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

There Was No Trustee Investigative Committee

I received clarification today regarding the report from the International Mission Board given last Tuesday in response to my motion at the Southern Baptist Convention. My motion, affirmed by the SBC in Greensboro, North Carolina, began with these two paragraphs (emphasis mine):

"I move that the Southern Baptist Convention, in session, in Greensboro, authorize the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention to appoint a seven member Ad Hoc Committee to determine the sources of the controversies in our International Mission Board, and make findings and recommendations regarding these controversies, so that trustees of the IMB might effect reconciliation and effectively discharge their responsibilities to God and fellow Southern Baptists by cooperating together to accomplish evangelism and missions to the Glory of God;

That this Committee listen to, view evidence of, and possibly investigate further, five concerns involving the International Mission Board . . ."


Today I was told five things that helped me understand the 'official' IMB response a little better.

(1). There was no trustee investigative committee.
(2). The response was designed to be generic and non-controversial.
(3). Nobody investigated anything because it is not the business of the IMB to investigate any outside influence upon trustees by other agency heads. It is the business of the IMB to get on with the work of missions. (By the way, I agree with this sentiment -- it is for this reason that I asked for an outside seven member Ad Hoc Committee appointed by the Executive Committee of the SBC).
(4). Reporter Tammi Leadbetter of the Southern Baptist Texan editorialized a great deal about the report, making false assumptions. Some corrections have already been made to her report.
(5). The IMB, as well as every other SBC agency is an autonomous agency, and can do anything the autonomous board desires regarding doctrinal standards, including going beyond the BFM 2000. It was pointed out Southern Seminary has the Abstract of Principles, and the IMB can establish whatever doctrinal parameters it desires.

I now understand why nobody contacted me during the investigation. There was no investigation. I also now understand why I was confused about a headline that read, Board Rejects Allegation of Impropriety. The reporter, as did I, must have also assumed that something was actually investigated.

My complaint for over a year and a half has been that the emphasis on a ban of a private prayer language and the pushing of a sacerdotal baptism policy, one that closely resembles tenants of Landmarkism, came from outside IMB administration and staff, and worked its way into the board through trustees being influenced by administrators and and at least one head of other Southern Baptist agencies. Further, I contended that there was absolutely no anecdotal evidence that a problem existed on the mission field among our SBC missionaries that would call for correction by the implementation of those two policies, and I have repeatedly asked, as a duly elected trustee, to be given evidence that these policies were needed. To this day I have received no anectodal evidence. The recommendation was a call to determine the real reason for the policies being forced upon the IMB, in opposition to the desires of her President.

Again, lest anyone forget, the entire controversy on the International Mission Board began when, as a new and duly elected trustee, I began asking questions about why these new policies on private prayer language and baptism were even needed. I felt both policies went beyond the BFM 2000, but more importantly, I felt they violated Scripture. When I voiced my opposition, the controversy erupted. Again, I have always sought to be respectful of my fellow trustees, while strongly issuing my objections to what I believed to be the implemention of two policies that violate the sacred and sufficient Word of God.

There is hope that the trustees will vote to reword the policies to accurately reflect the teaching of Scripture in the Memphis board meeting in March. Scripture permits us to restrict the public speaking of tongues, as did the old policy of the IMB, but Sripture forbids us from entering the prayer closet of a Southern Baptist. Private prayers are between the saint and His Savior. Further, baptism is identification with Christ, and not the doctrine of eternal security. We must trust the autonomy of our local churches when it comes to believer's baptism. If a local Southern Baptist church accepts a person upon his statement of baptism, that it was by immersion, after having come to faith in Christ, and not regenerative in nature, then who are we to reject the baptism that a local, autonomous Southern Baptist church has recognized as Christian and Biblical?

If the policies are reworded or rescinded I will be able to accept the fact that no investigation was conducted into these matters. If the policies are reworded or rescinded in the Memphis trustee meeting in March I will move on and simply ignore whatever has been unjustly said or done in an attempt to silence dissent. I am praying that this is the course of action the IMB trustee board takes.

In His Grace,


Wade

P.S. Contrary to some who argue that any agency can (or should) establish whatever doctrinal parameters it desires, Alan Cross argues quite well that this kind of thinking is actually Relativism in the SBC

73 comments:

Pastor Jim said...

Bro. Burleson,

If anyone uses the word 'false' to describe your allegations, then they themselves have a huge integrity issue since nobody has 'investigated.'

Michael said...

I think there is going to be at least 200 comments on this one Wade.
Good luck!
Michael

Evan Fields said...

Wade,

Dadgum it, do I ever admire you. Every time I think I am going to leave the SBC and become Evangelical Free, non-denominational, or some other evangelical affiliation, you go and write a post that convinces me that there is hope, vision and future leadership for the SBC.

Thank you. My church thanks you, and the SBC and IMB should thank you. You are keeping $50,000 to the Lottie Moon in play and $125,00 CP monies in play because we trust your leadership and are staying, even though we have had official requests to leave the SBC because of the new policies. My deacon leadership is pointing people to your blog.

Wade Burleson said...

Michael and Evan,

I'm not sure about the number of comments, but I sure prefer them to emails. :) Easier to handle.

Evan, thanks for staying. I have always encouraged people to do more, not less for missions.

Bill Scott said...

Wade,
It almost appears that there was intentional misinformation given by the Executive Committee. How were we all duped into believing that there actually was an investigation?

When one of my children lets me believe something other than the TRUTH to avoid a messy or undesirable outcome, there is almost always a consequence. If this type of behavior was exhibited by a friend I would be hurt at the least and offended at the most. This also breeds an environment of distrust. (What else are you not telling me?)

When your denomination exhibits this type of behavior it is extremely disappointing to say the very least.

Bill Scott

Debbie said...

So what was the statement from the IMB for? Show?

Anonymous said...

Wade typed, "The IMB, as well as every other SBC agency is an autonomous agency, and can do anything the autonomous board desires regarding doctrinal standards, including going beyond the BFM 2000 . . ."

In 2000-2001, the trustee boards of five of the autonomous (but now termed "renegade") agencies of the Missouri Baptist Convention exercised their autonomy, voting to alter their agencies' legal charters to permit them to elect self-perpetuating boards no longer dependent upon that state convention's messengers meeting in annual sessions. In reaction, the MBC has autonomously taken those agencies and their leaders to court, spending millions of dollars since in an effort to have the agencies return to the MBC fold.

"Autonomous" is autonomous, or it isn't--right?


David Troublefield
Wichita Falls, TX

A 10-40 Window Missionary said...

Wade,

You say, "There was no investigation." So, when the SBC specifically tells an agency to do something, that agency has the freedom to disregard what the convention, which should have authority over that agency?

Wow!!! Being a trustee of an agency of the SBC must be like a Civil Service position, nothing short of an earthquake will cause movement.

If I tried to ignore my authority, or had I refused to sign the BF&M2K, I would bt trustees get a free pass? Can something be done in San Antonio that makes our elected officials responsible to someone other than themselves?

A 10-40 Window Missionary said...

Sorry, my last paragraph did not end as I thought I typed it..."BF&M2K, I would find myself walking down the road looking for a new job, while the trustees get a free pass. What can be done in San Antonio for the trustees (who hold my service in their hands) to act responsibly?

CB Scott said...

Wade,

The question of the day is: What now?

cb

davidinflorida said...

Pastor Wade,

As Christians, I believe that we are to be optimistic.

You, my brother, are The Optimist.

Bob Cleveland said...

Wade:

What, about this, in inconsistent with prior events? Nothing, that I can see, from what I know of history. The report and the (non)investigation is what I expected, and I'm not a prophet.

Maybe God's doing that "Who is on the Lord's side" thing again. If so, I'm going to practice looking up.

Anonymous said...

. . . Following the example of the apostle Paul and the principle by which he appears to have lived: we are free (autonomous)--even if theologically correct otherwise--to choose our Christian brothers continually, not free (autonomous) to reject or cause one to stumble. (Romans 14; 1 Corinthians 8)


David Troublefield

irreverend fox said...

Wade,

I second CB's question:

What now?

Anonymous said...

Okay, so let's review. The BF&M 2000 is not specific enough. We need more human rules and elaboration in addition to the teaching of Holy Scripture. Women can't teach Hebrew in a seminary. In order to serve as a missionary, one must be baptized in the only true church, which I suppose is a Baptist church endorsed by Paige Patterson. (I am not being sarcastic about Paige. It just seems to be where we are headed.) In order to serve as a missionary, one cannot have a "private" prayer language.

This not the conservative resurgence. It is a takeover by the Pharisees.

Wade Burleson said...

Jim,

I know of nobody who is using the word 'false' for the points of my motion -- even the reporter had enough sense not to do that.

PBill said...

It has been reported that there was no opposition to the IMB report from any of the 79 trustees present. That would be the meeting from which you were absent. I assume that had you been present, there would have been one of 80 trustees opposing the report.

Do you have information that this is one of Ledbetter's many inaccuracies?

Are all of these brethren/sistren misled, misinformed, errant in their views?

How do you assess the complete lack of trustee opposition to the report in view of the virtually unanimous opposition from those on this blog?

William Thornton

Wade Burleson said...

Fox, CB, and Mackie,

I believe that the March IMB meeting and the April SWBTS will both be telling.

If our two boards do the right thing and correct two eggregious errors, we move forward with our mission to take the gospel to the world as a cooperative convention.

If not, there is a final step that will bring about longterm solutions. That final step is one that has been available to me for over a year, but I have chosen to work within the system and refrained from using it.

Wade Burleson said...

William Thornton,

Your are partially correct.

There were not even any questions.

There is nothing to dispute.

I have already received a comment from the editor of the Texan saying they have revised the story -- see previous post.

If I were there I would have just asked one question:

"Did anybody investigate these matters or is this just a statement of policy?"

The answer would have been - "It is not our job to investigate the influence of other agency heads, and yes, this is a statement of policy."

And I would have sat down.

So, had I been at the meeting there would have been one question and no opposition, because I understand it is impossible for the IMB to do what last year's convention President, Dr. Welch, asked us to do. It should have been somebody else.

I hope that answers your question.

Oklahoma pastor said...

Our church's staff, deacons, and other key leaders are disgusted with how the IMB and SWBTS trustees have conducted themselves (PPL, baptism policies,etc - The apostle Paul could not be a missionary with the IMB!)

We will be watching for how they react in the March and April meetings and respond accordingly at this year's convention.

Our prayers are that they will have a change of heart and make it right. Our fears are that they will remain in self-righteous blindness.

curmudgeon said...

Wade,

Seems quite obvious to me the intent is to drag this out and hope it goes away. First, refer to IMB rather than Exec. Comm. Second, IMB refuse to act, since it's beyond their purview. Third, report to June 07 Convention a nonreport, appeal for unity, join hands and sing "Kumbayah," and pray for the "troublers of Israel" like Burleson to go away.

Doug Shivers

Alycelee said...

I too, err on the side of the "glass half full."
Perhaps God is telling me to err on His side, where the glass is full and running over.
It's difficult not to be irritated, sad, throw your hands up and give up, all sorts of emotions when againyou find out that the SBC, powers that be and agencies within do NOT respond to the very people supporting what we believe God has commissioned CP for-COOPERATION
Saying that-I believe God is here. I believe that God is saying to us, to you Wade, stay the course.
If we won't defend the very ones whose feet we are to be blessing for bringing the good news, who then will we defend?

Alan Cross said...

The trouble is Wade, we were all snowed. It took a year to basically ignore the problem. And, we are supposed to just through the channels? What channels? Where do you find them? Do they exist? The SBC couldn't even instruct them to do an investigation. Is the IMB a rogue organization in our midst?

If there is no enforced doctrinal accountability to the BF&M beyond what the BoT decrees, then how is the IMB the missions agency of Southern Baptists? If it is as autonomous as they would like us to believe, perhaps they can raise their own money instead of receiving funds from our churches and the CP. Does their autonomy allow them to fly to Board meetings all over the country 6 times a year at their own expense, or is that paid for by CP dollars? Does their autonomy pay the administrative expensives to run the IMB? Does it support missionaries on the field? What is cooperative about any of this? Autonomy cuts both ways, doesn't it. If they keep going, it will cut against "cooperation" so far that they will find themselves at the head of nothing.

Either the BF&M means something or it doesn't. The BoT tells us that it means what they tell us it means in their environment. Thanks for linking to my post where I spell this out in more detail. This is close to the final straw. The Spring Board meeting will tell the tale. I am still hopeful, but the light seems to be dimming.

I seriously can't believe that they didn't even investigate . . .

Bowden McElroy said...

My problem with the current IMB "response" is not whether or not they have the legal right to set their own doctrinal parameters, but whether or not they should.

By choosing to exercise their corporate prerogatives the IMB Bot a) denigrates the Convention and the lengthy and prayer-filled process by which the BF&M is amended, and b) runs the risk of alienating the very people whose funding allows them to function.

Wade Burleson said...

Bowden,

Your new name is Bowden 'Bingo' McElroy.

Wade Burleson said...

Here is the problem. When there is no standard, and as Alan Cross says, everything is 'relative,' then the person with the power rules the kingom based upon his whims. Our convention should be, as Alycelee says, a group of diverse and autonomous churches working together for the sake of the kingdom. I will not let one person or a handful of people dictate 'orthodoxy' in this convention.

My standard is the sufficient, inerrant Bible, not the traditions of man.

Kevin Bussey said...

I still don't understand why any SBC agency can go beyond or below the BF&M 2000. Why isn't it the standard?

WTJeff said...

Wade,

Wasn't it your impression at the annual meeting that those responsible for what business would come to the floor for a vote (I can't remember what they're called) we're giving the IMB BoT an opportunity to correct their course before allowing anyone outside the BoT to investigate?

Given their inability to investigate in some areas (outside influences) and their unwillingness in others, do you believe an outside investigation is the next step? Would it actually accomplish anything? I sincerely try to have your optimism, but I'm beginning to think this will be a much longer and bumpier road than anyone anticipated.

Grace,

Jeff Parsons

Todd Pylant said...

In Walter Shurden's book, "The Baptist Identity: Four Fragile Freedoms," he writes:

"The pattern of growing restrictionism, documentable in Christian history generally and made explicit in Southern Baptist history, goes like this: First, strong affirmations opposing all creeds are made, such as the one by Baptists at the founding of the SBC in 1845 ("We have constructed for our basis no new creed; acting in this matter upon a Baptist aversion for all creeds but the Bible"). Second, a group, such as fundamentalists, emerges and calls for strict theological orthodoxy. Third, they issue a call for a confessional statement, as Southern Baptist fundamentalists did in 1925, to guard the orthodoxy. Fourth, they call for the imposition of the statement to guarantee the orthodoxy. By that time, Baptists have left their heritage. Baptists, if they are to be historic Baptists, are required to resurrect their tradition of anti-creedalism and to resist statements about the Bible that limit access to the Bible and that codify human understanding of biblical theology."

In many ways, we are reaping what we have sown. When we changed the BFM to become "an instrument of doctrinal accountability," the logical end was to start drawing narrower boundaries for who can join the club. Notice how much talk is about submitting to the BFM instead of submitting to the Bible. The BFM is not a creed. It has "no authority over the human conscience" and is not a "complete statement of our faith" nor does it have "any quality of finality or infallibility" (all quotes from the 2000 BFM). "The sole authority for faith and practice among Baptists is the Scriptures" (also from the 2000 BFM). We have abandoned these simple truths, and the natural conclusion to such is that the authority will be gathered again unto the powers of the church authorities. We would do well to remember that the Reformation was caused by such abuses. Baptists fought long and hard to be free from creeds for good reason. Let us not too quickly abandon those freedoms.

Alycelee said...

Kevin-I've come to realize this, For some time now the people of God have sent money to CP - instead of "being on mission or evangelizing themselves."

We blindly trusted man/agency/SBC. For most of us-SBC was our sacred golden cow. It was incapable of going astray. Do we put our money in the bank and allow them to spend it at their discretion? Or do we rather, hold them accountable for every penny?

While we may have been asleep, now is the time to wake up. Next-nail the thesis on the wall of the SBC. No more will we sleep and pretend we are serving God, when in fact the giant we are facing is not named Goliath but Control.

Anonymous said...

Dear Friend, Wade,

My prediction is that you will get the royal run-around from now till eternity!!! No surprise here!

Florence in KY

Paul/Mary Burleson said...

Wade,

How many times [several] have I, as a Pastor of a church, said, when debating and voting on an issue where the vote is governed by a simple majority rule position in our policies/bylaws, "it would be wise to not excercise this right to pass with a simple majority because so many are still questioning the wisdom of this move." We, then, upon approval of the church, continue to pray, study, and return with more information for the good of THE WHOLE BODY.

I realize that a BOT, a Seminary, or an Agency of the SBC is NOT a church but/and is autonomous. However, it would seem to me to be far wiser in the ways of the Kingdom, to not arbitrarily remind all of their right to be in charge and of their intention to excercise that right in the future. Far better to graciously recognize that there are some who support them with prayer and money who are wondering about the wisdom of a decision and some issues of alleged impropriety. Upon doing this, it would seem much wiser to me, to graciously rethink the decision and investigate the charges as requested by those who pray and give even if, ultimately, they determine that the decision was right and the charges were false.

This would, at best, be respecting those who share the mission and defering to people who matter, and at worse, were the charges to be determined to be valid and the decision unwise, would correct an injustice/error. Either way the Kingdom [the SBC part of it anyway] would be better off because of what has transpired.

The way it is being done, it seems to me, everybody looses. They, their credibility...the rest, our confidence in those we support with prayer, money, and relationships. The Kingdom, [the SBC part of it] it's ability to relate to this world with integrity.

But who am I?

DAD

William Madden said...

Paul and Mary,

That's right. One reason that I really enjoyed doing the EXPERIENCING GOD discipleship manual in a men's group at my church was because Henry Blackaby did such a good job of of explaining the very principle that you are describing in your email, which is that a majority rule decision in a church business meeting should not always be viewed as a satisfactory outcome as far as the long-term health of a church is concerned.

Blackaby's wise counsel is that if there is a significant dissenting minority, then it is better to defer any action in order to allow time for further study of the issue and to permit a a more beneficial communication between those with differences of opinion to take place. (Such views may be one reason why Rev. Blackaby is not working closely with the IMB anymore).

The actions of the IMB look more like a whitewash to me than anything else, but the cracks they want to hide are still there, and will only get larger if they are ignored.

Watching this situation unfold reminds me of when I was a kid watching the Solidarity movement growing in Poland. I remember when Polish PM Jaruzelski let the Soviets crack down on Lech Walesa and Solidarity. Ultimately, that was only a temporary setback because a breath of freedom was already stirring in the air, and what Solidarity had started could not be stopped because it was right.

Freedom and Solidarity--good words for 2007.

Wade Burleson said...

To all:

Some outstanding comments that have caused me to think.

I appreciate everyone focusing on the issues.

G. Alford said...

The IMB to Dictate Baptist Doctrine

Feb.1st, 2007 BP article “IMB trustees hear challenge to expand missionary force, respond to Burleson SBC motion”

-- Regarding “new doctrinal requisites for eligibility to serve as employees or missionaries of the IMB beyond the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message,” trustees maintained that “(w)hile the Baptist Faith and Message represents a general confession of Southern Baptist beliefs related to Biblical teachings on primary doctrinal and social issues, the IMB retains the prerogative and responsibility of further defining the parameters of doctrinal beliefs and practices of its missionaries who serve Southern Baptists with accountability to this board.”

So now according to the current IMB trustees they, and they alone, have the “PREROGATIVE” of “FURTHER DEFINEING THE PARAMETERS OF DOCTRINAL BELIEFS AND PRACTICES” for Southern Baptist Missionaries ----- I THINK NOT!

So why do we even have the BFM if the trustees of our agencies are free to do whatever they wish anyway? Did not the BFM2000 receive an “overwhelming” vote of approval from the messengers of the Southern Baptist Churches? Are the trustees now telling the Southern Baptist Churches “We don’t care what you think or what you have approved as our doctrinal standard”? That is sure what it sounds like to me.

I happen to notice that the IMB referred to our Southern Baptist Missionaries as “ITS - Missionaries”… Excuse me good sirs but these Missionaries are not YOURS they are OURS! I think the IMB has forgotten who is the finial authority in the SBC and to whom all SBC employees are ultimately accountable?

So what will the IMB do next? Who knows, but since the BFM is only a “general-- suggestion?” it is anyone’s guess. It pains me to say this but the IMB is operating like a rogue agency… what will they do next; change their bylaws to give themselves the authority to select their own trustees?

Seriously considering holding all CP dollars in Escrow…

This not a good day in the SBC!

Wade Burleson said...

WTJeff,

Allow me to answer your question specifically. You asked:


Wasn't it your impression at the annual meeting that those responsible for what business would come to the floor for a vote (I can't remember what they're called) we're giving the IMB BoT an opportunity to correct their course before allowing anyone outside the BoT to investigate?

Given their inability to investigate in some areas (outside influences) and their unwillingness in others, do you believe an outside investigation is the next step? Would it actually accomplish anything?


It was my impression that the convention was giving the IMB time to correct our own ship.

Spirit, tone, mission and cooperation have all improved significantly. In that sense the ship has been righted, and I am glad.

But, in another sense, the ship needs to turn around. I am referring to the two policies. If they are reversed or reworded, then no additional steps are needed.

If they are ignored and continue to be on the books, then, following the 'system,' something at the convention will need to be done.

Anonymous said...

(Wade typed above) ". . . a group of diverse and autonomous churches working together for the sake of the kingdom . . ."--but not TOO diverse and not TOO autonomous; congregations still adhering to the BF&M 1963 somehow now are just enough DIVERSE and just enough AUTONOMOUS no longer to be welcome (however, their dollars by the millions still are gladly received and quickly spent); that's about like saying that a twin brother has now become ones third cousin five-times removed but also desiring to "stay in his will". Strange--and unbiblical--for such theologically-conservative folk?


David Troublefield

Bowden McElroy said...

Todd,
In my mind, this issue isn't about "anti-creedalism", doctrinal purity, or the autonomy of the IMB. I'm perfectly comfortable with the SBC church across town adopting a confession of faith different from the BF&M or not adopting any confession at all.

This is an issue of stewardship. When Southern Baptists send their monies to the CP, there is an expectation - a social contract, if you will - that ministry will occur in accordance with the BF&M. When the IMB (or any entity, for that matter) insists they have the right to interpret for the Convention what the BF&M really means, then I believe that contract has been broken.

What I can't understand is the rationale behind the insistence on defining and clarifying what Southern Baptists believe. The only way this makes sense is if the BoT truly believes they know exactly what was in the minds of the messengers who voted to adopt the latest changes to the BF&M or if they believed they could accurately predict precisely how the Convention would vote to change it.

In the absence of such accurate mind reading and prophesy, all else is supposition and guessing. Guesswork is not the same as good stewardship.

Sarah said...

Wade, you wrote, "...but Scripture forbids us from entering the prayer closet of a Southern Baptist. Private prayers are between the saint and His Savior."

My husband and I had a discussion about this very thing last night. Asking someone what happens in their personal, private prayer time is too reminiscent of the legalistic "religions" I see around me. What will be next? "What sins have you confessed to God lately?" or "Let's review your checkbook and make sure you've tithed all you needed to this year." Thank you for your optimism. I'm praying for good change...we'll see what happens. Thanks for continuing to persevere in this, Bro. Wade.

Sarah

tl said...

There are lots of thoughts running through my head and I doubt if I'll get them out right.

A few years ago trustees at the IMB used the BF&M2K as a club. Some very good Bible-honoring (and believing) missionaries were forced to resign because their conscience wouldn't let them work under that document. They showed integrity in leaving.

Now the IMB trustees see the BF&M2K less club-like and expressly tell the SBC that they will devise a better, harder club (with which to beat new candidates with--is there any wonder that the number of new candidates is declining as per the IMB report from this meeting). They show a lack of integrity.

Some years ago the SBC forced all the boards and agencies to amend their by-laws such that it is expressly stated that the sole owner of the boards and agencies is, in fact, the SBC...not the trustees of the boards and agencies.

Now, it would seem, that the IMB, through their refusal to follow through on a motion passed by the SBC, has seemingly declared themselves to be independent of the SBC.

I wonder how the IMB trustees would feel if the executive committee of the SBC decided to withhold funds sent to the IMB.

It seems to me that the good work of the field missionaries is being held hostage by the ineptitude of the IMB's trustees.

Steve A said...

I suppose these Trustees want to hearken back to the states' rights days when integration, or water flourodation, or poll taxes, were totally issues for states to enact or ignore no matter what the Constitution read.

It was charming in the movies when the Marine Drill Instructor blowhard would bellow, "When you need an opinion I'll give you one!"
It's not quite so cute when a capricious board we are trusting with millions of dollars and a central cause of our denomination basically gives the same answer, or no answer.

What if church after church, or even state conventions begin demanding that these agency and seminary heads or the boards they supposedly answer to hew to the BF&M that we as a convention have agreed to, no more and no less?

Do state conventions needs to hold onto missions money and find and send missionaries be themselves? I honestly am not sure I trust the IMB or the Cooperative Program to "do the Baptist thing" anymore.

Wade Burleson said...

It's interesting that all the news agencies are picking up on this term "Trustee Investigation Committee."

It seems I am not the only one who thought there was an investigation. I am glad to find out there has not been one, but I wonder if the state papers will follow up with corrections as I have done my post.

All this could have been solved with a little better communication in the introduction to the response. Something like this:

"This report is not an investigation into the allegations brought forth by trustee Burleson. Further, the report should not be read as either affirming or denying the vailidity of his points. This report is simply an explanation on why we cannot do certain things, and what we understand our policies to be in other areas."

Had that been said, there would be no confusion. Again, this is an illustration of how we need to get tons better in our communication.

Anonymous said...

Wade, "...but Scripture forbids us from entering the prayer closet of a Southern Baptist. Private prayers are between the saint and His Savior."
I agree 100%, but the problem is when those who have a private prayer language think that they are superior in their faith than those without a private prayer language. If someone has a private prayer language, why do they bother to tell others - it is private --keep it private -- it is between them and the Lord. Don't try to impose a private prayer language on others.
Jerry Rankins supposely has a private prayer language - how do we know? Someone years ago asked him, and he was honest enough to admit it - but I have never known Jerry Rankin wanting to impose his prayer language on others or boasting about being spiritually superior than those around him. Would we have known about his private prayer language if someone hadn't ask him, probably not. Why? It is between him and his Lord.
All people ought to have the spirit of Jerry Rankin.
It is nobody's business how much money I give to the Lord's work. That is between me and my Lord. Yet if I go out and boast that I give $100,000 to the church, then it appears my spirit is one of trying to be more spiritual than I am.
Those who have a private prayer language - GREAT! Wonderful! If it helps you be closer to the Lord - it is fine with me. However, why tell someone you have a private prayer langauge - what is the movitation behind it, especially if it is between you and the Lord?

Wade Burleson said...

Anonymous,

I agree.

So why do we ask if a missionary candidate has one?

Just have a policy forbidding the public speaking in tongues.

Restrict it the way Scripture restricts it.

Tim said...

Bro. Wade,
It's not just the six seminaries and the IMB that appear to be going Landmark. Have you seen the new Mid America Baptist Theological Journal, Theology for Ministry (Vol. 1, November 2006)?

I grewup Landmark, but did not know it, until I was in a Church History class @ MABTS. I picked up on the Landmark arguements for baptism in a church with "proper authority" to baptize in the new Journal.

If the SBC continues down the Landmark path, I will lead my (very small) church away from the SBC, to my heartbreak, and into some other group that correctly reflects biblical doctrine. The current trend is intollerable, and the SBC does not have a good history of accepting change and course correction.

If we were going 'liberal' in the '70's and '80's, we are clearly swinging Landmark (not conservative) now. This year will be pivotal in these decisions.

Sarah said...

"So why do we ask if a missionary candidate has one?

Just have a policy forbidding the public speaking in tongues.

Restrict it the way Scripture restricts it."

Amen and amen!

Scott Dollar said...

I have a question for those that want boards, agencies and seminaries to not go beyond the BF&M2K. Let me also say that I whole heartily agree that our agencies should NOT go beyond our confession of faith. The only criteria should be the BF&M2K. Other issues should be up to the local church who recommends them.
Are you prepared for where this will lead? Maybe this has already been brought up and addressed, if so I apologize for bringing it up again. Most agencies have policies that go beyond the BF&M2K. The NAMB & IMB both have divorce clauses. They go something along the lines that regardless of the reason or whose fault they will not appoint career missionaries who have been divorced or whose spouses have been divorced. Obviously the BF&M2K does not address the issue of divorce. Likely there are more diverse beliefs on divorce and ministry then PPL & Baptism combined in the convention.
For instance someone in a previous church I pastored was divorced. She married a man before her salvation that was abusive. He beat her threatened to kill her and even put a knife to her throat and said he would kill her if she left him. She finally did get up the courage to leave. She re-married and her and her second husband (this is his only marriage) both came to faith in Christ. Today she feels called to the mission field and her husband feels called to the ministry. As I understand the policies of the NAMB and the IMB both her and her husband would not be fit for service as career missionaries.
Personally I do not have a problem leaving issues that the BF&M2K does not address to the local church. In the case of divorce I would trust that each local church has examined the candidates and if they feel they are fit for service I would agree (even if they might hold a different view on these issues).
I bring this up because the way I see it if we use the reasoning of agencies going beyond the parameters of the BF&M2K for gender issues, PPL or baptism to force change then we must be consistent. The way I see it that consistency would follow any other issue that are not addressed in our confession of faith. Otherwise we are saying to the agencies that we do not want you to go beyond our confession of faith when we disagree with you, but it is OK if you go beyond when we agree?
Like I said I think it is a good thing to use the BF&M as the only criteria, just curious if it has been thought all the way through and everyone is OK with where that leads!

Wade Burleson said...

Tim

John Floyd, Vice-President of Mid America Seminary, is Chairman of the Trustees of the International Mission Board.

Van McClain, Professor of History, Mid-America Theological Seminary, is Chairman of the Trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

I have not read the article from Mid-America, but am searching for it. Any help would be appreciated.

Wade Burleson said...

Sarah,

That's what the old policy said.

Wade Burleson said...

I am on my way to OKC for a basketball game.

I'll see everyone tomorrow.

Benji Ramsaur said...

Wade (or anybody else),

I am seriously having a hard time understanding this "the problem with PPL is when it becomes PubPL" logic.

I'm not even sure whether PPL is valid or not, but I don't get what is supposed to be soooo threatening to me if someone tells me that they have a PPL.

Sure, I could see someone telling me this to puff themselves up over me.

But if that's the case, then THAT IS THEIR PROBLEM, not mine. So, why am I supposed to be so threatened?

However, I could see someone telling me they have one in the context of a theological conversation I am having with this person. And this person is simply sharing with me his beliefs and/or practices because he believes they are valid.

No big deal.

And my impression is that if someone is so threatened by another sharing with him that he has a PPL, then the threatened one is a rather insecure guy in this regard.

It makes me think there might be people in the SBC that have the attitude of:

Bring on the Evolutionists!
Bring on the Atheists!
Bring on the Liberals!
But you PPL guys better not share with me what you do in private.

I might fall apart.

Todd Pylant said...

Bowden,

In many ways, you are right. But, I do think it is about the BFM becoming a creed. However, I seem to be the only one beating that drum.

It is about cooperation and the right of an independant baptist body forming its own confession of faith. However, the IMB is NOT an independant, autonymous baptist body: it is dependant upon the CP. If each SBC entity is free to craft their own confession of faith, then the whole CP will come crashing down. Of course, this will only be felt when the money runs out. However, Baptists are very reluctant to stop supporting missionaries, so the money may never run out. Therefore, the IMB may never change its ways.

Anonymous said...

http://www.mabts.edu/templates/cusmabts/details.asp?id=23267&PID=72468

Select the Nov 2006 journal

I believe the issue is with the Jimmy Millikin article on whether there is an invisible church as well as the local visible church.

Hershael York will surely fire some people up in his explanation of why the adminstrator of baptism must have a view of eternal security.

TruthOfActs said...

Fox & C B Scott,
No, no, no…it’s NOT “What now?” It’s…WHAT NEXT?

“WHAT NEXT?” is based on the history of the ‘Conservative Resurgence’ which in my opinion should be called anything but ‘Conservative.’

The ‘real conservatives’ were run over and trampled by not joining the stampede to get rid of so called LIBERALS. A LIBERAL was anyone labeled ‘not one of us.’
That’s why Wade was called a liberal since he caused the political wheel to squeak by bucking the IMB new policy on baptism and ppl which goes beyond what the Bible teaches. I say “Bible” because when we get away from the Bible we’re on thin ice.

What happened to ‘The BFM is our doctrinal guideline’ statement? I don’t see it around anymore. Did someone finally realize that statement made the BFM higher than the Bible?

Todd Pylant, you wrote: “I do think it is about the BFM becoming a creed. However, I seem to be the only one beating that drum.”
I thought you sounded like Elijah complaining to God, and I was going to refer you back to an excellent comment but alas, you wrote it.
A long time ago, there was a poem in Wade’s comments. I had pasted out hundreds at the 2004 SBC. I’ll still think it fits the picture of some leaders today. My sister and I wrote it.

SOLDIERS DOWN

Please, SBC Leaders, don’t reject BWA
We’ve loved 99 years. Will you now abscond?
47,000,000 Baptist hearts that lift up Jesus.
Will they become wounded soldiers down?

Persecution from enemies, yes,
But from our own astounds!
You said BWA had drifted left.
Innocent soldiers down.

You accused them of downplaying Jesus;
No evidence could be found.
Your untruth against BWA exposed you.
Should you yourselves be down?

You screamed, “Liberal”, but one falsely accused
Yelled in your ear, so bound,
“Repent and turn from your wicked ways!”
One soldier still not down.

Christ warned, “Teaching as doctrines the commands of men.”
Does His concern, so profound,
Expose “BF&M is our doctrinal guideline”,
Demanding unsigned soldiers down?

You claim your interpretation is God.
Your BF&M is renown.
Others must bow to this decree or become
Condemned soldiers down.

Your name “conservatives” is only a camouflage.
Your creed a mandatory crown!
Anyone questioning fundamentalists is labeled
Despised Moderate soldiers down.

Please, Lord, unite our hearts to lift up Jesus.
This prayer should resound.
“Fire unsigned missionaries!” makes Jesus cry,
Betrayed soldiers down.

You’re only content when you dominate.
You say you don’t want to hound.
But when God speaks to some a different way,
More loyal soldiers down.

You agree with Muslims: “No women over men!”
Though their witness has abound.
Christian women who answered God’s call
Became women soldiers down.

Sorry, BWA, our leaders plan to leave.
You see why moderates frown.
Pray for leaders without a paper-god
Or you’ll join soldiers down.

“It’s only politics…Not my concern.”
This fable has been around.
Awake, dear brother, or you’ll become
Another soldier down.

A few days ago, I said that Patterson would not defend himself of his treatment of Sheri Klouda. Why? Because every time he’s in the wrong, he lets silence answer until things blow over.
A report on the BWA to the Executive Board of the SBC was found to be false. (In the poem above.) The chairman of the committee and president of the Executive Board pointed the finger and said Patterson wrote the report, but there was never an explanation.
As usual his bunker is silence. It wouldn’t surprise me if his thinking helped to influenced the IMB decision of today.
Rex Ray

Wade Burleson said...

Anonymous,

I really appreciate the link to the article. I think it is better for people to read it themselves than post it here. It's a little too long for the comment section. Again, thanks.

David Rogers said...

Wade,

I'm trying to make sure I understand this. When your motion was "referred" to the IMB, did that necessarily commit the IMB to also appointing a "7 member Ad Hoc Committee"? Or were they technically free to "investigate" the issues in the way they choose? Also, if no committee was ever appointed, who wrote the report?

bryan riley said...

Paul Burleson... winner of best comment on this string in my opinion. There is much wisdom in what you said.

R. Grannemann said...

I happened to catch what was posted by Anonymous last night before Wade removed it. I don't know where the articles are posted elsewhere, but one of them is quite pertinent to the issues at hand. It was written by a Hershael York, a professor at Mid-America, if I remember rightly, and it was said the this paper was the BASIS for the new IMB policy on baptism and was distributed for trustees to read before the rule change.

But the paper is greatly flawed. That is because Dr. York believes a true church is identified by CORRECT DOCTRINE. But this is WRONG. A true church is identified by the NEW BIRTH.

Here is what Dr. York wrote and what was apparently given to the IBM trustees to convince them to implement the new policy:

1) "Can we call a congregation a true New Testament church if it denies that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone?"
2) "Can a crowd of well-intentioned worshippers really be a church if they add works to the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus by teaching that baptism is essential for salvation?"
3) "Can a cadre of Christians really be a church if they do not observe the ordinances properly"
4) A true church is marked by New Testament doctrine "including the eternal security of the blood-bought believer"

Dr. York also says: "We cannot have a settled peace that such churches have the authority to baptize since they do not hold to the teaching of the New Testament."

The problem with this is that an assembly of true believers MIGHT NOT HAVE PERFECT THEOLOGY. Trying to make lists of minimally acceptable doctrine will always be doomed to fail because someone will always be able to come up with a counter example that makes such a position seem absurd. Such lists, in the final analysis, tend to start looking like pharisaical rules. That's because the only real requirement for a church is that of baptized believers committed to following Christ.

A better question to ask IMB candidates would be: "Where you baptized as a believer by a group of true believers who were following Christ."

Landmark leaning people, of course, will have a problem with this because it won't pare down true churches narrowly enough. They'll want to make a list of all the things they think a true church should have.

Let me share the concept that delivered me from 10 years of being mentally captive to and a member of the Landmark Baptists. It is this: The authority to be a true church comes the God of heaven, not from a genealogy, a pedigree or being in a true line of baptism; not from being right about this doctrine or that doctrine, not from a list of qualities you correctly meet, not from the fact you don't have a woman pastor (ouch!). It comes from the Spirit of God dwelling among his people.

Mid-America is not an SBC seminary. It might be worth investigating whether some SBC seminaries are teaching Dr. York's point-of-view.

docjoc said...

R. Grannemann regarding your remark about Perfect Theology...I can't help thinking of Jesus perhaps saying "Let him who has perfect theology" throw the first stone"

I have been a Christian for many years and I have made many errors in my thinking about God. I have lived long enough to understand I do not and can not learn all of God there is to know in one short lifetime.

I have come to look for and value a persons heart...his true love of God...more than his "perfect theology".

Wade Burleson said...

Granneman,

I agree wholeheartedly.

wade

Wade Burleson said...

David Rogers, you asked:

I'm trying to make sure I understand this. When your motion was "referred" to the IMB, did that necessarily commit the IMB to also appointing a "7 member Ad Hoc Committee"? Or were they technically free to "investigate" the issues in the way they choose? Also, if no committee was ever appointed, who wrote the report?

First question: A great question. I assumed it obligated the IMB to investigate. Others seemed to assume it obligated the IMB to investigate, including reporters, and so people are saying, "IMB rejects allegations." I have been definitively told that in no form or fashion could the IMB speak to the merits of my recommendation since no investigation was conducted. I was told that they knew my recommendation called for it, but they were not desirous to spend time and energy away from mission work (by the way, I agree with that sentiment, that's why I asked someone else to do it. But Dr. Bobby Welch pleaded with the Committee on Order of Business to send it back to the IMB. I would like one day to ask Bobby why he did that, or who called and asked him to plead for it to happen that way.

Second question: They obviously felt they were technically free to simply respond the way they chose to respond.

Third question: Who wrote the report? I honestly do not know. I would imagine the Executive Committee asked the IMB attorney and Dr. Rankin for assistance. It comes from the EC, I'm sure with administration approval, but since the report actually is innocuous and non-controversial I'm not sure it matters who wrote it.

What would matter would be 'who did the investigation,' but since one was not conducted, there is no need to even ask the question.

wade

David Rogers said...

Wade,

Thanks for your answers.

I would love for someone who thinks the BoT has acted correctly on this to explain how do you justify not following through with the referral to investigate. Is there something I am not seeing here? If you are out there and are reading this, please, I really want to know.

John Fariss said...

No investigation? Really? What a surprize! Either they are right, or they have no right to judge anyone else--unless of course they disagree, in which case, you are wrong. No biggie. (TIC)

What Todd Pylant says (quoting Shurden): right on target.


And then there is the matter of doctrinal standards, and making people sign the BF&M 2000 to be sure they believe, teach, and preach what it says. I agree with those who say that the BF&M 2000 is a creed; I agree with those who say that “creed” simply means “I believe,” the logical outcome of which is that Baptists have “always” had creeds. But words are oftentimes used in a technical sense, or even in popular sayings, over and beyond their literal meanings. Example: I often used to hear my mother ’s Deep South expression, “Well, I be John Brown.” Understood literally . . . it would lead to real confusion, especially on my father’s part! Nicodemas tried to understand Jesus’ words to him in a literal sense, “How can a man, when he is old, be born again? Can he enter his mother’s womb a second time?” But these were not meant to be taken literally; the first was a southern folk expression which actually means, “I’m as surprized about that (whatever “that” many be) as if would were I to suddenly discover that I am the abolutionist John Brown!”, and the second a call to surrender to Jesus, receive the Holy Spirit, and enter the Kingdom of God. So it is with creeds and confessions: literally, the words mean the same things, but in technical usage, our Baptist forefathers meant something different by them. They understood creeds to be something binding upon each adherent, while they meant a confession as a concensus of belief–generally held, but not binding upon any adherent. The 1963 BF&M is quite clear about the distinction, but the 2000 muddles it all up by, on one hand, affirming the language about consensus of belief, and on the other, calling it an instrument of doctrinal accountability.

For that reason alone, I will not affirm the 2000 BF&M, although I have some problems with the elemination of Jesus Christ as the criteria of interpretation and the change from priesthood of the believer to the priesthood of all believers. Each of the five churches I have served, despite the fact that they are conservative and have faithfully sent their missions dollars in to the Cooperative Program (and one of them, directly to Luther Rice for the Burma mission, a hundred years before there was a CP), have retained the 1963 BF&M for the same reasons. Now it seems that is all we are good for: contributing, but not being a part. And I am getting a little mad about it all.

Anonymous said...

Wade,

I wonder if the IMB trustees would accept the baptism of someone from your church? :)

East Texas Pastor

Bob Cleveland said...

Sarah:

I just noticed your comment of yesterday, to wit:

"Just have a policy forbidding the public speaking in tongues.

Restrict it the way Scripture restricts it."


Minor correction: scripture doesn't prohibit such public speaking. Paul said limit it to two or three, and if there was an interprettion given.

That was OK with Paul, then, but not with Baptists, now. Apparently.

Lee said...

Thanks for continuing to post updates on this. Even with online Baptist news sources, I find myself weighing what they report, and the way they report it, against several blogger sources. Since Baptist Press is another agency under the inflence, or a better word, control of the same outside influences that prompted your call for an investigation, they're not a reliable source.

This whole report looks like the same "business as usual" approach to the secluded, exclusive, "do as we please--work for our side" approach that has been the m.o. of Baptist trustee boards for forever. Frankly, the only real difference the Conservative Resurgence brought to that aspect of SBC life was changing the names on the roster and working from a smaller list of names.

This report, combined with the things that have been happening at Southwestern Seminary and at NAMB, are the kinds of things that continue to drive increasing numbers of Southern Baptists to apathy regarding participation in their convention instititions, and to seek their theological education and opportunities for mission service outside those offered by their own denomination.

BTW, you aren't really surprised at the editorializing, false assumptions and inaccuracies in Tammi Ledbetter's report, are you? Since she came to Texas, she's created a new style of journalism with her reporting in the Southern Baptist Texan. It is a combination of opinion, misquotes, statements taken out of context and occasional inuendo. Reading her stuff, you have no doubt what her feeling is, and what conclusion she wants you to draw. Every now and then, when I'm with my ministry support group for lunch, the way she's written about something is good for a laugh and a few minutes of conversation, but not much else. One of the guys once said that the way to determine the facts in a Tammi Ledbetter report is to find out what her opinion is, and realize that the facts are probably the opposite of that.

There you go, Wade. Tammi Ledbetter, in her own way, has pretty much confirmed what you've been saying all along.

Sarah said...

Bob,

You're right...I was actually including a quote from Wade's earlier comment. Maybe I misunderstood, but you are correct. Thank you.

Sarah

Cam Dunson said...

Wade,
Bob's right, public speaking in tongues is forbidden in scripture in much the same way that the use of alcohol as a beverage is. (Am I speaking your language here?)

Benji,
I had always thought it was my imagination telling me this phobia of tongues was a large group inferiority complex. "How could so many mature believers be so infantile, surely not!" I would say. I don't think so, I'm beginning to think it may be just that.

Everyone,
Please remember as you rush to cut off the IMB from your missions efforts and missions giving in your rush to 'show those trustees a thing or two' that:
John Floyd doesn't need your Lottie Moon dollars to fill his gas tank to drive to evangelistic Bible studies on the outskirts of his city.
John Floyd doesn't need your CP dollars to take his kid to school or the doctor.
John Floyd doesn't need an IMB ministry budget to distribute Bibles where none can be purchased.
Your missionaries do (actually, that's not entirely accurate, God will provide for our ministries with our without your support, but you know what I mean ;).
Anyway, I know this all can be more exciting than Friday's WWF smackdown and more drawn out that a South American novela. BUT please don't forget us, your IMB missionaries (and the lost among whom we serve). We gave up our lives and careers in the states. We're counting on you to continue to back us up. We don't have any contact with or influence on or control over or dealings with the BOT.
If you get all mad with the BOT and want to see them "trustees of nothing," where does that leave us? Where does that leave the seekers we're reaching?

othoniel a valdes sr said...

Many years ago I wanted to be an IMB missionary and found out that because I was not born in the USA I could not go as a full missionary. I did not like this but that was their policy. This is what I said to them if God wants me on the mission field He will get me there with or without IMB. Where in the Batist Faith & Message or the Bible does it say that a person is not qualified for an IMB appointment because they were not born in the
USA or did not have a theological degree. I did not go on a crusade to change their policies or question their motives because they have a right to make them and the SBC gave them the power to implement them.This policy as well as others have changed over the years and for that I rejoice. While this was happening my father who is now a retired SBC pastor & his church continued to give generously to the SBC and the Lottie Moon Christmas offering and I continue to support who we are & what we do even when I do not agree with certain institutional policies because the whole is bigger than any particular part.
Every institution has a right to design their working system and requirements .

Greg Hicks said...

Wade,

You said, "But, in another sense, the ship needs to turn around. I am referring to the two policies. If they are reversed or reworded, then no additional steps are needed."

Do you agree with Alan Cross' assertion that SBC agencies development of doctrinal policies beyond the BFM IS the issue? Shouldn't the Convertion as a whole prohibit agencies developing their own doctrinal guidelines that go beyond the BFM? Otherwise, we will face this whole ordeal again a hundred times over at each and every agency...

Or perhaps I misunderstand what you are saying here...

John Moeller said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jon L. Estes said...

Sadly, when a motion is referred to an entity, the entity does not have to do anything the motion asks for. They must simply determine if the motion is worth researching and following through with. If they determine there is no need for researching and following through it is reported back that no cause was found to justify the motions request or it is not our area...

This the report we have from the IMB.

They will say, and have, they looked into the need to consider the motion and found it unnecessary.

To have traction it must be brought up and voted on at the convention and to be followed through with, it must pass.

We have a system of delays, why else would it take Bible believing Baptist 20 years to completely reverse the liberal swing.

Anonymous said...

Re/recent audit of IMB/Central Asia Region 1999-2005: We were closely connected w/a missionary on the Turkey team who, from the first saw financial impriorities - among which were funds continually gathered from home churches for the '99 earthquake but not used for that purpose. The Turkey team leader, dressed in designer suits and enjoying an extremely affluent lifestyle among the very poor Turkish people, was livid when a certain pastor came 'nosing around' asking questions about funds. A Turkish Christian, a university graduate who was employed as bookkeeper for this team saw problems and was labeled a 'spy' and other mean spirited labels when she asked honest questions. It is truly heartwarming to read about your stand. I say 'amen' to Even Fields words; 'there is hope, vision and future leadership for the SBC'. Thank you for being unafraid to speak out. There were those who knew the truth about these financial issues early on, but because they feared for their careers - were afraid to speak out.