There are a couple of Baptist identity folks who have expressed their sentiment that the previous drama at the IMB was caused by yours truly. One described it as "the pitiful antics of one man trying to make a name for himself and refusing to repent and surrender when reprimanded. I laughed when I read this anonymous 'preacherman' comment posted to the site by Wes Kenney, who himself advocates a renewal of the Baptist identity religion.
The last time I ever initiated going to a microphone at a Board of Trustee meeting was in November of 2005. At the time, I calmly questioned trustee leadership why they were pushing policies that the President opposed, particularly since I had requested repeatedly to see field data that the policies were needed. Those pushing the policies (trustee leadership) never gave me one scrap of paper that showed me there was a problem on the mission field that necessitated these new policies. They could not articulate for me or others one instance of a field problem not correctly handled by IMB personnel that would necessitate the proposed policies. It would be a year later that Chairman Floyd would announce to me that trustee leadership needed no field anecdotal evidence that the policies were needed. This was a 'doctrinal' matter, and Baptists needed doctrinal purity. Despite my objections (and several other trustees), the policies passsed.
Less than a month later (December 2005) I began my blog. I simply explained what had occurred the previous six months on the Board, made the Convention aware of the new policies, and proposed that there was an orchestrated attempt by some to either marginalize or remove Dr. Rankin because he did not meet the standards of the new Baptist identity movement. My great concern was that the Southern Baptist Convention was becoming inbred, and as a result, the demands for doctrinal conformity on tertiary issues was causing us to lose wonderful Southern Baptists who would otherwise be qualified to serve. The fact that these new doctrinal policies exceeded the BFM 2000, the only consensus confessional standard of the SBC, seemed to not matter much at the time.
From that November 2005 IMB meeting until I resigned from the IMB in January 2008, with the exception of a brief recommendation I made in early 2007 that requested an increase in the stipend given to retiring missionaries, I never once went to the microphone to initiate any conversation, never once went to a microphone to propose any item of business, never once went to a microphone to initiate any discussion, and despite what some would have you believe, I never once initiated the use of any time at an IMB meeting to ask questions about the adopted controversial policies, never initiated any comment regarding actions against me, nor did I ever request to address the Board about any other matter (the record will reflect this). I felt that we should spend our meetings conducting missions business. For reasons only they could give, some trustees felt that the laser focus of the board should be on me.
However, from 2005 to 2008 trustee leadership brought reommendation after recommendation that had me at the focus, not missions. There was the recommendation to remove me from the Board (January 2006), then a unanimous recommendation to rescind that recommendation since it had to be approved by the entire SBC (March 2006). Trustee leadership brought a recommendation directed at me that called for all trustees 'to publicly support a board approved action, even if they cannot privately support it' (March 2006). A subcommittee brought a recommendation to revisit the policies and ultimately revise them as 'guidelines' after the SBC requested an investigation into why the IMB exceeded the doctrinal statements of the BFM and was excluding otherwise qualified missionary applicants from service based upon these 'policies' (2007). Finally, one trustee brought a recommendation to 'censure' me (November 2007), and trustee leadership issued a report (never voted on) that the Board not 'accept' my apology for being the cause of 'distraction' since it was not an apology for publicly opposing the adopted policies in the first place (January 2008). It was at that meeting (January 2008) that I initiated, for the first time, a request to address the Board. I resigned that night.
My point is this: during all the debate on the above issues I never went to a microphone to speak unless I was called to do so by trustee leadership in response to their initiatives to 'deal with Burleson.' If there was any 'drama' in previous meetings, it was because some didn't like the fact that they could be questioned and public dissent over their actions would be expressed. My friend C.B. Scott puts it succinctly:
The absence of vocalized differences of opinions in a meeting means nothing more than that. Is the ultimate goal of the trustee board to have no disagreements? Sometimes the presence of a “sweet-spirited” meeting is evidence of cowardliness and a lack of conviction among other things.
There is no doubt that trustee leadership operates under the conviction that they represent true 'Baptist identity,' and those seeking approval of those currently in charge of denominational direction, will join them in the new Baptist identity movement. However, when Southern Baptists of this persuasion begin to realize that the best way to handle dissent is to allow it, to be so confident in your positions that you are unbothered by it, and accept people who disagree as part of the cooperative efforts of the SBC, then we will truly possess the identity Baptists have historicaly held.
The downfall of a denomination built on dissent can be traced through the denigration, intimidation, and exclusion of the dissenters. There will be no deliverance until there is the death of the death of dissent in the SBC.
Until it happens,