Saturday, April 15, 2006

SBC People MUST Be Involved for the Future of the SBC

I am sometimes baffled at how issues within the Southern Baptist Convention can so quickly become personal. When I began this blog four months ago I committed myself to focus on issues that concerned me, and never to speak negatively of any individual. Even when others took offense at what I wrote, and as a result, sought to strike back at me in a very personal way, I determined to maintain the high ground and continue to write only about principles.

However, what I can't understand right now are those who seem to think the SBC will change without involving oneself in the dynamics of convention operations and procedures. The idea that the convention can magically "change course" without offering some tangible, pertinent motions or resolutions, is really a bizarre notion. In fact, those who believe that might as well not participate in convention business anyway because they will have no effect on the convention through the success of their local church.

I pastor the greatest church a pastor could ever wish to shepherd. Our missions pastor, Dr. John Stam, has just informed me that we have invested over an average of $400,000 per year in missions these last four years. We send mission teams around the world, and many of our church members are actually living on the mission fields including Japan, Russia, Africa, India and other far reaches of the world. We have baptized over 100 people each of the last two years, and our people are very, very active in reaching people in our community and our world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

However, the SBC will not change because we at Emmanuel Bapist Church are a great missional church.

The SBC changes because missional people take the time to show up at the Southern Baptist Convention in a spirit of love, prepared to address the critical issues, and vote their consciences.

For example. Someone has taken the time to write a possible resolution for the June 2005, send it to me for feedback, with questions about how to properly present it. I do not know if this individual will actually present this resolution for adoption by the SBC or not, but I can guarantee you one thing --- if this person presents this resolution to the Resolutions Committee for possible adoption by the SBC, he/she will have a tremendous impact on the direction of our SBC. This person is GETTING INVOLVED, not just complaining. Here is the resolution:

On Baptist Dissent

WHEREAS, the Christian Gospel is a call unto the individual conscience to choose the narrow way of everlasting life, into which few pass through a difficult gate, against a wide way of eternal destruction, into which many pass through a wide gate (Matthew 7:13-14); and

WHEREAS, implicit in the call to follow Christ is a call to dissent from the wisdom of the world in favor of the wisdom of the cross, which is foolishness to the world (1 Corinthians 1:18-25); and

WHEREAS, our Lord was himself a dissenter, refusing to acknowledge to submit to the superfluous laws of the scribes and Pharisees, choosing rather to suffer affliction outside the camp, and to whom all Christians are exhorted to go (Hebrews 13:13); and

WHEREAS, every tributary of Baptist identity includes at some point an era of dissent from institutions, doctrines, and systems of belief that violate the teachings of Scripture and the individual conscience; and

WHEREAS, both our Anabaptist and English Separatist forefathers knew the power of dissent to shield the soul from compromise on matters essential to faith, church polity, and the ordinances, often suffering ostracism, exile, and even death for their refusal to violate the unpopular and resolute conviction that the church was to be free from governmental control, the ordinance of baptism was to be upon profession of faith, and the individual conscience was to be unencumbered by the unbiblical traditions of men; and

WHEREAS, Baptists in the early American colonies were most influential in protecting liberty of conscience, freedom of religion, and the prerogative of every person to speak, publish, and worship freely; and

WHEREAS, the Baptist witness has been a consistent and prophetic voice for protecting these liberties for all people, but especially for religious minorities when their essential and inalienable liberties have been abridged, compromised, or threatened by the majority; and

WHEREAS, the Southern Baptist Convention, organized in 1845, was originally founded on a platform of dissent against movements that would have undermined the suitability of Baptist missionaries in the South to serve on foreign fields of service; and

WHEREAS, Southern Baptists have continued to cherish and protect the privilege of principled dissent among its constituents, affirming the place within the denomination for all Baptists who would cooperate around missions, uphold biblical authority, and maintain Christian virtue; and

WHEREAS, even when the Southern Baptist Convention was unfriendly to those who upheld biblical authority, and inerrantists were underrepresented or unrepresented on denominational boards of trustee, the majority of Southern Baptists rose up to reassert the basis of cooperation around missions, biblical authority, and Christian virtue; and

WHEREAS, Southern Baptists continue to maintain a prophetic voice of cultural dissent, speaking regularly against abortion, homosexuality, gambling, and other popularly supported social vices; and

WHEREAS, Southern Baptists continue to maintain a prophetic voice of theological dissent, refusing to blend our witness in missionary enterprise with those who deny fundamentals of the faith such as the full deity and humanity of Christ, the doctrine of the Trinity, and the doctrine of salvation by faith alone; and

WHEREAS, whenever there continues to exist portions of the world where religious liberty, freedom of conscience, and principled dissent are not tolerated by oppressive regimes, Southern Baptists have worked through diplomatic, missionary, and political means to speak for oppressed religious minorities and to persuade those regimes to understand the value of such freedoms;

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED, that the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in annual session in Greensboro, North Carolina on June 13-14, 2006, recognizes the rich heritage of principled dissent that has given voice to our distinct witness as Baptists; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we continue to express our desire to see all people of the world, regardless of their religious heritage or tradition, share in the freedoms of conscience and speech and press that we have enjoyed ourselves; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we recognize majorities are not always right, and it is necessary for the voice of dissent – the minority voice – to be welcomed and heard if we are not to become authoritarian in our doctrinal confession or tyrannical in our denominational governance.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that when their manner of dissent has been Christlike, principled, and within the parameters of Evangelical orthodoxy, we affirm those within our own Southern Baptist fellowship who have voiced their own dissent regarding policies of our institutions, articles of our confession, and governance of our agencies and boards; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we believe all attempts by those who call themselves Baptist to silence the principled dissent of fellow Baptists within our denomination, or of other believers in our nation, or of any person in any other country, are both a compromise of our cherished Baptist witness and a disservice to the Kingdom of God; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that we wish to continue the tradition of welcoming principled dissent, freedom of speech and of the press, as the bedrock basis upon which a diverse people, such as Southern Baptists, can continue to work together for the greater good of evangelism and missions both to every tribe, tongue, people, and nation of the world.

Can you imagine what would happen if our convention actually passed this resolution? It would send a very strong message about the direction we want to move in the future.

Frankly, I am thankful that there are many young leaders who are carefully, prayerfully and seriously crafting important motions and resolutions for presentation to the SBC.

If you think this type of preparation is not needed to direct our convention for years to come you may really be naive about the nature of our work as a Southern Baptist Convention.

In His Grace, and Happy Resurrection Sunday!

Wade Burleson


Marty Duren said...

Great post, Wade. Thanks for the report on the passion of Emmanuel, Enid. May God continue to use you greatly in the kingdom.

Jeff Richard Young said...

Dear Dr. B,

He is risen indeed!

Thank you for posting this. Whoever worked on this resolution has done an incredible job. This is very inspiring to the rest of us who are a step or two behind in the process of getting involved.

Love in Christ,


Dori said...


Thanks for helping keep the focus and clarifying and reiterating the need for active participation in the convention.

Anonymous said...

I would hope this Brother would present this as a Resolution.... He needs to remember that he can send a Resolution as early as April 15, but it can be presented no later than 15 days prior to the SBC annual meeting. They said e-mails are preferred methods, but must be acccompanied by a letter from a church qualified to send a messenger to the SBC, and certifying that the individual presenting the Resolution is a member in "Good Standing".... since 2002 (St. Louis) these new "hoops" have been used to limit time spent on wording, pro's and con's, et. al. ....sounds to me like some good reminders are encapcilated! It was good to hear about some of the ministries of Emmanuel, blessings and keep the focus!

Anonymous said...

Spectacular resolution. True to the Bible and to Baptist history. It would represent a turning point. Does anyone have an opinion as to the probability it would pass?

Dave Miller said...

I think this resolution is well written and much needed. But, I have a question about it. From my understanding of our convention polity, isn't what we need a motion? Would a resolution have enough binding impact on the convention?

Dave Miller said...

I haven't been to an SBC meeting in a few years, but my experience is that a contrary resolution like this will not make it out of the resolutions committee - if it is an old-line committee. A motion from the floor, if properly submitted, might get through.

Kevin Bussey said...

Happy Easter Wade! said...

I think it will be presented with a couple of revisions.

I also think it will pass. said...

Thanks Kev,

You too! said...


Don't know if I can make it, but our folks are looking forward to helping.


Anonymous said...

Hasn't God chosen to use PEOPLE in His plans? Are we not willing to be used of God when spreading the Gospel is being hindered but could be enhanced if we were available to Him? How can we remain uninvolved? Why would we want to? Should other words like "courage" or "obligation" or even "intimidation" be put into this mix? Maybe another time. God bless your friend, the writer of the resolution, and God bless you!

Steve McCoy said...

Some SBC'rs think the convention can change without involvement in operations and procedures? That's odd. I don't know how they could think that.

Of course this involvement is all very secondary to Gospel issues, local church issues, associational issues (meaning meaningful church/mission associations, not necessarily established SBC Associations), networking issues, etc.

And typically the procedural changes should come after things are already heading in a reforming direction. If done before, it will more easily breed division and infighting. That is only a positive when the issues are dramatically important and urgent. said...


I do believe a reformation has already begun on the grassroots level in the SBC. It has been going on for about a decade.

It's taking place on the mission field. It's taking place in our churches. It's taking place in our lives.

Now it is time to for the procedures of our SBC to catch up with the reformation in progress.

Happy Easter

Anonymous said...


It has been your tireless, day-to-day involvement to inform many of us that has lead me and my wife to plan on a trip the to convention as messenegers from our church. I haven't been to a convention since the early 1990s when I went with my mother and father. Thank you for your and other's efforts to keep our great convention on the right track. I really hope we can keep the self-appointed cardinals of our convention from doing any more damage.

Steve McCoy said...

Wade, what "reformation" are you talking about and what procedural changes would need to happen to catch up to this "reformation?"

Anonymous said...

That is a great resolution! I will definitely support it. What about any resolutions concerning the new IMB policies (that is not a criticism, just a question)? I definitely agree that resolutions, motions, using the convention apparatus to create change is appropriate. I have no idea how to do that at this point but am definitely supporting positive change through timely resolutions like this one.

When I say that I am not interested in politics, I mean all the back room power plays that seem to be necessary to build coalitions, take out opponents, silence dissent, and get your way, "all for the glory of God." Proper channels are appropriate and we should all use them, especially in positive life giving ways like this resolution. Right now, I think, we are learning how to do this. Please give more examples like this one - it inspires us to be involved as well.

Bob Cleveland said...

I think the matter of a resolution is somewhat akin to civil rights legislation.

Dissent is certainly biblical. How else could the wounds of a friend be faithful? Surely the bible also commends participation, effort, etc.

The problems which have arisen, IMHO, are spiritual in nature. I could list several things I think they stem from. But the fact is that you cannot change those by rules or resolutions; any more than anti-segregation laws changed people's hearts.

The resolution is fine, and I hope it is introduced and passed at Greensboro. I will certainly support it. But it is not a replacement for holding wayward people ... particularly those in responsible positions ... accountable for their deeds.

It goes without saying that it must be, MUST be, done in a manner that is redemptive.

The USA and its Judicial system cannot change men's hearts. They cannot even move people toward that. But the SBC and IMB can.

I hope it tries. said...


I have been asked to allow my name to be entered for nomination as President of the SBC. Frankly, I'm not interested.

There are too many who are trying to turn the issues in the SBC into a political referendum on individuals. I believe the focus should be on issues, not personalities.

However, the reason people are discussing the Presidential election is because the President appoints key people to serve on the Committee on Committees who then, in turn, select the people who serve on the Nominating Committee. The Nominating Committee does the very important work of filling the trustee boards of our various agencies and institutions.

I can promise you that there will be ample opportunity for everyone to review proposed resolutions and recommendations that will be forthcoming at the Greensboro convention. The one resolution I offered as an example is just one of many that will be forthcoming via various people interested in the future direction of our SBC. said...


You can definitely express motions and/or resolutions that deal with agencies setting doctrinal standards that surpass the BF&M.

art rogers said...

As to whether or not this will pass, if the resolution will be properly submitted and the committee on resolutions chooses not to recommend its adoption...

a 2/3 vote of the house will bring it to the floor for discussion and a vote for approval.

And, yes, it will have an impact by communicating clearly the mind of the convention.

As to a motion, any motion that is directed at an SBC agency will be referred to that agency. They are to report the next year at the following convention.

Excepet by a 2/3 vote, the house can direct the Committee on Order of Business to schedule a report during the same convetion - tomorrow's post at 12 Witnesses.

In the end, though, a motion concerning dissent in the IMB BOT, for instance, would be referred to the IMB BOT. We know what the disposition of the BOT is concerning this particular issue. What we want, is to help the BOT understand clearly the disposition of the Convention on this issue. said...


The reformation taking place is an inventive, missional approach to reaching the lost around us. It includes a broad, evangelical cooperation between Southern Baptists and other Great Commission Churches and Denominations.

It is a reformation within the local churches to "not do church as we have always done church," but to figure out, as Dr. Blackaby says, where God is at work and join Him.

It is a reformation of desiring to know Christ and to follow His directions for our lives and our churches.

The Convention needs to catch up procedurally in the sense that we need to stop narrowing the parameters of our cooperation with each other by demanding conformity on either methodology (how we do our church work) or demanding conformity of interpretation on doctrines not addressed by the BF&M.

Shoshana L said...

Nice resolution, but I am confused. What does one man's resolution on the right to dissension do when the actions of the SBC power brokers are to remove all dissenters?

Talk is cheap. We are the body of Christ and we ought to be acting like it--from the grassroots level on up. Jesus said, "Come, let us reason together." We should be listening to one another, preferring one another, making room for one another. Not pulling political shenanigans that eliminate all voices but our own.

Say the convention adopts this resolution. What will that prove? That the individual believer has the right to dissent issues non-critical to the fundamental doctrines of salvation? We already have that freedom through Christ Jesus.

As Romans 14:5 says, "Let each man be fully convinced in his own mind." What Paul was talking about here is basic Christian liberty.

Paul spoke about it again when he called the Galatians back from their attempts to follow the dictates of the Law to be justified.

"You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you?...Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?"

You are talking out of both sides of your mouths. For with your mouth (or pen) you are saying, "We Baptists are a good people. We are a Word people. And we have a strong history of dissent..."

But with your actions,you say--

"Our tradition interprets the scriptures thus and so, and anyone who experiences the Lord outside our realm of understanding has no place among us. And no voice. And no recourse."

How else can you describe pulling the rugs out from under missionaries who are honestly attempting to serve the SBC effort within the restrictions of historic, evangelical Baptist understanding while keeping true to the Lord's leading in the deepest convines of their own hearts? It's a highwire act, I can tell you, from personal experience.

As to resolutions --the only resolution I know of that will keep intact that golden chord between a believer's inner man and the unctions of His Lord, is the Bible. Shall we then follow the Lord? Shall we adopt His Word as our resolution?

As I see it, the SBC is on the razor's edge of decision right now, and it is critical which way it goes.

If you Baptists are going to dissent, then DISSENT -- loudly and clearly. And do it now. Put YOUR callings and vocations on the line as these missionaries have done, and shout out that you stand with the cause of Christian liberty until the very foundations of the SBC shake!

Do it now, while the fields are white for harvest; while the cry is going forth for laborers. The fields are waiting...what are you resolved to do?

Steve McCoy said...

Wade, you said, "The Convention needs to catch up procedurally in the sense that we need to stop narrowing the parameters of our cooperation with each other by demanding conformity on either methodology (how we do our church work) or demanding conformity of interpretation on doctrines not addressed by the BF&M."

You should already know I agree with you that narrowing parameters is a bad thing. But would you say that most SBC'rs would agree with us on this need? I hope so, but I don't think so (which is why it is happening). I think the "reformation" you speak of is at best small scale and widely seen in a suspicious light by others (though it shouldn't be).

If that's the case, and I think it is, then working on procedure now will be trying to use procedure to create change rather than to catch up with change. In that case I would be against it and would focus on changing hearts/minds and gaining trust first. That will be done by creating missional networks that are spreading the gospel, planting good churches, and showing we are about the right things.

As for the resolution you give in this post, I generally agree with it. But I'm afraid it will be seen as a very political statement because that's exactly what it is. It's written basically to defend you, and it will be seen that way. So while I think trying to pass it may help a very small minority to open their eyes, it will mostly work to entrench both sides. I don't think that's the best way to work for change in the SBC. It may actually work against change.

Anonymous said...

Yup. You gotta put your money where your mouth is, so to speak. I Liked your comment, shoshana I. We need revival in our hearts, and that will lead us to do the right thing.

This is going to be a movement fought on two fronts. A physical one, and a spiritual one. On the physical side, we need to walk the walk, not just talk. Get out and Wade has said here. On the spiritual side...we need to pray and push for revival, particularly among ourselves and our leaders. (BTW, a revival isn't a three day series of services, but a full scale move of God to change lives--starting with mine :)) I can't get to Greensboro this year, but I can take some of the load on the other front.

Hey, Rex Ray! Thanks for the encouraging word. I needed it. And yes, uncovering dirt is different from "playing in it". What I meant by "playing in the dirt" is we bury our mina in the dirt, like the servant in Jesus' story that hid his instead of using it. We do have a tendency to revel in controversy, instead of doing something about it. That's what I was trying to get at. This ole' Arkansas boy don't talk great english sometimes. ;) Love reading your posts too. God is good.

Love in Christ to all,