and missiological training for our missionaries as they made their way onto the various geographical regions of the world.

This report by the Leadership Development Subcommittee, chaired by Jeff Ginn, blew that theory right out of the water. The committee was formed "in response to concerns raised." It's time for people to put those concerns to bed.

Because this is such an important report, I am posting it in its entirety below. I will be in Fort Worth for the chapel service Thursday and will be unable to answer any questions until Friday. Blessings to all.

Leadership Development Subcommittee
Interim Report to the Overseas Committee
September 12, 2006


Backgound

In response to concerns raised, the IMB established in February 2004 three subcommittees within the Overseas Committee. The Board charged one of these, the Leadership Development Subcommittee, to review and monitor leadership development issues. This Leadership Development Subcommittee was to do its work in conjunction with appropriate IMB staff. What follows are the description and responsibilities of this Subcomittee:

(1). Subcomittee Description

The Leadership Development Subcommittee of the Overseas Committee works closely with the Associate Vice-President for Leadership and Ministries Development. The Subcommittee meets on an "as needed" basis to review leadership training issues, including (but not limited to) Field Personnel Orientation, Stateside Assignment Conferences, and International Centre for Excellence in Leadership

(2). Subcommittee Responsibilities

a. As representatives of the Overseas Committee and the larger body of trustees, Subcommittee members will become especially knowledgeable about the board's strategies and the leadership training prcesses that support those strategies.

b. Subcommittee members serve as a bridge between the larger body of trustees and these important staff functions. Trustee members should bring to the Subcommittee questions or concerns about leadership training. Likewise, Subcommittee members should assist staff in communicating with the larger trustee body about the board's rationale and approaches to leadership training.

This particular interim report focuses on Field Personnel Orientation at the International Learning Center. Further study may be appropriate for the other elements of ongoing leadership development.

Summary Conclusions

(1). For the past two years the Leadership Development Subcommittee looked at the programs of training offered at the ILC. The conclusion of this study is that the programs are sound theologically. This includes but is not limited to missiology and ecclesiology.

(2). There is adherence to biblical parameters as expressed in the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. IMB staff is cognizant of and compliant with the SBC/IMB positions on such issues as ecclesiology and the role of women in ministry.

(3). There is a healthy cooperative relationship between these training programs and the larger Southern Baptist theological training system.

(a). The IMB participates in an annual consortium with six SBC seminaries and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. This keeps all parties abreast of concerns, trends, needs and developments in the field of missions. The IMB is represented at these meetings by both staff and trustee attendees.

(b). SBC seminary professors cooperate with IMB staff as regular lecturers at the ILC.

(c). SBC seminaries partner with the IMB in their established 2X2 programs and newer programs such as the MATSIL program at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. This program grants master level credit for studies done at ILC as a part of the requirements for said degree.

(4). While the ILC training processes are not exhaustive, they are healthy, growing, and effective.

Word of Commendation

Ron Wilson, Associate Vice-President of the Leadership and Ministries Development Department, and Elbert Smith, Director of Field Personnel at the ILC were both very cordial and cooperative. They were responsive to the inquiries of the Subcommittee and forthcoming with all requests for information. The IMB staff gives every indication of being anxious to respond to Trustee inquiries and input.

IMB Trustee Meeting, Spartanburg, South Carolina, September 11-13, 2006

I am sitting in the Memphis airport watching the last few seconds of the Dallas Cowboys vs. Jacksonville Jaquars football game. I will board a plane in a few minutes for the Greenville/Spartanburg South Carolina Airport for the September IMB trustee meeting.

I have chosen not to blog during the trustee meeting. I will periodically check the comment section of this post through Wednesday night and will respond to questions if possible, but I am not anticipating posting anything new until this Thursday night.

I understand Marty "How're You" Duren will be present for the IMB meeting in Spartanburg, South Carolina. His blog is located at SBC Outpost.

This coming Thursday morning I will be in the chapel service at Southwestern Seminary. Dr. Frank Page is the special guest and I look forward to hearing him speak to the students and faculty.

Remember, you can watch Dr. Page's message via live video streaming at Southestern's website.

Have a great week.

In His Grace,

Wade

The Lord Is My Passion, Football Is My Hobby

I grew up watching Oklahoma football. My family had a role in establishing my love for the Sooners, including my maternal grandfather, who was an All-American tight end for Oklahoma in the 1930's. I played quarterback and defensive back at a 5A Fort Worth, Texas high school in the late 70's. We ran the wishbone offense, and I always dreamed about playing football for OU. That never happened, but because of my fondness for the Sooners, I have always kept up with the people involved with OU football.

Yesterday's 37-20 enjoyable win over the University of Washington will be remembered by me not because of the game itself, but the people I was with during the game. Some of you may not find this post very interesting, but for those of you who love OU football, you will understand why yesterday was really special for me.

Jakie Sandefer

I sat in the suite of Jefferson Davis (Jakie) Sandiver III, the 1957 OU graduate and former defensive back and running back for OU. Jakie is the owner of Sandefer Oil out of Houston and has a home in Norman, Oklahoma so that he can spend the weekend in Norman when OU plays at home. He and his wife Melissa were very gracious hosts. Jakie is the big booster for OU football and is credited for the hiring of Athletic Director Joe Castiglione, and ultimately Coach Bob Stoops, because of his recommendation to President David Boren that the former Big Eight football commissioner, Charles Neinas, be hired to conduct the search himself, rather than the standard procedure of "search by committee." Obviously OU football is important to Jakie, but his eyes lit up the most when he shared with me that his grandfather was the President of Hardin Simmons University (a BGCT school) in Abilene, Texas, and is buried on the campus. His tombstone wounds, "A good name is more precious than gold." He teared up as he shared about his Southern Baptist heritage, his love for his grandfather, and his desire to see the young people of our country understand the importance of character. I was reminded today, by listening to this very generous and gracious man, that who you are is infinitely more important than what you have.

Barry Switzer and Allen Kerr

Barry probably needs no introduction. The former Oklahoma University and Dallas Cowboy football coach is an icon in Oklahoma. His college roommate was a member of Emmanuel before he passed away a few years ago, so through my church member's family I have known Barry for a several years. Barry's language is always a little salty, but he is one of the funniest men I have ever met. He told me a couple of absolutely hilarious stories that I hope to relay one day on this blog. Barry can also be a very serious person when he wants to be and has told me about his decision to "accept" Christ at a Billy Graham Crusade in Oklahoma City many years ago.

Barry's friend that came with him to the game was Allen Kerr. I had never met Allen before, but I really came to appreciate him. Allen is CEO of Adele Custom Furniture out of Burleson, Texas with his showroom in the Dallas Designer District. Allen is a member of Fielder Road Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas where my friend Gary Smith, the former pastor of Emmanuel, Enid, is currently the pastor. Allen shared with me a very refreshing testimony of his love for the Lord Jesus Christ. He really has a desire to have all of his friends, including Barry, to have a meaningful relationship with Christ.

Jerry Tubbs

Jerry is one of the nicest men you will ever meet. I remember as a boy going to Dallas Cowboy games and seeing Jerry play. He was an All American center and linebacker for OU under Coach Bud Wilkinson in 1952,1953, and 1954. He was drafted by San Franciso and later traded to Dallas where he played for Tom Landry and eventually coached with Tom at Dallas until Jerry retired from the NFL in the early 80's. He is now in his 70's and lives on a ranch east of Dallas. His name is in the Ring of Honor in Texas Stadium and he remains a legend among the OU greats of the past. Several people, including the really young kids, were asking Jerry for his autograph and he patiently signed them all. My father used to tell me that as a people get older they either get better or they get bitter. God has definitely allowed Jerry Tubbs to get better.

Claude Arnold

Claude was the quarterback for the Oklahoma Sooners when we won our first National Championship in 1950. Claude graduated from Okmulgee High School in 1940 and went just one semester to college before he went overseas to fight in WW II. After the war, with the help of the GI bill, he enrolled at OU with no intentions of playing football. He was older than most freshmen, and legend has it that an assistant coach for the Sooners walked by the intramural fields one day and saw this quarterback zing the ball all over the field. The assistant promptly told Head Coach Bud Wilkinson he needed to get that boy from Okmulgee to play ball for the team. The rest is history. Claude and his lovely wife Nancy have been married for nearly 60 years. He has done well in the oil business, but he and his wife have never forgotten their common roots and are a very delightful couple in their mid 70's.

Jimmy Harris

Jimmy was OU's starting quarterback in 1954 and 1955. He, Jerry Tubbs, and Jakie Sandifer all played together. They were all a part of the NCAA record setting 47 game winning streak. Jimmy eventually played professional football for the Philadelphia Eagles. Allen Kerr was telling me that as an eight year old boy he watched an OU game where Jimmy came off the field staring at his hand. Allen came closer to see what the star quarterback was looking at, when Jimmy looked up and said, "What're you lookin at boy?" Allen said he ran away scared but never forgot that incident. Jimmy heard Allen telling me that story and showed me the scar on his hand from a shoe spike that pierced his hand during that game fifty years ago. It was really odd to hear a story about an event, and then to see the evidence of the event in the form of the scar. It reminded me that every event in life has continuing ramifications --- either good or bad.

Clay Bennett

Clay is the son-in-law of the late Edward K. Gaylord, the owner of the Daily Oklahoman, and the man for whom the stadium is named after. Clay recently purchased the Seattle SuperSonics basketball team, and if Seattle does not build a new arena for the Sonics, and if the Hornets move back to New Orleans, then the Sonics will probably become the Oklahoma City Sonics (or possibly renamed). Clay Bennett has really put Oklahoma City on the national map in the area of professional sports, but I was very impressed with his quiet demeanor and humble personality. Clay did not stay long, but was the consummate gentleman.

Ron Young

Ron is partner in the Houston law firm Young and Brooks. He has been a long time OU fan himself and flies up for most of the home games. Ron is an avid golfer and we plan on playing together next game day when the OU game is at night. Ron asked me if I knew Judge Paul Pressler, and I told him that I did. I said I had a great deal of respect for the Judge. He wondered if recent events in the SBC would affect our friendship (though he is not a Southern Baptist, he has followed the Convention). I told him that as far as I was concerned, any Christian who named the name of Christ was a friend of mine, regardless of any differences we might have in our view of politics or disagreements over the non-essentials of the faith.

Holly Hunter

Those of you who know me know that I really like movies. If I were not a pastor, I would probably be a movie critic :). Holly Hunter has Oklahoma roots and has played many leading roles in Hollywood in films like "The Firm" with Tom Cruise and "The Piano." It was hilarious to all of us that she wanted her picture taken with Barry Switzer. In Oklahoma, football beats Hollywood hands down.

John and Denise Bode

John was the Assistant Director of the Agriculture Department in Washington, D.C. under President Ronald Reagan in the 80's. His wife Denise is on the Board of the Oklhohoma Corporation Commission and recently lost her bid for Congress. John and Denise are Catholic, but very vocal about their faith in Christ. They both are humble, godly people who represent the best of what Oklahoma has to offer. John now works with a law firm out of D.C., but maintains his office in OKC and they both try to never miss an OU game. When I asked John how he ended up in Washington, he told me how David Boren, who used to be President of Oklahoma Baptist University, asked John and Denise to go to D.C. to work in Boren's Senate office. John eventually went to work for the Algricultural Department and has been affiiated with D.C. ever since. John and Denise are the kind of politians I really admire.

John and Marsha Funk

John and Marsha were guests of the Bodes. John has a law firm in downtown Oklahoma City and attended OU and OU law school from 1971-1978. John is very knowledgeable of OU football, and since OU took the name of the back of the jersey's this year, John was a delight to have in the suite because he could tell everyone, without looking in the program, the name of every player on the field.

Norman Lamb

What can I say about one of my best friends and fellow member of Emmanuel. Norman and I go to the games together and have a wonderful time. He has taught me a great deal about Sooner football and life in general. I really appreciate his friendship and can't say enough good things about this man.

Brian Bishop

Brian did not sit with us in the suite, but I met him for the first time yesterday at Jakie Sandifer's house before the game.

Brian had his hand in several different businesses in OKC prior to the Murrah Building bombing in 1995. The bombing changed his life.

Brian sold many of his businesses after the bombing and became the Executive Assistant to Pastor Nick Harris of the First United Methodist Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. I was the Chaplain in charge of the temporary morgue, whch was established at First Methodist, immediately after the bombing. I understood what Brian meant when he told me that First Methodist faced a tremendous challenge after the bombing to get back on her feet because of the damage to the church --- I saw it.

Brian helped. He stayed for several years at First Methodist until he resigned to begin a new business in Norman, Oklahoma --- OU Insider.Com --- the premier website for Sooner athletics. Brian took me across the street where he showed me his house and the operations room for OU Insider.Com and then he shared with me the new ministry he and Nick Harris are beginning for OU students.

They are buying a building near the campus to transform into a training institute to teach international students apologetics, Biblical doctrine, and other Christian studies in order to send those students back to their home countries as Christian leader. It is an exciting ministry that thoroughly impressed me.

I told Brian that it was an honor for me to meet the head of OU Insider.Com, but even more of an honor to learn that the man who operates the premier college athletics website in the country was even more serious about his commitment to Christ.

Brian shook my hand and then told me something that will stick with me forever and became the description for my day.

"Wade," Brian said, "The Lord is my passion, football is my hobby."

Well said Brian.

One thing about it, of all the people I met today, whether young or old, rich or poor, famous or infamous --- everyone of them has the same need --- a relationship with Jesus Christ.

The ground at the cross is level.

In His Grace,


Wade

Just Exactly What Does the Faculty of SWBTS Teach? There is Room in the SBC for Disagreement and Debate

The following is a letter I received yesterday from a current student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The author of the letter gives permission to post his letter, but requests that his name be left off in order to avoid any possible retribution that might come his way. He seems to have taken a great deal of time and effort to show that in the conservative, academic environment of SWBTS faculty, there is room for people who disagree on the issue of a private prayer language.

After you read the letter and the supporting footnotes, I would like you to ask yourself three questions:

(1). Why is there a movement by some within the SBC to narrow the doctrinal parameters of cooperation and participation beyond the BFM 2000?

(2). Why was a public statement made by administration of SWBTS that what Dr. McKissic taught in chapel regarding a private prayer language was "harmful" to churches, and not the position of the "faculty" at SWBTS, when the published writings of several faculty members seem to support the very thing Dr. McKissic was saying?

(3). Why does anyone in the SBC need to "take sides" on this issue, when in reality, Southern Baptists should be able to fellowship and cooperate with each other in spite of different views on third tier doctrines such as this one?

_______________________________

Dear Rev. Burleson:

I have been following your blog for many months now, and I really appreciate what you are doing to address the issues surrounding the IMB policies on tongues and baptism. Thank you also for posting the chapel sermon of Dwight McKissic so that people could read his words for themselves.

Many students have been following the way that our seminary president handled the situation. Some students don't ever think Dr. Patterson does anything right. Other students, like myself, think that he is a godly man who is able to make mistakes, as I believe he did when he chose to censor Rev. McKissic's sermon.

I was discouraged when I saw the press release from Southwestern because it is misleading, if not an outright lie. The press release gave the impression that Rev. McKissic's view about tongues and private prayer was inconsistent with the views of the faculty and staff. But I know of at least five professors in the school of theology who would share Rev. McKissic's view, and have done so openly in class. Other faculty members have taught that his view is a legitimate view for Southern Baptists.

The press release also gave the impression that Southwestern Seminary would not "disseminate openly" views that are consistent with Rev. McKissic's view because such views are "harmful to the churches."

I was curious if this claim was factually accurate so I looked back to old copies of the Southwestern Journal of Theology to see if the seminary had "disseminated" such views "openly." You can imagine my surprise to discover that current faculty had written views consistent with Rev. McKissic's and that those views have been published and/or recommended by Southwestern Seminary.

I am writing you in confidence because I still have some time left before I graduate and I don't want to do anything "openly" that might be "harmful" to my graduation. ;)

Feel free to use my letter and the quotes I have included on your blog if you think it will be helpful. I am also forwarding this material to Rev. Dwight McKissic so that he knows that his views are not quite as "harmful" as our president said. If you choose to use this email on your blog, please do not publish my name.

In Christ,

Name Withheld by Blog Administrator

Supporting Documentation:

Schatzmann, Siegfried. Southwestern Journal of Theology. Vol 45, No. 1. Fall 2002, pages 60-61. Current New Testament professor at SWBTS.

"Does the gift of interpreting tongues represent a more circuitous venue of prophecy? Nowhere does Paul even come close to intimating such. Rather, he insists on rendering intelligible what the tongue-speaker has expressed in his prayer, praise, and perhaps even his petition. In other words, the interpreter, under the Spirit's guidance, formulates in a prayer-form what had previously been uttered as a mystery, that is to say, in a manner inaccessible to anyone apart from the tongue speaker. Paul attaches the gift of interpretation to the gift of speaking in tongues because of his overarching conviction that in the community public speaking in tongues without interpretation is inadmissible because it is not intelligible.

This does not mean, however, that Paul does not also affirm a place for speaking in tongues to oneself, in the believer's own devotional practice, for instance. Thus he is able to say, "I desire for all of you to speak in tongues" (14:5) and "I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you" (14:18). It is important to note, however, that the affirmation in v.5 is followed by the contrasting "but rather" (mallon de) and the testimonial in v.18 gives way to the superordinate "but in the church" (alla en ekklesia) of v.19, thereby indicating that his own personal practice, however beneficial, is not the criterion for the gift's public use."

Schatzmann, Siegfried. A Pauline Theology of Charismata. Hendrickson Publishers, 1987.

"What did Paul believe glossolalia was? His interpreters differ widely in their answer their answers to this question. Some have proposed that, true to the basic meaning of the term 'glossa,' Paul thought of tongues as 'speaking in other languages,' either human or angelic. Perhaps even 'geno' (different kinds) means a variety of either or both.

Others have concluded that Paul must have conceived of 'glossa' as 'the unbroken speech in religious ecstasy,' which was, therefore, unintelligible. The apostle's counsel in ch 14, as well as Paul's allusion in 12:2 to the Corinthians' former pagan practices, would support this view." (42)

"It is noteworthy that Paul did not overreact to the Corinthian abuse of glossolalia by eradicating it altogether. Recognizing its value as one of the many enabling graces of God, he sought to correct and rechannel the gift for its orderly incorporation into their gatherings (14:16). He thanked God that he spoke more in tongues than they (14:18) and wished that they all spoke in tongues (14:5). Paul also affirmed that the one speaking in tongues speaks to God, thus edifying himself (14:2,4)." (43)

"The debate over the permanence or temporariness of charismata has ranged along two lines of argument. One, it is claimed, primarily by some scholars outside the classical Pentecostal and charismatic movements, that certain charismata were never meant to be permanent but, instead, proved to be temporary and ceased after the first few centuries of the church. Two, charismata as equipment for service are said to be given as the believer's permanent possession and not temporarily, as some assert. In the case of the latter, charismata are given to a believer only for a specific ministry at a specific point in time and in a specific place.

The first argument is generally not advanced on the basis of thorough exegesis, but receives its impetus from presuppositional and historical biases. Scriptural evidence is brought to bear more in terms of prooftexting than in terms of contextual interpretation. The second line of argument deserves a closer look since it seeks to understand the Pauline concept of charismatic service for the church's upbuilding." (77)

"Nothing in the text of 1 Cor 13, or in any other Pauline passage concerned with charismatic endowment, permits the conclusion that certain gifts of the Spirit were to function for a limited initial period only. For Paul, all Spirit-bestowed charismata were given for the upbuilding of the body. There exists no reasonable exegetical warrant for denying that the same gifts which equipped the church for service then should fulfill the same purpose today." (78)

Garrett, James Leo. Systematic Theology Vol II. Bibal Press, 2000. - Retired emeritus professor of theology at SWBTS. His systematic texts are the main texts for Malcolm Yarnell's courses on theology.

"Exegetes and theologians are not agreed as to the nature of the occurrence described in Acts 2:4b. When 'they began to speak,' did they do so 'with' (KJV) or 'in' (RSV, TEV, NEB, NIV) 'other tongues' (KJV, RSV, NEB, NIV) or 'other languages (TEV) or 'different languages' (Phillips) or 'foreign languages' (JB) (erxanto lalein heterais glossais)? The oldest interpretation, the accepted one among the Church Fathers, understands the tongues to have been intelligible foreign languages (xenoglossolalia). But present-day expositors also hold to the foreign-language view.

A second interpretation of Acts 2:4b understands 'other tongues' as reference to 'fiery eloquence' or linguistic persuasiveness. Willibald Beyschlag opted for fiery language, and William Barclay took the phrase to mean speaking with great or convincing persuasiveness.

A third view interprets the text as referring to rapturous or ecstatic speaking in which the miracle consisted of acoustical certainty about the Holy Spirit. According the hearing was supernatural. But the text emphasizes speaking.

A fourth view consists of a critical theory that alleges that Luke, as he had done with the birth of Jesus and the ascension of Jesus, 'invented a myth,' using the Jewish feast of Pentecost, to provide a setting for ecstatic utterance through the Spirit. . .This view contradicts the historical reliability of Acts.

A fifth view, a critical view involving the use of electronic computers, has posited that Acts 1:15-2:47 was not included in the original Acts of the Apostles (called Proto-Acts) and instead came with a later redaction. Hence 2:4b is downgraded as a source. This theory contradicts the textual integrity of Acts.

A sixth, common to but not restricted to Pentecostals and Neo-Pentecostals, takes Acts 2:4b to mean the same kind of supernatural utterance, that is, glossolalia, that Paul mentioned in 1 Cor. 12-14.

A seventh interpretation understands 'other tongues' to refer to intelligible utterance, either 'mysterious' languages, though not necessarily foreign languages or intelligible speech in the sense of understandable language.

The fourth and fifth interpretations by their critical presuppositions deny any extraordinary speaking, and the second and third interpretations by shifting to eloquent persuasiveness and to miraculous hearing, respectively, do in essence the same. Hence only the first, sixth, and seventh interpretations are of major importance in any effort to correlate Acts 2:4b and 1 Cor. 12-14." (227-29)

"We approach this question of correlation on the assumption that in 1 Cor 12-14 Paul, by referring to the 'ability to speak in different kinds of tongues' (NIV) or 'various kinds of tongues' (RSV) and to 'one who speaks in a tongue,' alluded to a Spirit-given utterance more likely to be described as ecstatic than as a foreign language. We also assume that what happened according to Acts 10:46 and Acts 19:6 was not markedly different from Paul's reference in 1 Cor 12-14."

(229) "Pentecostals and Neo-Pentecostals continue to insist that tongues-speaking is the single and sole evidence of baptism in or with the Holy Spirit, the baptism being post-conversional. Moreover, they place great emphasis on tongues-speaking while affirming that all the other gifts listed in 1 Cor. 12:8-10 are being given and exercised today. How ought non-tongues-speakers to respond to these claims?

First, they can recognize that the gift of tongues is seemingly a present-day reality and abandon [B.B.] Warfield's apostolic cessation theory. Second, they can take note of abuses of tongues-speaking and of other gifts, as Donald Gee acknowledged. Third, they can recognize that both Neo-Pentecostal and non-Pentecostal authors have identified present day tongues-speaking as a 'special language,' different from any known language but expressive of meaning. Fourth, they can be aware that leading exponents of tongues-speaking make the practice almost identical with praying with the Holy Spirit. On both sides of the tongues issue authors have emphasized that tongues-speaking can lead to the 'enrichment' of one's prayer life or 'personal devotional life.' Fifth, they can respectfully ask tongues-speakers not to elevate the gift above all others, so as to contradict Paul, or to look on non-tongues-speakers as inferior or second-class Christians. Sixth, they should refrain from efforts to exclude or disfellowship those who exercise tongues-speaking within the Pauline perimeters. Seventh, they can express thanks to Pentecostals and Neo-Pentecostals for their clear witness to the dynamic agency and the sovereign lordship of the Holy Spirit in today's world. Eighth, they should make certain that their own use of known languages is for the witness of Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit." (233-34).

______________________________ (End of Letter)

Bottom line people, there should be room in the SBC for disagreement over this and other issues that some seek to divide us over.

In His Grace,


Wade

Death by Trivialization: The Decline of Christianity in America

One might ask the question, "Why is the evangelical church thriving and growing in foreign cultures, but static or declining in the USA?

In the 1985 book Amusing Ourselves to Death, educator Neil Postman proposed that futurist Aldous Huxley, not George Orwell, understood better the future of Western civilization.

"What Orwell feared were those who would ban books," wrote Postman, "But what Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one . . . Orwell feared that truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared that the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orewell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture."

Could it be that evangelical churches, particularly those churches aligned with mainline denominations in America, are both Orwellian and Huxlian?

In other words, could the problems be that we face those in denominational authority who seek to squelch true, free Biblical debate, but at the same time, church members and leaders don't care that debate is squelched because they have no interest in the teaching of the Bible? It seems that our culture is dying the death of trivialization, and our churches our following suit by caring more about the next special guest, the fascinating entertainers, the current musical rage, and the special "How To" homilies which have taken the place of sound, Biblical exposition from the pulpit. There is more emphasis in our churches on horns, slogans, and banners than worship, sound teaching and Biblical exhortations.

Would to God we really cared what the Bible said. Only then would we be up in arms about any attempt to silence debate.

In His Grace,

Wade

Don't know, just asking.

Wade

Mega-Church Downsizing

Our College and Career Pastor, Leo Heppler, sent me an article about a church that sent letters to members saying they either needed to give and serve or move on to another church. I'm not sure how legitimate the article is (see the first comment by Bryan on this post), but the article did remind me of a story.

There was a woman who sat in her pew, without serving the church in any capacity, throughout the fifty five year ministry of Dr. John Gill. She did not even partake of communion.

She was in her seat when Gill (1697-1771) was called as Pastor of Horsleydown Church in London on March 22, 1720, and she was in her seat when Gill preached his last sermon as pastor of the church, 51 years later, on October 14, 1771 (the day of his death).

She was converted and baptized one month after Gill died.

I guess our church probably takes a similar position to that of Gill in believing that God works in mysterious ways, and the Holy Spirit moves in people using varous methods and different timetables.

Christians are not cut from cookie molds --- they are formed by the Hands of Sovereign God who loves variety. I kind of like it where a church is composed of different people, with varying gifts, and we don't demand everyone look the same, act the same, or even serve the same.

But maybe that's just me.

In His Grace,


Wade

In Memorium: Isaac King, Aaron Davis, Sarah Foster, Steve Dillon



Late last night four very special young people, ages 21, 20, 19, 18 respectively, all of whom loved Christ, died in an automobile accident heading home to Enid. All four had spent the day rafting the Illinois River in Eastern Oklahoma with Dr. John Stam's family (our church's Missions Pastor), and were coming home at 10:00 p.m. when they were killed in a headon crash on Interstate 412 while passing through a construction zone in Sand Springs, Oklahoma. Two adults in the car that crossed the median and hit the kids' car also died.

Two of the four young people, Isaac King and Steve Dillon, played in our REFUGE band for our Saturday night worship gathering. Isaac played bass guitar, and Steve-O Dillon played drums. Isaac was leaving this week to join the singing group Primary Focus and then planned on attending Liberty University.

Steve-O was a quiet person who loved music. He was as brilliant as his brother, Ben, who recently graduated from Yale Divinity School. Steve-O's dad, Matt, died suddenly and unexpectedly just a couple of years ago, so Steve, through his own personal experience knew the meaning of the brevity of life.

Aaron Davis was a rock climber. He and Isaac were taken under the wing of one of our church members, Bill Ward, who taught them both how to mountain climb. The bigger the rock the better. Aaron was one of a family of nine, and highly respected by all who knew him.

Sarah Foster loved life, her family and her friends. She was part of the home school association that gathered for extra-curricular activities where deep, Christian friendships were formed, including those she had with the three boys who died with her. Her brother, Ben, a student at Oklahoma Bible Academy is left with a memory of a sister who taught him what it meant to follow Christ no matter the cost.

Tentative funeral arrangements for all four are scheduled for this Saturday.

I know their families would appreciate your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. Today we are all reminded of what is really important in life.

In His Grace,


Wade

A.W. Pink and Spartanburg, SC

The International Mission Board of Trustees will be having their meeting next Monday through Wednesday, September 11-13, 2006 in Spartanburg, S.C.

A.W. Pink, friend of my grandfather's and well known evangelical author of the 20th Century, spent several years in Spartanburg as pastor. I will be visiting his former church while in Spartanburg and will attempt to make contact with a couple of people mentioned in Richard Belcher's book "Letters from Spartanburg" while in town.

However, in researching some of Pink's life in preparation for my visit to Spartanburg, I read again about Pink's conversion, as summarized by Ian Murrary. I think you will find it interesting that A.W. Pink was heavily involved in the occult and spiritism prior to coming to faith in Christ. The following is adapted from Murray's summary of Pink's conversion and illustrates how when God truly converts a sinner, the converted person's love for Christ cannot be hidden.

His Early Involvement With the Occult

A.W. Pink's initial interest in the occult and spiritism eventually led to a thorough commitment. He addressed cult meetings and became so closely involved with the London headquarters of theosophy that a photograph taken of some of the leaders at that period showed him seated in their midst.

When news of Pink’s eloquent propagation of theosophy reached Madame Besant in Madras she opened a correspondence with him — and subsequently proposed to confer a title upon him which would rank him among the cult’s chiefs (a dignity which apparently would also entail his removal to India).

One of Pink’s closest friends, although a fellow theosophist, was not enamoured with the proposal. This man was an opera singer by profession and, having a high opinion of Pink’s baritone voice, he urged him to study for the same career.

But the appeal of Madame Besant’s offer was stronger than that of music, and Pink accepted it. It ‘fed my ego’, he later commented, characterising the whole system as one that ‘appeals to the flesh, panders to pride, and exalts man’.

A Verse of Scripture Like an Arrow to the Heart

The date when the Besant proposal came to Pink is not known. It was probably early in 1908, for we know that in that year he was still in Nottingham. He was now twenty-two years of age, and so deeply involved in the occult that he later recorded, ‘Five years ago I was a medium’, practising ‘clairvoyance, psychomancy, and magical healing’.

All this time Pink was earning a living in business and living at home, which tells us something about his patient parents. They grieved, prayed and were not altogether silent. His father always waited up until his son returned from meetings late in the evening and to Arthur’s annoyance often accompanied his ‘Good-night’ with some brief but telling word of Scripture.

One such evening in 1908, as Pink hurriedly passed his father and dashed upstairs to his room, the text he received was, ‘There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death’ (Proverbs 14:12).

He shut the bedroom door, intending to do some work on a speech for an important meeting of theosophists that was to take place on the Friday evening of that same week. But the text so disturbed his concentration that work was impossible.

A Holy and Sovereign God

The story continues in the words of Charles and Elsie Pressel:

‘AWP decided he was fatigued, and would take a bath to relax, but during this process all he could see "mentally" was, "There is a way that seemeth right, etc." Again he returned to work on his speech and all his mind brought forth was Proverbs 14:12.

‘He ... told us he could no longer reject the God of the Bible and began to cry unto the Lord in prayer, convicted by the Holy Spirit and his power to bring a soul to see his lost condition and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as his Saviour. His early training taught him about our Lord, but now, like Paul of old, was the appointment with a Holy Sovereign God.

‘For almost three days he did not leave his room to join the family, but his father and mother prayed, and in late afternoon on the third day AWP made his appearance and his father said, "Praise God, my son has been delivered."

‘AWP kept his next appointment before the Society of Theosophists; the speech he was preparing was never completed but by God’s grace he made known to them the God of the Bible. A "groan" went up from the listeners. Many remarked that he had "gone mad" and needed a rest, for they were aware of his plans to join Madame Besant.’

Suddenly Struck Down

This last address of Pink’s among theosophists was a gospel message on the true God and Jesus Christ, his Son, in whom alone there is salvation. He must have told them what he recorded a few years later.

He put the question, ‘Why did I leave Spiritism and Theosophy?’ and replied, ‘Because it failed to satisfy my soul. I was trying to save myself. There was no peace for a burdened conscience, no assurance of sins forgiven, no power of sin broken, no satisfaction of heart. I found I could not save myself and came to the only One who could save me. "Thou, O Christ, art all I want, more than all in Thee I find".

No one, it appears, stood with him on that Friday night in 1908. Alone he confessed Jesus Christ and alone resigned his membership of the society. Later he would write: ‘I have yet to meet the first Spiritist who bows the knee to Christ and owns Him as Lord’. His testimony should not be interpreted as though a prolonged inner dissatisfaction preceded his conversion, for he speaks elsewhere of being suddenly struck down in the midst of rebellion.

Christ ‘apprehended him when he was altogether unconscious of his deep need, and had no desire whatever for a Saviour’.

Deliverance


Pink had no doubt that his conversion, like every true conversion, was a deliverance from the power of Satan, and now the nature of that Satanic power appeared to him as it had never done before. His eyes were opened to the real meaning of spiritism.

It was true some clairvoyants might be simply tricksters, but that had not been his position and he was sure ‘the whole phenomenon cannot be accounted for on natural grounds’.

Many of the spirit-communicated messages were real, but they came not from the dead but from demons impersonating the departed. God had called him from the deepest darkness and, if he dwelt on the subject in later years, something of the darkness could come back to him.

In 1919 when he had a prolonged correspondence with a person caught in spiritism, and seemingly seeking deliverance, he commented to a friend: ‘This correspondence has weighed on me: Satan is trying hard to use it as a hindrance. It has always affected me detrimentally whenever I have turned my mind and attention back to Spiritism’.

Called to Serve

For two years after this spiritual crisis Pink continued in his daily work, but in his bedroom it was now his Bible that was ever open. Ten chapters of Scripture were read daily, plus one particular portion to which he would give particular study, ‘ten minutes or more’, through seven days.

In addition, he would take one special verse each day for meditation, carrying it with him on a slip of paper to which he would turn in spare moments, ‘asking God to open to me its spiritual meaning and to write it on my heart’.

Recommending the practice to others, he was to say, ‘The writer memorised the whole epistle of Ephesians on the street-car, a verse at a time’. On days when he was free of business he could spend up to ten hours in his new delight with the Bible.

In part this intense study of Scripture was connected with a conviction that his lifework lay in the service of the gospel. In a brief summary of his early life, written in 1934, he said, ‘I was born in England in 1886, and at the age of sixteen entered business, in which God granted me considerable success. In 1908 he saved me in my bedroom. I knew right then he had also called me to be his servant.’

In that same year he had first addressed a Christian gathering. He recalled in 1948: ‘Forty years have passed since the editor preached his first sermon. It was on the words, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ" etc. (Romans 1:16), and to a congregation of over 700 people. Though it was not the first time we had spoken in public, yet it was quite an ordeal, especially as it was in our home-town, Nottingham.’

May God give us more Pink's in this 21st Century.

In HIs Grace,


Wade Burleson

Teamwork Is Needed

Attorney Norman Lamb and I made our way this past Saturday to Norman, Oklahoma to enjoy Oklahoma's 24-17 win of UAB. Some might say Oklahoma did not play well, but take it from someone who has seen the majority of home games at OU over the last 20 years --- UAB is a tough football team and will win 8 to 9 games this year.

The Governor's Reception

Prior to the game we attended two functions; a reception for Governor Henry and the dedication of the Heisman Park statue of former Sooner Heisman Trophy winner Steve Owens. This post is dedicated to the first function.

The reception for Governor Henry took place at the magnificent home of a Norman, Oklahoma attorney who is assisting the Governor as he seeks to build up steam for his reelection bid this November.

I am a life long Republican. Former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating (1994-2002), a Republican, is a friend of mine who would often use my office in Enid when he was in the Northwest part of the state. Governor Brad Henry, elected in 2002, is a Democrat. However, when he was elected in 2002, he asked me to be a part of his Inaugural Prayer Service the following January. Needless to say I was surprised at his request, but I took the opportunity to try to say something meaningful and personal.

Years ago the Governor and First Lady lost a small child to death, a very painful, heartwrenching experience for both of them. Not many knew of this difficult experience for the Henrys, but I felt impressed by God to honor the memory of their child by weaving a brief message about the goodness and grace of God in times of difficulty.

I sought to show how we have a High Priest who "is touched with the feeling of our infirmities", and that during our times of our darkness and despair, we have a God who is not indifferent or cold, but grieves for us as a human father grieves over the pain in his child. I pointed out, however, that unlike a human father, our Heavenly Father has the power, and the desire, to work all of our trials ultimately for our good and His glory. I encouraged the Governor and his wife to remember that not all his days in office would be good days, but their compassionate God would be faithful to work even the dark, difficult days for their good.

The Governor and Kim seemed to be very grateful for the message, and though I had seen the Governor just a couple of times since the Inaugural, he was always very warm and friendly.

A Surprising Conversation

The attorney's home last Saturday afternoon was filled with prominent Oklahoma Democrats including Attorney General Drew Edmondson, National Democratic Leader Mike Turpin, current Lieutenant Governor hopeful Jari Askins and a host of others from throughout the state.

I tried to be a wall flower until my church member, Norman Lamb, made all the contacts he needed to make as the Governor's liason for Veteran Affairs. I was only there because Norman and I go together to the OU games, but before we left the reception I ended up having a very surprising conversation with the Governor.

When the Governor saw me he stepped out of his receiving line and pulled me aside for a conversation that lasted about five minutes. He said he had been following the events in the Southern Baptist Convention very closely. He wanted to offer me some encouragement. He said that he had been praying for me and my wife, and he was hopeful that the SBC would begin to recognize that we would be far more effective as a Convention if we could work together rather than label one another, take sides, and then seek to defeat one another politically. In other words, said the Governor, we all needed to realize we all are on the same team.

The Governor is a Southern Baptist. He is a member of a Southern Baptist church in Oklahoma that is considered "moderate." I found it interesting, however, that even a politician like Governor Henry, recognized that in the evangelical Christian world there is very little benefit in partisian politics, and a great deal of benefit in teamwork. He then called his wife over and we visited a few more minutes about other matters before he went back to the receiving line.

The Lesson for Me

I have many, many friends who love Jesus, worked hard for the conservative "resurgence" in the Southern Baptist Convention, and are currently leaders in the SBC. I love them all and am grateful for their convictions, their service and their leadership.

Some of my conservative friends are on the direct opposite pole of Governor Henry politically (as am I on many issues), but the last time I checked, the Southern Baptist Convention has as a purpose the propagation of the gospel, not a specific political idealogy. I think one of the reasons I have a personal relationship with the Governor is because I do not let the differences between us put a wedge in our relationship as evangelical Christians, much less Southern Baptists.

I am beginning to see a growing desire among many Southern Baptists, including those of us who are considered conservative, that we lay aside our political differences and third tier doctrinal differences for the sake of the gospel.

It would be a wonderful day in the SBC if the people who make up the Southern Baptist Convention including Democrats and Republicans, men and women, blacks and whites, tongues speakers and non-tongues speakers, one point Calvinists and five point Calvinists, Landmarkers and non-Landmarkers, could lay aside all our differences and join hands for the proclamation of Christ and Him crucified to a world in need of a Savior.

May God grant it.



In His Grace,


Wade

A Quote Worthy of Contemplation and Meditation

Tomorrow I will be traveling to Gaylord Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma to watch the 2006 Oklahoma Sooners kick off their season with UAB. My grandfather was an All American tight end for Oklahoma, and played in the first ever game held in the Cotton Bowl between OU and Texas.

Attorney Norman Lamb, who happens to be the Governor's liason for Veteran Affairs in Oklahoma and a dear friend of mine (not to mention a church member at Emmanuel), is taking me to a pregame function with Governor Brad Henry and some of my favorite Sooners of all time --- Barry Switzer, Billy Sims and the Selmon brothers.

Kickoff is at 6:00 and I'll lighten up my blog a little Monday by giving you a review of the events of Game Day.

Until then, enjoy Labor Day weekend and chew a little on the quote below, first published in the London Telegraph over 100 years ago from an excerpt of one of Charles Haddon Spurgeon's personal letters. Mr. Spurgeon is my hero in the ministry, and though I am not certain regarding the circumstances which caused Spurgeon to write the following, the wisdom in the quote is beneficial for every believer, in every age.

-----------------------------------

"There is growing up in society a Pharisaic system which adds to the commands of God the precepts of men; to that system I will not yield for an hour. The preservation of my liberty may bring upon me the upbraidings of many good men, and the sneers of the self-righteous; but I shall endure both with serenity so long as I feel clear in my conscience before God." C. H. Spurgeon

-----------------------------------

Have a great Labor Day weekend,

In His Grace,


Wade