Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Fatal Logic of Hollywood Bone Collectors

By now you have heard of film director James Cameron's claim that he had found the tomb that contained the bones of Jesus, Mary Magdalene and their son.

It seems a little silly to even attempt to refute the claims of an even sillier movie maker, but for those who need a good understanding of the apologetic basis for belief in the resurrection of Christ, one needs to turn no further than our own 18th century Baptist theologian extraordinaire, the brilliant Dr. John Gill.

In Gill's A Body of Doctrinal Divinity Gill devotes a chapter to The Resurrection of Christ From the Dead. In that chapter Dr. Gill beautifully and clearly defends the bodily resurrrection of Christ and closes his cogent defense by pointing out four personal and experiential effects of the resurrection of Christ upon each and every believer . . .

The blessings of the covenant of grace in general are enjoyed by the saints in virtue of it; for though reconciliation, and other blessings of grace, are by the death of Christ; yet the application and enjoyment of them are through his interceding life, in consequence of his resurrection from the dead; to which life the whole of salvation is ascribed (Rom. 5:10; Heb. 7:25).

Justification, in particular, is observed as one special end and effect of Christ’s resurrection; "he was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification"; and the triumph of faith, in the view of that blessing of grace, is rather, and more principally founded on Christ’s resurrection, than on his sufferings and death (Rom. 4:25; 8:33,34).

Regeneration is another effect of Christ’s resurrection; as the elect of God were "quickened with him", and in him, as their head and representative, when he was quickened and raised from the dead; hence said to be "raised up together" (Eph. 2:5,6), so they are quickened in regeneration, in consequence and virtue of his resurrection, to which it is ascribed (1 Pet. 1:3).

The resurrection of the saints at the last day is the fruit and effect of Christ’s resurrection, and which is ensured by it. Christ’s glorious body is the exemplar, according to which the bodies of the saints will then be formed; and his resurrection is the earnest and pledge of theirs; he is "the firstfruits of them that slept", that is, of the dead: the firstfruits are the sample, and what ensure a following harvest; so the resurrection of Christ is the sample, and gives assurance of the resurrection of the saints in time to come: so that Christ’s resurrection being certain, the resurrection of the saints is also (1 Cor. 15:20,23; 1 Thess. 4:14).

Why the Alleged Discovery of Jesus' Bones Means Nothing

Dr. Gill points out that it is the resurrection of Christ that brings to every believer in Jesus Christ all the blessings of grace, including complete forgiveness, perfect righteousness, unconditional acceptance, and eternal life. We believe, as did the Apostle Paul, that those without faith in Christ will bear the wrath of God for eternity (Colossians 3:6). This wrath, which is holy and righteous, is what the Bible describes as the eternal hell - a complete and absolute separation from the mercy and love of God, and a total individual and personal immersion into the holy anger and wrath of a righteous God. As the prophets of old were prone to say, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."

There are many who do not believe the above paragraph to be true. It is ludricous to the atheist, unknowable to the agostic, and otherwise denied by all others who are not believers in Jesus Christ and the sacred word of God. But in closing this post I would like to posit a hypothetical and use simple logic to show why the ONLY people who should be worried about whether or not to believe Jesus' bones have been found are those without faith in Christ.

There are only two options regarding what happened to Christ after He died. He either was placed in a tomb and his bones decayed and returned to the earth's cycle of life (as naturalists call it), or He actually rose from the tomb, ascended to heaven, and now intercedes on behalf of all who trust Him as the Bible states. Since nobody on earth at this current time of history has personally and visually seen either the resurrected body of Jesus Christ or the bones of the decayed body and bones of Christ, both options require a measure of faith.

Now suppose, for the sake of logic, that Jesus Christ did not rise from the tomb by the power of God. If that is the case He is not God. He is a mere man. We are all products of evolution. There is no Creator. There is no accountability to any Supreme Being. We live. We die. We cease to exist. This is what James Cameron believes. It requires as much faith to believe that Jesus did not rise from the grave as it does to believe He did.

Now suppose, using simple logic again, that Jesus Christ did actually rise from the dead. We who trust in Him are accepted by God's grace. We are given the gifts of grace. Our sins are remembered no more. We receive the gift of perfect righteousness that comes from heaven. We are accepted without reservation by the One who created us. We have eternal life and will never bear the wrath of God - ever.

Both views require faith.

If our faith in Christ has no effect, for He is dead, then what difference does it make that we have faith in Christ? When we die, there is simply nothing. But if our faith in Christ is valid, and Christ did rise from the dead, then all the gifts of grace are ours -- we rest in Him, and the state of our eternity is secure. We are at peace with the God who calls us home to Him.

Who has more to lose based on their beliefs? It should be obvious to all - the James Camerons of this world have everything to lose and nothing to gain. There is no greater gamble than that of rejecting the historic Christian understanding of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. One's soul is at stake.

Again, the future state of your existence very well may depend whether or not you have faith and trust Christ's person and work on behalf of sinners, including His bodily resurrection - and that is a logical statement, not one of faith.

In His Grace,


Monday, February 26, 2007

A Post Deserving of Your Close Attention

There are a few men and women that I read in the blog world that, each and every time they write, I am either edified, taught, or come away thinking, "that is a voice the entire SBC needs to hear in this day of confusion."

David Rogers, a missionary for the International Mission Board is one of those persons whose writing does the above for me. David needs no formal introduction, but his newest post deserves your close attention.

His post is entitled The Universal Church, Landmarkism, and John Dagg

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Reformed Theology and Child Training

There are few who believe that the current debate regarding the proper place of reformed theology within our Southern Baptist Convention reaches only to disagreements regarding predestination and other areas of sotierology. But it is interesting to note that one's belief, or lack of belief, in God's efficacious grace touches even practical issues like child rearing.

The 18th Century methodist minister John Wesley held to a non-reformed view of grace in soteriology. Stephen Finley, explains the relation between Wesley's evangelical convicton of corrupt human nature, his anti-reformed adherence to the belief in free will, and his logical conclusions regarding child training:

Wesley believed that a child was by his very nature a "mere atheist." Children were, foremost, afflicted by "natural atheism," an atheism chiefly inherent in their innate capacity to enjoy and to love nature. Thus, the "wise parent" was impelled to break their will because such will would lead them to two damning desires: the "desire of the flesh" and the "desire of the eyes." Children desired first to enjoy earthly happiness, to experience what gratified the outward senses, such as taste or touch. More inimical to their spiritual well-being was the complementary "desire of the eyes": the "propensity to seek happiness in what gratifies the internal sense, the imagination, either by things grand, or new, or beautiful." Both desires for Wesley were only incriminating evidence of a child's inclination to fatal error, that is, to be "a lover of the creature, instead of the Creator." Parents could only deepen and harden such error by ascribing "the works of creation to nature," or by praising the beauty of man or woman or the natural world. Hence children were to be brought up in extreme austerity of diet and dress and were to be taught repeatedly how they were "fallen spirits." Such instruction would help them to realize that they were "more ignorant, more foolish, and more wicked, than they could possibly conceive." From this method of education they would emerge with firmly held conviction that their natural propensities were akin on the one hand to "the devil" and on the other to "the beasts of the field."

In short, Wesley believed that unless the parent worked hard to 'break the will of the evil child,' the child would never experience salvation. Contrast Wesley's views with that of the great 17th century reformed theologian Herman Witsius. Witsius trusted soley in God's covenant of grace in the transformation of his child's pagan heart, and would gentle and sweet words urge believing parents to depend upon God's sovereign electing grace in the soul transformation of their offspring. Witsius reformed understanding of the early years of a covenant child stands in stark contrast to that of Wesley's views.

During our childhood there certainly appears the extraordinary love of our God to, in that as soon as we are born, and just as we come from our mother, he hath commanded us to be solemnly brought from her bosom as it were into his own arms, that he should bestow upon us, in the very cradle, the tokens of our dignity and future kingdom; that he should put that song into our mouth, 'Thou didst make me hope, when I was upon my mother's breast: I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother's belly,' Ps. xxii. 9, 10, that, in a word, he should join us to himself in the most solemn covenant from our most tender years: the remembrance of which, as it is glorious and full of consolation to us, so in like manner it tends to promote Christian virtues, and the strictest holiness, through the whole course of our lives. Nothing ought to be dearer to us than to keep sacred and inviolable that covenant of our youth, that first and most solemn engagement,that was made to God in our name.

Some may say the dialogue and discussion in the Southern Baptist Convention between Calvinists and anti-Calvinists is unnecessary and ultimately detrimental. I personally believe it is important because it affects even the most simplest of Christian tasks -- the rearing of a child in a Christian home.

In His Grace,


Friday, February 23, 2007

What Makes a Man Great Is God's Grace

Below is a very personal, moving email that I received after my post regarding Admiral Nelson. A former pastor who forfeited his ministry because of an adulterous affair wrote me the following email. He has given me written permission to post it. The names have been removed to protect the privacy of the families involved. An additional response to this pastor's email from me follows:

Good morning Wade. I wanted to comment on your blog post privately today, and I hope you do not mind. I really enjoyed your post on Admiral Nelson. I am a history buff, but had never heard of him before. Thanks for sharing it.

Anytime I hear of a “hero” who has an affair, it makes me take pause of my own behavior. Several years ago, I became involved in an extra-marital affair. As soon as the affair occurred, I recognized that I had forfeited my right to the pastorate, found a secular job, and resigned the pastorate. Eventually I divorced, and married the woman I was involved with. God’s grace and faithfulness were things I always knew about before, but now I know about personally. Romans 8:28 is not just a theory or a theological argument, it is absolutely true, and for that, I am thankful.

The author you quoted is right when he says that history tends to vilify the players in these kinds of circumstances. To some of my wife's family, I was a sexual predator, who had offended before her, and after her. In collusion with others within the our local association, attempts were made to dig up evidence from previous churches I had served that I was a perpetual moral offender. Of course, they found none, and only when the people were confronted by some close to me did they back off and drop the subject. To the church people I served as pastor, my current wife was the villain, the whoremonger of Proverbs 5 and 6, come to seduce the mighty man of God.

Ultimately, neither extreme is true. I had never before been involved in anything even remotely close to this kind of behavior, and have never since. But I found myself in a place of despair in ministry, the recipient of terribly mean-spirited anonymous letters, constant attacks by a few deacons, and the recognition that I was not happy in my marriage. I was in trouble, for sure. My current wife was at the time lonely, seemingly trapped in a loveless marriage, and never intended for anything like what happened to happen. We were on a collision course, and we both knew it. Within a year, our friendship had turned into internal feelings that I knew were inappropriate. I contacted two other pastor-friends, and asked them for direction and accountability. They directed me to certain Bible verses to meditate on, and prayed with me. I never heard from them again. I contacted my director of missions, and asked for a meeting. He came and asked me point blank if I had had an affair, and I said, “Absolutely not. I have not laid a hand on her.” He said good, then prayed with me, then went to three other pastors (that I know of), all with connections at my church, and told them that I was having an affair with a woman in my church. It did not take long for the rumors to spread.

For the better part of a year, I tried to some measure to do the right thing, but was constantly being accused of doing the wrong. My daughters, who were young teenagers at the time, were at different times pulled into rooms at church and told by people that their father was having an affair. It was the most difficult time of my life. Although it was flawed logic, I determined that I had been doing the right thing my entire life, and this is where it has taken me. I reasoned that if I am going to be punished and lose my career for something I did not do, I might as well do it. It was then that the relationship turned romantic. Of course, later on, people would say, “See? We told you he was having an affair!” It was a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I say all of this because I deal with this issue often: am I a good man? Am I a decent person, who made one really big, career-ending mistake? Is the good I did in the fifteen years I spent in vocational ministry valid, or does my one indiscretion render all of that null and void? Am I capable of doing good in the future? Am I permanently disqualified from vocational ministry? (not that I would ever want to pastor again—I’m no glutton for punishment). These and other questions are ones that I deal with fairly often, especially when I run into people who knew me from before.

When I read posts like yours from today, I am encouraged in some ways—I’m not the only one to have gone through this, I’m not the first, and I won’t be the last. But at the same time, I am also discouraged, when I read comments like this: “ It can be said that Admiral Nelson was a great commander, but it cannot be said he was a great man. May Christian people never be blinded by the world's tendency to turn a blind eye toward unethical behavior or immoral activity simply because the perpetrator of such activity is considered a hero.”

Not that I disagree—Nelson was a perpetual philanderer. I find that people tend to place me in the same category as him, even though it only happened to me once.

You should know that I have come to grips with what happened. My family is changed forever, but is happy, and in many ways better off. God really is good as making all things work together for the good of my family. My wife and I stand as ones forgiven by the grace of a mighty God, and we will forever be thankful. However, there are those who seem to look upon us as people who are part of a blight on Christianity, and a black mark on ministry. Will that ever go away?

Thank you again, Wade, for your article today. And thank you for your articles every day. I never get tired of reading your insights. You are a great encouragement to me, and I appreciate you greatly.

Dear ___________,

I would propose you are not a good man. You are a great man.

You are humble, open, transparent and acknowledge your moral failure. The difference between a flawed man and a good man is the inability to feel guilt, sorrow and remorse for moral failure. Admiral Nelson never expressed remorse or repentance. In fact, he flaunted his behavior. He was never broken or saw it as a blight -- which you obviously do yours.

The difference between a good man and a great man is the grace of God. A genuine faith relationship with Jesus Christ causes a man to make an honest evaluation of his moral failures, mitigates against the natural desire to hide or cover it from others, works tirelessly to restore that which has been lost where possible, but most important of all, rests in Christ's forgiveness while moving forward in life.

It seems that to me that you now know experientially what we preachers all understand intellectually. Our only hope is God's grace.

This is what makes you a great man. You cannot boast about your life, but you can boast about Christ. This is where we all should be.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

Thursday, February 22, 2007

That Friend Down Inside Me Is What Matters

It is my usual custom to read three books concurrently on three separate subjects: theology, history and fiction. My current historical read is Roy Adkin's Nelson's Trafalgar: The Battle That Changed the World, a compelling account of the 1805 sea battle between Napolean's combined French and Spanish Navies against the world renowned British fleet led by Vice-Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson.

Admiral Nelson is considered by some to be the greatest naval commander in the history of modern sea warfare. To this day his tactics are studied from Anapolis to Portsmouth, and his life is recounted by no less than one thousand biographies. Admiral Nelson was known for his fearlessness in the face of death, his creative seafaring against insurmountable odds, and his resolute leadership. This genuine hero of England lost an arm in his thirties, an eye in his early forties, and eventually his life in the Battle at Trafalgar that ultimately saved England from Napolean's planned invasion of the island.

There was a short paragraph in Adkin's new book that caught my attention the other evening as I read it. It seems that Admiral Nelson strayed from his marriage vows on regular occasions, and even had a longstanding affair with Emma Hamilton, the wife of the English Ambassador to Sicily, by whom Lord Nelson fathered a child. Adkin's said that the people of England were aware of their hero's moral failure, but . . .

"The relationship between Nelson and Emma has often been portrayed as that of a vulnerable hero seduced by a calculating courtesan -- a view that stemmed from the Victorian need to explain away a 'fault' in an otherwise exemplary man. The truth was somewhat different."

I think there is something in all of us that leads us to often turn a blind eye to the faults of our heros. There is even a blatant attempt by some to cover up the moral ineptitude of our beloved leaders. It's as if we carry the Victorian attitude, "Those who have led us so effectively cannot have a penchant for inappropriate behavior, for if that were the case, how could they have accomplished all the great things they have done?"

It can be said that Admiral Nelson was a great commander, but it cannot be said he was a great man. May Christian people never be blinded by the world's tendency to turn a blind eye toward unethical behavior or immoral activity simply because the perpetrator of such activity is considered a hero. And may those of us who are considered Christian leaders never fall into the trap of living like Lord Nelson, growing in fame and reputation for our successes, but neglecting the more personal issues of integrity, faithfulness and moral fortitude.

"I desire so to conduct the affairs of this administration that if at the end, when I come to lay down the reins of power, I have lost every other friend on earth, I shall at least have one friend left, and that friend shall be down inside me." Abraham Lincoln

Shock Treatment for Southern Baptist Bloggers?

The Washington Post is reporting that the Chinese government is using shock treatments to cure people with 'internet' addictions. I'm not sure how the government of China deterimines if one is 'addicted,' but I sure do question the use of shock treatments as a 'cure.' You wonder what possesses people to implement such radical solutions to what they perceive to be a problem (or threat?), but then I remind myself that there may be a handful in the SBC who would love to see a few Southern Baptist bloggers shocked with a higher voltage than what China may be using. :)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

True Leadership Being Exhibited in the SBC

The more I hear from Thom S. Rainer, the more I believe this man exemplifies the very type of leader the Southern Baptist Convention must have. Below is the February 19th President's article from the Lifeway's website where Thom reflects on last week's 'Baptist Identity Conference' in Jackson, Tennessee.

"When my three grown sons were small children, we would often play with a wooden train. Because they were so young, the boys would sometimes construct a track that ended up becoming two separate sections. The train could not continue to run because it would fall off the track. It was at that point that one of them would request with excitement: "Daddy, build me a bridge."

And so I would. The train could then run smoothly.

I am a part of a denomination that has many tracks but few bridges. And if we don’t start building some bridges quickly, God’s hand of blessing may move beyond us.

Let me share with you an example of recent days. I spoke last week at the Baptist Identity Conference at Union University in Jackson, Tenn. From an outsider’s perspective, one might conclude that the crowd was like-minded. After all, it was a gathering of mostly Southern Baptists.

But I knew better. Present were five-point Calvinists and others who would not affirm all five points. Also in attendance were cessationists and non-cessationists, people with differing views of women in ministry, bloggers, and print-media writers. There were some who thought leaving "Baptist" out of a church’s name was wrong; and there were others had already taken the denominational label out of their church’s name. The views on eschatology held by the attendees were many.

It was a diverse group of Southern Baptists indeed.

I spoke to many people before and after my formal presentation. One person commented to me, "Dr. Rainer, I better leave you before people start wondering why we are speaking with each other." Admittedly, his comment was meant to be humorous. But it did have a sting of truth in it. The labels had already been applied. The sides had been chosen. And you had better be careful about the side you chose or the people with whom you associated.

I reject that line of thinking.

As far as I knew, everyone at that conference was my brother or sister in Christ. As far as I knew, everyone was a Bible believer. I refuse to let labels keep me from building bridges.

My six years as a seminary student were difficult. Though I met many godly men and women and professors, I also witnessed firsthand much aberrant theology. I was and still am a firm supporter of the conservative resurgence. I knew we could not continue down the path we were headed.

But it seems as if we just can’t stop fighting even though the battle for the Bible is over and won.

I understand the risk I am taking by writing these words. But silence is not an option. I must be about building bridges.

Please understand that I have no illusion that my words will start a revolution or that many will listen. But I can only be held accountable before God for my own actions.

I choose to build bridges.

Though I am a fallible and sinful person, I will seek God’s power to stay true to the following:

1. I stand firm on the inerrant Word of God. I support without reservation the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.

2. Though I may disagree with some on secondary and tertiary issues, I will not let those points of disagreement tear down bridges of relationships with brothers and sisters in Christ.

3. I will seek to join with those who will work together on the common causes of missions, evangelism and the health of the local church.

4. I will seek God’s will in prayer before I write or speak a word of disagreement against another brother or sister in Christ or even a non-Christian. I will seek to see the plank in my own eye before pointing out the splinter in another person’s eye. I will follow the truths of Matthew 18 when I feel that I need to confront a brother or sister in Christ.

5. I will spend more time rejoicing in the Lord (Phil 4:4).

6. I will seek God’s power to have a more gentle and Christlike spirit (Phil 4:5).

7. I will pray that the lost and the unchurched world will know me by my Christlike love.

Such is my commitment.

If God so leads, I invite you to join me in building bridges.

Amen Thom. Count me in.

In His Grace,


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Remember the Alamo

A photograph sent to me by a Southern Baptist friend from up north. Your comment becomes the caption.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Ten Men For Whom I Ask You To Pray

IMB Chairman Dr. John Floyd appointed two ad hoc committees to study the new policies prohibiting a private prayer language and identifying an acceptable baptism as one performed in a church that holds to the doctrine of eternal security. These two ad hoc committees are to bring a report and/or recommendations to the full trustee board either in the March or May meeting of the International Mission Board.

I am asking you to pray for the members of these two ad hoc committees as these men prepare for their task. I know all of them personally and each of them genuinely desires to do that which they perceive to be best for the Southern Baptist Convention and cooperative missions. I have intentionally tried to stay away from the topic of the two policies to allow the two committees an opportunity to do their work. However, it should be pointed out that no work of the Southern Baptist Convention, particularly as important as the work of the two ad hoc committees, is done in a vacuum. Southern Baptists operate best when our business is ultimately done in openness and transparency, particularly when decisions that affect individual churches and our future cooperation in missions ministry is at stake.

My concern from the very beginning has been the rationale and motivation for the two new policies. I am trusting that if these two respective committees determine that the new policies are actually needed, then the official rationale given to us at the time of their report will be exhuaustive, detailed, transparent and consistent with the teaching of Scripture. However, if these two committees cannot easily give a logical, Biblical and detailed explanation for the purpose of these two new policies, then I am trusting they will have the courage to do the right thing, resist outside pressure, and either reword them or rescind them.

Either way, the following ten men need your prayers:

The Glossolalia Ad Hoc Committee:
Paul Chitwood, Kevin King, Mike Smith, Simon Tsoi

The Baptism Ad Hoc Committee
Bill Curp, Andy Johnson, Sam Morgan, Herman Pair, Blake Withers

IMB Trustee Chairman
John Floyd

I am praying for these men daily, and would encourage you to do the same.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Conservatives Without Conscience

At the recommendation of a commentor on this blog I am reading John Dean's new book entitled Conservatives Without Conscience. Dean dedicates the work to the late and former United States Senator Barry Goldwater, whom some have called the father of modern conservatism. Senator Goldwater wrote a thrice-weekly column on conservatism for the Los Angeles Times for almost four years, but is best known for his book The Conscience of a Conservative (1960).

John Dean says that Goldwater is known for his ability to define conservatism, a task that is far more illusive than some might imagine. Goldwater became a student of Robert Taft and Herbert Hoover, two of the more well known conservatives of the 1920's and 1930's, and then began to articulate the foundations of conservatism for Dean's generation and beyond. On page 17 of Conservatives Without Conscience, John Dean writes of Goldwater:

He defined conservatism as the belief that "the solutions to the problems of today can be found in the proven values of the past." As for the conscience of the conservative, he wrote that it was "pricked by anyone who would debase the dignity of the individual human being."

Dean said Goldwater later told him he should have written that the conservative conscience was 'pricked by anyone or any action that debases human dignity." And for the true conservative, human dignity is found in the Declaration's phrase, 'All men are created equal . . . "

"Politics is the art of achieving the maximum amount of freedom for individuals that is consistent with the maintenance of social order," Goldwater wrote in The Conscience of the Conservative, "and the conservative's first concern will always be: Are we maximizing freedom?"

John Dean's thesis is his book Conservatives Without a Conscience is that since the early 1990's an authoritarian conservatism has infiltrated American politics. Rather than maximizing freedom, authoritarians demand conformity in all nuances of ideology. When fellow conservatives refuse to tow the line, the authoritians go into 'attack' mode and will use all means, both foul and fair, to bring down 'the enemy.' These authoritian conservatives are so sure that they are not only right, but holy and pure, that they are bursting with indignation and a desire to smite down their enemies.

Dean says that conservatives hyperventilating about liberalism is surprising, because it is so unnecessary. Liberalism is a straw man conservatives love to attack, in fact, there are not enough liberals to be a true threat to conservatism. A recent Harris Poll found that only eighteen percent of Americans called themselves liberals. In truth, says Dean, conservatives attack liberals, or those they label or perceive as liberal as a means to rally the troops. The exaggerated hostility also apparantly satisfies a psychological need for antagonism toward the 'out group.'

I am not through reading John Dean's book, and I am not necessarily saying I agree with everything that he writes, because I don't, but I have read enough to know that there seems to be a striking parallel between the American political landscape in the last fifteen years to that of the Southern Baptist Convention.

"Conservative governance within the agencies of the Southern Baptist Convention is the art of achieving the maximum amount of freedom for autonomous churches that is consistent with the fundamentals of the gospel of Christ and Baptist distinctives as we cooperate for the purpose of missions. The question that every true conservative Southern Baptist should ask is: Are we maximizing this freedom?" Wade Burleson

Think about it.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

When Losing The Debate, Call Them Liberal

There is a young pastor who is planting a Southern Baptist Church deep in the heart of Texas and blogs mostly about me. I have never met him, but I might one day stop in to say hello when I'm in Waco visiting my daughter at Baylor. I really believe he has a good heart and desires to serve the Lord, and I wish him the absolute best in his ministry and family. One of reasons I usually don't pay attention to his posts is because he has shut off the reader's ability to comment, and it is my experience shutting off the comment stream is detrimental to everyone. The issues we face are not always black and white, and frankly, a handful of them are quite complex. Blog comments can be compared to iron sharpening iron, and they help everyone simplify the issues. Or, as Yale scientist Alan Perlis suggests, "Fools ignore complexity. Pragmatists suffer it. Some can avoid it. Geniuses remove it."

One of my church members, Debbie Kaufman, whose blog I do read, posted yesterday about this young pastor's suggestion that I was a liberal because I believe in 'the priesthood of the believer.' Debbie was offended at his proposition, and sans debate, she challenged this young pastor on her blog. I think I will take the opportunity, this one time, to show the fallacy of his logic in calling everyone who happens to disagree with him a 'liberal.'

This young pastor says that true conservatives, of which he seems to believe he epitomizes, believe in 'the priesthood of believers' (plural), and not "the priesthood of the believer" (singular). I am familiar with the arguments of his theory, and it is not my purpose in this post to either affirm or refute them. I desire to show that if we followed his logic, and called everyone who at one time advocated the use of the phrase "the priesthood of the believer," then the following Southern Baptists would all be considered liberal.

Herschel Hobbs, The Baptist Faith and Message, San Francisco Southern Baptist Convention, 1962. “Baptists emphasize the soul’s competency before God, free­dom in religion, and the priesthood of the believer. The principle of the priesthood of the believer is the ba­sic belief of Baptists. There are (other) basic things generally held by Baptists today as through past years. But, under­lying all of them has been the principle of soul competency in religion.”

Adrian Rogers, Former President of the Southern Baptist Covnention and Pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church, Memphis, Tennessee "The priesthood of the believer does not refer to authority, but to the fact that each believer has direct access to God through the Lord Jesus Christ."

George Truett, Former President of the Southern Baptist Convention and Pastor of First Baptist Church, Dallas, Texas"The right to private judgment is the crown jewel of humanity, and for any person or institution to dare to come between the soul and God is a blasphemous impertinence and a defamation of the crown rights of the Son of God."

James Leo Garrett,Distinguished Professor of Theology Emeritus at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. "So, which is it? Priesthood of the believer or priesthood of believers? It is not either/or but both/and. The term "the priesthood of the believer" communicates the biblical emphasis on the individual and soul competency. The term "priesthood of believers" communicates the biblical emphasis on community and fellowship."

L. Russ Bush, Conservative Theologian and Co-Author of "Baptists and the Bible" "There has been and is ongoing a remarkable rebirth of Baptist identity in the world. We are mission minded believers who read the Bible as God’s truthful Word. We follow the teachings of Jesus, baptizing new believers by immersion. We gather to remember His atoning death, and we seek to implement the principle of the priesthood of every believer."

Paige Patterson, Author of "Authority and The Priesthood of The Believer": The Shophar Papers. Criswell Center for Biblical Studies, 1980. "The title of Dr. Patterson's book, written in 1980, is in the form of the traditional singular "The Priesthood of the Believer."

W.A. Criswell, Former President of the Southern Baptist Convention and Pastor of First Baptist Church, Dallas, Texas, In "A Thankgsiving Sermon." "The nation of America is chosen to God. We do not have a prophet to write our history, but God's hand is evidently upon us. The beginnings of America are hidden in the purposes of God's grace in the world through us. The Puritan came in a quest for God, and history has called them Puritans. They were Puritan separatists. They were trained in the school of John Calvin, they were Calvinists. They pledged allegiance to God alone and not to a king or a hierarchy and they believed in the priesthood of the believer. They believed in the right of every man and every church to worship God without interference from an ecclesiastical authority or a monarchical head of government. . . It is God Who hath given us this beautiful and wonderful land. And it is the Lord God Who must help us and keep us."

The Blue Ribbon Commmittee Who Wrote The Preamble to the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message. "Baptists emphasize the soul's competency before God, freedom in religion, and the priesthood of the believer."

Read the above quotes again. They will help you to resist the temptation of calling 'liberal' those brothers in Christ with whom you may disagree. I am aware that some Southern Baptists, whom I highly respect, prefer the term 'priesthood of believers" and I respect their use of this phrase, but it is wrong to denigrate those who use the singular, particularly since it is the nomenclature used by all Southern Baptists prior to 1988.

In closing, I would like for you to ask yourself this question: Has it ever been the practice of some Southern Baptists in years past to falsely malign other Southern Baptists with the epitaph 'liberal' in order to marginalize and exclude people from Southern Baptist cooperative ministry? If so, could it be that a few Southern Baptists today are using the same tactic? Methinks Southern Baptists are wising up.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Value of a Blog for Those Who Tell the Truth

A wise man once said that those who tell the truth never have to keep track of their lies. The beauty of blogging is that the person who is consistently speaking the truth will become evident. In addition, that person who misrepresents the truth will eventually be uncovered.

It was interesting that when the Sheri Klouda story first broke on this blog a few weeks ago several comments were made regarding alleged 'inaccuracies.' To this day not one person has shown me even one inaccuracy in the Klouda post and Dr. Klouda herself has publicly verified the accuracy of my post. I learned a long time ago you don't put anything in print as fact unless you know it to be true. There will be some who will allege inaccuracies and falsehoods for personal gain or protection, but the blog is a wonderful tool for helping keep the record straight against those who distort or misrepresent the truth.

Allow me to give a recent example. I wrote a post entitled There Was No Trustee Investigation Committee and stated that an administrator at the International Mission Board had asked me to remove the phrase 'trustee investigation committee' from my blog, because there was not one. It seems that though my recommendation called for one, administrators and trustee leadership felt it best to only address policy, protocol, and procedures of the Board. The report laid out the proper boundaries of the board according to bylaws and policy documents and was presented as the response to my motion. There was no 'investigation' into the merits of the concerns raised within my motion because the committee did not feel they had the authority to investigate. I frankly have no problem with the official response to my motion because I never felt it was appropriate, from the beginning, that the trustees of the IMB be charged to investigate the manipulation of the trustee processes by outside influences, including other agency heads.

Nevertheless, a fellow IMB trustee took exception to my statement that an IMB administrator told me that there was no investigation committee. This trustee wrote on his blog, "What idiot told Mr. Burleson there was no trustee investigative committee? Or were such words twisted out of context? He then asked me to identify the idiot in a comment section. Well, I called the trustee in question rather than post the name of the administrator on my blog, and this trustee informed me via phone that he had already received an email from Dr. Rankin explaining that he, the President of the IMB, was the one who told me to remove the phrase 'trustee investigation committee'from my blog.

Now, this trustee is attempting to say, in what seems to me to be an attempt to deflect his own embarrassment, that I took Dr. Rankin's words out of context. I most assuredly did not. Dr. Rankin, in his usual forthright and gracious style, told me that I should remove the phrase. He said that the report to my motion was an honest and cooperative effort to answer policy questions raised by my motion, to not spend any more time dealing with my recommendation than necessary, to attempt to be as non-controversial as possible in the response, and to get back to focusing on the missions and purpose of the board. I affirmed the desires behind the issuance of this report, but then asked Dr. Rankin why not one person asked to see my documentation, affidavits and materials that served as the basis for the major concerns expressed in my motion and that I have requested on three various occasions to trustee leadership to present to the entire Board. Again, he responded by saying 'there was no investigation committee' and suggested that I remove the phrase from my blog. After the conversation, I wrote a new post that gave the details of what I learned from the 'IMB administrator.'

I agree with Dr. Rankin that IMB Board should never have been given the responsibility to investigate outside influences upon the nominating process and the pushing of agendas that were contrary to the IMB President's and administration's desires. My motion at the Southern Baptist Convention requested the Executive Committee of the SBC to take that responsibility. I really appreciated Dr. Rankin's help in understanding the report. For my fellow IMB trustee to now attempt to say Dr. Rankin's words were taken out of context is over the top. But he continues to seek to rewrite history on his blog. He stated in a post yesterday, entitled Of Idiots and Context, "To date, (Mr. Burleson) refuses to address the issues listed in the May 2006 Executive Committee report."

All I can do is smile at that statement and thank the good Lord for the ability to blog. It is easily seen by anyone who wishes to take the time to read that my response to the May 2006 Executive Committee Report has been a matter of public record for almost a year --- well before last year's Southern Baptist Convention in June. My fellow trustee's statement "Mr. Burleson refuses to address the issues listed in the May 2006 Executive Committee report" is once again, either an intentional misrepresentation, an unfortunate memory loss, or a momentary lapse in the accountability policies of the IMB.

You may read my official response to the IMB Executive Committee's report of May 2006 in the following posts. A thorough reading of each post below will give you the background and the history of my eventual recommendation to the Southern Baptist Convention which was presented one month later in June of 2006.

This Really Gets Old, But In The End, It Will Be Worth It (May 24, 2006)

Reflections in the Denver Airport and Decisions (May 25, 2006)

The Tipping Point Is Reached (May 26, 2006)

In The Counsel of Many There Is Great Wisdom (May 27, 2006)

The Decision: A Motion in Greensboro (June 1, 2006)

The above five posts illustrate the beauty of blogging.

There is a past record to keep revisionists from succeeding in rewriting history.

In His Grace,


A Scenario That Is Not Far Fetched

I never dreamed I would see the day when a person was asked in an interview session, "Do you pray in tongues in your private prayer closet?" and if the answer was 'yes' then that person would be excluded from Southern Baptist missionary service. I never dreamed I would see the day when a person would be asked "When you were baptized, was it a Southern Baptist church that authorized the baptism or at least a church that believes in eternal security?" and if the answer was 'no,' then that person who had been baptized by immersion, after having come to faith in Christ, would be rejected for denominational service.

We are not talking about the public use of tongues. We are not talking about infant baptism or baptismal regeneration. Policies that have been established for decades insured that public speaking in tongues would not occur by our missionaries or they would be disciplined and/or terminated. And, no missionary in the history of the SBC has ever been appointed who was not baptized by immersion after having come to faith in Christ. We are talking about two tertiary doctrinal interpretive positions that are way, way beyond the fundamentals of the faith.

Yesterday a few people took offense at my post where I said that if we did not draw a line in the sand today regarding the demand by some Southern Baptist leaders that everyone conform to a particular interpretation of non-essential tertiary doctrines, then future demands for conformity in the SBC might reach deeper and deeper into the private lives of Southern Baptists. We are seeing this happen today in Florida with a demand that everyone who serves on state boards hold to a view of total abstinence. Mind you, Dr. John Sullivan is not saying that a person practices abstinence, he must believe abstinence is the only legitimate Christian, biblical view on the matter. But the example I used yesterday which raised the ire of some was the one on Natural Family Planning. I said that if we don't stop the spread of Fundamentalism today, there may come a day in the Southern Baptist Convention when NFP might become mandatory for all who wish to serve in denominational missions or ministry.

For the life of me I can't understand how some can not see this as a future possibility. Let me give you a possible scenario of an interview of a Southern Baptist who is applying for a ministry position with one of our agencies in the year 2020.

SBC Interviewer: "Do you use contraception?"
SBC Interviewee: "Yes."
SBC Interviewer: "What kind of contraceptive method do you practice?"
SBC Interviewee: "The pill."
SBC Interviewer: "Are you aware that the pill changes the lining of the wall of the uterus so that if ovulation happens to occur the fertilized egg cannot implant itself in the uterus?
SBC Interviewee: "No, I was unaware of that fact."
SBC Interviewer: "Do you believe life begins at conception?"
SBC Interviewee: "Yes."
SBC Interviewer: "So, if you carry life in your body via a fertilized egg, but refuse to allow that life to be implanted in your uterus by means of a pill, are you taking that life into your own hands, playing God, and committing an abortion of choice?"
SBC Interviewee: "I never thought of it like that. But how would I know if I ovulated and the egg was fertilized?"
SBC Interviewer: "It makes no difference. Would you not agree that by taking the pill you are preventing potential human life from being implanted in your uterus the way God naturally designed your body to receive it."
SBC Interviewee: "Well, I never really considered it."
SBC Interviewer: "We have a doctrinal statement at our agency that says human life is sacred, and it is our view, as it is yours, that life begins at conception. To artificially harden the lining of the uterus to prevent the implantation of the fertilized egg is committing an abortion, even unknowingly, and we must at all costs protect human life. We have recently passed a policy that no agency personnel will take the pill while in the employment of the Southern Baptist Convention, and we are asking you to sign this document saying you will only practice Natural Family Planning."
SBC Interviewee: "But I don't have that conviction, and I have taken the pill for years."
SBC Interviewer: "Well, I'm sorry, but unless you abide by our policy, we will not be able to appont you to service."

If you think the above scenario is far fetched you are naive. Just four years ago there was an uproar at the International Learning Center because mothers who had recently given birth and were in missionary training were asked by administration to use the breast pump, give the bottled milk to nursery personnel, and allow nursery workers to feed the babies while mom and dad finished the very tight schedule of training. A SBC seminary President and his wife were outraged that the mothers were not able to feed the babies the natural way and eventually caused quite an uproar. The problem was not that the mothers were not allowed to feed their children naturally, but that 'artificial' means of feeding were being employed at the IMB --- a method not designed by God.

The issues discussed in this post are, by their nature, very personal choices that a Southern Baptist individual must make for himself/herself. The nature of Fundamentalism is to insure that all 'private activities,' even those on which the Bible is silent, must all conform to a man-made precept or standard established by Fundamentalist leaders. If people don't see a problem with probing into someone's private prayer closet and forbidding them to pray in a particular manner (contrary to the explicit commandment of Scripture), and if people don't see a problem with rejecting one's personal Christian and biblical baptism which identified the convert with Christ but not a particular doctrine, then we may wind up one day finding ourselves facing demands for conformity in even more private and personal matters.

Let me say it again:

Unless our freedoms in Christ as individual Christians and autonomous churches are closely safe-guarded, we will wake up one day and realize that SBC leadership is defining Baptist identity in highly specific terms.

I not only stand by yesterday's post. I think it is important enough to rerun it.


In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

Sunday, February 11, 2007

I'm Not In It To Win It: I'm In It To Resist It


There is growing up in society a Pharisaic system which adds to the commands of God the precepts of men; to that system I will not yield for an hour. The preservation of my liberty may bring upon me the upbraidings of many good men, and the sneers of the self-righteous; but I shall endure both with serenity so long as I feel clear in my conscience before God. C. H. Spurgeon

One of the Presidential candidates for 2008 recently declared at a New Hamphshire policital rally, "I'm in it to win it!" to the applause and cheers of supporters. I couldn't help but reflect on my involvement within the SBC this last year and a half when I heard that statement. There is nothing to win in the SBC, but there is a great deal to resist.

Spurgeon succinctly summed up nearly one hundred and fifty years ago what needs resisting by Southern Baptists today. It is not my desire to single out individuals for ridicule, but to put everyone on notice that unless the average Southern Baptist begins to take an active role in the governance of our convention, we are in real danger of being overrun by a Pharisaic system that adds to 'the commands of God the precepts of men.' Unless our freedoms in Christ as individual Christians and autonomous churches are closely safe-guarded, we will wake up one day and realize that SBC leadership is defining Baptist identity in highly specific terms which may include making Natural Family Planning mandatory for Southern Baptist women and barring those same ladies from any positions of authority over a man in society.

Sound far fetched? It's not. We must draw a line in the sand today against those who are demanding conformity among Southern Baptists on issues of ecclesiology (i.e. "baptism must identify you with the doctrine of eternal security," "you must be congregationally governed," etc . . . ), soteriology ("you can't be a Calvinist" or "you must not be a five-point Calvinist"), pneumatology ("you must believe that the gifts have ceased"), and eschatology "you must be a dispenationalist" ). All these doctrines stretch far beyond the fundamentals of the faith, and Southern Baptists have historically displayed a broad diversity regarding these secondary and tertiary issues. We must not let others lull us into the trap of believing that all Southern Baptists must look the same, act the same and believe the same. It is this narrowing of the doctrinal parameters and the tightening of the definition of what it means to be a Southern Baptist that must be resisted right now. If we don't resist conformity on these issues, demands for conformity will reach deeper and deeper until all women will wear hats, no pants, stay at home and make babies the natural way, and avoid any role of authority over a man. It is pure Fundamentalism, and the Southern Baptist Convention has never been a Fundamentalist convention.

I am in an active role to resist the advancement of Fundamentalism. It's happening. This is not about taking the SBC a more liberal direction. It is about preventing the SBC from becoming a Fundamentalist convention. For the sake of not wishing to offend my brothers I am leaving out the adjective 'spooky'.

Give me the gospel. Give me Christ. Give me the Bible. Give me my freedom. But don't demand I make your precepts part of my life. I won't seek to take them from you, nor will I marginalize or criticize you for following your traditions and extra-biblical convictions. You are free to hold them and obey them religiously. But I, and others, will resist your demand that all Southern Baptists obey them.

And in the end, the resistance will win.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Someone Needs to Jump Off the Merry Go Round

It seems that one of my fellow IMB trustees, Mr. Jerry Corbaley, has taken offense to the fact that while I have affirmed the report adopted at the last IMB meeting regarding my recommendation, I also pointed out that it was not an investigation into the merits of my recommendation. The report speaks to IMB policy, and it is quite accurate on all counts, but there was no 'investigation' conducted into the major concerns I had expressed in the recommendation itself. In fact, I was told that the report was not an investigation by an administrator at the IMB, a fact that led Mr. Corbaley to call that man an idiot on his blog before he realized it was Dr. Rankin. This unfortunate and intemperate use of language is often characteristic of the blog world, and I'm sure Mr. Corbaley regrets his decorum in the matter. I am hopeful that he will soon realize that we IMB trustees need to go on with our work in the area of missions, and reject all attempts to politicize our board meetings. If an investigation is needed, and it may or may not be determined at the SBC that one is, then an outside ad hoc committee will be created by the President of the Convention in consultation with the Executive Director of the SBC Executive Committee -- the very thing I asked at last year's convention. The IMB Board of Trustees should not waste their time in these matters, just as the IMB report affirmed. We need to put this matter behind us as a Board, let others deal with it as they see fit. Below is a comment I placed on Mr. Corbaley's blog which he refused to publish.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Mr. Corbaley,

I believe that you are aware that my recommendation for an investigation into matters at the IMB called for an investigation committee formed by the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention. At the convention I did not oppose the Committee on Order of Business in recommending my recommendation be referred back to the trustees. The IMB trustees and administration chose to simply issue a report on policy and why they could not investigate matters raised by my recommendation.

I wholeheartedly agree with the IMB report addressing my recommendation. I would have voted to affirm the report had I been at the meeting, simply because I never thought, just as the report said, that it was within our purview to investigate matters of concern outside of our Board. There is no disagreement among anyone with whom I have spoken regarding the following:

(1). Nobody investigated to see if the head of another agency sought the removal of Dr. Rankin.

(2). Nobody investigated if the trustee nomination process was manipulated by sitting trustees to insure that only likeminded people were placed on the board.

(3). Nobody investigated as to why the policies were pushed contrary to administration’s desires.

(4). Nobody investigated the manipulation and coercion of an agenda contrary to the President’s by outside influences.

In fact, administration of the IMB asked me to remove the phrase "investigation committee" from my post - because there was not one. The person who asked me to do this you called an idiot, and I'm sure that you regret that now that Dr. Rankin has emailed and identified himself as the one who told me there was no investigation committee and asked that I remove that phrase from my blog.

That's what I mean when I say there was no investigation committee. You will find IMB attorney Matt Bristol agrees with this assessment as well. If I were you I would leave things alone and stop emailing other trustees seeking to create controversy or you will find yourself making even more mistakes than you did last year.

I, like you, believe that the trustees of the IMB should get on with the work of missions. The SBC and the Executive Committee will handle other matters, if they choose, just as I originally asked them at last year's SBC. If the Executive Committee of the SBC receives this report of the IMB and makes a decision not to investigate the concerns raised by my motion, so be it. However, one should stop saying the matters above were investigated because it becomes, as Dr. Rankin says, a matter of integrity.

Thanks for your service to the IMB. I look forward to seeing you in Memphis.

In His Grace,


Cruel Tenderness and Compassionate Severity

"Nothing is so cruel as the tenderness that consigns another to his sin. Nothing can be more compassionate than the severe rebuke that calls a brother back from the path of sin." -- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Carve Your Name On Hearts

"A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered. Carve your name on hearts, not on marble." -- Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

When Brothers In Christ Won't Talk

Over a year ago when trustee leadership of the IMB went behind closed doors to make a recommendation that I be removed from the Board for 'gossip and slander,' I was stunned because nobody in leadership had given me the courtesy of a phone call, personal conversation, or even a short, 'Wade, I think you should know this is what I intend to do and why I intend to do it.' I was completely and absolutely blindsided. Of course, the recommendation was unanimously rescinded at the very next trustee meeting, but what still confuses me is why no brother in Christ ever approached me to talk with me about such drastic action. You would think brothers would do everything to communicate with brothers about any offense they may have.

The only analogy that seems appropriate to describe my experience in January of 2006 was that of 'being run over by a freight train.' I have made it no secret that I made a vow last winter that if I came across anyone in the SBC who had been mistreated, slandered, or abused by people in positions of power I would do everything I could to help the person who was 'run over by the proverbial freight train.' Dwight McKissic and I developed a friendship after I heard what happened to him because of a message he preached in chapel at SWBTS. There are a few who have tried to say that Dwight and I were friends before he preached the message, but both he and I know the truth, and those who say I put him up to preach that message to help missionary candidates who have a private prayer language are revealing their own lack of integrity by asserting as fact something Dwight and I both know is not true. However, I am now proud to call Dwight a friend.

One of these days I will tell people how I came to help Sheri Klouda, the former professor of Hebrew at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. It was purely accidental (I would call it providential), and my contact with her that eventually led her to share a heart-wrenching story that spurred me to action seems to me to be a direct intervention by the Holy Spirit. No other person was involved but Sheri and me. In fact, it took me a while to find her in Indiana. Once I heard her story, I knew that I must do something to help her. We currently have raised and forwarded nearly $5,000 to Dr. Klouda to assist her family as they make their way through some difficult financial problems due to the unexpected and unfunded relocation, the difficult hardship of not being able to sell her home in Texas, and the struggle of Sheri's husband not being able to work. I want to publicly thank all those who have contributed.

However, what baffles me about the Klouda situation is the absolute lack of willingness for anyone responsible to talk with me about my offense with the way Sheri, her husband , and her daughter have been treated. Prior to making the post public I emailed the full transcript to Dr. Paige Patterson's office and asked him to read it, correct any factual errors (if any), or dispute the document itself. I also called and left my private cell number. In addition, several weeks prior to publishing the post I went by Dr. Patterson's office to meet with him personally. He was unavailable, so I left my private cell phone number. I never heard from him. I have now called his office five times, three prior to the Klouda post, and two after the Klouda post, and he has yet to call me. I have called Dr. David Allen, Dean of Students, twice and asked him to call me. I have never heard from him. I was told by a friend of mine that a SWBTS trustee called him to get me to 'back off.' I immediately called this trustee to visit with him personally. He was not available so I left my number and I have yet to hear from him. I have called Dr. Van McClain's office twice and he has not returned my phone calls. Dr. McClain, Chairman of the SWBTS Board of Trustees did email me a response back to my request to see the minutes of the business meeting where Sheri was hired. He refused until after the April 2007 SWBTS Board Meeting, and only then 'conditioned upon any action taken by the trustees.' He had earlier told the Dallas Morning News that the vote to hire Klouda was not unanimous and that fact was the 'inaccuracy' in my post. I believe the record will show it was unanimous, but it is very frustrating to not be allowed to see the very document that will prove the veracity of my post. Frankly, the practice of freezing minutes ought to send a chill down every Southern Baptists spine. Of course, if the record shows I am wrong, I will apologize for the error, but I find it interesting that the vote total for hiring Dr. Klouda was an insignificant fact in the Klouda post -- yet it was the only fact in the Klouda postdisputed by the one man who said the post was inaccurate.

There are three SWBTS trustees who have visited with me about Dr. Klouda, but all three did not even know who Sheri was, or that she had been an employee of SWBTS. In addition, all three initiated contact with me after I had made repeated attempts to contact people responsible. These three trsutees told me they were not informed enough to answer any questions, but looked forward to getting appropriate information themselves, and simply called to get some information from me. Those who are able to resolve this situation in terms of knowledge and action are not talking.

My purpose for persistence in calling the men who are either responsible for the Klouda removal at SWBTS or have the answers for why she was denied the opportunity for tenure review and defense is to offer a solution to the problem. It seemed to me that a couple of very concrete and specific steps could be taken to resolve the situation with Sheri Klouda and her family that would give the Kloudas a sense that an injustice had been corrected, as well as an opportunity for the President of SWBTS to change the direction and policies of SWBTS so that his desires could be implemented without subverting the current trustee approved policies and procedures for faculty tenure.

However, I am now washing my hands of this matter. There will be no more calls or attempts at resolving this matter with administration or trustees. I can only chuckle when people say that the 'proper process' has been bypassed when it comes to the Klouda issue. The process only works when brothers in Christ are willing to talk. I will continue to help Sheri and her family. If I hear of another person who is being mistreated by any political 'machine' in the SBC, I will do what I can to help. If people ask, "Where were you five years ago?" or any other questions that pertain to why I have not helped people prior to 2006, my response is this: I had absolutely no undestanding of relevant issues prior to January 2006. Now I do.

Those who may disagree with me on the issues are my brothers. I am not even asking them to agree or even see things the way I do. Just talk. Just dialogue. Tell me where I am wrong. Show me where I don't have it right. I can learn, but I also don't give up on correcting a wrong until I have good answers and either see the error of my ways, or find a good solution to the problem. And by the way, good solutions give me confidence in leadership and I will do everything in my power to keep good leadership in charge of our institutions.

When SBC brothers refuse to talk to SBC brothers, then it could be that someone other than family might have to intervene to resolve the offense. If, or when, that happens the only people who should be blamed are those brothers who refused to talk.

In His Grace,


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Silent Majority

Allow me to introduce you to Charles. He is a long-time member of the scientific community and a Summa Cum Laude graduate of the University of Tennessee. He has a masters in the social sciences field and currently works as an environmental scientist. Charles understands what it means to be Southern Baptist. He and his wife have been members of a large SBC church but currently attend an evangelical fellowship of another denomination.

Charles is fifty four with two elementary school age children. Several years ago he found himself at odds with some separatist Baptists who were on the extreme right of Fundamentalism. Charles was acquainted with several people who had been run over and hurt by the actions of these separatist Baptists who were seeking to bring doctrinal purity to the kingdom. Charles wrote me a very personal email yesteday that spoke to my heart. It caused me to evaluate my own thoughts, motives and actions. Though I have never met Charles, he has confirmed for me the validity of the promise that I made to my wife eighteen months ago: 'The day I can't genuinely enjoy my service in the convention, or the day I no longer can laugh at myself and not take myself too seriously, or the day I can't smile and forgive those who ridicule and attack me, is the day I quit all involvement in the Southern Baptist Convention. Charles helped me undestand the significance of my promise. I publish his email with permission.

"I was drawn into a conflict with other Baptists for many of the same reasons that seem to motivate you concerning injustice among brothers and sisters in Christ. I have other reasons that are described by words such as bigotry, ignorance, and trying to to force one’s beliefs on other people. However, mostly, I have been outraged by the treatment of others---all people with whom they disagree.

I learned the hard way how confict can affect one's soul on a web site called “Alabama Live!” It was frequented by a couple of particularly pugnacious Separate Baptists. You know---real fundamentalists with a capital F. Well, they let me know right away that they were right about everything and that anyone who disagreed with them was something they called “apostate” and in league with Satan himself. When you get labeled as a member of Satan’s camp, the gloves come off and you get treated like the human garbage that you so obviously are to them.

I was informed quite sincerely that unsaved people are—and I quote exactly---“little more than worms.” I mentioned that they must be awful valuable worms because Jesus loved them enough to die for them. That didn’t phase them a bit. They made me so angry that the anger turned into clinical depression and a higher dose of medication. That is when I learned that you cannot fight against them directly. It is like talking to a fence post. The only way to fight them is to appeal to the people in the middle ground who have not gone over to the dark side of the force as it were.

Unfortunately, I am afraid that these encounters over the past few years have been changing me in a direction in which I do not want to go. You see. I very much believe in “love one another and love your neighbor as yourself.” A friend of mine who teaches at a theological retreat in Oregon warned me about this. He told me that he does not engage in open fights with Pharisees. The reason he says is this. The very act of starting to fight them lands one of your feet on the first step to becoming one yourself. This is because Pharisees operate by drawing a moralistic line of their own definition in the sand and declare “thou shalt not cross over it.” According to my friend, the very act of fighting them automatically causes a person to draw their own line in the sand and defend it to the death. In doing so, one inevitably wakes up one morning and finds that they have become one of them.

Well, I think my friend may be right. I have carried on my fight for several years now. In the process, I have slowly seen “mere disagreement” turning into a simmering internal rage that just sits there aglow within me most of the time---doing more damage to me than them. I sense my rage crystallizing into hatred. My response to their incessant nastiness is to dig in my heels and shoot back with both scripture and withering sarcasm. Of course, as noted earlier, that has no effect on the Pharisees themselves, but I think it does cause many in the middle to avoid going where the Pharisees are---perhaps people who would otherwise be tempted to go. However, it is taking a terrible toll on me, and that leads inevitably to another issue.

My Sunday school class is starting to study the life and theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. As you may know, Bonhoeffer not only opposed Hitler openly in the name of our Lord but actually participated as a plotter in the famous attempt to kill him. I suppose one could argue that this was not a Christian position. However, one could also argue that the principle of love for one’s neighbor required it as an act to save the lives of millions, including brothers and sisters in Christ. You might put it something like, “Greater love hath no man than this, but that he lay Hitler’s life down for his brother.” I think even C.S. Lewis was so inclined. Still, I am not so sure because an honest reading of the Bible could just easily argue that we as Christians are supposed to be totally passive and simply fold to all evil like a sheep before its shearers---just as Jesus did. Perhaps the few people with the superhuman strength it would take to do that are the only real Christians in this world---and all of the rest of us are mere pretenders. However, if that extreme is not true and Bonhoeffer and Lewis are right, then we as Christians need to consider the arising of the UNTHINKABLE in this world and our appropriate response as Christians to it.

What do I mean? About 20 years ago, I ran across a wonderful theological essay on Romans 14. As you know, this chapter says that stronger brothers and sisters in Christ should be willing to put aside certain acceptable liberties rather than tempt a weaker brother into sinning by violating his own conscience with regard to partaking in those liberties. It is posited on the notion that the authority in the church will always rest in the hands of the stronger brothers in Christ, and they will always be there to help the weaker brothers along. Then the essayist asked the most marvelous question: What would happen if the weaker brothers were to take over the authority of the church and run it such that the stronger brothers were in subservience to their whims?

Carrying this a step further, as Christians, what would we do if an evil as pernicious as the National Socialist Party (Nazi Party) were to successfully arise within the church of Jesus Christ, sustain itself, and grow to enormous national power---driven by an army of weaker brothers. To some that would sound preposterous. However, I am a serious student of history, and I am not so sure that this is impossible. In fact, I am not so sure that it is not already germinating.

If this nightmare were to be quite obviously coming true before our eyes (as was another nightmare in Bonhoeffer’s eyes), what would be the appropriate response of Christians like us who would know that it is wrong? Would we merely raise our voices in calm and loving dissent and be taken off as sheep to the death camps? Would it be acceptable to get rough with them verbally and physically to protect the babies from being tossed into the crematory ovens alive? Would assassination be an act of love for our brothers and sisters who were marching to their earthly doom, just as Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer rationalized when he plotted to kill Hitler? These are all hard questions that we need to be asking ourselves now. The German people comforted themselves with the notion that they were so civilized that such barbarity could never arise among them. It did. The church of Jesus Christ was so strong that it could stand up to the barbarity. History shows that the Catholic and protestant churches of Europe sat down in silence before it and actually became willing accomplices to the barbarity.

You say it cannot happen in your convention? You say it cannot happen in the church? Those who refuse to learn from history are destined to repeat it.

Charles, thank you for your email.

In His Grace,


Sunday, February 04, 2007

Believing Like Paul: Behaving Like Saul

Probably the most discouraging aspect of involvement in the blog world these past fourteen months has been the mean-spiritedness of those who disagree with what I and others write. Our convention thrives when diverse people dialogue and interact over differences, but it is difficult for me to understand how people who profess to follow after Christ can avoid the greatest commandment He has ever given and refuse to ‘love one another.’

Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd Jones (1899-1981), minister of Westminster Chapel in London for over twenty-five years, once wrote:

“Holiness and love must go together . . . To be holy does not just mean the mere avoidance of certain things, or even not thinking certain things; it means the ultimate attitude of the heart of man toward that holy, loving God , and secondly, our attitude towards our fellow men and women."

Recently I came across a Southern Baptist author who helped me work through some of my puzzlement over the tone and spirit of a few Southern Baptists in the blog world. Charles Knowles, Ph.D. is a Southern Baptist deacon from Missouri, and a retired science professor from the University of Missouri. He is the author of several scientific publications and one theological book. In his theological work, entitled "Let Her Be", Charles cautions that in some Southern Baptist circles,

“The Lordship of Jesus (is) treacherously truncated, and the biblical command to believers to walk in love is given short shrift.”

Dr. Charles Knowles points out that there is always the possiblity for problems in interpersonal relationships among Southern Baptists simply because of our diversity. However, he argues that there is . . .

“An enormous difference between a lifestyle in which mean-spirited interpersonal interactions are frequent, intentional, and believed to be right and a lifestyle in which they are infrequent, unintentional, and believed to be wrong.”

How can any Southern Baptist justify a persistent mean-spiritedness toward other Southern Baptists with whom they disagree? Charles Knowles suggests that there is a separation of personal holiness and the command to walk in love in interpersonal relationships in the minds of some. In other words, a flawed theology leads some Southern Baptists to believe that one can be holy yet not be loving toward those brothers who disagree doctrinally. Dr. Knowles explains it this way:

“One zealous expression of this flawed theology in Southern Baptist life is the proclivity of some individuals to fight believers whose convictions even appear to differ from theirs. Using vituperative language, attempts are made to assassinate the character of those whom they cannot control. Professing to be the paragon of right belief and the guardian of biblical authority while behaving toward others in ways that lack the validating quality of love raises the question of whether one has yet to come under the influence of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The wrong practice signifies a defect in one’s belief system. Claiming to think rightly about God and thinking rightly about God are not the same; in contrast to the former, the latter is characterized by right practice. Is it ‘Christian’ to profess to believe like Paul, the apostle, and to behave like Saul, the militant religious extremist?

Charles Kimball, in his book “When Religion Becomes Evil” writes:

“Whatever religious people may say about their love of God or the mandates of their religion (doctrine), when their behavior toward others is violent and destructive, when it causes suffering among their neighbors, you can be sure the religion has been corrupted and reform is desperately needed.”

My prayer is that all of us who blog will remember our higher calling is to love one another. Let’s disagree, but let’s do it with respect. Let’s point out the perceived weaknesses in the theology of others, but let’s not denigrate the character, intelligence or abilities of our brothers and sisters who disagree. In other words, let’s believe like Paul and refuse to behave like Saul.

In His Grace,


Friday, February 02, 2007

What Happens When We Take Our Eyes Off the Gospel

A tribute to Marty Duren, Tom Ascol and other Southern Baptists who are reminding us that it is the gospel that should hold our attention and not doctrinal minutiea or denominational 'rubbish' that ultimately divides us and separates us -- and knocks us out cold.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

There Was No Trustee Investigative Committee

I received clarification today regarding the report from the International Mission Board given last Tuesday in response to my motion at the Southern Baptist Convention. My motion, affirmed by the SBC in Greensboro, North Carolina, began with these two paragraphs (emphasis mine):

"I move that the Southern Baptist Convention, in session, in Greensboro, authorize the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention to appoint a seven member Ad Hoc Committee to determine the sources of the controversies in our International Mission Board, and make findings and recommendations regarding these controversies, so that trustees of the IMB might effect reconciliation and effectively discharge their responsibilities to God and fellow Southern Baptists by cooperating together to accomplish evangelism and missions to the Glory of God;

That this Committee listen to, view evidence of, and possibly investigate further, five concerns involving the International Mission Board . . ."

Today I was told five things that helped me understand the 'official' IMB response a little better.

(1). There was no trustee investigative committee.
(2). The response was designed to be generic and non-controversial.
(3). Nobody investigated anything because it is not the business of the IMB to investigate any outside influence upon trustees by other agency heads. It is the business of the IMB to get on with the work of missions. (By the way, I agree with this sentiment -- it is for this reason that I asked for an outside seven member Ad Hoc Committee appointed by the Executive Committee of the SBC).
(4). Reporter Tammi Leadbetter of the Southern Baptist Texan editorialized a great deal about the report, making false assumptions. Some corrections have already been made to her report.
(5). The IMB, as well as every other SBC agency is an autonomous agency, and can do anything the autonomous board desires regarding doctrinal standards, including going beyond the BFM 2000. It was pointed out Southern Seminary has the Abstract of Principles, and the IMB can establish whatever doctrinal parameters it desires.

I now understand why nobody contacted me during the investigation. There was no investigation. I also now understand why I was confused about a headline that read, Board Rejects Allegation of Impropriety. The reporter, as did I, must have also assumed that something was actually investigated.

My complaint for over a year and a half has been that the emphasis on a ban of a private prayer language and the pushing of a sacerdotal baptism policy, one that closely resembles tenants of Landmarkism, came from outside IMB administration and staff, and worked its way into the board through trustees being influenced by administrators and and at least one head of other Southern Baptist agencies. Further, I contended that there was absolutely no anecdotal evidence that a problem existed on the mission field among our SBC missionaries that would call for correction by the implementation of those two policies, and I have repeatedly asked, as a duly elected trustee, to be given evidence that these policies were needed. To this day I have received no anectodal evidence. The recommendation was a call to determine the real reason for the policies being forced upon the IMB, in opposition to the desires of her President.

Again, lest anyone forget, the entire controversy on the International Mission Board began when, as a new and duly elected trustee, I began asking questions about why these new policies on private prayer language and baptism were even needed. I felt both policies went beyond the BFM 2000, but more importantly, I felt they violated Scripture. When I voiced my opposition, the controversy erupted. Again, I have always sought to be respectful of my fellow trustees, while strongly issuing my objections to what I believed to be the implemention of two policies that violate the sacred and sufficient Word of God.

There is hope that the trustees will vote to reword the policies to accurately reflect the teaching of Scripture in the Memphis board meeting in March. Scripture permits us to restrict the public speaking of tongues, as did the old policy of the IMB, but Sripture forbids us from entering the prayer closet of a Southern Baptist. Private prayers are between the saint and His Savior. Further, baptism is identification with Christ, and not the doctrine of eternal security. We must trust the autonomy of our local churches when it comes to believer's baptism. If a local Southern Baptist church accepts a person upon his statement of baptism, that it was by immersion, after having come to faith in Christ, and not regenerative in nature, then who are we to reject the baptism that a local, autonomous Southern Baptist church has recognized as Christian and Biblical?

If the policies are reworded or rescinded I will be able to accept the fact that no investigation was conducted into these matters. If the policies are reworded or rescinded in the Memphis trustee meeting in March I will move on and simply ignore whatever has been unjustly said or done in an attempt to silence dissent. I am praying that this is the course of action the IMB trustee board takes.

In His Grace,


P.S. Contrary to some who argue that any agency can (or should) establish whatever doctrinal parameters it desires, Alan Cross argues quite well that this kind of thinking is actually Relativism in the SBC

The IMB Response to the Greensboro Motion

Last June I explained the reasons for presenting a recommendation to the Southern Baptist Convention that the Executive Committee of the SBC investigate five concerns regarding the International Mission Board. The Convention's Committee on Order of Business decided to refer my motion back to the trustees of the International Mission Board. At this week's IMB trustee meeting in Ontario, California, the board passed an official response to my motion, which will in turn be presented as a reportable to the Southern Baptist Convention this June in San Antonio. I was unable to be at the board meeting (my first one to miss) because of my wife's birthday and my son's basketball games that I did not wish to miss. To save time answering your questions in the form of comments or private emails, I thought it might be best to give an official response to the official response.

Let me be the first to say that a number of good things have occurred since the convention last summer. Many trustees rotated off in June 2006, and several outstanding trustees have come on board since the SBC convention. The spirit of the board meetings has been outstanding since last summer, and the Ad Hoc committees reviewing the new policies are meeting regularly and will be bringing a recommendation regarding the new policies at our next meeting March 19-21, 2007. Many of the problems of last year seem to be a distant memory, but nevertheless, I think it would be good to make a few comments regarding the official response to my motion from the board. The actual recommendation at Greensboro is in a larger font, the board's 'official response' is identified as such and is in blockquotes, and my comments are always in italics.

I move that the Southern Baptist Convention, in session, in Greensboro, authorize the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention to appoint a seven member Ad Hoc Committee to determine the sources of the controversies in our International Mission Board, and make findings and recommendations regarding these controversies, so that trustees of the IMB might effect reconciliation and effectively discharge their responsibilities to God and fellow Southern Baptists by cooperating together to accomplish evangelism and missions to the Glory of God;

That this Committee listen to, view evidence of, and possibly investigate further, five concerns involving the International Mission Board which are not limited to, but include

A Personnel Comment

Since this recommendation passed at the SBC last June, not one person from the 'trustee investigative committee' has called me, emailed me, or asked me to see the documents, affidavits, and records that are the basis for my concerns. This is not a criticism, just an observation. The documents in my possession encompass the time period from the spring 2005 until the summer of 2006. I respect the fact that the Executive Committee of the International Mission Board desires to move on with more important matters, and I am sympathetic with those desires. However, I think it would be inaccurate to say that the evidence I have has been reviewed.

(1). The manipulation of the nominating process of the Southern Baptist Convention during the appointment of trustees for the International Mission Board.

The Trustee Investigative Committee Statement

The International Mission Board has no authority to speak to the work of the nominating committee elected by the Southern Baptist Convention or to investigate the process by which it does its work.

My Response

I agree. This is why I asked for the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention to look into the matter.

(2). Attempts to influence and/or coerce the IMB trustees, staff, and administration to take a particular course of action by one or more Southern Baptist agency heads other than the President of the International Mission Board.

The Trustee Investigative Committee Statement

It is assumed that any and all heads of SBC entities are concerned about the effectiveness of all entities in order for the SBC to fulfill its kingdom task in the world. While the IMB may exercise authority over its own president and elected staff, we are not in a position to question or investigate the actions and motives of heads of other entities.

My Response

Again, I agree. This is why I asked for the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention to look into the matter. The IMB is not in a position to question or investigate the motives of heads of other entities, but somebody sure should be in a position to demand that an agency head stop undermining the work, vision and agenda of a fellow agency head -- and that somebody is the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention or the SBC herself.

(3). The appropriate and/or inappropriate use of Forums and Executive Sessions of the International Mission Board as compared to conducting business in full view of the Southern Baptist Convention and the corresponding propriety and/or impropriety of the Chairman of the International Mission Board excluding any individual trustee, without Southern Baptist Convention approval, from participating in meetings where the full International Mission Board is convened.

The Trustee Investigative Committee Statement

The IMB does not allow formal business to be transacted in its closed Trustee Forums, but uses this time for prayer, personal testimonies and preliminary questions and discussions regarding issues of mutual concern between senior staff and trustees. Official executive sessions are limited to matters dealing with sensitive personnel actions related to staff, missionaries and/or trustees or those in which public exposure would result in detrimental consequences for personnel serving in sensitive and restricted locations around the world.

Any actions that may be taken to exclude any trustee from participating in closed board sessions by the chairman will have been made with support of the board as a last resort and in order to avoid disruption and distractions to the board fulfilling its assigned tasks with unity and appropriate decorum

My Response

First, thank God that forums are now filled with praise reports, testimonials and prayer. This is the way it should be, but my personal experience, as well as that of others, is that this kind of forum has not always been the case. I promise that as long as I serve as an IMB trustee that I will do everything in my power to insure that closed doors will will never provide protection for anyone to unjustly attack another person, either an administrator or a trustee, with impunity.

I have consistently and repeatedly advocated that the business of any agency of the Southern Baptist Convention be done in full view of the entire convention through plenary sessions. But for the safety of missionaries in security three zones or extraordinarily sensitive personnel matters, all the business of the IMB is appropriate for public viewing. I think every trustee now understands this point and is doing everything to insure that closed doors be spent in prayer and testimony and not politics.

Finally, Tammi Reed Lebetter, a reporter for the Southern Baptist Texan, in an online article picked up by the Florida Baptist Witness, has badly misinterpreted the last paragraph of number three. The 'official response' is dealing with when, how, and why a trustee may be barred from forum and closed sessions of the board. Mrs. Ledbetter says that I have been barred from forums and closed door sessions. That is simply not the case, nor will it be. I have never been barred from a pre-business session forum (closed door meeting) or Executive Sessions of the International Mission Board. I have never missed attending one during my nearly two years of board meetings. Her reporting is evidence that people often misunderstand what is happening, even those who should be in the know.
(UPDATE: Editor Jerry Pierce of the Southern Baptist Texan has commented saying Tammy Ledbetter's article has been revised to reflect the needed corrections.)

(4). The legislation of new doctrinal requisites for eligibility to serve as employees or missionaries of the IMB beyond the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message.

The Trustee Investigative Committee Statement

While the Baptist Faith and Message represents a general confession of Southern Baptist beliefs related to Biblical teachings on primary doctrinal and social issues, the IMB retains the prerogative and responsibility of further defining the parameters of doctrinal beliefs and practices of its missionaries who serve Southern Baptists with accountability to this board.

My Response

Of all five statements in the 'official response,' this one causes me the most concern. I will reserve any specific comments on this statement until after the March IMB meeting when the two Ad Hoc committees of the IMB, assigned to review the baptism and private prayer language policies, issue their reports and possible recommendations to the full board. I am hopeful some changes will be forthcoming.

Dr. Bowden McElroy is a friend, a licensed professional counselor, and a Southern Baptist from Tulsa, Oklahoma. He is always calm and reasonable in his responses. Without any comment from me, I simply offer Dr. McElroy's assessment of this statement from the investigative committee:

"No matter what angle I approach this from, I keep hearing the underlying tone of superiority: ‘We know what’s best for the SBC. We know what the Convention really meant when it adopted the BF&M.’ Or, as we say in Oklahoma, ‘I thought I told you to wait in the back of the truck.’

The Mission statement of the IMB calls for the board to “Enlist, appoint, equip, and provide support for God-called Southern Baptist missionaries… who give evidence of piety, zeal for their Master’s kingdom, (and) conviction of truth as held by Southern Baptists” The statement (#4 above) reveals the BoT’s belief that “conviction of truth” can only be divined by them and the Convention is not to be trusted to articulate for itself what Southern Baptists believe."

I am hopeful some good things will be coming out of the Memphis IMB meeting.

(5). The suppression of dissent by trustees in the minority through various means by those in the majority, and the propriety of any agency forbidding a trustee, by policy, from publicly criticizing a Board approved action; and

The Trustee Investigative Committee Statement

All board approved actions result from a process of committee, and sometimes multiple committees, consideration before they are brought to a plenary session for adoption. All trustees have opportunity in the committee process and plenary session to express and advocate minority opinions. As in any democratic body, once the majority has determined the action to be taken, the board feels that the action should receive the unified public support of all trustees for the sake of effectively moving forward to fulfill our mission task.

My Response

I would agree with one caveat -- if the policy violates Scripture, then no matter how strong anyone's desire for unity is, it cannot become a stumblingblock to seeking correction. Further, even if some refuse to see that their views are based on tradition and not Scripture, and if their interpretations are regarding doctrines that are beyond the BFM 2000, then though it may be the trustees perogative to demand doctrinal conformity on these tertiary doctrines, the more appropriate question may be, 'should they?' The best way to handle dissent is to accept it as something healthy for our convention, and if the dissenter has no biblical basis for his dissent then the convention will ignore him, or . . . not.

That to accomplish the Committee's work all the trustees, officers, employees, and administrators of the International Mission Board, shall fully cooperate with the Committee to accomplish the purposes outlined in this motion; and

This Committee shall report on the progress of its work to the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention and the International Mission Board; and

That the Ad Hoc Committee make its final report and recommendation to the June 2007 Southern Baptist Convention and request that it be discharged.

My Response

I will always submit to the desires of the Southern Baptist Convention, I also look forward to continued service on behalf of SBC people as we seek to continue to fulfill the Great Commission throgh the IMB by not becoming distracted by tertiary and non-essential doctrinal issues that only divide and ultimately separate.

In His Grace,