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

Ten Men For Whom I Ask You To Pray

IMB Chairman Dr. John Floyd appointed two ad hoc committees to study the new policies prohibiting a private prayer language and identifying an acceptable baptism as one performed in a church that holds to the doctrine of eternal security. These two ad hoc committees are to bring a report and/or recommendations to the full trustee board either in the March or May meeting of the International Mission Board.

I am asking you to pray for the members of these two ad hoc committees as these men prepare for their task. I know all of them personally and each of them genuinely desires to do that which they perceive to be best for the Southern Baptist Convention and cooperative missions. I have intentionally tried to stay away from the topic of the two policies to allow the two committees an opportunity to do their work. However, it should be pointed out that no work of the Southern Baptist Convention, particularly as important as the work of the two ad hoc committees, is done in a vacuum. Southern Baptists operate best when our business is ultimately done in openness and transparency, particularly when decisions that affect individual churches and our future cooperation in missions ministry is at stake.

My concern from the very beginning has been the rationale and motivation for the two new policies. I am trusting that if these two respective committees determine that the new policies are actually needed, then the official rationale given to us at the time of their report will be exhuaustive, detailed, transparent and consistent with the teaching of Scripture. However, if these two committees cannot easily give a logical, Biblical and detailed explanation for the purpose of these two new policies, then I am trusting they will have the courage to do the right thing, resist outside pressure, and either reword them or rescind them.

Either way, the following ten men need your prayers:

The Glossolalia Ad Hoc Committee:
Paul Chitwood, Kevin King, Mike Smith, Simon Tsoi

The Baptism Ad Hoc Committee
Bill Curp, Andy Johnson, Sam Morgan, Herman Pair, Blake Withers

IMB Trustee Chairman
John Floyd

I am praying for these men daily, and would encourage you to do the same.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am praying with you that these men recognize the mistake it would be to move beyond the Baptist Faith & Message statement, but more importantly I am praying they will see how unnecessarily divisive it would be to move beyond Holy Scripture itself. May the Lord give them courage to do what they know is right.

East Texas Pastor

Anonymous said...

Eleventh Man: Dr. Mike Tucker, our wonderful LifeWay area representative (lives in Flower Mound, TX) who reported by email earlier today that a mass has been discovered on one of his kidneys; the kidney will need to be removed, and his family obviously is concerned. If you know Mike, then you know how much he loves the Lord and life-changing ministry--please remember Mike Tucker in your prayers. (Thanks for letting me post this tonight, Wade.)


David Troublefield
Wichita Falls, TX

Steve A said...

May the Holy Spirit fill these men as they deal with these weighty questions. If staying with the BF&M is right, may they have the courage to say so without concern for what others may think. If they are convinced that they must be stricter than the BF&M, may they be detailed and convincing in justifying such a decision.

Could they simply decide to present changes to the SBC at SA for a vote up or down?

CB Scott said...

Wade,

I will pray. I know Herman Pair and his wife. They are fair minded people. Mrs. Pair is an Associational Missions worker here in Birmingham. She is diligent in sharing the gospel at NASCAR events and in feeding and evangelizing the homeless here in Birmingham. She leads the BBA member churches not only to feed people, but to present the gospel as well.

If Herman Pair is an example of those committee members it is a good thing. I covenant with you to pray and may the Holy Spirit move others to do the same.

cb

OC Hands said...

Wade,
Thanks for the heads-up on this very important matter. We will pray especially for these comittee members as their recommendations will have far-reaching effects on current and future international mission efforts.
We will also continue to pray for Dr. Rankin and his staff as they supervise and support the work of the International Mission Board.
We further commit to pray for you and all the trustees that each of you will be led by the Holy Spirit in your discussions, deliberations and decisions. May God give you wisdom from on high, and the courage to do what He leads you to do.
Milton and Nannette

Jason Helmbacher said...

Wade,

Thanks for helping us all be involved in the convention and the IMB. Most of us read your blog daily, not because of controversy but because we love and believe in and hope for God's usefulness of the SBC.

I do have a question. I noticed Bill Curp's name on the Baptism Ad Hoc Committee. I spoke with him last year and understand he served on the original Baptism policy committee. Are there any others who worked on the original policies that are also on these ad hoc committees? I assume that if that's the case they join the ad hoc teams with open minds for the possibility of changing their original views on baptism and private prayer language. Would you assume that as well?

Jason

Roger Simpson said...

Wade:

I agree that the men on both these comittees need our prayers so they will come up with the right solution. They have to have the wisdom of Solomon.

Also, I believe we should "voluntarily" "accept" the work of the comittees -- even if we disagree with it.

I think that the SBC just can't withstand -- on a long term basis -- "death by a thousand cuts" that happens when people are polarized on tons of secondary (or tertiary) issues.

I don't think the restrictive IMB policies are well advised. However, I think that doing a cost/benefit analysis shows it is "better" to accept whatever the comittees come out with as opposed to continuing to fight on these issues. After all, they are SECONDARY issues, right?

I apologize to you purists who are thinking, "Well, there he goes again, selling out by rubber-stamping some edict from on high for the sake of peace." OK, I admit I'm a pragmitist.

Roger Simpson
Oklahoma City OK

JayLee said...

One of my favorite passages in all of scripture is from Exodus 14:10-14. Pharaoh, realizing the impact of letting the Israelites go, chased them to the edge of the Red Sea. The children of Israel were whining that God had brought them out just to kill them and wanted to go back to slavery. Moses told the people to fear not. God was going to take care of them. He would fight the battle for them and they only needed to let Him.

I will pray for these men, that they will have godly wisdom, will be free from outside influence, will have a heart open only to the Holy Spirit and will be able to discern what is right and what changes need to be made, or not made. I will also pray they will have the courage to stand for what they are convinced is God's will, because no matter what they decide it will be an unpopular decision. The "sides" on these issues are well marked and I fear there is no way all can be satisfied with the result.

It's not about us. It's about God's glory and His gospel. The battle is His. We need to let Him fight for us, "us" being the whole SBC, and in reality the lost world we are trying to reach, not just a portion with whom I happen to agree.

Rob Ayers said...

Roger,

The answer is simple - the one thing that will save us from "the death of a thousand cuts": Disemenating pro and con each of the policies, and then calling for a vote at a future convention - allowing each side a season of debate/dissent/discussion, and then voting up them, up or down - and then allowing whatever comes to be the standard of policy in all the entities, not just one.
The rancor for all intents and purposes will be over - the Convention will have spoken, and then everybody can then make whatever choice their conscience dictates.

The BoT should never have placed us in this position in the first place - but once they did, it probably can not be settled outside of Convention action. The only reason why the BoT does not desire to go there is because they do not wish to bregruge the "autonomy" they believe they own away from Convention dictates - and everybody else has done it the same way.

The people of the churches are not stupid. They have been asked to settle disputes before - and they can do so again. Openess is necessary here - it is time for the entities and leaders of the Convention to trust the people of the churches once more.

Rob

Les Puryear said...

Wade,

Thanks for letting us know this is being looked at. I don't believe any BoT should go beyond BFM2K in doctrinal policy. This move is very encouraging.

I will be praying.

Les

Roger Simpson said...

Rob:

I have no problem conceptually with addressing these issues in open floor debate in the annual convention in a public session. As you say, the vote would have to be proceeded adequate time (say 20 minutes for each side) so each side could lay out their case.

The problem is that I don't know how you could realistically structure any debate so there would be an up or down vote on a defined issue. There is no way that I am aware of (in Robert's rules of order) to preclude various ammendments from being offered and then having to debate those ammendments.

I don't disagree with the sense of having an open floor debate on the issues but I am not sure it is practical.

If the BoT process is so disfunctional that issues that are acknowledged by both sides to be SECONDARY have to be taken out of the hands of the BoT and handled by the entire convention then to me that is tantamount to admitting that the BoT system is on the verge of becoming useless.

I think the BoT system and the governance of the entities needs beefing up. The entities need a "crisper" method of problem resolution and a more focused way to dispose of problems. Therefore, I am not in favor of any move which would subvert the BoT and/or let them off the hook.

Roger Simpson
Oklahoma City OK

Steve A said...

I really do not have enough experience with "organized ball" in the SBC, political or otherwise, but I could see the SBC simply ordering agencies to stay within the BF&M unless they come back to, say, the Exec Committee.

I may also be naive in wondering of we could simply have seven or nine trustees on these boards rather than 40 or 80. These topical committees of 5 or so do seem to be about right as long as the entire boards listen to their recommendations.

The changes being made at these agencies are so big that I would really like to have more oversight. Change the letterhead? Get a new website? Fine. Throw out dozens of missionaries or start changing rules on retaining seminary faculty in violation of policies in place? Let's run that by something larger that isn't under the same man's control.
We've had enough fiefdoms.

Rob Ayers said...

Roger,

I disagree with you in that allowing the Convention to speak on issues will be subverting anything. Baptist polity is Congregationalist and the Convention was/is designed to deal with issues/controversies in this way. Currently the way the system has evolved in SBC life is that to change direction in the SBC requires "a takeover" thus controversies such as these run on and on forever ad infinitum. You have advocated eloquently about setting aside the extraneous issues and getting to the heart of the matter. The Convention could be such a place where these issues after deliberate debate could be settled. Position papers could be disseminated by e-mail or mailings to the churches; leadership could call for earnest prayer for the convention to settle the dispute, and call for churches to send messengers so that the churches will be heard; Convention time could be set up to allow each side an extended amount of time to be heard and amendments be presented (or there can be an agreement to limit amendments before proceeding) - a ballot vote could be taken at the end of debate - end of dispute for all practical purposes. Convention time is now swallowed up by (how shall I be polite here) extraneous and superfluous issues that could be communicate in others ways besides taking up people's time. If it is not blasphemous to say, we can probably cut out half to 3/4's of the current program, go all day every day from Monday morning to Wednesday evening taking care of Convention Business if we needed to. It is my contention that leadership is more about having a conflict free convention than for any serious resolution to protracted problems be resolved. Shame on them.

The problem with the moderates where they would hear the resolutions from the floor of the Convention, and then ignore them. The system has evolved where those in control of the process control what the Convention does. I am not to stupid to see a system that has broken its moorings from a polity that power was diffused to the churches to where now the power is in the hands of an oligarchy. Well meaning that these men and women are, it is not enough to claim you know what the majority believes. It is time to test that belief. End the squabble. It can be done if those in control wish to end it.

Rob

Michael said...

How about the issues to be voted on in each convention be summarized and sent out on a email list serve to all people that are interested rather than only to people who are actually going. (it may just be me but not everyone can easily take off for half a week from their job)
Michael

Rob Ayers said...

Michael,

You certainly have a point here. Not all churches are represented at the Convention per se because of distance, money, and time off of work, excetera. I would be all for getting more churches involved if the policy inacted at any one entity is suppose to represent them. What would a system like this look like?

Rob

Roger Simpson said...

Rob:

Your argument is compelling. I rescind my previous objections to having the full convention participate. With the provisos you enumerate: such as position papers distributed ahead of time via electronic means, agreement ahead of time regarding limitation of ammendments, etc. then I agree this can be done.

In any case, I certainly agree that we have a congregrationalist form of government and there is nothing wrong with having the people involved. Maybe if we develop a "understanding" that only a "few" issues actually percolate all the way up to the full convention per year then your recommendation is realistic.

If we could at least have a gentlemen's agreement on the agenda and a few rules on the debate then the people could speak once and for all on key subjects.

I have watched the SBC conventions via live video streaming on the web and I agree that at least half of the stuff could be eliminated. For example, the reports could be submitted electronically on websites for the schools and agencies.

Regardless of the issue of taking key votes on issues in the annual convention, I am still concerned about the role of the BoTs of the agencies.

Maybe the BoTs could help frame the debate. Where there is significant divisions on a some key point then the BoTs and administrations of the agencies could frame the question to be brought to the convention.

Right now the exec committee brings questions to the convention. They brought a recommendation about the WMU which the whole convention defeated.

As an example: In the same way, the BoT/administration of the IMB could bring a recommendation regarding PPL which would either pass or fail.

Right now, key decisions of the EC are subject to review of the whole convention because the EC brings recommendations up for a vote. In the same way where there is likely to be "significant" diversity of views the agencies would bring up recommendations for a vote.

I think the exec comittee brought a dozen or more recommendations up in Greensboro. So maybe having the NAMB and/or IMB bring up a few recommendations per year is plausible.

Anonymous said...

Jaylee:

I've been leaning on, and pointing folks to, Exodus 14 since the end of last summer when LifeWay's Family Bible Study series led us through a study of Exodus. The children of Israel against a sea they can't cross, facing an army they can't beat; no way out but up. They cry out to Moses, who cried out to God--Who said, "Don't run, and don't fight--do the really hard thing: just stand there. I'll fight this battle for you, and no one ever will see your enemy again." During the past 3700 years, nobody has--the Egyptian army still is buried at the bottom of the Red Sea (or, even more miraculously if the Reed Sea as some say). Of course, the "stand still" part was a heart-thing, because shortly after God said the words, the children of Israel had to "move those feet" and cross the dry ground of the Red Sea floor--so, it's "stand still in your heart" but "do your part" with God. It speaks to me.

Good evening to you, wherever you are.


David Troublefield
Minister of Education/Administration
Lamar Baptist Church
Wichita Falls, TX
"Go, Sunday School!"

Jason Epps -- Salt Lake City, Utah, USA said...

A question for anyone who can answer:

If the IMB ad hoc committee's report on private prayer language ends up recommending that the current policy be rescinded - would this have any impact on NAMB's policy, which also prohibits the appointment of missionaries who have a private prayer language?

Jason Epps

sepherim said...

At the risk of trivializing Martin Niemöller, "When they came to get the private prayer people I didn't object because I didn't use private prayer language. When they came to get the non-approved baptized, I didn't object because my baptism was just fine. When they came to get the women professors, I didn't object . . ."

For those of you who advocate not rocking the boat over secondary or tertiary issues, please recognize that the dominant leadership of the SBC is using those very issues to expand their control of all agencies.

Do pray for these committees and their deliberations, but remember that there is nothing inerrant about a committee decision.