"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,
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