My response to Mr. Corbaley's email - sent to all trustees:
Friday, October 18, 2007
1:48 p.m. Central Standard Time
Dear Fellow Trustees,
I am thankful for God's mercy in relation to the answered prayers of our trustee body in terms of health and family. I continue to pray for each need that arises and I am grateful for the prayer ministry of the IMB board and the email updates sent to all trustees. Our church spent time in prayer last night for the family of the 29 year old Christian in Gaza who operated the Palestinian Bible Bookstore and was murdered for his faith in Christ. The IMB's administrative decision to send us a timely update with information on this Christian martyr made our prayer time for all our missionaries very real, very fervent, and very personal.
I visited with my wife Rachelle, and we felt it wise to send to you just this one email in response to the 153 page letter from Trustee Jerry Corbaley. This letter has been sent to either select trustees or to every trustee. I have made it a practice these past eighteen months not to respond to personal attacks on me or my character and I am choosing not to respond to this letter. I would encourage us all to keep our focus on missions and the support of our missionaries in the field. I will continue to pray for our work and for each of you who serve as a trustee of the IMB.
In His Grace,
Mr. Corbaley requested in his email that the trustees of the International Mission Board take official 'action' against me at the Springfield, Illinois trustee meeting in two weeks. Jerry did not contact me privately before sending the email. However, I called Jerry as soon as I received it. He informed me over the phone that unless I was calling to confess to him my repentance before God, he would not talk with me. He then proceeded to hang up while I was in mid-sentence.
Attempts at building a relationship with Mr. Corbaley have been continually rebuffed for the past eighteen months, including the May 2006 Albuquerque, New Mexico commisioning service where, with my wife at my side, I expressed my love for Jerry and a desire to build a relationship with him. He informed me that we could not have a relationship because of my 'sin.' I approached Mr. Corbaley again in July of this year while he was eating in the cafeteria of the International Learning Center outside Richmond. I sat down beside him to visit with him, but he refused to converse with me. He got up from the table and told me if I followed him he would make it a public issue.
After reading Mr. Corbaley's email, I am frankly at a loss. Jerry seems to think I should be responsible for the comments people make on my blog. I keep an open, unmoderated comment section and am not responsible for what others write. I take full responsibility for what I write, and I hope every person in the Southern Baptist Convention reads it again - and again - and again. With the help of some who don't understand how relate to people who disagree, that just may happen.
I could let it go, but the pattern has been established in the past that some will make reckless character charges in an attempt to convince people of their conclusions, the logic of which is beyond my comprehension. I have chosen not to defend myself. I am more than happy for every Southern Baptist to read what I have written on my blog and what I have written is my defense. I have not deleted one post. I write for Southern Baptists, and everything I post is with a desire to make our convention better, to advance the kingdom of Christ and to treat all people, especially those who disagree, with respect.
From the emails, letters and phone calls I have received from thousands of Southern Baptists around the world, it seems that I have struck a chord. People are ready to focus on cooperative missions and evangelism and are disinterested in any further narrowing of Southern Baptist doctrinal parameters. I have continued to advocate for the past two years ceasing the narrowing of our doctrinal parameters for convention fellowship and cooperation. We have gone far enough.
If Mr. Corbaley insists that what I have written on this blog is 'sin,' then let Southern Baptists decide. I fully realize other Southern Baptists may disagree with what I write. Disagreement is not only the perogative of individual Southern Baptists - it is the Baptist way. But to disagree is not sin. It definitely is not gossip or slander. It has never been my intention to do anything but cooperate in missions and ministry with other Southern Baptists who see things differently on matters that should never divide us.
We Southern Baptists are a COOPERATING group of Christians, and the very essence of cooperation is diversity. However, I have pledged never again to allow, as long as I can help it, Southern Baptists to go behind closed doors and attack the character of fellow Southern Baptists who are different. No more labels. No more name calling. No more sanctimonious finger pointing. No more attempts to destroy a person's reputation behind closed doors. If you have something negative to say about the doctrine or character of a Southern Baptist leader, say it so all Southern Baptists can hear it, and then be ready to defend it with your name and reputation. Don't whisper ugly things behind closed doors and hide behind anonymity.
I personally believe it is a waste of time, Cooperative Program dollars and personal energy for those of us who are IMB trustees to deal with Mr. Corbaley's email in our next trustee meeting, scheduled for November 5-7, 2007, in Springfield, IL. Yet, Jerry seems desirous to force the issue - again. I am more than capable of dealing with any eventuality that arises. I've done it before. I'll do it again. I will continue doing whatever is necessary to stop the attacks on, and exclusion of, Southern Baptists who disagree with narrow interpretations of tertiary doctrines that are being forced on the entire convention.
However, I believe we as IMB trustees are ready to get on with missions business. On one hand I feel sympathy for Mr. Corbaley and people like him. On the other hand I believe Jerry's email illustrates one of the problems we are facing in the Southern Baptist Convention. Some people can't seem to let others simply disagree without making it a matter of morality. Some people can't seem to let others express a different opinion without questioning their character, spirituality or denominational fidelity.
I called Mr. Corbaley several times over the weekend to discuss his concerns, but he would not receive my calls. I finally left a message on Mr. Corbaley's cell phone giving him a deadline of last night to call if he did not wish his letter to be made public. I told him that if he chose not to call me about his concerns I would take that as permission to post his letter.
I do not intend to post about Mr. Corbaley's email again unless it become necessary because of further action initiated by others. Unlike a year and a half ago, I have advance notice of Mr. Corbaley's intentions and wish the people of the Southern Baptist Convention to know prior to our trustee meeting. I believe wisdom will prevail and my fellow trustees will focus on our mission work at this next meeting. Either way, I plan to keep you informed.
May God bless our missionaries. May God continue to bless our mission work. May we keep our eyes on the advancement of His kingdom and take them off anything else.
In His Grace,