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

Warning: This Post Is Not for the Faint of Heart

There is something that is bothering me about pastors in the Southern Baptist Convention - including myself. I have re-read some of the posts I wrote over two years ago, right when the ordeal with the IMB was beginning, and I was too self-absorbed. It may have been the initial shock of the recommendation for my removal, or it may have been my own inward and inordinate concern over my 'reputation' being sullied, or it legitimately may have been an inability to adequately explain the unique circumstances of my life, but for whatever reason, I spent way too much time defending myself or enjoying the defense I received from others. Time and experience, however, have seasoned me. Nothing has changed for me in ministry. I am still pastor of a great church. I have a wonderful family. And I am doing what I have been doing for the past quarter century - serving people in ministry and getting paid to do it.

But I have conversed with other people in our convention who have lost their ministry jobs for opposing the powers that be. I have witnessed people in our convention literally cry in fear of losing their convention jobs. I have personally observed a pastor, whose wife was dying of cancer, be the recipient of a false rumor - intentionally circulated - that he was having an affair; all because this pastor opposed a certain viewpoint held by those who controlled the board on which he served. I have heard the pain expressed by another Southern Baptist leader over intentional rumors that he had experienced a mental breakdown - rumors spread in a concerted attempt to minimize his influence.

I have seen a woman employee of one of our agencies lose the job of her dreams, sell her blood to meet expenses, and face the humiliation of being called a tool of Satan - all because she was a 'woman in a position reserved for men.' I have met missionaries who lost their jobs overseas because they refused to bow to the political pressure of their superiors, and then sacrificed their children's college education by spending those college funds in an attempt to fulfill their call and stay on the mission field. I have met a number of Southern Baptists who have been abused, lied about, mistreated, and terminated - and they are now fighting to right the ship of their lives.

And yet we Southern Baptist pastors are doing nothing to correct the problem or help our wounded. We spend more time defending 'ourselves' against perceived attacks than we do helping those who have actually had their lives turned upside-down. We are arrogant, self-absorbed men who are more concerned about what people think of us than we are about helping our own people who have been abused and discarded like oily, dirty rags. And, frankly, I'm tired of it.

No more Mr. Nice Guy. I will be kind, tender and helpful - in very concrete ways - to those who have been abused and mistreated in our Convention. But I will not put up with pastors, associate pastors or denominational leaders who are spiritual pinheads. If you are a pastor and you think you are under attack because you are being 'misquoted' or cry crocodile tears because you are being 'mischaracterized,' then join me in forsaking the Country Club of Self-Absorption and get out in the real world and help somebody who has actually been harmed.

It might make our convention a better place.

In His Truth,


Wade

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

Pastor Wade,

Thank you for speaking the truth. As an adult victim of sexually inappropriate behavior at the hands of a Southern Baptist pastor, and then a termination over 'poor job performance,' all the while fighting inward guilt and fear, your post has done more healing for my soul than ten counseling sessions.

Suzie

Steve said...

When wrong has been done, the only correct response is to tell the truth. When leaders pursue sin, revelation allows God's cleansing to take place. Truth can be messy, but this is no private club.

Rick said...

Since all of this (with you) has come about, I've written a couple of emails that merited phone calls from the current and previous IMB BOT Chairmen. Both of them, while gracious in tone, had a sense of 'threat' to them.

Most recently, even though I am no longer with the Board, the Chairman (evidentally) had my personnel file open before him during our phone conversation. How intimidating! My written email will make it into my personnel file, but his verbal telephone response will not! He even had the audacity to ask me if I was recording our telephone conversation. HE CALLED ME!

I think that a lot of the motivation for the incredibly un-Christlike behavior is "old fashioned hiney protecting". Egos have become so big that rational, measured thought is no longer an option. The good ole boy system in the SBC more resembles the halls of Congress than the body of Christ.

I'm sick of it, too.

Anonymous said...

It’s a remarkable thing, as I see it, that the SBC is always to some degree in a mode of separation. I remember when James Robinson and Jack Taylor, and others were “turned out” because of their embracing matters of the Holy Spirit, which went against the conventional thinking of the convention leaders of that time. Some of you may remember the “fullness” movement which tried to bring positive resolution to this divisive issue. I was at MWBTS in the mid 1980s when the battle for control of the convention and its agencies was really heating up and witnessed real hostility between fellow students. The great historic creeds speak of “one” church, as in unified and in agreement. We have a very long way to go.

Don P

Clif Cummings said...

This quote came to my mind while reading this post:

“All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.”

Edmund Burke

Bill said...

The thing that distresses me the most about the Klouda affair is not that people aren't showing enough concern for her, but that they think this is as it should be. In other words, in their minds, Dr. Klouda was in sin while teaching at the seminary, and that the seminary was in sin for allowing her to teach. That Dr. Patterson set things right, and that he and the seminary was extraordinarily kind and gracious to Dr. Klouda and that she should be thankful for how she was treated. They say that Dr. Klouda should follow 1 Cor. and not sue, but rather accept the wrong, but in reality they (many) don't believe she has been wronged at all.

Wade Burleson said...

Bill,

Bingo.

That is why the courts are called 'the ministers of God.'

They will do what other ministers will not.

Gary said...

Wade,

I admit that I am guilty of worrying about what others might think of me and obsessing over it. I have been struggling in recent months over just that.

While I do not want to take away from the efficacy of what I do where I minister (these are truly good people), I need to re-purpose myself to stand to speak truth to power when needed, wherever it is needed.

You well know that when Paul exhorted Timothy to 'rightly divide the word of truth', that was a greek word which was only used once in scripture, right there in II Timothy 2:15 - orthotomeo. Spurgeon said about this that we need to carefully administer this for "it is well so to handle the word as to be able to give rebuke when rebuke is wanted, exhortation when it is needed, and comfort when consolation is required, for otherwise we do mischief. As it is said in the old fable of the simpleton, that he gave to the ass a bone and to the dog hay, so there are some who give wrong exhortations, not because they are wrong in themselves, but because they are wrong in their application."

I must remember how and when rebuke, exhortation, or comfort are needed, and don't mix them up!

I'm guilty as others of the Biblical malady "itching ears". There are times which I seek a message which makes me feel good or comfortable, whereas I should be seeking truth, no matter how uncomfortable it makes me.

I purpose to "rightly divide the word of truth". I expect that you, others, and most certainly a man I respect and love dearly, Phil, to rebuke me when I'm wrong, exhort me when I need a kick in the pants, and comfort me when I'm licking my wounds.

I will also purpose to lift in prayer those such as you and Rick who stand to preach, teach, rebuke, exhort, comfort, and yes, even to afflict from time to time, from the pulpit.

That said, we each are 'ministers'. I'm not perfect, but thank God, I am forgiven. I need to act like it.

Gary

Les Puryear said...

Wade,

I'll make the same comment to you as I did to Tim Rogers. Perhaps you and Tim can talk on the phone or through email or something rather than doing this in public. It’s not very becoming to either of you.

Wade Burleson said...

Les,

I am uninterested in what is, or is not becoming to either me or Tim. That's the point of my post, Les, and obviously, you missed it.

I am interested in helping Sheri Klouda - a person who has actually been harmed. Again, I have not. Neither has Tim. Neither have you.

Send a check, Les, for Sheri Klouda's family. It is far more beneficial to the kingdom than typing comments like the one above.

Blessings,

Wade

Anonymous said...

Too often the church acts like it belongs to the Pharisees rather than the One who bought it for a price. Thank you for being like Christ on behalf of Sheri Klouda and others. You are restoring my hope that there are good, godly men willing to stand for truth, and show compassion toward those who have been wounded by the church.

Even the smallest light will dispel the darkness, and attract more light. Praise God.

Sharon Rose

Les Puryear said...

Wade,

You are my brother in Christ and I love you. How you behave in the public arena does matter. You are an ambassador for Christ and as such, you have a responsiblity to conduct yourself in Christ-exalting ways. I, and every other Christ-redeemed person, have the same responsibility.

Your frustrations are showing and it is not a pretty sight. I say this to you in a spirit of love as a brother in Christ who loves and supports you.

I also love and support my brother Tim Rogers as well. I think it's time for all of us to show the blogging world that we belong to Christ by our love for each other.

Keeping it real.

Les

Wade Burleson said...

Les,

Thanks for you comment. I am unconcerned with my beauty in your eyes. I am concerned that you or your church send a check to the Sheri Klouda benevolence fund.

I love you, too.

Wade

Only By His Grace said...

Wade,

I love to see you and Tim Rodgers go at it tong and hammer. Both of you have kept a good Christian witness while being intense about what you believe. I believe in the intense heat of honest debate, even when anger shows, we are brought close to the truth of a debated matter.

There are those who are uncomfortable with the thrust and parry of debate and probably would do well to seek other avenues in the search of truth. When honest disagreement is not debated, we have returned to the Dark Age of placing truth in the keeping of only the privileged few.

Keep the debate for truth going. It is one of the godliest things I read. I love to read the debates of our early church fathers before 400 AD. They knew how to stick to the subject without attaching labels. Later there was no debate. They simply burned each other at the stake for disagreeing

Our offering at ABC is completed, but does not mean Dr. Klouda has received a check as of yet. Sometimes Gary needs to light a fire under our Treasurer's seat. It better that Gary do it than me. I have to protect my image of being the ever sweet and loving Pastor; besides, I am senior. Seriously, I do wish the check was more than it is.


Only By His Grace,
Phil.

Bill said...

Several somewhat realted things come to mind:

One, hearing at a Southern Baptist seminary that Lottie Moon was outside the will of God. I do not support females in the senior pastor role, but missionaries, Hebrew professors?

Two, being on the mission field and not having culture shock but mission shock at how bad the New Directions leadership was on the field and how desperate people were to climb the ladder in the IMB.

Third, more recent history . . . reading Dr. Page's BP First Person article yesterday about the climate initiative. Even the candidate of change has become the establishment in my humble opinion.

I'd like to see things change but I think more and more about finding another denomination or leading our church to participate less with the denomination.

Wade Burleson said...

Phil,

On behalf of the Klouda family, I say thank you to your church and to you personally for your leadership. And, by the way, I agree with your assessment regarding debate. Thanks.

wade

OC Hands said...

Wade,
Our prayers are for God to give you wisdom during these days. Since he has given you knowledge and insight, you need the wisdom of God (through the Holy Spirit) to stand up for what is right in God's sight.
I have been lamenting for several years the decline of the prophetic role in our convention, as well as in all Christendom. Billy Graham was the rallying point for awhile, but even he spoke mostly to the lost, and not to those who need to hear a message from God.
May God give you the words to say, the time to say them, and the courage to speak and to stand by what you say. "Friends" will try to dissuade you, and your enemies will seize every opportunity to denounce, degrade, and deride you. But pray for them that God will open their eyes. It is so sad when those who are called to speak the message of God don't speak the entire message.
I do not know what role God has for you, but I have seen you grow in your understanding of the morass in which our convention finds itself, and in your willingness to speak out.
Just know that in our little corner of the world you are being lifted up to the Lord daily.

Lin said...

"I think it's time for all of us to show the blogging world that we belong to Christ by our love for each other. "

Sometimes the truth is negative and does not look good. One of our problems is that we only want to show our laces and frills to the public. Let us show them how we deal with dirty laundry. By doing the right thing.

"How you behave in the public arena does matter. You are an ambassador for Christ and as such, you have a responsiblity to conduct yourself in Christ-exalting ways."

He is. Why don't we recognize that anymore?


I have seen it too often that we sweep it all under the rug for the sake of 'appearances' and the victim is left out completely.

Rick, I wish I could be astonished at your comment but I'm not.

Lin said...

"There are those who are uncomfortable with the thrust and parry of debate and probably would do well to seek other avenues in the search of truth. When honest disagreement is not debated, we have returned to the Dark Age of placing truth in the keeping of only the privileged few."

Exactly.

Anonymous said...

So what's to be done?

Zach said...

Wade,

Thank you for the post. It's a great lesson and reminder to us all.

It is in all humbleness that I ask one thing. That is, when you see pastors that aren't reacting how you believe they should, please remember that, by your own profession, that's exactly where you were two years ago. Grace and Truth...not either or.

Zach

Danny said...

I really feel for Dr. Klouda and others like her, but in reality, this sort of treatment is not new in the SBC. It was in abundance during the so called "controversy" days.

I am skeptical about any such change taking place, and am grateful to be out of the loop now. I sense that you are now getting a dose of reality.

When you get disgusted enough, try some other avenues for your mission and ministry. And, as always, stay with the local church as your primary outlet for serving our Lord.

Have a good Easter.

Jim Paslay said...

Wade said:

"...I spent way too much time defending myself or enjoying the defense I received from others."

Bingo!

Wade also said:

"We are arrogant, self-absorbed men who are more concerned about what people think of us than we are about helping our own people who have been abused and discarded like oily, dirty rags. And, frankly, I'm tired of it."

I was wondering if you are using an editorial "we" in reference to pastors being arrogant and self-absorbed? Are you speaking for all pastors? Arrogance is truly unbecoming in a servant of God.

Finally, Wade said:

"But I will not put up with pastors, associate pastors or denominational leaders who are spiritual pinheads."

The "we" goes to "I" now. So, we, including you, were all grouped together and called arrogant and self-absorbed but now only pastors who don't see eye to eye with you are spirtual pinheads. Why? Because we have the audacity to disagree with you sometimes? Let's make sure "we" are not too close to the situation and thus clouds "our" judgment.

In response to the general accusations that you have expressed, I say call these people out publicly who are spreading false rumors by name and let's remove them at the SBC Convention this summer. If there are vindictive people on our boards, let's identify them and seek disciplinary action or take it to their local pastor and/or church. I am truly for holding these individuals you have described accountable. It drags the name of our Lord through the mud when professing Christians act that way.

Let's also resist the temptation to simplify our problems in this convention by accusing people of being fundamentalists or people who supported the Conservative Resurgence as the villians within our convention.

I, myself, will also try not to simplify our problems by blaming liberals and moderates who can't get over the Conservative Resurgence and easily blame certain people (Paige Patterson & Paul Pressler) for all our ills. Danny's post proves my point. It will be a difficult task but we need to try!

WTJeff said...

After reading all this, I agree with Bill. At some point, the infighting, the name calling, and all the other mess that goes with it become too much. It seems most are more concerned with being right than reaching an increasingly lost society with the gospel. God help us.

Pamela said...

Every believer, not excluding church leaders, are responsible for obeying the word that they know. Spiritual abuse by leadership is not allowed. The Bible clearly says that leaders are to be the servants of all like Christ is. People leave churches when church leaders are not properly disciplined. I quit participating in churches for a time because I was not going to allow leaders to be a bad example for me to follow. How can he/she or whoever tell me how to live and how I must repent for what I do but insist that they can do what they want and resist correction according to the Bible? Many people have turned away from the Lord because of it. I knew better that to do that.

My only comfort is that I know that God is watching the abuse of others by church leadership. It will be taken care of by the Lord Himself if those in leadership refuse to administer Biblical correction. These problems are throughout the body of Christ, not just the SBC. This mess really hurts the babes in Christ.

The Bible says that if you have problems with a brother go to them. If they do not hear bring two or three. If they still do not hear take it to the church. The Bible also talks about public rebuke being in order in certain circumstances. With the Internet I guess this is being taken to a new level. I'm not sure if any verses have been disobeyed.

Those that feel like speaking the truth is not loving should look at how Jesus handled wrong. He rebuked the Pharisees and other leaders many times in the Bible. In some cases he rebuked them in the middle of their services. He did not pull them to the side to correct them. He did it out of love for the leaders and for those that were present. He felt it was important enough for people to understand the right way. Any leader that confronts must make sure that their heart is right and that the purpose is redemptive. No Christian is perfect in this but hopefully no one would suggest that leaders keep silent about wrongdoing that is hindering the work of preaching the gospel of the kingdom and unity of heart towards the Lord.

There will be more of this throughout the body of Christ in the days to come. It is needed to present a more accurate picture of the body of Christ according to the Bible. Those that are called to correct best have rhino hides because they will be called every name in the book. They will also have to be dead to ambition because many will lose their positions in the process. My hope is that those people will see it as a badge of honor to be persecuted for the sake of righteousness.

Debbie Kaufman said...

WTJeff: Reread the post.How can you read the stories that are in this post and not want to stop this. This is what I don't understand.

Anonymous said...

So, the question is pondered. Why do you remain a Southern Baptist? The SBC as we all knew it began to die in 1979. Your mental health will be much better when you do what I and so many others in CBF have done and simply check out of the SBC.

Dave Miller said...

Wade,

based on your comments on my site, I am altering my post a little.

WTJeff said...

Debbie,

I'd love to stop it. I wish we'd all get back to focusing on making disciples rather than all this mess. How long do you fight? How long do you spin your wheels, take two steps back for every one forward, before realizing time could be better spent reaching the lost? I'm not saying the SBC is a lost cause. I'm only saying God is compelling me in a direction that doesn't include political battles or forcing others to conform to my interpretation of tertiary doctrines. God has given us all work to do. Mine doesn't include banging my head against this particular wall. That may sound like a cop out, but I'm not alone. Several people have decided to get on with Great Commission work rather than fight power brokers. I'll continue to read this blog, comment occasionally, learn from Wade's gracious example, and pray for those who feel led to fight this fight.

Debbie Kaufman said...

WTJeff: This is my personal opinion, each must go as God leads, but it's the giving up that causes stuff like this to keep occurring, and it's going to get worse. I think both can be done, winning the lost and standing up to wrong. I know it's not easy, it's like fighting a bull, but it's when the bull stops being fought that it continues to do damage to others. I don't want anyone else getting hurt and destroyed. I've seen three people in the last three years, and I can't stand the thought of another going through this. I want it stopped. It's time to stop those who do damage in the name of God. There are those who are much more gracious than I am, I'm not so sure that they do it just because they can.

Tiffany Thigpen Croft said...

Pastor Wade,
Keep fighting the good fight. God never told us in the Bible to be politically correct at all costs, He never commanded us to turn a blind eye to sin, He never told us to keep our heads in the sand, He never said to let our leaders of the church to do whatever they wanted to in the ministry or personal lives, He certainly never told us to sit back and do nothing.

Quite the contrary to all of those things. That is if we read our Bibles and actually follow out it's blessed commands. If we sit back and try to "figure out" what we believe is pleasing to Him, we usually form our own self righteous opinions and rules, leaving God completely out of the equation and not asking ourselves what the Bible actually calls us to do.

We should do all of these in love however and show Godliness through it. God certainly dealt with haughty leaders and harlots and thiefs and murderers and adulterors etc. in the Bible - his way was much more powerful and carried much more consequence than we would ever like to see for ourselves. Sometimes He dealt harshly, sometimes He showed great mercy. But one thing remained constant, though He loves the sinner, He will not tolerate the sin.

Do you really think we as a church should sit back and do nothing. Just allow the world to continue to have the reason to mock us for our hypocrisy? Certainly not, God would surely honor us dealing with the "dirty laundry" of fallen men in a way that would actually bring much honor to what the Bible actually stands for!

We send our soldiers to fight in foreign countries for our freedoms and our rights. They have to see and do unthinkable things for that cause and we applaud them. After all they are upholding our Constitutional Rights and freedoms that our forefathers fought for - with the help of and faith in God.
Why do we then crucify the soldiers fighting for His cause within the church? We treat them as if they are ungodly when in fact they are showing more Godliness than any of you who are silent in the body while silmiltaneously preaching a thousand sermons on sin and how we should live a righteous life.

I am ashamed personally of our leaders at this time in History. If it does not bring a wake up call (all of our cries) then God truly help us all when His judgement comes down. He promised to never flood the earth again, but He never promised to not show His wrath in some other way. How sad He must be. It breaks my heart as well.

Anonymous said...

Fellow Baptist Christians: Why not just leave the SBC? It is gone forever. Come either to CBF or one of the other Baptist groups out there. You can still be Baptist with all the best that the word brings with it and not have to grapple with all those things that make your blood pressure rise. I learned this about 20 years ago. It is very liberating!

Randy Carder said...

Wade,
What about all these posts that suggest we just leave the SBC? These people who left the SBC for some other denominations remind me of folks who leave a church because they don't like the volume of the music or the fact that there is a drum kit on the platform. You know the ones, "if you don't do it my way, I'm leaving!"

Anonymous said...

Randy,
I don't know if you refer to me or not. But I can tell you that I did not leave the SBC because of the music or some trivial matter. I left the SBC simply because my conscience would no longer allow me to support it. It was that simple. The SBC left me, more than I left it. Also, remaining in the SBC was literally affecting my relationship with Christ. When I found myself spending more time talking about a trustee meeting and what someone did to someone else and how we can get even, etc., I knew it was time to leave. When I found myself worrying and wasting precious important hours doing politics for a presidential candidate to win the SBC rather than pastoring the church God called me to, I knew it was time to leave.

So, please, don't put me in a category of leaving the SBC for some trivial matter.

On another note, I have found peace, security, community, and the love of Christ in the CBF like I have not felt in a long time. I invite you to check it out. However, I am smart enough to realize it is not for everyone. I am somewhat amused though at how similar Wade Burleson's comments are to those disaffected moderates 30 years ago. He is essentially "CBF" and doesn't realize it.

Randy Carder said...

Dear Anon,
I wasn't painting with a broad brush and certainly wasn't targeting you personally. It just seems as though those who have left the SBC for CBF or whatever acronym you want to use, did so because instead of fighting for what they loved and believed in, they just left. If you've been in the church as long as I, you know some of those folks. Maybe not you, but there are plenty. The grass is not always greener across the fence. I have good friends whom I respect greatly who have left the SBC for various reasons and we still have excellent relationships, but I'd rather stay and fight for what I love instead of leaving.

Anonymous said...

Randy when you say "It just seems as though those who have left the SBC for CBF or whatever acronym you want to use, did so because instead of fighting for what they loved and believed in, they just left" I have to wonder just how well you know the folk you are talking about?

I and many like me stayed for varied lengths of tome after the take over
"resurgence" began in 79. Some of us got involed with CBF at the start in 1991. We infact contributed to both the Cooperative program entities and to CBF causes through the SBC until they (the SBC )refused to accept and process those gifts designated to CBF. At that time some of us started writing two checks one for the CP, and one for CBF.

Even then we stayed in the SBC and attempted to head off the the power plays of a strange amalgamation of persons seeing control.

Myself I stayed in the SBC and all the way to 1998 when I moved to a locale where I could find no SBC church in wich I could participate
and openly support CBF. At that time I stareted attending an ABC church after about a year I joined that Church and have been happily active in both ABC-USA and the CBF, every since.

Anonymous said...

This makes me want to stand on a mountaintop and scream. These unending fights and nasty rumors are the #1 reason Southern Baptists have a terrible reputation. We are hear to spread the love of Christ, and if someone is doing something you don't think is correct, it is time to pray to God and if you have the proper relationship with the person gently and LOVINGLY guide them back to Christ. I pray daily God will hear the cries of Godly people in the SBC and make it a beacon of light for Christ.