Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Memphis Summit

Tonight thirty Southern Baptists from around the nation gathered in a Memphis hotel to dialogue about the future direction of the Southern Baptist Convention. The room was full of people from diverse backgrounds --- pastors, missions directors, businessmen, laymen, and missionaries, both men and women, from various SBC churches around the country. Everyone spoke from the heart in an atmosphere of openness and acceptance with a desire to see God glorified in all we do as Southern Baptists. The meeting involved prayer, questions and a few answers, excellent discussion, and it ended up by all focusing primarily on corporate repentance and accountability as God's people.

An independent representative from the media was present and though he did not participate in the dialogue, he will be issuing a report on the meeting sometime today or tomorrow. Lord willing, a Memphis Declaration will be forthcoming from the group later today that will focus on the important issues within the Southern Baptist Convention and a vision for the future. Many profound things were said, but due to the lateness of the hour, I will focus on just on a couple of statements. The first is by a pastor present at the meeting who said . . .

"I wish every Southern Baptist could be a part of this discussion. The humility in the room, the respectful spirit toward those with differing opinions, the love for Christ and His Word, and the sincere desire to advance the kingdom is evident in all."

It was suggested by some that in the future, if there are additional meetings like this one, that Southern Baptists be allowed to participate via a live internet telecast so that every Southern Baptist can experience the healthy grassroots interaction between Christians that we experienced tonight.

This group has no authority. The people who have gathered in Memphis share in common a love for Jesus Christ and the advancement of the gospel. Another one of those present in the meeting reminded us all of the words of the late Adrian Rogers:

"I do not have to be a Baptist, and I do not have to be even a Southern Baptist, but I must be a Christian evangelist."

It is to be remembered that the Cooperative Program began in 1925 by a group of people who gathered in Memphis to devise a plan and begin implementing a vision to see the world reached with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Just maybe this grassroots effort is the beginning of spreading resolve to be more cooperative in our Southern Baptist mission of reaching the 21st century world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Memphis Summit will conclude today at 12:00 noon. I expect to be able to say much more about this meeting tomorrow.

Today I am extremely grateful to be a follower of Jesus Christ who also happens to be a Southern Baptist.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson


Tim Sweatman said...

I regret that I was unable to attend the meeting in Memphis, but our associational meeting was tonight (well, technically last night) and we were the host church. I am looking forward to meeting many of these brothers and sisters in Greensboro. And I am definitely looking forward to hearing about the issues that were discussed. Perhaps God will use the spirit of repentance that was manifested in this meeting to bring a wave of repentance, both individual and corporate, across the SBC before we meet in Greensboro. Perhaps God will use the spirit of unity that was manifested at this meeting to bring true unity to the SBC.

Anonymous said...

Amen, and Praise the Lord.

Groseys messages said...

Brother Wade, and gentlemen of the SBC, I have followed the blogs for a few months now (and only occasionally commented, I may actually be slow to speak sometimes~!)I am concerned that there seems to be a keeness for division unwarranted by your situation. Has anyone denied the historicity of Christ? Has anyone trodden under foot the blood of Christ? As an outsider by birth, I am concerned that needless division and distess is occurring.

Anonymous said...

I pray that this meeting and what comes out of it may be something other than a repeat of the SBC politics of the last few decades. It sounds promising so far, at least in semi-openness. The internet telecast sounds like something worth trying - it certainly would be a move toward openness. Much planning would need to be done to insure access for all who were interested; this would be vital to inclusiveness. (Those of us who have internet access often forget that many still do not.) Other ideas for inclusiveness might be floated as well, but this might be the best if done well. If this whole thing isn’t about working together for Christ and concentrating on what we can do together rather than how we differ, I see no value in it. Sorry to be so rude.

A potential problem with all this is it might turn out to be a “convention within the Convention”, and be suppressed or forced out by those who have the power to do so. In case anyone hasn’t noticed, something like this has happened before. Those who have power don’t give it up easily, and the human tendency seems to be that the more power people have, the less willing they are to share it. Such an attitude builds upon itself, I suppose like an addiction. I don’t have an answer for this other than prayer, and God expects us to do what we can as well as pray. (Otherwise, how do things get done? - We are God’s workers in this world.)

I look forward to the reports from this. Thank you Wade, for keeping the rest of us informed.


Anonymous said...

Of all the good things of this meeting, you ended up, in my opinion, of loosing sincerity with the statement, “…Jesus Christ who also happens to be a Southern Baptist.” I hate to see you hurt yourself this way. I believe this has to be a tongue-in-cheek thing, but you should have followed it with a big “HA.”
Rex Ray

Jeff Richard Young said...

Dear Brother Rex,

Wade was saying that HE is a Southern Baptist, not Christ!

Love in Christ,


Jack Maddox said...

Wade was not saying Jesus was Southern Baptist...but that HE is Southern Baptist.



James Hunt said...


Perhaps look at what Wade was trying to say and include the words that preceded those you chose to quote.

Wade wasn't trying to say that Jesus was a Southern Baptist.

He was trying to convey his thanks for the privelege of being a "follower of Jesus Christ" first and foremost...and, one who, secondarily is grateful for also being a Southern Baptist.

It wasn't a comment about was about himself.

Though, I see how you probably misunderstood him.

Anonymous said...

Rex, communication can be so hard at times. I read that last paragraph and came away hearing something different. I heard Wade to say he is a follower of Jesus Christ. An he (Wade not Jesus Christ) happens to be a Southern

Anonymous said...

With apologies to Wade for entering a dialog with someone on your blog:

Rex Ray, you caught something I missed in this post (or maybe my brain refused to register it to prevent me from making a rude comment). I have since thought of several but will be good and just make one comment and one joke.

I believe it was Abraham Lincoln
who said to someone who told him God was on their side that he thought it more important to try to be on God's side. Something important to keep in mind.

The joke (from when astronauts first went into space) A returning astronaut was asked if he saw God up there. The reply was, "Yes, and she is black."


Anonymous said...


I think you are missing the point. Not to answer for Wade, but we are first and foremost followers of Jesus Christ, then identified with Southern Baptists by choice. This may be the issue that is dividing the convention now; many are a particular flavor of SB first, then followers of Jesus Christ second. I am very proud to be a Southern Baptist, but I am first a follower of Jesus. When we are all with our Father in Heaven, there won't be any extra points for being a SB!


Bob Cleveland said...


With reference to your comment: I personally know many Southern Baptists who have the gift of "other tongues". I also know many who were baptized in churches with similar views on baptism, albeit not Southern Baptist churches.

When the BoT made their changes in eligibility, they created two
new divisions. They placed all those people I mentioned into two separate "classes" of people.

IMHO, the blogging and the discussions since then are oriented at getting rid of those distinctions. Hence I see these efforts as the opposite of creating divisions.

If the meeting in Memphis aims toward that same goal, then the same can be said for it.

In fact, the preface for the 1963 Baptist Faith & Message says, in part:

"(3) That any group of Baptists, large or small have the inherent right to draw up for themselves and publish to the world a confession of their faith whenever they may think it advisable to do so.

Wonder how that plays against the happenings of the past 6 months...

Todd Saffell said...

Anonymous (Rex),

If you will re-read the statement that Wade ended with, he is referring to himself as a Southern Baptist, not to Jesus.

Clif Cummings said...

Contrary to Rex's comment, I thank God that you reminded us to keep all of this in a proper perspective and proper priority. Our allegiance is first to Christ. Christ Himself said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:26

I am a follower of Christ first, a husband to my wife, a father to my children and the undershepherd of my church. AFTER that, I am a Southern Baptist.

I believe the reason we are where we are as a denomination is because too many have strived to be "good baptist" rather than good disciples of Christ.

I am looking forward to the rest of the story from Memphis.

By God's grace alone,
Pastor Clif

Anonymous said...

Rex, I believe Wade was referring to himself as a S. Baptist. He could have written it more clearly.
Florence said...


Sometimes the written word miscommunicates one's intentions.

To clarify, I am referring to my identity, not Christ's.

I am a follower of Jesus Christ first and foremost.

I choose to be a Southern Baptist, but if I ever must give up one or the other I will give up my denominational identity, not my identity with Christ.


wade said...


Sometimes the written word miscommunicates one's intentions.

To clarify, I am referring to my identity, not Christ's.

I am a follower of Jesus Christ first and foremost.

I choose to be a Southern Baptist, but if I ever must give up one or the other I will give up my denominational identity, not my identity with Christ.



Anonymous said...

Poor Rex! Honest mistake. Hang in there, bro.

Reminds me of the veteran single missionary who loved to quote the passage: "I would not have you ignorant brethren."



Anonymous said...

Watch out for placement (or not) of those commas. Sounds like the joke they made a book from (or was the book first?) about the panda that "eats, shoots, and leaves" (or did I misplace those commas?) :-)

Oh, well, better to argue about something like this rather than something that someone can be hurt from. I don't think any of this discussion has the potential to hurt people or the cause of Christ, (other than, I suppose, Wade being upset at being misunderstood) unlike some things that have been said or done.

And I guess we all had a good laugh now that that's settled.


Anonymous said...

Boy, Rex, did that joke get jumped on.

Wade, to get back on point, it sounds like the Spirit really moved in a big way in the meeting. Lord willing, this will spill over into more a cooperative mood convention wide. I fear a confrontation in June, and this need not be the case.

We must act like we want the people we disciple to act. IOW, we need to practice what we preach.

The world needs to see Christ in us.

Believe me, they're looking, too.


Anonymous said...

People who misread your last line are the same type of people who think the "whosoever" in John 3:16 means anyone besides the elect.


(all pithiness is intentional here)

Anonymous said...

From Rex,
OK, OK, OK, I give up. I’m glad Wade didn’t say what I thought he said. My mistake. At least I didn’t agree with what I thought he said. I am a Southern Baptist who is extremely glad to be a follower of Jesus Christ.

rob miller said...

How many Southern Baptists does it take to correct another Southern Baptist's mistake on a blog comment page? Apparently the number is in the double digits... you guys crack me up. Keep blogging Wade, I enjoy your posts.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure Rex gets it by now. How about giving him a break?

Anonymous said...

wait, Jesus was not a Southern Baptist.....that's funny as a lady [seriously] once told me that we are Baptists because John was a Baptist. easy misread i suppose, but interestingly enough, i wonder how many baptists secretly hidden in their brain think that.

Kevin Bussey said...


Sorry I couldn't be there. I was praying for you. I like what I read in the declaration that was just emailed to me. I am praying that this will be the tone of the SBC for years to come!

Anonymous said...

The standing joke when I was in seminary was, “people better get used to Southern Baptist here, because that’s all there’s going to be in Heaven” That was a long time ago, we were pretty much full of ourselves back then.


Dave Miller said...

I have some questions about the Memphis Declaration. Who has committed the sins you spoke of?

Are you saying that the SBC has committed these sins, and that you are repenting on behalf of the SBC? Have the specific persons at the meeting committed these sins?

Please help me understand.

Dave Miller

Anonymous said...

As a Southern Baptist relatively unconnected with all of this (don't serve on any boards, wasn't invited to Memphis that I know of, etc.), I offer this "here's-how-it-struck-me-at-first-encounter" assessment of the "Memphis Declaration" that I just received in the BP News mailout: Of the people whose names appeared in the story as having participated in the meeting, I recognized several people who (according to their public statements) really don't see themselves as the cause of these problems (assuming that they are that) in the SBC. So, what were you guys repenting of that you yourselves take responsibility for? Anything at all? I really hate it when people presume to "repent" for somebody else. When a group gets together to criticize other people, it ought to have the honesty and nerve to just say so. When "we repent" really means "we think you guys ought to repent," the worst part of it is that we dilute and mock the true meaning of something (repentance) of which we need to see a lot more genuine practice. It is EASY to repent for somebody else.

Todd Nelson said...

From Jakarta, Indonesia where I am visiting Wycliffe Bible Translator friends that our church supports, I just read the BP report and the Memphis Declaration. Very encouraging! I pray for these attitudes and convictions to prevail in the SBC. I am slso glad to read on ABP today about the reinstatement of the Dobbs family. These are little signs but they give us hope as we pray for God's gracious Spirit to guide us in more effective cooperation as the Body of Christ.

Anonymous said...

To Chad,
Yes, Rex Ray is guilty of LURKING on the Baptist Standard comment boards. Sounds like a buzzard in a dead tree looking for road kill. I’m doing the same thing here. I passed out hundreds of the poem below at the 2004 SBC, but to no avail. The Baptist Standard would not print the poem that my sister helped me with. I’ll try it here as grace and truth abound.
Soldiers Down
By Ann Rinker and Rex Ray 2-2-04
Please, SBC Leaders, don’t reject BWA
We’ve loved 99 years. Will you now abscond?
47,000,000 Baptist hearts that lift up Jesus.
Will they become wounded soldiers down?

Persecution from enemies, yes,
But from our own astounds!
You said BWA had drifted left.
Innocent soldiers down.

You accused them of downplaying Jesus;
No evidence could be found.
Your untruth against BWA exposed you.
Should you yourselves be down?

You screamed, “Liberal”, but one falsely accused
Yelled in your ear, so bound,
“Repent and turn from your wicked ways!”
One soldier still not down.

Christ warned, “Teaching as doctrines the commands of men.”
Does His concern, so profound,
Expose “BF&M is our doctrinal guideline”,
Demanding unsigned soldiers down?

You claim your interpretation is God.
Your BF&M is renown.
Others must bow to this decree or become
Condemned soldiers down.

Your name “conservatives” is only a camouflage.
Your creed a mandatory crown!
Anyone questioning fundamentalists is labeled
Despised Moderate soldiers down.

Please, Lord, unite our hearts to lift up Jesus.
This prayer should resound.
“Fire unsigned missionaries!” makes Jesus cry,
Betrayed soldiers down.

You’re only content when you dominate.
You say you don’t want to hound.
But when God speaks to some a different way,
More loyal soldiers down.

You agree with Muslims: “No women over men!”
Though their witness has abound.
Christian women who answered God’s call
Became women soldiers down.

Sorry, BWA, our leaders plan to leave.
You see why moderates frown.
Pray for leaders without a paper-god
Or you’ll join soldiers down.

“It’s only politics…Not my concern.”
This fable has been around.
Awake, dear brother, or you’ll become
Another soldier down.

Rex Ray

Anonymous said...

As one of the participants in the Memphis Summit perhaps it will help to state that we choose to use the "we" to specifically refer to the people at the meeting. A great Baptist doctrine is soul sufficiency, meaning I can only confess for myself, not you.

Steve Hardy

Anonymous said...

It has been a priviledge to sit beside you during this time. These past two days have been tremendous for the future of the SBC. As a young leader, the areas in which we discussed pave the way towards drawing not only young leaders into the convetion but also brnging back many that have left. You are an incredible Pastor to the flock that God has given you, and your tremendous Godly example as a Father and Husband to your wife and kids is a clear reflection by your relationship with Christ. It's a honor to serve alongside you at Emmanuel.

Anonymous said...

We need to be able to laugh at ourselves if we truly love ourselves as God wants us to. I hope someone can laugh at themselves when they wrote: “Shame on you Winston for publicly opening the door to innuendo, and gossip about a fellow pastor and trustee that could do much damage. I think you know better if you know Christ.”
He did exactly to Winston what he said Winston was doing to Wade. I’m referring to his words, “I think you know better IF YOU KNOW CHRIST.”

We also need to be humble. My wife of 49 years has keeping me humble as one of her major goals. Of all my writings, I’m still waiting to hear that one was good. Its always, “You misspelled this word.” I’ll argue ‘spell check’ did it. “But it’s the wrong word!” For example, on Tuesday’s comments, I asked GeneMBridges to correct me if I was wrong about six statements I had criticized the BFM 2000 about. I said, “Christ never did anything in secrete and Wade believes the same.” My wife said, “The word is secret, not secrete! You used a word that could be used to ooze.” It’s hard to argue with someone who has a ‘Masters’ in English. She stopped saying she wonders if I’m going to be kicked out of church. Now she wonders if she will be included. I was shocked she took my side on the ‘Jesus-Baptist thing.’

Thank you, Kevin Lancaster, for coming to my defense of being called an “idiot. Maybe we could learn something from what happened here. About 18 comments were made on the subject. Only Susie said, “You caught something I missed in this post or my brain refused to register it…”
Wade gives the key to this whole deal when he replied, “Sometimes the written word miss-communicates one’s intentions.” Minds were made up, closed, or whatever that Wade did not believe Jesus was Baptist. Therefore, whatever he said would not convey that Jesus was Baptist. Look at his words, “Today I am extremely grateful to be a follower of Jesus Christ who also happens to be a Southern Baptist.” The word “also” conveys the thought that both were Baptist. Try reading it this way, “Today, I am extremely grateful to be a follower of President Bush who also is a Republican.”

The reason I said all that was to apply it to the BFM. The 2000 states, “Baptists deny the right of any secular or religious authority to impose a confession of faith upon a church or body of churches.”

That is a wonderful confession of faith. It assures that no one, not even the SBC is going to impose a confession of faith upon the church. Minds are made up. Anything heard or read goes in one ear and out the other. “THE OFFICE OF PASTOR IS LIMITED TO MEN.”

I asked Gene about this days ago. He might be half way to the moon with his answer or he might be avoiding truth by ignoring it. Would anyone want to help him out? If a better BFM is in the making, I think this point is important.

Another point: if the SBC needs to alter its direction, why give the leaders a medal for missing the course?

Wade, around 1988, I was a member of the Volunteer Christian Builders who shingled the roof of a large church in Enid. Could that have been your church?
Rex Ray