Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Quote of the Day

"I am struck by the absence of resistance, dissent, and critical judgment in the moral repertoire of contemporary evangelicals. These disciplines - and let us call them disciplines - are rarely intoned in our sermons, publications, and seminaries, and when they are, they are most commonly regarded as manifestations of pride. Evangelicals are quick to admonish unity when there is a whiff of disagreement in the air. Dissent must be quashed for the sake of harmonious ideals, which we consider spiritual virtues. But perhaps the situation only masks our swift retreat from the costs of discipleship, fueled by an inferiority complex, which plagues us ... We are failing to raise up a generation of Christian critics at a time when dissent should be a vital part of confessing Jesus Christ as Lord."

Charles Marsh, Wayward Christian Soldiers, Oxford: Oxford UP, 2007, 191-92. (Thanks to Matt for pointing this quote out).


Scott Shaffer said...

Check out the following link. It helps explain the context of Marsh's quote.

Scott Shaffer said...

This might work better.

Jeff said...

I find what I judge/suspect in others is often the thing I struggle with the most.

Perhaps, this can explain one attitude that BoT has toward you. They are only responding :) to you out of their own finite understanding of their hearts.

Jeff said...


I am unsure of the rationale for your link, but you provide a wonderful example of how gracious dissent should work.

I am supportive of the war in Iraq and President Bush. However, I freely encouarage my church members to publicy and graciously express their dissenting views to Sunday School classes, other church members and even people in the community - and to say they disagree with their pastor.

I have listened to several Christian people whom I respect on this issue. I've learned from them and am better because of it.

However, my mind has not yet changed about the war or the President. But under no circumstance do I consider myself morally superior, or they morally inferior, because they do not see it my way.

Public dissent is not a sign of disunity - in the truest sense, when Christians can express courteous, civil dissent over issues and still work together for the cause of the gospel, it reveals the real unity of the Spirit.

I pray that MORE people stand up and graciously express their dissent of the war in Iraq. And I'm FOR the war. Dissent sharpens one's rationale for beliefs - or, if one is unsure of his rationale, it may even change one's mind.

Unfortunately, dissent also affects the weak of mind and cold of heart. It causes the aforementioned to remove the dissenter out of fear of exposure.

In His Grace,


Anonymous said...


Marvelous post. Inquiry and dissent were essential to the growth of the early church.

Regarding your previous post I am reminded of Arthur Rutledge's comments that we should "trust the Lord and tell the people."
dg in FW

shadrach said...

This is not necesarily an opinion, just a statement.

In founding our country and its government, our fathers determined that gentlemen, those with a stake in the nation, should be the ones who decided national matters. Thus was our representative democracy born. These men would not have stiffled dissent among themselves, but would have basicaly ignored outside dissention. They convinced the general populace that they worked for the common good and were truly representative.

The breakdown in the current situation is that Wade is one of the stakeholders. Dissent has been built into our framework to keep us on the 'right' path, but was never meant to encompass evey point of view, only the views of the intelegentsia.

Scott Shaffer said...


There was no "rationale" for the link, I was just curious about the context of the quote.


Anonymous said...

The quote is from Marsh's book of the same name as the New York Times opinion piece that came out a year before the book did. The book is over 200 pages long, and Iraq is only one of numerous topics discussed.

In the context of the entire book, Marsh does not intend for his comments on dissent to apply to Iraq only. It's an intentionally broad statement, and Marsh is endorsing a discipline of dissent in general.

Bill Scott said...

We have more freedom for dissent and discussion in our secular government than we do in our own convention. This I find sad indeed.

The polity of the SBC is indeed a form of governance and at the least administration. There a basic democratic priciples that are being ignored by the SBC. Not all the pieces fit in this comparison/contrast but the following principles do provide food for thought.

The State Department lists the following on it's website:

Majority Rule, Minority Rights

On the surface, the principles of majority rule and the protection of individual and minority rights would seem contradictory. In fact, however, these principles are twin pillars holding up the very foundation of what we mean by democratic government.

Majority rule is a means for organizing government and deciding public issues; it is not another road to oppression. Just as no self-appointed group has the right to oppress others, so no majority, even in a democracy, should take away the basic rights and freedoms of a minority group or individual.

Minorities -- whether as a result of ethnic background, religious belief, geographic location, income level, or simply as the losers in elections or political debate -- enjoy guaranteed basic human rights that no government, and no majority, elected or not, should remove.

Minorities need to trust that the government will protect their rights and self-identity. Once this is accomplished, such groups can participate in, and contribute to their country's democratic institutions.

Among the basic human rights that any democratic government must protect are freedom of speech and expression; freedom of religion and belief; due process and equal protection under the law; and freedom to organize, speak out, dissent, and participate fully in the public life of their society.

Democracies understand that protecting the rights of minorities to uphold cultural identity, social practices, individual consciences, and religious activities is one of their primary tasks.

Acceptance of ethnic and cultural groups that seem strange if not alien to the majority can represent one of the greatest challenges that any democratic government can face. But democracies recognize that diversity can be an enormous asset. They treat these differences in identity, culture, and values as a challenge that can strengthen and enrich them, not as a threat.

There can be no single answer to how minority-group differences in views and values are resolved -- only the sure knowledge that only through the democratic process of tolerance, debate, and willingness to compromise can free societies reach agreements that embrace the twin pillars of majority rule and minority rights.

Bill Scott

Anonymous said...

I guess I will go ahead and make the hackneyed and trite statement that there is fault on both sides.

If one googles "Wade Burleson", on the second page there is a link to in which your famous quote is that you will follow the new guidelines and basically expect that other trustees will do so, too. Seems contrary to your views now.

I don't understand why you were willing to shut down your blog and be quiet if they just didn't censure you. Can be interpreted as "do it my way or I will make your life miserable". Many other ways, of course, to interpret it.

So there is a lot about this I don't understand and never will.

david b mclaughlin said...

These men would not have stiffled dissent among themselves, but would have basicaly ignored outside dissention.

Not too sure I buy this. These men fought against an entire nation for their freedom to dissent. I find it hard to believe they would have turned around and not been concerned about the opinions of those outside their circle.

or maybe I misunderstood the point of your post.

David Mc

Anonymous said...

Another first-rate post.
Thank you, Pastor B, for your irenic yet steadfast spirit.

By the way, has anyone ever articulate the parliamentary/legal basis for a Trustee Board to exclude a sitting trustee from meetings or prohibit voting? I'd like to know more about that. said...


The only parliamentary basis for exclusion is disruption of a meeting, which has not even remotely occurred. In fact, I have barely spoken in a year and a half, and only then, when addressed, following all protocol.

The Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention will be giving an official opinion on this issue by the next board meeting. I will follow their council until the SBC Convention expresses her desires in this matter.

Jeff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

We had an amazing meeting at our church the other night. We have received an offer to purchase some land we own adjacent to our property. We set up a committee to negotiate and make a proposal to the church. Six people made the meeting.

Two of them argued for selling. One is pretty much against it. Another is suspicious (from experience) because of the way these people do business and is warning us to go cautiously and carefully whatever we do. I am sort of in the middle. I am reluctant to sell but if the price goes high enough, I might consider it.

We spent three hours discussing this and reached absolutely no decisions. We are no more uniform in opinion than we were when we came together.

But we were united. There was not a harsh word spoken. People accepted the fact that others could disagree.

I expressed my opinions, but did not expect anyone to feel obliged to agree.

Here's my point. I could probably strong-arm these people into accepting my opinion (a majority anyway). But how would I know that we were doing God's will.

This is a priciple I learned from Henry Blackaby. When God brings the body together in unity, we know that He is leading. When this diverse committee unites, we will know that we are being brought to consensus by the Spirit, not by my will or opinions.

I could probably get my will done, but why would I want to do that? By refusing to enforce conformity, and allowing the Spirit of God to bring consensus, I can know that whatever decision we come to will be His will, not mine.

Those who enforce conformity are not allowing the Holy Spirit his proper place. They are substituting their will for His.

It is a sad substitution.

(Because our deliberations are confidential, I must keep this anonymous. I am a regular commenter under my name, but need to honor the confidentiality commitment of our committee by not giving my name, city, or any of that.)

Bill Scott said...


Anonymous has a valid question about the basis for the action taken against you. The action seems at odds with standard parliamentary procedure.

As I am sure you are aware, The New Robert's Rules of Order (revised edition) has some interesting things to say about trial of members of societies (ecclesiastical tribunals), part II, article XXXIII, rules 74 and 75.

These rules are too long to quote, however, the motion to censure you in no way was close to the procedures outlined therein.

Perhaps the IMB uses a "special" set of parliamentary procedures in which to conduct business.

Bill Scott

child of grace said...

“Here in America we are descended in blood and in spirit from revolutionists and rebels - men and women who dare to dissent from accepted doctrine. As their heirs, may we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Jeff said...

So which of us are working to reconcile Wade and BoT? said...

Reconciliation is effected by . . .

(1). Unity in the essentials,
(3). Diversity in the non-essentials,
(3). Love in all things.

As for me, I am reconciled with my brothers who serve as trustees and do not need anyone's help for reconciliation. Not all of them voted for the censure, but those who did were well within their rights. I humbly accept it and am moving forward, continuing to do what I feel called to do.



Jeff said...

Wade, PTL for your godly attitude! You are example for many who are still struggling with bitterness over past baptist battles.


ml said...

Winston, uh I mean Wade, interesting post. 1984 has arrived. There can be no questions or suggestions in a totalitarianistic dictatorship. Say one wrong word and you are banished to SBC Siberia. Hmmm I thought the wall had come down?

Chad Kaminski said...

Wade, you said:
"(1). Unity in the essentials, ([2]). Diversity in the non-essentials, (3). Love in all things."

Ah, yes, the essentials. You know, I've never had a pulpit committee ask me about the essentials. I've been asked if my wife or I have ever been divorced (lawfully or unlawfully); if I consume alcohol or use tobacco; if my family or I have any health problems; if I have a philosophy of leadership, etc, etc. But the essentials? Is the average Southern Baptist even aware of the existance of essentials? The truth is that the non-essentials have probably kept more pastors from churches.

I read your post Wade that said: "Public dissent is not a sign of disunity - in the truest sense, when Christians can express courteous, civil dissent over issues and still work together for the cause of the gospel, it reveals the real unity of the Spirit."

That's certainly the most provocative statement I've read lately,(at least for me}.

My experience tells me that we have far to go to achieve such an ideal, for many Southern Baptist in my opinion have fallen prey to false intellectualism, where they believe what they believe because that's what they've always been told to believe. And they love and respect the ones that told them these things so much, that to change would somehow dishonor someone's memory or hurt someone's legacy.

I love so much those who have labored before us, I've imitated them and grown from their teaching, and continue to do so even today.

But our faith cannot be in the widom of men rather than God.

Jeff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...


I just read your dad's post. I can see where get your attitude and gracious spirit.

I have read your mon's post on other days... same could be said of her.


Anonymous said...

I love that quote. It goes along with one my favorite short stories of all time. "The Emporer's New Clothes".