I laughed and told him that I'm not the one he needs to convince. However, I did also tell him that he seems to comprehend a few things that some (not all) of my fellow trustees have a hard time understanding. Trustees are appointed by the Southern Baptist Convention. The authority behind our appointment is the Southern Baptist Convention. The cooperating Southern Baptist churches of our Convention send 'messengers' to the annual Convention, and these messengers appoint us. They (the 'messengers' who represent the local churches) are ultimately our highest authority. I will obey the wishes of the Southern Baptist Convention - unless or until - the SBC begins to flagrantly and volitionally violate the Word of God. If that happens, then I will voluntarily cease being a Southern Baptist and lead the church I pastor to withdraw from the Convention.
Since the Southern Baptist Convention has affirmed these last twenty years our belief in the Word of God, I don't think we will collectively and intentionally violate the Word of God, but humility is needed to be able to differentiate between those foundational truths of the Christian faith and other doctrines that are often interpreted differently by various conservative, evangelical Christians. The issue that we Southern Baptists must wrestle with is the implementation of doctrinal policies at our SBC agencies that exceed the Baptist Faith and Message and exclude otherwise qualified Southern Baptists from missionary and ministry service. For trustees at our agencies to say to Southern Baptists, "You must believe this," when the doctrinal interpretations they demand conformity to are beyond the scope of the 2000 BFM is a violation of Southern Baptist Convention trust and an act beyond the scope and parameter of trustee service. If the IMB trustees wish to establish a doctrinal parameter for missionary participation that is narrower than the 2000 BFM , then the IMB Board of Trustees MUST ANSWER TO SOMEONE.
We SBC trustees answer in every sense - morally, ethically and rightfully - to the Southern Baptist Convention. The Convention maintains the ultimate authority over trustees. Therefore . . .
(1). When a trustee body establishes doctrinal policies that exceed the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message, and then use those policies as a basis for disqualifying otherwise qualified Southern Baptist missionary candidates, the Southern Baptist Convention has an obligation to advise that trustee body of their displeasure - if in fact the SBC disapproves. If the trustee body is unresponsive to the Southern Baptist Convention, then it becomes incumbent upon the Convention to elect trustees that will abide by their wishes.
The Convention expressed her displeasure with SBC agencies establishing doctrinal policies that exceed the 2000 BFM by adopting The 2007 Garner Motion. This motion made clear that that the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message should be the SUFFICIENT doctrinal standard of cooperation among Southern Baptists. READ THE TRANSCRIPT OF THE DEBATE OVER THE GARNER MOTION. No rational person can misunderstand what was said, and those who say the SBC did not know what they were doing should be ashamed. It could be easily argued that I am a trustee who is actually being responsible and respectful to the Southern Baptist Convention by attempting to fulfill her wishes. Let me hasten to add that the Convention cannot 'instruct' any autonomous agency, but any trustee worth his salt would realize that 'advice' given us by the SBC should be heeded.
(2). For 163 years Southern Baptist agencies have never felt it necessary to stifle the public expression of a minority opinion by sitting trustees, but on March 22, 2006, the International Mission Board passed a policy that explicitly commands sitting trustees to:
'speak in positive and supportive terms as they interpret and report on actions by the Board, regardless of whether they personally support the action. Failure to abide by this new policy (2006) may lead to censure.'
The Southern Baptist Convention is the ultimate authority over the International Misison Board trustees and can either express their acceptance or displeasure with the new policy that stifles principled and courteous dissent of sitting trustees.
I believe the SBC will soon speak as clearly on this issue as they did about their desires that the 2000 BFM be the sufficient doctrinal standard of SBC cooperation. If, however, I am wrong, and and the Convention desires all sitting trustees to publicly support that which they cannot privately support, I will resign from service as a trustee of the International Mission Board. They appointed me, and if they do not wish to hear my courteous and principled dissent while serving as a trustee, I will unconditionally resign. I listen to the SBC on this matter. I take my orders from the Convention.
Again, I believe that I know the Southern Baptist Convention's desires in this matter. Disagreement is not only the prerogative of individual Southern Baptists – it is the Baptist way. To disagree is not sin. Nobody has to be 'restored' for disagreeing. We should learn to cooperate in missions and ministry with other Southern Baptists who see things differently on matters that should never divide us. I believe that this is what the Convention desires. We need a Gospel Resurgence. The Conservative Resurgence is over. It's time the Gospel gained our attention and we learned to cooperate with people who are different than us. I am not asking for everyone to be like me - I'm just holding accountable those Southern Baptists who wish to exclude people who aren't like them .
I look forward to my continued responsible and respectful service to the SBC.
In His Grace,