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


Anonymous said...

You have been very courageous, very gracious, very Christ-like. Hang fast to the Father in tumultuous times. Don't lose heart.

angie said...

Thank you for your courage. Thank you for being a voice for those of us on the field.

Nick said...

It sounds dreadful.

I'm sorry you're going through this Wade. I'll be anxious to see what happens.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

What is the SBC coming to?
Joseph Patrick

Anonymous said...

I have never met you nor have I had even a conversation with you. But if I am understanding what you have written, our convention . . . if it follows the agenda of our brothers and sisters whom you classify as "crusading conservatives". . . could eventually implode or so greatly weaken itself that it becomes only a shadow of former self. Could this may be a part of God's plan of getting us back to the NT model of churches reclaiming the frontline of missions? This trend has been happening all across the SBC and with other evangelicals groups for years. This movement, which I believe is Biblical, could only be strengthen and enhanced if the IMB were free to do carry out its assignment given to it by the convention. I stand with you in complete solidarity because only the "truth will set us free." Makes me wonder . . . have we traded "one good ole boy system" for another?

Blessings on you today and may God's fortify your resolve,

Anonymous said...

I really do not see any of this as sad but rather God using you to bring sin of the board out in the open. We can handle it. Every day we experience CEO's and government officials who took the bait of pursuing power and control. This is really no different. I am rejoicing that we have a chance to root out a few godless men who look good in suits.

Only you can determine if you have followed God's leading in your conversations and actions. God is not afraid of man's power. In His time and for His own reasons, he will deal with this board.

Hang in there, speak the truth in love, be courageous, and keep blogging!

Marty Duren said...

Good post, bro.

Well done, good and faithful servant.

Be ready to go to Greensboro and bring all the messengers you can scrape up.

Kiki Cherry said...


Thank you so much for your courage and difficult stand. My heart is breaking for and with you and Rick today, and you are so much in our prayers.

I've been reading Piper's "The Hidden Smile of God", and one of William Cowper's hymns, "God Moves in a Mysterious Way," seems so appropriate for today. It says:

"God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform; He plants his footsteps in the sea, and rides upon the storm."

"Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take, The clouds ye so much dread, Are big with mercy, and shall break In blessings on your head."

"Judge not the lord by feeble sense, But trust him for his grace; Behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face."

"His purposes will ripen fast, Unfolding every hour; The bud may have a bitter taste, But sweet will be the flower."

The Browns said...

Wade, don't give up the fight. Many stand with you on this.
You did the right thing.
Rally the troops....

Kevin Bussey said...

Thanks Wade,

You, Marty and others have opened my eyes to something I wouldn't have even known about a month ago.

Anonymous said...

What happened to the "Big Tent Conservatives" that love the Bible and Missions...that said unity in the essentials and liberty in the non-essentials?

I do not want to see our convention fall in the hands of those who only wish to play ball with those who follow their own interpretations.

Hadn't planned on til now, WE will see you in Greensboro!

Jim Shaver said...


Thank you for all you have done and are going to do for the SBC.

This is just a beginning!

Jim S.

Led said...

It seems the winds of change have blown in.
He replied, "I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Isralites have rejected your covenant, broken down your alters, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left and now they are trying to kill me to."
The Lord said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by." 1 Kings 19:10-11

Take courage, there are a multitude standing by who have not bowed a knee to Baal.

francie said...

Mr. Burleson,

My prayer today as I was walking from one area of my job to another - was that God would hug you - that you would feel Him so close and near to you today - even more than yesterday -- may you just climb up into our Abba's lap and cling to Him, cry on Him, seek comfort from Him.

In the Name of Jesus be comforted today brother!

In His Grip,

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the dance!
You are saying ALMOST WORD FOR WORD the same things that many of us were saying during the so-called conservative resurgence. It won us the label "Liberal", not because of doctrinal belief, but because of our stand against the misuse of power.
God bless you in your struggle.

Paul said...

I probably shouldn't do this, but I'm always doing things I probably shouldn't do.

To borrow from Kiki's quoted hymn (though slightly modified according to one of my former pastors):

"Committees [trustee bodies] work in mysterious ways, their blunders to perform."

Clif Cummings said...

I read this earlier this morning. Have been thinking about what I could possibly add in the way of comments. I have chosen to wait on the pending press releases.

Alex F said...

This is outrageous. I'm grieved and frustrated at what they are doing to you and to the IMB.

Press on.

Tim Sweatman said...


Thank you for your courage to stand up to those who would try to intimidate or silence those who disagree with their decrees. Perhaps God will use this ugly episode as the first step toward cleaning house within the SBC so we can once again focus on missions instead of power.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate your support for our missionaries and willingness to share what is happening on the IMB. You challenged us to point out something you have written that is not true and I want to point out two things I do not believe are true. You say Presser and Patterson are your friends. If so why have they not supported you? Do you not believe the Paige Patteson has either directed this attack on you or at least been consulted. I would guess that he and Pressler would have both voted with the majority to silence you. If they are your friends, call on them to make a statement about this.
The second is that the conservative resurgence pulled the SBC out of the clenched jaws of dead neo-orthodoxy. All the conservative resurgence has accomplished is kicking out thousand of theological conservatives from active participation in SBC life because they said exactly the same things you are saying about the same issues. Maybe you and other young pastors will have a better understanding of what they went through in the 80s.

Anonymous said...

G'day Mate,
From a friend in Australia,
Dear Wade,
I have shared with you at length during your stay with the Singing Churchmen of Oklahoma and have a tremendous personal respect for you as a pastor and preacher. I was immensely glad when you were elected to the position of President of the OBGC or OGBC or ... well you know!
I am thankful for your biblical stand as a reformed man, and your zeal for the gospel.
I sympathise with you in the issues of not shooting our own friends. Many "tongue-speakers" are conservative evangelicals. Many are not. Many are liberals. Many are even cultists (vis. Mormonism, Buddhist tongue speakers and others involved with spiritualism).
Many are not born again (vis the fall out rate in many of the largest pentecostal churches in the world - 75% backdoorers at Hillsong Australia for example)
As an Australian baptist, we have seen many of our baptist churches become Pentecostal churches. (Some estimate 25% ) That is, they echo the extremes of the Pentecostal movement in their own services, and are now unrecognisable as Baptist churches, rejecting the sole authority of the scriptures, congregational government, Believer's baptism for membership and other Baptistic issues.
While at this stage in the United States the issue of tongues in Baptist churches and the IMB may seem a small issue, our program of cooperation with pentecostals in Australia has weakened our own Baptist churches. Compromises on other issues...recognition of homosexual ministry in local ministers fraternals for example, has followed, because our now stronger Pentecostal brethren don't have the same high view of scripture that we as Baptists do. I was concerned that in Australia the AG minister that had been given the "rights" to introduce Promise Keepers to Australia notified me that he saw Promise Keepers as a wonderful opportunity to reunite the churches under the Pope of Rome!
While I read with trepidation the report in Baptist Press concerning the stance the IMB had taken (knowing that the stance would be divisive amongst SBC churches and pastors) I had to feel that you have somehow or other strengthened your own stand on evangelical doctrine. I pray for you all that you take these steps carefully, knowing that a strong stand either way may have great repercussions for the future of the SBC.
In some senses you as a denomination are moving into unknown territory. The experiment with cooperation with Pentecostal baptists here in Australia seems to be failing with churches leaving our denomination to become extreme Pentecostal churches.
May the Lord guide us all.

Anonymous said...

I too am heart broken. I am no one special, just a Mom and grandmother. I am 62 years old and have been a Southern Baptist since I was 13, and one that loves our denomination. I do not understand what in the world is going on. How can the leaders of the IMB possibly act this way in the name of the Lord?
Dearest Brother, rejoice! Because the so-called elite persecuted our Lord, what an honor to go through this in His name. I am so very, very sorry, I will be praying for you and our denomination. Perhaps God will use all of this to bring us back to the NT church..God Bless you

Anonymous said...

I listened to your sermon. I live in your state. I pastor along side you. I have read a great deal of your blog.

In our state, many know how a lot of things you were involved in while President was under the table, out of committee, and confrontational on non-essential methods of business between other boards in the state, which sounds like the same thing you are challening in the IMB.

Also, If I agree to serve with a group of others, we take a vote that ends in a six to three decision, if I am in the minority, then should I start blogging and grow an army to defeat and become the winner? Or do I graceously accept the decision and go on?

Finally, if all this is non-essential to you then why act as if it is so essential?

Martin Luther posted his thesis (blog) because of the herisy of the church, not because he disagreed with the church on policy.

You know who I am, I love you, but you have been very quick to show grace AFTER you show someone their place in line.

shamefully Anonymous

Anonymous said...


Thanks for your courage and wisdom in taking this stand. I am so sorry
that you and your family must go through this. HOwever, you are not
alone and never will be. There are
many of us in and out of Oklahoma
that stand with you.

May our Lord continue to give you and your family the grace needed for these tough times. Your growth
in the LOrd will abound to your good. Rom 8:28 speaks loud and clear for you all.

I suspect this will come out much
different than those who started it


Gerald Kelly,
not ashamed to give my name