Saturday, March 11, 2006

A Proposed New Policy on Baptism


The Missionary Candidate and Baptism

The International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention has been given the responsibility to appoint missionaries who have a Biblical view of baptism. The 2000 Baptist Faith and Message expresses the Southern Baptist Convention's beliefs regarding Christian baptism as portrayed in Scripture. The Bible teaches that water baptism is a symbolic picture of the believer's identification with Jesus Christ through His death, burial and resurrection from the dead. The Holy Spirit regenerates the heart of the sinner and brings him into the universal, eternal church of Jesus Christ. Water baptism is the regenerated believer's outward expression of his faith in Jesus Christ. For this reason, water baptism is a local church ordinance in that it is the local church's responsibility to examine a prospective member regarding his faith and his baptism to insure a regenerate membership. Southern Baptist Churches cooperate around the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message which states that water baptism is by immersion, after personal salvation, and is never to be trusted for one's salvation.

The missionary candidate's personal baptism will also be examined by the International Mission Board. Since the International Mission Board, by policy, does not consider a person for missionary appointment who has not been a member of a Southern Baptist Church for at least three years, the examination of the missionary candidate's faith and baptism by the International Mission Board is simply to insure that the local, autonomous church of which the candidate is a member has followed the Biblical model for believer's baptism in accepting the missionary candidate into membership.

If the candidate gives testimony that his baptism was by immersion after having come to faith in Jesus Christ, and that that his trust is in Christ alone for salvation, and that his local, autonomous Southern Baptist Church has received his baptism for membership into the local church, then the International Mission Board will consider the candidate's baptism to fall well within the parameters of the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message.

If, however, the International Mission Board discovers that the candidate was not baptized by immersion, or the candidate's baptism preceded his personal conversion, or that the candidate was trusting his baptism for salvation and not the work of Jesus Christ, then the missionary candidate has disqualified himself from service on the mission field, regardless of the acceptance of his baptism by the local, autonomous Southern Baptist Church of which he is a member.

The International Mission Board does not desire to infringe on the autonomy of the local Southern Baptist Church, but it is our desire to insure that all missionary candidates fall within the parameters 2000 Baptist Faith and Message regarding baptism. However, every Southern Baptist Convention agency, including the International Mission Board, must not narrow the parameters of cooperation by adding to the requirements of Biblical baptism as defined by the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message.

16 comments: said...

Thanks once again Justamoe.

Your edits are deeply appreciated.

Anonymous said...

A missionary on the field made a comment about a missionary would be dismissed if they went outside the boundaries set for him/her. That is an assumption that lacks validity. I know a couple of missionaries that need to be removed from service (not because of private prayer languages), but the there is too much politics in management.

If you have a private prayer language, then it should stay private or what is the sense. Frankly, I do not understand the use of it scripturally, and would like to see if I am wrong, why it is scriptual.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Since the old conventions of Texas and Virginia have rejected the BFM 2000, this
proposed new policy on baptism has kicked them out as being Southern Baptist by stating,
“Southern Baptist Churches cooperate around the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message...” Tell me
that it doesn’t mean that or is only their money Southern Baptist?
Rex Ray

Anonymous said...

. . .And thank you, Wade, for your leadership in developing alternative proposals to supplant the ill-advised policies adopted by the IMB BoT in November. Inviting suggestions and ideas regarding the proposal for change is fully within the spirit of seeking involvement of all interested parties in the discussion. Such transparency and straight-forward approach to the issues at hand will do nothing but contribute to the resolution of the controversy.

In His Grace and Peace,

J. Guy Muse said...

Yesterday we accompanied a small group of believers who went to a public swimming pool to baptize four new believers.

Since the church planter is a sister in Christ, she had asked a brother from another house church congregation to come and do the baptizing. Nobody told her to do this, it was simply what she had done since she felt uncomfortable baptizing two men who were much bigger than herself.

Before getting into the water, all four shared their testimony. Their words were quite simple, but it was clear they had come to know the Lord as their personal Savior and He has changed their life.

We sang a couple of songs, shared a few verses from Rom.6 and spoke a few words appropriate to the occasion we were celebrating.

Those getting baptized got into the water along with all the other swimmers in the pool. Many gathered around to observe and listen in on what we were doing. All four were baptized in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The sister church planter prayed a prayer of thanksgiving for those coming out of the water.

After baptizing we ate fried yucca patties and drank Fioravantti (local soda). Then everyone went swimming and had a good time.

How can we make so complicated something that is so simple in Scripture?

What is posted today is certainly good. I agree with the statements for a reworded policy.

Yet it is sad that we have come to the point of having to write long and elaborate baptism statements, carefully wording each phrase and using hundreds of words to simply restate what Jesus said to do.

Peter's words were far fewer on the day of Pentecost when the people asked what it is they should do? "...repent and let each of you be baptized..."

Nada mas, nada menos (nothing more, nothing less). Why can't we get back to this simple kind of Biblical practice?

art rogers said...

Clear and concise. What more can we ask?

Pity that the concerns raised were not allowed to go to a discussion of the full BOT. I thin we might have saved everyone some trouble if our Trustees might have simply laid their concerns on the table and listened to what others might have said.

There is much to be said for being plainspoken and upfront - not to mention judicious and wise.

Bob Cleveland said...

I get thrilled when I see evidences that these are the end times. The current controversy is just that, to me.

In my opinion, the organized churches of today are doing the same things that the Pharisees did when they were running things. They take the basic commands of scripture and add to them volumes of new regulations designed to make things go the way they want them to.

Someone should point out that Jesus said He would build His church, and that not even death would stop Him. It's comforting to know that the IMB won't, either, no matter how many rules they institute. That doesn't mean that such things are not to be resisted, but that's simply our duty. We must stand for the truth.

Whatever God has in mind. HE will accomplish, and He will not be deterred, either way.

I know in my own life, I look at the results far too often, so I'm talking to myself too.

The "Church" can no longer say "Silver and, have I none", but neither DO we say ".. but such as I have, I give you: In the name of Jesus, rise up and walk". At least, I don't hear that from Churches, Conventions, or Boards, or Committees. Anywhere.

I wonder if anyone else noticed that.....

Anonymous said...

Dear Wade,
I appreciate your stand concerning the new proposed policies of the IMB regarding tongues and baptism. My daughter was one of those almost "caught" by the private prayer language hang-up. She had been on the field for 4 years when she had to reveal her "private" prayer language prior to appointment approval. She was called by God and not the IMB, so was determined to return to the field one way or the other. Some very committed people will be lost to service with the IMB if requirements become increasingly restrictive.

Thank you for your dedication to the Lord, His Word, and His mission.

In Christ,
Carol Baustert

Scotte Hodel said...

Thank you for your stand and your attempt at a compromise proposal. I think it's an improvement, but it suffers from the same problem as the original: I can't find a Biblical basis for the prohibition against public practice of glossolalia. I joined an SBC church late in life (16 years ago; I'm 43 now), but I don't see a pressing need to make the boundaries for missionary calling to be more narrow than that laid out in the Baptist Faith and Message.

It is desirable is to keep flaky wackos off the mission field. (I don't think that "flaky wackos" is defined in Grudem's Systematic Theology, but maybe it will be later.) It is undesirable is to set up a policy that potentially requires a missionary to say, "We believe what Paul wrote in I Cor 14, but we deny the right to practice it."

My pastor preached on this subject much more precisely than I can. (Engineers practicing theology is a dangerous combination.)

Thank you, Rev Burleson, for your work and your stand on this issue. I've forwarded many of your posts to other members of my church who were deeply wounded by the IMB policy.


a s hodel

Anonymous said...

In the churches I know, people do not read the BF&M. It is not their basis of cooperation. They cooperate around ministry activities or being friends and believers in Christ Jesus. Not only did Virginia and Texas not adopt the BF&M2000, as Rex Ray pointed out, most churches throughout the SBC did not adopt the statement, including your own church, Wade.

We do Southern Baptists a disservice by claiming to rally around something that most simply ignore. This is merely propaganda.

I don't have much problem with the reformulated baptism policy other than the need for it. We have not needed this policy for the last 161 years. Why do we suddenly need it now? The BF&M2000 has already been used to exclude thousands of faithful Southern Baptists. Why do we need one more policy whose purpose is to define limits for association, fellowship, and cooperation?

Do we fear diversity so much as this? Is our faith in Christ so meager that we cannot trust Him to help us move beyond our differences and remain Lord? Is this fear not one of the signs you quoted regarding spiritual abuse?

I regret that the BF&M2000 was adopted by the SBC. At the same time, it was issued as our "instrument of doctrinal accountability." Integrity demands it be accepted as such, or replaced with a new instrument that would be sufficient. Policies that go beyond the BF&M2000 simply deny it as a sufficient statement to define the limits of our doctrinal comfort zone. Further restrictions are efforts to ostracize those who would otherwise be accepted.

Honesty demands we accept the BF&M 2000 as sufficient, or ignore it along with Virginia, Texas, and the bulk of Southern Baptists. If this is your instrument for doctrinal accountability, use it as such. Otherwise, it is a bunch of words on paper that a lot of people affirmed without integrity.

Anonymous said...


I have recently acquired a list of the 87 IMB trustees and was wondering if it would be profitable to have those interested parties write to the trustees? I myself would be quite willing to write to each one of them and I was thinking that if many people were to do this we might get these policies rescinded. Do you think this would be a good idea?


Anonymous said...

This is Rachelle Burleson. Wade got stuck at the Chicago airport and I've posted the comments for him.

Wade will not edit any comments. They are either accepted or rejected. He should have a new post up sometime tomorrow morning.

Anonymous said...

In the purest, most Biblical sense, why do we need policies at all? Paul and Barnabus were sent out because the church was led of the Spirit.

In the present day situation, the need to consider such policies came about not because there was a significant number of problem missionaries, but rather a group of trustees who were imposing their theological and traditional interpretations on the appointment process.

So the treatment of the policies was to keep the trustees in order, NOT the missionaries! But it backfired and it is the missionaries and more importantly, the Kingdom, which are most affected.

Can we ever just get back to "led by the Spirit"?

Jeff Richard Young said...

Dear Dr. B,

I grew up under the 1963 BFM, which states that baptism is a "church ordinance." This language is retained in the 2000 BFM. I had always accepted this as true. Only during the past three months of this IMB controversy have I researched this idea.

First, I tried to prove it biblically. Clearly the Bible does not teach this explicitly. Perhaps it is implied, but it is certainly not crystal clear.

Second, I tried to prove it historically. Whoa! Neither the 1646 London, nor the 1742 Philadelphia, nor the 1833 New Hampshire, nor the 1858 Abstract, nor the 1925 BFM uses this language. Every one says in ssome language that it is an ordiance of Jesus!

Now that we are basing so much on the idea that baptism is an ordinance of the church, I'd like to know that we are sure that it IS an ordinance of the church. What has convinced you, Dr. B, that it is?

Love in Christ,


Anonymous said...

A student,

Former M, in response to your earlier post about Baptists in Virginia. As a Virginian I belong to the SBCV we have affirmed the Baptist Faith and message. The old gaurd of the BGAV still has not. I just wanted to clarify that point with you. this does not mean that I approve of or endorse the new IMB policies, on the contrary I oppose them on many different levels as do the vast majority of pastors I know whithin my state convention.

My respect and admoration grow for you more and more as I see what a man of integrity and humility you are and how you care about our missionaries and the work that I hope to join them in the near future. I look forward to meeting you someday (maybe at an appointment service, hopefully mine)just know that there are lots of us praying for you and thanking God for the stand you have taken.

"What is easy is not always right and what is right is seldom easy"


Anonymous said...


There is no question that this subject has generated a lot more heat than light over the years. I have been involved with this debate within the association where one man attempted to force the association to alter it view by direct challenge to the constitution of the association.

It was my pleasure to contact most of the presidents of the seminaries of our convention and ask the question---given the facts of the case why they could not be accepted.

The answer was universal no matter the position of the leader being liberal in view or conservative. Here is a summation of the view.

We can not dispute what other do however for any church or baptist organization to accept baptism from an organization that is not baptist in practice or doctrine is in fact to declare that we agree with there point of view even though that is not our intent. The public Perspective would be to validate doctrine held by another denomination which was not in any way consistent with our view of baptism.

That settled the issue for me in the debate. It not for me to judge others only hold true to our doctrine which is built on a long history of dispute and disagreement even to the point that many were burn at the stake for holding to Baptist Views on baptism.

This in no way demeaned the believe of the person seeking entrance into that church from another on the claim that they were converted PRIOR to baptism by some other entity. The issue is to keep it clear where we stand. If you lower the gate for one you will find you must lower it for other for different reasons.

You either hold the baptist view or you do not.