Thursday, May 25, 2006

Reflections in the Denver Airport and Decisions

After a good night's sleep and some reflection time I'd like to give you some observations my wife and I have made about the events yesterday.

(1). There are a number of trustees of the IMB who are rock solid, quiet, and respectful of everyone. Please don't lump all trustees into judgment made about what happened yesterday. Nobody was given an opportunity to speak after the special report, and there was no vote taken. The Chairman who issued the report is no longer Chairman. The Executive Committee who authorized the report has changed. This meeting was the last for several trustees who are now off the Board and a new group will be joining in July. I've got seven years and I am very patient.

(2). What happened in the plenary session is so shocking and stunning to everyone involved that it sucks the very air out of the room. To allege "multiple breaches of confidentiality" without ever coming to me with any substantation privately is absolutely wrong, and it is evidence that the former trustee leadership had no desire to work with me at all or to answer my penetrating questions, but to only silence me. This was not the first time this type of behavior has occurred, but it is just the first time it has happened in a public forum.

(3). I personally believe it is risky for me to attend Forum and Executive Sessions this next year. I knew that I was susceptible to someone trying to trap me on the confidential issue. I would NEVER intentionally breach any confidence, and would immediately apologise and correct the problem if anything were to be ever be pointed out to me. The paragraph in question from Monday's blog about the "blue ribbon panel" was considered by me to be public knowledge, but by the Executive Committee a high level secret. This,"blue ribbon panel" which was debated PUBLICLY ad naseum on Wednesday and then eventually tabled, is supposed to look into revising the policies. As stated on multiple occasions, I have discussed this blue ribbon panel with multiple people in various public places. When people don't like what you write, they will look for anything to discredit you.

I am glad though that this motion was tabled. This blue ribbon panel was to be APPOINTED solely by Dr. Hatley according to the debate in the public session. Since it is tabled that will not happen. I much prefer an independent panel appointed by the Southern Baptist Convention since the doctrinal standards of the convention can only be answered by the convention and should not be answered by individual agencies. It is outside the purview of our responsibilities as trustees.

I would ask my fellow trustees to read this next paragraph very carefully. I do believe that to label something "discussed" in Forum as "highly confidential and secret" is absolutely relative. For example (and I use this as a hypothetical), SUPPOSE there were a very long discussion in Forum about a public report of a sister agency. Now let's say that I post on my blog the report of our sister agency in its totality --- information that I did not OBTAIN in Forum but had received weeks earlier. Am I violating confidentiality because I blog about information that I have which was discussed in Forum but obtained by me separately from the Forum?

I am trying to see both sides. I have tried hard to never to violate confidentiality. The best way to avoid this problem is to never conduct confidential meetings except for personnel matters or security reasons. The pattern in the past has been for very strategic changes to planned behind closed doors and then the trustees are given the changes just prior to an expected vote. Healthy discussion of issues publicly prevents many potential problems.

(4). The intimidating tactics of those who wish to silence me will not work. They've tried multiple times and I think they are beginning to realize I have a backbone of steel. One of the things that the former Chairman constantly pressed me for was an apology to the Board to let him and trustee leadership save face for their push for my removal. I have steadfastly refused to apologize for anything but the tone of my December 10th blog.

It is interesting to me that the Chairman read into the public record only a portion of my blog from Monday where I reiterated my regret for the tone of the December 10th blog. Oh how I wish he would have continued. That is the beauty of this blog. People can read for themselves and make their own decisions.

(5). Finally, the Chairman should have taken the advice of some very wise people and not done what he did yesterday. But what is past is past. I am still a trustee. I will still continue my service. I look forward to continuing to build relationships with my fellow trustees and those new trustees who are coming on board in July.

EVERYBODY REMEMBER --- because of the actions yesterday some amazing things that are happening around the world through the efforts of the IMB will be overlooked.

I intend to remind us all of these great things in the days ahead.

In His Grace,



Anonymous said...

In light of this, do you have regrets about not running for president?

Would you consider 1st Vice-president?

Anonymous said...

Good, balanced observations.... and I commend you for sharing in the counsel of your mate!
Some of these things will be discussed and hopefully there will be "course corrections"! There will still be some Parliamentary moves to avoid open discussion since so often the media purport that conflict is unhealthy,and our Leadership can, at times be reactionary. When open forum discussion allows, as you suggest, the evaluation of issues often neglected when passed hastily, let's hope some of this will get an appropriate public hearing during the SBC sessions. You know that I have not always agreed with your logic, but absolutely support the questions you've raised and your goals for sharing the Gospel with the world as well as contingency support for our Missionaries and the Agency! Prayerfully supporting.......

art rogers said...

Since Tom Hatley will not be appointing such a committee, will John Floyd do so?

Is John Floyd in breach of SBC by-law 15F? If so, is John Floyd still the chairman or has he been considered to have resigned?

Was Tom Hatley in violation of the new Trustee manual governing behavior? If so, what is being done to disciplene him?

Is Rachelle alright?

I know my wife takes it very personally when I am attacked and you have mentioned that she was nervous about the meeting. We have been praying for her and you.

Anonymous said...

The regrettable actions of the chairman are already detracting from the wonderful things that are happening overseas. But, I know from personal experience that an even more critical fallout from this is the morale of the missionaries waiting for the second shoe to drop.
I praise the Lord that you are availing yourself of the abundantly sufficient grace which
Father has provided for you.


Anonymous said...

Wade....I believe the more you blog the more trouble will come. The Boards are made up of those loyal to the powers that be. Right or wrong that is the way it is. And, when one thinks and challenges the structure...well you can see what will happen. You can say all you want to of your love and the love and loyalty of board members, but when a real challenge like yours comes, it is very clear who wins. Why would you want to be on a board where you are so restricted in service? I enjoy your openness but you see where it gets you! I have been around and watched carefully over the years. Blessings to you....wayne

Anonymous said...


These tactics are not new in SBC life. They were used in the 1980s and 1990s to alienate a large group of followers of Jesus Christ. Many of those followers of Christ were unfairly labeled "liberal". The SBC inner circle will find some name(or names) to call you because they do not want to allow any opinions other than their own.

As I have told you before....I surely am glad that being a SBC loyalist is not a requirement for being a Christian.

Anonymous said...

To everyone reading,

Might I offer a suggestion to keep the MAIN THING the MAIN THING?

Each of us must follow the leading of God's Spirit to live our lives. Sometimes He leads us to uphold a cause. Sometimes he leads us to fight some battles. But it is all too easy to lose the focus of WHY we are fighting the battle.

So here's my suggestion. Ask God if and how He wants you to implement it. For every post or comment you write and every time you discuss an SBC issue with someone, PRAY FOR A SPECIFIC MISSIONS NEED. It may be for an unreached people group. It may be for a megacity with millions of souls who have not trusted Jesus with their lives. It may be for a missionary you know personally. Surely there are more missions needs worldwide to pray for than there are problems in the SBC.

If you would like a good source for specific missions prayer requests around the world, check out

Let's at least match every effort to better our cooperative SBC missions system with a missions prayer for a known need.

Humbly requested,

Tim Dahl said...

How is it that supposedly godly people act in such ungodly ways? How can people that self-identify as "Christians" then turn around and act so unChrist-like?

Did I ever mention that I had the opportunity to meet Ben Cole a couple of weeks ago. He came to a TBA meeting, and then had coffee with some pastors afterwards.

The poor guy. He was surrounded by a bunch of moderates (or liberals, depending upon your disposition). It was almost funny. Personally, I liked (a lot) what he had to say. I'm rooting for him, and you, in a major way. There would be only one question I would ask, and that would never be in a public forum.

Good luck.


Bowden McElroy said...

If you can "see both sides" of your hypothetical scenario regarding confidentiality, you are either much more gracious than most or much more wishy-washy. It seems pretty clear to me that simply discussing already public information in a closed-door meeting does not make that information confidential.

I grieve for you, the IMB, and for Oklahoma Southern Baptists; it is intolerable that one of the most conservative states in the convention has been effectively robbed of representation. said...


One thing I have NOT been accused is wishy washiness :)

Bob Cleveland said...


We're commanded to be salt in the world. In fact, the future looks bleak for salt that ain't salty any more.

Aside from flavoring things (can I get an AMEN...) and preserving things (I've long believed God will preserve the whole for the faithful remnant, as He offered to do for Sodom & Gomorrah), salt is known for stinging when rubbed into a wound. Infection reacts that way to it, I guess.

Hmm ... I wonder how far that analogy will preach. Unless God decides to let the organization self-destruct, I have a hunch we'll find out.

ps: Oh yes .. I don't recall hearing that you put yourself onto the BoT. Wonder who was behind it. IMO, it wasn't who, but Who.

Rod said...


I hope trustees who share your concerns will be ready for "war" at the drop of a hat. There should have been a virtual riot over Hatley's defiance of clear Biblical teaching regarding conflict. Now that the shock has wore off, I hope they understand they have colleagues who are zealously pursuing THEIR OWN agenda (not the Lord's; not the SBC's; not the IMB's).

There must be a voice other than Wade Burleson's. Otherwise, folks can spin these trustee conflicts as a personal issue. They are not...much more is at stake.

I'm ok with your voluntary moratorium on forums and committees. But it should not be imposed by the trustee czar (uh...chairman) and should not be tolerated by the board.

And just so others know, we readers aren't losing the big picture. I'm looking just as forward to the Day of Prayer and Fasting (for Egypt) on June 4 as I am to the showdown at Greensboro one week later (even more so, if the truth be told).

Wade doesn't just "inspire" conflict; he inspires a love for international missions.

Anonymous said...

Please allow a second comment! I too grieve with Bowden.... But, must differ; YOU ARE REPRESENTING OKLAHOMA BAPTISTS.... AND I MIGHT ADD, YOU REPRESENT ME AS WELL, SINCE I PARTICIPATED IN THE VOTE FOR YOUR PRESENCE AS A TRUSTEE! TO DATE, MY DISAPPOINTMENT RESIDES IN THE EFFORTS OF THAT BOARD TO ALLOW DISENFRANCHISEMENT OF THE INTERESTS OF A LARGE NUMBER OF MESSENGERS! NOT IN YOUR REPRESENTATION! I personally hope you will rethink the position of avoiding attendance at any of the meetings you are allowed to attend! You are STILL a viable representative who will ultimately be allowed to voice your opinions (I STRONGLY BELIEVE THAT WILL HAPPEN), but, these folks need to know that you will not "just fade away" as some might like to see occur!
Yes, I know it will be hard on your constitution
but I think your "character" can handle it.... also, many of us want to please the Lord and see HIM manifest HIS presence in our midst and our mission! Certainly we need to continue to pray....
". . . may HIS Kingdom come, on earth. . . as in heaven . . ." still prayerfully supporting.....

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said---These tactics are not new in SBC life. They were used in the 1980s and 1990s to alienate a large group of followers of Jesus Christ. Many of those followers of Christ were unfairly labeled "liberal".

I think it is ironic that Wade was among those cheering them on when the came for the moderates back in the 80's. This "spirit" let loose in the SBC back then, continues its work. It has now come for the non-Landmarkers and the charismatics. Soon, not long now, it will come for the Calvinists. and if you, whoever you are, wait long enough, it will come for you, too.


I KNOW GOD is using you to reveal HIS TRUTH. I know your HEART.
GOD has a way of revealing TRUTH that makes People to look like fools. The TRUTH shall set us FREE. Yes even Brother in CHRIST. Believers repent and ask for forgiveness. We need to pray for our BROTHERS to walk in the SPIRIT and to know GOD’S GRACE.
1Co 1:9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Your Brother in CHRIST.

Anonymous said...

Dear Wade,

Question. Almost without exception, most evangelicals are very patriotic, believe that the Revolutionary war was justifable and generally rally around anyone being pushed around by a tyranical ruler.( Saddam Hussein being a case- in-point)SO....(Q) Why in the world ( or in Heaven's name) do Christians run from confrontation in situations that involve a "pastor"? Are we afraid of a lightening bolt? Afraid that it will give the SBC a bad name? Too late. Matthew 18 says at the end, if he refuses to talk with you, treat him as a pagan or tax collector....Hmmm. You can't really translate that too many ways.
I know that a lot of SBC pastors and missionaries read this blog and so I may offend them when I say this but, "Who made you all better than the lay person?" I mean are Tom's actions tolerable to you all because of his position as a pastor or as Chairman? (former)
Most people wouldn't tolerate a rude waitress or waiter at a restaurant, if they were treated the way you were treated by Tom.
If we saw a child being kiddnapped would we write a letter to the police and tell them the story, or would we go grab the thug and drag him to the cops? Or at least give him a good slug in the jaw! It's time that this guy was stopped. ( I am sure you will probably delete this part!:))
One thing I am really tired of is everyone saying.. " I was---"stunned", "shocked" etc.." get over it people and do something about it! We want to follow a leader like Jesus who isn't afraid to turn over the tables in the temple and run off the jerks who were abusing the people through obsessive interest on temple sacrifice animals, etc.. they corrupted God's plan. Doesn't sound much different than what was going on the other day at the IMB BoT committee to me.

Everyone is throwing William Wallace's name around today like he was superhero. There's a reason for it. We need strong leadership, and a lot of times it doesn't come in form of a motion!
Matthew 18:18- Whatever you prohibit on earth will be prohibited in Heaven, whatever you allow on Earth will be allowed in Heaven.

Passivity is conduct unbecoming to a leader whether it be one person or a group.
Let's go!

Anonymous said...

Wade, Before a person is put on the IMB trustee board does anyone check to see if they have a personel relationship with Jesus. I'm beginning to wonder. Hang in there and keep your head held high and always take the high road.


I would recommend reading
Dr. Tom Ascol's Blog
1 Corinthians 9:19-23, Paul on Accommodation

Kevin Bussey said...

Praying for you! Sorry for all of the heartache you and Rachelle have put up with this last year. Thanks for your service to God and the SBC.

Anonymous said...

A good dose of wide spread persectution of our churches is whats needed to help gain perspective on all that is going on.

If there were only a few believers in your city of millions who met secretly or faced persecution and possibly death for being a christian, and you happened across an unknown group and found that they trusted in the same God, who sent His only begotten son to earth to die on the cross as a sacrifice to pay the penalty for sinful man, who rose from the dead and is coming again, oh what precious fellowship and encouragement that would be!

The nonessentials would remain nonessential.

Anonymous said...

To annonymous...the winner is Satan; when a Preacher attacks someone the way you Wade was attacked, Satan is overjoyed.

To todd r...a hearty Amen!

Anonymous said...

Mr. Burleson,
Thank you for being open and honest about all that is going on. Those who are accusing if falsly- need to search there hearts. False accusations are a tool of the enemy. I pray for peace in the IMB and a more open environment. Jesus said, they will know us by our unity and our love for one another. How prideful of us to assume that our denomination has it all together. We obviously do not. Pride comes before the fall. I pray that we can be united for the Kingdom- cause. The younger generation of the SBC is getting deeply hurt, confused, and somewhat bitter towards our denomination and the prideful slander and fighting. We pray that God uses you to interregate reality and provoke needed change that will impact the Kingdom for Christ.

Anonymous said...

Why not simply quit blogging about what takes place during meetings? Is it that important to you that YOU be heard?

CB Scott said...

I vote for Todd R as president.


Anonymous said...

pstewart said - "This "spirit" let loose in the SBC back then, continues its work. It has now come for the non-Landmarkers and the charismatics. Soon, not long now, it will come for the Calvinists. and if you, whoever you are, wait long enough, it will come for you, too."

I have to agree 100%. My husband and I have said since the 80's - when they finish with the moderates, they'll eventually turn on themselves because they have to have something or someone to be against. I'll admit that I've had my head in the sand for many years. As long as it didn't affect my local church, I didn't worry about it. But now it has. The church of which we are members was torn up by people (ministers & church members) using similar tactics. We have visited many SBC churches nearby in the last 6 months and many seem to have their own "issues". How have we allowed this to happen to our churches?

Buford, Ga.

Clif Cummings said...

To Anonymous who thinks we should just quit blogging all together.
After being in attendance in Albuquerque and reading the press reports afterwards I AM CONVINCED more than ever THAT BLOGGING IS absolutely NECESSARY! If not for blogging, you would not get the full story - you would just get the spin. Don't forget that Dr. Hatley has to approve all the "official communication" that comes from the IMB Board of Trustees.
I cannot prove it because I did not print the hard copies, but it is my opinion that the stories that hit the www late Thursday night were edited and reposted on Friday.
Without bloggers, most all other means of communication and communicators are in their control. And ultimately, that's exactly what Dr. Hatley and others do not like -- loss of control.