This next week, Monday through Wednesday, July 16-18, in Richmond, Virginia, the trustees of the International Mission Board will convene to conduct missions business. I do not intend to make any motion at the meeting regarding the new guidelines prohibiting the appointment of missionaries who possess a private prayer language or who have not been baptized in a Southern Baptist Church (or one that believes in 'eternal security').
The mood and tone of the board continues to change. New trustees are elected every year, but those who pushed for the new guidelines are still in trustee leadership until 2008, including Chairman John Floyd, who was the Chairman of the particular Personnel Committee that was pushing the new guidelines when I joined the board in 2005. I commend John for his gracious leadership, but he and I are on polar opposite ends of the belief spectrum when it comes to the board's authority to establish doctrinal requisites that exceed the BFM 2000.
I believe the right thing to do is to reverse the guideline that forbids the appointment of missionaries who have a private prayer language, while reinforcing the former policy that any missionary will face disciplinary action for any of the gifts that are overemphasized or abused publicly. Further, any baptismal guideline that subverts the authority of the local church's acceptance of believer's baptism is unwise and ought be reversed. If a Southern Baptist missionary candidate is trusting in Christ alone for salvation, has publicly confessed his faith in Christ through believer's baptism by immersion, and that candidates local Southern Baptist church to which he belongs has accepted his Christian baptism, then I believe we as a board of trustees should fall under the authority of that local church because the IMB board of trustees is not a higher authority on the matter of baptism than the candidate's local church.
It can no longer be argued that the decision of the IMB board of trustees reflects the majority views of the SBC. LIFEWAY's survey took that argument away. It can also no longer be argued that the SBC desires the board to go beyond the BFM 2000 in establishing missionary service criteria - the Garner motion took that away. All that can be said now is what I have been saying for two years: There seem to be some who wish the convention to reflect their own personal and specific doctrinal viewpoints on the gifts (cessationism) and baptism (the 'authority' of the baptizer is as important as the heart of the candidate).
I am patient. I will wait it out to insure we remain a cooperative convention, open to various interpretations of tertiary doctrines as we work together around the essentials of the gospel for the furtherance of the kingdom of Christ through cooperative efforts in missions and evangelism.
In His Grace,