Monday, July 30, 2007

John Paton: A Stirring Missionary Story for Us All

In 1606 Spanish explorer Fernandez de Quiros discovered a chain of eighty islands in the South Pacific previously unknown to Western Civilization. In 1773, those same islands were explored by Captain James Cook and this English explorer gave the islands the name New Hebrides because of the similarities they had with the Hebrides Islands off the Northwest coast of Scotland. Today, the New Hebrides Islands form one nation called Vanuatu. Vanuatu is the nation formed by this chain of islands that stretches over 450 miles long in the South Pacific. If you were to draw a straight line from Honolulu, Hawaii to Sydney, Australia you will cut through Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu, two thirds of the way from Hawaii to Australia. The population of Vanuatu today is about 190,000.

Eighty five percent of the population of Vanuatu considers themselves Christian. The transformation of the pagan, cannibalistic people of the New Hebrides Islands into the Christian people of Vanuatu is a fascinating story of missionary perseverance and trust in God’s divine call. The New Hebrides Islands had no Christian influence until missionaries John Williams and James Harris from the London Missionary Society landed there in 1839. Both of these missionaries were killed and eaten by cannibals on the island of Erromanga on November 20, 1839, only minutes after going ashore.

A young Christian man from Scotland, a man named John G. Paton, was deeply affected by the news of the deaths of John Williams and James Harris. He himself began to feel a divine call to go to New Hebrides. John Paton’s entire missionary story can be found in John G. Paton: Missionary to the New Hebredes, An Autobiography Edited by His Brother (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1965, orig. 1889, 1891). All quotations from the journal below are taken from this book with appropriate page numbers.

John Paton describes an exchange he had with a Mr. Dickson when John expressed his desire to take his wife and son to New Hebrides to minister among aborigine cannibals. Mr. Dickson exploded,

"The cannibals! You will be eaten by cannibals!"

John Paton responded:

“Mr. Dickson, you are advanced in years now, and your own prospect is soon to be laid in the grave, there to be eaten by worms; I confess to you, that if I can but live and die serving and honoring the Lord Jesus, it will make no difference to me whether I am eaten by Cannibals or by worms; and in the Great Day my Resurrection body will rise as fair as yours in the likeness of our risen Redeemer” (p. 56)

John Paton sailed for the New Hebrides (via Australia) with his wife Mary on April 16, 1858, at the age of 33. The first four years of work on the island of Tanna were full of severe hardships. Both Paton’s wife and son died of fever. Except for the joy of a few conversions, including an old cannibal chief, the work on Tanna was difficult and dangerous. Eventually Paton was driven off the island by the cannibals in February 1862, a mere four years after leaving England. For the next two years Paton traveled around Australia and Great Britain, encouraging the Christians there to support his work in the New Hebrides. John Paton eventually remarried and took his new wife, Margaret, back to the smaller island of Aniwa (two miles wide and seven miles long). They labored together on Aniwa for forty one years until Margaret’s death in 1905. When John and Margaret arrived at the island of Aniwa in 1862, John discovered the natives to be of the same character of those on the island of Tanna, of whom he had written:

Their worship was entirely a service of fear, its aim being to propitiate this or that Evil spirit, to prevent calamity or to secure revenge. They deified their Chiefs . . . so that almost every village or tribe had its own Sacred Man. . . . They exercised an extraordinary influence for evil, these village or tribal priests, and were believed to have the disposal of life and death through their sacred ceremonies. . . . They also worshipped the spirits of departed ancestors and heroes, through their material idols of wood and stone. . . . They feared the spirits and sought their aid; especially seeking to propitiate those who presided over war and peace, famine and plenty, health and sickness, destruction and prosperity, life and death. Their whole worship was one of slavish fear; and, so far as ever I could learn, they had no idea of a God of mercy or grace.

Paton admitted that he wavered as he wondered whether there would be any gospel success. He poured himself into learning the language of the Aniwa people and reduced it to writing. He built orphanages where he and Margaret trained young people for Jesus. Margaret taught a class of about fifty women and girls and they became experts at sewing, singing and plaiting hats, and reading. . They "trained the Teachers . . . translated and printed and expounded the Scriptures . . . ministered to the sick and dying . . . dispensed medicines every day . . . taught them the use of tools . . ." (p. 378). They held worship services every Lord's Day and sent native teachers to all the villages to preach the gospel.

Within fifteen years, John and Margaret Paton saw the entire island of Aniwa turn to Christ. He would continue to minister to the people of Aniwa for another twenty-five years and would write in his journal toward the end of his life, "I claimed Aniwa for Jesus, and by the grace of God Aniwa now worships at the Savior's feet" (p. 312). Even in his old age, when John would leave New Hebrides and travel around the world championing the cause of missions in the South Pacific, he continued to minister to his beloved Aniwan people and "published the New Testament in the Aniwan Language" in 1897. Paton outlived his second wife by two years and died in Australia on January 28, 1907. Until the day of his death he was translating hymns and catechisms and creating a dictionary for the Aniwa, even though his health prevented him from being on the island.

There are three things that strike me about the character of John Patton and seem to me to be the mark of all great missionaries.

His courage

John Patton often spoke directly and forcefully to his cannibal assailants, trusting in God’s divine Providence that whether he lived, or died, it was all in God’s hands.

One morning at daybreak I found my house surrounded by armed men, and a chief intimated that they had assembled to take my life. Seeing that I was entirely in their hands, I knelt down and gave myself away body and soul to the Lord Jesus, for what seemed the last time on earth. Rising, I went out to them, and began calmly talking about their unkind treatment of me and contrasting it with all my conduct towards them. . . . At last some of the Chiefs, who had attended the Worship, rose and said, "Our conduct has been bad; but now we will fight for you, and kill all those who hate you" (p. 115).

[Once] when natives in large numbers were assembled at my house, a man furiously rushed on me with his axe but a Kaserumini Chief snatched a spade with which I had been working, and dexterously defended me from instant death. Life in such circumstances led me to cling very near to the Lord Jesus; I knew not, for one brief hour, when or how attack might be made; and yet, with my trembling hand clasped in the hand once nailed on Calvary, and now swaying the scepter of the universe, calmness and peace and resignation abode in my soul (p. 117).

His joy

Shortly before his death, John Patton wrote to his family the following words regarding his joy in serving Christ on the mission field and his desire that his children and their children follow him.

Let me record my immovable conviction that this is the noblest service in which any human being, can spend or be spent; and that, if God gave me back my life to be lived over again, I would without one quiver of hesitation lay it on the altar to Christ, that He might use it as before in similar ministries of love, especially amongst those who have never yet heard the Name of Jesus. Nothing that has been endured, and nothing that can now befall me, makes me tremble - on the contrary, I deeply rejoice – when I breathe the prayer that it may please the blessed Lord to turn the hearts of all my children to the Mission Field and that He may open up their way and make it their pride and joy to live and die in carrying Jesus and His Gospel into the heart of the Heathen World! (p. 444)

His perseverance

The island of Tanna, during Patton’s first four years of missionary work, saw little fruit. Following those initial four years of missionary service on Tanna, the entire island population rose against Paton, blaming him for an epidemic, and came against him and his little band of Christians. There were some spectacular life and death close calls and one remarkable, even miraculous deliverance from fire by wind and rain and finally a wonderful answer to prayer as a ship arrived just in time to take him off the island. (page 215).

In response to this, after four years of risking his life hundreds of times and losing his wife and child, he recounts this incident:

Conscious that I had, to the last inch of life, tried to do my duty, I left all results in the hands of my only Lord, and all criticisms to His unerring judgment. Hard things also were occasionally spoken to my face. One dear friend, for instance, said, "You should not have left. You should have stood at the post of duty till you fell. It would have been to your honor, and better for the cause of the Mission, had you been killed at the post of duty like the others." (p. 223)

Most Christians would quit under the withering criticism of Christian friends. Paton not only did not quit, he returned to the same island chain two years later to continue his missionary effort for another four decades.

Listen to Paton’s own explanation for the four years of hardships on the island of Tanna and the unprecedented missionary success on the island of Aniwa afterwards:

Oftentimes, while passing through the perils and defeats of my first four years in the Mission-field on Tanna, I wondered . . . why God permitted such things. But on looking back now, I already clearly perceive . . . that the Lord was thereby preparing me for doing, and providing me materials wherewith to accomplish, the best work of all my life (page 222).

May God raise among Southern Baptists more missionaries like John Paton.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Psychoheresy in the Southern Baptist Convention?

Searching the internet last night I came across an article entitled The Southern Baptist Convention and Pyschoheresy. This article was prepared by the people at Psychoheresy Awareness Ministries.

Reading the article below made me realize that Christian fundamentalists are never satisfied until those who express differing views, practice alternate methodologies of ministry, or attempt any form of cross-culturalism in sharing the gospel are called 'liberal.'

As we have often said, there is at least a little psychological leaven in practically every Bible College, seminary, denomination and church. We chose to examine the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) because it is the largest Protestant denomination in America and is number one on the list of the one hundred largest mission agencies by number of overseas personnel serving over four years. In fact, it has more missionaries than the combined total of missionaries from the last forty agencies on the list.

The SBC is comprised of two groups, generally referred to as "conservatives" and "moderates." However, there is one platform upon which both the conservatives and the moderates stand yoked together, which is neither conservative nor moderate. It is the "science falsely so-called" (1 Tim 6:20), liberal platform of psychoheresy. Psychoheresy is the integration of secular psychological counseling theories and therapies with the Bible. Psychoheresy is also the intrusion of such theories into the preaching and practice of Christianity, especially when they contradict or compromise biblical Christianity in terms of the nature of man, how he is to live, and how he changes.

We give two examples to demonstrate that psychoheresy abounds in the SBC. The first example is from the SBC mission agency and the other is from two SBC seminaries.

As we reported in Missions and Psychoheresy (M&PH):

The SBC representative reported that missionary candidates must see a psychiatrist as part of the screening process. Two of the tests that all candidates must take, which we will discuss later, are the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. We were told that, if any issues come out in the psychiatric interview and psychological testing, a clinical psychologist is used to counsel the individual.

With respect to mental health care of missionaries who are experiencing problems of living, the SBC has a self-funded health program, which includes the provision for mental health professionals. The representative said that their concern is to have the missionary who experiences problems see a professional, licensed, mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or marriage and family counselor. The SBC representative emphasized that the license, training, degrees and professional background of the mental health professional were all important (pp. 15, 16).

We demonstrate the heresy of this throughout the balance of M&PH.

The second example is a comparison of two seminaries, one known to be conservative and the other moderate. The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Southern Seminary) in Louisville, Kentucky is regarded as an excellent representation of the conservative wing of the SBC. Logsdon Seminary at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas would be regarded as an example of the moderate wing of the SBC.

Southern Seminary and Logsdon are merely examples. All six SBC-owned seminaries, as well as other such seminaries, are guilty of psychoheresy to a greater or lesser degree. While a statement of faith is important, the application of that statement of faith is its true test. The application of the statement of faith through classes and programs offered at these seminaries, within which psychoheresy exists and thrives unchallenged from within, creates equality among the entire group of SBC conservative and moderate seminaries.

By reading pages 190 -194 in the Southern Seminary catalog, one will find course offerings that integrate clinical psychology and psychological testing with Scripture. The course description for "Psychological Testing for Pastoral Counselors" states "students will be exposed to the various types of psychological tests and their application to the assessment and treatment of individuals, couples, and families" (p. 192). The "Advanced Marriage and Family Counseling I, II" course description says:

This course is an advanced theoretical two-semester exploration of the prevailing models for doing marriage and family counseling. Attention will be given to a variety of models for the assessment of marital and family dysfunction as well as a review of the dominant theoreticians in the field of marriage and family therapy. Furthermore, the course will explore the historical foundations and evolution of marriage and family therapy as a profession within the mental health field as well as practical, ethical and legal issues related to the practice of marriage and family counseling as a specialization within pastoral care and counseling (p. 192).

The "Advanced Pastoral Counseling I, II" course description begins:

Supervised pastoral counseling of individuals, couples, families, and groups with guided clinical reading, case conferences, and in-depth study of personality theories of pastoral psychotherapy (p. 192).

One of the professors in the area of "Christian Counseling and Marriage and Family Studies" was interviewed about the various classes offered and general orientation of the program. This professor is a licensed clinical psychologist and a member of the Christian Association for Psychological Studies (CAPS) and also a member of the Kentucky Psychological Association (KPA). CAPS is a group of psychologists who believe in integration. KPA is a secular group of psychologists. As a result of this interview and investigation of courses offered such as the ones above, we conclude that Southern Seminary is guilty of psychoheresy.

Logsdon School of Theology (Logsdon) is at Hardin-Simmons University (HSU). Of particular interest is Logsdon’s Family Ministry program (FMIN). The FMIN lists core classes some of which are offered in the Family Psychology (FPSY) program of HSU. The FMIN course description for "Principles of Counseling Ministry" says:

The course will include subject areas such as marriage and family (systems), grief, crisis, group counseling, brief counseling, making referrals, and ethics of counseling.

The FMIN course description for "Clinical Supervision" declares:

Students gain experience in marital and family therapy through direct client contact.

Logsdon has the following "Clinical Experience Requirement":

Each student is required to complete successfully a semester of clinical work at the Family Psychology Center on the Hardin-Simmons campus.

After one reads the descriptions of the Family Ministry and Family Psychology classes one is led to conclude that Logsdon School of Theology has an integrated program of psychology and the Bible and is therefore guilty of psychoheresy.

Regardless of what may separate SBC conservatives and moderates there is one liberal, false teaching that comes right from the wisdom of men about which Christians have been warned (1 Cor. 2:5), which joins them together and upon which they have apostatized. It is the joining together of the Bible and the worldly, psychological wisdom of men, in a word: PSYCHOHERESY.

Well, I guess if Southern Seminary and the IMB are 'liberal,' then I'm in good company since my theology reflects that of the Abstract of Principles and my missiology reflects the official position of the IMB. Seems to me there is really no need to even respond to those Christian fundamentalists who wish to label me a liberal. :)

It's all in the eye of the beholder, and sometimes when certain groups wish to identify you as 'liberal,' you ought to wear the title as a badge of honor.

In His Grace,


Thursday, July 26, 2007

A Patrick Henry Colloquy for the SBC: "We Shall Grant Liberty, Or We Shall Be Given Death"

No man thinks more highly than I do of the Southern Baptist Convention, as well as the abilities of the very worthy men and women who compose our local Southern Baptist churches. Believers often see the same subject in different lights; and, therefore, I hope it will not be thought disrespectful to those Southern Baptists who view things differently if I shall speak forth my sentiments freely and without reserve. This is no time for pretense or ceremony. The question before our convention is one of serious consequences for our future. For my own part, I consider the issue as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the vigor of the debate. Forthright debate is the only way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and to fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, or worse, creating enemies of friends, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my God and of an act of disloyalty toward His kingdom, which I revere above all earthly honors or religious positions.

It is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this wise for pastors engaged in a great and arduous struggle for the liberty wherein Christ has set us free? Are we to be counted in the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which shall bring about our destruction? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it. We are in danger of exalting certain recent denominational traditions and Baptist shibboleths above the sacred Word of God.

I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of God’s word. I know of no way for judging any future course of action but by the sacred text. I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the leaders of our convention for the last ten years to justify the hopes of many that we are becoming a kinder, more focused convention with an aim toward the fulfillment of the Great Commission? Is it simply the proclamation that our convention is more missions oriented that convinces you? Words become simply a snare to your feet when you are led down paths that words have not constructed.

Ask yourselves how gracious proclamations of the desire to win the lost square with the repeated removal from ministry of those otherwise God-called and qualified Southern Baptist missionaries and leaders for tertiary issues which have nothing to do with the gospel. Are demands for conformity and separation for reasons of differences over tertiary issues necessary to a work of missions’ cooperation and world evangelism? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled followers of Jesus Christ and lovers of His Word that brute force must be called in to win back our alleged unity? Let us not deceive ourselves. Any attempt at bringing Baptists into subjugation over tertiary doctrinal matters is the last argument to which those who desire a creedal denomination resort. What does the effort to move our agencies beyond the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 mean, if its purpose be not to force us into spiritual submission and bondage? Can anyone rationally assign any other possible motive for it? Has the Southern Baptist Convention any enemy within her walls to call for all this accumulation of extra-biblical and extra-BFM 2000 demands for conformity? She has none. Any religious tradition or shibboleth that would bring Southern Baptists into a form of spiritual bondage is simply meant for those who live their lives free from the religious chains of man-made tradition.

Demands for tertiary doctrinal conformity are an effort to bind and rivet upon us those chains which Southern Baptist fundamentalism has taken so long forging. And what have we to oppose them? Shall we try argument? We have been trying that for the last two years. Have we anything new to offer upon the subject? We have held the subject up in every light of which it is capable; but it has been rejected as troublemaking. Shall we resort to entreaty and humble supplication? Of course, and we shall never exhaust it, but I beseech you all that we not deceive ourselves. We have done everything that could be done to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have pleaded; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne of God, we have passed motions at the Southern Baptist Convention, and we have stood strong in the face of severe persecution at the hands of those who felt their positions threatened. Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from many who see themselves as the doctrinal watchdogs and guardians of our convention. We must think carefully about indulging the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is but a little room for hope.

If we wish to be free-- if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending as Southern Baptists--if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged to exalt Christ, and evangelical cooperation around His Word, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious coming of our Lord Jesus Christ--we must redouble our efforts! I repeat it, to everyone, we must redouble our efforts! An appeal for participation at all levels of Southern Baptist life and an appeal to the God of hosts is all that is left us!

They tell us that we are weak, short in number, and unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we have totally lost our sense of mission, and when a denominational doctrinal watchdog shall be stationed in every church? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by looking solely at our individual churches and hugging the shadow of personal comforts, until our enemies shall have bound us into legalism and religious bondage hand and foot? We are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. The thousands upon thousands of Southern Baptist pastors and people, armed in the holy cause of gospel liberty, and in such a convention as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which can be sent against us. Besides, we are not alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations and religious conventions, and Who will raise providential circumstances to aid us in our goal. He is zealous for the honor of His Son and His Son’s Bride, and shall not allow religious entity to subvert either. The struggle for the soul of our convention is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, we have no choice. If we were foolish enough to desire leave of the struggle, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but into spiritual submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Fort Worth and Louisville! The day of decision is inevitable--and let it come! I repeat, let it come.

It is in vain to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace-- but there is no peace. The next gale that sweeps from the north in Indianapolis will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that we wish? Liberty! What would they have? Bondage! Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death! Victory in the struggle for the soul of our convention means that all Southern Baptists will be granted liberty in the non-essentials. Defeat means our certain death as a cooperating convention for the cause of Christ and the fulfillment of the Great Commission. In short, we shall grant liberty, or we shall be given death.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

Wording, style, and major theme from Patrick Henry's speech at St. John's Church in Richmond, Virginia, on March 23, 1775.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Christ Alone Gives the Authority to Baptize

Kevin Sanders is a missionary, the author of Kevsworld and a fellow Southern Baptist who works among the people in the Philippines. Kevin has a heart for the lost and has provided for us an illustration, from the mission field, on how a non-Biblical understanding of baptism can be harmful.


You are 100% correct about this baptism issue. It has impacted us directly here in Manila, Philippines. I'll explain:

Last year, one of our students came to know Christ as a result of our campus
evangelism (for those who are not familiar with us, we do campus-based evangelism and discipleship). This student joined one of our campus cell groups, and they eventually studied our lesson on baptism. We teach baptism as a step of obedience to Christ, not as a way to join a church or denomination. This student gladly agreed to be baptized.

We usually do our baptisms at the swimming pool here at my apartment building. We do a simple “ceremony”: we give the students some final instructions, pray for them, then precede with baptism by immersion. Afterwards we give the students a Bible. Normally whoever leads the student to Christ is the one to do the baptism. It is also normal for the student’s friends or cell group members to be present.

This student wanted to attend a Baptist church where one of her friends attends. We encouraged this because we want her to be connected to a Christian church (she would also be welcome at our worship service). Here's the problem: the Baptist church she attends initially wanted to re-baptize her.

Their argument was that she was not baptized under the "authority" of any church. I explained to the student that the Great Commission (among other Scriptures) was our authority for doing the baptism. I also wrote a letter and baptism certificate to the church, explaining that she had been scripturally baptized (although I still don’t understand why the student’s testimony alone was not enough). The church has since backed down a little, but it still remains to be seen if they will fully accept her as a member without another baptism.

Some may argue that she should just get baptized again. Well, this is short-sighted. What happens when she wants to share her testimony to other students? What happens if she wants to teach them about baptism? Won't students be confused when she tells them she was baptized three times (infant baptism and two believer's baptisms)? Will she teach baptism as a step of obedience to Christ or as a “Baptist membership” requirement? Such issues could seriously hinder the work of God on our campuses.

I recently had a long talk with this student. It turns out that this particular church is an independent Baptist church with some legalistic practices (KJV only; etc). We discussed several issues and hopefully I’ve helped her to distinguish biblical principles from legalistic practices.

Where did this church inherit such Landmark theology and legalistic tendencies? Most likely from American missionaries! Is this the kind of thing that Southern Baptists also want to propagate to other countries? Recent IMB policies are pointing us in that direction.

I live in a country where people are bogged down by man-made religious traditions. I find it painfully ironic that I now have to deal with this same issue from fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

Kevin Sanders

Well said Kevin. Go give him a visit at Kevsworld

In His Grace,


Monday, July 23, 2007

Those Who Say 'Slam Dunk Stomped' Spin - :)

Christianity Today has posted an article entitled Reasonable Cause: Southern Baptist Debate the Role of the Message in Hiring and Firing. The article, written by Collin Hansen, considers the effects of the Garner Motion, passed by the the Southern Baptist Convention in San Antonio.

The article quotes SBC President Frank Page as saying,

"By and large, the messengers were saying, 'Let's be careful not to become too narrow, too legalistic."

The article continues with this very interesting section:

Richard Land disagrees (with Dr. Page). As president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Land said he still plans to hire and fire for reasons outside the BFM, offering divorce and alcoholism as examples. Other interpretations of the motion are merely the false bluster of bloggers, Land said. Commonly credited last year with electing Page as president, prominent SBC bloggers such as Wade Burleson failed this year to elect their candidate for first vice president, David Rogers.

"The bloggers are desperate for a win, because their candidate for first vice president got slam-dunk stomped," Land said. "They are desperate to spin this motion."

I find Dr. Land's remarks surprising. In my experience, those who go over the top in their adjectives are usually weak in their subjects. In other words, to accuse those with whom you disagree of 'false bluster' is a telltale sign that something is amiss in one's ability to articulate his or her position with strength.

For a balanced, fair, and insightful review of the Garner Motion, I invite you to read Dr. Boyd Luter's The Theological Capstone of the Conservative Resurgence. Dr. Luter's own personal blog is entitled Agree to Disagree Agreeably, and I am hopeful that his tribe in the SBC is increasing. Go check him out.

In His Grace,


Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Gospel Song 'Take My Hand, Precious Lord'

Thomas Andrew Dorsey in 1991

Back in 1932, I was 32 years old and a fairly new husband. My wife, Nettie and I were living in a little apartment on Chicago's South-side. One hot August afternoon I had to go to St. Louis, where I was to be the featured soloist at a large revival meeting. I didn't want to go. Nettie was in the last month of pregnancy with our first child. But a lot of people were expecting me in St. Louis. I kissed Nettie good-bye, clattered downstairs to our Model A and, in a fresh Lake Michigan breeze, chugged out of Chicago on Route 66.

However, outside the city, I discovered that in my anxiety at leaving, I had forgotten my music case. I wheeled around and headed back. I found Nettie sleeping peacefully. I hesitated by her bed; something was strongly telling me to stay. But eager to get on my way, and not wanting to disturb Nettie, I shrugged off the feeling and quietly slipped out of the room with my music.

The next night, in the steaming St. Louis heat, the crowd called on me to sing again and again.

When I finally sat down, a messenger boy ran up with a Western Union telegram. I ripped open the envelope. Pasted on the yellow sheet was the words: YOUR WIFE JUST DIED. People were happily singing and clapping around me, but I could hardly keep from crying out. I rushed to a phone and called home. All I could hear on the other end was "Nettie is dead. Nettie is dead."

When I got back, I learned that Nettie had given birth to a boy. I swung between grief and joy. Yet that night, the baby died. I buried Nettie and our little boy together, in the same casket. Then I fell apart. For days I closeted myself. I felt that God had done me an injustice. I didn't want to serve Him any more or write gospel songs. I just wanted to go back to that jazz world I once knew so well. But then, as I hunched alone in that dark apartment those first sad days, I thought back to the afternoon I went to St. Louis Something kept telling me to stay with Nettie. Was that something God? Oh, if I had paid more attention to Him that day, I would have stayed and been with Nettie when she died .

From that moment on I vowed to listen more closely to Him. But still I was lost in grief. Everyone was kind to me, especially a friend, Professor Fry, who seemed to know what I needed. On the following Saturday evening he took me up to Malone's Poro College, a neighborhood music school. It was quiet; the late evening sun crept through the curtained windows. I sat down at the piano, and my hands began to browse over the keys. Something happened to me then. I felt at peace. I felt as though I could reach out and touch God. I found myself playing a melody, once into my head they just seemed to fall into place:

'Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, let me stand!
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn, through the storm,
through the night lead me on to the light,
Take my hand, precious Lord, Lead me home.'

The Lord gave me these words and melody; He also healed my spirit. I learned that when we are in our deepest grief, when we feel farthest from God, this is when He is closest, and when we are most open to His restoring power. And so I go on living for God willingly and joyfully, until that day comes when He will take me and gently lead me home.

Thomas Andrew Dorsey

Art Pierce sent me the above inspirational story. Have a great Lord's day.

In His Grace,


Friday, July 20, 2007

Is It Right for Missionaries to Call God - 'Allah'?

The second day of the International Mission Board meeting on Wednesday, July 18, was short. The plenary session began at 8:30 a.m. at the International Learning Center outside of Richmond, Virginia, and we quickly conducted just a couple of minor business matters, heard two excellent reports from Regional Leaders Rod H_____ (Central and Eastern Europe) and Z. ____ (Central Asia), and closed our meeting with a time of prayer for all our missionaries on the field. I will not get into the details of the reports of either Rod or Z., but as Rod was ending his report he choked with emotion as he spoke about the missionaries who are laying there lives on the line for the gospel. These missionaries, Rod said, receive a $28,000 salary from our board, and every Southern Baptist ought to appreciate the sacrifices many of these lawyers, doctors, engineers and other professionally trained Southern Baptists are making as they represent us on the mission fields of the world. When Z. spoke and rattled off numbers off the top of his head regarding the growth of the Muslim population in a particular foreign capital, the need to target the 3,000,000 Muslims in that capital city for not only the sake of their souls but the future stability of our world, and the efforts of different regional committees of the IMB to coordinate their work in reaching these Muslims -- a group that nobody in the evangelical world is targeting in this region of the world -- I came away understanding more clearly the huge scope of our work at the IMB. Many Southern Baptists have a hard time seeing the world outside of their own city limits, but you can't be around the Regional Leaders of the IMB, most of whom I know personally, and come away without having a sense of the responsibility that God has laid in our lap as a convention to reach the world for Christ.

There was one interesting discussion that took place during the one and a half hour plenary session Wednesday that is the main topic of this post. I intend to represent the discussion as accurately as possible, referring to the copious notes I took during the business meeting. However, before I give you the details regarding the very interesting discussion and dialogue, I wish to be very clear that the people involved in the debate, on both sides of the aisle, conducted themselves with class and grace. I am very, VERY grateful that our board is to the point that people can express disagreement and still be treated with respect and dignity. It will be obvious to you which side of the debate I fall on, but I wish to say to those who disagree with me that as long as we can be civil and cordial with one another, the discussion and debate is healthy.

The events unfolded like this:

Winston Curtis, a fellow pastor and trustee from Oklahoma, made a motion that the International Mission Board send a copy of 'The Camel - How Muslims are Coming to Faith in Christ' to all sitting trustees. My ears perked up when I heard this motion because I had just read a couple of days before a blog post by Dr. Bart Barber of Southwestern Seminary on 'The Camel Book.' I found it curious that Bart was writing about this book written by a couple of missionaries - one of whom is directly affiliated with the IMB. Winston proceeded to explain his concern that a conversation was taking place 'across the convention' about the appropriateness of using this book - or more accurately - the method of witnessing to Muslims as taught by this book, and the trustees needed to know what it was that was being discussed.

For those unfamiliar with 'The Camel Book,' it teaches a unique method of sharing the gospel to Muslims by using portions of the Koran and teaching them of the 'true' Allah - One who can only be known through His Son Jesus Christ. I have read the book and though I may not agree with everything in it, I found it a particularly helpful book in contextualizing the gospel of Jesus Christ, both linguistically and culturally, to the Muslim people - without compromising the heart of the gospel. After a few procedural matters it was felt that the recommendation was not needed since IMB staff stated they would be happy to send the book to all trustees and would do so within the week. Winstons withdrew his motion and we trustees were informed that we would be receiving 'The Camel Book' soon.

What happened next gave me some more indication regarding Winston's concerns. Dr. Gordon Fort, Vice-President of Overseas Operations for the International Mission Board gave an excellent report and then paused at the end of it to discuss why it was essential that the name 'Allah' be used for 'God' when speaking to Arabic speaking people in their native tongue. 'Allah' is the Arabic word for God and precedes the Islam religion as a word. He explained that Wycliffe Bible translators use Allah when translating the Hebrew names Yawheh and Elohim, similar to the way the English word "God" is used to translate those ame Hebrew names. Gordon further explained there is no Arabic equivalent to convey the idea of a Supreme Being other than 'Allah' and when missionaries use the word 'Allah' for God, they tell the listeners that the only way to know the one true 'Allah' is to come to faith in Jesus Christ. Clyde Meador, another Vice-President for the International Mission Board, affirmed Gordon's remarks by speaking beautifully in Arabic John 3:16 and showed how the word 'Allah' is understood by Arabic speaking people the same way that 'God' is understood by English speaking people.

Winston Curtis followed the remarks of Gordon and Clyde by saying he is a conservative, Bible-believing Christian, and it was not his desire to open up our our boards or convention to liberalism. He felt that when we speak of God to people in other nations we ought to use the 'Bible' names for God like Yahweh, Elohim, and El-Shaddai (those are the exact three names for God Winston gave as illustrations). Of course, as Winston spoke to us in English, he used the English word 'God' 35 times (I counted), and Yawheh only once, Elohim once, and El-Shaddai once. I couldn't help but chuckle that Winston seemed to me contradict the very point he was attempting to make. Winston was using the English word 'God' the way Arabs would use the Arabic word 'Allah' - both words convey concepts of the Supreme Being of the Universe - identified for us in Scripture as God (or 'Allah' in Arabic), the Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

It was pointed out by Gordon that some may have 'other' problems with 'The Camel Book' other than the use of the word 'Allah' for God - and I believe that very well may be true. However, I am hopeful that no mission professor from Southwestern, or Dr. Caner, or anyone else in the SBC who disagrees with IMB missionary David Garrison's premise (the co-author of the book) will lose sight of the fact that our missionary personnel are only doing what the Apostle Paul did on Mars Hill -- starting at the very place the people who need Christ are -- and taking them to where they need to go -- to repentance from their sin and faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

Again, I think the discussion is ultimately good for our convention, and I commend all for debating this subject with grace. I am just hopeful that we do not get too sidetracked from our main mission. Overall, I am very hopeful for the future of the IMB. We need 8,000 missionaries by the end of 2010. We are well on our way to that goal. I thank my fellow trustees for their service and look forward to continuing to press ahead with our objectives.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

IMB Trustee Meeting, Richmond, VA, July 17

I am beginning my third year as a trustee with the International Mission Board with this July meeting in Richmond, Virginia. I flew to Richmond International Airport Monday afternoon and drove to the International Learning Center outside of Richmond and attended the Trustee Forum (a closed door, confidential meeting) at 3:30. At dinner I ate in the ILC cafeteria with a wonderful missionary couple and their children (unnamed due to security). The dad is an MD and the mom is an RN serving with the IMB in a Security Three country in Central Asia. I always enjoy our July trustee meeting, which is always held at the International Learning Center, because of the opportunities I have to meet wonderful missionary couples and their children like this IMB missionary family. The ILC is where IMB missionaries are trained and oriented for their missionary service. It is located in the beautiful rolling hills of central Virginia.

The chairman of the Board of Trustees, John Floyd, has chosen not to appoint me to a regional or standing committee of the IMB for 2007/2008. This is his perogative as chairman, and I have not made an issue of this, nor will I do so in the future. I am not sure of the purpose for Dr. Floyd not appointing me to serve on an IMB trustee committee, but it is within his rights as chairman, and I respect his decision. I always try to make the most of my time at the trustee meetings, and so during those times that various committees meet to prepare for the official plenary sessions, I make it a point to visit with local pastors, as many missionary candidates, and missionary families as possible. During these times I have been able to establish some wonderful friendships with people from all over the world.

Since no official business can be conducted without full board approval, I make it a point to come early and stay late for every plenary session. I take copious notes of the public business sessions because I have a responsibility to be informed and to vote my conscience on behalf of those Southern Baptist Convention messengers who elected me. Today (Tuesday) during the business session, I took notes that filled fourteen legal pages in my notebook.

New Trustees Introduced

The plenary session began with the new trustees introducing themselves. The new trustees are:

(1). Hershael York (Kentucky) - a professor and pastor.
(2). Waylon Moore (Florida) - a retired pastor.
(3). Mike Penny (North Carolina) - a deputy for a local sherriff's department.
(4). Stuart Bell (Arkansas) - a pastor.
(5). Martha Wilson (Georgia) - housewife.
(6). Charlene High (Virgina) - a registered nurse.
(7). Jan Brown (Georgia) - a schoolteacher.
(8). Keith Stephenson (North Carolina) - a pastor.

Jacob Gross and Debbie Brunson, the other two new trustees, were unable to make the meeting due to church and family obligations respectively.

I was impressed with the new trustees, especially the ladies, all of whom were laypeople in their churches. None of the women had sought to serve as a trustee, much less even thought about it. However, each was articulate, passionate and very clear about their sense of calling from God to serve. I also had the pleasure of meeting Dr. York for the first time. I went to him after the plenary session to meet him and shake his hand. He was on his knees picking up his books. He told me to tell everyone that 'he was on his knees' when I met him. I laughed and told him that nobody would be impressed unless I said 'he was on his knees and kissed my ring.' He didn't laugh quite as much as I did at my own joke, but I truthfully found Dr. York the way I felt he would be - warm and engaging. I enjoyed my conversations with him at the ILC and later at the appointment service at Grove Avenue Baptist Church.

The Report of Tom Elliff to the Board of Trustees

I have been praying for Tom's wife, Jeanie, who is between chemotherapy and radiation treatments, and Tom requested to have his report moved up in the 2:30 plenary session in order to catch a flight home to be with his wife. Tom serves as the pastor at large for the IMB and is in charge of the spiritual and doctrinal development of missionary candidates. Tom first gave an explanation of how the International Mission Board is actively pursuing better ways to interact and relate with churches and state conventions. Partner Services of the IMB, led by Mike Hand, is scheduling a conference in the western United States to help states and local churches in terms of mobilization for missions.

Second, Tom described how he is instructing new missionaries in terms of doctrine in order to 'ensure a higher level of doctrinal integrity on the mission field.' Missionaries are charged with planting Baptist churches, or at least churches that 'embrace what it means to be baptistic in nature.' Tom said that it would be a tragedy to place in the bloodstream of any church planting movement doctrines that would make those new Baptist church plants unhealthy. He said that he teaches missionaries during two day sessions how to understand and explain the following seven major doctrinal truths:

God and the Bible
Man and Sin
Christ and Salvation
The Holy Spirit and Spiritual Gifts
The Church and the Ordinances
Divine Guidance
Ultimate Purpose

Tom said that new missionaries are not antagonistic toward learning 'doctrine,' but rather, they have been sent from some churches that have not fully explained the meaning and significance of these doctrines. Tom explained the use of a 25 question True/False test that is given all new missionaries whereby Tom is able to be alerted to any doctrinal concerns and to also measure the missionaries' progress in doctrinal understanding through his two day session. The test is given both before and after the two day lectures.

Tom read the questions in the plenary session and then explained the answers. Most of the questions were very basic. The only questions which I believe Southern Baptists would express various views over would be those on 'The Church and the Ordinances.' The BFM 2000 and the Scripture itself does not list the 'authority' of the baptizer as an essential for 'Christian baptism,' but yet 'proper authority' was given by Tom as 'an essential' to baptism. Don't get me wrong, I am grateful that we are discussing doctrinal matters with our missionaries, because I agree that doctrine is like the skeleton to the human body, but I believe we must be very, very careful that we do not associate true 'Baptist identity' with doctrines over which Baptists have disagreed over for centuries. As I have already shown that even Southern Baptists have pointed out that Christian baptism is not the door into the local Baptist church, but the local church is to ensure that Christian baptism has occurred prior to granting membership.

There are some people who wonder what all the fuss over baptism is, and why it should make a difference. The best answer I could give is to ask a question. If a missionary leads someone to Christ overseas, in a place where there is not 'a Baptist church', does that missionary have the right to baptize that convert, or must a 'church' be establshed before the proper 'authority' exists? In other words, is it 'local church authority' that gives permission to baptize, or is the gospel evangelist - who has had the privilege to see God convert a sinner through his proclamation of the gospel - the only authority needed to baptize? I would answer that on the day of Pentecost 3000 believed and were baptized and it was only 'later' that they were added to the church. Philip shared the gospel with the Ethiopian and baptized him upon his confession of faith, but there was no 'local church' involved. Gill, Spurgeon, all the English Baptists, the First London Confession, and many, many Southern Baptists from the past and present agree with me. If by 'local church authority' one means that the church must examine a believer's baptism before granting membership -- I would AGREE! But, again, we must be very careful that we don't consider as essential to 'Baptist identity' the belief that the only valid baptism is one that occurs in a Baptist church.

Dr. Rankin's Report to the IMB Trustees

Dr. Rankin gave one of the better reports I have ever heard him give. He spoke clearly on the difference between ministry, evangelism and missions. Feeding the hungry and clothing the poor can be considered ministry, but not evangelism or missions. Sharing the gospel with a lost person with the desire to see conversion to faith in Christ is evangelism. But missions is extending the gospel and kingdom of Jesus Christ, via cross-cultural methods, beyond the location and influence of established evangelical churches.

The International Mission Board has been charged by the Southern Baptist Convention to conduct missions by enlarging the kingdom of God through extending the gospel to unreached people groups so that all the world will have the opportunity to come to faith in Jesus Christ. The stated goal of the IMB was to engage all unreached people groups of 100,000 and over by the end of 2005. That goal has been extended to the end of 2008. In addition, the IMB has established a stated goal of engaging with the gospel all people groups of the world, regardless of size, by the end of 2010.

Dr. Rankin corrected the misperception that the IMB was ONLY concerned with church planting in unreached people groups. This week at the ILC, there is a very large meeting of the Global Medical Alliance, where volunteers are meeting with IMB personnel to strategize, create partnerships and discuss how to use medical missions in new and creative ways. The IMB simply should never allow any ministry or secondary purpose to supercede the main mission assigned by the Southern Baptist Convention - reaching the unreached people groups of the world with the gospel of Christ.

Hershael York asked the only question of Dr. Rankin after the President's report. Hershael asked, "Dr. Rankin, I only ask because I'm curious and have heard this said before. Is your focus on the unreached people groups driven by an eschatalogical motive?" Dr. Rankin answered by quoting Matthew 24:16, "The gospel of the kingdom shall be preached to the whole world, and then the end shall come" and said that eschatology does not compel the IMB's mission (or his), but obedience does. Dr. Rankin said the timing of the coming of the Son is up to the Father and nothing we do will define when He comes. It is up to God. We are simply to obey His commission.

Treasurer David Steverson's Report to the IMB Trustees

David did not give his usual report regarding the finances, but rather told a very gripping story of a man who donated a parcel of property to the IMB. This property was his only possession, and the man was not well off financially. David visited with the man intending to convince him not to give the property, but this man insisted, saying that he wished the proceeds to go to purchasing Bibles for a particular people group who did not have the Bible in their language. He responded to David's encouragement that he keep the land for himself, due to his poor financial condition, by saying, "Don't you understand? These people need the gospel!" David is a very humble Oklahoman who told this story with passion and made us all realize as trustees the value of every dollar given to the IMB. The donated land amounted to $205,609.73. It is now being used to introduce the Bible to an unreached people group, just as the donor wished

Regional Committe Reports

The various regional committees (Central Asia, Pacific Rim, South America, North Africa and Middle East, East Asia, Central America, Central and Eastern Europe, Western Europe, etc . . . ) gave their reports. We accepted the resignation of some missionaries with appreciation, sadly accepted the termination of just a couple of missionaries for conduct unbecoming a missionary, and eventually voted on approving eighty-four new missionaries who were being appointed at the appointment service at 7:00 p.m. at Grove Avenue Baptist Church.

There was no business from the floor, and nothing about the Southern Baptist Convention's Garner motion was even mentioned.

The meeting was adjourned.

Supper at the International Learning Center

The cafeteria is beautiful at the ILC and the cook staff does a great job. I was one of the first in line and by the time I got my tray and drink I entered the cafeteria to find Jerry Corbaley sitting by himself. I went up to him and said, "Jerry, do you mind if I sit next to you." Jerry said, "Truthfully, I do." I was very surprised, but said, "Jerry, I would just like to sit here and visit with you over dinner as a brother in Christ and enjoy your company." Jerry said a few choice things about me and then said that if I sat down he would get up and leave and if I followed him he would make it a 'public issue.' Well, I sat down anyway because I really feel it is important we as trustees get along even if we don't see eye-to-eye on certain things. Jerry promptly stood up, took his tray and moved to another table. As Jerry walked away I felt like saying to him, "Love Is the Most Excellent Way" but I thought silence was the wiser choice.

Trustee Mike Gonzales from Texas was at the table behind me and I asked if I could join him. He graciously said yes and I moved over and had a wonderful dinner with him and his family who had come to Richmond to see Mike's daughter and husband and three kids appointed as a new missionary family that evening. Soon, the Gonzales' left and several trustees came to sit with me including Mike Smith of Texas, Simon Tsoi of Arizona, Ken Kuwahari of Hawaii, Gene Williams of Florida, Rochelle Davis of Michigan, my good friend John Click of Kansas. What began as a really sad supper ended up being one of the most enjoyable times I have had with the IMB. I laughed as these men told stories - enough to fill a notebook of illustrations for me - and I genuinely enjoyed their company. These men reflect the general spirit of the IMB Board of Trustees, and they form one of the reasons I am very hopeful of the future for both the SBC and the IMB.

Personal Visits During Committee Meetings

I took the opportunity today during some of my free time to visit Berea Baptist Church just outside of Rockville, Virginia. This church was established in 1846, just one year after the formation of the Southern Baptist Convention. The West End of Richmond is growing toward this little church and I predict that in the years to come it will experience some great growth. I also visited Mt. Vernon Baptist Church (SBC), one of the larger BGAV churches in Virginia. I was able to visit with some of the staff about the way they are reaching their community. They are doing some very similar things to what we are doing at Emmanuel and the visit was profitable.

The highlight of the day for me, besides the appointment service (see below), was visiting St. John's Church at 23rd and Broad in Richmond. This historic church was the place in 1775 where Patrick Henry gave his famous "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death" speech before the Virginia House of Burgess. St. John's was the only place in Richmond large enough to house the House delegates who were fleeing the King's soldiers. In attendance at St. John's when Patrick Henry gave his speech was George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. One year later the Revolutionary War began when shots were fired at Colcord and Lexington.

I found a loose stone lying on the public walkway around the church and I intend on washing it, labeling it "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death," and using it as a table weight in my office. The history of the church and surrounding grave yard was remarkable. If you are ever in Richmond St. John's is a must stop.

The Appointment Service at Grove Avenue

The appointment service at Dr. Rankin's home church, the Grove Avenue Baptist Church in Richmond, pastored by Dr. Mark Becton, was the highlight of my day. The service was inspirational, the music uplifting, the commitment of the missionaries heartwarming. I especially enjoyed Dr. Rankin calling the children of the missionaries to the front before we prayed for them in their future missionary endeavors. Eighty-four new missionaries were appointed and afterwards I was able to visit with many of them personally during the reception. I also had good visits with several trustees during the reception including Hershael York and Ken Whitten.

The hour is late. I must get to bed. I have to be up early for the final plenary session in the morning. I will be traveling back to Oklahoma tomorrow night, but I will not be able to post until late Thursday night due to ministry and meetings all day Thursday. I will also be unable to respond to any comments.

I hope you can tell by my post that I am very hopeful and positive about the future of the IMB. Though two or three trustees may still struggle with the past, the overwhelming and vast majority of trustees are moving forward.

Progress is being made.

In His Grace,


Monday, July 16, 2007

Some Suggestions from Emmanuel's Net Friends

We are in the process of unveiling new ministry and worship opportunities at Emmanuel for Sundays and Wednesdays beginning September 2, 2007. Without going into all the details, one of the most signficant changes will be switching to three 'live' services on Sunday morning 8:30; 9:45; and 11:00 a.m. instead of just two (currently our third service uses remote telecast of the message). The 11:00 a.m. service, beginning September 2, 2007, will be broadcast live at 11:00 on the internet via 3:16 Networks. 3:16 Networks began as a joint venture with The North American Mission Board and is now the leading provider for internet broadcast streaming for Christian ministries. 3:16 Networks will broadcast our worship service live , and will also archive all previous worship services on our website. 3:16 Ministries will produce podcasts of the weekly sermons, and our church members will be able to receive vidego weekly devotionals and ministry updates from our staff via their email. Alan Riley, the director of web operations for 3:16 Networks, is a wonderful businessman with many years of service as a worship leader in Southern Baptist Churches. I have been very impressed with the 3:16's incredible technological infrastructure, their employees desires for real Christian ministry, and their vision for internet broadcasting to spread the gospel message around the world.

One of the advantages of entering live broadcasting is the ability to broadcast not only worship services, but funerals (at the request of families), weddings (again, if requested by family - so that Great Grandma who can't make it to the ceremony can watch it on a computer) and other church wide events via the internet. We plan to broadcast 'live' the Sam Storm's Conference in October, with guest worship leader Daniel Brymer, and we would encourage you to join us for the conference on your computer at home. 3:16 Networks is the same company that broadcast the Southern Baptist Convention in San Antonio, and has had the live broadcast of our convention for the last few years.

This is where we could use a little help from our net friends. Dr. Cyril Kumar, Emmanuel's missionary to Bangalore, India, and now on staff here at Emmanuel while obtaining his Master's of Divinity degree at Southern Seminary, is implementing some of the technological advances we need to make in order to move our church into a new and broader phase of ministry at Emmanuel. Dr. Kumar has been working on our internet site and has so far proposed changing our home page from this -- to -- this design which will offically launch on September 2, 2007 (the scroll links are not yet operational).

Here is where you can help Dr. Kumar and our staff with some of the design work on our site by making a few comments that relate to the following questions.

(1). Have you ever watched a regularly scheduled worship service of another church via the internet (either live or archived)?
(2). Would you watch 'live' a Bible conference, revival service, or special event of interest to you if it were offered via 'live,' real time video streaming through our church's web site?
(3). When you go to a church's web site, what is it that you look for first?
(4). Do you have any specific suggestions on making a web site more user friendly?
(5). If you were a member of a church that provided the ability to real time 'live' broadcast weddings or funerals so that anyone, anywhere, could watch the service or ceremony, would you take advantage of that ministry opportunity for you and your family?

Feel free to answer any or all of the questions, or give us comments that aren't even related to the questions above. We would be interested in your thoughts. Sometimes the best nuggets of advice come from people not affiliated with our church. This post will remain up until late Tuesday night when I will post from Richmond, Virginia regarding the first day's plenary business session of the International Mission Board trustee meeting, which will be held next Monday through Wednesdsay, July 16-18, 2007, in Richmond, Virginia.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Why Some Baptists Stumble Regarding Baptism

I have repeatedly said over the last several months that some Southern Baptists are attempting to push our convention to a completely erroneous and faulty view of baptism. A few get upset when I identify the faulty view as 'Landmarkism,' so I will attempt to highlight the concerns I have without the nomenclature in this post.

There is a very subtle and dangerous movement within the Southern Baptist Convention to make people accept the belief that baptism is the 'door of entry' into the local church. In other words, some are teaching the false doctrine that when a person is baptized he 'joins' the local church. This view is dangerous because it is a distorted view of the teaching of Scripture, it erroneously identifies believer's baptism with the believer's relationship to the 'church' rather than to Christ, and causes proponents of this view to have a very narrow, sectarian view of what constitutes a 'true' and suitable church in which a Christian ought to be baptized (i.e. 'only in a Southern Baptist church or one like it').

This view is so historically non-Baptist it is reflection of our poor understanding of our own history as Baptists that anyone would even begin to think this view even approach being biblical. Rev. Samuel Howard Ford, LL.D., the 19th Century Southern Baptist pastor and editor of The Western Recorder has written a clear, concise and corrective article on this subject. Dr. Ford was a Hebrew and Syriac scholar and one of our forefathers who ought to respected and heard. My father recently reminded me of this article on the subject of "Does Baptism Admit to Membership in a Gospel Church" and I offer to every Southern Baptist pastor as the definitive answer to anyone who would attempt to make you believe it does.

Does Baptism Admit To Membership In A Gospel Church?
By Samuel H. Ford, 1899

We must turn to the other general misconception of what constitutes a person a member of the church of Christ.

The Reformers, and Protestants generally, with all their apologies for and explanations of the term invisible as meaning the unseen work or "door" into that church, fell back on the patristic doctrine that "The Sacrament of Baptism was the door into the church" with no term to distinguish it. "In baptism wherein I was made a member of the Church," read the Episcopal Catechism, "whereby they that receive baptism rightly are grafted into the Church." But we need not quote from the confessions and disciplines of the Protestant communions to prove this. It is admitted by {them} that Baptism admits into, or is the door into the Church.

Now, according to the teachings of the {New} Testament and the essential nature of and obligations of church membership, this (which some Baptists hold) is a misconception.

Dr. Dagg has well said: "Baptism is not like the Lord's Supper, a sacred rite. It signifies the fellowship of individual believers with Christ, not the fellowship of believers with one another. The obligation to be baptized is independent of the obligations to form sacred relations, and is prior [to it]. Baptism is therefore a qualification for admission into a church of external organization, but it does not confer membership." (in J. L. Reynolds', Church Polity..., p.48.)

The plain statement in regard to the church in Jerusalem should at once end all controversy about this: "They that gladly received the word were baptized and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls." Not that all these were baptized on that same day. Many, perhaps most of them, may have been baptized previously, but they were added to the church in fellowship. Baptism, as well as conversion, or receiving the word, was an indispensable prerequisite, but neither the one nor the other added these thousands, nor Lydia, nor the Jailer, nor the Eunuch, to the church. This was a distinct thing -- the expression of fellowship and assumption of mutual covenant obligations.

If the following condensed objection to the general record, especially of pedo-baptists, be considered, we feel assured that the dogma of baptism, as the door into the church, will be abandoned.

1st. If baptism be the door into the Christian church, then all whom John baptized (allowing his baptism to be Gospel baptism) were, by the reception of this ordinance, made members of some church; but no such intimation is given in the Scriptures. The object of John's baptism is declared to be, "to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."

2nd. If baptism be the door into the church then there is no such thing as putting a person out of the church; for in order to do this, he must be unbaptized, But his cannot be done.

3rd. If baptism be the door into the church, can one person constitute a church? The Christian public have answered, "no." And, "no" responds {in} every passage of the divine oracles, wherever the name church is mentioned. To what church, then, did the first disciple, whom John baptized, belong? To what church, the first, in every instance, where none had been previously constituted? The answer is obvious, "to no church." If then, the first person, whom John baptized, was not, by the reception of this ordinance, constituted a member of some church; the second was not, nor the third, nor any subsequent subject.

4th. In the account of the Eunuch's baptism, Acts 8, no mention is made of his being added to any particular church; nor have we any reason to believe, that he considered the ordinance in this light. Indeed, as he was traveling, and at considerable distance from his own country, such a relation, if we suppose it to have been consummated at that time, could be of but little avail to him. Nor, is there anything in the account of other baptisms, which make this an initiatory ordinance, or door into the church. It is said, Acts 2:41: "Then they that gladly received the word, were baptized, and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls." In the 47th verse: "And the Lord added to the church daily, such as should be saved." But how were they added? Here we are not informed. We are told, "they that gladly received the word were baptized," that, "they were added to the disciples" and the Lord, "added to the church;" but, it is not said, that they were added "by baptism," any more than "by gladly receiving the word." Both were prerequisites; but neither initiatory.

If then, baptism be not the door into the visible church of Christ, it may be asked, "What is? We answer, nothing more nor less, than fellowship. By fellowship we are admitted; and by disfellowship, we are excluded. "Is then a person, who is received into fellowship as a Christian, to be considered as a church member?" We answer, no; but he must be fellowshipped, as an orthodox, baptized, and regular Christian.

We have endeavored to state as clearly and briefly as we could the two errors -- the one of the Protestants, the other of the Romanists, in regard to what constitutes any one a member of a church. The one affirmed that it was the internal work of grace, the other that it was the sacrament -- baptism. The first, however, was so explained as to mean admission into an "invisible church," because the "door," or that which conferred membership, was invisible. This was borne out by the presence of sponsors, who answered for the infant: "I believe, I renounce the devil," etc., and then as by this profession of faith FOR the infant, who, already a member of the invisible church, was baptized as the door into the actual one.

O, it's all wrong, unscriptural, misleading, and absurd. A church of Christ is a company of baptized believers in faith and fellowship, united to edify each other, and advance the cause and kingdom of Christ. Nothing else is a church.

[From a microfilm copy of the Christian Repository, November 1899, pp. 652-4.}

It is absolutely essential that Southern Baptists return to our historic roots and a Biblical perspective on baptism and steadfastly resist any temptation to move beyond our BFM 2000 on the requisites for Christian baptism.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Line Has Been Drawn for Us in the SBC

This morning I was returning to Enid from delivering a couple of books to my friend Harold Holden, whose studio is located north of town, when I noticed a new sign on the side of Highway 81 about five miles north of the city limits of Enid.

The sign said:

The Historic Missouri Compromise Line of 1820
36°30' Latitude

I had forgotten that the Missouri Compromise Line reached into modern day Oklahoma (what was in 1820 part of Arkansas Territory).

The Missouri Compromise was an agreement passed in 1820 between the pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions in the United States Congress, involving primarily the regulation of slavery in the western territories. It prohibited slavery in the former Louisiana Territory north of the parallel 36°30' north except within the boundaries of the proposed state of Missouri. The free states were becoming concerned that too many slave states were being entered into the union, and the balance was shifting toward slavery because of the number of congressional delegates from these new slave states. The Missouri Compromise insured that any new states from the Western Territories would be free states.

The little strip of what we now call Northern Oklahoma, where slavery was forbidden, is where I live. Even when Congress created Indian Territory, slavery was barred in the land of the red people north of the 36°30' Missouri Compromise line (the Choctaw word for 'land of red people' is "Oklahoma").

In an April 22, 1820 letter to John Holmes, Thomas Jefferson wrote that the division of the country created by the Compromise line would eventually lead to the destruction of the Union. He predicted, forty years before it occurred, what we know as the Civil War. Jefferson wrote:

"... (This Compromise), like a fire bell in the night, awakened and filled me with terror. I considered it at once as the knell of the Union. It is hushed, indeed, for the moment. But this is a reprieve only, not a final sentence. A geographical line, coinciding with a marked principle, moral and political, once conceived and held up to the angry passions of men, will never be obliterated; and every new irritation will mark it deeper and deeper."

Pay close attention to Jefferson's words: A geographical line, coinciding with a marked principle, once conceived and held up to the angry passions of men, will never be obliterated; and every new irritation will mark it deeper and deeper.

I believe there are some extraordinary parallels with the 1820 Missouri Compromise and the 2007 SBC. A line has been drawn in the sand and many in the SBC are saying, "You will go no further in an attempt to enslave us to your views on secondary and tertiary matters." The angry passions of men and women have been aroused and every new irritation seems to make the division only deeper.

How will it end? Only the Lord knows, but it is my prayer that rather than a civil war, Southern Baptists will be able to move forward in a spirit of cooperation as we fulfill our gospel mission. But make no mistake - the line has been drawn - and it is effectively known as the Garner motion.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Patience Is the Operative Word for the SBC

This next week, Monday through Wednesday, July 16-18, in Richmond, Virginia, the trustees of the International Mission Board will convene to conduct missions business. I do not intend to make any motion at the meeting regarding the new guidelines prohibiting the appointment of missionaries who possess a private prayer language or who have not been baptized in a Southern Baptist Church (or one that believes in 'eternal security').

The mood and tone of the board continues to change. New trustees are elected every year, but those who pushed for the new guidelines are still in trustee leadership until 2008, including Chairman John Floyd, who was the Chairman of the particular Personnel Committee that was pushing the new guidelines when I joined the board in 2005. I commend John for his gracious leadership, but he and I are on polar opposite ends of the belief spectrum when it comes to the board's authority to establish doctrinal requisites that exceed the BFM 2000.

I believe the right thing to do is to reverse the guideline that forbids the appointment of missionaries who have a private prayer language, while reinforcing the former policy that any missionary will face disciplinary action for any of the gifts that are overemphasized or abused publicly. Further, any baptismal guideline that subverts the authority of the local church's acceptance of believer's baptism is unwise and ought be reversed. If a Southern Baptist missionary candidate is trusting in Christ alone for salvation, has publicly confessed his faith in Christ through believer's baptism by immersion, and that candidates local Southern Baptist church to which he belongs has accepted his Christian baptism, then I believe we as a board of trustees should fall under the authority of that local church because the IMB board of trustees is not a higher authority on the matter of baptism than the candidate's local church.

It can no longer be argued that the decision of the IMB board of trustees reflects the majority views of the SBC. LIFEWAY's survey took that argument away. It can also no longer be argued that the SBC desires the board to go beyond the BFM 2000 in establishing missionary service criteria - the Garner motion took that away. All that can be said now is what I have been saying for two years: There seem to be some who wish the convention to reflect their own personal and specific doctrinal viewpoints on the gifts (cessationism) and baptism (the 'authority' of the baptizer is as important as the heart of the candidate).

I am patient. I will wait it out to insure we remain a cooperative convention, open to various interpretations of tertiary doctrines as we work together around the essentials of the gospel for the furtherance of the kingdom of Christ through cooperative efforts in missions and evangelism.

In His Grace,


Monday, July 09, 2007

A Great Book on Marriage For Use In Counseling

As a pastor of a fairly large congregration, I am always looking for books that I can recommend to couples who come to me for marriage counseling. When I meet with a couple for the first time I usually try to give them an assignment of reading a good book on marriage, and tell them to complete the task before they try to schedule a second appointment. This helps me see very quickly who is, and who isn't, serious about getting help for their marriage.

Needless to say I am always looking for good books on the subject of marriage, particularly helpful books that give practical, Biblical advice on how to restore a broken marriage. I have recently discovered an outstanding book on the subject of marriage entitled The Pursuit of Pleasure in the Pleasure of Another: A Christian Hedonist Guide to a Happy Marriage by F. Darby Livingston. I believe this book will be extraordinarily helpful to those couples who find they have no more 'feelings' for the person they married. Darby provides a virtual 'how to' manual for those couples whose relationship has grown cold - and the reason I like the book so much is because it doesn't contain a list of 'dos' and 'donts' for the husband or the wife. Rather, the book shows couples with brilliant clarity how God has designed marriage to magnify the truth and worth and beauty and greatness of God. Darby shows that a passion for the supremacy of Jesus Christ displayed in the gospel is the fountain that sustains a God-glorifying, enjoyable and durable marriage. No marriage that rivals God's glory is going to be a happy one.

In short, this book will show every husband and wife that marriage will not be deeply pleasurable - in every good sense of the word - until both the husband and wife quit looking at each other to find his or her pleasure.

Stephen Davis, Executive Director of the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana commends this book saying:

"Is your marriage blessed, joyful, delightful, intoxicating? That’s how God wants it to be. God has provided everything husbands and wives need to experience this kind of intimacy and bring Him glory at the same time. This book shows how a passion for the gospel of Jesus Christ is the fountain that sustains a Godglorifying, enjoyable and durable marriage. “Looking for fresh insights on the joy and glory of marriage as God intended? Then this book is for you. Pastor Darby brings excellent biblical scholarship and thoughtful, practical, wholesome ideas for improving your marriage relationship. None of that syrupy stuff with no real substance, but wise counsel from God’s Word challenging couples to experience God’s best as He designed it to be.”

Darby Livingston is the founding pastor and a counselor at Come as You are Fellowship in Union City, Ohio. Darby is also co-founder of Joyful Hope Ministries, a cell-church planting ministry, and a Christian author. He is happily married to Amanda and they have five young children.

Order "The Pursuit of Pleasure in the Pleasure of Another: A Christian Hedonist Guide to a Happy Marriage" here.

You'll be glad you did.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

Sunday, July 08, 2007

"We Fight And Sometimes Die So That Our Families Don't Have To" Marcus Golcyznski

This amazing picture has drawn a lot of comments from readers of the Nashville paper, The Tennessean. One of the hundreds of letters received is from a man who attended the funeral where this young boy received the flag in honor of his father.

Dear Tennessean:

The Tennessean's April 5 photograph of young Christian Golczynski accepting the American flag from Marine Lt. Col. Ric Thompson is one of the most moving and emotion provoking images I have ever seen.

My wife and I attended funeral services for Christian's father, Staff Sergeant Marcus Golczynski, on April 4, along with our six year-old son, dozens of Marines, and several hundred others who came to pay tribute to this fallen hero.

As one would expect, many of your readers were touched by this incredible picture. Staff Sergeant Golczynski had previously served one full tour in Iraq. Shortly before his death on March 27 he wrote to his family that he had volunteered to do this a second time due to our deep desire to finish the job we started. In his letter he said, "We fight and sometimes die so that our families don't have to." Tragically, Staff Sergeant Golczynski had only two weeks remaining on his second tour. We look at the photograph of Christian every day. It is displayed prominently in our home. Our hearts ache for Christian and for all those who have lost loved ones in this controversial conflict.

Our nation is at a historical crossroads. Do we call an end to the struggle in Iraq or press on? Staff Sergeant Golczynski eloquently told his son how he felt about not giving up. Perhaps there is a lesson for all of us in this man's life and the choices he made. He was undeniably a man of tremendous courage and conviction. America must now choose whether to complete the job.

When looking at the face of Christian Golczynski I am reminded that doing what is right is not always easy and doing what is easy is not always right. Christian's dad knew that too.

James Drescher

I pray my own children never take for granted their freedoms, or the freedoms of other people in democratic societies, obtained by the sacrifice of men and women like Staff Sergeant Marcus Golczynski. Our prayers are with the Golcyzynski family, particularly young Christian Golczynski.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

Thursday, July 05, 2007

On Caveats, Consistency and Good Compromise

There has been a particularly thoughtful dialogue over at SBC Outpost on a problem identified by Alan Cross as "Gnostic Creedalism Creeping into the SBC." Alan says,

There are voices of substantial weight in SBC life who are telling us that there is a “Clear Baptist Identity” beyond what is articulated in the BF&M. When we ask what it is, they tell us that it involves doctrine regarding the church, private prayer language, and baptism, among other things. It has shown up in actions taken by trustee boards of our entities. But, this “Clear Baptist Identity” is known as being absolute nowhere else in Baptist life, least of all in our confession of faith.

Dr. Greg Welty, a professor at Southwestern Seminary and one who believes that the BFM 2000 should serve as the minimum doctrinal standard of cooperation and that SBC agencies and institutions should have every right to add other doctrinal requisites as they please, responds to Alan's concerns by bringing yours truly into the conversation. Dr. Welty says,

Wade speaks of dividing up the BFM into “essentials” and “non-essentials”. But the BFM says in its own preamble that the doctrines contained within it “are doctrines we hold precious and as *essential* to the Baptist tradition of faith and practice”

Dr. Welty must be referring to the two minor points of doctrine in the BFM 2000 that I have publicly stated disagreement over. The BFM 2000 teaches 'closed communion' and I and my church both believe and practice 'modified open communion.' The BFM 2000 also teaches God does not condemn a human until that human being personally and actually sins, but I and my church congregation both teach and believe that condemnation comes to every human being because of the sin of one man (Adam) regardless of personal or actual sins. Personal sins only compound the judgment already in place.

I believe that the majority of Southern Baptists agree with me on the first caveat, and probably close to a majority of Southern Baptists agree with me on the second caveat. My point is simply that there is disagreement on these two minor doctrines among Southern Baptists. However, I believe these two disagreements illustrate the difference between a confession and a creed. You can't disagree with a creed and keep your denominational identity. But since Baptists are a confessional people, and the BFM 2000 is a confession, cooperation can occur in the midst of minor differences over doctrines that are not essential to the Christian faith or Baptist identity. The two tertiary doctrines I have identified in the BFM 2000 are examples of how not every doctrine in the BFM 2000 is an essential doctrine of the faith or Southern Baptist identity. I have a sneaking suspicion the majority of Southern Baptists would agree with me, because many of us are beginning to awaken to one of the major problems in our convention in recent years: Some Southern Baptists are attempting to make every doctrine an 'essential' doctrine and removing people who disagree. Even the BFM 2000 in its preamble states:

That the sole authority for faith and practice among Baptists is the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. Confessions are only guides in interpretation, having no authority over the conscience.

When I, or anyone else for that matter, expresses written caveats to the BFM 2000 on minor doctrines, we are displaying a clear Southern Baptist identity. :) But here is where the rub comes: What doctrines are to be considered 'minor' and 'who' is the ultimate final authority on the subject? Dr. Welty asks these same questions in a little more accusatory tone when he says to Alan:

You want the BFM to be a maximal standard, beyond which no one can go, but you can’t even manage to affirm it as a *minimal* standard! Which position shows less respect for the BFM? I’ll let you make that call. . . If you and others don’t come clean about these palpable inconsistencies in your position, it’s going to be hard to take your criticisms seriously.

In reading all the comments offered by Dr. Welty, I can't help but feel he must be confusing Alan Cross with me. Poor Alan. :)

Alan has never given any written caveats to the BFM 2000. I have. So, to me, it seems rather silly for Dr. Welty to ask Alan to 'come clean.' However, since Dr. Welty has used me as the example of someone who 'can't even manage to affirm the BFM 2000 as a *minimal* standard' I think I will answer his charge of 'inconsistency' and show how we as Southern Baptists can be very consistent in this matter of who the ultimate authority is regarding the doctrinal boundaries of cooperation.

The messengers of the SBC make the decision on who should serve as trustees of their insitutions, not fellow trustees (at least, that is the way it is supposed to work). If a trustee has caveats to the BFM 2000, then that trustee should make those known to the convention as a whole, and if the convention wishes for that person to continue to serve as a trustee, even with his stated caveats, then let them give their approval.

The same should be true of any board of trustees who wishes to go beyond the BFM 2000 in establishing doctrinal requisites for Southern Baptist cooperation.

By the way, the boards of trustees of SBC agencies and entities have already been advised by the convention to bring all doctrinal requisites beyond the BFM 2000 to the convention for approval. This is clearly what the Garner motion was all about -- and it passed by a 58% majority of voting messengers. I expect boards who take seriously the wishes of the convention to do just as the convention asked.

And by the way, I have absolutely no problem falling under the same rules. I should be brought before the convention. In fact, I predict I will be brought before the convention in two years when I am up for renomination as a trustee of the IMB. My written disagreements regarding two minor doctrines in the BFM 2000 are known, and will be made known. Let's see whether the convention votes to keep me as a trustee. If the convention determines I should serve, we will all know, by that one act, that the BFM 2000 is a confession, not a creed, and cooperation in the SBC is around the gospel and the essential doctrines of the faith with room for disagreement over minor doctrines.

I, of course, will abide by the convention's wishes since I am a duly elected trustee of the SBC. Likewise, every other duly elected trustee, and trustee boards as a whole, should also abide by the wishes of our convention. In light of the adoption of the Garner motion at the 2007 convention, every SBC board of trustees should make it their official practice to never implement doctrinal requisites that exceed the BFM 2000 without first getting convention approval.

That, Dr. Welty, is consistency. And I think you will find that a 'Clear Baptist Identity' will be discovered in the process. Baptists are people who affirm the essentials of the faith, but give freedom to disagree in areas of non-essentials, for we are a confessional people, not a creedal people.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

'We Know Who You Are and What You Expect From Us' Is Code for 'We Know Who We Want You To Be'

Bob Cleveland has pointed out to me this article by Bob Terry, editor of The Alabama Baptist.

Mr. Terry says this about the adoption of the Garner Motion on the Baptist Faith and Message at this summer's Southern Baptist Convention in San Antonio:

It is hard to understand the vote by the messengers as anything other than their expression of unhappiness and rebuke to the trustees involved for arbitrarily excluding Bible-believing Southern Baptists from service because of a practice most consider a secondary issue on which disagreement is allowed.

Anyone who reads the transcript of the debate in a non-biased, non-partisian fashion would draw the same conclusion of Mr. Terry. Dr. Al Mohler seemed to dismiss the messengers concerns by saying in his seminary 'report,' “We know who you are and what you expect of us". The editor of the editor of The Alabama Baptist responds to Dr. Mohler's statement with erudite logic:

Some ask if the trustee boards in question really do “know who you (Southern Baptists) are and what you expect of us” in light of the recent LifeWay Christian Resources study that found about 50 percent of Southern Baptist ministers believe a private prayer language could be a legitimate spiritual gift.

I would simply add if Dr. Mohler knows 'who we are' (meaning 'Southern Baptists' who don't practice 'tongues' in public or private), then why does he have C.J. Mahaney speak at his Southern's campus chapels and revivals - a man who not only speaks in tongues but advocates quite clearly that any teaching this gift has ceased is contrary to the teaching of Scripture.

Read carefully. I am one of C.J. Mahaney's biggest fans. I am glad he speaks at Southern. What bothers me is that Dr. Mohler desires the freedom to have a person who speaks in tongues to be able to teach his seminary students, but he believes it is appropriate for a trustee board to forbid Southern Baptists who speak in tongues PRIVATELY from serving on the mission field.

If there is not some kind of convention control on the establishment of tighter doctrinal boundaries for Southern Baptist missions and ministry service, then any board or insitution can mandate doctrinal requisites that have nothing to do with the BFM. The convention should have the final say on the boundaries of cooperation in terms of 'doctrine,' not the autonomous insititutions.

Dr. Morris Chapman, expressing the same belief as the editor of The Alabama Baptist regarding the motion, said,

“Other doctrines are beginning to be required aside from our adopted confession. It causes one to ask, ‘Where does it end?’”

May I answer that question?

(1). It ends when everyone looks the same, acts the same, and believes the same.
(2). It ends when everyone is the same in terms of soteriology.
(3). It ends when everyone is the same in terms of eschatology.
(4). It ends when everyone is the same in terms of ecclesiology.
(5). It ends when everyone is the same in terms of pneumatology.
(6). It ends when everyone is the same in terms of theology.
(7). It ends when everyone is the same in terms of . . . .

The Southern Baptist Convention is ceasing to be a convention of loosely knit autonomous churches of Bible-believing Southern Baptists who cooperate in spite of differences on secondary issues because disagreement is allowed, and we are becoming a much smaller convention (8,000 messengers in TEXAS) of controlled churches and pastors who are demanded to conform to all secondary and tertiary doctrinal issues before there is ANY cooperation in missions and evangelism ministry because those in charge say to us 'we know who you are and what you expect of us.'

There is a Greek word for that kind of thinking. :)

In reality, there are some who think they know best what Southern Baptists should be and are orchestrating trustee boards to reflect their view of 'doctrinal purity.'

It's past time for that to stop.

We'll see very soon (July 16-18 in Richmond, Virginia) if the trustee boards got the message.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson