Wednesday, June 21, 2006

If I Were President of the Southern Baptist Convention --- A Short Essay Contest

Some of the best and brightest evangelical minds in the world are in the Southern Baptist Convention. People like those pictured here (left to right) Mandy and Tad Thompson, Jason Helmbacher, Jacob Fitzgerald, Micah Fries, Kevin Bussey and John Stickley are just a sampling of the number of young men and women who are charting the course of our convention for decades to come. Any of them would make a great SBC President.

Rachelle and I will be taking a few days of vacation in Alabama and I will be unable to be near a computer for several days. In full disclosure, I could be near a computer if I desired but I am choosing not to be. For all my security conscious friends and acquaintances you should be aware that both my six foot three inch and six foot two inch bone crusher sons, one of whom will be entering Special Forces training next year, will be staying at our home along with our dog "ICE," a dog we sometimes affectionately call "killer" --- and that is true disclosure.

I will post again on Independence Day, July 4th and will continue to blog regularly until I feel blogging is no longer beneficial. At some point I will stop blogging, but I don't see that in the forseeable future. While I am away for the next several days I will leave up this post for an ongoing essay contest I am running.

I am asking that you post a short essay (maximum 300 words)on what your major objective -- or objectives -- would be if you were the newly elected President of the Southern Baptist Convention, and give practical steps on how you would go about accomplishing it. The more succinct the essay the better.

Begin the short essay with these words . . .

If I were the President of the Southern Baptist Convention I would . . .

I will give away two awards: One for the best essay (judged by three people), one for the most humorous essay (judged by the same three people). I will forward the winning entries to President Page himself. You can enter as many times as you desire.

What's the prize for the winners? Don't get your hopes up too much, but each winner will receive two items.

First, a copy of the letter from the President of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, dated February 1, 2006, giving official confirmation that the Executive Committee of the SBC, in compliance with Article 4 F (1) of the Articles of Incorporation of the International Mission Board and the Bylaws of the Southern Baptist Convention, will plan for the orderly debate, floor discussion and dispostion of the motion to remove trustee Wade Burleson from the IMB in Greensboro, NC. In the 161 year history of the Southern Baptist Convention it is the only letter of its kind, and 161 years from now it might actually be worth something.

Second, I will send a signed copy of my book "Happiness Doesn't Just Happen: Learning to Be Content Regardless of Your Circumstances." An appropriate title for the circumstances of this past year. Winners will be announced July 4, 2006.

Good days are ahead for us all within the SBC.

Blessings to everyone, and I'll see you here at Grace and Truth, Lord willing, Independence Day 2006. Until then, enjoy the essays.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

A Wordsmith Who Owes Some Apologies

I have met James A Smith, Sr., the editor of the Florida Witness, on at least two occasions -- one in Pensacola, Florida and the other in Albuquerque, New Mexico -- and I enjoyed our conversations.

It is appropriate for editors of state papers to give their opinions on convention matters as Mr. Smith did in his editorial this week regarding the Southern Baptist Convention in Greensboro, but I believe Mr. Smith crossed the line in two areas.

James A. Smith and Wiley Drake

I believe Mr. Smith owes Wiley Drake a public apology. Wiley was elected by a majority of the Southern Baptist messengers who gathered in Greensboro to conduct Southern Baptist business. Yet Mr. Smith says this about Wiley . . .

"It was sad that the Convention elected a man more known for his microphone-hogging, self-indulgent and almost always out-of-order motions than for his serious support for the work of the Convention through the Cooperative Program."

I wonder if Mr. Smith would have said that about Ronnie Floyd had he been elected? Laying my wonderment aside, and giving Mr. Smith every right to question the Cooperative Program giving of Wiley's church, what bothers me is Mr. Smith's very personal attack on Wiley calling him "microphone-hugging" and "self-indulgent" and other words that any serious journalist would know from which to abstain.

Does Mr. Smith know Wiley? I don't agree with Wiley on his Disney boycot and other motions before the Convention, and in fact, Mr. Smith agrees philosophically with Wiley much more than I --- but I've come to know Wiley. Why can I disagree with a man's policies but accept a man personally, but Mr. Smith attacks a man personally but agrees with his policies?

I know Wiley's love for his wheelchair bound wife. I know Wiley's love for the homeless in Los Angeles. I know Wiley well enough to know that he ministers in the power of Christ to the very people Los Angeles leaders want gone. I know Wiley lives his life based upon convictions and principles, and though I don't agree with Wiley on everything he has presented to the Convention, Wiley is the kind of guy I can cooperate with in the Southern Baptist Convention. Wiley is as Wiley says.

Mr. Smith, fifty percent of the convention agreed. Messengers voted Wiley to be Second-Vice President. I would caution you against denigrating a duly elected officer of the Southern Baptist Convention. It is very unprofessional.

James A Smith and Ben Cole

Second, Mr. Smith outright, intentionally misrepresented Benjamin Cole in his editorial. Mr. Smith said,

"Cole, a frequent and loud critic of International Mission Board trustees’ new policies on baptism and “private prayer language” for missionary candidates, unashamedly packages his opposition to the alcohol resolution with his agenda about narrowing theological boundaries in SBC life tied to the ongoing controversy at the IMB. So, this is the kind of Christian liberty that is desired of missionaries and other leaders in Southern Baptists life — the right to drink booze, speak in tongues and hold as valid baptisms at churches believing in baptismal regeneration?"

Mr. Smith, Benjamin Cole's father died when Ben was 13 from drunkenness. The notion that Benjamin Cole desires missionaries to "drink booze" as if those missionaries are to get drunk is highly inappropriate considering the circumstances of Ben's own father's death, a testimony he very passionately and emotionally gave from the floor of the convention, arguing that drunkenness is a scourge on our society, but in our belief of the sufficiency of Scriptures we ought to condemn only what Scripture condemns.

Further, as you well know, the new policy at the IMB on tongues prohibits a "private" prayer language. The old policy already stated that missionaries on the field were not to speak in tongues publicly or face discipoline.

Finally, to allege that Mr. Cole is advocating baptismal regeneration is a downright lie. You know better. Baptismal regeneration has NEVER been the issue.

Mr. Smith I am deeply disappointed in your editorial. On the one hand you shame bloggers, but from your very pen you have practiced more deception and defamation than any blogger I have read in the past six months.

My prayer is that you will think twice before you resort to such tactics in the future.

In His Grace,


An Observation on the Mysterious Ways of God

Last year I was heartbroken over the passage of two new policies at the IMB, policies that I felt were extra-Biblical and went beyond the basis of our confessional fellowship --- the Baptist Faith and Message. What broke my heart was that people in the Southern Baptist Convention, faithful members of Southern Baptist churches --- commmitted, conservative and evangelical in every sense of those respective words --- were now being prohibited from Kingdom service in the Southern Baptist Convention because of these new policies.

Therefore I began a blog. I knew nothing about blogging, and in fact, I initially began the blog to communicate with some people for another reason, but the blog became the venue where I voiced my concern over the direction we were moving as a convention. I never violated any confidentiality policy of the IMB, never crossed any line of trustee guidelines as I blogged, and I always maintained a written respect and love for my fellow trustees. The one post that caused a stir "Crusading Conservatives vs. Cooperating Conservatives" -- being praised by many, but condemned by some -- was the post where I was accused of using too militant of language (words like crusadors, war, etc . . .).

When I was made aware of the offense of some with the language of that December 10th post, I immediately expressed regret and rewrote it using softer words, but changed none of the content. I stand by everything I have said. I simply felt that grassroots Southern Baptists needed to be aware of the narrowing of parameters of cooperation for missions among Southern Baptists and the narrowing of the definition of what it meant to be a "true" Southern Baptist.

The motion to remove me from the Board in January came as a complete shock. I could not believe it was happening, and if you read the blog posts from those days, you will discover that those were some very emotional times for me. I never dreamed I would be accused of "gossip" and "slander" and other choice things, and of course I adamantly denied all this and asked for proof --- which never came before the vote to remove me. It was mindboggling to me that some would take this action, particularly without ever coming to me personally as a Christian brother should do, and especially since I was never given the opportunity to defend anything I had written, but am fully prepared to do so.

There have been a very small number of trustees who have tried to say that the problem was not my blog, but my relationship with my fellow trustees. That is ridiculous. The only ones who say that are those who are the problem on the Board, because frankly, those who know me and have been with me know that I am only gracious, even to those who disagree with me. I buy their meals, I enjoy their company, and I truly enjoy them as people. However, I live by my convictions and principles and I will not change my mind simply because people want me to change. In addition, I never demand that people live by my convictions. There is room enough in the SBC for us to disagree over the non-essentials of the faith. In fact, that is why I am refusing to capitulate. The IMB should not be able to demand conformity on doctrinal matters that are not covered by the Baptist Faith and Message.

I must be shown from Scripture , or the entire Convention must vote to change the BFM before I will change my view and call something an "essential" of the faith. I can't "repent" of what I have because the previous sentence is the essence of what I am writing on my blog and I stand by it. This is where some have failed to understand my convictions. They are unable to prove from Scripture the very thing they are demanding me and others to believe. Sure, they may have a personal conviction about the issues, or sure, they may interpret Scripture a peculiar way, but we don't agree, and my argument is that we should fellowship with each other, and we should cooperate with each other, though we disagree on some of these "non-essentials" of the faith.

What is fascinating to me is how in six months things have come complete circle. I'm not sure anyone would have ever read my blog were it not for the effort to silence me. I'm not sure the concerns I have expressed would have ever been addressed had not some tried very hard to remove me. I'm not even sure Frank Page would have been elected President without the controversy.

Now, the five concerns I have for the IMB must be addressed and reported back to the SBC. If these issues of concern are dealt with internally, with proper checks and balances implemented to prevent future problems of a similar nature, then frankly the SBC will never need to know the details. This is a matter that should be dealt with internally by the trustees, but last year's leadership prevented that from happening by making some very poor decisions that drug my name, my family and my church through some extraordinarily difficult times.

It is now a new year. There are sixteen new trustees. There is a new Executive Committee of the IMB. Things will be different beginning at the IMB meeting this July in Richmond. I look forward to a trustee meetings where missions is the only thing discussed. An investigative committee should be appointed, one that contains people on it that have not been part of the problem, and the matter can be dealt with outside regular IMB business meetings. I trust this will happen.

Though this past year has not been easy, an incredible amount of needed change has occurred.

God works in mysterious ways.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

Monday, June 19, 2006

Pray for Frank Page

I would encourage each and every Southern Baptist to pray regularly for the our Southern Baptist President --- Dr. Frank Page. There are illustrations throughout Scripture of God's people being girded up by the intercessory prayers of others, and Frank should be added to your prayer journal as one in need of this type of undergirding.

Just a few hours after Frank Page's election as President of the Southern Baptist Covnention, several of us congregated in at the Sheraton Hotel in Greensboro and gathered around Dr. Page and committed him to God's care and safekeeping. Those who were present in the room for this prayer service will tell you the presence of God in that room was very evident.

I have been struck by Frank's humility, gracious spirit, yet determination to do exactly what he believes God would have him do. We must not only pray for him, but for his family, church and ministry to Southern Baptists as well.

May God give Dr. Page wisdom, fortitude and courage during this next year.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Imputed Righteousness or Imputed Nonsense?

If there is one doctrine absent from modern Southern Baptist teaching to the great harm of Southern Baptist people in general, it is the doctrine of the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ.

This particular doctrine is found in several passages of Scripture including:

Rom 5:17 If, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:30 He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption.

2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Philippians 3:8-11 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith--that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Imputed righteousness, which some, including Richard Barclay and John Wesley in the 18th Century, called "imputed nonsense," is the teaching of Holy Scripture that by God's grace, through faith in Christ, the believer is accounted "fully righteous" in the eyes of God because the righteousness of Christ is imputed to him, just as the believer's sins were imputed to Christ at Calvary.

This is why believers are called "co-heirs with Christ." This is why "there is therefore now no condemnation to them who are in Christ." This is why believers can never become MORE righteous by their individual actions. We are as righteous as we will ever be in the eyes of God because of Christ's righteousness imputed (or credited) to us.

What are the practical effects of understanding this doctrine? Listen to Martin Luther's comment regarding the practical effects of imputed righteousness: "When God purifies the heart by faith, the market is sacred as well as the sanctuary." -Martin Luther

In other words, the more a believer understands that Christ is his righteousness and sanctification, then the more he begins to understand that the he lives his life DAILY trusting in Christ and not his own performance. He is free to be real, genuine, and transparent, and EVERYTHING is sacred to him --- including the marketplace of life.

How would the Southern Baptist Convention change if this doctrine of imputed righteousness were taught from the pulpits?

In His Grace,


Father's Day

On this special day when we all say thanks to God for our fathers, I would like to honor my own. Paul Burleson was the best man in my wedding and continues to this day to be the man I most admire.

For nearly 50 years he has preached the gospel in small churches and mega-churches around the country. His Pastors and Wives Conferences have helped hundreds of couples better their marriages, ministries and families. I constantly run into pastors who tell me my father has helped them immensely in their walk with Christ. He has taught me everything I know theologically, and more importantly, he has modeled for me what I want to be like spiritually and personally.

He has been personal friends with Adrian Rogers, Jack Taylor, Ron Dunn, Peter Lord, John Blanchard, and a host of other prominent pastors, but the friendships he developed in the 70's when he pastored hundreds of Seminary students while at Southcliff Baptist Church are the relationships that continue to this day all over the world.

Probably the greatest compliment I could pay my father is that the older he gets, the better he gets. He knows how to relate to all generations. My dad and mom enjoy their relationship with each other more today than they ever have. They both are a testimony to Rachelle and me that the best days of our lives are yet ahead!

On this Father's Day I say thanks to God for my own father. And if you would like to get to know him better, check out his blog.

I can hardly believe it --- my father blogs :).

Happy Father's Day Dad!



Friday, June 16, 2006

Those Who Refuse to Learn History Are Destined to Repeat History's Mistakes

One of the reasons I love history is because of the inherent wisdom that comes from knowing the past. For instance, controversies within Southern Baptist life are not new. Character assassination and disparaging remarks against a fellow Southern Baptist are not of recent origin. Augustus Longstreet, called "the honest Georgian," once said he preferred "his politics and religion red hot."

Well, Southern Baptists do have a red hot history of conflict. For example, there is the Brann vs. the Southern Baptists of Texas conflict in the 1890's. Some of you may not have heard of this particular controversy, so I will summarize using the written history of Southern religious violence by Charles Wellborn, Professor of Religion at Florida State University, to familiarize you with the conflict.

Like ancient Athens as described by the Apostle Paul in Acts 17, Waco, Texas could be perceived as filled with people who were “very religious” in the 1800's.
In the last decade of that century William Cowper Brann, self-styled the “Iconoclast,” indulged in a series of hot-headed assaults against Southern Baptists in Texas and their most important educational institution, Baylor University.

Born in rural Illinois, Brann spent most of his adult life as an itinerant journalist. At the age of 39 he settled in Waco, Texas, which became the headquarters for a new magazine, The Iconoclast. This journal, a monthly compendium of personal philosophy, invective, and current comment, rapidly achieved an amazing degree of national and even international popularity.

Brann first came to Waco as an editorial writer for one of the local newspapers, was incongruously known both as the “Athens of Texas” and “Six Shooter Depot.” Both slogans could to some extent be justified. The sixth largest city in Texas at that time, Waco was the home of four important educational institutions. They were Waco Female Academy (Methodist), Catholic Academy of the Sacred Heart, Paul Quinn University (African Methodist), and Baylor University (Baptist) Of these the largest and best known--indeed, the pride of Texas Baptists--was Baylor, headed since 1851 by Dr. Rufus Burleson, a Baptist minister widely respected in Southern religious circles.

Brann’s feud with the Baptists to a raging boiling point was one that shocked and intrigued all Waco. In the spring of 1895 the impending motherhood of an unmarried Baylor student from Brazil, Antonia Teixeira, became public knowledge. Antonia had come to Texas from Brazil at the age of 12, sent there by Baptist missionaries to be educated at Baylor. During her first year at Baylor she was a boarding student on the campus, but then Dr. Burleson, Baylor’s president, took her into his home where, in return for her board, room, and clothes, she assisted Mrs. Burleson with the housework.

Rooming in a house in the Burleson yard and eating his meals with the family was Steen Morris, the brother of Dr. Burleson’s son-in-law. Morris worked for his brother, who published a Baptist monthly, The Guardian. According to Antonia, Morris sexually attacked her on three occasions, after first drugging her. She further asserted that she had reported the first incident to Mrs. Burleson, but that when Morris denied the story, no one believed her. Thereafter, she remained silent.

In April, 1895, it was discovered that Antonia was pregnant. On June 16 the Waco Morning News reported the story in detail, including interviews with the Brazilian girl, Steen Morris, and Dr. Burleson. Morris was arrested on a charge of rape and released on bond, protesting his total innocence. Dr. Burleson denied that his wife had ever been told of any trouble between Antonia and Morris and labeled the idea of rape as preposterous. He declared that Antonia was “utterly untrustworthy. . .and in addition to other faults, the girl was crazy after boys.” [xii] A daughter was born to Antonia on June 18, but the baby soon died.

The situation was made to order for Brann, who saw the whole affair as a sordid scandal encompassing all the hypocrisy of the Baptists. In the July, 1895, Iconoclast he set in motion events which were to lead to the deaths of four men. “Once or twice in a decade a case arises so horrible in conception, so iniquitous in outline, so damnable in detail that it were impossible to altogether ignore it. Such a case has just come to light, involving Baylor University, that bulwark of the Baptist Church.”

Brann went on to attack Burleson for using the Brazilian girl as a “scullion maid” in the “kitchen curriculum,” instead of giving her an honest education. With regard to her pregnancy, Brann asked rhetorically: “What did the aged president of Baylor, that sanctum sanctorum of the Baptist church, do about it? Did he assist in bringing to justice the man who had dared invade the sanctity of his household. . . ? Not exactly. He rushed into print with a statement to the effect that the child was a thief and “crazy after the boys.”

Attacks on Burleson were inflammatory enough, but Brann compounded his offense in the eyes of Baptists with a general denunciation of Baylor. “I do know,” he wrote, “that Antonia is not the first young girl to be sent from Baylor in disgrace—that she is not the first to complain of assault within its sanctified walls.” And he concluded with a dramatic prediction: “I do know that as far as Baylor University is concerned the day of its destiny is over and the star of its fate hath declined; that the brutal treatment the Brazilian girl received at its hands will pass into history as the colossal crime of the age, and that generations yet to be will couple its name with curses.”

As usual, Brann wrote in hyperbole. His prediction has not come true. But in 1895 his intemperate barbs aroused the resentment of every Baylor and Baptist partisan. Dr. Burleson, after conferring with his Board of Trustees, issued a four-page pamphlet entitled “Baylor and the Brazilian Girl,” in which he defended the university’s role in the affair. The controversy continued for months, with Brann making new charges and rehearsing old ones in each succeeding issue of The Iconoclast. Morris’s rape trial was delayed until June, 1896, resulting finally in a “hung”jury, seven of the jurors voting for conviction, the other five for acquittal. In September, 1896, Antonia Teixeira executed an affidavit exonerating Morris of her charges, then quickly returned to Brazil. Brann, predictably, asserted that the girl had been paid to sign the affidavit: “When Capt. Blair (Morris’s attorney) asks the court to dismiss the case . . . let him be required to state why the drawer of the remarkable document purchased Antonia’s ticket, and who furnished the funds. Of course, her long conference with Steen Morris and his attorney on the day before her departure may have been merely a social visit. If the currency question was discussed at all, it may have been from a purely theoretical standpoint.”

In the year that followed the dismissal of the Morris indictment Brann continued to raise questions in print about Baylor and the Baptists. He ridiculed a plan, proposed in the Baptist Standard, that Waco Baptists should buy only from Baptist merchants. He attacked Waco’s Sunday “blue laws,” mocking the preoccupation of Baptists with Sabbath sales while they winked at the Reservation and the city slums. Again and again, he recalled Antonia Teixeira, whose “diploma” from Baylor was a dead illegitimate child.

A new dimension of the controversy emerged in October, 1897. Dr. Burleson was about to retire from the Baylor presidency, and a political struggle to succeed him arose between Dr. B. H. Carroll, chairman of the university’s Board of Trustees , and other aspirants for the office. Brann commented: “I greatly regret that my Baptist brethren should have gotten into a spiteful and un-Christian snarl over so pitiful a thing as Baylor’s $2000 a year presidency—that they should give to the world such a flagrant imitation of a lot of cut-throat degenerates out for the long green. . . .”

Evidently these new thrusts were the final straw for some Baylorites. On October 2 Brann was forcibly abducted by a group of Baylor undergraduates and taken to the campus. Had not several Baylor professors intervened, a lynching might have occurred. After being badly beaten the editor was finally released, but the violence was not ended. Four days later Brann was attacked by a Baylor student, George Scarborough, aided by his father, a distinguished Waco attorney. Young Scarborough threatened Brann with a revolver, while his father beat the journalist with a cane. A second Baylor student joined the fray, striking Brann with a horsewhip. Brann fled for his life, escaping this time with a broken wrist, along with cuts and bruises.

The chain of violence was not fully forged. After an initial public scuffle between them had inflamed tempers, Judge George Gerald, a friend and supporter of Brann, and W. A. Harris, the editor of the Waco Times-Herald, met on a downtown Waco street. Present also was J. W. Harris, an insurance salesman and the editor’s brother. Shots were fired; both of the Harris brothers were killed, and Judge Gerald was wounded.

The final act in the mounting tragedy occurred on April 1, 1898. Brann was to leave the following day on a nation-wide lecture tour. In the late afternoon he went downtown. From the door of a real estate office an anti-Brann zealot, Tom Davis, shot at Brann. Wounded, Brann drew his own pistol, returning the fire. Within hours both men were dead. Two bystanders were slightly wounded.

Why did Davis shoot Brann? His motives were not clear. He had a daughter attending Baylor, and he had expressed his hatred of Brann on many occasions. He was also thought to have political ambitions, counting on his attack on Brann to win for him the sizable Baptist vote. Brann himself was said to consistently go for the jugular vein of his opponents. In retrospect, given the religious and social context, Brann’s violent end seems almost inevitable.

Brann was buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Waco. Scarcely had the monument been erected when someone, under the cover of darkness, crept into the cemetery and fired a pistol shot at the stone memorial, shattering away a portion of the mask. The scar in the stone can still be seen.

Truth for Today that Rises from Our Awareness of Our Past

(1). There is a fine line between discussing issues and attacking one's character --- Southern Baptists all must be vigilant never to cross that line. (Ex. The accusation against President Burleson).

(2). Young leaders have a tendency to be far more volatile in confrontation than older statesmen --- something that should both be remembered by all and guarded against by some. (Ex. The Baylor students attempted lynching).

(3). The scars of conflict can be seen years after the conflict is over --- which should cause everyone pause before entering any conflict --- not to say conflict is not sometimes unavoidable, but one should do everything imaginable to avoid it if at all possible. (Ex. The scar on the headstone of Brann).

(4). Southern Baptists should resist the temptation to pick up a brother's offense, but rather, we should work hard to avoid choosing sides based upon friendships, previous loyalty, and we must determine to stand behind the truth alone. (Ex. The shooting of Harris brothers and the wounding of the judge).

(5). All in all, Southern Baptists have progressed a great deal from the old days of the late 1800's, as evidenced by this past Southern Baptist Convention in Greensboro, NC where brothers were able to disagree, but when all was said and done, we determined to leave, locking our arms in cooperation for the purpose of evangelism and missions.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Brief Reflections on the SBC

Rachelle and I will be leaving the Sheraton in the next hour and traveling home. Before we walk out I thought I would give a few brief thoughts regarding the Convention.

(1). President Frank Page . . . will do a wonderful job as our President. He is a conservative and an inerrantist. He is soft spoken and gentle. He will appoint good people to the various committees over which he has appointing privileges. He will represent us well.

(2). The IMB Board of Trustees . . . will meet in July in Richmond. There is new leadership, new trustees and a new sense of direction. I would love nothing more than my concerns to be addressed internally. Dr. John Floyd, the new Chairman of the IMB, spoke with me in the hallway and we mutually agreed that we could work through the issues. I believe we can. I also believe certain trustees know that I will never back down until my questions are answered. It is appropriate to take corrective measures internally, and if that happens, the report to the convention can simply be "All is now well."

(3). The Resolutions Committee . . . is a very important committee, handpicked by the President of the SBC. Three of the most well written resolutions on dissent, narrowing the parameters of cooperation, and integrity in church reporting did not make it to the floor for a vote, kept from the floor by the Committee itself. Tom Ascol, the author of the excellent motion on integrity spoke eloquently for overruling the Resolutions Committee's decision and allow the convention to vote on the resolution, but as is true at most Conventions, the messengers will usually follow the recommendations of the Resolutions Committee. The messengers supported the Committee's recommendation to kill Ascol's resolution so we were not allowed to vote on our desire for integrity. Had we voted it would have passed easily. It doesn't look good to be seen voting down integrity :).

(4). The Importance of Nomination Speeches . . . the Presidential election was decided on the first ballot based upon the nomination speeches. All three were good, but Forrest Pollock's speech on behalf of Frank Page was superior by far. He was relaxed, spoke from the heart, used no notes, and cadence, eye contact, and style were brilliant. I told him when he left the platform he won the nomination for Frank on the first ballot.

The Second Vice-Presidential nomination speech by Bill Dodson on behalf of Wiley Drake will go down in history as the best nomination speech ever given at the SBC. Give credit to the Bill Dodson for a brilliant delivery --- just the right amount of pauses --- a masterful performance of drawing the messenger's in through humor. Comedy is all about timing, and Dodson's timing was impeccable. However, the entire speech was scripted, as well as the (pauses), by the erudite Ben Cole. Anyone who wants to be elected to convention office needs to hire Ben to write his speech.

(5). Depth . . . the SBC may very well be turning a corner in terms of substance. I commend the leaders of our Pastor's Conference for actually dealing with important issues. The SBC has not been know as a paragon of exegetical brilliance, but through some of the seminars I attended, the debates I heard from the floor regarding resolutions, and through personal conversations I am beginning to see that people in our Convention are beginning to think Biblically about matters in ways Southern Baptists, above all people, should be thinking.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

A Historic Day in the Southern Baptist Convention

It is 1:00 a.m. on Wednesday morning, so this post cannot be too detailed. However, I think it is important that I give some perspective on yesterday's events (Tuesday) at the Southern Baptist Convention, in Greensboro, North Carolina.

The Convention convened at 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning. The messenger registration would eventually reach over 11,000, less than what I had expected, but more than the previous few years.

The first motion presented on the floor of the convention was my motion at 8:45 a.m. requesting the appointment of an Ad Hoc Committee from the Executive Committee to investigate five concerns I have had regarding the International Mission Board.

During the morning session every motion, including mine, is simply introduced. There is no debate and no statement made other than reading the motion itself. I wanted to summarize my motion and not read it because of the length of it, but the microphone page told me I had to read the entire motion into the record. I later discovered that the volunteer microphone page was not right, but I followed her initial instructions and read the rather long motion into the record. Again, nobody could speak for or against the motion at this morning session as it was simply introduced to the convention, and a later time would be set for the purpose of voting on it.

I remind everyone that I had not intended to do anything at the Convention related to the IMB, including presenting a motion, until the Chairman of the IMB, at our May meeting in Albuquerque, publicly accused me of breaching confidentiality on my blog multiple times. This very public allegation, revealed in the presence of everyone, including my wife, was made without ever coming to me privately. When I asked to see the basis or substantiation from my blog for the charges, the microphone was turned off by the Chairman. To me that was an unconscionable series of actions that formed the last straw that led me to decide to make this particular motion at the convention.

You can read about my decision to make this motion, which I originally drafted two weeks ago, at this post entitled The Decision: A Motion in Greensboro. The motion I read into the record yesterday morning only changed from the original motion of June 1st in that I decided not to invoke Bylaw 26 and force the convention to vote on the motion while in session, but I would rather accept the decision of the Committee on Order of Business regarding how my motion would be handled.

The Committee on Order of Business' Decision

About 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon I received a call from the Chairman of the Commitee on Order of Business. His name is Alan Blume and he is a wonderful man. He asked that I meet with him and a member of the Committee at the platform.

Alan was very honest with me, but very fair. He said the Committee was going to refer the motion back to the IMB trustees, since he felt the trustees needed to be given an opportunity to deal with the recommendation themselves. He said, however, there would be two stipulations.

(1). The convention would be asked to debate and vote on referring this motion back to the IMB at 7:40 that night, so that if it passed, it would be said to the IMB that this is the Convention's action, not just Wade Burleson's.

(2). The IMB trustees investigative committee would be required to make a report back to the convention in 2007, issuing findings and recommendations on all five points.

I thanked Alan for the Committee's work, and told him I agreed this investigation should, ideally, be done by the IMB Board. However, I told him I had asked twice, in writing, to address the Board during the last year and was denied. In addition, I said the only reason we were at this point with the Convention having to deal with this matter is because the Chairman of the IMB and I could not agree who of the IMB trustees could serve on the investigative committee.

I gave the Chairman my suggestions regarding the makeup of the committee and they were rejected by him. Likewise, he gave his suggestions regarding the make-up of the Committee to me and they were rejected by me. Obviously, from my perspective on what is healthy for the IMB and the SBC, I did not want anyone who may have been part of the problem on the Board being placed on the committee assigned the responsibility of investigating those alleged problems.

In addition, I asked Alan if I could address the convention first when it came time for the debate to refer the motion back to the IMB. Alan agreed.

The Stunning Presidential Election

By now you know Frank Page won. I will not give you the numbers because several have already blogged about them, but I will tell you three anecdotes about the election.

First, after we cast our ballots but before the results were announced, I saw Dr. Page in the hall. I greeted him saying, "Hello Mr. President." He smiled and reminded me that I was the first one to call him several weeks earlier when he and I talked on the phone about him running for President of the SBC. We had a good conversation and I reminded Dr. Page of his pledge not to exclude from service godly, conservative Southern Baptists who affirm the Baptist Faith and Message, but yet differ in areas of doctrinal interpretions not addressed by the BF&M.

Frank graciously reiterated that pledge and then said he was looking to open up the appointments to people throughout the SBC that had a sweet spirit, a commitment to inerrancy, and a willingness to serve. He said he would not recycle appointments.

When Frank's election was announced I was walking around the arena and just happened to be stopped by a reporter in the undergound hallway. He wanted my reaction. Soon other reporters stopped and by the time all was said and done probably over 25 media persons from around the nation stood four deep and asked questions for forty minutes. One of the questions that kept being repeated over and over again is whether or not I believed blogs played a role in this election. I said, "Absolutely." Baptist bloggers in 2006 may well go down in history as the first time bloggers actually determined the outcome of a national religious/political election.

Why? When all three candidates were being nominated my wife leaned over to me and said, "I feel like I know all three men because of the blogs."

I attended the Press Conference for Frank Page and I am here to tell you he handled himself with class, dignity and grace. Southern Baptists have a right to be proud of this man.

It is brand new day in the SBC.

To say some were shocked by the outcome of the election is the understatement of the year.


My wife and I broke bread with some wonderful people today at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Too many to name, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to say if you shared a meal with us today you personally added to the pleasure of our day.

The Disposition of My Motion

At 7:40 p.m. I was allowed to address the recommendation of the Committee on Order of Business to refer my motion back to the IMB.

I tried to express clearly and graciously the issues involved. I told the Committee I respected their decision and wished to affirm it, while at the same time raising a couple of concerns. I first reiterated my love for the SBC, my fellow trustees and the work of our IMB missionaries. Then I said the only reason we were at this point in requesting an Ad Hoc Committee be appointed by the Executive Committee is because the Chairman of the IMB and I were at a stalemate as to who would serve on the committee from among the trustees of the IMB.

I tried to be kind, gentle and gracious, but at the same time, I let the convention know that I could not support a committee merely appointed by the Chairman of the IMB. However, I did not want to broad brush ALL the trustees. There are many good, godly men and women who I would be happy to see chosen to serve on the investigative trustee committee. The question remained: Who's doing the appointing?

I had several people tell me after the very brief debate that they appreciated my graciousness to the Convention. Several also said they were confused about what they were voting on. The issues were complex. One friend told me that I singlehandedly held the Convention back from acting against the wishes of the Committee on Order of Business by not opposing their decision. Maybe, maybe not. Regardless, I had already made the decision to trust in the Committee's determination, and that is what I did.

So . . .

In essence there will be a Committee of IMB trustees formed to investigate the five concerns of my motion and bring back a report and/or recommendaiton to the SBC in San Antonio in 2007.

I honestly believe the trustees and I can work this out. There are new officers. There will be new trustees meeting with us beginning with us in July. The IMB is doing a great work!! I would love nothing more than for the report to come back to the Convention in 2007 and it would contain concrete action steps to deal with the problems articulated.

I've got seven years left on the IMB. I can work with anyone. We will get this situation resolved, and the earlier the better!

An Unbelievable Time

After the last business of the evening a very large, informal group of bloggers, young leaders and messengers from my church met in our suite at the Sheraton. Frank Page came and we gathered around him and laid our hands on him and prayed. Wiley Drake, the Second Vice-President came by with his wife and his wife's mother and we prayed for him as well. Other SBC individuals came by the room and we prayed for them as well including missionary Wyman Dobbs, Bill Dodson, and Morris Chapman.

We committed not to blog about what was said because we wanted everyone to be able to speak in freedom, but frankly, if the details were to be shared it would sound like an old fashioned revival meeting with all the Scripture, spiritual exhortations and focus on Jesus Christ and the gospel.

Morris Chapman delivered a remarkable challenge to the bloggers in the room. He was passionate, wise and deliberate. I can honestly say that Dr. Chapman has displayed incredible leadership at the SBC these last several years. I have had occasion to speak with him and convention attorney's at various meetings I have had these last six months, and not one time has Morris Chapman ever endorsed a particular candidate for SBC office. He is a man that not only tells the truth, he lives it.

These young leaders made it very clear to these men they prayed over that they were seeking NOTHING for themselves. No positions. No appointments. No power. They just wanted to pray for those who would be doing the leading, and commit to support tehir leadership. What a sweet prayer time it was.

I was happy that our messengers from Emmanuel Baptist Church, Enid, Oklahoma were able to attend the fellowship including Dr. John Stam, Sherman and Carolyn Hamm, John and Mona Loewen, and Ben Carr. Dan and Donna were not able to make it. Four of the eight messengers from our church were attending their first ever convention.

Mona Loewen took pictures of the fellowship and prayer times and hopefully in the near future I will post a few.

Oh well, the hour is late, and I must arize early to be at the convention by 8:30 in order to deal with the resolutions and one very interesting motion that is being made on my behalf regarding my status as an IMB trustee. I blog about it later tonight!

I am very positive about our future. Change does not happen in the SBC by leaps and bounds, but when the dialogue and discussion at the SBC is more on doctrine, the CP and bloggers, then one knows full well the conversation in the SBC is changing.

However, for an interesting exercise, go back and read what I wrote on January 14, 2006, exactly six months ago today Particularly focus on Point (5). unti the end of the post.

I'm not a prophet or the son of a prophet, but my predictions at the end of that January 14, 2006 post have seen an eerily precise fulfillment in a scant six months.

To me, that is unbelievable.

Yes, even historic.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Day of Decision: Help Has Arrived

Today the course of the Southern Baptist Convention for at least the next two years, and possibly the next ten years will be set as the SBC in session in Greensboro, North Carolina will make several important decisions.

The Decisions That Will Be Made Today

The Presidential Election . . . There are at least three candidates with Frank Page leading the way. Frank Page's large church gives twelve percent to the Cooperative Program and he is a leading conservative in South Carolina

Jerry Sutton, another candidate, went on record yesterday saying that “Southern Baptists need a level playing field.” Sutton, citing the new policy against a "private prayer language" for missionaries, and acknowledgeing the IMB president holds to the practice said, “This is going to have to be addressed in the Baptist Faith and Message. I think there will have to be an amendment to it.”

Do you hear what Sutton is saying? I was absolutely, positively shocked.

A vote for Jerry Sutton is a vote for the continuing of the narrowing of the parameters of the Southern Baptist Convention. If Jerry Sutton were to be elected President the exclusionary, isolationist practices of the SBC will become more entrenched.

Dr. Ronnie Floyd is a good man and a good pastor. However, this is not a good year for Dr. Floyd to be running for President. His church's lack of support for the Cooperative Program (.27%) means he will not be elected President.

My prediction is Dr. Frank Page is elected President of the Southern Baptist Convention.

The Executive Committee Report . . . without going into detail today, there are some recommendations from the EC of the Southern Baptist Convention that are outstanding. Issues of conflict of interest, cronyism, and recycled nominations are all addressed in a bylaw ammendmant that will be presented to the Convention.

I predict this report and the address from Dr. Morris Chapman will be the talk of the day tomorrow, right behind the election of the President. I attended the Executive Committee meeting of the SBC Monday afternoon and there was a great deal of debate over the Ad Hoc Committee's report and recommendation on the Cooperative Program. Look for the debate to spill over onto the floor.

Various Motions and Resolutions Introduced . . . at 8:45 there is the first introduction of new motions from the floor of the convention. I expect that there will be several very interesting motions presented that the convention will be dealing with in the next 48 hours. Tonight I will blog extensively on my opinion of the motions presented.

Help Has Arrived

There are three quick reasons why I believe this convention could very well be a convention of significant change.

(1). Joyce Rogers . . . the wife of the late Dr. Adrian Rogers spoke tonight during the Pastor's Conference. She eloquently and passionately said what I have been saying for the last six months. She then said that if her late husband were alive he would be against "the narrowing of the parameters of cooperation within the Southern Baptist Convention." Her words were powerful and very meaningful. When she spoke, people listened.

(2). Ed Young . . . Though half the pastors left before the last message of the Pastor's Conference by Dr. Young, this erudite gave a RINGING endorsement of the IMB and Dr. Jerry Rankin, with facts in hand, vocalized loud and clear. Though I would not agree with all of everything else he said, he did speak courageously about key issues confronting us.

(3). The bloggers . . . The words of these men and women of the SBC are making a difference. People are reading (and listening).

It is 1:00 A.M. Tuesday morning. I must get up at 5:00 a.m. for an early morning breakfast. Today will be an eventful day.

Tonight I will post on what could be a very historic day in the life of the SBC.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

A Must View Video Interview Series

Micah Fries and John Stickley over at Friesville will be posting interviews with key people at the SBC.

These men interviewed me this morning as we sat in a cafe in the Courtyard of the Sheraton Four Seasons with thousands of messengers attending the break out sessions at the hotel. Micah asked some excellent questions and hopes to have his interview with me and others up by later this afternoon.

Check it out! This is another example of the way the information age is changing the face of our convention.

In His Grace,


Sunday, June 11, 2006

Sunday In Greensboro, North Carolina

Sunday morning Rachelle and I ate breakfast at the hotel with several Southern Baptists. We overhead a few conversations around the breakfast tables near us regarding "blogging" with remarks like "be sure and check the blogs" and "they will be blogging all day," etc . . . Interesting how blogging is now part of conversations of everyday Southern Baptists.

On our way to the room last night a young sixteen year old man from Washington, D.C. named Tim Sweetman asked me in the elevator if I was Wade Burleson. I told him I was and he shook my hand and said it was an honor to meet me. This morning I read where he put on his blog that he had met me in the elevator, and after hearing some of his thoughts about the convention I realized again that blogging is engaging a generation of young people toward involvement in the SBC, young people who without blogging would be oblivious to some of the issues at stake. To me this new generation's involvement in the SBC is one of the great blessings of the blogs.

Calvary Baptist McLeansville, North Carolina

Rachelle and I left at 9:30 a.m. to travel to the Calvary Baptist Church at McLeansville, North Carolina where Terry Larson is the pastor. I had never met Terry before, but he is a reader of this blog and he invited me to speak to his congregation for a Greensboro Crossover Rally at 10:30.

Several people read on my blog last night that I would be at Calvary and showed up! I met Bob Cleveland (a frequent commentor on this blog) and his lovely wife, a professor of North Greenville College who spoke some great words of encouragement to me, students from Criswell College in Dallas, and several pastors who came to the rally from around the country, including several of my good friends from Oklahoma.

A great Christian singing group named LordSong sang for the rally and I preached. We had a great morning of worship! Terry and Donna Larson are doing a fabulous job of ministry at Calvary and this is one of the largest and most vibrant Southern Baptist Churches in the area and will soon be building on 52 acres of prime property. I appreciated the opportunity to speak and the Larson's are new friend to the Burlesons.

The religion editor for the Greensboro paper was in the audience and will be writing a story for the Greensboro paper tomorrow about the effects of blogging on the SBC. She is a wonderful lady with a soft heart, keen mind, and a very professional manner. I look forward to reading the article.

After lunch Rachelle took a nap and i "hobnobbed" with many pastors in the lobby of the hotel. It was good to visit with a few men that I had not seen in many years and to renew acquaintances. I met several people that I had not known previously, but they came up to me because they recognized me from pictures being in the press and spoke some very encouraging words. Sometimes I feel I ought to ask when I shake hands "Friend or foe?", but of course, in the SBC we are all friends and family :). Rachelle and I are staying at the Greensboro Four Seasons hotel, the convention headquarters hotel, and I had some delightful conversations throughout the afternoon.

The Pastor's Conference

At five o'clock Rachelle and I went to the Pastor's Conference at the Greensboro Coliseum. We registered as messengers and went into the arena for the start of the Pastor's Conference. The first speaker really turned me off with a diatribe against people who believe God elected a certain number of people to go to heaven. He said that the number of people who will get to heaven will increase and surprise even God Himself if God's people were simply more faithful.

This type of teaching would not be too bad, even though the theology of it is aberrant, but what makes it unpalatable to me is the way in which "reformed" thinking is seemingly constantly attacked by some in the SBC. Southern Baptists need to preach the gospel and quit castigating each other over soteriological views (Arminanism vs. Calvinism) and I for one really wish anti-reformed diatribes would stop.

Overall I believe the Pastor's Conference is going to be one of the better ones in many years. I commend the officers of the Pastor's Conference for the creativity. Tomorrow morning the entire Pastor's Conference will be breakout sessions in various ballrooms at our hotel. I look forward to attending the dialogue between Al Mohler and Paige Patterson on the doctrine of election.

The Closing Meeting in Our Room

Several bloggers ended the day with a fellowship time in our suite at the Sheraton. Art Rogers, Tad Thompson, Dorcas Hawker, Tim Sweatman, Kevin Bussey, Rick Thompson, Tim Sweetman (different from Tim Sweatman), Gene Bridges, Paul Burleson, Ben Cole, and others gathered after the Pastor's Conference. We also had several non-bloggers who came in for the fellowship as well. One was Sam Hodges, the religion reporter for the Dallas Morning news. He was one of a handful from the traditional media present.

Sam's grandfather was the founder of the Baptist Television hour way back in the days of M.E. Dodds. His mother often sang as part of the Baptist hour broadcast, and though Sam is not a Southern Baptist, he sure is familiar with our convention.

The other day Sam unintentionally distorted my views on the two new policies of tongues and baptism. He read to me yesterday a correction he was giving to his editor to run in the Morning News. The correction succinctly, precisely and clearly hit the nail on the head. I really appreciate a reporter who is as diligent in wanting to get the facts straight as Sam.

The Southern Baptists who met during the Fellowship time have played a very key role in the direction of the convention this year. As of today I have heard of at least three candidates for President, six candidates for 1st Vice President and at least four candidates for 2nd Vice-President. For someone to have said six months ago there would be that many running would have been a laughable proposition. It just goes to show you how things can change so quickly during this informational age.

One of the things I appreciate about this loose knit group is it's unparalleled transparency. Nothing is said behind closed doors. Everything is open for all Southern Baptists to see. All you have to do is read their respective blogs. One statement made last night was this: "If you don't want all Southern Baptists to hear or read what you intend to say, then don't say it, because it shouldn't be said." How refreshing is that?

All in all the first day of being in Greensboro reminded me of why I am a Southern Baptist. There are thousands of sharp, dedicated, evangelical Christians who are committed to the Great Commission and identify themselves as Southern Baptists. I enjoy being identified with them! Today I spent time with some wonderful individuals and I go to bed tonight with the thunder echoing outside the hotel window thankful for the friends I have in the SBC.

More tomorrow.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

P.S. You MUST read SBC Outpost today. What an example of courageous leadership from the IMB.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

George Mueller and Soul Happiness

The German Christian George Mueller, who established ministries to homeless children in the nineteenth century, wrote the following in his diary on May 9, 1841. I recently read Mueller’s diary and found this particular entry very helpful to me personally.

“It has pleased the Lord to teach me a truth, the benefit of which I have not lost for fourteen years. The point is this: I saw more clearly than ever that the first great primary business to which I ought to attend every day was to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not how much I might serve the Lord, or how I might glorify the lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man might be nourished . . .

Before this time my practice had been, at least for ten years previously, as a habitual thing, to give myself to prayer after having dressed myself in the morning. Now, I saw that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the Word of God, and to meditation on it, that thus my heart might be comforted, encouraged, warned, reproved, instructed . . .

The first thing I did, after having asked in a few words the Lord’s blessing upon His precious Word, was to begin to meditate on the Word of God, searching as it were into every verse to get blessing out of it; not for the sake of public ministry of the Word, not for the sake of preaching on what I had meditated upon, but for the sake of obtaining food for my soul. The result I have found to be almost invariably this, that after a very few minutes my soul has been led to confession, or to thanksgiving, or to supplication; so that, though I did not, as it were, give myself to prayer, but to meditation, yet it turned almost immediately more or less into prayer. When thus I have been for a while making confession or intercession or supplication, or have given thanks, I go on to the next words or verse, turning all, as I go, into prayer for myself or others, as the Word may lead to it . . .

By breakfast time, with rare exceptions, I am in a peaceful if not happy state of heart.”

A good word for all of us this Lord's Day from a praying giant of the faith.

More tonight from Greensboro, North Carolina. I'm preaching this morning at 10:30 a.m. at Calvary Baptist, McLeansville, North Carolina, just outside of Greensboro, Terry Larsen, pastor. Come see us if you can!

In His Grace,


The Beauty of Blogs

Thanks to Dorcas Hawker, the Southern Baptist belle with by far the best name ever, I now see what I initially overlooked in the Dallas Morning News article that ran this morning.

The reporter has absolutely no idea about my view on the new policies on tongues and baptism. I will add nothing new, but in order to correct his misperceptions of the issue, I direct the reader to The Old Policies Compared to the New.

Some wish I would take the old blogs down. I can't because of intentional -- or as in the reporter's case unintentional -- distortions of what I have written. I will let my words speak for themselves. That is the beauty of personal blogs.

Friday, June 09, 2006

What's Right With the International Mission Board?

(1). Cooperation

I have missionaries from Youth With a Mission, Wycliffe, Samaritan's Purse, HCJB Radio, and other Great Commission Evangelical Mission organizations who say to me that Southern Baptists are leading the evangelical movement to reach unreached people groups. When you hear about the partnerships with the IMB that are occurring as we lead out in taking the Scriptures through oral translations of Scriptural narratives, or the translation of the Word of God into the languages of people groups who have never heard the gospel, you can't help but marvel at what the International Mission Board is doing. One high level non-Southern Baptist missionary told me last week over lunch that there is a genuine move of God taking place all over the world and Southern Baptists are at the leading edge with other evangelicals. He has been around a long time and said it is a new day of cooperation with Southern Baptists. In the coming weeks I hope to share with you some great stories from the fields to illustrate this cooperation.

(2). Administration

My undergraduate degree is in Business Administration and Corporate Finance. I considered an MBA before going into the ministry. I can assure every Southern Baptist that the administration of the IMB is on top of every aspect of the business end of missions. I have read diligently the public report of the problems at the NAMB, and I can guarantee you that there are not similar problems at the IMB. The work of the IMB is particularly complicated because of the countless countries with which we are involved, but the staff and administration do a tremendous job in their areas of responsibility, and the trustees are very active in demanding accountability.

When one looks at the leadership of Dr. Jerry Rankin the assessement is stunning. Over 5,100 missionaries currently at the IMB. An implementation of a New Direction philosophy that focuses on unreached people groups. I hesitate to put down the numbers of conversions and new churches on the mission field because frankly I am more interested in people being faithful in fulfilling their calling than determining success by numbers. Some fields will not have much harvest because of the conditions, but similar to William Carey's first two decades in India, the seeds planted will reap a harvest in centuries to come. The books are not closed on the Rankin administration, and with a possible ten years more of effective leadership at the IMB, I believe history will point to the last decade of the old millenium and the new decade of the new millenium as a watershed moment in Southern Baptist history.

(3). Giving

It is a new record that’s reaffirming an old commitment. $137,939,677.59 – that’s what Southern Baptists gave to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions in 2005, making it the single most successful year in the offering’s history.

The $137.9 million marks a 3.03 percent increase over 2004’s $133.9 million Lottie Moon offering, not to mention a 1.28 percent gain over the old record set in 2003 – $136.2 million. More than 5,100 International Mission Board missionaries depend on the annual offering, of which every penny is used to support their work sharing the Gospel around the world.

“This historic level of giving will enable us to send an increasing number of God-called missionary candidates moving toward appointment,” said IMB President Jerry Rankin. “It will enable us to push forward in fulfilling the vision of bringing all peoples to saving faith in Jesus Christ. At a time of economic uncertainty, and a year in which massive amounts of funding have been directed toward hurricane relief and recovery, it is gratifying to see God prove His faithfulness through Southern Baptists.”

Clyde Meador, IMB executive vice president, echoed Rankin’s sentiments and acknowledged the critical role of the Woman’s Missionary Union in the offering’s success.

“The IMB wouldn’t be able to do any of this without the faithful support of our state and national Woman’s Missionary Union partners,” Meador said. “Long ago, WMU laid the foundation for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering because they understood the eternal significance of sharing Christ with a lost world.

(4). Vision

The International Mission Board is not short on vision. The administration of the IMB does an outstanding job of casting vision, selling vision, and then implementing vision. Of course, the trustees of the IMB must approve the vision and policies of the IMB, and I have not had heard one trustee say publicly that he is not supportive of the vision cast by administration and Dr. Jerry Rankin.

This is one of the reasons why I believe all business sessions should be in the public view of the Southern Baptist Convention. The International Mission Board is owned by the Southern Baptist Convention. The trustees are elected by the Southern Baptist Convention. We all need to see, hear and affirm the vision established by Dr. Jerry Rankin or allow for the full, free debate against it to be PUBLICLY heard.

(5). Future

The best days of the International Mission Board are ahead. I really believe that to be true. This trustee will serve for the next seven years insuring that all Southern Baptists know about what is right with the International Mission Board, and right now, there is a great deal that is good!

This trustee will not stand by while some say things about the IMB that are not true. There have been statements made recently in Baptist Press by a presidential candidate of the SBC that sounds like talking points, words given him without first hand knowledge. As soon as I have been able to speak to him personally, I will blog about it. It is time that misinformation or disinformation from two well known individuals about the IMB stop.

Reports from Greensboro begin late Sunday night.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

Spurgeon on the Character of Leaders

A recent comment on one of my posts with a link caused me to contemplate on the character of those who wish to sound one way in public, but in private are completely different. It is impossible to know a man's true character without knowing his life, or at least discovering what those who know him best believe about his life. Granted, sometimes people can be fooled, but in the old days when pastors stayed at the same church for thirty, forty and even fifty years, it was very, very difficult to teach one thing and live another.

Men will put great trust in the words of one whose life agrees with his teaching. If they can detect something inconsistent in his character, the man's power is ended.

But if a man is evidently carried away with the one idea of being and doing good, and consumed with the purpose of glorifying God, then his utterances have power.

It is not what he says, but the man who says it, that makes the impression.

It is the life behind the words, the holy confidence in God every day exhibited, the calm restful walk with God which everybody can see in his very face, which, to a thoughtful man, makes his feeblest accent more powerful than the most furious declamation of a mere rhetorician.

C.H Spurgeon's "Words to Rest On"

Thursday, June 08, 2006

A Southern Baptist Revival Story

One night in China, Southern Baptist missionary C.L. Culpepper stayed up late for devotions, but as he tried to pray he felt hard. Finally he asked, “Lord, what is the matter?”

Culpepper then recounts, I had opened my Bible to Romans 2:17. It seemed the Apostle Paul was speaking directly to me when he said, “But if you call yourself a Christian and rely upon the Gospel, and boast of your relation to God, and know His will, and approve what is excellent; and if you are sure you are a guide to the blind, a light to those in darkness, a correction to the foolish, a teacher of children – you then who teach others, will you not teach yourself”

The Holy Spirit used this verse like a sword to cut deeply into my heart. He said, “You are a hypocrite! You claim to be a Christian! What have you really done for Christ? The Lord said those who believed on Him would have rivers of living waters flowing from their inmost being! Do you have that kind of power?”

Culpepper awakened his wife, and they prayed into the night. The next morning at a prayer meeting with fellow Southern Baptist workers, he confessed to pride and spiritual impotence, saying his heart was broken. The Holy Spirit began to so convict the others of sin that they could hardly bear it.

I watched their faces grow pale, then they began to cry and drop on their knees or fall prostrate on the floor. Missionaries went to missionaries confessing wrong feelings toward one another. Chinese preachers, guilty of envy, jealousy and hatred, confessed their sins to one another.

The revival spread through the seminary, the schools, the hospital, and the area churches. Perhaps the deepest impact was made on Culpepper’s friend Wiley B. Glass, a highly respected missionary. As Glass sat in the meetings, a man’s face came before him and God seemed to be asking Glass about his attitude toward that man. Wiley had hated the man for many years, and suddenly the Holy Spirit brought him under deep conviction.

In great anguish, Glass went to Culpepper, fell on his shoulder, and said, “Charlie, pray for me!” Both men went to their knees, but Glass was so distressed he couldn’t express his problem. He was pale as death and kept groaning in his anxiety. I prayed with him and for him several times during that day and the next. In the evening of the second day he came running to me and threw his arms around me.

“Charlie, it’s gone!” he exclaimed.

I said, “What’s gone?” He replied, “That old root of bitterness.”

He told me that thirty years earlier, before he came to China, the man had insulted his wife. The insult had made him so angry he felt he could kill the man if he ever saw him again. He realized a called servant of God should not feel that way, and it had bothered him for years. Finally he just turned the man over to God. When the Holy Spirit began moving in his heart during that week, the question came/, “Are you willing for that man to be saved?”

He answered, “Lord, I’m willing for You to save him . . . just keep him on the other side of heaven!” Finally, he came to the place where he said, “Lord if that man is alive, and if I can find him when I go on furlough, I will confess my hatred to him and do my best to win him to you.” When he reached that decision, the Lord released the joys of heaven to his soul, and he was filled with love and peace. He became a more effective preacher for the lord, and during the next few years he led hundreds to Christ.

Could it be that what we really need in the SBC is genuine revival? Could it be that intentional attempts to damage the reputation or wish harm on others is the very thing for which we need to repent? And could it be that “The Shantung Revival” may very well be a good model for us all?

Food for thought prior to Greensboro.

In His Grace,


Accounts of “The Shantung Revival” taken from Spirit of Revival, October 1991, pp 10-15; also from Higher Ground: The Biography of Wiley B. Glass, Missionary to China by Eloise Glass Cauthen p. 152, and Nelson’s Complete Book of Illustrations by Robert J. Morgan, p. 70.3

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Sutton Ain't Right

I am amazed that in the most public venue possible, the Associated Press, Jerry Sutton made two unbelievable statements that every alert and wise Southern Baptist should not let go unchallenged. Tim Whitmire, the AP reporter who interviewed Jerry, is a professional, and I'm sure the quotes are accurate, since I know Tim's style, having answered questions he sent to me this afternoon via email for an article he is writing this weekend.

Statement #1 from Jerry Sutton's AP Interview

{Begin Quote} " . . . a lot of people are concerned that he (Frank Page) really hasn't identified himself as a strong conservative over the years," Sutton said. "There's a suspicion and a concern there." {End Quote}

Unbelievable. It reminds me of the time I was refereeing a basketball game and saw a horrible foul and thought to myself "Somebody ought to call a foul!" when I realized I was the referee and I needed to call it myself.

I'm not a Southern Baptist referree, but if I were, I would throw a bright red flag and assess a fifteen yard penalty for unchristianlike conduct.

Suspicion? Of what? Liberalism?

Concern? Over what? __________ (Fill in the blank).

If you read my blog you will notice the theme from the beginning (December 2005) is that we must get to the place where Southern Baptists quit calling fellow evangelical conservatives -- who happen to disagree with our methodology or ideology -- "liberal."

Is this foul against Dr. Frank Page deliberate or unintentional? We might need to ask a Judge.

Statement #2 from Jerry Sutton's AP Interview

In answering a question about dissent Sutton said,

{Begin Quote} "Is this dissent meant to bring a correction or is this dissent meant to stir up trouble?" he said, adding he worries the confidentiality of trustees is violated when statements made in closed meetings are repeated on the Internet.

"There are some things that trustees need to keep confidential when they're working through issues," he said. {End Quote}

Jerry, what in the world do you mean? Do you know for yourself that statements made in confidential meetings are put on the internet?

Where? How? When? What?

No need to turn off the microphone. Just answer the questions.

Show the statements made in closed meetings that are repeated on the internet. I think you will find you can't prove your statements.

Confidentiality has not been breached.

Southern Baptists have a right to know what is going at their Boards and agencies. We all better get used to more openness because the SBC demands it.

Well, I couldn't go into Bible study tonight as we look at the prophet Jeremiah without challenging the public statements of Dr. Sutton. I would encourage you to read up on all the issues for yourself.

The convention needs informed messengers.

(UPDATE THURSDAY: It seems that some are saying the Dr. Sutton was only saying Dr. Page was not a "strong" conservative but a conservative none the less. Then please answer these two questions. (1). What, according to Sutton, is there to suspicion about Frank Page? (Notice how the word suspicion is used in the Brainy Dictionary under the definition of character: Possessing a moral quality; the principles and motives that control the life; as, a man of character; his character saves him from suspicion. ). (2). What, according to Sutton, is there to be concerned about in Frank Page? If Frank were saying Page were a conservative there would be no need for suspicion or concern).

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

A Review of the Events the Last Six Months

Paul Littleton reminded us yesterday of a quote by George Burns on preaching a good sermon. "The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending, then having the two as close together as possible."

I think the same principle applies to blogs. Sometimes we lose our perspective with so much material between our beginning and our ending. Recently I read an article from that did a good job in summarizing some of the events of the last six months.

Some will refuse to even read this column because of the editor's support of the CBF, and just the fact I refer you to the article will lead some to call me a CBF sympathizer. That causes me to chuckle. More than a few have written said that I am one of the most disliked men by the CBF in Oklahoma for various reasons I won't go into here. However, any lack of affection between me and the CBF does not stop me from appreciating good reporting.

Sometimes it is helpful to remember the big picture and this article scripts a broad summary in George Burns fashion --- the beginning and the ending come close together.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

Monday, June 05, 2006

The Change Coming to the SBC Is Substantive

A reporter called today and asked what I thought about Jerry Sutton "throwing his hat into the Presidential ring" of the Southern Baptist Convention. I basically said it was a blessing for Southern Baptists to have multiple candidates because it was evidence that a new day was dawning in the SBC.

Please allow me a moment of personal privilege. I love the Southern Baptist Convention. I am loyal to my fellow Southern Baptists and I'm proud, in a good sense of the word, of the phenominal work we have accomplished for the Kingdom throughout our country and the world. I realize there are other wonderful, evangelical denominations and non-profit ministries that a doing a great work as well, but I rejoice in what God is doing through the SBC and I believe our brightest days very well may be ahead.

What excites me the most is that any attempt by an oligarchy to control the direction of the convention is splintering. The attempt by a few to control Boards and the nominating process in order to get "our men" in positions of service is over. I believe that Southern Baptists have now said "enough" to the methodologies of the past. It is time for us all to prayerfully seek to elect those men and women in the Southern Baptist Convention who display a love for Scripture, a passion for the lost, a support for our cooperative mission efforts, and a disinterest in poltical appointments. In other words, we need people who are willing to serve and don't see appointments as "rewards" for past loyalty or service.

Now to my opinion of the three men.

I believe they are all good men who have reached hundreds of people with the gospel of Jesus Christ and have built great churches.

Paige Patterson and Johnny Hunt support Ronnie Floyd.

Judge Pressler and others support Jerry Sutton.

Frank Page is supported by those who believe that it is time for our convention to be led by people who support the Cooperative Program. His church, giving over 12% to the CP and a record dollar amount in the history of the South Carolina Conveniton, is a model of CP support.

For that reason alone, and trusting in his personal pledge to me to appoint a broad section of Southern Baptists, I believe Frank Page is the best candidate of the three.

I am grateful our convention has a choice this year.

It should be interesting.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

Sunday, June 04, 2006

That Which Drives Me Is Personal Conviction, Not Personal Ambition

I have a pastor friend by the name of Chuck Andrews who has gently taken to task a couple of IMB trustees, one who remains anonymous, that Pastor Andrews feels have disparaged me by stating publicly "From (Wade Burleson's) first IMB meeting it has seemed as if trustee Burleson has had an agenda to hurl himself into the national limelight regardless of the consequences.”

My wife and I really appreciated Chuck jumping to my defense. It has been said, "any lie, frequently repeated, will gradually gain acceptance," and since Chuck and his wife Stella know us, Chuck's challenge of the trustees assertion is particularly helpful. Pastor Andrews concluded his rebuttal by writing "the 'Wade Burleson Issue' is much more about the “issues” than about 'Wade Burleson.'"

Thanks Chuck. You hit the nail on the head.

The Issue for Me

I have absolutely no desire to hold office at the SBC level. Zilch. I did not seek to serve as a trustee of the IMB, but due to many family members and church members that are serving on the mission field through the Southern Baptist Convention, I felt to decline the invitation to serve would be like letting go of a lifeline attached to my loved ones. So I agreed to serve.

I did not come to the International Mission Board in a spiritual vacuum. Though I have not been involved in national service since 1995 when I served as Chairman of the Denominational Calendar Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, I kept up with the direction we have been moving by attending conventions when possible and keeping informed through various publications.

I have been concerned for the last decade that we as conservative, evangelical Southern Baptists have been moving AWAY from the simplicity and power of Biblical Christianity to a Westernized version of a surface morality that looks far more like the Pharisees of Jesus day than Christ's disciples.

There have been a progression of events in the SBC that has aroused this concern in my heart. The boycott of Disney, the withdrawal of participation in evangelical alliances, the overemphasis on national politics, the often anti-reformed rants by a handful of "leaders" of the SBC, and the continuing insistence by some to label evangelical conservatives "liberal" simply because they do not conform to a very specific, narrow ideology and morality.

Please understand. I am not asking for Southern Baptists to ever compromise on our view on the person and work Jesus Christ, the sacred text, salvation by grace through faith, the Trinity, or any other essential doctrine of hte faith. However, I am asking for Southern Baptists to recognize that tolerance WITHIN the conservative, evangelical parameters of the Baptist Faith and Message is absolutely necessary for the Southern Baptist Convention to thrive!

An Illustration from History

When the Protestant Reformation began, its aim was to reform the Church. However, the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestants ended up at literal war with each other. During the Wars of Religion in the sixteenth century and the Thirty Years War of the seventeenth century, neither Catholics nor Protestants succeeded in bringing each other to their knees. The outcome of this stalemate was the doctrine of cuius regio eius religio - or interpreted from the Latin, "he who is the ruler, his the religion."

It would seem to me that there has been within the SBC over the half century a "religious war" between liberals and fundamentalists dissimilar to the wars of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in that blood has not been shed, but similar in that the outcome may be the same --- cuius regio ius religio.

In 1974 Broadman Press published Jimmy Draper's book "The Church Christ Approves." This beloved pastor and statesman, who in the 1970's pastored the First Southern Baptist Church, Del City, Oklahoma, made this startling statement in his book:

"Fundamentalism is more dangerous than liberalism because everything is done in the name of the Lord, in the name of the Lord, the fundamentalist condemns all who disagree with him... he uses the Bible as a club with which to beat people over the head, rather than a means of personal strength and a revealer of God. To the fundamentalist, the test of fellowship is correct doctrine. If you do not agree with his doctrinal position, he writes you off and will not have fellowship with you.

There is no room in his world for those who have a different persuasion. He feels threatened by diverse convictions and writes them off as sinister and heretical. As long as you support his position, he is with you. Cross him, and he has no use whatever for you... the fundamentalist tactic is simple: hatred, bitterness and condemnation of all whom they despise... in the name of the Lord they will launch vehement attacks on individuals and churches, in the name of the Lord they attempt to assassinate the character of those whom they oppose, they direct their attack most often on other Christian leaders with whom they find disagreement....

Lessons I Have Learned

I have pastored Emmanuel Baptist Church, Enid, Oklahoma for fifteen years. We have an incredible church. There is a love for Scripture among the people. We teach, live and breath grace. The people are VERY mission minded. We practice loving church discipline for violations of Biblical commands, but we are very careful that we do not demand conformity on the personal convictions of some. The fellowship is sweet. The gospel drives all we do. Lives are changed through the ministries of the people of Emmanuel.

I have learned that the convention is not where we are as a church --- yet.

What drives me as a trustee of the International Mission Board is the belief that we must draw a line in the sand and stop narrowing the definition of what makes a "true" Southern Baptist. We must stop narrowing the parameters of cooperation in missions and evangelism by EXCLUDING PEOPLE who, according to Dr. Draper, do not agree with the doctrinal positions of those in leadership, yet affirm the Baptist Faith and Message.

To close this post allow me to ask a question. In your opinion, is the pastor described below a true Southern Baptist?

1. He believes in the deity of Jesus Christ.
2. He believes in the Triune God --- Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
3. He believes in the sacrificial atonement of Jesus Christ for sinners.
4. He believes in the physical resurrection of Christ from the tomb.
5. He believes in salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
6. He himself has professed his belief in Christ as Lord through believer's baptism by immersion.
7. He has been a member of a Southern Baptist Church for the past thirty four years.
8. He affirms the Baptist Faith and Message.

9. He is an amillenialist and does not accept the premise of the "Left Behind Series."
10. He believes that God has chosen to save a definite number of sinners, called the elect, through the person and work of His Son.
11. He does not believe that the Bible teachings drinking an alchoholic beverage is a sin, but rather, the Christian is to abstain from drunkenness.
12. He and his church accept people into fellowship who have been baptized by immersion after having come to faith in Christ, regardless of the credentials of the person who baptized them.
13. He does not see the Bible forbidding anyone speaking in tongues privately, and if spoken publicly he believes there are several clear Biblical restrictions, but he himself does not have the gift.
14. He is more concerned with the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ and seeing lives changed one by one rather than speaking out against the "evils" of society.

Again, can the pastor described above be considered a true Southern Baptist?

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Blogs Have a Way of Keeping Me Humble

I have learned that it is best not to take too seriously what people say about you on blogs, either good or bad. For some reason those who seek to cast me in a poor light do not sign their names to the comments, and as a result I pay little attention to what those anonymous commentators write. On the other hand, people have also said some very nice things about me and signed their names, and I try to pay as little attention to those comments as I do the criticism. It's not that I don't appreciate the nice things said, but I find there is trouble when you start taking too much notice of either the good or the bad things said.

However, there are some comments about me on blogs that I find just plain curious. They are not necessarily good -- or bad --- just odd. Take for instance this statement by blogger Rob Westbrook:

I've never met Wade Burleson. I think I might be able to pick him out in a crowd, because of his resemblance to the country star, Bill Anderson. But I think, after reading his thoughts for months, I know his heart, or at least, where his heart lies.

The allegation of a physcial resemblance between me and Bill Anderson on Rob's Blog sparked my curiosity. I am not a country music fan so I did not know who Bill Anderson was or what he looked like. So . . . . I googled "Bill Anderson" and sure enough, there were several photos of Bill on the net.

This is one of the more popular pictures of country and western star Bill Anderson. I'm sure Bill is a nice guy and a very good country singer.

But this is the Baptist Press picture of me. I have been accused of many things in the last several months, and if the allegation that I resemble Bill Anderson is as on target as the other accusations I feel pretty comfortable in the that end my name will be cleared -- :) .

Have a great Lord's Day.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

P.S. Feel free make your own assertions regarding uncanny resemblances between fellow SBC bloggers and celebrities as in Marty "How Are You" Duren and Al "Scar Face" Pacino.

Friday, June 02, 2006

A Bright Mind And a Bright Future

David Sanders, is one of the brightest political commentators in nation. He writes on politics and government for the Stephens Media Group and his column is widely read throughout the Southwest.

David is highly respected in his field and well known in Washington. Though he is the son of a Southern Baptist minister, he is not in the ministry himself, but he and his wife will be making their way to Greensboro, North Carolina for the Southern Baptist Convention.

David represents a growing number of very bright, young Southern Baptists who are energized to insure our Convention remains steadfast in proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ and does not get side tracked by the non-essentials.

I would highly encourage you to read a recent opinion piece entitled Concerned and Called to Action.

May his tribe increase.

In His Grace,


Thursday, June 01, 2006

Narrowing the Parameters of Cooperation Affects Real People

We Southern Baptists constantly affirm our love for the inerrant Word of God and our desire to see the lost saved. For this reason it is extraordinarily schizophrenic for us as a Convention to ban from mission work Southern Baptist inerrantists who have been called by God to the mission field, and have exhibited tremendous gifts in reaching people for Jesus Christ, simply because they have a "private prayer language." (This post will deal with the North American Mission Board and not the International Mission Board in order to abide by the new IMB policy forbidding public criticism against the IMB).

I have said on many occasions that I do not have a "private prayer language" and I am not looking for one, but I have no problem in believing the Southern Baptist Convention is large enough, and the Baptist Faith and Message is broad enough to allow those who do to cooperate fully in the mission enterprises of our convention.

Recently, I heard a very sad story from a young Southern Baptist who had been incredibly effective in reaching the lost in a very difficult area of Los Angeles, but when it came time for the NAMB to approve him as a missionary, he was rejected because he had a "private prayer language."

His name is Jason Epps and you can read his story here.

After reading his narrative, you might go to Paul Burleson's blog here, and read a very pertinent post on why it is vitally important for us as Southern Baptists to keep our cooperation around the essentials of the faith, and some practical ways we can work with fellow Southern Baptists who disagree with our interpretations of the sacred text.

If we don't draw a line in the sand today on the issue of the "gifts" then tomorrow you may be rejected for your views on soteriology (Calvinism or Arminianism), your views on eschatology (dispentationalism or amillenialism), or your views on ecclesiology (the local church emphasis of Landmarks vs. the universal church of theologians like J.L. Dagg). We can enjoy the debate on the non-essentials of the faith, and vigorously defend our interpretations based on the sacred text, but when we start excluding conservatives because they don't agree with us, we begin moving down the slippery slope of isolationism that will dump our Convention into the vast sea of powerless conformity rather than propel us into a lost world where we minister in the power of the GOSPEL of Jesus Christ because it is that glorious GOSPEL that unites us.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson