Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Wisdom Will Prevail

I am confident that wisdom will prevail in the recommendation for my removal as a trustee of the IMB.

I have spoken at length with trustee Chairman Tom Hatley and trustee Vice-Chairman Lonnie Wascom. Both these men were personally gracious and listened to my concerns, as I theirs.

All of us desire what is best for the Southern Baptist Convention. All of us desire for our respected President Jerry Rankin to feel our support. All of us desire for people to realize that our missionaries are the heroes of the SBC, and we do not want to do anything to harm our ever-growing work.

It is amazing what God's people can do when there is an opportunity for free flowing communication and corresponding respect. I really appreciate the opportunity to visit with these two men and reiterate my love for them both.

The Southern Baptist Convention is filled with some wonderful people. We may not all see eye to eye on everything, but I am grateful for my two brothers and their obvious desire to to work through what some might call a difficult time, but in the end, might be one of our convention's finest hours.

I believe wisdom will prevail and the recommendation for my removal will ultimately be rescinded.

In His Grace,


Sunday, January 29, 2006

Excellent Reading Material

I will be out of town for the next couple of days, but I am leaving a couple of links to some excellent reading material on the ordinances.

Dr. John Gill (1697-1771) was considered by Baptists in the 18th and 19th Centuries as the pre-eminent Baptist theologue of his day. His Greek and Hebrew proficiency excelled the Anglican scholars of London and the Roman Catholic scholars of Europe. His works on the ancient Jewish writings have not been surpassed in scholarship to this day.

The Prince of Preachers, Charles Spurgeon, called Gill "his mentor in Israel." Dr. Gill was a contemporary and friend of Augustus Toplady, author of the great hymn, "Rock of Ages," William Cowper, and other world-renowned evangelicals of both London and Europe.

Dr. Gill is the only English speaking scholar to write a commentary on every book of Scriptures from the original languages (even non-English seaking Calvin skipped Revelation). After his commentary, Gill wrote his "Body of Doctrinal and Practical Divinity," a wonderful compilation of systemized doctrine. Usually interpreters base their commentaries on presuppositions. Gill exposited the Scriptures first, then systemetized his theology.

According to the scholarly historian Joseph Ivimey, if a pastor in the 1800's did not have Gill's Commentaries in his library, he was not considered a true Baptist in his day. Whether you agree with his soteriology or not (Gill was a Calvinist), no one can deny his Biblical erudition and theological acumen.

Gill was brilliant.

It may be heavy reading for some, but I would encourage you to read Gill on Baptism and Gill on the Lord's Supper.

This is our true Baptist identity, and it should not surprise any of us that Baptists of 300 years ago upheld the Scripture, rejected man's traditions, and sought in everything to honor Jesus Christ.

That is the Baptist way.

In His Grace,


Saturday, January 28, 2006

An Offer To My Fellow Trustees

I do not ever recall having a personal conversation with John Schaefer, a fellow IMB trustee from Georgia, but someone sent to me his comments from The Christian Index.

Frankly, John seems like a really nice guy, and I am greatly encouraged by some of what he says. However, I would like to gently and lovingly question John's understanding of a few events. There are some things that people say that will never elicit a response from me just because what is said is so bizarre, but in a case like this, John seems to be a great guy with a sincere heart, and I feel it is appropriate to respond to his thoughtful comments on the IMB situation.

John said, "in quotations" . . .and my responses

“Wade wasn’t happy with the vote on those issues and, not liking the results, went public with his views by expressing them in his blog."

John is mostly correct here. When a Board establishes policy contrary to the consent, counsel and advice of their President, there better be really, really strong reasons for doing so. I believe the new policies create problems rather than solve any. In fact, the old policies were quite sufficient. However, the Board took two years to address these issues and ultimately voted, by majority, to establish the new policies, contrary to the desires of our President who was not allowed to address the trustees on these issues with the freedom and authority his very office deserves.

Where John and I probably disagree is that I feel as a trustee I am ultimately accountable to the Convention for my service. Once the Board passed these new policies, the proper procedure for a trustee in the minority position is to take his dissent to the Convention at large. Trustee public dissent should always be gracious, principled and for the betterment of the mission of the Convention at large. I know my heart in this matter. I am willing to apologize to anyone and everyone that feels my blog is the cause of division. I am seeking to keep us from becoming divided amongst ourselves, splintered and separated from former areas of cooperation, and ultimately isolated from other Great Commission Churches. That is truly my heart.

I am not demanding that my fellow trustees "conform" to my beliefs in order to cooperate with me in missions and evangelism, but I am simply saying to them, "It is wrong and un-Baptistic when you are demanding that I and others conform to your beliefs on non-essential doctrines in order to serve on the mission field." Praying in tongues in private and the qualifications of the person who baptizes you are non-essentials. In my opinion, these two new policies are detrimental to the cause of Christ and our work on the mission field through the International Mission Board.

However, if these two new policies are Biblical and essential for the effectiveness of the IMB fulfilling her mission, there ought to be no concern that the Convention is made aware of them through public dissent. But if there are real problems with the policies, and the President chosen to lead the IMB is now DISQUALIFIED from serving as a missionary in the very organization which he presides over, then as my good friend would say, "Something smells rotten in Denmark."

Some people who find themselves still not able to comprehend the connection between these new policies and the future of the IMB, might give pause and consider that I might have information that sheds light on why these new policies are even an issue. In other words, though I am simply arguing principles and taking the high road in this matter, you may rest assured I would not argue on the basis of principle if I were operating off of "hearsay" and "conjecture." I am operating on what I know firsthand, or if you prefer, truth. I have gone through the proper channels to express my concern, but until this date, I have not had the opportunity to address them before the entire board. It is not because I haven't asked, but rather because no one, so far, is willing to discuss it. I am hopeful at some point to be able to do so.

We run enormous risk in society if we begin using blogs to shape policy. There is great potential to destroy an organized, orderly process for governance, regardless if you are serving in the secular or denominational world."

I don't know what Board John has served on in the secular world, but I am sure that the investors in companies like Enron and WorldCom would have appreciated knowing about certain policies and practices before both went bankrupt. The IMB is not comparable in circumstances to those two secular companies, but the principle is the same. A trustee has a larger obligation than to simply be loyal to fellow trustees by doing what they expect him to do.

The attorney for the IMB has a written opinion that is available to the public that states a trustee's minority dissent of a majority action, whether written or verbal, is not a violation of IMB policy unless the dissent violates confidentiality, is intentionally deceptive, or seeks to harm the organization. Any careful reading of my blog will convince the fair minded reader that I am fastidious in meeting all three requirements.

Not one trustee has ever alleged I broke confidentiality regarding the new policies. I have simply voiced public opposition to the action of a majority of the trustees. I am seeking to help our convention for decades to come by ceasing the narrowing of the parameters of cooperation on the mission field by demanding conformity on non-essential doctrines.

“Because his blog is mixed with truth and heresay (sic), people now don’t know what to believe."

Again, I really appreciate John's perception of things, and I don't intend for this to sound harsh, but I would like to ask John a direct question."Since you have never contacted me in private before you made this public statement, allow me to ask you a gentle question, "What hearsay?" You show me what I have said that is hearsay (not first hand knowledge by me) and I will repent on the spot. Again, "Show me the hearsay!" Give me chapter and verse. Give me the sentence, the word, the paragraph." Show me. By the way Christian Index editor, I am sure the misspelling of hearsay in your article is an honest mistake.

"He seems to be comfortable with the idea of making public what is said at trustee meetings"

Well said John. You got this one on the money. I am very comfortable with the entire Southern Baptist Convention knowing what goes on in PUBLIC IMB meetings. Confidential meetings such as Forums and Executive Sessions must remain confidential. Confidential meetings are necessary for security purposes, but Christian organizations better be very, very careful to make sure Board meetings are open to the public at large as often as possible. I will never intentionally violate confidentiality rules, and if I do, and it is pointed out to me, I will be the first to repent and make it right. Confidentiality is very necessary in some instances of Board work, but the dissemnation of information and the communication of events that occur in public meetings are both even more essential than confidential meetings. The Convention should know, and MUST know, what is taking place in our agencies. Public meetings are by definition public and you can't get more public than the Internet!

"But I think there is basically a great spirit at the IMB and I can’t think of a trustee who is not supportive of President Jerry Rankin.”

This last statement excites me to no end. I wish it were true. In fact, I'll go a step further. I want it to be true; so much so, that I am making an offer to my fellow trustees.

If John's perception is true and there is unanimous support and respect of President Jerry Rankin, I propose at our next IMB meeting in March that the trustees go on record by roll call with a statement of our love and support for Dr. Jerry Rankin and his service to the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. I further propose that if this statement of support is unanimous, then the trustees should suspend the new policies until our respected President and staff offer a solution that is more satisfactory to the IMB's stated mission as defined by our President.

If this happens, all of my concerns are absolutely unfounded.

Someone might ask, "But why can't we just vote on the recommendation of support for our beloved President and KEEP THE NEW POLICIES?"

Again, the new policies disqualifies our respected leader from serving as a missionary on the very Board he oversees.

If we as trustees can't see this as a problem, then something is wrong with us.

In His Grace,


Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Talking Head

For the next several months I may sound like a broken record. Since the issues within our convention are for me matters of principle, and not people, the following three bullet points summarize the message that will be heard repeatedly prior to Greensboro.

(1). We must stop narrowing the parameters of cooperation in the areas of missions and evangelism.

Doctrine is important. However, the doctrinal battles are over for the Southern Baptist Convention. We are all conservative and evangelical. We hold to the Baptist Faith and Message of 2000. We must stop making policies that are based upon doctrinal interpretations that go beyond BFM. We must stop demanding that everyone conform to specific interpretations of minor, non-essential doctrines in order for them to participate in our effort to win the world for Christ.

(2). We must demand trustees and committees of our convention operate in a spirit of cooperation, humility, and transparancy.

The honor of serving one of our agencies is not a prize awarded for political loyalty or familial favoritism, but rather, Southern Baptists should be chosen to serve as trustees from a broad spectrum of churches after the Nominating Committee prayefully seeks the wisdom and direction of the Holy Spirit.

The manipulation of the trustee appointment process by outside forces in order to establish agendas contrary to agency leadership may have been the chosen method for stemming the tide of liberalism, but continual power politics for the purpose of establishing agendas contrary to agency heads quenches the empowering of the Holy Spirit in fulfilling the God given mission of all Southern Baptist agencies.

(3). We must establish as a priority the involvement of a young generation of conservative, evangelical Southern Baptists in our mission and evangelism endeavors.

The theology of Southern Baptists has been crystalized for decades to come through the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, but we as Southern Baptists must recognized that the methodology for fulfilling our mission must always remain fluid. It's not that we demand others do it our way, but that we give freedom to others to do it their way.

It can no longer be business as usual. There is a lost world in need of a Savior.

The Southern Baptist Convention is a big tent.

A big, conservative tent.

Let's keep the flap wide open and resist the temptation to zip it shut.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

Heartfelt Words to My Wife

Following the sound advice of Dorcas, I dedicate this post to my greatest supporter, best friend, and wife of 23 years. Rachelle turns 43 Saturday. She's a wonderful mom (4 kids ages 18, 17, 15, 12), a great nurse, and the sweetest Christian on earth.

My Dear Rachelle,

In God's love for me,
He brought you into my life;
In God's plan for me,
He gave you to be my wife.

In God's goodness to me,
He made you to be my very best friend;
In God's kindness to me,
He sealed you in my heart until the end.

In God's patience with me,
He sent you to be light when I am blind;
In God's working with me,
He knit you in the fabric of my mind.

Thank you, God,
for giving to me Rachelle.
Thank you, Rachelle,
for giving to me our God.

With love, your husband,


Happy Birthday! I've purchased for us a timeshare in Greensboro :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Winners Announced

Any time things become as public as they have become in the IMB trustee disagreement, there will always be criticism for anything said or done, regardless of one's motives or intentions.

There are those who say I am too serious. Then there are others who are offended that I could joke about this situation. There are a few who say I should just resign, and then some who say stay on! A handful are tired of it all, but many are just now getting motivated to participate in the SBC. All of us are learning things as we travel this journey together. I'm learning a great deal about myself and others.

Let me just say a couple of things that I hope everyone will take to heart before I announce the winners of the three day contest entitled "If You Were In My Shoes."

FIRST, every trustee I have met on the IMB loves missions and spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is a disagreement on principles, it is never a "I love Jesus more than you" debate.

SECOND, there are times when we all better laugh at ourselves, for if we take ourselves too seriously we lose perspective. My kids do a great impersonation of me. My staff loves to joke about me. I laugh from the belly when this happens because I don't take myself too seriously. I do, however, take the gospel very seriously. But I am too frail, too human and too sinful to think too highly of myself. The SBC is the same way. The gospel is important, but if we can't laugh at some of the things we do as a convention, we are in trouble.

THIRD, family members can argue, but we remain family. We are all Southern Baptists. Let's not get to the place where we say, "I can't stand you, so I'm leaving you," or "I can't stand you, so get out." I really want to learn to give dissent, disagree over minor doctrines (by the way, eternal security is not a minor doctrine, but the qualifications of the administrator of your baptism is), voice opposition, but keep on loving the people on the other side.

The Editor of Christianity Today emailed me today and said he was told by the Chairman of the Trustees that there would either be reconciliation or I would resign from the Board. I told the Editor that there is more of a probability that the Pope would be elected President of the Southern Baptist Convention than I would resign.

So, that must mean reconciliation is on the way! I'm glad.

Thank you for all your advice! I laughed, I listened, I learned.

For those of you who wrote and said you were offended that people could say the things they did, lighten up! Southern Baptists have proven again that they are razor sharp, mission minded, and always ready to do everything possible to keep the main thing the main thing.


(1). The Solomon Award . . The clearest, most articulate advice for resolution to the dilemma that honors God and betters our convention.

WINNER . . A female attorney named Dorcas.

Dorcas was one of the first to post. So many had outstanding ideas on how I should resolve this situation and special kudos to Bowden, Art and others, but Dorcas wins. Her post follows:

Do not resign your post as Trustee. Allow the Convention the opportunity to give its collective voice. Stay near your wife as much as possible ... she is your strongest advocate. There will be time enough in June to deal with this. Let others do the footwork and claim for yourself, your family and your church a level of normalcy.

Follow Philippians 4:8 and find whatsoever things are:

True - stay in the Word daily, hourly if needed on the days when life is rough.

Honest - determine to preach fresh sermons with the fervor of a newly ordained minister, don’t allow time constraints to tempt you into reruns.

Just - for every person you may find yourself on the opposite side of the table from, think now of one positive effect they have had on your life or one positive thing they have done for others, and determine to communicate that to them and others whenever you have the opportunity.

Pure - visit the nursery at your church, rock the babies until the cares of the world slip from your mind in the face of such newness of life.

Lovely - take a vacation to your favorite part of nature, mountains, the beach, the forest, wherever it might be and if only for a day, give yourself a physical “time out” away from everything.

Of Good Report - take time to gather with the teenagers of your church, find out what they think about all that is going on. They are the next group of “younger leaders” and need to know they will not have to be dealing with similar issues 20 years from now. Instill in them the importance of principle over people, so even if you are no longer a Trustee in June, they will not become bitter at the “system”.

Virtuous - slip into the Sunday School class of the oldest age group at your church, don’t let them focus on you, just say you are there to be a silent participant. Soak in the wisdom of the ages. Remind yourself that you have a long way to go yet.

Praiseworthy - get out of the limelight for a day, make coffee for your secretary and offer to run those copies yourself. Thank her for being your front line defense to all the media attention ... and give her a few extra days off.

None of these things will solve the immediate problem of convention politics, but it will give your time to the people who care about you the most, and I believe an even stronger love for your pastoral calling, which no one can take from you

(2). The Bob Hope Award . . . The funniest advice (I love to laugh! Scripture says it is "good medicine.")

WINNER . . .Jim Smith. This one was close. I laughed at a good many funny things, but some were a little too personal (yes, you FedBeggar), and some were a little too risque (yes, you SBC Dissenter, no gambling here :) ). Though technically this was an Einstein entry, it made me laugh the most. Here is Jim's post:

Announce the rapture has occured and the premillenialists were correct. Since every Southern Baptist is still here, we must all be lost. Let them know our lost condition is most likely due to two reasons: (1). We were baptized in the wrong church, or, (2). We really didn't have the gift of the Spirit after all. Since the entire convention seems to follow leadership so gullibly, rebaptize everyone. Our stats are up for the year, and everyone is then part of the pure church.

(3). The Marty Duren Award . . . The shortest advice with the most meat.

WINNER Florence Young from Kentucky. Short words, but very encouraging. Florence's advice is as follows:

Please stay the course. You are on the right track!

(4). The Albert Einstein Award . . . The comment that never even entered my mind before (it is hard for me to fathom I have not thought about every possible course of action, but this award goes to the person who gives me something new).

WINNER . . . Kiki! There were some other excellent entries in this category, but this Southern Baptist home missionary was not only Biblical in her response, she put it into modern language! Kiki said . . .

Or you could always take a brick, draw a picture of IMB headquarters on it, and make a model of a military siege against the brick.

Take an iron skillet, and place it between you and the city. Lay on your left side. After 390 days, turn over. Lay on your right side. Stay there for 40 days. Then roll up your sleeves, shake your bare arms, and preach at the brick.

If that doesn't work, shave your head and beard. Take 1/3 of the shaved hair and burn it inside IMB headquarters. Take another 1/3, chop it in bits, and sprinkle it around Richmond. Take the final 1/3 and throw it to the wind.

Okay....so maybe Ezekiel's example is not the best one to follow. But my guess is that after a few days of that, you would at least get their attention!!!!

Thanks for the over 100 entries. Women won by a 3 to 1 margin. The professor in me believes that these women winners are ethically, morally and Biblically qualified to have a superior ranking and rating to the men. I would love debate on that subject! :)

Winners email me with your address and I will send you a signed copy of my book "Happiness Doesn't Just Happen: Learning to Be Content Regardless of Your Circumstances" which was written as an exposition of Philippians 4:11 but has now become an autobiography!

You can sell it on ebay for a quarter after you read it!!

Have a great day, and God's blessings to you all.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

A Great Article

Bob Nigh of The Baptist Messenger, the state Baptist newspaper for Oklahoma, covered a meeting that was held in Tulsa last week with over 80 pastors. Bill Sherman of the Tulsa World was also present. Both men wrote articles after the meeting, and in my opinion, both did the best job of any thing I have read to date of clearly presenting the issues we face as a convention.

Bob's article is entitled We Are At A Crossroads.

Tomorrow I'll post winners of the contest!

Keep supporting the SBC. We are doing a great work! Also, let's stay positive. God is good and in control.

In His Grace,


Saturday, January 21, 2006

In My Shoes . . . A Friendly Contest

I have really enjoyed hearing from hundreds of you from around the world. Our Southern Baptist Convention is filled with some wonderful people. Thanks for your prayers and support! God is good and some great things are coming for our convention.

I would like to tap into your collective wisdom and have a little fun doing so. From Saturday night through Tuesday night I would like to hold a little friendly contest. I would like for you to comment on this question:

If you were in my shoes what would you do?

As you know, I am being recommended for removal from the IMB Board of Trustees. This recommendation will be voted upon by the messengers of the SBC in Greensboro, North Carolina, on June 13-14, 2006.

If you were in my shoes what would you do?

Give me advice.

On Tuesday of this coming week I will post some pearls of wisdom in four separate categories:

1). The Solomon Award . . . the clearest, most articulate advice for resolution to the dilemma that honors God and betters our convention.

(2). The Bob Hope Award . . . The funniest advice (I love to laugh! Scripture says it is "good medicine.")

(3). The Marty Duren Award . . . The shortest advice with the most meat.

(4). The Albert Einstein Award . . . The comment that never even entered my mind before (it is hard for me to fathom I have not thought about every possible course of action, but this award goes to the person who gives me something new).


(1). No personal attacks against any person within the SBC. You can mention people, but just be sure and be gracious.

(2). Familiarize yourself with the facts by reading the blogs before you post a comment. Any misrepresentation of facts, intentional or unintentional, will be cause for removal of the comment.

(3). Have fun.

Obviously, it will be hard to recognize you for your pearl of wisdom without signing your post, so at least give it your initials if not your full name.

Thanks for all your prayers and support. I hope you and your family have a wonderful day of worship Sunday and remember to pray for all our missionaries and the SBC!

In His Grace,


The Associated Press

Marty Duren has a very interesting post today on SBC Inconsistency that sheds some light for me on a situation I had heard about, but never knew specifics. There are several connections in that story with other events in the SBC and IMB as well, connections that may soon come to light.

I continue to seek to talk about principles and deal with issues. However, it seems that the publicity about the recommendation for my removal is spreading. The Associated Press has released a story this weekend. I have refused comment to all reporters who call, only answering questions by email and only addressing issues, never people. Most reporters draw from my blog, a blog that only concerned Southern Baptists had ever heard of, much less read, before the national attention. Nobody else cared.

It seems that the impetus for the media attention is not my blog, but the fact I am the first trustee that will be brought before the SBC for removal in the 161 year of our convention.

I really believe, in God's Providence, that everyone can come out of this with a better sense of our mission, a clearer understanding of essential doctrine, and most of all, a passion for spreading the good news of Jesus Christ around the world.

As I am typing this, I have received a page from our Pastor of Missions at Emmanuel Baptist Church that our 20 member church missions team in Africa just met with the Prime Minister of a very strategic country. We have one of our church members, on the ground, working with our IMB personnel to reach this country for Christ.

Let me encourage everyone who has an interest in the future of our convention to keep your eye on the prize. It's not necessarily unity. Disagreement sharpens everyone. The prize is the gospel of Christ spread around the world. It's the spirit and the attitude with which we disagree that will determine if our eyes are really on the prize.

No room for mean spiritedness in the Kingdom of God. That doesn't mean that you won't have to say tough things, it just means that the way you say them is with a tender heart.

Have a great weekend.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

Friday, January 20, 2006

A Request from Dr. Bobby Welch

A Request from Dr. Bobby Welch

Wednesday night I spoke by phone with Dr. Bobby Welch, President of the Southern Baptist Convention, and he requested that I make known on my blog that someone, impersonating Dr. Welch, is sending emails to churches in the Southern Baptist Convention. Both Dr. Welch and I are incredulous and angry that someone would do this.

The email is as follows:

Dear __________,

Let me encourage you and your staff to read the personal blog of Pastor Wade Burleson prior to the Southern Baptist Convention this summer: http://kerussocharis.blogspot.com/ Wade is a man of integrity!

I (Wade) am asking the Lord to bring swift and severe discipline in surprising ways to the person (or persons) behind sending the above email.

Dr. Welch does not know me, or I him. It would be impossible for him to speak about my integrity, and even if he could, it would be absolutely inappropriate since he is President of the Convention. Dr. Welch has issued a statement to all the trustees saying he must stay as neutral as possible in a controversy that may require Convention action while he is President.

I agree. Shame to those responsible for this immoral act.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

Stay On Point --- Don't Get Confused

The trustees of the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention have any and every right to implement policies for any purpose. As a Board member, I have repeatedly stated that I will comply with every policy of our Board. For instance, there is no policy against a trustee blogging on the Internet, but if there were, I would not blog. I have said repeatedly to all the trustees that I would stop blogging if the Board would pass a policy to that effect. A trustee should always abide by policy.

That is why it is important for you to remember that the new policies on a private prayer language and baptism are policies that are well within the right of the Board to pass. A Board must have policy. A Board must live by policy. We now have two new policies. I was in the minority who voted against them.

Why did I vote against the new policies? Because the OLD POLICIES WERE EXCELLENT, and I had deep concerns about the reasons the new policies had become an issue after 161 years of no need for them.

But I have repeatedly said that I would now never vote to put a missionary on the field who has a private prayer language or one who was not baptized in a church with Southern Baptist principles (or one that does not teach "eternal security") because it is now policy (voted by a majority of trustees) and I am a trustee who lives by policy. Frankly, staff (Candidate Consultants) will never put us in the position to vote on a missionary candidate who violates the new policies because staff is paid to enforce the policy that is set by the trustees.

The trustees of the IMB can set any policy they choose, for whatever reason they choose, even if the policies reach beyond the Baptist Faith and Message. For instance, the Board can choose to set a policy that no person from Oklahoma will ever be appointed as a missionary. I would argue against the policy, but if the Board voted for it, I would abide by it, just as I will abide by the two new policies implemented on November 15, 2005.

The reason I am being recommended for removal seems to be four-fold:

(1). I have said that I believe there are just a few, I reiterate, just a few trustees of the IMB who meet on a regular basis to subvert the leadership of Jerry Rankin. I was invited to participate in this group before I ever even attended a meeting of the IMB. I believe that is wrong. It is not only a violation of IMB policy, it leads to power politics, back room hidden agendas, and negates the prayerful petitioning of God for guidance in our work as the greatest mission sending agency of the conservative, evangelical world. I have never been able to speak about this issue of back room politics with the Board as a whole, though I have raised my concern on several occasions with trustee leadership. I have wondered incredulously why President Rankin was NOT allowed to fully and freely share with his Board the problems he had with the new policies.

I was hopeful the above issues would be addressed at our last Board meeting, and in fact made known my desires that they be addressed.

(2). I have voiced principled dissent through this blog to the convention at large. The attorney for the IMB has issued an opinion that is available to the public in which he says a trustee's criticism of the majority decision of the trustee body is not a violation of policy unless, (a). it is intended to harm the work of the Board; (b). it intentionally distorts the truth; (c). it violates confidentiality.

I have been fastidious and conscientious since beginning this blog in early December 2005 to make sure what I write meets all three of those requirements. I have sought to be gracious, kind and supportive of our work, while, at the same time, articulating my concerns.

(3). "Lack of trust" and "resistance to accountability," the phrases used in the press release by the chairman of the trustees as the basis for the recommendation for my removal from the Board, seem to be phrases that speak to this blog. I think the thing that has really bothered me was the actual recommendation voted on by the trustees and read into the offical record stated, "We recommend Wade Burleson be removed from the Board of Trustees for gossip and slander and loss of trust." My blog is public, not hidden (gossip). My blog is truthful (not an intentional distortion of facts, ie. "slander" though they probably meant "libel") and my trust as a trustee is primarily to the SBC at large, not solely to my fellow trustees. I have repeatedly asked for evidence as to the basis of this charge, and to this day have received nothing. To publicly accuse a brother in Christ of slander is very serious on several fronts. I stand ready to either repent when shown my sin, or defend any and every statement I have made in an effort to make our convention better.

(4). I have stated that there seems to be an effort by some, not all, to purge anybody from service within the SBC who does not interpret non-essential doctrines
the way some leaders say they must be interpreted. If we continue down this slippery slope of conformity on non-essential doctrines, there will come a day when you very well may be excluded for your eschatalogy (You mean to tell me you are not a pre-millenialist?), soteriology (You mean to tell me you are a "5 point Calvinist?"), ecclesiology (Surely you don't believe in "open communion?"). Where will it end? Our convention is large enough for people who disagree on the minor doctrines. Unity on the essentials, but freedom on the non-essentials. This is not a battle for the text, it is a battle for the freedom of conservative evangelicals to honestly interpret the text and arrive at different conclusions, BUT still cooperate in missions.

There are some very complex issues that need to be addressed.

I am willing to address them within the confines of the IMB in my role as a trustee. In essence, it does boil down to a control issue. I would like our convention to ask several questions and prayerfully seek an answer to them.

(1). Why do we have husband and wife teams on the major boards and agencies of our convention? Are there not enough Southern Baptists to share the appointments?

(2). Why do we reelect the same people to serve as trustees, up to an astounding sixteen years? Maybe more? Also, do we want former employees of the IMB or any agency, who either resigned under duress or were terminated, to be placed back on the Board as a trustee? For that matter, should any former employee of our agencies be able to serve as a trustee for the agency with which they were employeed? I don't know. I am simply asking.

(3). Do we as Southern Baptists really want a subset of trustees meeting in secret to establish agendas, plan strategy and make decisions about staff and leadership, or do we desire ALL of our trustees to discuss ALL the pertinent issues in our regularly scheduled meetings? I realize that some business is confidential, but we have forums and Executive Sessions to deal with sensitive matters, not hotel lobbies or even separate hotels.

(4). Do we really want sitting trustees "vetting" potential new trustees, contacting them prior to even the Nominating Committee contacting them, in order to insure that all new trustees are "like-minded" regarding the head of the agency and staff?

(5). Do we really want to contiue to close the door of the tent of cooperation to the point that every Southern Baptist must interpret the Scripture in non-essential doctrines in order to cooperate on the mission field?

These are questions that I was seeking answers for within the confines of the trustees of the IMB (and many more that are not yet appropriate to make public).

I remain a trustee of the IMB, vested with trust by the convention that I will do my work on behalf of the convention.

If these are inappropriate questions, then the convention needs to remove me, and I will continue to support our work as a convention in missions and evangelism through the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Offering, but only as a pastor, and not a trustee.

Either way, my conscience is bound by principle, not the opinion of man.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

P.S. Just a word of reminder. I really do love, appreciate and respect every trustee, even those who vehemently disagree with me or dislike me. Every one of them loves the Lord Jesus, desires what is best for our convention, and has given sacrificially for the cause of Christ --- every one of them. I am articulating opposition to principles, not people. To the extent I can be shown that my principles are illogical, unscriptural, and detrimental to the cause of Christ, I myself will change.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

My Problem as Others See It

I have heard from a few people who have talked to trustees who voted for my removal from the IMB and there seems to be a common refrain. It seems that I am perceived by some as arrogant, bullheaded, uncompromising, and difficult to work with.

I promise you I can see their perception, and frankly, were I in their shoes might think the same thing about me.

I do think though, there is a misunderstanding.

I am a passionate person. I also live by priniciples (some might choose to say logic or truth). I could give you many instances when I thought a certain thing and passionately defended my position, only to change my mind on a dime (that means quickly) because the person with another view showed me the illogic of my position, or where my position violated the truth.

I absolutely love the IMB and the work of our Southern Baptist Convention in the area of missions and evangelism.

I am a Southern Baptist because of our cooperative efforts to reach the world for Christ.

But I have personally witnessed events in the business approach to the IMB (i.e. the trustees), that seem to violate stated policy of our convention and the IMB, and in some instances, the truth of God's Word.

I have sought to address the problems I have witnessed behind closed doors. There seems to be an unwillingness to do so among trustee leadership.

I think we sometimes lose our compass and sense of direction as Southern Baptists. Rather than staying focused on missions and evangelism we are tempted to enter into back room politics and personal agendas that ultimately hinder the President and staff of the IMB from doing their work effectively. As a trustee I beleive I am accountable to the convention as a whole to make sure we are fulfilling the Great Commission through the IMB and are not wasting our time on anybody's personal agenda.

Me thinks I hear a chorus of "Amens!"

Having said that, let me get to the point.

I really would like for the trustees to publicly state where I have "slandered" (distorted facts), "gossipped" (said things behind closed doors), and "lost trust" (to the trustees or the SBC?).

Those are the words in the offical recommendation for my removal.

I have always sought to disagree with principles and take the high road regarding people. I do not want to hurt anyone.

Yet, I have received nothing in writing for the basis of the recommendation for my removal, though I have requested it numerous times. I need to know where I have distorted facts. I need to know where I have said things in secret. I need to know why there is a loss of trust.

I am willing to address the concerns I have in private (as I have sought to do for the last six months), but I am coming close to the time when I will need to make my concerns public.

As a trustee that answers to the SBC, and not the IMB, is there ever a time that I should make public my concerns

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Never Forget It's About Missions

The International Mission Board is the one agency that causes all of us as Southern Baptists to get excited about cooperation. Though I have discovered that there is a wide variety of beliefs regarding ecclesiology, eschatology, missiology, soteriology and other interpretations of Scripture among the IMB trustees, I can guarantee you every trustee I have met is interested in spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ around the world.

Some of us just disagree on how to get it done.

I have tried to remind everyone in this blog that the major issue for me is NOT so much the new policy forbidding the appoint of missionaries who have a private prayer language, or even the policy that rejects prospective missionary candidates who are not baptized in a Southern Baptist church or in a church that teaches eternal security. Sure, I believe both new policies go beyond Scripture and the Baptist Faith and Message, but they are only symptoms of a deeper problem.

The real problem?

We are continuing to narrow the parameters of fellowship and cooperation in the area of missions and evangelism by demanding conformity and agreement on non-essential doctrines. Now you must be a cessationist and very close to a Landmark in order to be a Southern Baptist missionary.

We have lost sight of the gospel.

The gospel is Jesus Christ and Him crucified. The gospel is the good news that God saves sinners through the work of His Son. We are called to preach Christ. We are commissioned by Christ Himself to be ambassadors of this good news. We are to go far and wide, or at least support those who do go far away, in the sharing of this good news that God saves sinners through Jesus Christ His Son.

I am still trying to understand why we are now EXCLUDING Southern Baptist missionary candidates who have a clear grasp of the gospel, who are members in good standing of Southern Baptist churches, and who in every way would have been qualified to serve as an SBC missionary for the past 161 years, but are now persona non grata (an unwelcome person).

I have received several emails with heart wrenching stories of missionaries who are now not able to serve with the IMB because of these new policies. Allow me to tell you one without going into the specific details of names and locations.

There is a very dark region in Central Asia, a place where missionaries and trustees have been praying for a gospel presence for the past three years. This very, very dark place is dangerous for anyone who names the name of Christ.

Recently, a young Southern Baptist couple felt God's call to this very region. They would never be recognized for their service because of security reasons. Their lives would be in constant danger, and frankly, there would be no guarantee they would ever make it back to the States alive. They passed all of the candidate interviews with flying colors, impressed all the IMB staff and trustees, and brought a surge of excitement and anticipation to the CA region as an answer to many prayers.

When the new policies were past by the trustees November 15, 2005 the Candidate Consultant went back to the young couple and asked, "Do either one of you have a private prayer language?"

The wife, unbeknownst to her husband, had prayed privately in ecstatic utterances for years. With full integrity she answered, "Yes."

The couple was rejected. Many tears were shed. The Candidate Consultant was heartbroken. The Central Asia region was shocked.

Why were they declined? The trustees, not the staff, declined them.

I propose a dark region in Central Asia is still dark because we trustees lost sight of the gospel, and our mission, and went way beyond Scripture, the Baptist Faith and Message, and our duties to keep our eye on world missions and evangelism.

That's the issue.

I have been criticized because I have stated the reason why private prayer languages became an issue among the trustees two years ago. It is not conjecture for me. What I have been told makes me very sad.

The baptism policy makes me just as sad. There are trustees who have said to me, "I am a Landmark and proud of it." Listen, I can cooperate with a Landmark any day of the year in the area of missions, but the essence of Landmarkism is to separate from everyone who does not view the administrator of baptism as important as Landmarks do. Our convention split over Landmarkism back in 1850 and if we are not careful we will soon face a simlar problem in 2006.

We must stop narrowing the parameters of cooperation in missions and evangelism.

So, I don't want to get bogged down in a debate about "private prayer languages" or the proper administrator of baptism. I don't even want to get into a debate on whether or not I should stay as a trustee of the IMB.

I want us as Southern Baptists to realize we have no higher motivation for cooperation than the mission field. We must WORK to keep the doors of cooperation open.

We must not forget that it is all about missions.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

Monday, January 16, 2006

Sunday Morning Sermon, January 15, 2006

I have been pastor of the greatest church in Oklahoma for the past 14 years. It was standing room only yesterday as I spoke with them regarding the recommendation for removal from the IMB Board of Trustees. We had fifteen hundred in worship, and the broadcast you will be hearing is from the second of two morning services.

Click here Living by Principles and Integrity and find either the MP3 audio format or the Real Audio link.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Five Salient Points

As you read blogs discussing the recommendation for my removal as a trustee of the International Mission Board, it might help you if you remember the following five salient points.

(1). There is no policy, bylaw, or rule prohibiting blogging by trustees of the IMB. In addition, trustees may publicly criticize the majority decision of trustees unless the criticism is (a). intentionally deceitful, (b). a breach of confidentiality, (c). or an attempt to harm the organization's mission.

Read my blog. Any question regarding whether or not my blog violates any of the above will be easily answered by the attentive reader. I have always desired to make our IMB better, broader, and more Biblically consistent. Further, I have shown, and will continue to show, great respect for my fellow trustees.

(2). As a man who lives by principle, you can be assured my objections were voiced repeatedly, consistently and graciously to all of the trustees in business meetings. In fact, the press quoted some of my comments because they were in the public Plenary Sessions when I made them. This is what led some Southern Baptists to contact me after the affirmative vote for the tongues and baptism policies, they saw my name in the IMB press release of the business session.

However, once the decision on the new policies was made by the trustees, and I was on the minority side, the forum for dissent became the convention as a whole, since my accountablity is to the convention. I publicly stated I would not be seeking a reversal of the policies within the next IMB meeting. The convention as a whole would need to address the issue.

This is where the rub comes. Many are under the impression that dissent should become silent when a measure or policy is passed by a majority. "Majority rules!" they adamantly cry.

I agree that the trustee on the losing side of a vote should acquiesce to the majority, EXCEPT in one instance: if the dissent is a principled dissent (based upon a violation of conscience or Scripture), then as Luther would say, "My conscience is held captive by the Word of God. Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise. God help me."

"Resistance to accountability," is the charge leveled in the trustee public statement regarding my removal. I interpret this phrase to mean "you aren't doing what we want." I think many trustees had the expectation that a new trustee should be quiet. I was not. That which I have been most vocal about is a subgroup of trustees who seem to control the direction, agenda and business of the IMB. I have much first hand information about this, but have chosen not to go into detail in my blog at this time. Frankly, I was trying to change things from within the Board.

I said to anyone who would listen in the hallways, parking lot and hotel that I would stop blogging if the trustee board passed a policy that blogging by trustees was detrimental to the IMB. I would not stop because people wanted me to stop, I would only stop because policy required me to stop. I still am amazed that the motion was to remove me rather than a recommendation for a policy that all trustees stop blogging.

One trustee asked me how I would feel if a deacon blogged our deacons meeting. I said, "I would love it!!" but I wasn't sure how many would read it. The fact that so many read my blog about the IMB indicates there is a great level of interest in the convention with what goes on at the IMB.

I think that the real issue is there was no control of what I said, though I was careful to always be respectful to the people associated with the IMB, encouraging about the work of winning the world to Christ and always careful to avoid any matter of confidentiality. I stand by what I have written. I think I have shed some light on things where light needed to be shined, and I believe that light is for the longterm good of our convention.

(3). There was no attempt at any private mediation prior to the actions at the Board meeting to recommend me for removal from the IMB. I expected, but did not know with certainty, that a few trustees might be upset with the blog. Only two, maybe three trustees ever wrote with their displeasure regarding my blog, and I even included one email of dissent (removing the name) in my blog to let readers know that not every trustee was happy with my public dissent via the blog. I also included my response to that anonymous email so people could conclude on their own whether or not blogging by a trustee was appropriate. By reading the comments of people who read that particular post, it led me to believe the blog was beneficial for the vast majority of the people in the SBC. It gave them a great seat into the greatest agency of our convention. Since I am accountable to the convention, I feel I was fulfilling my trust in shedding some light on our great work.

It seemed to me a leap across the Grand Canyon for any trustee to recommend my removal without first trying to arrive at a compromise. I could not understand the sudden action. Maybe I am missing something. I am sure willing to listen to the explanation from someone in the know, but I am clueless as to why the recommendation to remove.

"Lack of trust," is another statement in the official press release, and it seems to me to mean "we can't trust Wade when he writes and tells people what is going on." Several people have written or called me and said that trustees are telling them "Wade was new and did not work within the system," or "It was not what Wade said, but how he said it" (in a blog). I wonder how many trustees have even read my blog. I have a funny story about that which I will one day be able to share.

(4). My experience has been that people draw conclusions without ever reading my blog. In fact, many trustees did not even know what a blog was, but there was not a shortage of people who volunteered to tell them their opinion of blogs. It is a generational thing. One compared it to "internet pornography," and another said it was like "gossip."

I can only assume the words "gossip" and "slander," words used in the actual wording of the recommendation which was read into the offical record during the PUBLIC plenary session, refer to the blog (thus they probably meant "libel" rather than "slander" because the blog is written, not spoken). Nevertheless, what bothers me the most is that after repeated requests for someone to show me the slanderous statements, I have to this day, never received one piece of evidence.

Obviously it is distressing when a trustee can feel free to publicly accuse a Christian brother of slander when that brother has never been confronted privately. That is a violation of Matthew 18 and borders on the violation of other things.

But, I also make mistakes often. I can forgive easily. I am not interested in retaliation. There is far too much work around the world. I am hoping that the trustees will retract their statement and we can work together to make the IMB an even greater ministry of the SBC. My whole desire is to get us to a place where we simply focus on missions. We already have an excellent doctrinal framework --- the Baptist Faith and Message sees to that, now let's focus on missions!

(5). Finally, I am convinced that these actions were caused by God to bring about a result that would be impossible without such a public act. Because I believe God is behind it all I don't pay much attention to what men say.

It is critically important for everyone to remember that the big issue for me is not about "tongues" or "baptism." These two new policies are serious issues, but they are not the biggest.

The biggest issue is simply this:

Are we going to continue to narrow the parameters of cooperation in our convention by tightly controlling trustee boards and agencies to the point that that those who disagree on minor doctrinal issues are excluded from service? Are we going to allow principled dissent? I am just one trustee among over 80 trustees from around the world. Surely, the convention is big enough for people who disagree to work together? Cults conform. Christianity connects. I definitely enjoy being connected with fellow conservatives who cooperate in fulfilling the Great Commission even though there is no conformity in minor doctrines. That is the Baptist way!

I have been told by someone who has researched it, though I do not know if it is true, there has never been a trustee brought before the convention for removal from an agency board.

Well, I like being first, but I must confess, I would rather be last in this category.

Nevertheless, I am speaking to my church with a smile on my face this morning, a song in my heart and a perfectly clear conscience.

I hope you have as great a day as mine. I will blog on Monday night about the the weekend and a speaking engagement I have in Tulsa on Monday.

In His Grace and in Support of our SBC Mission Work Around the World!

Wade Burleson

Thursday, January 12, 2006

My Family Thanks You and a Few Personal Requests

I want to thank people from around the world who have posted or written words of encouragement. If you are a first time visitor to this site, please know that I read every comment. I have picked up a great deal of wisdom from my fellow Southern Baptists.

I am going to sit back and take a deep breath and not blog until at least next week. However, my wife, Rachelle, told me this morning that I should send this post to give you some information and let you know how we are doing. I am setting aside several days for prayer and reflection, and will pick up blogging again next week, Lord willing.

Obviously, because I am being publicly accused of slander, gossip, (those two words are in the official record but have been removed from the press release) lack of accountability, and a loss of trust, I will have to address my church Sunday morning. Several people have asked me how this would affect my ministry at Emmanuel. It is revealing for me just to say that my wife and I had not even thought about it until others asked. Our church is wonderful, and they know me. Frankly, our delightful missions pastor Dr. John Stam (yes, the ancestor and namesake of THE John Stam of China beheaded by the communists for his refusal to renounce Christ), told me the buses are being chartered from Enid to Greenboro!

Just a few words of wisdom to all my friends around the world:

(1). Be gracious in your emails and letters and phone calls. I can guarantee you that every person on the Board of Trustees who voted to recommend that that I be removed from the board did so because they actually believed I was disruptive to the mission of the organization. They might be guilty of shortsightedness, a lack of wisdom, or may simply be clueless, but don't even imply they don't LOVE the IMB --- they do.

(2). I stand ready to do whatever is necessary to resolve this matter. I will only repent when I am told what it is I have done wrong --- specifically, and only if I am convinced in my own heart that something I have done is wrong.

I realize more than anyone that I can be guilty of poor judgment, but it requires people in leadership who are not wanting to protect their positions of authority to point this out to me. There are those people within our convention --- and I will listen. But I can't repent just because people are hurt. Repentance is based on violations of Biblical, moral, or ethical principles. Let's sit down and discuss what those violations are.

And just remember. The dialogue will go both ways.

(3). Most trustees are fifty or older. Some are in their seventies. I am not sure how many have ever read my blog, but some think a blog is like "computer pornography" (an actual quote). I really think if the trustees took time to hear my motives, communicate with me, and recognize that even though I am "new," effectual work could be accomplished.

But I am the type of person that will never back down from what I believe to be violations of principle. My fellow trustee Rick Thompson told me on the drive back to the hotel after the Executive Session in which I was removed, that if the trustee leadership would have listened to your concerns from the beginning, rather than trying to silence you, we would not be in this position.

(4). If I was asked once, I was asked fifteen times to resign AFTER the vote for the recommendation to remove me. The carrot that was offered was that there would be no press release that would be damaging to me or the IMB. Some of the appeals were very, very passionate. All of them were phrased in such a way as to save everyone embarrassment. What nobody, but those who know me in Oklahoma, seems to understand is that this is NOT about me. It is about the future direction of the IMB and our convention.

The official statement released by the trustees used the word "impasse" between Wade Burleson and the Board. From my pespective there is not an impasse, and never has been one. When actions that were taken either violated, or went beyond the principles we as Southern Baptists have historically stood upon, the forum for dissent moved to the convention at large. The convention now has the opportunity to speak.

(5). There is so much more I could say, but I am choosing not to say it. To defend oneself from gossip or slander (actually they probably meant "libel"), one must know the specific charges upon which the accusations are based. I have received nothing. For the specific statements that are allegedly libelous to be shown to me means that I will have to reveal names, events, and actions I have witnessed first hand in my defense. I'm not sure anyone wants that. I have intentionally written about "principles" and not "people," in an attempt to effect change without harming reputations or people. I want to us to take the high road in resolving this issue.

Again, this is NOT about people. It is a matter of principle. I really do love every trustee I have met --- even those who have disagreed vehemently with my positions or methods. Most trustees probably don't even understand the dynamics of all I am saying, but I promise it strikes a chord in thousands within our convention. I am not sure trustee leadership actually desires to press those two allegations of gossip and slander, thus the removal of those two words from the public press release, but they remain in the official record. At some point, that public allegation against me will need to be addressed.

I would prefer to fix the problem in private as a Board member, and not in public. I reiterate, I stand ready to dialogue. But as is evident, I believe I am accountable to the SBC as a whole, and I am fully prepared to address any and all issues at Greensboro.

Let's get to the point where we are focusing SOLELY on missions and support of our missionaries on the field. I promise you, that is all I seek.

Finally, above all else, let's remember to support our giving to the Cooperative Program, Lottie Moon, our churches and other missionary causes. The Southern Baptist Convention is so large that from time to time, there will arise issues like this.

Don't pull out. Don't leave. Don't quit giving. I won't and my church won't. The mission is too important.

I am still a trustee of the International Mission Board. I have chosen not to attend Executive Sessions (confidential sessions) because of the accusations against me, and though I am responsible for business matters as a trustee, my real enjoyment is meeting our missionaries and encouraging our staff and getting to know other trustees better. I'll be at every Board meeting till the convention in Greensboro votes to either remove me or informs the Board that I must stay.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson
Last night I arrived home exhausted. I knew the meeting in Richmond would be a tough one, but it went beyond my imagination. It was good to get home.

I do not believe the majority of trustees understand the power of the internet. Most told me they did not know what a "blog" was, but after hearing what I heard these past three days, I do think that not a few trustees believe a blog to be something "evil." There are some hilarious things that were said to me about "blogs" and "bloggers," most of which I cannot repeat since it occurred during "Executive Session."

One anecdote that is not confidential is a conversation with an influential trustee. He went on and on about the damage my blog was doing for missions and the International Mission Board. I listened respectfully for five minutes, all the time wondering, "How could anyone who actually has read my blog believe I was 'damaging' the IMB? Damaging to certain tactics of trustee leadership I could understand, but the IMB?"

So I finally asked him, "Have you ever read my blog?" His response. "No, and I don't want to." I never cease to be amazed.

I will attempt to keep this update very brief, but I believe the following information is critical. One very wise leader told me that you cannot sense "spirit" on a blog, so I must tell you my spirit as I write this. I am amazed and shocked by the actions of the trustees, but I do not harbor one ounce of animosity. In the providence of God, more good can come from this than anyone can imagine.

The following five things are very important to me:

(1). The recommendation to the SBC for my removal as a trustee that I heard written into the official record during the public Plenary Session yesterday morning used the words "gossip and "slander." In fact, those were the words actually used in the recommendation itself. After it was read I repeatedly asked for evidence. I was told publicly that I have it. Where? I have never been given or shown ONE statement THAT anyone has alleged to be gossip or slander. They may have meant liable because of my blog, but where is there liable? Show me.

Once the trustees give specific allegations, we can deal with them one at a time, but rather than anyone sitting down and telling me point by point what I have "said" (slander) or "written" (liable) that is not true, I will, of course, repent. Period. It's one thing to tell me my house is burning, it's quite another thing to show me the fire. Show me.

I was amazed that those two words were removed from the statement released to the press later that afternoon. Is the official record now changed? I honestly do not know. It is amazing though how a person can be publicly accused of slander when no evidence has ever been shown him in private.

(2). There is no policy or procedure of the IMB that forbids a trustee from blogging. There are policies and procedures that forbid private caucuses. In correspondence to all the trustees prior to this Board meeting, the chairman implied that this Board meeting would be used to address a breach of trust in the trustee Board. I assumed he was referring to this blog and possibly others.

I sent an email in response to the chairman and copied it to all the trustees that was direct and to the point. I would be happy if the chairman would make both his and my email public. I basically turned it around and said, "Yes, we do have a problem, but it's not the one you think." I will not go into any further details at this time, but I tell you this anecdote because I really believe the vast majority of those who voted to remove me did so because they thought I was trouble for the Board. Many people don't like conflict, and when they see a trustee, especially a NEW trustee, tackle very difficult issues head on, they consider him a trouble maker.

(3). The real problem is a strangehold of power on the IMB trustee board. It is not my desire to go into details at this time. I can, and I will if I must. I am all for friends and trustees getting together at the IMB. It is a violation of policy for trustees to politic, campaign, set agendas, denigrate dissenters, plan motions, undermine leadership, and in essence control the Board OUTSIDE OF THE REGULAR MEETINGS.

I am battling a principle, not people. I LIKE THE TRUSTEES and can work with them all, but why are we not talking about the issues I have raised? That is what my blog is about.

Questions I have raised:
(a). Why are the same people elected over and over to serve on the IMB Board of Trustees?
(b). Can former IMB employees who may have disagreements with current staff serve without any conflicts of interest as a trustee, and should they even be trustees?
(c). Is it appropriate for current trustee to vet potential nominees to the IMB to insure only like minded trustees are appointed?
(d). Can private caucuses be held to conduct business in violation of policy?

I am willing to serve as a trustee of the IMB and work with everyone of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, but they must know I will hold us all accountable to the Southern Baptist Convention for issues some may be unwilling to address.

(4). I was asked repeatedly to resign after it was voted that I be removed. Repeatedly. The last time was out in a hallway as I was about to leave to catch my plane. I was asked to resign to save the Board "embarassment." The words of this powerful trustee will be forever etched in my mind. He said, "Wade, it is not your words, it is your attitude."

I committ to my fellow trustees to work with them to advance the kingdom of Christ, but if by "attitude" you mean I am persisent in bringing to light what I believe to be problems, then you are going to have to learn to work with a trustee who has an attitude.

(5). I ask that all of my like-minded Southern Baptist friends continue to take the high road in this manner. Let us speak the truth but always do it in love. I could say so much more, but now is not the time.

Let me reiterate. I am the one willing to endure embarrassment to insure the IMB changes. If it costs me my reputation, I don't care. The mission of the IMB is bigger than one man.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

To My Friends, Family, Church and the Southern Baptist Convention

The Chairman has just read a statement into the record that the Southern Baptist Convention is being requested by a 2/3rd majority vote of the trustees of the International Mission Board to remove me as a trustee of the IMB. I hope reporters were present since the doors had been opened and the public invited in. I had several questions about the basis for the motion to remove me, but after the Chairman read his statement, my request to read a statement into the record was denied.

Because I am returning to a family, a church, and a state I love, I believe it is essential that I issue this statement. They told me I am to continue to be a trustee until the Southern Baptist Convention votes, and I will attend Plenary Sessions open to the public, but with such serious charges against me, charges of which nothing has ever been given to me in writing, I have chosen to remove myself from any future Executive Sessions of the Board. The following is my statement.

Dear Southern Baptist Family,

I am deeply grieved by the action of the trustees of the International Mission Board in recommending to the Southern Baptist Convention that I be removed as a trustee of the IMB. This is a very difficult day for me, but I wish to express my love to the missionaries, staff and particularly President Jerry Rankin for their outstanding service in taking the gospel to the ends of the earth. This recommendation is not from staff, but rather it is trustee initiated.

Before you make a judgment regarding the basis for their recommendation to the convention, I invite you to thorougly read the articles that I have posted on my website at www.kerussocharis.blogspot.com or www.wadeburleson.com. I have consistently maintained that a growing problem within our convention is the removal from leadership and service those who do not conform to specific interpretations of the Bible. We Southern Baptists have already fought the battle for the Bible, but I sense that the new battle that must be waged is for the freedom of Baptists to disagree on interpretations of difficult texts in the Bible, and to always remain in fellowship and cooperation with each other in our mission.

My desire has always been to capture the interest and commitment of what I believe is a critical mass of conservative SBC members in general, and a younger generation of SBC pastors and leaders in particular, who are increasingly feeling disenfranchised because of attempts to demand conformity to interpretations of the Bible with which even reasonable, conservative innerantists may disagree.

I am very uncomfortable with the knowledge that for the next few months of my life, my wife and children will probably have to endure an attempt by a few to discredit my character or to disparage my integrity. I place my concern in God's hands, knowing my own heart in this matter. I have sought to be gracious with others, and even though it may not be reciprocated, I am committed to always speak the truth in love.

As you probably know, a trustee is elected by a vote of the entire Southern Baptist Convention and a trustee can only be removed by a vote of the entire Southern Baptist Convention. The vote to remove me as a trustee of the International Mission Board will be June 13-14, in Greensboro, North Carolina.

I simply ask that you vote your conscience. As for me, here I stand. I can do no other.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

P.S. To my beautiful wife Rachelle, I thank you for your trust in me. I love you. To my kids, Daddy would never do anything to intentionally hurt anyone. I know you believe me. To the greatest church I have ever known: You know me. I'll see you all soon.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Heartbroken but Hopeful

IMB Meeting, Tuesday, January 10th, 2006

One of our old Baptists once wrote a poem that I memorized when I was in my early twenties. It goes like this:

Sovereign Ruler of the skies,
Ever gracious, ever wise;
All my times are in thy hand,
All events at Thy command.
He who formed me in the womb,
He will guide me to the tomb.
Plagues and deaths around me fly,
Till He bids, I shall not die.

John Ryland, Sr.

The Apostle Paul taught me God's providence and goodness through his letter to the Romans, and my own personal experiences have seared the truth I have known in my head deep down into my heart. God does reign supreme in the affairs of men.

My theology in God's Sovereignty keeps me going during days like today.

I spent the morning reviewing green sheets (the confidential background, doctrinal positions, and references of missionary candidates), and meeting with the Personnel Committee to critique and review the policies for screening applicants.

I enjoyed the fellowship with IMB staff and met some wonderful missionaries who are stateside. One 73 year young man, still on the field in Vietnam and Southeast Asia, was an absolute delight to talk with as he told me of his recent evangelistic journeys, his new book, and his philosophy that age is all in the mind!

It was wonderful for me to see many friends including Duane and Deanna Hunt who are establishing a new evangelistic work in Africa, Jamal Badry from Colorado, Ken McLemore from Liberty Baptist Church, Hampton, Virginia, and others who were present for the IMB meeting for various reasons.

Marty Duren did an excellent job of blogging the results of the IMB Plenary Session at SBC Outpost so I will not rehash the business items here.

After the Board was informed that the from now on, the trustee chairman or his designee, will review all reports from the Communication Office of the IMB before they are released to the press, it was recommended by a fellow trustee, that the Board move into Executive Session. A couple of us tried to ask the reasons for this unannounced session so we could be better informed, but were told by the chair this motion was not debatable. The Board moved we enter Executive Session.

Due to policies and guidelines of the Board, I cannot share what took place within that Executive Session.

I have been told that a press release will be issued by the trustees sometime tomorrow morning regarding any action they may have taken.

I will also, Lord willing, be issuing a press release as well.

I ask for four things from my fellow Southern Baptists when the press is informed of what took place within the Executive Session:

(1). Please continue to give the staff, missionaries, and President of the IMB your unqualifed support. These missionaries are the true heroes of the SBC.

(2). Remember that I have always sought to be respectful, gracious, and kind in what I have posted on this blog regarding the direction that some in our convention seem to be headed. In everything I have spoken truth, never violating any confidentiality policies or guidelines of the IMB, and have always spoken with the desire to make our beloved convention better. I have repeatedly said that if I am wrong or "not factual," someone please show me, and I will correct it immediately. To date I have not had one person show me any word, sentence or paragraph on my blog that is not truthful. I am not claiming infallibility in my opinions, I am just simply saying nobody has ever taken the time to challenge facts. I have posted what I have seen, what I have heard, and what has happened to me. To speak the truth as you see it, when others don't see it your way, is tough. But one must always ask the question, "Is the truth, as I see it, worth the price I may pay for speaking it?" In this instance, I believe it is -- without a doubt. It is in the best interest of the future of our beloved SBC. I am called to live a life of integrity, based upon the principles of the Word of God, and not the opinions of man. I also always desire to share the Truth with a Genuine Smile.

(3). Please don't get confused about the real issue. It is bigger than me. Bigger than the Board of Trustees of the IMB. Bigger than two new policies of the Board. It is a convention issue. The real issue is Crusading Conservatives vs. Cooperating Conservatives. I long to cooperate with my fellow conservatives. More importantly, I am not seeking to convince any of my fellow conservative trustees that I am "right" in my interpretations on baptism and tongues (I may be wrong!), but what I am insisting upon is that we not close the doors of cooperation and shut out people who disagree because of different interpetations of non-essential doctrines (see Tears for Miss Bertha.)

Our parameters of fellowship ought be "Sola Fide" (Faith Alone), "Sola Gratia" (Grace Alone), "Sola Scriptura" (Scripture Alone), and "Solus Christus" (Christ Alone) with "The Baptist Faith and Message" seen as a fuller amplification of the these great evangelical doctrines. To demand everyone else walk in lockstep with a specific INTERPRETATION of minor doctrines in Scripture before one can serve within the SBC is narrowing the parameters of cooperation in ways that have never before occurred in the history of the Southern Baptist Convention.

(4). Most of all, allow me to express again my love for the people of the Southern Baptist Convention and my fellow trustees on the International Mission Board. Today my heart has been broken, but I remain hopeful in a Sovereign God.

Sometimes one act does more than 10,000 words.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

Monday, January 09, 2006

IMB Meeting, Monday, January 9th, 2006

Before I detail the events of the day, allow two personal anecdotes to serve as an allegory for events at the IMB today from my perspective.

Cranberry Juice and God's Providence

On the plane trip to Richmond a stewardess spilled a can of cranberry juice all over my suit. I was in mid-conversation with a fellow passenger (sharing Christ), and my brand new suit (Christmas gift) was dyed red. The stewardess was mortified, but I was very gracious and laughed about it, and told the young lady not to worry, these types of things happen. I tried to remove the stain with a club soda and the man next to me said, "Christ really has made a difference in you hasn't he?" I said, "What do you mean?" He said, "It's one thing to tell me words, but it is another to show by your actions." I told him that it was easy for me to be soft and gracious because I believed, that in God's love for me, something better was coming. At precisely that moment the stewardess showed up with a voucher and said, "Sir, the airlines would like to pay to have your suit cleaned. If the stain can't come out, we will be happy to buy you a new suit with this voucher."

Principle: Sometimes things get messy because God is about to accomplish something greater.

Fire Alarms and Never Before Seen Reflection

I was awakened by a very loud fire alarm Monday morning at the IMB hotel. I was not really excited about leaving, but then began to consider, "What if there really is a fire, and I get trapped?" So I called the front desk and let the phone ring, and ring, and ring until someone finally answered. Above the din of the alarms I asked, "Is there really a fire?" The answer, "Someone burned their toast in the continental breakfast room, but by company policy we can't turn off the alarm until the firetrucks arrive." It took 5 painful minutes before the first trucks arrived. But for the first time in my life I examined the evacuation routes located on the back door of every hotel room in America.

Principle: Sometimes a loud alarm causes people to pause and reflect on things never before considered.


9:00 a.m. Breakfast with Fellow Trustee Winston Curtis

Winston is a good friend and the pastor of a church in Duncan, Oklahoma, and has served on the Board of Trustees for three years.

Winston and I went to a little cafe called "Katy's Pantry" and had a wonderful "southern" breakfast and even better fellowship. The only thing I regret is Winston did not bring his family photos as I asked!

As I said yesterday in my blog, Winston voted for the new baptism and private prayer language policies, but his dialogue with me is always refreshing, and never personally caustic. I told him in advance I would blog about our breakfast, and during our conversations I learned a great deal that is beneficial for me through Winston's wisdom, and I came away believing we both understood each other better. Good Christian dialogue in the open has that kind of effect.

What I learned:
(1) Some trustees feel I am harming the effectiveness of the IMB through this blog.
(2). Many trustees think that every trustee should give unconditional and unqualified support of all decisions made by the majority of trustees --- regardless.
(3). The Board is fluid. Winston feels I may have jumped the gun on making these issues broader than just the Board of Trustees, because the Board may change their minds without others getting involved.

My response to Winston:

(1). If I ever felt I was hurting the IMB's mission I would cease this blog. I believe with all my heart I am helping the IMB longterm by standing against the narrowing of parameters of cooperation.
(2). I cannot give unconditional, blind support to the new policies on a private prayer language and baptism. I believe both policies violate the Scripture and are nowhere found in the Baptist Faith and Message. This is a matter of conscience for me. The previous policies of the Board were sufficient. The new policies exclude some of our greatest missionaries of the past including Bertha Smith as a qualified candidate for the IMB mission field.
(3).This blog is necessary BECAUSE the Board has spoken. The forum for this issue is no longer the International Mission Board, but the sole owner of it, the Southern Baptist Convention.

I explained to Winston that there were a ton of people in the Southern Baptist Convention who would not be in agreement with the new "doctrine" of the IMB, and that those churches, some of whom are large contributors to the CP and Lottie Moon Offering, would want to know that there is somebody who is representing their interests on the board. In addition, some pastors have written to me saying they are ready to pull out of the convention because of these new policies. I am doing my best to keep people and churches involved in the SBC. I feel that some trustees are out of touch with where the convention is as a whole. The SBC is conservative on the doctrinal ESSENTIALS, but people are more concerned about cooperating with each other for missions, instead of narrowing the cooperation to only those who only have certain, and similar, interpretions of non-essential doctrines.

That was, is, and will always be, my message.

It was a very good breakfast and I believe Winston heard my concerns. He understands my position that the new policies are but a symptom of a deeper problem within the conventions mission board --- the narrowing of parameters of fellowship and cooperation to the point of excluding people who, in the past, would have been welcomed to serve on the mission field --- including our President, Dr. Jerry Rankin.

10:30 a.m. Visits with Personnel and Staff of the International Mission Board.

I was able to go around to the different offices of the IMB and visit with people who are employed at the IMB. These people are some of the hardest working people on the earth! For example, the Central Asia office at headquarters on Monument Avenue is operated by three people. They service over 450 personal in a huge region of our world, and they do a phenominal job.

I visited with some folks in the finance office and stopped by for just about a minute or two unannounced visit with Dr. Rankin. I let him know that I love and support him, and told him I would continuing praying for him. I have to tell you, I did not know Dr. Rankin before being appointed to this Board, but my estimation of this man has risen immeasurably in the last few months. He is doing a phenomenal, faithful, Christ-honoring job for our convention and all our missionaries.

I then had a very lengthy visit with the head of our Office of Overseas Personnel. Bro. Lloyd is a man of integrity. I discussed with him the practical effects of these new policies, and he stated that it is not the staff's role to establish policy, but to fulfill it. He carefully explained the process by which we have arrived at the new policies and stated that as far and he and his staff were concerned there would never again be brought before the trustees anyone who stated that he or she had a private prayer language. The candidate consultants would also make sure that the baptism of the missionary candidate matched the written policy of coming from a church that taught "eternal security."

I said hello to a few more staff members and made my way back to the hotel.

1:30 p.m. Lunch with Trustee David Button

I did not know David before today. I really like him. He is a Director of Missions in New York, an elected official of a township in that state, and owns a communication business in Waco, Texas.

David was nice enough to buy lunch at a Mexican restaurant for Rick and I. We visited about each other's backgrounds and then we talked about our work on the IMB. David was at FBC Dallas in the late 70's when the "Battle for the Bible" began in the SBC. We reminisced a little about the good old days and then talked about the diretion of the IMB.

I shared with you yesterday on this blog that David had expressed displeasure with an email I sent to all the trustees questioning private caucus meetings of groups of trustees within the IMB. I offered to meet with David over coffee and he ended up buying lunch.

David is a good listener, and I explained, again, that all I am attempting to do is keep our IMB Board focused on the main things --- missions and evangelism, and stop wasting our time on non-essential doctrines that people disagree about. Our narrowing of cooperation by demanding conformity with non-essential doctrinal interpretations of Scripture are resulting in the exclusion of some Southern Baptists from participating in the mission work of the SBC.

In speaking to David I formed a circle with my two hands and said, "This is our convention --- sola gratia, sola fide, solus Christus, sola Scriptura. We agree on the essential doctrines (Grace Alone, Faith Alone, Christ Alone, Scripture Alone). I am trying to keep our convention from," and I squeezed my hands together, "narrowing the boundaries of cooperation further."

David has a background in communications, and though he would not agree with my view on the new policies, I really appreciated his humble spirit, his willingness to listen, and his paying for lunch. (David, I owe you a steak next time).

3:00 to 5:30 p.m. Trustee Forum.

I cannot say anything about this meeting. It is confidential. Trustees must be allowed to speak freely during this time without fear of their words being recorded.

5:30 p.m. Dinner is Missed

I cannot make my way to dinner because I am stopped by several people in the hallways. Some were nice and cordial.

Some were not.

I will not go into details or name names.

However, I was accused of being arrogant, deceitful, a liar, and above all, a man who lacked integrity.

Dr. Allen McWhite, a brilliant theologian and a very soft spoken, gracious man of God, heard the following conversation as we tried to make our way for dinner. Alan, too, was the recipient of a fairly hostile personal attack as well on the way to dinner.

"Wade you are an arrogant person who lacks integrity. You should apologize for your blog and say your sorry for making public what should remain private."

I said, "Let me ask you a question. When Luther stood before the Pope did he stand on truth?"

"That is not illustrative of this situation, you aren't standing on truth."

"I understand that is your opinion. Was that also the opinion of the Pope toward Luther? Did the Pope think Luther was a standing on truth, or did he believe him to be a heretic?

I went on, "The Pope sought to silence Luther, to cause him to repent and recant, because the Pope said, "Luther, you are a heretic." Luther then responded with his famous statement, 'My conscience is bound by the Word of God. I can do no other. Here I stand.'

"Integrity is living your life based upon principles, never the opinion of man. I am living on the principle that I think our convention is going beyond Scripture, and I am standing on what I believe Scripture to teach. I can do no other. Here I stand.'

"That is simply your opinion that you are standing on truth."

"I understand," as a took a deep breath, "but a lack of integrity would involve me laying down my principles out of fear of the opinion of man, or your opinion of me, or fear of persecution. I am living my life with integrity because I will not apologize for standing up against an "extra-biblical" interpretation of baptism and tongues that ends up excluding fellow conservatives from service."

I went on, "If you really believe I am doing something wrong, then you need to make a motion that I cease and desist from this blog."

"I will."

We'll see.

6:30 - 8:00 p.m. Regional Meeting with Central Asia

What a great time this was. Only two missionaries to meet tonight before their appointment to the Central Asia region tomorrow night at the IMB Appointment Service. This couple, in their fifties, reminded me why I am a Southern Baptist. They are going in a pastoral care role to our missionaries on the field in Central Asia, and my heart was excited for them as we all knelt and prayed for them.

Other matters of business were dealt with that were of a confidential nature, but as I said yesterday, I love these interactions with our regional committees and missionaries. It is wonderful.

We dismissed early and I had a fairly heated conversation with a trustee who felt I was "ruining" the IMB with this blog. I asked him if he had ever read it, and he said, "no." I encouraged him to read it for himself and I told him I loved him and said good night.

8:30-10:15 p.m. An Unbelievable Dinner

I went to dinner with three other wonderful men. Fellow trustee Rick Thompson, Senior Pastor, Council Road Baptist Church (as an aside, probably one of the most gracious, humble, sharp pastors I have ever met), and two new friends, Marty Duren, the blogger for SBC Outpost and a pastor himself in the Atlanta area, and Marty's youth pastor Joel.

We had a great dinner and fellowship and it was enjoyable to laugh.

The highlight of the evening though came when we were able to lead a young lady to faith in Christ. This young lady, named Heather, had never met four pastors like us. She waited on us, but because the business was slow we talked to her at length about her relationship with Christ. Before the evening was over she burst into tears, told us she wanted to receive Christ as her Lord, and we pointed her to the Savior and also gave her our email and web addresses so we could follow up with her.

I recall walking into the IMB Building today hearing someone say, "Anyone going to Cambodia?"

"Wow," I remember thinking when I heard that, "What a great place this! A place where others join together to help support our brothers and sisters in the SBC who feel called to go overseas to take the gospel to unreached peoples."

Tonight, four SBC men who support those missionaries across the seas simply went across the street and took the gospel to a Richmond, Virginia lady named Heather in need of a Savior. This is what the SBC is all about.

10:30 p.m. A Meeting for the Ages

As we entered the hotel a group of about 10 or 12 trustees were seated in the foyer of the hotel. I decided to come back down and listen in on the conversation without being observed by the group. After 10 minutes of hearing things that I am not yet prepared to place in print, I went back up to the fifth floor, found Marty and Joel, and went back down to the lobby to confront these men. They said they were simply eating pizza.

I asked them to explain to me what I heard which I believe to be a clear violation of trustee policies and procedures establishing agendas and motions outside of normal trustee meetings. I also asked them to explain other things I heard.

The confrontation was intense to say the least. Some left immediately when I appeared and went to their rooms. Others stayed and we visited.

Marty Duren may blog about what he heard or what was said, but one trustee did apologize to me personally, and I told another if he brought a motion to the floor of the Plenary Session tomorrow afternoon, a motion that I heard him discuss in the lobby of the hotel with the others, but not all trustees present, I would go through the roof. This, to me, was a clear violation of IMB policy and procedures.

Our blue book clearly forbids other trustees meeting in caucus to establish agendas, motions or policies during the course of a regularly scheduled IMB meeting, without other trustees present. This policy prevents politics where prayer and the Spirit of God should be preeminent.

He said he thought planning business for the session tomorrow among this group of trustees was not wrong.

I love these men in the lobby, men who are my fellow SBC trustees. Though I strongly disagree with them doctrinally in the Biblical interpretation of various non-essential doctrines (as I predict upteen thousands of other people in the SBC do as well), I want to cooperate with them in missions and evangelism.

But the motion I heard being made had nothing to do with missions, our missionaries, world evangelism, or anything else to do with the promotion of the gospel of Jesus Christ, but it had everything to do with a private agenda --- period

This is what must stop.

We'll see what happens tomorrow.

Lord willing, and again, I reiterate, Lord willing,

I will post tomorrow what happens in our business meeting since everything in the Plenary Session of the board is open to the public and press.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

P.S. Listen carefully everyone. I am blogging to allow people to get in on what is happening at the IMB. I reiterate --- I will NEVER violate any rules of confidentiality.

P.P.S. ABOVE ALL ELSE, we (all the trustees, not just me) love the IMB and want to say to you, "Good work missionaries AROUND THE WORLD!"

We love you and pray for you.

I think over time my fellow trustees will see that we can disagree with each other over non-essential doctrines and still cooperate. It may be painful for a season, but great things are around the corner.