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


Anonymous said...

I weep with you brother over the those who live in darkness who have yet to hear. Are we not, in effect, saying "Sit down . . . if God wants to reach the heathen He will do it Himself!" (I'm poorly quoting here) And did we not come into existence as a Convention to do exactly what we are excluding many of our own brothers and sisters from doing? Oh God, convict me of my sin before I speak. Search me, O God. Search us and try us. Change us. Use this controversial subject to cleanse us all.
One privileged to serve in CA

Anonymous said...

Thanks for representing us! As a new M, I'm amazed that the Board of Trustees would want to exclude people who are committed, caring, and prayerful. I am on the field by the grace of God...not because I am better than anyone else, but because I was called out to be a servant.

I recognize that there have to be some hoops to jump through and some restrictions on sending people to the field...after all, there are a lot of resources tied up in our personnel overseas...but all that I have heard and read of these specific restrictions seems to speak of some hidden agendas. How sad.

Keep blogging! Those who do not understand what a blog is, and what it is for, are closing their eyes to one of the best tools a M has in his belt! The world has gotten a LOT smaller, and a lot more Web-savvy. A blog is a fantastic tool for reaching the post-modern's of this world.

A servant in WE - the heart of Post Modern darkness.

Anonymous said...

I guess that what constitutes dogma(those things essential to the faith) has been fairly well hashed out over the past 2,000 years.

Southern Baptist doctrine(those things that distinguish one denomination from another), on the other hand, seems to be less well defined.

Is it possibly true that a majority of trustees believe that to be a Southern Baptist one must be baptized in a Southern Baptist church, or a church that believes in eternal security, and must not practice a private prayer language?

I would hope that my incredulousness was vanity, but I guess it isn't.

A brother in Christ,

Jon B.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Wade! Thanks for keeping us focused on the "essentials". Perhaps, the Lord will keep us from "bogging down" as He works through your "blogging"! :^)

In His Grace and Peace,

Anonymous said...

Bro. Burleson,

Because of my personal past, I watch this with mixed emotion. You *can* be a dedicated, Godly, graceful, charitable, educated, called man of God, restored in Christ, who yearns for the missions field (or pastorate for that matter) and STILL lack the pedigree to clear IMB approval. This is not the first IMB policy initiated -- or even expanded -- to discriminate at the expense of serving the great commission, nor is it the most wide-spread, it's just the latest. You see, there are those of us lifting you in prayer before the throne of grace because you are standing for the right thing here. Yet we were relegated "persona non grata" a long time ago, often through no fault of our own, through great personal pain, and with no power to change it. If you only knew the hearts of the people standing with you, and I don’t just mean your supporters.

This goes beyond the IMB or SBC. None of my friends are SBC either, but bunches of us are talking (and even blogging) about this. The SBC has better care how this plays out in the body of Christ as a whole. But in a way, I do have a “dog in this hunt” as you’d put it. You see, I’m praying for you simply because I don’t want to see even more Godly, called, men and women of God added to the legions of “disqualifieds” of which I’m already part. I’ll pray for anyone who stands to keep more of my fellow believer from flooding their prayer closet with tears; Bible in one hand, rejection letter in the other.

Anonymous said...

Bro. Burleson,
you wrote: "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."

Just a little historical note for you. The Southern Baptist Convention did not split over Landmarkism in 1850, but in 1905. This was the year many churches in Arkansas, Texas, and a few other states left and formed the American Baptist Association. Also the 1905 ABA split was not over the administrator of baptism, but over the nature of missions. The ABA baptists believed in gospel missions, the SBC believed in mission boards. Alien baptism was not an issue at all.

Kevin Bussey said...

That story breaks my heart. Thanks for sharing it!

Anonymous said...

Don't stop trumpeting this fact, Wade. It's about missions.
The illegal IMB trustee political caucus group has done a splendid job derailing momentum at such a crucial time in history.
Some time ago, the trustees affirmed the goal of annually sending 1000 missionaries to the field. That was attainable -- obedient, sold-out servants were answering the call. The pool was deep, and the Board celebrated appointment services with 60, 70+ new missionaries going to the uttermost. And now this.
At the most recent appointment service, there were 12 appointed. Twelve. And applicants? Plummeting.
Thank you, caucus group, for taking your eyes off the goal and steering the ship right up on the shore instead of into deeper waters. I weep for your callous hardness of heart. But I rejoice because I know the ship will be righted.

Eric Freeman said...

I want to encourage you to keep blogging!! Thanks for your words about Grace and truth. They have been on my heart for a while. I agree that the SBC is going for the truth while ignoring grace!! I pray for a return to God's grace and truth together!!

wadeburleson.org said...

In all fairness Mr. Anonymous, the reason for just 12 candidates in the appointment service for Richmond was a cutback in the appointment pipeline because of low finances after September 11, 2001. We should have one of our largest appointment services ever in Tampa this March. However, if we continue to narrow the parameters of cooperation, as you say, we will be facing a lower candidate pool in the years to come.

All I am affirming in this post is that we HAD a qualified missionary candidate couple for a dark region in Central Asia, who were removed because of a "private prayer language" (never forget, the old policy FORBAD the publicly speaking of tongues, and rightly so, because our mission is to share the gospel intelligently). We have nobody to replace this couple. Not in the Tampa appointment service. Not in the Alberquque appointment service in May. Nobody is on the horizon to go to that dark, dangerous region in Central Asia.

We had somebody, but no more. That is the tragedy.

In His Grace,


wadeburleson.org said...

Dear Ben,

Dr. McBeth wrote an excellent book about the Landmark controversy that occurred in the late 1840's and 1850's within the SBC. Dr. McBeth pointed out the controversy erupted because a question was asked "Is a baptism by immersion, performed by a paedo-baptist (one who baptizes infants, i.e. a Methodist minister, Presbyterian pastor, etc . . .) a valid baptism? The Landmarks, of course, said no. The controversy led to a great conflict in the SBC and the Landmarkers left. You are correct that the controversy arose again in the early 1900's. These things go in cycles.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

ryan said...


Thank you for responding to my questions. I must say you were quite elegant and recieved them in the spirit they were meant. I wish more pastors were as willing to stand up for thier convictions as you seem to be.

I understand that the SBC does not, and should not infringe on individual churches autonomy but do and should set policy concerning international missions. Given this,let's take thier decision excluding candidates professing to have personal prayer languages. My Bible states in 1 Corinthians 14:22
"tongues are for a sign not to those who believe but to unbelievers". That makes me wonder who is the person that prays in ecstatic utterances is praying to, and would I want this person spreading this, or any other doctrine for that matter, that I find not firmly planted in the gospel. Being as desperate as we are for willing candidates to the mission field, I'm glad my personal beliefs will not keep someone from serving in this capacity, but the IMB trustees opinions (yours included) will. I don't envy you the job, but praise God that you are willing.(I am praying that you will stay on the board)

Saying all that to say this, the IMB must set policies. Not all will be popular. You obviously, were overruled on these ones. My question is, do you think there were avenues inside the system that you could have explored before becoming publicly vocal with your beliefs and concerns?

You stated in your reply to my previous blog that "passion vs. passion makes the playing field and truth always wins". How I wish that were true!! The fact as I see it is, that whoever yells the loudest or tells a lie the most seems to win in our society today. (how sad is that)
A friend of mine told me years ago to never(pardon the crudeness) get into a peeing contest, you and the other guy are both going to get peed on.

So, I would think the best solution would be to get that guy baptised in your church, have that lady to stop praying in ecstatic utterances and get them to the mission field as quickly as possible

You are in my prayers

Dr. Mike Kear said...

Pastor Burleson, I applaud your stand and your courage. May our Lord Jesus Christ strengthen and encourage you.

wadeburleson.org said...


Again, thank you for your gentle spirit and kind email.

Just one question to you:

Why don't we ask the woman with the PRIVATE prayer language, to simply not to pray publicly in tongues on the mission field?

That is what the old policy did. She had already agreed to that policy. To violate it would be cause for her dismissal.

To enter into her prayer closet and "tell her to quit speaking in tongues" is a violation of Paul's admonition "forbid not to speak in tongues."

Someone might say, "But you are forbidding people to speak in tongues publicly with the old policy! What's the difference?"

The difference is huge.

A missionary is employed to share the gospel intelligently to the people group to whom he/she ministers. The Board has the right to demand that the emphasis in public ministry be on evangelization and not the gifts of the Spirit, but to enter into a private prayer closet, and demand that a person conform to a cessationalist view of tongues is beyond the scope of authority of the IMB, not to mention the Baptist Faith and Message.

Further, forbidding missionaries with a private prayer language EXCLUDES some of our greatest missionaries including Miss Bertha Smith of China and President Jerry Rankin of Richmond.

Why are we doing this?

If someone says "Because speaking in tongues on the mission field is a problem among our missionaries."

No it is not.

Trust me, if a missionary practices "tongues" publicly, or teaches "tongues" as a normative practice for Christians, he is fired under the old policy --- and he ought to be.

Tongues is not a problem.

Then why make it an issue?

Good question. I think I know the answer and frankly it deeply saddens me.

Let's keep our focus on missions.


IN His Grace,

Wade Burleson

Anonymous said...

You have a lot of support and I hope the convention does not let you, and a lot of others, down when they meet in June. I was surprised that the tongues issue is still around. I thought we settled that. Apparently the new scarlet letter is T. If truth were told, there are a lot of pastors and staff who were called to service out of the Jesus Movement in the late '60s, early '70s, when tongues was as much a matter of course for new christians as drugs were for the sub-culture. If you did not, you were not really there. We now find many with convenient lapses of memory, or ethics, when asked about it. Or perhaps a lack of spine. I am fearful that when many truly called servants are asked about tongues and they say "no" they are really thinking, "not at the moment."

There are many much more dangerously held beliefs that are not addressed by policy. But where do we stop? I agree with you. We have already gone too far. A biblical standard must be held, and we do that with the BF&M. Now we should open the door to those called of God and sic 'em on the world.

Anonymous said...

Wade, As I listened to your sermon, my mind was drawn back to a sermon I heard by Charles Wade, then pastor of FBC Arlington, in his defense of Russell Dilday, shortly after he had been treated--in much the same way you have been-- by the trustees of Southwestern Seminary. As I remember it, the essence of his message was the same as yours...someone who was a devoted Southern Baptist, who loved the Lord, was a conservative evangelical...wrongly accused, and the continued need for cooperation for the cause of the gospel of Christ. You probably see it as different, but to me, it's exactly the same thing, just a few years later. Perhaps you now know how Dr. Dilday felt. Perhaps you can see it's an issue of power and control, not over who believes the Bible the most. May God be with you as you take your stand to stop the pendelum swinging to the far right.

Faithful Blondie said...

Wade, we are behind you 100%. Thanks for speaking so eloquently, and making these issues easy to understand. Thank you for allowing Him to do His work through your trials. No matter what happens, the Lord is gonna be glorified.

J. Wagner said...

"Now you must be a cessationist and very close to a Landmark in order to be a Southern Baptist missionary."

What is a "cessasionist"? What is a "Landmark"?

J. Wagner
Montevallo, AL

Unknown said...

I am sad to hear all of this. I am at Southwestern currently and know many freinds who intentionally will never go with the IMB overseas. These are mostly young people who have chosen other conservative non-denominational missions organizations who are more cooperative as a whole with a variety of missionary organizations. I understand that the IMB still has a quality applicants but I wonder how long that will last. I pray that it will and the Lord will continue to use the SBC to spread His name globally.
One question that I have been confronted with here at SWBTS is whether the SBC truly believes that only through our convention the Gospel is being effectively spread. Do we truly believe that God has only blesed us with the ministry of reconciliation? I ask that question in contrast to the Landmark view that we are the 'true' church. Hopefully we recognize minor issues for what they are and unite to share Christ, the author and perfector of our faith.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the club, Rev. Burleson.
The IMB trustees terminated over 80 missionaries for not following the political agenda. It wasn't really about theology. We were told we just needed to sign the document, not believe it. A lie was acceptable as long as we would toe the party line. I'm not surprised they are now attacking members of their own ranks.
Sure there were those in the process with good intentions, but intentions do not justify means and actions contrary to the grace of Christ Jesus.
My heart breaks to see political aims circumvent the purpose of reaching the world with the good news of God's love and grace. Christ Jesus died for sinners and folks who did not have all the answers. SBC power brokers are effectively killing people and condemning them to hell for not agreeing with them. I understand that grace includes those areas in which I fail to comprehend aspects of doctrine and theology.
Sorry you had to become one of those attacked for non-conformity to the agenda. I understand the grief and pain.

wadeburleson.org said...

j. wagner,

A cessationist is a person that believes if a Christian speaks in tongues (public or private), he is under the influence of either a devil or self, but definitely not the Spirit, since this gift of the Spirit "ceased" centuries ago, thus the word "cessationist."

A Landmark Baptist is a person who believes the only true church is a church built on Baptist principles, therefore, if you come to Christ oustide of the Baptist church, then you must be "rebaptized" in the Baptist Church to have a Scriptural baptism.

In His Grace,


Anonymous said...

Regarding baptism--it appears that the IMB are saying that being baptised in a body of water other than in a church building and/or by another Christian who is not a minister is not an acceptable. Is that what they are saying? What did people do before church buildings and ordained ministers for every group of local believers?

As far as a private prayer language--are we talking about the "groanings too deep for words" that are spoken of in Romans 8:26 or something else? The Apostle Paul said not to forbid the speaking of tongues, but that the public expression of such was to be done in a proper manner or not at all. I don't speak in tongues or know anyone who does but I'm not going to tell them it's not proper for them to God that way.

Remember, the applicants who are being considered have to have already been active members of their SBC home churches for (if I remember correctly) three years.

It seems we should leave room for interpretations of Scripture (end times, etc.) if we are talking about Christians who believe the Bible is God's Word without error. We are disqualifying many saved, Spirit led, trained missionaries in our own SBC.

Susan Davis

Anonymous said...

Regarding baptism--it appears that the IMB are saying that being baptised in a body of water other than in a church building and/or by another Christian who is not a minister is not acceptable. Is that what they are saying? What did people do before church buildings and ordained ministers for every group of local believers?

As far as a private prayer language--are we talking about the "groanings too deep for words" that are spoken of in Romans 8:26 or something else? The Apostle Paul said not to forbid the speaking of tongues, but that the public expression of such was to be done in a proper manner or not at all. I don't speak in tongues or know anyone who does but I'm not going to tell them it's not proper for them to communicate God that way.

Remember, the applicants who are being considered have to have already been active members of their SBC home churches for (if I remember correctly) three years.

It seems we should leave room for interpretations of Scripture (end times, etc.) if we are talking about Christians who believe the Bible is God's Word without error. We are disqualifying many saved, Spirit led, trained missionaries in our own SBC.

Anonymous said...

Wade, as I read your blog I am filled with pride that you are my Pastor. I am just afraid that all this publicity will cause another church to woe a man of your Godliness to leave Enid. I know our God is Soveriegn and it seems the Lord has big work for you to do. God Bless You and your wonderful family.

GeneMBridges said...

Regarding baptism--it appears that the IMB are saying that being baptised in a body of water other than in a church building and/or by another Christian who is not a minister is not acceptable. Is that what they are saying? What did people do before church buildings and ordained ministers for every group of local believers?

Oh no, the logic goes much deeper than that, as a person must be rebaptized if he comes from a church that does not affirm the doctrine of eternal security.

a. Part of the logic seems to look like this:

1. Most non-cessationist churches do not affirm the security of the believer. In a sense this is true. The Assemblies of God is one such group.

2. On the other hand, there are Reformed Baptists who are non-cessationists. I know 2 churches in Phoenix AZ that fit this definition, so this logic wouldn't control for those churches.

Thus, there is another type of logic that I understand some TX Landmarkists (though not all) affirm. This is far more troublesome. What I described above amounts to just plain sloppy thinking. This is far more disturbing:

(b) Type 2 relates to the nature of a true churches. This would ultimately deny Free Will Baptists and other Christians who deny eternal security can constitute true churches.

It works like this:

1. If a person believes he can lose his salvation, it follows he is denies Sola Fide.

2. Hence, he believes in salvation by works.

3. Hence, he is unregenerate.

4. Hence any ecclesiastical body formed by such persons cannot, by definition, constitute a true church, since they are all unregenerate, since Baptist ecclesiology, at a minimum demands a regenerate membership.

5. Hence one or more of the following is true:

(a) when John Smith was first baptized, he affirmed this same doctrine and must therefore be re-baptized now if he affirms it (since he now affirms Sola Fide and is thus to be considered regenerate)


(b) baptism, to be valid, must be performed by a regenerate Christian, an elder in a local church to be specific, so his baptism was invalid, even if John Smith himself, at that time, affirmed Sola Fide and perseverance of the saints


(c) Even if the baptizing elder in the Arminian church had changed his doctrine and believed in eternal security when he baptized John Smith, his baptism is not valid for the same reason as (b) if he was baptized in an Arminian church, and thus, his eldership is invalid, since he was not validly baptized.

Now, lots can be said on that.

a. This overlooks the classic Reformation formula: Justified by faith, saved by grace (and those traditions, viz. Calvinism and Arminianism, having a doctrine of perseverance, so there is a sense in which we affirm we are "saved" by works, eg. God's grace causes us to persevere in faith, sanctifies us, etc...thus the above statements are equivocating on justification and sanctification; and, unless you believe a person can apostatize from the faith completely and still be saved, you have a doctrine of perseverance as well as eternal security.);

b. the nature of what Arminians affirm about justification itself (e.g while one could say that, conceptually conditional perseverance/security could be construed as inconsistent with Sola Fide, it does not follow that, in practice that is the case),

c. not to mention the endless string of questions about baptism and its administration. If the baptizing elder wasn't baptized validly, then his eldership is invalid, and so on and so on until you get to a validly baptized elder, and even then, all the persons that all those invalidly baptized elders/pastors in those churches are not validly baptized.

d. In fact, I would go so far to say that by tying affirmation of eternal security to the evidence of true salvation, the objector is mirror-reading. The one using this logic is the one assuming right doctrine, not God, saves, so he's the one who believes in salvation by works.

3. To assert Arminians repudiate Sola Fide and cannot constitute true churches is a form of genuine hyper-Calvinism. See: http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/topic/hypercalvinism.html

4. Indexing affirmation of a particular doctrine to baptism is a Landmark idea, so you have a union between genuine hyper-Calvinism and Landmarkism in the policy.

None of the Reformed folk in the Convention support this! I honestly don't think the whole Convention really believes that Free Will Baptists and Assemblies of God churches are not true churches. This, however, is implicit in the new policy. The Convention must not be allowed to slide in that direction.

Anonymous said...

Add .htm to the end of the url I just provided so the last part reads notes.htm
Thanks, and Hoping many of you have the Christian integrity to consider this as Wade makes his case and press him as to how he thinks his situation is different from the 80 fired ones. Best I remember he Pontius Pilated on that one and washed his hands of the whole matter.
If I am mistaken please explain.

Anonymous said...

Wade, I greatly appreciate the stand you are taking here. The call for Baptists to be baptist is much needed and far too often not made.

God's grace and peace to you my brother!

Anonymous said...

In the end, I think we can safely say that this kind of exclusivism is based on an attitude "I don't think it's appropriate for people like "that" to be working/hanging out/associating with people like "us".

It's been happening for a long time - it's just that they're narrowing the range of "acceptables".

Anonymous said...

As Wade has articulately stated with clarity, the principle issue here is not Wade Burleson, other IBM Trustees, private prayer language, or how and by whom baptism is administered. The focus of this issue is how will the SBC address policies which narrow the parameters of qualifying missionary applicants based on minor doctrinal interpretations. It is ever so easy to get sidetracked onto peripheral issues which distract those who are seeking understanding on this matter. This Okie suggests that all of us be wary of self-appointed critics who would, knowingly or unknowingly, divert us from the focal issue by interjecting thinly disguised viewpoints which have a lot more to do with trumpeting personal agendas and frustrations, and less with the issue at hand.

In His Grace and Peace,

Anonymous said...

Keep blogging the truth Wade! I'm proud to know that you're a man of principle. I really enjoyed listening to your sermon. Thanks for posting it on your blog. I'm proud to be a life long Southern Baptist! Last spring our church had the privilege of hosting an IMB Commissioning Service. I was amazed at the shocked with the amount of cooperative program money was used to transport, feed, and lodge IMB trustees who attend all of these commissioning services. Jokingly I made a comment about this to one of the trustees. He replied by telling me, "this is nothing we're looking forward to bringing our wives to a commissioning service in the fall where we're renting a beachfront hotel in Florida." I honestly wanted to vomit when he told me this! He didn't realize how I felt about his response. I will definitely remember that statement when it comes to supporting the IMB financially this year. Brothers, it's time that we take a closer look at the practices of the trustees on both of our mission boards! I believe that the issues that Wade has exposed are just the tip of the iceberg! I don't think that our church members are giving to the Lottie Moon Offering are aware that they are also funding all expense paid vacations of IMB trustees and their families to Florida!

Anonymous said...

As an active IMB missionary, I feel it incumbent to remain anonymous...but wish that there was enough openness to sign my name. But, that is not the reason I am writing...If Landmarkism is a trend emerging in the IMB trustees, will that mean that cooperating with other Great Commission Christians will be a thing of the past?

wadeburleson.org said...


Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree with Wade on the issues. I agree that private prayer language should not eliminate someone from serving on the Mission Field. I agree that a person's baptist is more about what they believe about baptism, not about where it took place! I wonder, however, if it would be to the benefit of Southern Baptists as a whole if Wade were to go ahead and resign from his post at the IMB. My reasoning is that at this point, this controversy is about 50% Doctrine and 50% politics. I can't help but think that it might help to remove some of the politics of the situation if Wade were to resign, but continue to blog and make Southern Baptists aware of the situation. Please do not misunderstand me, I am not calling for Wade to resign, or demanding that in any way. I am simply throwing it out there as an idea. This is between Wade, and the Lord Jesus Christ! I have absolutely nothing against him if he decides not to resign, in fact, if the vote were to take place today, I would vote against removing him from his position. I just think that if the debate can be solely on the issues, and have nothing to do with his position on the board, that might be a good thing. Just something to think about. I absolutely support you Wade in whatever you decide! I know you are a man of God, and are in fervent prayer over this situation! I appreciate your work to bring light to the situation on the IMB!

Vin said...

Excelent post!!!

Thanks for your clarification on Landmark and Cessationists. I grew up in a garbc church in SE Ohio and had never heard of such things.

I am not the greatest student of the Bible but I think that when Jesus was speaking in John 14:6, He laid it out pretty well.
"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."

Also in Matthew 16:13-19
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
"But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it."

Why do we as christians have such a hard time yeilding to Christ as it His work that builds the Church? We are just lucky that He chooses to use us as his tools.

I am almost certain that John the Baptist was not a member of any Baptist church. Is someone going to revoke Jesus' baptisim?

Laura said...

Brother Wade, my friends and fellow students here at SBTS are praying for you, and praying that the Gospel will go forth unhindered -- unhindered by politics or Landmarkism or any human, extra-Biblical construct. It's times like these that really force us to focus on the sovereignty of God, though, which can never be a bad thing, right? Thanks for keeping the focus on the salvation of the lost. Keep it up.

Anonymous said...


I am a current M on the field. I wish I felt comfortable giving my name, but I don't. I want to thank you for your comments and your concern for our work around the world. I have been on the field for 11 years and I have seen a LOT of changes. Some have been for the good. Such as our focus on the ethnos groups rather than countries. Cooperating with other GCCs has been wonderful. When you leave the good ole USA behind and all the politics of all the different denominations, we (all Ms from all agencies) realize what is the main thing and we can lay aside those differences and cooperate in a way that has been very refreshing. I for one, applaud Jerry Rankin and his leadership in this area.

In the first five years on the field, we didn't hear about a lot of decisions made. We lived in a remote area where there was not much communication. We'd get letters from the IMB ocassionally telling us of the decisions. But now is different. We KNOW what is going on much better than ever.

I have lost a lot of trust and confidence in our 'leadership'. I guess that would include mostly trustees and the SBC convention. This is mainly due to the decision of the BF&M signing. Not so much the signing, but the assurance those already assigned on the field would not have to sign, then a year later changing that decision. Who's to say that THIS new policy is not going to take the same road. It is obvious to us on the other side of the globe that some of our strong extreme right leadership is not particularly excited about the directions the IMB has taken in the last few years. Who's to say that this is just a step in giving Jerry's job to some good ole boy they want.

It's really hard to keep the main thing the main thing with all these ridiculous political agendas going on. We Ms just shake our heads in disgust at what our leadership thinks is the important issues.

By the way, if it comes down to those on the field... You may have a pretty good exodus on your hands. When your in Satan's land, you really learn how to pray.

Anonymous said...


When I was in college and Seminary (SWBTS), I had more sympathy for the "liberal/moderate" side of the convention than I did for the "conservative/fundamentalist" side. Since that time I have become much more conservative in my theology. I am now a reformed theologian and line up with those who control the convention more than ever.

Still, I remember what it was like to have people that I thought a lot of persecuted over what I considered to be politics and not theology. I remember Dr. Jack McGorman saying that for a lot of the people who were in the fight, it was more about war than being right because they had more power during war than during peace. He made that comment during class one day and he made it about people "on both sides" of the contraversy. I could tell it was breaking his heart and he started to cry.

It seems clear to me now that he was more right than we could have known.

During the last couple of years the SBC has been reaching out to young leaders in an attempt to keep them "in the fold" rather than lose them to independant baptist or non-denominational churches. War for the sake of power is one of the main reasons we are leaving. I applaud your willingness to take a stand. If the SBC is to survive the next fifty years, it will depend largly on whether or not they will seek peace with those who disagree with them.

I agree that there must be some level of common ground, but they have already gone too far. I think that we are headed toward a future where those in charge will tighten their standards to such a slim reflection of themselves, the SBC will look uniform - and small.

The short version of this is that we are looking at what I think could destroy one of the greatest missionary sending bodies of all Christian history.

On a personal note, I am leaving the Youth Ministry in Kentucky(over 18 years in that service)and about to become a pastor of a small church in Oklahoma. I will be proud to stand as a conservative who wants to fight for the survival of the convention. The alternative, and I am afraid we may not be far from this, is to seperate from our ties to such a great organization - one founded on the priciples of cooperation.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully you can clear something up for me. I am an IMB missionary serving on the field. As you know, most of the world does not have such a thing as "Southern Baptist" churches. There may be "Korean Baptist" or whatever other country is represented. It was an awesome privledge for me to baptize my son. However, am I correct in understanding that he would not be allowed to be a missionary, if so called, in the future because his baptism took place in the ocean and not a SBC church?

Anonymous said...

First they came for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me,
and by that time there was no one
left to speak up for me.

by Rev. Martin Niemoller, 1945

wadeburleson.org said...

Mr. Missionary,

You are correct.

It pains me to affirm your conclusions.

In His Grace,


wadeburleson.org said...

It's not the ocean that is the problem, it is the lack of a church INTO which he was baptized.

I believe the Bible teaches that your son was baptized into the universal church, or the body of Christ.

But since, if I understand your story correctly, there was no "local church" into which your son was baptized, then his baptism is not sufficient according to the new IMB policies.

Under the old policies it would have been.

In His Grace,


Anonymous said...

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me--
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

actual quote by Rev. Martin Niemoller, 1945

Anonymous said...

Why are some so amazed that this is happening? The precident was set when both long time and newly appointed missionaries were required to sign a creedal type statement that they were in complete agreement with the Baptist Faith and Message of 2000. Way back in 1963 Foy Valentine warned that Southern Baptists were heading toward what we see happening today. Toe the party line or else is the way of the current leadership.

Anonymous said...


After several hours of reading your blog and a couple of others who were linked from your blog and were present at the IMB meeting, I have to say that I am crushed. When I posted earlier, I was just responding to this post. I was brought here by an article in our state baptist paper, the Western Recorder.

I am sorry for what has happened, but I am proud of the integrity with which you have handled yourself thus far. Keep it up. I have been dissinterested in attending the convention for several years, since we were not fighting for Scriptural authority any more, and my local church always seemed to need my attention. As I see it, we are now fighting for Scriptural authority again. I will be there in Greensboro, and I plan to lend you my public support.

As an aside, this cronyism will kill the SBC unless we who are younger stand up.

I see in my church and in the churches of my friends that the generation before us wants to pass the torch, but only if we hold it the way they do or did. Any attempt to move forward in a different way is rejected as superficial - I think because it is not understood. Throwing up our hands and moving on without them gets us the tag, "uncommitted," which is true in the sense that we are not committed to their way of thinking or style of doing ministry. It is not true that we are uncommitted to Christ or to reaching the world with His gospel.

I see now that we are going to have to humbly step forward, take our place and no longer sit idly by as the convention clips along without us.

I apologize to all members of the SBC for withdrawing these last years and focusing only on my immediate surroundings. I will do so no longer. I think it is time to call for a conservative inclusivity.

I appreciated an article by Al Mohler, President, SBTS, where he described three distinctions that seperate us all theologically. I believe it was published in our state Baptist paper.

The first distinction is whether or not one was a Christian. Obviously, we cannot cooperate with those who are not Christian. This would include Mormons and other supposedly "Christian Cults," like the Branch Davidians - Waco.

The next division is one that seperates us at the denominational level. There is some level of cooperation available here, but obviously we disagree significantly with Catholics, for example, about baptism, grace, confession and authority. This would limit our cooperation.

Finally, we have the division that takes place within the denomination. Eschatology is the perfect example here. We have so many different beliefs here, but they are not consequential to the mission that we share and in which we cooperate.

Mohler pointed out that when we elevate third tier divisions to first tier separations, we put ourselves in jeopardy.

It is clear this is now happening to us.

Hang in there. People who speak against you on this say more about themselves than they do about you.

I am praying for you.


Tommy Alderman said...

Stand firm Pastor.

Sounds to me like the Devil is at it again - anytime he can divert believers' attention from the fact that around 150,000 people die every 24 hours, most headed to hell, and from our responsibility to them, he wins (Keith Green said, "This generation of believers is responsible for this generation of souls.")

It infuriates me to think that people can get so caught up in trivial matters and let the true mission of the church...the only mission of the church, suffer.

My heart breaks over the Central Asia story...and for this couple who were sacrificing so much (as normal Biblical Christians do). And it makes me flaming mad to think of the beaurocrats that caused them harm...and not only them, but I believe the cause of Christ has been harmed.

Let's hold missionaries to standards, yes - but standards of preaching the whole counsel of God - including the Law of God, sin, righteousness, and judgment to come - and the grace and mercy of the Righteous Judge.

All Hell is laughing now. And we should be weeping.

I have asked the Lord to uphold you, Brother.

Ronnie Thompson said...


While at the IMB meeting, you wrote,

"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."

What a testimony. Thank you for sharing it.

Ronnie Thompson

Ken said...


Yeserday I was talking on the phone with one of our M's who lives in a very difficult Muslim country.

He asked me about this issue and I shared a bit of the baptism issue. He said " What about me?"

I said "what about you , you were baptized here , right?"

"No I was saved as a military officer in dessert storm and baptized in the dessert in the Middle East."

At this point I could not stop laughing ( Literally) at the craziness of this all. He and his team are highly effective in reaching and their UPG, yet unless he is baptized twice he could not go. After teasing him that we would have to fly him and his whole family home to be rebaptized I shared he is grandfathered.

Then I looked at three of our partners in the NAME region that we connect with and work with. None were baptized in an SBC church, yet they are SBC to the core. Loyal, sold out, conservative people, putting their lives on the line daily. This is crazy !

Keep it up and help bring sanity to all this.

Patrick said...

This story shows me that the IMB trustees are more concerned about small petty issues, than they are about reaching people for Christ. As a result, we're missing out on reaching millions of people for Christ because of the narrowmindedness of the trustees of the IMB.

Protestantism developed because Martin Luther grew tired of the man-made laws of Catholicism. Yet, here we are as Baptists, doing the same thing Catholics have done for centuries....creating man-made rules.

It disturbs me that a man can be called by God to serve and reach people for Christ, yet be turned away from doing so by "men" in our convention.

It's the narrowmindedness of leaders in our convention that is turning people away from our churches.

Think with me a minute. Would Jesus have rejected a a man or woman that wanted to spread the Good News around the world?

It's us as Baptists that are setting up walls, preventing the Gospel from being spread. We need to break down these doctrinal walls and work together with all denominations of similar faith.

I have news for the leaders in our convention. Baptists are only going to make up a small minority of people in heaven. Get ready to make room for the Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, non-denominationals, tongue-speaking Pentecostals, AG's, Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ, Catholics, Quakers, people of the Greek and Eastern Orthodox faiths, etc..

In summary, the trustees of the IMB have lost site of the Great Commission and the real purpose for missions.....all because of their narrowmindedness.

Patrick said...

Bro. Wade, we stand with you all the way. It's about time someone had the gutts to stand up and say this.

When we joined our local Southern Baptist church, my wife had to be "re-baptized" to join the church, as she was coming from a great Gospel-preaching protestant church of another denomination. I asked our deacons and pastor to show me scripture explaining why she had to be "re-baptized." It was concluded that "re-baptizing" to join the church was not scriptural. I can't tell you how many great Christian people have been kept from serving in our church because of this "man-made" rule.

Narrowmindedness is killing our convention. And the SBC is allowing Satan to use it for destruction.

Wade, keep standing up for what matters most. Don't back off. We need serious change in our convention.

Anonymous said...

Brother.. Never forget .. its not just about Missions, its about the nature of the gospel itself. The Gospel itself precedes, informs and motivates mission.

Paul reproved Peter over the nature of the gospel as being inclusivist of the Gentiles (Galatians 2). Does rejection of alien Baptism move into this area?

Paul reproved the Judaisers in Galatia for not being Christians because they taught a subsequent blessing in the Holy Spirit after conversion attained by some other method than simple faith at conversion(Galatians 1 and 3). Does this touch on the issue of those who practise tongues as a subsequent, necessary post-salvation experience required for either "super-spirituality" or as a confirmation of salvation?

The issues at stake are complex, and the nature of the Gospel itself is at stake in both questions. I doubt if many will understand the crucial nature of these questions at this point.

I believe your stand, Wade, against the IMB's new policy alien baptism supports the gospel.
I believe your stand Wade against the IMB's new policy on tongues does not support the gospel.

Anonymous said...

Wade Said:
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.

This is but the beginning of problems if we look down stream.

The compounded problem?
The Board of Trustees indicated that the new policy regarding 'prayer language' and 'baptism' would not be retroactive or applied to the current IMB mission force. I do not believe this will be the case. Furthermore, I would say that the actions taken could possibly bring missions work to a halt as we know it. Here's is why:

1. If new personnel with 'authorized' baptism pedigrees serve with those who are not, then there will be a mixed mission force. This mixture will become a point of contention and division (or even inquiry as to who is 'authorized'). If missionary A is a Landmarkist and missionary B is not (and his/her baptism is considered invalid) then missionary A will have a problem with the fruit of missionary B, or even of working with missionary B. This will necessitate a clarification of who has authority to do missions. It will put new 'authorized' personnel in charge of validating current and future work, as well as, all past work.

2. But how could this bring missions as we know it to a halt - by shutting down all the intricate, interdependent, cooperative relationships the IMB has developed with Great Commission Christians (GCC). The challenge is so huge, the people so hungry, the darkness so great in many places that our leadership has rightly said, 'This is a challenge for the whole Body of Christ, and those who are of like mind should work together." Is the Bible Translator from an authorized Church? Is his baptism of the authorized type? Is the person we partner with in street evangelism and discipleship 'authorized?"

In the context of Unreached People Groups (UPG's) in the 1040 window (most of whom are restricted or limited access nations – where you cannot work openly as a missionary) house churches are the only real means of developing church and working towards indigenous church planting movements. The new "baptism" policy would invalid those house churches. This new policy would cause everything to grind to a halt - no CPM's, the IMB's current strategy for reaching the UPG's of the world. I would say that those who put forward the motions along with many of those who supported it (I don't say all, because there may be some who might not understand the full ramifications of their decision) are not pleased with the New Directions strategy instigated and implemented by Dr. Rankin. Maybe they are after Dr. Rankin AND the strategy.

3. The outcry may come too late - but it will come if Landmarkism overshadows IMB personnel and strategies and the Annual Statistical Report drops off the map because of destroyed relationships with GCC's and an invalidation of all "unauthorized" baptizers. Yes, then there will be shouts, but will there be any ears left to hear them?

Living in the 1040

Anonymous said...

Wade, I do not claim to know all that is involved with this situation, but from the limited knowledge that I do have, I fully support your push for integrity within the IMB. Thank you for taking a stand. My fiance and I plan to travel the world spreading the gospel and it is a relief to know that men like you are fighting to keep the Jesus Christ behind it all. We are praying for you and will be following this situation closely.


wadeburleson.org said...

Mr. Missionary Living in 1040 Window

Eloquent. Articulate. Passionate. Logical. Scriptural.

Your post needs to be read.


Anonymous said...

God bless you Brother Wade.Too many people are hell bound for us to argue over nonessential doctrine.I have pastored for almost 29 years and I've yet to find anyone who is in total agreement with my Biblical views.I do believe in the moral issues, as I'm not a liberalist,however I know many people of the Baptist faith,(Southern Baptist)who say they pray in private,in what they call unknown tongues. I never have, probably never will,but I'll not hinder them from doing GOD'S work.You are fighting a good fight, keep the faith, and stay the course.
Michael Yates
Pastor: Webster's Chapel Baptist Church.

Anonymous said...

Well, this is all news to me. And my wife and I are in the beginning stages of "the process." Yes, there are some things about the IMB that turns me off but we both feel God is leading us to pursue appointment with the IMB. Sometimes I get the idea the IMB wants a certain kind of person and if you aren't that kind of person, you will not be appointed. Now theologically, I think all missionary applicants ought to "tow the line." But some of these side issues (where you were baptized, for one) are just Satan's attempts to distract us from what's really important. Another issue, one which you have not raised, is the weight (or BMI) issue. It pains me to think that we all have to weigh in within a certain range, or we will not be appointed. I've been told by some missionaries already on the field if you answer certain questions certain ways, you will not be appointed. It makes me wonder how many of them were honest throughout the process. Wade, I plan to be in Greensboro, and unless the trustees can come up with something better to offer, I will be standing with you. I'm tired of the politics. And I have a suspicion God is too.

Anonymous said...

I am deeply grieved by the IMB's decision. I am an evangelist and a Baptist who speaks in tongues, and I was baptized by a SBC pastor who speaks in tongues. I come from an Independant Fundamental Baptist background, and I am currently considering joining an SBC church. It's sad when winning the lost isn't our primary goal, and we are distracted by minor doctrines.

Anonymous said...

Brother please hang in there. We laymen can not have our voices hear as well as people like you can. It is all about reaching a lost world instead og fighting among ourselves.

Anonymous said...

It saddens me to see the further and further narrowing by the SBC hierarchy of what defines as "acceptable" and cooperation with the SBC. I have been a Southern Baptist all my life, I am a pastor, the son of a pastor, and the brother of a pastor. At what point does this continued attacking and viciousness end? I am convinced that our denominational leadership know only "warrioring" and fighting. If there is no battle, they look for ways to create one. I'm afraid of what lies ahead for our convention as long as such selfish, unrepentant, controlling, and self-righteous leadership continues. What happened to the identifying mark of love specified by Christ in John 13:35? Why do other man-made, Pharisaical filters take precedence over the mark our Lord gave us. I am theologically conservative and believe in the inerrancy of the scriptures but am tired of the actions of men who claim to believe the Word but act as if the precepts established in it don't apply to them. We are weary of this as are our congregations and church leaders. Stop the witch hunts and cronyism that has identified the SBC in recent years! What happened in 1979 is done & overwith...let's move on and stop looking for other ways to keep the infighting alive!

Anonymous said...

Hello from a "World A" mish-guy. I am not ordained, but I baptized my child in the sea because there was no organized and registered SBC church anywhere around. And, I was baptized as a youth in a non-SBC church, (but it later became an SBC church after I had moved away).
Would this mean that my child, now an adult, would have to be re-baptized to pass the Trustee screening under current or future regulations?

I live for sharing Christ with Muslims and seeing them obey him. But since I don't have a "proper" baptismal trail, am I an illegal imb employee?

I don't understand why there is such a growing angst and turmoil among sbc leadership. Is there a clearcut agenda that is promoted or opposed? I sorry that I don't follow the sbc news very much. But, are we not all for bringing lost people to follow Jesus? What are the core us/them dividing lines?

I just read _The Seven-Day Weekend_ by Ricardo Selmer. From him, possibly a non-believer, I learn about trust and helping co-workers to reach their potential in God. How might that un-structured organization design be applied to the imb? is it possible to open up the organizational decision-making to everyone involved? Why are outsiders making decisions that affect my life, but I don't get a vote or even an understanding of what these "foreigners" are trying to impose on my without my knowledge?

Sorry for the long post. My job is starting churches, not worrying about trustees. I had better get back to work and trust God to take care of me.

Thanks for allowing me to vent.
Passion for Persia.

kls said...

I am very concerned for the the new constraint placed on the International Missionaries. I wonder if those who have enforced this constraint of no "private prayer language" in their devotionals have ever lived on a foreign mission field? I wonder if they have ever been attacked by tribalists? I wonder if they have ever experienced a witch doctor who has tried to put a curse on them? I wonder if they have ever been in a service on the mission field or praying with someone that the demons decided to show up and strong arm the pray-er? I wonder if they have ever had a tribe come at them with a machete? I wonder if they have any idea of the demons that are out there? I would suspect by this new ruling they have never encountered anything that would cause them to cry out for the power of God to show up "right now or else I'm dead!" I wonder if they have ever had a true supernatural encounter with the Lord? Because if they had, they would not be so concerned about how the convention looks or would not be setting severe controlling parameters around a person's personal relationship with the Lord.
All my life I have been taught by my pastor's in a large SBC church, it's all about a personal relationship with the Lord. Is it? Is it really? According to the rules and parameters the SBC is sanctioning, it is not. It is about rules and conforming. Is that what the SBC really wants to become once again? A mean lean controlling machine? As I heard this and have read this, I wept because I love the SB. I have loved being a SB. Even though I now go to a non-denominational church when someone asks what I am I still say SB. Every now and then, the leaders of our church or visiting speaker asks us how many are SB. Our non-denominational church has 2/3 SB in it and it's charismatic but they left the SBC to further their relationship with the Lord.
Truly Hear Broken.