Tuesday, May 08, 2007

IMB Policies Now Guidelines: Tuesday at the IMB

Yesterday, May 8, 2007 was a very busy day. In subsequent days I will post reflections on . . . (1). A visit to FBC, Independence, Missouri and her pastor, Dr. Kevin Payne, (2). A trip to the Harry S. Truman homeplace and Presidential Library and Museum (May 8 is the late President's birthday), (3). A great time of fellowship with Dr. Sam Storms of Kansas City and an experience of midnight worship with about 250 young people at the Kansas City International House of Prayer. IHOP began this 24/7 worship and prayer meeting on May 7, 1999 and it has continued unbroken, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week for a total of eight years. Many thousands of young people have been pulled off the streets, converted from backgrounds of drug abuse, and now serve the KC community through IHOP. It may not be how you or I would do ministry, but one has to admire what God has done through IHOP and Pastor Mike Bickle to bring thousands to Christ, including many Kansas City Chiefs professional football players. (4). I will also post about one of the strangest conversations I have ever had with another human being. It was with a man who is a high priest in the Reorganized Church of Latter Day Saints -- now called "The Community of Christ" and it took place at the RCLDS headquartered outside Kansas City -- a conversation that led me to witness to this high priest on the essential nature of the atonement of Christ.

But the important information for today is what happened in the trustee plenary session of the International Mission Board on Tuesday night, May 8, at 6:30 p.m. at the Hilton Airport Hotel in Kansas City. Trustees approved the following report from the Ad Hoc Committee on Tongues and Baptism.

Report of the Mission Personnel Ad Hoc Committee
May 2007

In March of 2006 an ad hoc committee of Mission Personnel Committee received the charge to revisit the approved board policy on tongues and prayer language and the approved board guideline on baptism, both adopted in November 2005. The ad hoc committee has met over the past year during board meetings as well as a two-day special meeting to consider the vast amount of material gathered from leaders, scholars, and pastors across our denomination. The committee solicited this material in an attempt to be faithful to its task. The committee has also spent considerable time praying, fasting, and seeking God’s heart on these issues. The committee has no desire to create further controversy. Rather, our desire is to bring this study to completion and allow the board to maintain its focus upon our world mission task.

The ad hoc committee has concluded that even though field related data and consultation with regional leaders has not indicated a systemic problem with charismatic practices among field personnel, the rapid spread of neo-pentecostalism and its pressure exacted on the new churches in various regions of the world warrants a concern for the clear Baptist identity of our missionary candidates. Furthermore, the diversity of denominational backgrounds among missionary candidates requires a clear baptism guideline to guide the work of our candidate consultants as they consider the qualifications of candidates.

Therefore, we recommend that the full board adopt the following two guidelines to replace Policy 200-15 and Guideline 200-3a. The Mission Personnel Committee approved this recommendation on March 20, 2007 by a three-fourths majority.

Guideline on Tongues and Prayer Language


1. The New Testament speaks of a gift of glossolalia that generally is considered to be a legitimate language.
2. The New Testament expression of glossolalia as a gift had specific uses and conditions for its exercise in public worship.
3. In terms of worship practices, if glossolalia is a public part of the candidate’s current practice and it does not fall within the definitions of Parts 1 & 2 above, the candidate has eliminated himself or herself from being a representative of the IMB of the SBC.


1. Any spiritual experience must be tested by Scriptures.
2. New Testament teaching is that prayer is to be made with understanding.
3. The board is not persuaded that ecstatic utterance as a prayer language is a valid expression of the New Testament teaching on prayer.
4. Therefore, if an “ecstatic utterances as a prayer language” is a part of the candidate’s current practice, the candidate has eliminated himself or herself from being a representative of the IMB of the SBC.


1. This guideline is not retroactive.
2. Any exceptions to the above guideline must be reviewed by the staff and the Mission Personnel Committee.

Proposed Guideline on Baptism

THAT each candidate’s baptismal experience be examined, during the application process, in light of the Baptist Faith and Message statement and the points listed below:

Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer's faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Saviour, the believer's death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to his faith in the final resurrection of the dead. Being a church ordinance, it is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord's Supper. 2000 Baptist Faith and Message, Article VII


1. The individual

a. Believer’s baptism by immersion.
Baptism by immersion follows salvation.
b. Baptism is symbolic, picturing the experience of the believer’s death to sin and resurrection to a new life in Christ.
Baptism does not regenerate.

2. The Church

a. Baptism is a church ordinance.

Baptism must take place under the authority of a local church that practices believer’s baptism alone, embraces the doctrine of the security of a believer’s salvation and does not view baptism as sacramental, regenerative or essential to salvation.

b. A candidate who has not been baptized under the authority of a local church which meets the standards listed above is expected to request baptism in his or her Southern Bapist church.

3. The Candidate

The candidate is responsible for requesting their home church to assist them in meeting this doctrinal commitment to the above points.

4. The Consultant

While the candidate consultant should have a working knowledge of many denominational groups, he or she is not expected to investigate every church.


1. The guideline is not retroactive.
Any exception to the above guideline must be reviewed by staff and the Mission Personnel Committee.

(End of Ad Hoc Committee Report)

The debate that occurred on the adoption of these guidelines was cordial. People spoke on both sides of the issue. After about 45 minutes of debate, the guidelines were approved. Because of the vote tonight, the former policy on private prayer language is now, with the baptism guideline, a guideline, and not a policy.

I spoke only once during the debate and made the following two points and concluded my remarks by asking a question of Paul Chitwood, Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee.

The First Point I Made: The rationale for the guidelines states that there is not 'a systemic problem with charismatic practices among field personnel', but the committee felt it necessary to adopt the private prayer language guideline. I pointed out that The Baptist Faith and Message 2000, the Abstract of Principles, and the 1925 and 1963 Baptist Faith and Message are all silent regarding a specific interpretation on the gifts of the Spirit, and to go beyond our major confessions and demand a specific doctrinal interpretation on a matter not addressed in the BFM should be the sole responsibility of our entire convention, and not the trustees of the IMB. I also expressed concern that we were being asked to vote on the guidelines without hearing from the Regional Leaders of the IMB on what they thought of the new policies. One trustee, John Click of Kansas, had asked, prior to me speaking, that Rodney Hammer, a Regional Leader for the IMB be allowed to speak, but the chair ruled that request out of order. John Floyd was very gracious in his spirit when he ruled the motion out of order, but I was confused as to why it was said there was no 'systemic problem,' and the RL's were not allowed to address the full trustee board before we voted, but yet we felt the need to establish a guideline prohibiting 'prayer language' from those wishing to serve as missionaries for the SBC. I asked, again, if it was wise for us as a trustee board, or any SBC board for that matter, to press beyond our confessional statement and exclude people who affirm the BFM 2000, but disagree on specific interpretations of doctrines not addressed by the BFM 2000. If a ban of private prayer language is needed on DOCTRINAL grounds, since there is no anecdotal evidence that a problem exists on the field among personnel, then maybe we should wait for the SBC to speak on the matter.

The Second Point I Made: I also said that though the baptism guideline was worded better than the original one voted on in November 2005, the new baptism guideline, unfortunately, still made the baptism of a believer an identification with a specific church and not Jesus Christ. However, since there was no alternative to the proposed guidelines, nor a recommendation to rescind the November 2005 policies, at least it was a step in the right direction. I, again, cautioned us as trustees that implementing any doctrinal standard that exceeds the BFM, though we can do it as trustees, just might not be the wisest thing to do.

I then asked my question:

What is the difference between a policy and a guideline?

Dr. Floyd pointed out that this question was asked yesterday, and then said, "Wade, you must have not been in the meeting to hear the answer." I didn't have the heart to tell Dr. Floyd publicly that I was in the meeting, and it was I who had asked the question yesterday, but the question and response occured in the closed door forum, and it was best for us as a convention that the answer be on the record since other Southern Baptists could not hear the answer in the closed door meeting.

Matt Bristol, Attorney for the IMB was called upon to answer the question, as he was also asked to do in the forum yesterday. He said a policy is 'dogmatic' and a 'guideline' is flexible in its implementation. Later, the attorney said that functionally there was no difference, but that the word guideline conveys a spirit of flexibility (the word he wished to emphasize) in the application of the policy.

After further discussion, all in a good spirit, the vote was taken and the new 'guidelines' passed.

I have tried to give you simply the facts of what occurred without going into any commentary. I am pleased, however, that progress is being made to understand that there are different viewpoints on these matters within the SBC and for us to function as a cooperating convention, we must not exclude anyone from missionary cooperation and participation those who disagree on tertiary doctrines like the authority of the baptizer and the importance of what a person does in his private prayer closet.

All the officers of the IMB were reelected without opposition.

I pray that we as trustees of the IMB will put this matter behind us, focus on the mission challenges ahead of us, and trust that, in the providence of God, all that has occurred in these last two years on the board has been good and healthy for us all.

I'll blog tomorrow night about the most important part of this trustee meeting -- the commissioning service.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson


Strider said...

Well, ok. If this is the new policy then I suppose I should teach this 'theology' here on the field.

a. Baptism is a church ordinance.

Baptism must take place under the authority of a local church that practices believer’s baptism alone, embraces the doctrine of the security of a believer’s salvation and does not view baptism as sacramental, regenerative or essential to salvation.

b. A candidate who has not been baptized under the authority of a local church which meets the standards listed above is expected to request baptism in his or her Southern Bapist church.

I only use the Bible to teach those whom I work with here. I can not find any verses to support these teachings. Can anyone help me out?

Todd Nelson said...

I'm glad the policies have been demoted to "guidelines". And I'm glad for the irenic spirit of the discussions.

But I still have difficulty with some of the interpretations. For instance, statement #2 under Prayer Language, "New Testament teaching is that prayer is to be made with understanding"? True, but not the whole truth. Paul says, "I will pray in the spirit, and I will pray in words I understand. I will sing in the spirit, and I will sing in words I understand." (1 Cor 14:15)

How does the board understand these words as they apply to prayer and worship?

One more thing... It's unfortunate that the word "ecstatic" has been used to define a prayer language. It makes me wonder, if I utilize un-ecstatic utterances in private prayer, am I still disqualified?

Anonymous said...

After a year and a half of discussion, prayer, writing, laboring, and much controversy in the SBC through all areas of Southern Baptist life, the Board finally acted.

And, I have no idea what this means.

We now have a guideline that says the same thing as the former policies. But, the guideline is more flexible? Does this mean that Jerry Rankin could serve as a missionary? Does this mean that you have to promise to not use a prayer language while on the field? How does this affect the Baptism question? You were either baptized in a "proper" church or you weren't. Does this mean that it is up to the whims of the candidate consultant?

How would someone who was saved and baptized in an Assemblies of God church and has a prayer language, but has shifted in their theology and been a Baptist for 20-30 years see this? Are they qualified or disqualified? Will they find out sitting with the candidate consultant? Will it be based on how they talk, what they look like, or how they answer the questions?

I am totally confused. Thanks for asking the question, Wade. I still don't know what it means. I fear that in the desire to not create more controversy, we have muddied the waters even more. I was hoping for resolution one way or another, and instead, we got doctrinal confusion.

And we wonder why most Southern Baptists don't know what we believe. It appears that our trustees don't either. I am not trying to be critical, but it now seems that in moving from "policy" to "guideline" we are saying that if you have a different interpretation of these two points you are still eliminated unless we say you aren't? Sigh.

I really want to understand, but I need a bit more help.

Gary Snowden said...

Alan expresses very clearly the frustration I sense as well with the announcement of the new guidelines. It would seem that the candidate consultants will now have the difficult task of determining whether or not a person meets the new "guidelines," and unfortunately, it seems that they haven't been given a clear position from which to operate.

I do look forward to your remarks about Kevin and FBC Independence. I met Kevin about 5 years ago now and have fellowshipped with him each fall at a pastors' retreat. He's a bright and articulate pastor.

Bob Cleveland said...

Old French saying: "The more things change, the more they stay the same".

One problem I see, right off, is that different interviewers or administrators could administer a "guideline" differently, and a candidate who might be accepted under one, might be denied under another. Something about that just doesn't ring right.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Alan...well said, brother. I'm just disappointed that our regional leaders (well, one of them) finally, almost, nearly, had a chance to take a stand and was silenced...again. Why? Anyway, all that for that? Back to "don't ask, don't tell" I reckon. Many of us have learned to function and live out God's call in that familiar territory over the last few years in spite of these things. We know that, eventually, there is no difference between a "guideline" and a "policy"...just a little time is all until it's all the same. Thanks for your help to at least keep it all out there, Wade.
IMB missionary

davidinflorida said...

Pastor Wade,

I`ll go ahead and remove Rmn 8:26 and Eph 6:18 from my Bible now so it will conform to the new IMB guidlines.

Keep us posted on other verses which may be needed to be removed later.

Anonymous said...

I am afraid that this just proves that the idea of Southern Baptists working togeher under the large tent of the Baptist Faith and Message in order to partner and cooperate for the sake of doing mission...has been and will be increasingly difficult.

I agree that the preponderance of Southern Baptists probably do agree about the trustees position on praying in tongues in one's private devotions. But there are many other doctrinal and social issues where the majority of Southern Bapists feel strongly. Does this mean that those in the minority position, even though their position does not conflict with the BF&M, does this mean that they should not be allowed to partner to do missions?

I sincerely thank Wade for his work and even the spirit in his post about the new guidelines.

However for me personally, the new "guidelines" are still offensive and disappointing to say the least. It's also disappointing that while it appears the trustees admit that the "new policy" was not created because of actual problems on the field; it's disappointing that they simply didn't admit that the policy was a mistake and therefore return to the former guideline.

So...last question: with this new guideline, could the next young Jerry Rankin that comes along be accepted as IMB missionary?

Darren Casper

Scotte Hodel said...

I don't understand the distinction of "flexibility" in guidelines. There is no flexibility in "the candidate has eliminated himself or herself from being a representative of the IMB of the SBC." Nor do I understand how, when concluding that the stated position is the Biblical position, how the policy is not retroactive. (Not that I want it to be!)

I also have concerns about "ecstatic utterances." I practice prayer in the spirit; overwhelming emotion is not part of the practice. On the other hand, if 'ecstatic utterances" in prayer is the policy, a history of attending college football games may disqualify a number of potential SBC missionaries.

Just a thought.

War Eagle!

Gary Snowden said...

Pardon a second comment, but after further reflection, there is something else about the new guidelines that troubles me. It seems that the IMB is sending a not-so-veiled message to other evangelical groups that do practice or at least permit the use of a private prayer language by their members. That message is simply that their form of Christianity is "sub-standard" and biblically deficient. That might play out without major repercussions in the U.S., but on the mission field where any other evangelical missionary is viewed as an ally and not an enemy, the refusal to reverse the previous policies will undoubtedly be a stumbling block for relationships with other Great Commission Christians.

Thanks, Wade, for providing the information and I hope to meet you this evening at the appointment service.

hopelesslyhuman said...

Would you describe the BOT's position as "Dogmatic Semi-Cessationist"?

Anonymous said...

I remember a day when so many young people and young couples clamored to go to the mission field through the IMB (I was one of them). Today, as I talk with so many, including a young man at lunch yesterday, they are all saying that the IMB has become too restrictive, too dictatorial, and there is too much red tape. These are very innovative and very dedicated and are finding other ways to go. These are also Southern Baptist young men and women.

When will we wake up and realize that our narrowing, restrictive ways do not foster loyal Southern Baptists? There are others out there who are facilitating the call, enabling people to fulfill their call. They trust most of all, the relationships these missionaries have with the Lord and His leadership in their lives.

Jason Morrison said...

I was disheartened to see no change on the baptism issue pertaining specifically on eternal security.

I cannot agree with the IMB Board's decision to regard my wife's baptism, in a Freewill Baptist Church as illegitimate.

Towering Oaks Baptist Church (Greeneville, TN) recognized it.
Highview Baptist Church (Louisville, KY) recognized it.
Lakewood Baptist Church (Louisville, KY) recognized it.
Little River Baptist Church
(Honea Path, SC) recognized it.

For many years now, she has been convinced of the Bible's teaching on the Perseverance of the Saints, and endorses the BF&M 2000, but as a couple, we are not eligible to be Southern Baptist Missionaries through the IMB, even though I pastor a Southern Baptist Church.

Anonymous said...

"We don't want to admit we made a mistake - and in our mind we haven't made a mistake - but those doggone bloggers have stirred things up and forced a response, so instead of policies we'll just call these "guidelines" and everything will essentially remain the same and maybe those who are causing "trouble" in the convention will be appeased."

Call me a cynic, but that's exactly what the new guidelines sound like to me. Here's hoping I'm wrong.

Wade, I'm looking forward to seeing you again tonight. I sincerely wanted to be at the meetings but a much needed vacation with my wife precluded me from attending. I will be in attendance at the commissioning service tonight, however, with a group from my church.

timothy cowin said...

I do recall some trustees in the past year stating that there were problems on the field that mandated these changes. What does this statement say about their integrity?

I am saddened by the prejudice and bigotry towards our brothers. Of course we have a history where this attitude is concerned...

How can rotating trustees gag the men that have given their life to serve in the IMB.... very telling.

Tim Cowin

Anonymous said...

i agree completely with the new guidelines. they are exactly what i too believe. it looks to me like the imb trustees studied it...talked about it...thought on it...and came to this conclusion after careful study of the bible, and on baptist distinctives, and what is the wisest way for us to do missions. i applaud them.


Anonymous said...

Wade, is there a specific record as to precisely who voted for or against the new "guidelines"?

No matter how the IMB BoT immerses or sprinkles the "new/old policies" with sugared wording, the bottom line is that the new "guidelines" effectively make the IMB Trustees the sole arbiter as to who or who may not serve as a missionary, based on doctrines that find no basis in the BF&M's 2000, 1963, or 1925. One wonders what the next little "doctrinal gem" the IMB BoT will arbitrarily impose on potential missionary candidates? Will Dispensationalists, Arminians, and/or Calvinists have preemptively disqualified themselves as being missionaries supported by this SBC Agency? Will the premeditated consumption of 20 proof alcoholic liquid (Vick's Cough Syrup) effectively nullify the prospects of an otherwise qualified missionary candidate? Will the issues of "mixed bathing" in public swimming pools, "dancing" at high school sock hops, "playing cards", eating at restaurants that serve alcoholic beverages, and attending secular movies or music concerts be visited, or revisited, as disqualifyers for missionary candidates? . . . When will this legalistic "bloodless" inquisition nonsense ever cease?

Perhaps, it is time for the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention to take back their Southern Baptist Convention by recalling any agency Trustee who has voted to supplant BF&M doctrinal positions by imposing "guidelines", which similarly find no explicit basis in Scripture, in determining the qualifications of missionary candidates.

How local churches will now justify the continued support, through Cooperative Program dollars, of an agency that sets itself up as a "College of Cardinals" regarding Southern Baptist Christian doctrine is not only germane to this issue, but should be of immediate concern to everyone in the SBC. The very future of Southern Baptst Missions may hang in the balance.

In His Grace and Peace,

T. D. Webb

Anonymous said...

something else that i'd like to say...i grow tired of arguements like monte's about the younger people threatening to leave the sbc if things dont go thier way. if those young people dont like being a sb, then maybe they ought to go a different way. hey, there's assembly of God's and presbyterians out there..and others. go that way if that's how you believe. listen, i'm tired of people trying to hold the sbc hostage with a "if i dont get my way then i'll take my marbles and leave" attitude. if someone in your church had this attitude, what would you pastors say to them? if someone came to you and said, if yall dont let me teach the youth, then i'll take my money and my willingness to serve to another church?

i think i already know your answer.


J. Guy Muse said...

Some great observations made by many of the commentators above!

There are two things that I would add to the conversation. Both concern the process used to revisit the two policies:

1) Lack of input by Regional Leaders (and rank and file missionaries for that matter.) The missionaries who are on the field are the ones to live with the consequences of these kinds of policy/guidelines. Our voice to express any concerns is through our Regional Leaders. But were the RL's given a voice in this process? I am simply asking.

2) Who in Baptist life is the "final word" on doctrinal issues? Is the IMB-BoT now our standard for interpreting doctrinal issues? As Strider above points out, by taking this stand, is the BoT indirectly saying we M's on the field are to realign our own teachings to mirror these two policy/guidelines? Again, this is a question that I hope somebody can answer for us.

Shamgar said...

Wow, there is a lot of strong language against the decision here in this post which I really don't understand.

I won't speak to the spiritual gifts issue just yet. I need to think more about their implications - so please take my comments here in context of speaking only to the baptism issue.

The only concern I have is the requirement of a church that believes in the perseverance of the believer (*not* once-saved-always-saved as someone else here characterized it). I really don't understand what that has to do with the validity of baptism. In fact, the more I think about it - it eliminates most denominational backgrounds from having valid baptism which is just groundless.

However, I've only seen one person take issue with that point. Most seem to have a problem with it being required that a person candidating for missions be baptized under the authority of *a* local church, that practices believers baptism and has a proper view of baptism.

Now, I can understand having some concerns about the other aspects of a proper view of baptism. But baptism has a certain meaning behind it. It is (or should be) a significant event in the life of a Christian. If that event happened because it was just viewed as the next step in a process - as if it's like putting on your shoes before going outside - then I can understand desiring true baptism. The other doctrinal aspects likewise have potential implications toward the validity of baptism based on how you viewed it at the time.

I don't think the point is that somehow the bad theology of these churches infects the baptism - but rather that the bad theology of the receiver infects the baptism. How do you properly communicate the meaning and significance of baptism in the field if it had the wrong meaning and significance for you - or worse none at all?

Maybe you can, but I doubt you can as effectively. Many here say that this would allow those evaluating candidates to have unreasonable power over who gets to be a missionary. If this is truly a valid concern then I have much bigger worries about the state of the IMB than these policies. I would like to think that we choose these people who evaluate carefully and that their desire is for what is best for the candidate. It's a guideline, not a requirement - so through interviewing a candidate it should be easy to determine what their view of their own baptism is and make recommendations from there.

But perhaps I am just too naive about the process itself. If I'm way off base here, I certainly would appreciate the education.

Anonymous said...

David, I hear what you are saying about people saying I don't like it when things don't go my way, but at the same time you are saying you love what they did because it is what you believe, too. Sounds like you got your way and you are happy. How is it different if someone is unhappy who doesn't get their way? Shouldn't the standard be the bible and not what you or I believe it says?

I am glad that God always provides a way to accomplish His purpose.

Anonymous said...

I have written about this some on my blog, http://downshoredrift.com , as well.


Thank you for answering my question. That was helpful to see how things would be applied. I imagine that there can also be winks and nods to the Candidate Consultants to enforce this "guideline" strictly, especially since the language still employs the words "eliminate" when someone does not toe the line on these issues. The Consultants are employed by the IMB and if someone gets through with a PPL, then it will come back on them.

I am still collecting my thoughts on this, but I think that Micah, Darren, Monte, Micah, and Timothy said it well. This does look like a put off and the creation of a veil of protection over the Board's actions. Basically, nothing changes and they still think that it is alright to go beyond the BF&M. There will not be future Jerry Rankins who will come up through the IMB, and I am one Southern Baptist pastor who planned to go on the mission field at some point in the future that will now not consider the IMB as a sending agency. Nor will I encourage others to do so at this time.

I have to give it to the Board of Trustees, however. They used great political deftness to basically keep everything the way it was, not admit that they were wrong, and also diffuse criticism. If anyone is upset, defenders of the Board can always say, "It's just a guideline. What more do you want?" Yet, they have freedom to enforce that "guideline" as strongly as they see fit and as arbitrarily as they desire.

Also, to say that it is not retroactive, while admitting that there are not problems with IMB personnel on the field, is totally inconsistent. If there are not problems, then it seems that the previous policies worked well, doesn't it? If there are problems, then why would it not be retroactive? Do they anticipate future problems that the old policies would not address? They admittedly worked up till now and everyone was happy. Why not just admit you were wrong? Is it pride? I don't want to judge hearts, so I can't know reasons, but if pride is involved and there is an inability to correct wrong actions, or if this is just a smokescreen, then we know that God will oppose the IMB. The Bible says that God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Will he oppose the work of the IMB? I hope not, but time will tell, I guess.

Anonymous said...

Here are some additional thoughts about what you have said, David, which ironically were words exhibiting the same behavior you were criticizing:

Romans 14:19 - Make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification.

Ephesians 4:3 - Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

Hebrews 12:14 - Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy.

2 Peter 3:14 - Make every effort to be found spotless and at peace with Him.

Ephesians 2:14-22 - For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility . . . you are . . . fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household.

John 17:20-26 - My prayer is . . . for those who will believe in me . . . that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. . . May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

Anonymous said...


You haven't been around many Southern Baptist churches, have you? The attitude that you describe is how a great number of our churches were planted (through church splits) and is not new. Actually, it's how the Southern Baptist Convention was formed. Check your history.

In case you haven't noticed, we haven't left yet. But, we have tried to change things. When our mission sending agencies take action that we believe to be unbiblical and that goes beyond our confession of faith, you would like for us to just be quiet and keep sending in money. You are not one to be quiet when things happen that you do not agree with. Why do you require subservience of others? I understand that you are "tired" of all of the complaining. Maybe you'll soon get your wish and all of those who were trying to warn and help the SBC be what it should be will just shut up and leave. But, in this instance your words come across as very insulting to those of us who genuinely care about this issue and are trying to work through the implications for our lives and ministries.

I'm sorry that you're not interested in dialogue but you would rather have dictatorship, it seems. I hope that you're never on the wrong side of a decision that pushes you out or limits you. There will most likely be no one there to defend you as we will all be gone to seemingly, your great pleasure.

Bob Cleveland said...

And another thing.......

They have officially affirmed that, what Paul thanked God he did more than all the others did, what Paul said was OK in churches for 2 or 3, if interpreted, THAT is not acceptable in missionaries.

On the other hand, he said flatly that women must keep silent in churches, but we don't have to live by that little gem.


Anonymous said...

David (volfan007) said, "if those young people dont like being a sb, then maybe they ought to go a different way. hey, there's assembly of God's and presbyterians out there..and others. go that way if that's how you believe. listen, i'm tired of people trying to hold the sbc hostage with a "if i dont get my way then i'll take my marbles and leave" attitude."

David, sadly, your comment forms the essence of this issue. You might have just as well have said, "These dissidents shouldn't be Southern Baptists anyway. The SBC will be better off without them." No doubt, the "new/old policies" and the new "guidelines" were formulated to reach the ultimate goal of purging those who don't goose-step to the legalistic doctrines of those who are now in control of SBC agencies. In doing so, they may have forgotten the old adage, "What goes around, comes around.". Southern Baptists should get off this merry-go-round expression of "If you don't agree with me, you aren't a true Southern Baptist.", before they become another "Church of Christ".

In His Grace and Peace,

T. D. Webb

davidinflorida said...

Brian and Alan,

Could you please use "volfan" or "volfan david" when refering to his remarks.

I don`t want anyone to get confused.


Anonymous said...


i dont believe that i mentioned you by name.

i have no problem with you voicing your opinion, nor in trying to change things. i do have a problem with people who continually threaten to get thier way.

i was not trying to be insulting. if i came across that way...i apologize.

i was simply stating that i agree with the imb trustees, and i am tired of people threatening to leave if they dont get thier way. maybe you should go back and read what i wrote again. it sounds like you read it thru a different pair of glasses than what i was wearing.

again, i'm not tired of the complaining....well, maybe i am a little...but, i said i was tired of people trying to hold the sbc hostage.

also, alan, i love dialogue. that's why i'm in the blogs. i just dont see things like you and wade about some issues. i still love yall in the Lord, and i thank God for you. but, i dont agree with you, if that's alright.


Anonymous said...


Thanks for clarifying. I accept your explaination and see your point. I did read it differently than you now say that you intended it. In fairness to Monte, I don't think that he was threatening anything, but rather, he was warning of the reprecussions of such actions. I agree with him. That is not a threat, but it is a prediction - one that the leadership of the SBC is obviously willing to ignore.

We are good. Let's get back to discussing the huge news of last night.

Anonymous said...


to Strider and others,

I have the same questions you all have asked.

We are told to be "out and about" where our taget group is in natural settings to share the gospel. I have no problem so far. We share with someone one or more times and the become a believer. We are filled with joy. We are told to baptize this person as soon as possible and begin discipling them so they will share thier faith with family and friends. No big problem.

The problem comes where there seems to be one set of "rules" for the folks back in the USof A about baptism and another set of "rules" for the missionaries on the field. The new believers are not to be baptized under the authority of a local church. Yes, in my country there is an organized Baptist convention with many churches, but we "m"s are not to use the facilities of a church. We are to baptize in the bath tub, not the "m"s bathtub, or the river, lake, ocean or horse trough, whatever will hold enough water to immerse them completely.

I have no problem with baptizing someone outside of a church building. ( I do not like a bath tub baptism because the person being baptised wants their non-Christians friends to see them being baptized. Hard to do in a bathroom.) They are being baptized into THE church not a church. This baptism is not a church ordinance because there is no church yet. Our hope and goal is that through this one person sharing with family, friends and co-workers that someday there will be a chuch meeting in their home or a community center or wherever this church decides to meet.

This seems to be good enough for the missionaries on the field, but not good enough for the leadership and trustees of the board that sends us to the far corners of the world.

We on the field are getting so many mixed messages, it is becoming harder and harder for us to know what to do and how to it on the field.

The questions that have been asked are excellent questions and MUST be answered by someone or some group, BOT, SBC or the IMB is going to have a hard time in the near future.

In the past one year and 4 months we have lost seven families from our country, representing almost 250 years total mission, because of not being able to use their gifts and talents. They had been told, as have all of us, do it this way or leave the field. There are more standing in line ready to take early retirement or just resign.

I have to agree with Alan Cross, I too am totally confused. However, I will let someone else try and figure it out. I will just keep on doing what I am doing to reach the folks in my neighborhood and my city. If that is not what God wants done or the way He wants it done He will call me home, the states or He will call home to heaven.

I must confess to ecstatic utterances. When we are asked by a new Christian to help her share the Easter story to thrity plus of her non-Christian friends at her home and then a week later at her cram school to 20 of her non-Christian friends and they ask if we can tell them more the next wek and the next week, THAT is something that I get "ecstatic" about. We have waited 14 years for this friend to become a believer.

Oh, that this would happen everyday of the week.

Wade, thank you SO MUCH for your work in keeping us on the field informed. Thank you for taking the "heat" as often as you have. Thank you for the kind and loving spirit you show in every blog post and every response.

Anonymous said...

Do you realize that we are Sons and Daughters of the King? I don't think God really wants sons telling other sons where they should go just because they are tired of someone. We all make up His bride. I'm so glad that God doesn't just kick us out when He grows tired of our whining.

Anonymous said...


Obviously, I was speaking to Volfan. I didn't see your comment before I wrote my last one. Sorry. Will do, although I am sure that there is nothing more to say on this issue directly to David (Volfan).

Anonymous said...

This is all just incredibly disappointing and out of touch with the position of the folks in our church. It appears that we are more interested in being and creating Baptists than we are in being and creating Christians.

I'm at a loss as to why this board seems intent on pushing people away.

Anonymous said...


i love all christians...no matter what denomination they are.

also, do you realize that even wade and alan would be for "kicking out" certain sbc missionaries if they crossed certain lines? do you see that?

alan and wade, is that not true? would you not say to bryan that there are certain boundaries that you all would not want to be crossed by sbc missionaries? that they would not stay missionaries if they did, or believed, certain things?


Anonymous said...

Next year when I have to submit my Annual Statistical Report I will refuse to count any baptisms that were performed by every Baptist Union church that does not hold to security of the believer. That would be every church!
I'm certain we will continue to count their baptisms as ours when reporting to the SBC. We do have formal partnerships with them, you know.

Anyone see a problem with this!

Anonymous said...


Of course there are lines that cannot be crossed. No one would say otherwise and we have repeatedly said that there are moral and theological issues that are worth dividing over. Only a small number of people thinks that this is one of them, however. It just so happens that the IMB BoT has been stacked with such people and they want to foist their narrow opinions on the rest of us. So, of course we have standards, but my desire is to have the standards that the Bible has, not the standards that someone arbitrarily imposes upon me by doctrinal fiat.

By the way, that is a VERY Baptist position!

I have also said countless times that I do not want everyone to have to follow my point of view. This is a third tier issue and should be treated as such, with a variety of opinions able to be brought to the table, as long as we all respect one another and behave in an orderly way. That view has not changed. I am sorry that the Board does not have the same desire.

One other thing: Can we move back to directly discussing the IMB "guidelines"? I don't want to be a part of a hijack, and this is beginning to feel that way just a little bit.

Anonymous said...

My observation to the thus far 34 comments is that your constituents or perhaps a better word is responders are in the high 90% against the decision made by the trustee's. I am no mathematician nor a rocket scientist but I can add and discern certain things. Obviously your responders are certainly not representative of 90 plus percent of the SBC.

Anonymous said...

The IMB trustees are more concerned with their own appearance to their cessasionist and neo-landmarkist supporters than they are with seeing ripe fields won to Christ. Cessasionism and neo-landmarkism are man-made doctrines. Cessasionism is no more than Western rationalism successfully demythologizing the New Testament.

OC Hands said...

How sad but so predictable. I am not at all surprised that the outcome of much study, "prayer and fasting" and deliberation led to the same conclusions as the original policies. It seems to be impossible for leaders in today's denomination to say "I (we) were wrong, we made a mistake, we need to correct this (apologize for this.) Come to think of it, it is hard for me to say this, although I find myself doing it because it is the right thing to do.

Perhaps by working with pastors and other "religious" leaders at home and on the mission field I have become something of a cynic. When I read that a decision was reached by "fasting and prayer" or certain meetings were "bathed in prayer" I tend to put a question mark there. No doubt these men and women were serious about their tasks, but most of us have agendas, and it is difficult for us to separate our agendas from that of the Holy Spirit. Paul often was prevented by the Spirit from going certain places because God had other places in mind. Thank God that Paul listened to the Spirit's leading.

Some have said "If you don't like what is being done, then get out of the convention." Is this a real Christ-like attitude toward those who disagree with you about certain things? When the rules for acceptance are changed to policies and "guidelines" that do not accurately reflect our Baptist heritage nor Biblical foundations, I believe we have a right to say "Hold on there that's going too far." Or at least I thought we did. Perhaps that right has also gone down the drain.

The committee used a phrase to further justify their actions "the rapid spread of neo-pentecostalism." I see a different danger that is demonstrated by the committee's decision, and that is the increasing trend toward "catholicizing" that is taking place withing the SBC. This refers to the ever-broadening powers of those in position of leadership, and the decreasing practice of the priesthood of believers. In certain eras, I was told that Catholic laity could read the Bible, but couldn't interpret it. This sounds suspiciously like what I am seeing today. In fact, I remember reading what one pastor said during the "resurgence" concerning his church members. He said "Don't worry about them, I will tell them what to believe." So, now, we cannot seem to trust lay people to read and interpret the Bible, even if the Holy Spirit is helping.

Also, regarding the "guidelines," please don't be so naive as to believe that these will be applied evenly across the board. If some doctor or other much-needed person applies, "guidelines" can be waived in order to expedite their approval and appointment. It has happened before, and will happen again.

Finally, I suppose what bothers me most is that those who are not willing to become missionaries themselves feel free to dictate to those who do respond to the call how they can or cannot do their job. While some will say that not all are called to the mission field, I will challenge you to look at the number of pastors and leaders we have in the SBC, and compare that to the very few (several thousand at the most) who actually are serving on the field. It seems to me that some are either not listening to the call of God to missions, or are choosing to ignore it.

Anonymous said...

I remember the old question most every potential pastor has answered during his (notice male pronoun) :) ordination council, "what if decide to not ordain you. What will you do?" My response was, "to preach anyway."

If you have been called to go, then go.

Let God work out who will foot the bill.

Roger D. Lee

wadeburleson.org said...


I disagree with your conclusions. I believe that well over a majority of Southern Baptists as a whole agree with the gist of the comments on this string.

wadeburleson.org said...

I don't think anyone should minimize the 'flexibility' of the new guidelines. There are numerous trustees, if aware of a person who is otherwise qualified, has a private prayer language, but has NEVER spoken in tongues publicly, and would agree to not overemphasize the gifts (any of them) and pledge not to speak in tongues publicly on the mission field, would go to bat to get this SBC missionary candidate appointed.

Unknown said...

Ok… here are my thoughts on this issue:

I am a life long Southern Baptist Pastor who, in the past, has ALWAYS supported the various agencies of the Southern Baptist Convention. I have consistently motivated each church I have pastured to greater support of our Southern Baptist Mission efforts through increased giving.

A few years ago (due to what we felt were inappropriate actions by certain Florida Baptist Officials) the Leadership of my current church decided by unanimous consent to stop funding the C.P. and send our support directly to NAMB and IMB.

We have continued to support both NAMB and IMB as they faced controversy these last couple of years. I can honestly say that I was impressed and yes even PROUD of the way that NAMB responded to their difficult situation and because of their willingness to address each and every concern that was raised, I have even more confidence in NAMB today than I did before. I regret that I cannot say the same of IMB.

Because of NAMB’s willingness to address, and yes make the proper corrections, NAMB will continue to receive my full support. Because the IMB has refused to follow the example set by NAMB (see the comments by Micah Fries above) I can no longer recommend that my church send support to IMB until these guidelines/policies (there is no difference) are changed.

Why would any Southern Baptist Church send its missions support to any agency that would not accept its own Pastor or Members? There are options…

Grace to all,

Anonymous said...


Is that how the guidelines will be enforced, or is that just what you would do? If that is the case, then at least we have something to go on.

Also, would the candidate having NEVER spoken in tongues publicly be a big deal? What if there was interpretation? I can totally understand and respect a pledge to not do so while on the mission field, but having to say that you had never done it, if it fit Paul's biblical restrictions, would be wrong, in my opinion.

Thank you for taking a stand and for all your faithful work on this. Sorry to appear negative, but it just doesn't seem like much has changed with the shift from policies to guidelines. That is disappointing. But, maybe I am wrong? I sincerely hope so.

Anonymous said...

thanks for the post, but i have a question? If i was to say that this movement to a "guideline" was a statement saying the old policy was wrong, but we don't want to admit it- because those in "power" won't allow it- would i be correct?
John Daniels

Anonymous said...

"Because the IMB has refused to follow the example set by NAMB (see the comments by Micah Fries above) I can no longer recommend that my church send support to IMB until these guidelines/policies (there is no difference) are changed."
So, G. Alford, you will encourage your church to not support the work of the IMB. Because you disagree with trustee decisions, you will not give financially to an organization whose mission is "making Jesus Christ known among all people."
There will always be organizations, SB and other, with whom no one fully and totally agrees. Other missions organizations, SB or GCC, have their own doctrinal and administrative issues. The IMB, with whatever issues and challenges it may have, is still the best organized, most strategic missions organization in existence today.
To say that you will lead a body of believers to no longer support the missionaries and staff who labor each day in the vision of making Jesus Christ known among all people is an immature and disappointing response.

wadeburleson.org said...

John Daniel,

I would prefer not to answer your question. :)

wadeburleson.org said...

G. Alford,

You are sharp, bright and very articulate theologically and philosophically in your missiology.

I would HIGHLY encourage you to keep up the support, both financial and participation, with the IMB.

One of these days we'll get you appointed to the trustee board.


Anonymous said...


I ask the same question that Alan did? Hypothetically, what if there were an interpretation in the exercise of that more public gift?

Sincerely, help me understand this just for clarity sake. Southern Baptists exist for cooperation to do mission, right? I mean the CP is about partnership under the umbrella of the BF&M and a high view of Scripture in order to share the gospel and plant churches.

And if our international mission agency is saying that anyone who claims to have exercised the public gift of tongues(which by the way, I have not) will not be accepted as an IMB missionary, then in essence, isn't what we have a clear cut cessationist Southern Baptist Convention?


Anonymous said...


Having rules, (although I wish we didn't have to have them because we so loved God that we needed them not, but we are human and we fail to understand the incredible love of God), is something I understand. But no, you don't kick someone out for "breaking" the rules. People make mistakes. You approach them gently and disciple, not punish, them. Do they repent? If they choose to repent and follow the rules, then you don't kick them out.

Now, what about the person who either says I will not follow that rule or continues to break a rule in direct disobedience... Then you tell them that they have a choice to make. They can submit or they must quit. You still don't kick them out. You attempt to disciple them. Provide an atmosphere where they can repent. If they have no heart of repentance, then they have chosen to leave. This isn't just semantics. This is discipleship in love.

But, all the same, the relationship should never be on the table. You still love them as a brother and sister and hold them in respect and love because they are a Son or Daughter of the King. We are so quick to tear people down. Tear apart the family. We need to do all we can to keep peace and unity in the Body of Christ.

Anonymous said...

The "Guidelines" include the statements
"2. New Testament teaching is that prayer is to be made with understanding.
3. The board is not persuaded that ecstatic utterance as a prayer language is a valid expression of the New Testament teaching on prayer."

There is just one small problem. These statements express an opinion of biblical interpretation that seems to me to be based on nother more than assumptions and pre-suppositions. For example, 1 Corinthians 14:15 So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind. This clearly indicates that Paul endorses praying with understanding and praying in the Spirit (in the context of this passage this refers to praying in tongues). Also, 1 Corinthians 14: 28 If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God. What would speaking to yourself and God in tongues be if not a private prayer language.

I am dismayed that the Board insists on absolutist statements abou doctrines that are disputabe on the basis of scripture. It displays a love for conformity and a fear of non-conformity that does not bode well for the SBC. Since this seems to truly be the majority position of the Board, I will have think and pray about further involvement with the SBC.

Only two things have kept me from doing so until now. First, there seemed to be a glimmer of hope that the narrowing could be stopped, and I know a number of missionaries personally and their work is extraordinarily worthy of support, whether the IMB is or not.

Unknown said...


Thank you for the compliment… I do “immature” quite well don’t you think? Kind of like the IMB BOT saying to “All” Southern Baptist “if you don’t play by our rules you don’t get to play at all”… sounds a little immature on their part if you ask me.

Notice, I did not say I was no longer going to support Southern Baptist Missionaries… “There are options…”

Beth, just what would you suggest would be an appropriate response to this decision of the IMB BOT (not unanimous I am sure) to force their Neo-Landmark doctrines upon all Southern Baptist? Just what is a local church pastor to do? I am really open to other ideas as to how to respond to all of this… if someone can come up with a better solution than pulling our support for IMB I would like to hear it?

Perhaps the IMB could come up with a “Two Track” system where those who wish to serve under their new Landmark rules can apply, and those churches who wish to support Landmark missionaries can support them… And another of us who were very satisfied and happy under the old system can still serve as missionaries and send support also? I suppose that is asking too much though… for a Southern Baptist Church to be able to send a missionary through the Southern Baptist IMB that reflects its own beliefs instead of those of others.


Thank you so much for the compliment, you are too kind… Not sure I am ready for the BOT yet; I have a long way to go before I learn to handle myself with the grace and gentleness that you show in the face of such difficult issues…

But, thanks for the encouragement and you can be sure that I will ALWAYS support Southern Baptist Missionaries… where there is a will, there is always a way.

Grace to all,

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your comments and for the info. I find myself in agreement with the majority of commentators here, but especially with folks like O.C. Hands (whose comments always impress me greatly with his spirituality and maturity), G. Alford, and Alan Cross.

Assuming the Convention itself provides no course correction, I would like, in a year or so, to know how many candidates with a PPL have been accepted by the IMB, or with a baptism by immersion outside the set parameters. If a substantial number, even if still a minority of the total, it will speak eloquently that this is merely a "guideline," and that the IBM is genuinely evaluating candidates on their merits and calling. If, on the other hand, the answer is "none," it will speak even more loudly that this "guideline" is nothing but the former policy with a little window dressing. Do you know if there is any chance such numbers would be forthcoming?

I recently shared with the Missions Committee at our church this information (re: the "policies"). I told them that I was not trying to lead them in any particular direction, but that I felt they should be informed and make it a prayer concern. I concluded by asking them, "Why should we continue to support a missions-sending organization that would reject every member of this church as a missionary candidate?"

The jury is still out on that one--I wrestle with it, as does the church I serve.

John Fariss

Anonymous said...

In reading back through the comments, I saw the brief jewel that Paul Littleton left! Yes, we are more about the "gospel" of the baptist church than we are about what Jesus preached: the gospel of the Kingdom. Does anyone remember what Albert Einstein wisely said? "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the same results."

Paul also has a great post on this very subject over at his blog... http://middlekid.typepad/paul Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, it would be interesting to know what Church you pastor that 100& disagree with the decision made by Trustees. Anonymous Too.

Anonymous said...

I assume you are speaking to me. I log in as anonymous because it is easier, but note I do sign my name: John Fariss

Trinity Baptist Church in Waldorf, Maryland. And the reason, about which you probably speculate, is simply that we affirm the 1963 BF&M, not the 2000 version. We have discussed it as a church, off and on for several years--in fact, the church had discussed it under the previous pastor--and has consistently decided that we prefer the 1963, believing it more accurately reflects who we are and what (we believe) it means to be Southern Baptist.

Now: what is your name?

John Fariss

Anonymous said...

Wade, Maybe I was over stating when I compared percentage's of your bloggers as opposed to the SBC in general. I have no way of knowing I was only assuming. However it does appear that 75% of the Trustees differ from 95% of your bloggers. I am not trying to be a pest, I really like reading your blog I have gained a lot of insight to the SBC through your blog. I believe you are an honest and honorable person and pastor.

Anonymous said...

And thirdly, the code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

Anonymous said...

It seems, from the information you've provided, and from most of the comments left here, that Southern Baptists, as a convention, need to specifically address these issues. I'm guessing that it would take a revision of the BFM 2000 to include specific statements on private prayer language to do this.

Certainly, those missionary candidates who come from SBC churches, but do not qualify for service with the IMB are free to seek appointment elsewhere. However, if a church's acceptance of a particular doctrinal perspective causes its members to be disqualified from IMB service, and they go to the field by some other agency or means of support, doesn't that defeat the purpose of cooperative missions? And at what point are congregations which have members disqualified from the IMB on doctrinal grounds going to ask the question, "Why do we continue to support a missions-sending agency that won't appoint members of our church? Why don't we just send our support directly to our members on the field and forget the IMB?"

I think the objective is to qualify as many Southern Baptists as we can for the mission field, and have the resources available to send as many as we can. The argument about private prayer language, and even about baptism, seems to be counterproductive to that.

Reach Gather Grow said...

Rodney Hammer, Central and Eastern Europe Regional Leader, had something he wanted to say to the Board of Trustees. Any idea what it was?

As a missionary serving in CEE, I'd be interested in knowing Dr. Hammer's thoughts on the matter.

So Wade, can you help me out, as a trustee, and find out what he wanted to say? You took time to mention that he was not allowed to speak. Take the time and find out what he was thinking.

Anonymous said...


If the couple in our church who feels called to missions were to apply with the IMB and we refused to re-baptize them because of their immersion in a Free Will Baptist church (because they would refuse to ask for such), would there be any hope for them with the IMB? They do support the BF&M and its statements on baptism and perseverance - just not linked together as in this "guideline."

Anonymous said...

I confess that I don't quite see the point of listing the security of the believer as a requisite church doctrine in order for there to be an acceptable baptism.

I'm OK with the PPL guideline and would think that the majority of SBs would agree with the imb on this. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Wade is wrong. No way to know. I'd guess that there is probably not a less representative group found anywhere else than this blog. ;)

While I am in general agreement with the IMB so far on this, the whole thing looks rather untidy and messy.

If large numbers of field personnel are confused, see double standards etc., someone up the ladder needs to look find out why and fix it.

I perceive that we are yet in for some difficulty here, although I'm pleased that last year's acrimony seems to have subsided.

William Thornton

Wayne Smith said...

I find it sad that the majority of the Board are Baptist Centered, rather than CHRIST Centered in their thinking and actions. I want to thank you and yours, as well as all the supporter and you know who you are in CHRIST for holding to what GOD.S WORD SAY’S. This is only the beginning to what the GOD’S WORD SAY’S about END TIME, and what will happen. I LOVE and THANK You’ all from the bottom of my Heart for Your perseverance in THE LORD and GOD’S Word.

Wayne Smith

Kevin said...

Can't say that I'm very surprised by the board's decision.

Wade, do any of the board members have any missions background--actually living overseas? Seems it would be wise to actually put some folks with missions experience on the BOT (crazy idea).


robert prince said...

Wade, you pretty much suffered complete defeat and yet you want to put the matter behind you? This is odd when you've put so much passion behind it. The "guidelines" (read "policies") go beyond the scriptures in a legalistic fashion. You've heralded a new, irenic SBC. But I see no signs of it.

Bob Cleveland said...

I have the feeling that the SBC will, some time in the not-too-distant future, take a stand on the issue of unknown tongues. There are probably enough folks pressing for that to bring it about. I hope I'm wrong.

If they do, they'll immediately alienate all those in the SBC with that gift. Who knows the other end of that, should it happen.

Such is life. I suppose guidelines are better than policies in this case, but that seems like a lukewarm approach to what God refers to as a gift.

Tim Dahl said...

This just breaks my heart.

Tim Dahl

wadeburleson.org said...

Mr. Prince,

Au contraire.

Thou knowest not of what thou speakest.

I could enumerate the overwhelming victories, but I learned a long time ago never to gloat and the fact of the matter is, when one on the inside sees where we were two years ago and where we are today, it's amazing.

wadeburleson.org said...


If the candidate consultants wish to place your candidates on the field, there is wiggle room and flexibility.

It comes down to board trustee leadership.

If I were chairman, I could assure you I would do everything in my power to fulfill the CC's recommendation.

Unknown said...

Question 1: Do we (meaning IMB) have record of (and access to such record) the "pressure exacted on the new churches (by neo-pentecostalism) in various regions of the world (which) warrants a concern for the clear Baptist identity of our missionary candidates"?
Question 2: Or is this simply a preemptive strike against "foreseen" (though as of yet unrealized) problems?
Question 3: If this is simply preemptive, is there any real limitation to the BOT's (or any SBC agency) ability to preempt anything deems as exacting an undue pressure on the new churches in various regions of the world which might possibly warrant a concern for the clear Baptist identity of our missionary candidates?
Question 4: Were/are our SBC m's unrecognizable or becoming so because of this pressure exacted on new church plants in VARIOUS REGIONS OF THE WORLD by neo-pentecostalism? -- If the "guidelines" are not retroactive then our m's appointed prior to these policies/guidelines were not unrecognizable, right?
Question 5: If this worldwide neo-pentecostal pressure is great enough to warrant such concern for the clear Baptist identity of our m candidates, why/how is this the best solution (assuming this is considered the best after study, communication, prayer, and fasting)? IOW -- How does this most effectively solve the problem (which doesn't really exist yet)?
Question 6: Has the IMB really been operating for so long w/o a clear baptism guideline? And what does that say about the work of prior m's, not to mention the IMB and SBC as a whole in previous years?

Honest questions seeking helpful info.

Mark Sims
FBC Perrin, TX

Unknown said...

Really BIG question: What now?

I'm so lost - don't know whether to stick my head in the sand or make a phone call or write a letter or call for a non-binding resolution to be adopted in San Antonio.

But if I don't do SOMETHING then I guess it didn't matter all that much to me after all.

I really wish I had a quip or joke right now, but humor is nowhere to be found.

Mark Sims

wadeburleson.org said...


A Texan with smarts. :)

You, too, need to serve as a trustee of the IMB.

Anonymous said...

Non-binding resolutions don't mean much.

I would have to think that the convention could still issue binding instructions to trustee boards, or is that something that the conservative resurgence did away with, once they didn't need to use it any more?

Anonymous said...


dr. john floyd, chairman of the imb trustees was a missionary for years.

to others,

if the imb trustees had voted to make the bfm 2k the maximum standard of belief, then i wouldnt be hollering about taking my money and sending it elsewhere. i would say, ok, that's the way they feel....i can live with it. i dont agree with them, but i can live with it if that's the way the majority feel.

i agree with the person who said that you will never find a denomination or a mission sending agency that you agree 100% with. and, i would stay in the sbc because it's the greatest mission sending force around...and, it's doctrinally sounder than others. and, it may shock some of yall in here, but i dont agree with the sbc 100% about the way they do things. but, i thank God for the sbc, and how He is using us to spread the gospel.


Anonymous said...

Will everyone write a resolution and send it to Ex Comm before May 28th? Can we make a last stand in San Antonio?

Should we remember the Alamo? :)

If I remember correctly, everyone died there too.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you should draft a resolution we could send?

Debbie Kaufman said...

ranger: There are many missionaries on the field who disagree with these "guidelines" too.

davidinflorida said...

Alan Cross,

Not all died at the Alamo. Some women, children and slaves survived.

I believe that some us could survive too. Try a resolution..

Anonymous said...

Greg Hicks,

I think your question got pretty much overlooked, even though it is an important one: is the new IMB BoT position on tongues and PPL "dogmatic semi-cessationism?" I would say that you have pretty well captured its essence in your wording.

In almost everyone's great frustration at what didn't happen in the ad hoc committee reports and the BoT action, something quite significant should not be missed here: This is NOT traditional cessationism. It is, in fact, to go beyond Greg's words, VERY dogmatic semi-cessationism, but still fairly significantly modified from classical SBC cessationist writers of the last generation (notably W.A. Criswell, who persuaded not a few on this issue).

What has happened to cause this?

I think at least three things have caused this shift: 1) For almost an entire generation, fewer and fewer reputable evangelical New Testament scholars and theologians have championed cessationism. In other words, if you try to keep the best recent evangelical NT commentaries and theologies on your bookshelf, you simply are not going to be getting a cessationist perspective. For example, with the exception of John MacArthur, you have to go back to Harold Mare's segment on 1 Cor. in the Expositor's B.C. series, published in 1976, to find a cessationist presentation (and it was not one of the better contributions to the Expositor's B.C., by any means).

2) Because of this (i.e., the realization that full-blown cessationism is more and more becoming viewed as an indefensible position), semi-cessationism has emerged as the preferred "fall-back position." You can make a better case for it biblically, and, since you can act as if there are no phenomena today that meet the semi-cessationist criteria as tongues, and you can toe-dance your way around PPL by semantics/ definitions, you get to the same pragmatic bottom line as you would with the full cessationist position (though semi-cessationism would not by the nature of its conclusions at all require this kind of hard-edged exclusionary attitude. It is, in this case, by virtue of being a "fall-back position," around which to make a DEFENSIVE stand, that it is this dogmatic).

and 3) Ironically, the rallying cry of the Conservative Resurgence has had a lot to do with this change (and a lot more of this is "flying under the radar" with the younger SBC types, whether pastors or students). If you believe in biblical inerrancy and sufficiency, it is extremely difficult to hold a cessationist viewpoint because standard brand cessationism is not really a biblically-based view. If teleios in 1 Cor. 13:10 does not refer to the closing of the canon of Scripture (which is nothing more or less than blatant contextual eisegesis), then there are no NT passages which, exegeted and interpreted solely on their own merits, throw anywhere close to a knock-out punch for cessationism, especially since a number of passages seem to clearly point in the other direction. Now, it should be understood that the rationalistic exta-biblical lenses of the cessationist perspective "made sense" (and still does to quite a few) to those in the generation of the 1960s and '70s (and a fair part of the '80s), who were children of the Enlightenment/Modernistic worldview, whether they realized it or not. By contrast, though, it no longer "makes sense" to many of those who have been told by the CR in the last two decades that the Bible is inerrant and sufficient, but who have not grown up and, in the case of many younger pastors and professor, gone to seminary and grad school in the gradually emerging Post-modern/Post-Enlightenment period, which does not have the same built-in fear of the supernatural as was the case even 20-25 years ago.

Bottom line on all this: The IMB BoT position reflects a notable theological shift from last generation cessationism to semi-cessationism. But, that shift is accompanied by no perceptible attitudinal/applicational change. Thus, the move to this "fall-back position" (which would be a MAJOR thing, if not for the fact that the same people are still being denied acceptance to missionary service) turns out to be both a theological up-date and a tactically shrewd strategy.

Alan Cross,

I read a resolution in Greensboro that XComm finally spoke to in February, presenting their unified opinion that BFM2000 is sufficient (i.e., without being added to, as the NAMB, IMB and SWBTS trustees have done via guidelines/policy) for whatever the entities need to do. But, even though XComm's conclusion (and apparent appeal to the entity trustees) has been on the record for several months, and was crystal clear, it was completely ignored in this whole process. So, it would appear that the movers and shakers on the IMB BoT don't really care what anyone else thinks, other than to the extent that they needed to "massage" the public image side of things.

With that in mind, what sort(s) of resolution(s) would you suggest? If something as clear-cut as XComm's conclusion from a resolution designed to make the entity trustees sit up and take notice seemingly makes no difference whatsoever, what would get their attention? Motions?

Wonderful to meet you, another MSU Bulldog, in Arlington,

Anonymous said...

you know something that would solve this "the majority of southern Baptists believe" problem would be to take a secret ballot in each church willing to participate using as neutral as possible wording to not influence the belief of those uncertain.
this would once and for all end those discussions on what "most baptists believe" (we should probably use a neutral non-sbc agency)

if you don't think this is a good idea then you need to stop using that phrase.

another thing is that it seems we are trying to say to nationals in other countries that they if they feel they don't like their current beliefs then there are choices such as baptists, christians, hindus, etc.

what worries me is this trend of divorcing our selves from other christians. (however the judge ruled against the divorce, so it's just an attempted separation)
I think it time to face the fact that baptist are just another christian denomination with special features. but not inherently different.

also I have an explanation of the boards actions. it called saving face.

saving face: an attempt to retain the dignity of an entity that the entity assumes that other entities perceive in itself. ("face" is what you perceive other people thinking of you)


R. L. Vaughn said...

davidinflorida, you wrote, "I'll go ahead and remove Rmn 8:26 and Eph 6:18 from my Bible..."

You also referenced those verses in Wade's "Can Continuationists and Cessationists Co-Exist in the Southern Baptist Convention?" post. I asked a few questions about them in that thread. If you get a chance, could you take a look at them? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Wade for reporting this. I have been waiting for over a year to hear what the decision was going to be. I have been rooting on the 'rescind' side all this time. So, this is very very very disappointing to me. It appears that you are taking this as a positive thing and ready to move on. I can't say that I see it that way at all. I think this just takes us back to a year ago.

A year ago, the policies were needed because of the 'pentecostal/charismatic/whatever we don't think is baptist' stuff going on in the churches overseas. IMHO, this came about as a result of some individuals coming on 'volunteer trips' and reporting back something that they saw that didn't look like the little ole Baptist church in the backwoods of 'pick a southern state.' NOW, there has been some actual investigation by those actually living and breathing day to day on the field. There was no evidence to support that this is a problem. The baptism issue is just, well, not an issue. As IMB candidates go, we are asked over and over and over about our doctrinal beliefs. Our candidate consultants do a GREAT job. If they think do not hold to eternal security, you don't get appointed. Period. These 'guidelines' are not needed.

We have some 'guidelines' on the field that are for church formation. I was told once by leadership that guidelines are suggestions on how to do something. When I challenged something on this guideline I was told that we had to do it the guideline way. When I responded by saying that guidelines are only suggestions and that there was some wiggle room in them. Well, you would have thought I had said that the Bible is only a suggestion. I was told quite bluntly that the guideline was to be followed exactly as written.

So, the reality of guidelines in the IMB is that they aren't suggestions unless someone in power wants to 'bend the rules.' That's the reality of all this. Been here a long time and seen way too much to think any differently.

This also just brings us all back to the trust issue within the BoT. The integrity seems to be pretty low at this point.

This is just a really sad day in the life of the IMB BoT.

M with (no longer)YOUR organization

Anonymous said...

Dr. Luter,

Thank you for that treatment of the basis of the IMB's semi-cessationism. I believe that you are right on. It is all about presuppositions, not a faithful interpretation of the text. The more that I debate cessationists and semi-cessationists, the more confident I am of my opinion. What is funny is that, before this all happened, I never really taught or focused on any of this in my church or ministry. It was something that I believed, but I didn't make a big deal over this. Since this has happened, I have studied it a great deal more and have become convinced that a fair knowledge of it is so lacking in Baptist life, I am obligated to teach on it. Funny, eh?

As to the Resolution everyone, I am thinking of building upon the work that Dr. Luter did last year by using the Ex-Comm decision as precedent. Can we craft something that asks the messengers of the convention to suggest to our denominational entities that the Baptist Faith & Message should be followed when it comes to doctrinal prohibitions? With the decisions of the IMB and SWBTS boards over the last year and a half, and even NAMB's decision in 1988, can the convention pass a non-binding resolution that expresses a desire of Southern Baptists for our entities to not create doctrinal requirements that are not enumerated in the BF&M2000, our only agreed upon statement of faith? I know that Southern has the Abstracts, but since they predate any Southern Baptist confession, it seems that they have been grandfathered in.

What do ya'll think? I am going to propose such a thing over at my blog, Downshoredrift.com, if you would rather discuss it there.

Nomad said...


I get the feeling that we IMB missionaries aren't trusted very much and aren't thought very highly by a large portion of the BOT. I know this isn't the truth, but this is the feeling that is conveyed.

I feel like I'm under constant scrutiny and in trouble by the BOT, and I KNOW I didn't do anything wrong. Perhaps the next step is to create a new "MP", or missionary police force, to make sure we aren't speaking in tongues or handling rattle snakes, or leaping pews.

The biggest offense I know any of my colleagues committing is working too much, too long, and too hard, neglecting their own health and families in the process. That ends up in burned out missionaries.

Oops, I forgot the "biggest" offense of all: a too big "BMI". Because everyone knows that someone with a waistline over 40" CANNOT be an effective witness or a useful missionary.

But I digress.

Wade, Thanks for being a positive influence in the BOT. We're praying for you and the BOT.

Anonymous said...

Rex Ray said…
No, OC Hands, you are not a cynic, but a perceptive person that can see when people with a weak argument or statement try to strengthen it by emphasizing how much God has aided them in making their decision.

Their fake ‘holiness” is old as the hills. They ought to know that ‘dog’ won’t hunt anymore. At least they didn’t go as far as James’ judgment in saying, “For it was the Holy Spirit’s decision and ours…” (Acts 15:28 Holman)

Another thing that gets my goat is when people in mentioning the BFM 2000, have to say, “It was overwhelmingly passed.”
It must be they try to justify its approval since not one church in the SBC knew what was going on because it was kept secret. Things done behind closed doors, borders on things done in darkness because their deeds are evil. (“Overwhelmingly passed” was said on Monday’s blog.)

Yes, I’m upset. I’m upset over the spineless committees afraid to buck the IMB. They stated:
1. “Any spiritual experience must be tested by Scriptures.”
2. “New Testament teaching is that prayer is to be made with understanding.”
3. The board is not persuaded that ecstatic utterance as a prayer language is a valid expression of the New Testament teaching on prayer.”

What Scripture did they quote for their conclusion? None! In their “testing” the Scriptures, the Scripture tested them and they failed.

They wiped out Paul, the greatest missionary beside Jesus. Why did Paul speak in tongues more than anyone? If he had rather speak 5 words in PUBLIC that could be understood than 10,000 that could NOT be understood, WHERE did he speak words that could NOT be understood?
PRIVATE is the only answer.

“I thank God that I speak in tongues privately more than any of the rest of you. But in public worship I would much rather speak five words that people can understand…” (1 Corinthians 14:18-19)

Do they deny Paul had a private prayer language? That thinking stinks to high heaven, and shows how far man will go than admit their mistakes. Usually the ‘cover up’ is worse than the original crime.

Katya said...

It is ironic that my son’s baptism might potentially make him ineligible for serving with the IMB. We are IMB missionaries and our son was baptized last summer with other new believers in a church that we helped to start. This new church is part of the Baptist union in our country. The IMB has partnered with national Baptists here for many years, despite the fact that they hold to a different view about the security of the believer.

However, I am willing to believe that our trustees have genuinely and sincerely considered these issues and they are doing their best to represent Southern Baptists as they provide guidance and direction for the IMB. I may be wrong, but I choose NOT to believe that they are trying to save face; I choose not to question their integrity, their holiness, accuse them of prejudice or bigotry, of pushing people away, of being “spineless.” They are OUR brothers and sisters in Christ. I may or may not agree with them, but I will give them the benefit of the doubt. And I will try, through more constructive means than this, to change things with which I do not agree.

Wade, you praised G. Alford who announced that he will no longer lead his church to support the IMB. You called him “sharp, bright and very articulate theologically and philosophically in [his] missiology.” How can you sincerely serve as a trustee of the IMB yet affirm that kind of thinking?

Anonymous said...

Katya, I stand convicted and should not have said anything about the BoT integrity. I ask forgiveness.

I am going to guess that you are in your first term and was not here in 2000 when the BoT said we didn't, then said those already appointed did need to endorse the BF&M 2000. I have hoped for a long time that we would not continue down the road that was started then. I would purely guess and say over 500 years (maybe lots more) of experience left the field at that time. I am hoping that we don't loose that amount again. I sincerely hope not. It really hurts when you loose that amount of experience. But what really hurts my heart is that some really don't mind losing people because of these types of issues. That's the really sad part.

Again. I am sorry for questioning the integrity of the BoT.

M with YOUR organization

Katya said...

Hi M,

I appreciate your willingness to ask forgiveness. It's exactly that kind of spirit that we all need as we engage in discussion about these types of issues.

My husband and I have been serving with the IMB since '98 and we are in our 3rd term. I, like you, hope that we do not see a repeat of the reversal of statements about "non-retroactivity."

Anonymous said...


Yours is the best post I have read in a long while. I too may not completely agree with our trustees on these guidlines. However, I also choose NOT to assume their motives are anything but pure and holy. That goes for Wade as well. The trustees I have known over the years were exemplary in their love for Jesus, their sacrifice for the cause of Christ, and their zeal for missions.

I also applaud anonymous for your gracious response to Katya. I was on "Board" in 2000 and remember well what happened. However, then as now, I assumed the BoT was of the highest integrity and that their request for us to sign the BF&M 2000 was motivated by nothing more or less than their desire to serve the Lord as they served Southern Baptists in leading our convention to be on mission.

I agree that the present debate is about 3rd tier issues. I do not have a private language of any kind. In fact, I am too busy trying to keep up with all the "public" languages my work demands! :-) I am not personally aware of any "problems" involving PPLs in my part of God's Kingdom. However, I realize that the BoT must address the concerns of our company worldwide. I assume (again) they are making decisions with the purest of motives.

Also, since I believe these issues are 3rd tier, I am willing to serve in this present position and context until and when God calls me to something else. I don't completely "agree" with the new guidlines (though I do in part) and it seems to me to be reactionary. But I don't "have" to agree with everything to continue serving with the IMB. If our Board were to ever vote in some policy that I disagreed with and that I felt was 1st tier, I would prayerfully resign and seek to serve the Savior in some other way.

I believe the BF&M 2000 is a marginally "better" statement of faith than was the BF&M 1963. When I first signed up, it was expected that we "support" the '63 version. I see no conflict with susequently signing the newer version because I agreed with it as well. At the time, some collegues who disagreed with the family section of the new statement asked me what was my opinion and whether I thought they should sign it. I said it depended upon how strong their disagreement was and whether they could sign in good conscious and continue to serve with the IMB with their former joy and dedication. Otherwise I thought they should resign and serve with some other fine missions agency. I feel that way about this issue. I love the IMB, but refuse to stay AND gripe about what I consider are small (i.e. 3rd tier) issues.

That is not meant to belittle the feelings of those who have a PPL. I know this is indeed an important issue with them. I have stateside friends who do have a PPL and I have absolutely no problem with it. But if a duly appointed BoT chooses an opposing view af a 3rd Tier issue as a criteria for service with the IMB, I would hope they would seek to serve with a different organization. But I would hope they would do so without bitterness, backbiting, and judgmental attitudes toward others who simply disagree with them.

Wade, sorry I have written so much, but I don't write often and will be content to read what others think for the rest of this thread.

Anonymous said...


Correct me if I am wrong, but is it not accurate to point out that the power to approve missionaries rests strongly in the laps of the candidate consultants at this point? In other words, if there is a legitimate candidate who either has an "illegitimate" baptism, or who has a PPL, they could either be pushed through or shut down dependent upon the disposition of the candidate consultants.

The question I would have, in light of that, is who chooses who will become candidate consultants? If it is the IMB president and/or staff than I am much more comfortable with the potential for qualified candidates being approved, as these candidates should be.

Anonymous said...

volfan 001 said,
i dont agree with the sbc 100% about the way they do things. but, i thank God for the sbc, and how He is using us to spread the gospel.

Question for Volfan 001, you don't agree with SBC 100% of the time. What are some of the things in the SBC that you don't agree with? On this blog it seems that you always agree with SBC 100% of the time.

Robin Foster said...


The more I debate continualists, the more confident I am in my "cautious" cessationist position.

What do either of our statements prove?

Anonymous said...


I have no idea what your position proves to anyone. I am also not trying to be insulting to cessationists, as I have said over and over again that I respect their right to have their view and to continually participate and lead in SBC life. I am only speaking for myself by saying that as I continue to study this, I am becoming more and more certain. I am giving witness to the results of my journey on my own theological positions, not trying to denigrate or prove anything to anyone else. The validity of the proof of our positions will be decided by others, but as for me, I am more and more convinced, and much of that has to do with engaging in debate with others. For me, certainty is not a bad thing. But, I still maintain that this is a tertiary issue that I do not want to divide over.

Unknown said...


I have not broken fellowship with the IMB, the IMB has broken fellowship with me.

In following the language of the International Mission Board I have drafted a new “guideline” for my church when considering International Missions Agencies.

Guideline on International Missions Agencies

If an International Missions Agency “narrows the parameters of cooperation” beyond the doctrines expressed in our Statement of Faith (BFM2000), without satisfactory scriptural support, to such a degree that the members of this Southern Baptist church are no longer qualified to serve, the International Missions Agency has eliminated itself from being a representative of this church.

I hope this clears up any misunderstanding on who has initiated this breach of fellowship… it was not I!

Grace to all,

davidinflorida said...


I responded to you via e-mail, but it says that your e address does not exist.

Do you have another way to correspond?

Katya said...

Brother Alford,

You are the pastor of your church and you ought to lead it in any direction, under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, that seems appropriate to you. My question was addressed to Wade, as a trustee of the IMB. It seems strange to me that Wade would affirm the thought processes that lead someone to stop supporting the very organization he serves as a trustee.

I obviously don’t agree with your decision, but I respect your right to it.

Anonymous said...

Just re-entering the discussion this morning. I read through some of the comments that were made that referred to my previous statement. Let me just clarify that I wasn't stating that younger people are threatening to leave the SBC to be missionaries by other means. I was merely making an observation: It's happening. Whether we agree or disagree with their reasons or are tired of hearing their reasons and believe them to be petty people who don't play nicely--it's all immaterial--it's happening. So, we can choose to ignore it all we want, but one day we may awaken to discover that the SBC and the IMB of which we knew and bragged about for so many years will have vastly changed beyond what we have known or desired it to become.

Second, I don't think I would be so bold as to say that the IMB is the best thing going, anymore. I believe this is highly up for debate--not that I would choose to do that. But having served with the Board for 15 years, I watched it morph into something that I would not qualify as "best". It might be different. But there are many other organizations doing missions that are doing it another way, who are doing a marvelous job and are more inclusive of people from different backgrounds, but who focus on that which is essential--the Gospel messaage. They don't get side-tracked with all the doctrinal disputes, disputes of interpretation, or politics. They remain focused. "Best" maybe overstating it a bit. Thank God for these other faith-based organizations. Thank God that He isn't playing favorites and does not qualify some as "best" over and above others. I, for one, am ready to be counted among believers, and not necessarily as just Southern Baptist. We are, in fact, God's people. Maybe it's time we start acting like it.

Debbie Kaufman said...

Monte: Amen!

Anonymous said...


I appreciate the opportunity to share my point of view on this blog as well as any. Bottom line--I don't like to be confrontational, and I really don't like to be drawn into debates. I don't ever feel as though it benefits anyone, but serves to facilitate individual egos. So, I don't really want to do that and this will be my last comment on this topic.

However, I will say this: When you have had the opportunity to serve under the administration of the IMB and its BoT, and still hold the opinion that it's the best thing going, I will have nothing but respect for your words and your reasons. Yet, as one who has, I feel I can express that there isn't much that has come down the pike from Richmond, handed off to missionaries in the course of the last ten plus years that have led me to believe that we have the best thing going. Also, it has only been since I have stepped out of that role and have actually allowed myself to REALLY see what other missionaries and missionary-sending organizations are doing, that I have come to realize that there is a whole world out there full of believers who are as passionate about fulfilling Christ's commission as we as Southern Baptists have always been. They're doing a good job, if not better, and they have little of the administrateive overhead to have to deal with in dictating strategy and policies, driven by denominational politics. We need not think that bigger is better, or that more financial resources is better. If anything, these should hold us more accountable. Secondly, what you know about the IMB is perhaps merely what the IMB wants you to know about them. Unless I'm mistaken, you can't speak as one who has had experience. My tenure with the Board does not disqualify my thoughts and opinions. We endured a lot, and dealt with much in the way of change. Most of the time we were able to bend even when we had major questions and issues with overt policies thrown at us. There came a point when we could bend no longer. The Board we signed on was not the Board we left. To this day this has been affirmed over and over again.

Last--Doctrine is wise. On-going, never-ending disputes are senseless, divisive, and interrupt the authentic movement of God on the mission field. I will never, EVER bend to that.

Anonymous said...

Rex Ray said…
Are you afraid it would hurt my feelings if you called my name? Instead of telling the IMB they’re wrong in their policy that would reject your son’s baptism, you just say it’s ironic.

You are THEIR type of missionary. They don’t want any ‘Daniel’ missionaries that take their orders from God, but prefer ‘yes sir’ people.

You comply with the letter given to my missionary son in 1997 that requested them to have “a confidence and willingness to follow the wisdom and guidance of God-appointed leadership, whether we necessarily understand or agree.”

To paraphrase: ‘You don’t need the Holy Spirit for guidance—we’ll tell you what to do, and when it comes to interpreting the Bible, we’ll tell you that also.’

In fact, this same type of Christian produced a ‘guideline for the Bible’ which they call the SBC doctrinal guideline.—the BFM 2000. (The exact quote is: “The 2000 statement of the BFM is our doctrinal guideline.”)

To produce a man made paper higher than the Bible would require egos so large if they had weight, they would need wheelbarrows.

You say, “I may be wrong, but I choose NOT to believe that they are trying to save face, I choose not to question their integrity, their holiness…of being spineless. They are OUR brothers and sisters in Christ…I will give them the benefit of the doubt.”

Let me ask you, are these “brothers and sisters” more interested in saving souls or is third tier issues their main priority?

Their actions have removed a hundred plus missionaries for NOT accepting their doctrinal guideline.

Now their actions are rejecting God called would be missionaries. They hide behind the statement, ‘we don’t reject them…they reject themselves.’

That’s about like the little boy that said, “I didn’t hit him; he ran into my fist.”

World War II had a rule, if you lost a prisoner—you took his place. What if IMB had a rule: If you reject an applicant missionary or fire one—you take his place? Just a thought.

Someday, will the Lord ask why he hears so many voices in hell, and the reply might be…we were given the benefit of the doubt.

Anonymous said...

Katya - I am with the IMB, and I stand with you in what you said.
To all ... 1997 was a decade ago. It's time to move on.

wadeburleson.org said...


I do not know you, and if I did, I'm sure your integrity could not be questioned by me.

However, I don't know you, and I find myself unwillingly questioning your integrity when you typed the following comment (above).

Wade, you praised G. Alford who announced that he will no longer lead his church to support the IMB. You called him “sharp, bright and very articulate theologically and philosophically in [his] missiology.” How can you sincerely serve as a trustee of the IMB yet affirm that kind of thinking?

Debbie, I am scratching my head after reading your comment. You seem to be impugning my support of the IMB and the SBC by taking my comment to G. Alford - out of context - and leading others to believe I am encouraging people to stop giving to the CP, stop supporting the IMB, and stop being involved in the SBC. If people were to read your comment about me, without reading my actual comment, they might believe what you said. Therefore, I feel compelled to correct you and ask you if you feel any shame. Are you an SBC missionary? I would love to know where you serve and who you are. Feel free to email me at wwburleson@hotmail.com

My comment to G. Alford, in full, is as follows:

G. Alford,

You are sharp, bright and very articulate theologically and philosophically in your missiology.

I would HIGHLY encourage you to keep up the support, both financial and participation, with the IMB.

One of these days we'll get you appointed to the trustee board.

In His Grace,


wadeburleson.org said...


You nailed it in your comment. Decisions are made by the candidate consultants, but there is dysfunction if trustees don't trust the cc's decisions. Hopefully, the trustees will support the cc's recommendations, including those that may be exceptions to the guidelines.

wadeburleson.org said...


I understand completely your support of the CP (Cooperative Program). Usually we don't add the word 'Fund'to Cooperative Program or the letter 'F' to CP, but I knew what you meant. All comments related to your typo have been deleted.

Your pastor, Wade

R. L. Vaughn said...

davidinflorida: Thanks to the attempt to reply via e-mail. I have tried to send you an e-mail and hope you will get it OK. Let me know if it doesn't come through.

Debbie Kaufman said...

Wade: Thank you. I swear I need a chart with all the correct abbreviations. :)

Anonymous said...

Wade and others,

I am not writing to address the denominational or political issues that are provoked by the recent decision of the IMB. My aim is simply to address what I perceive to be the theological naiveté and exegetical imprecision of the IMB statement posted on your blog.

Several points need to be made.

First, in its statement on Glossolalia the “Guideline” affirms that glossolalia “is considered to be a legitimate language.” This isn’t at all helpful, given the fact that most Continuationists acknowledge that all glossolalia is linguistic in nature. All tongues speech, whether exercised in public or private, is “language” that communicates cognitive content. The Apostle Paul makes this clear when he declares that the one who speaks in a tongue speaks “to God” (1 Cor. 14:2) and in doing so prays (1 Cor. 14:14), praises (1 Cor. 14:15), and gives thanks (1 Cor. 14:16). Praying, praising, and giving thanks are all meaningful, substantive communication between the believer and God. So yes, of course tongues is a “legitimate language.” But what this statement fails to address is whether the language is human, such as Russian or Chinese or English, or a language of heaven or an angelic dialect or a uniquely spiritual language constructed by God to constitute this particular spiritual gift.

Second, the Board refers to “ecstatic utterances” in spite of the fact that nowhere in the New Testament is this vocabulary used of tongues speech. Why is it so difficult for the IMB Board or Christians in general to recognize that tongues speech is not ecstatic? It never has been. It never will be. Nowhere in the NT portrayal of tongues speech, whether public or private, is it ever described as entailing the loss of control, loss of consciousness, loss of awareness of one’s surroundings, or loss of will on the part of the one speaking. Tongues speech in the NT never entails the individual experiencing some sort of altered state of consciousness or disengagement with his/her surroundings. May I ask that we all, once and for all, drop the adjective “ecstatic” from our descriptions of the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues. I make this appeal to Continuationists and Cessationists alike.

Third, the Board stated that according to the New Testament “prayer is to be made with understanding.” This also is ambiguous and misleading, and in one particular case, patently false. My first response is to ask, “Whose understanding?” Is the Board saying that the person praying must have understanding of what he is saying? In all instances of prayer, except for the gift of tongues, the biblical answer to that question is Yes! But the very nature of tongues as a spiritual gift is that one is enabled to pray and praise in a “language” (whether human, heavenly, or angelic) that one does NOT understand. That is why God graciously and appropriately provides the spiritual gift of interpretation. If the person praying always and automatically understands what he/she is praying via tongues, what would be the point or need for the gift of interpretation? What would be the point of Paul exhorting those who pray in tongues to pray also that they may interpret (1 Cor. 14:13)? If they necessarily always understand what they are praying, interpretation would be superfluous.

On the other hand, perhaps the Board was referring to the understanding of others, those who hear someone pray. If that is what they meant, then I agree. So does Paul, which is why he always insisted on interpretation if tongues is used in public. Without interpretation, no one understands, neither the speaker nor the listener. And without understanding there can be no edification (1 Cor. 14:2,5,27-28) for others in the body of Christ (although the person praying in tongues is still edified; see 1 Cor. 14:4). This is the reason for Paul’s meticulous regulation of the use of tongues in public. It is wonderful for tongues to be used in public IF and ONLY IF there is interpretation. In the absence of interpretation, it must be restricted to one’s private “prayer closet” (so to speak).

Look carefully at 1 Cor. 14:14-15. Paul says that when he prays in a tongue his s/Spirit prays but his mind is unfruitful. That is to say, he is praying well enough but neither he nor anyone who might be listening understands (this is what Paul means by the word “unfruitful”). What then should Paul (and we) do? According to the IMB, he should keep his mouth shut. Since there is no understanding, Paul should never again pray in tongues, either in public or private, and he should prohibit all others from the same. But that’s not what Paul concludes! Keep reading. He says: “What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit [i.e., in tongues], but I will pray with my mind also [i.e., in the vernacular, so that all can understand]; I will sing praise with my spirit [this is simply tongues speech put to music or melody], but I will sing with my mind also [as do we all when we sing hymns and psalms, etc.]” (v. 15).

The IMB is under the mistaken assumption that for any experience to be beneficial it must occur via the cerebral cortex of the brain. They seem to believe any experience that transcends the rational comprehension of the person in whom it is happening is useless. Paul disagrees! He obviously believed that it was possible for the human spirit to commune and communicate with the Divine Spirit in a way that transcends rational comprehension. However, he also believed that if no one is present to interpret such “speech” for the edification of other believers that the person with tongues should keep silent in the corporate assembly.

So, as you can see, I don’t think the IMB is going to progress very far in this matter until they come to grips with the actual language of Paul concerning tongues in 1 Corinthians 14. Blessings to all!


Bob Cleveland said...

Sam: Amen and thanks. A beautiful display.

Add to the prayer thing ... if the IMB is referring to the understanding of those around the one praying, as a condition of praying, then they'd have to prohibit silent prayers and unspoken requests, to be consistent, too.

Anonymous said...

From a M on the field...

Monte and Rex,
Thank you so much for your most recent two posts. I know your words express my personal feelings and frustrations. They could not have been expressed any better.

Rex, we received the same letter your son and every m received at the beginning for the change. We had a sinkng feeling this was the end of the IMB we came out with 20+ years ago. I must say there have been a few changes that have been for the good, but those are few and far between.

I my country the stategy is not working and the m's are frustrated and discouraged, seven families leaving in a little over a year seems to be proof of that fact.

The attitude that "volfan" expressed, "that if you do not like it, then get out," has been said to us by leadership so many times, and it hurts deeply. There has been little or no grace and mercy shown to those on the field who disagree. The feeling we are given is that if you ask questions or disagree you are being insubordinate and disrespectful of your God chosen leaders. You are made to feel you have no worth.

Anyway, Monte and Rex, thank you for saying so much better what this missionary has felt and experienced.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Sam. That was right on. But, if you are addressing the IMB Board of Trustees with that type of Biblical interpretation, you might as well be speaking in tongues yourself. They just refuse to listen. They continue to use "ecstatic utterances" (I have no idea where they got that from either) because it suits their purposes of denigration, I guess. We are in completely different interpretive worlds when it comes to this issue. I don't exactly know why, but it is incredibly frustrating.

Thank you for speaking the truth, however. We all need to continue to hear it.

Anonymous said...

Wade and others,

Sam had a lot of solid exegetical insight to offer, but it is not going to change the decision of the IMB BoT. They do not appear to be willing to listen to a critique of their supposed exegetical basis at this time. Rather, they are comfortable in the fact that those who have been their behind the scenes advisors in this process are curently willing to sign off on what is now commonly called 'Semi-cessationism' (see my further explanation below), if for no other reason than they believe that they can make the same stand over Charismatic Continuationist candidates as they could with a full Cessationist position.

But, I honestly believe that there is a "the glass if half full perspective" that is worth noting here, to at least partly balance the large number of "the glass is half empty" opinions that have been expressed. Here it is: for the first time, there is an official statement that recognizes that some kind of "tongues" (i.e., glossalalia) do in fact exist.

Yes, the way things are worded in point 3 and the applicational angles are highly skeptical. But, points 1 and 2 add up to the recognition that there is, in fact, biblical reason to believe that there is a legitimate form of tongues at work in the world today.

What does that mean from a "glass is half full" perspective? Even though, in the IMB BoT's view, there is much out there that is not legit. tongues, THERE IS AlSO SOME THAT IS. In other words, the wording of their statement can be just as accurately described as "Semi-Continuationist" as it is "Semi-Cessationist" (since the prefixed 'semi-' means "having some of the characteristics of"). That is why, when I did my presentation in Arlington, even though I used the common term "Semi-Cessationist," I also put in parentheses "Skeptical Continuationist?". You see, the view reflected in the IMB BoT decision is at least as much akin to the Continuationist side of the aisle as it is to Cessationist side EXEGETICALLY, though not ATTITUDINALY. The door has been opened to some degree from an exegetical standpoint (i.e., mild Continuationism), but there is skepticism attitudinally (i.e., practical Cessationism).

Think about this and gain perspective: the Conservative Resurgence saw conservatives calling the other bunch Liberals, which they felt was MORE ACCURATE, when they wanted to be called Moderates and the broader group calling their opponents Fundamentalists, which they felt was MORE ACCURATE, when the other bunch insisted on calling themselves Evangelicals. Similarly, is it really in any way inaccurate to call the newly expressed IMB BoT position Semi-Continuationism (or Skeptical Continuationism)? After all, their statement clearly allows for the continuation of tongues, though the application quibbles about the legitimacy of its its manifestations.

What an amazing thing? To be able to construct what they fell is a safe 'fall-back position' biblically, the IMB BoT had to slide across to a view that, exegetically, is at least equally Continuationist as it is Cessationist. Their application of their exegesis is indeed inconsistent (and tragically so for certain missions candidates). But, even if unintentionally, the exegetical ground beneath the controversy within the SBC has clearly shifted in a positive direction, just not far enough (yet).

Call me an "optimist" if you like, but I'm not a "blind optimist"--I'm a "see the big picture" optimist." Something of a significant incremental nature happened right under our eyes and, because it wasn't all some people wanted to see, they missed it completely.


wadeburleson.org said...

Sam and Boyd,

Two of the better comments I've read. Both from different perspectives, but well written and thought provoking.

Katya said...

Rex Ray,

Without knowing me, you have judged me and lumped me in with others who hurt/offended you. I’m sorry that you are so bitter about the past. I’ll be praying for you.

Debbie Kaufman said...

kayta: It's not the past. That's the problem. It's the present and the future.

Anonymous said...


i'm just wondering why you deleted my comment to katya and beth?

i told them that we would continue to support thier mission work as sbc m's at my church. we pray for them on a continuing basis. we give 20% to the cp, and we gave $53,000 to lottie moon as well. we stand behind our missionaries, and i wanted them to know it. not everyone is getting down on the imb in sbc land.


Anonymous said...

Did you read the comment made by the missionary who had received the same letter as my son? My “hurt” is nothing compared to others hurt by the changed IMB.

The changed IMB is like a car being driven by remote control on a Dallas freeway.

One night, there were six missionaries in our home, and their last prayer was: “We must listen to God and not man.”

One couple was staying in our church’s missionary house. Most thought they were on ‘furlough’, but they had been ‘sent’ home to make up their minds if they could obey orders. His complaint was a ‘new kid’ on the block was telling him how to do a job where he had 15 years experience.

One couple was told they could not be the pastor of a certain Baptist church in a foreign land and were facing being fired for he had accepted the position.

The other couple never went back to the field.

Katya, have you wondered why you can sign your name, whereas most missioners don’t? Could it be they are afraid of an IMB KGB from their own Christian brothers and sisters?

The old men told Rehoboam to be kind to the people and they would be his servants forever, but he took the advice of young men, and said he would whip them with barbed whips.

Can you see missionaries being whipped with orders, rules, and regulations? Vacation and rest in the States was changed to WORK. To quote the 1997 letter: “PUT THE POLICY MANUAL ON THE SHELF.”

The new IMB policy is the “young men’s advice,” and the results is about the same.

Katya, if we met, we would probably like each other in our disagreements but on the blog I wonder if your praying for me is like what is recorded in the Star-Telegram Article Comments Discussions: Thread #225 “Church Members Question Pastor’s Motives” [Frank Harber]

There were 43 comments made that ended in April 2005. At that time the teacher (my brother-in-law) of the Senior Adult Bible Class had been removed (on paper only), the class had to buy its own SS material, and their Christmas party had been canceled.
The comments below were from ‘unknown persons’, but I think they came from the Colleyville First Baptist Church staff, or it’s Leadership Board.

#24 Rex Ray is a pretty angry person.

#29 Rex Ray is a very angry man who needs to pay attention to his own church in Bonham, get on his knees and repent, and pray that the Lord Jesus forgives him.

#34 May the Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on Rex Ray and the folks who keep this going. May Rex Ray and all these folks let go and move on. May the Lord show them the truth and may they open their eyes and see the truth.

#38 Rex, the correct spelling is Harber. And the posting was not made by Dr. Harber. We will still pray for you.

#42 Rex, you are a vicious and spiteful man who wants an argument to last forever. We are giving you your last word. Just take it and hush already.

After those comments, on the coldest day of the year the class was locked from the church and the next day four of its members were kicked out of church by the Leadership Board.

Since then, the Leadership Board offered Harber benefits and $250,000 to leave, but he wanted one million. He started a non-denominational church near-by and 150 or so members went with him.

BTW, my brother-in-law was selected citizen of the year, and is happy in another Baptist church along with most of his original class. I believe all this happened because the church was led to give its congregation rule to a few and power corrupts.

Anonymous said...

Rex Ray said...
Sorry,I missed copy-paste my name.

Anonymous said...


Obviously, what I said got lost in the shuffle of the interaction which has been between Sam, Alan and Robin for the most part. That's perfectly fine. But, it appears that they may be failing to see the forest for the trees.

As I said in answer to a question on the panel in Arlington, the way people interpret biblical passages today is going to be significantly affected by at least the following areas:
- Cultural Leanings (Are you still a Modernist with a closet anti- supernatural suspicion, if not bias, or are you young enough to where you grew up with at least a mild Postmodernist bent, even if you didn't know what it is?)
- Colored Lenses (Did you come to the text having been taught by your highly respected pastor/ mentor/professor/"hero" [or all the above] that a certain view was true, and who are you to think otherwise?)
- Comfort Zone (Are you fearful of change or being "out of control" or even scared of the Holy Spirit?)
- Controlling Passages (They function this way: "That passage can't possibly mean that, because I've already made my decision on this doctrine from this other passage [or passages], which fit my preconceived notion.")
Bottom line here: You guys, all of whom I really like, and all of whom are passionately convinced of your positions, are not going to change the other's views... at least not much, unless something shifts significantly in one or more of the four categories above.
I wish it wasn't so, but it is.

Here's the only other thing I think is worth saying here: Alan,
I think you are wrong that a tide is turning against you. If anything, I think there are signs the opposite is happening, though slower than you would want.

Here's what I think you are reacting to: You didn't hear this argument played out at Golden Gate, and you didn't become really aware of things until the recent IMB controversy. In that regard, these "guidelines" sound ominous to you.

But, the other side of the story is that the SBC has been heavily Cessationist behind the scenes right on along, although almost no official stances were taken (either because nobody wanted to mess with the BFM for so long, or because it was not thought that anything even needed to be done).

Now, however, the issues--although I would agree with Wade that they are 3rd tier doctrinal areas--are front and center because of the IMB BoT's 2005 decisions and because evangelical Christianity in many parts of the world, which is unquestionably growing much faster than in North America, is also unquestionably Charismatic. And, what has just happened?

Was it a setback? Yes, but nothing at all like the type or number William Wilberforce et al had to absorb on the way to their final victory in the British Parliament.

You see, after the first CR generation, in which many, if not most, of the leaders and lieutenants were left-over Cessationists more or less of the Criswell variety, things have now BEEN changed, first slightly by the recognition in 2005 that there may be such a thing as legit. tongues, then this week by the elimination of the previous statement "The majority of Southern Baptist churches do not practice glossalalia." W.A. Criswell and his followers would have been scandalized even by the quasi-Semi-Cessationist wording in 2005 and completely dumbfounded by the elimination of the "majority" statement in 2007 (which adds up to Semi-Cessationist/Semi-Continuationist exegetical conclusions, even if the application of them is Dogmatic Cessationist, due to the narrower Fundamentalist desire to hold the fort.

It would appear that the IMB Trustees are smart enough to see the writing on the wall long-term.
The make-up of the SBC is clearly getting less Cessationist with every passing year and even the new BoT policy at SWBTS is unlikely to change that much, given how many other SBC educational options exist and SWBTS's trending decline in numbers and impact for some time now (Does anyone remember not that long ago when SWBTS was considered the SBC flagship and the idea of her enrollment [which did not then include the College] dropping below 4,000 seemed totally ludicrous?). Thus, the IMB trustees' ad hoc committee definitely had their job cut out for them: 1) Put their finger in the dike in the face of of an increasingly less Cessationist and more Continuationist (though not necessarily Charismatic) SBC; 2) while facing the facts that the only even partly Cessationist position they can still make a straight-faced case for exegetically is Semi-; 3) but having to "save face" with those who got them their appointments by maintaining what appears to be a hard-nosed Cessationist practical stance (and even that has moderated somewhat).

We must face this fact: Meaningful change is almost always hard and very seldom quick. But, from a "big picture" standpoint, the glass is half full if, for no other reason than, the IMB BoT, representing the SBC, a people of "the Book," have updated their exegesis reflecting a generational reality and toned down their negative implications and practical outworkings. And, for that same reason, the glass is half empty for the shrinking Cessationist ranks in SBC life. They no longer have the unquestioned large majority of the churches and they no longer have a prevailing, if unofficial, "close the door completely" exegetical stance in their favor. And, frankly, with the virtual admission that there are no real problems on this front in the missionary force on the field, they do not have a whole lot left there either. And, if the new "guidelines" were only passed by a 3/4 majority on a seemed to be a fairly well stacked board, there would appear to be reason to hope that this is not the last time these issues will be heard by this Board in the foreseeable future.

Just let the heat (it's only "righteous indignation" if short term [Eph. 4:26-27]) level die down and the light [loving wisdom] level gain its equilibrium and things may look at least a tad different, Boyd

Nick said...


One thing I hadn't noticed before is that this new guideline states that it is replacing a "policy" and a "guideline". I didn't think there was a difference between the Baptism and and Prayer Language rulings previously. Was there? One a "policy" and one a "guideline"?

Sarah said...

This has nothing to do with the IMB policies but I just read this post and realized that I have a friend who is one of the worship leaders at IHOP (Gabe & his wife, Dana Michalski). Cool.

I'm not so sure I could have stayed awake for a midnight service...you have a lot of energy!


Anonymous said...

Althought I agree qith the isue of tongues being legtimate language, reform has to be a bottom up (or mentoring re-teaching approach) lest you develop legalism.

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