Monday, January 02, 2006

The Cooperative Program Means Cooperation

Pastor Tad Thompson has written an interesting post on his blog entitled The IMB, Baptism, Prayer Languages, Reformed Theology where Tad concludes that the narrowing of the parameters of cooperation within the SBC may eventually lead to even bigger problems in the future.

Tad is a young SBC pastor in Siloam Springs, Arkansas and the son of Dale Thompson, Pastor of FBC, Fort Smith, Arkansas.

It is encouraging to me that the young pastors of our convention are seeing the bigger picture and are not bogged down by the semantics and details of the current issues within the IMB.

I will personally try to keep people focused on the real problem through this blog.

The battle we wage is one for the full participation and cooperation of all conservatives within the SBC in areas of missions and evangelism, even among conservatives who may disagree with each other regarding non-essential doctrinal matters. On the doctrines that are essential to the Christian faith there can be no compromise. But we are fighting against a desire by some that every person within the SBC interpret the Bible the same in non-essential areas of doctrine.

Some conservatives believe in a private prayer language, others do not. Some conservatives believe that the administrator of one's baptism is not an issue in Scripture, other conservatives believe the administrator of the baptism is as important as the baptism itself. Some conservatives are Calvinistic, other conservatives are Arminian.

Believing the Bible to be sacred is not the issue. All conservatives believe in the sacredness of the text.

The issue is one of interpretation and cooperation. Can people and churches who don't see eye to eye on the non-essentials cooperate? It is not my desire to convince fellow conservatives that I am right and they are wrong in the tongues and baptism issue, but rather I am shouting from the mountaintops to anyone who will listen: WE CAN, AND MUST, COOPERATE WITH EACH OTHER IN AREAS OF MISSIONS AND EVANGELISM EVEN WHEN WE DISAGREE ON THESE TYPES OF ISSUES.

If we don't take a stand against a narrowing of parameters of fellowship and cooperation within the SBC at some point, when does the sectarianism within the convention and ultimate exclusion of fellow conservative believers end?

I have chosen to take a stand on the tongues and baptism issue with the IMB because taking a stand later may be too costly and too personal.

This quote from a world leader 60 year ago is appropriate.

"Still, if you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves." - Winston Churchill

There are those who say, "We disagree with each other. You can't be a part of our missions program as a missionary."

I am fighting for the SBC to be able to say the following: "We agree to disagree with each other. But it is a privilege for all of us who are called by God to serve on the mission field."

"We may not agree on the issue of a private prayer language, but we want to cooperate with on another in reaching the world for Christ."

"We may not agree on the issue of the administrator of baptism, but we should cooperate with each other in world missions."

"We may not agree with each other in our soteriology (you may be an Arminian, I may be a Calvinist), but we must cooperate as Southern Baptists."

The issue is cooperation among all conservatives.

It's worth our greatest efforts to battle for cooperation now and not later.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson


Kevin Bussey said...


I agree. I wish we as SBC'ers could be for stuff rather than against things. We need more Pan-SBC'ers. Everything will pan out in the end!

Anonymous said...

In the NT, our only written authority, baptism is only the brief immersion in water of a person already a repentant believer in final salvation in Christ.
Any group practicing anything else has invalidated even the immersion of a believer that it might do (usually under pressure). While Baptists do have diversity, and always will, why should we encourage more conflict by accepting doctrinally different so-called baptisms? R. Charles Blair,
Clinton KY - Ro. 8:28

Evangelical Orthodoxy said...

I enjoy reading your perspective. You sound like a "moderate" Baptist in the 1990s and 1980s. I pray the Holy Spirit through your recent experiences may illuminate your heart and you might take a critical look back at history.

Anonymous said...

Wade thanks again for your work I agree with you.

I am a young pastor 29 years old. It seems to me our convention has a very hard time coming to any consensus as to what is essential and what is not. Granted all of us who believe in the authority of scripture could agree on what is essential to be Christian at least generally. What is essential to being Baptist? There are at least 86 different sects or denominations that argue for what is essential to being truly Baptist in their faith commitment. Do you think we hold these interpretations to tightly? Bill Leonard wrote a book some years ago. "Gods Last and Only Hope" the fragmentation of the SBC. While I disagree with him greatly and his theology and mine are not even close I wonder if there will be fragmentation because we seem to not have agreement as to what our core identity is. What do you see as theological necessities and denominational necessities that should lead the SBC. I have my list what’s yours lol. (laugh out loud)

May Christ be glorified in the Church
Alan =Christian, Southern Baptist, Calvinistic, Pre-millennial (I think lol), God centered, Expository Preaching, Trying finally to become doctrinally driven. I am unsure of my views on the gifts. However, I could be appointed to the IMB as I do not as of yet have a prayer language and was Baptized by my Father a DOM, Former IMB missionary and SBC pastor. Yet I went to an ecumenical Seminary Beeson Divinity School so I might be suspect lol.

Marty Duren said...

I agree that the NT is our only written where does it state "any group practicing anything else has invalidated even the immersion of a believer that it might do"?

Your position does not have the support of the written authority that you cite.

Unknown said...
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Evangelical Orthodoxy said...

Under the old system, we cooperated around missions. We could tolerate and respect one other if we disagreed on things like women's roles or some hermeneutical issues. The Great Commission was more important than Orthodoxy. Obviously that has changed. The SBC must decide if it wants a small, rigid, like-minded denomination or a "big tent" that while allowing for some doctrinal diversity serves a greater, more powerful force for the kingdom of God. For example, why would Alan's premillenial or Calvinist views prevent me from fellowship or missionary work together ... it shouldn't. The Gospel is larger than a man or a doctrine.

Unknown said...
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Evangelical Orthodoxy said...

As an introductory note, I would invite you to continue the converstion on your or my blog ... out of respect for Rev. Burleson.

I began a long response but realized it probably would not be helpful. I respectfully disagree with you, and proper Christian fellowship demands I extend you hospitality and charity. If you can make a sound, biblical and Christ-like case for "Things "like women's roles and hermeneutical issues," my friend, are the very issues that living to the glory of God is based on" I might be inclined to consider your position. I think Michael Servetus demonstrates the danger of your position. I believe someone said love your enemies ... said...

Mr. Evangelical Orthodoxy,

Thank you for your kindness and courtesy.

Feel free to post anytime on my blog.

You are not only a thinker, but you are respectful to those who disagree.

In His Grace,


Evangelical Orthodoxy said...

Wade, thank you for the kind words. You and your small band of bloggers give me hope that the SBC can be saved ... [I do not mean to open a can of worms about whether or not it needs saving! :)] Although I am too young to bleed from my own war wounds, I am told of a time when SBCers could agree to disagree on non-essentials and enjoy cooperation, fellowship, and fun. I suspect you and I agree 90-percent theologically; I pray for a time when that 10-percent no longer is a barrier to fellwship and cooperation on an institutional level.