Friday, April 11, 2008

Desiring the Death of the Death of Dissent

Hershael York, IMB trustee from Kentucky, reported that the IMB meeting this week in Sunnyvale, Texas was "absent some of the drama of the past" and focused on missions. It is great to hear that the business of missions was the focus of the IMB meeting, as it should be at every meeting.

There are a couple of Baptist identity folks who have expressed their sentiment that the previous drama at the IMB was caused by yours truly. One described it as "the pitiful antics of one man trying to make a name for himself and refusing to repent and surrender when reprimanded. I laughed when I read this anonymous 'preacherman' comment posted to the site by Wes Kenney, who himself advocates a renewal of the Baptist identity religion.

The last time I ever initiated going to a microphone at a Board of Trustee meeting was in November of 2005. At the time, I calmly questioned trustee leadership why they were pushing policies that the President opposed, particularly since I had requested repeatedly to see field data that the policies were needed. Those pushing the policies (trustee leadership) never gave me one scrap of paper that showed me there was a problem on the mission field that necessitated these new policies. They could not articulate for me or others one instance of a field problem not correctly handled by IMB personnel that would necessitate the proposed policies. It would be a year later that Chairman Floyd would announce to me that trustee leadership needed no field anecdotal evidence that the policies were needed. This was a 'doctrinal' matter, and Baptists needed doctrinal purity. Despite my objections (and several other trustees), the policies passsed.

Less than a month later (December 2005) I began my blog. I simply explained what had occurred the previous six months on the Board, made the Convention aware of the new policies, and proposed that there was an orchestrated attempt by some to either marginalize or remove Dr. Rankin because he did not meet the standards of the new Baptist identity movement. My great concern was that the Southern Baptist Convention was becoming inbred, and as a result, the demands for doctrinal conformity on tertiary issues was causing us to lose wonderful Southern Baptists who would otherwise be qualified to serve. The fact that these new doctrinal policies exceeded the BFM 2000, the only consensus confessional standard of the SBC, seemed to not matter much at the time.

From that November 2005 IMB meeting until I resigned from the IMB in January 2008, with the exception of a brief recommendation I made in early 2007 that requested an increase in the stipend given to retiring missionaries, I never once went to the microphone to initiate any conversation, never once went to a microphone to propose any item of business, never once went to a microphone to initiate any discussion, and despite what some would have you believe, I never once initiated the use of any time at an IMB meeting to ask questions about the adopted controversial policies, never initiated any comment regarding actions against me, nor did I ever request to address the Board about any other matter (the record will reflect this). I felt that we should spend our meetings conducting missions business. For reasons only they could give, some trustees felt that the laser focus of the board should be on me.

However, from 2005 to 2008 trustee leadership brought reommendation after recommendation that had me at the focus, not missions. There was the recommendation to remove me from the Board (January 2006), then a unanimous recommendation to rescind that recommendation since it had to be approved by the entire SBC (March 2006). Trustee leadership brought a recommendation directed at me that called for all trustees 'to publicly support a board approved action, even if they cannot privately support it' (March 2006). A subcommittee brought a recommendation to revisit the policies and ultimately revise them as 'guidelines' after the SBC requested an investigation into why the IMB exceeded the doctrinal statements of the BFM and was excluding otherwise qualified missionary applicants from service based upon these 'policies' (2007). Finally, one trustee brought a recommendation to 'censure' me (November 2007), and trustee leadership issued a report (never voted on) that the Board not 'accept' my apology for being the cause of 'distraction' since it was not an apology for publicly opposing the adopted policies in the first place (January 2008). It was at that meeting (January 2008) that I initiated, for the first time, a request to address the Board. I resigned that night.

My point is this: during all the debate on the above issues I never went to a microphone to speak unless I was called to do so by trustee leadership in response to their initiatives to 'deal with Burleson.' If there was any 'drama' in previous meetings, it was because some didn't like the fact that they could be questioned and public dissent over their actions would be expressed. My friend C.B. Scott puts it succinctly:

The absence of vocalized differences of opinions in a meeting means nothing more than that. Is the ultimate goal of the trustee board to have no disagreements? Sometimes the presence of a “sweet-spirited” meeting is evidence of cowardliness and a lack of conviction among other things.

There is no doubt that trustee leadership operates under the conviction that they represent true 'Baptist identity,' and those seeking approval of those currently in charge of denominational direction, will join them in the new Baptist identity movement. However, when Southern Baptists of this persuasion begin to realize that the best way to handle dissent is to allow it, to be so confident in your positions that you are unbothered by it, and accept people who disagree as part of the cooperative efforts of the SBC, then we will truly possess the identity Baptists have historicaly held.

The downfall of a denomination built on dissent can be traced through the denigration, intimidation, and exclusion of the dissenters. There will be no deliverance until there is the death of the death of dissent in the SBC.

Until it happens,

Wade Burleson


Anonymous said...


If accuracy is assumed, your "initiation" facts are powerful.

I don't care if your motivation was to prove you were the rubber ducky in every bathroom in America.

OC Hands said...

A lesson that I hope we all have learned...with some folks, you can never have dialogue because they assume that your view is flawed, and you have no business disagreeing with them. These people are opinionated, dogmatic, and do their best to intimidate opposing viewpoints or even questions about them or their actions.

I don't think it was by accident that John Floyd became a trustee--and the chairman as well. There are those who are determined to see Jerry Rankin leave his position at the IMB, and apparently will stop at nothing to achieve it.

As to the "behind closed doors" and secrecy on what goes on there, decisions made by a select few who can be trusted, all this sounds so awfully familiar. Reporters being denied access to meetings because they simply reported what went on, rather than paint a pretty face on the proceedings, armed guards keeping out those who wanted to know what was being discussed--all this went on very much earlier, involving some of the same people. At an earlier time when an employee of the Foreign Mission Board absconded with many of the precious funds given for foreign missions, a discussion was held about what to say to the SBC, and the chairman (president) at that time reportedly said "We must tell the truth and trust the people." And that is what they did. The Board survived, and flourished because of the expressed trust that the Board leaders had in the people of the SBC.
My how times have changed. We continue to pray for you because we believe that light is better than darkness (Jn 3:19This is why people are condemned: The light came into the world. Yet, people loved the dark rather than the light because their actions were evil. 20People who do what is wrong hate the light and don’t come to the light. They don’t want their actions to be exposed. 21But people who do what is true come to the light so that the things they do for God may be clearly seen."
As I have said before, there is a time for judgment coming, and it will begin with God's people, the purifying fire as it were. May God lead all of us to lead lives that are pure and holy without any shadow of deceipt or misconduct--especially among fellow believers.

Matt said...


Things I have read over the past 2 days have made my head want to explode (not to mention the past 2 1/2 years)! I just have to commend you for your spirit and actions, because sinful as I am, there is no way I could put up with what you have.

I used to dream about working with the IMB when I was in high school and college, and now I know that it is not the organization for me. And that is a real shame because I have been in a great, growing Southern Baptist Church my entire life.

I know God uses flawed people and organizations to accomplish great things for His kingdom, but when an organization I used to love and respect so much has turned into the mess it is today, I truly am disappointed and disillusioned past my breaking point.

I love so many of the IMB Missionaries that I have such a close relationship with, and I have more respect for Dr. Rankin now than ever before. But I will chose to use the resources God has given me to work for His kingdom around the world wherever He shows me....and I can tell you now, it wont be in career service with the IMB.

(awaiting the sighs of relief and cheers from Baptist Identity folks that another must-be "heretic" and "doctrinally-impure" "troublemaker" wont try to get involved)

Seriously, thanks for sticking with it and doing your best to work real change. I just cant do it anymore myself.

Matt L. (Birmingham, AL)

Anonymous said...


I would not even say that there is never a time to have closed door meetings.

But it is the EXTREME have having so many of them [which, if I remember correctly, there has been alot] that does not look good at the least.

And now that you have released a primary source [to all--see Esther ch. 6 for details on how God can use a primary source], the priests in the pews are allowed to see for themselves what was going on behind the veil.

R. L. Vaughn said...

Wade, any idea when you'll post the last two of "A Biblical Primer on Women in Ministry" series? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I want to thank you for sharing the letter and details, overview, et. al.
Although my motion to limit terms and change the length of service was not "well taken" by the EC as reported in last years SBC meeting, I still believe it would have altered the present progress toward dictatorial patriarchy that seems to be preferred by some.
Somewhat, as people have interpreted that action, they have reached erroneous conclusions similar to reponses to you. I've had friends ask "why are you mad at our leadership?" Which, incidently, had nothing to do with the motivation to present a procedural change in our present methodology. My intent was to open the vast "pool" of talent we have available in a large Convention such as ours (the SBC.....16 Million?) I also believed (& still do) that a limit to terms of service would allow for greater participation of our younger Pastors.
Just for Info. purposes, I'm an SBC "PK" as you are..... My Dad and three uncles (his Brothers were SBC Pastors here in FL.) I have attended over 50 SBC annual meetings.... I say this to encourage some like the young fellow considering mission service elsewhere.... God has Blessed our process with mechanisms for change.
When the Messengers begin to express themselves through the voting process, things do change.
It does require "Gentlemenly Statesmanship" and Biblical accountability to obtain that support.
One thing that surely must be changed is the suggestion (Guideline)that a man of integrity has to rubber stamp the IMB Trustee's decision, even when it goes against conscience! That is UNBIBLICAL and unacceptable. I could not serve any organization with that requirement.

Alan Paul said...

Came across this quote from the late evangelist, Leonard Ravenhill:

“Your doctrine can be as straight as a gun barrel—and just as empty!”

Seemed like an apt quote when speaking about SBC conservatives. said...


I will try to post them all next week. There will be more than two. I have made the articles a tad shorter than I originally thought. The last post will reveal the identity of the author of the series.

R. L. Vaughn said...

Thanks for the info.

Tim G said...

Just a quick question if I may:
Is using a blog any different from using a microphone?

:) Thought it would be a good Friday afternoon thought.

On a serious note: Please let Debbie know we are praying for her and her family! said...

Tim, you miss my point. I fully accept people don't like my blog. It is the intentional and blatant misrepesentation, by some pastors who should know better, that any 'drama' at the IMB had to do with decorum in meetings.

If they think the 'drama' is over because I've gone from the meetings, I point out that my blog remains and will continue to point out things that need to be addressed.



Christopher B. Harbin said...

If you really want the death of the death of dissent, it would mean turning the clock back to life before the takeover. After all, that is what the takeover was about: To be SB, you must believe as we tell you to believe, or just be quiet about your disagreement.

That is what so many of the missionaries were told: "It doesn't really matter what you believe, so long as you sign your affirmation of the BF&M2000."

Either the SBC is open to disagreement, or it is only for a select few--and the breadth of that group will be determined by who holds the reigns.

Anonymous said...

After reading the letter from Dr. Rankin and the comments written in the margins I can see why you did what you did in dealing with this issue. Apparently we are headed toward landmarkism.

I found it incredibly condescending toward Dr. Rankin that his views were labeled "ridiculous" and "illogical" repeatedly. For someone who went to great lengths to label you divisive in what you said, he sure didn't treat Dr. Rankin with any due respect in his commentary on the letter.

Thanks for making this letter available to be read it explained a lot.

Anonymous said...

The only people who wish dissent ended and dissenters silenced are those who fear their ideas cannot withstand public scrutiny and that they will lose their positions of authority as a result.

Jack Maddox said...

alan paul

your comment about Ravenhill demonstrates that you know little about conservatives and perhaps less about Ravenhill


Anonymous said...


Those of us on the field are very aware of your support of us. As one soon to retire, I only wish that the retirement stipend had been raised...Oh well, maybe for the next generation of missionaries...

A 10-40 Windows Missionary

Alan Paul said...


Educate me.


Lin said...

"your comment about Ravenhill demonstrates that you know little about conservatives and perhaps less about Ravenhill"

Be careful, Jack. Paul Washer from Muscle Shoals Baptist Church, a contemporary of Jeff Noblitt, missionary and itinerant preacher quotes Ravenhill all the time. Washer is quite 'Reformed'. And while he may not agree with Ravenhill on everything, he recognizes his passion for Christ and has said so many times.

Your comment makes me see just how narrow and exclusive this club is becoming.

Anonymous said...

The quote is wrongly attributed to Ravenhill. It was Vance Havner who said it here: Hearts Afire, Westwood, N. J.: Fleming H. Revell, 1952, p. 136. Most likely he said it long before this.

Interestingly Havner also had a brush with liberalism. Almost lost in it, he came to and finally rejected its emptiness. Ravenhill, on the other hand, tended towards the fundamentalist pietist end of the spectrum.

Though I like Havner, the quote itself is incoherent.

Anonymous said...

"Though I like Havner, the quote itself is incoherent."

Just incomplete, perhaps. Correct doctrine without love or a passion to bear the Image of Christ is empty. Correct doctrine is a means to an end. The 'end' as in bearing the Image of Christ and being
Christlike because we know and love correct doctrine. Doctrine is not a club to beat people with. Correct doctine, in action, would be openess and transparancy. Not lording it over or 'behind closed doors' for a only a few.

Satan knows correct doctrine.


Anonymous said...

I do believe it is incoherent. Correct doctrine is not empty, even when possessed by Satan. Faith can remain empty, or dead, rather, without the works of which you speak. But doctrine is by nature information breathed by the Holy Spirit through the word of God. It always has power toward its end, which is to glorify God. Whether one uses it or not depends on the measure of faith assigned to them.

Strider said...

"If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing" 1 Cor 13:2

Correct doctrine is nothing more than "prophecy, mysteries, and knowledge" it is not the same as being filled by the love of Jesus. It is all about Jesus, not about 'doctrine'. Correct doctrine leads to knowing Jesus but as has been said it is a means to an end, not the end. You can in fact know much about Jesus without knowing and belonging to him. The evidence is not doctrine, it is love. I used to say that I will be a fundamentalist when they are known for love. If the word conservative will not bear this reputation I will not be conservative either. I will be known as one who is loved by Jesus and loves others in His name. Leonard Ravenhill- or Vance Havner's quote are right on the money.

Rex Ray said...

You said, “Faith can remain empty, or dead…” I’ve heard this so much it nearly makes me sick. James should have said, ‘Belief without works is dead’. Him saying, “Faith without works is dead” is impossible because the definition of faith is ‘belief in action’ or ‘belief with works’.

What James said is like saying ‘An automobile without any parts is dead.’ No; without any parts you don’t have an automobile. Without works you don’t have faith.

“And even trusting is not of yourselves; it too is a gift from God.” (Romans 4:4) God gave us faith, and he doesn’t give junk.

BTW, I liked your comment.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Strider, doctrine is neither the point nor is it the Word of God. Doctrine is a human attempt to interpret the Bible in a way that is intended to enhance the opportunity for one to understand God and enter into relationship with him. To put it another way, Jesus did not come so we could have correct doctrine, he came so we could be in a joyful, holy relationship with God and each other. By definition doctrine is a creation of humans and subject to our fallen inclination to err. That is the reason each must hold doctrine in a way that we are open to reform, revision and further understanding through the Holy Spirit. Further, the Bible is not primarily a book with propositional truths of doctrine to be learned but a wonderful love story of how much the Father cares for his creation, wants it to be in joyful, holy relationship with him, what he is doing to bring that about in his creation and our role in being on this mission with him. When we make doctrine, right belief and right action, the primary objective of our life we create an idol to replace God. The paradox is that when we get the relationship right then the right belief and right living come naturally. When we try to do it in the reverse order we get only religion and idolatry.

Rex Ray said...

You hit the nail on the head when you wrote: “When we make doctrine, right belief and right action the primary objective of our life we create an idol to replace God.”

The new convention (SBTC that split from the old convention of Texas BGCT) had a primary objective as told by their executive director, Jim Richards: “THEOLOGICAL AGREEMENT WILL BE THE FIRST FOUNDATION OF THE NEW CONVENTION.” (Baptist Standard November 11, 1998)

Richards has been rewarded for his stand by the ‘powers that be’ in promoting him to be our present vise-president of the SBC.

The idol of the SBC was exposed when over one hundred missionaries were forced to leave because they would not kneel down in signing a man-made paper that was claimed to be a higher priority than their call from God.

In 2000, the Pope apologized for the Inquisition of 1184 (Holy Office established to kill those in disagreement). It looks like that Holy Office has a new name of IMB.

Strider said...

Hang on Rex, don't get caught up in the verbage there to make your point. When you say the IMB you mean me. When you say the IMB BOT you are talking about something else. The BoT is not the organization that SB's set up to take the Gospel around the world that is the IMB and we are not the inqisition. (Did somebody say,'The Inqisition?') Some on the BoT may feel that they have that power and responsibility but if'n they do or if'n they don't don't include the IMB in your critique. All SB's everywhere ought rightly to be proud to be a part of what God is doing through the IMB. My suggestion to the BoT would be to get behind Jerry Rankin and support the vision and direction of his administration so that when they stand before God they get to be rewarded for some of what is going around the world.

Anonymous said...

Doctrine is teaching. It is the teaching of God through His Word by the Holy Spirit, and what is taught to men from the Word of God. It is the same word, didaskalia. Consider the following:

We are nourished by doctrine:
1 Timothy 4:6 In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following.

Doctrine is worthy of honor:
1 Timothy 6:1 Let all who are under the yoke as slaves regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine may not be spoken against.

Doctrine was given by Jesus:
1 Timothy 6:3 If anyone advocates a different doctrine, and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness...

It is the truth of God:
2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths.

From doctrine the faithful word comes to which we hold:
Titus 1:9 holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, that he may be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.

It guides our speech:
Titus 2:1 But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine.

It is as important as good deeds:
Titus 2:7 in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, 8 sound in speech which is beyond reproach, in order that the opponent may be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.

It is adorned with good works:
Titus 2:9 Urge bondslaves to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect.

It is to be given attention to:
1 Timothy 4:13 Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching.

AND, everything written by the Spirit of God in times past was written for our DOCTRINE, TEACHING, INSTRUCTION, all the same greek word:
Romans 15:4 For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

It astounds me how minimalistic doctrine becomes in the eyes of the redeemed, especially among those who believe even James was inspired Scripture.

You guys are correctly arguing the importance of living out doctrine and faith, but not of doctrine itself.

Steve said...

I don't suppose we could simply do away with the Boards of Trustees of the Mission-sending agencies and have all decisions not a day-in day-out routine decision made by either the Convention as a whole or some temporarily-assigned group of people brought together for a term similar to a grand jury and then dismissed, for a completely different group to succeed them months later.

While district attorneys have been accused of abusing grand juries, the temporary nature of such groups keeps down the sort of sinful fiefdom-building engaged in by the current insiders' club so desparate to hang on to power in the SBC today.

Anonymous said...

Along with allergies sounds like there is a bad case of OCCD (obsessive compulsive conservative disorder) going is all about HIS favor....not our straightening out of matters....

Lin said...

It astounds me how minimalistic doctrine becomes in the eyes of the redeemed, especially among those who believe even James was inspired Scripture.

You guys are correctly arguing the importance of living out doctrine and faith, but not of doctrine itself.

Sat Apr 12, 04:58:00 PM 2008

Just a question to ponder. Which was correct doctrine: The letter (including the attachment) or the margin notes on both?

Which one was correct doctrine in action: Writing the letter to two people or giving out the letter to trustees with added margin notes that included these words: Illogical, inconsistent and unbiblical?

Those are the differences we are discussing.

Now, tell me which man would be most likely to care for my soul.

Anonymous said...


Thank you for the clarification of your earlier comment. I found it helpful. In my comment, which was in response to yours, I used "doctrine" as you defined it when I said that the Bible is not primarily about doctrine but the grand love story of God as described in my earlier comment. I would suggest that even using your definition of doctrine this remains correct. Doctrine is not the PRIMARY point of the Bible. Doctrine (as defined by CM) is in the Bible but it is there to show us what our lives will be like as the Spirit transforms us, not as a set of rules to be followed. To suggest that following "doctrine" will transforms us goes against the teaching of all of Scripture. Transformation (sanctification) is a work of the Holy Spirit not following doctrine. The Bible is quite clear about what God thinks of those who follow "doctrine" without the transforming work of the Holy Spirit. They are called Pharisees, who Jesus said were like white washed tombs inside.

My other use of "doctrine" was in the sense of human interpretations of the "doctrine" in the Bible. It is these interpretations that are subject to error because of our imperfect knowledge of the truth in Scripture. These interpretations we do need to hold with the idea they may be revised and reformed as our knowledge of truth is enhanced through the teaching of the Spirit.

While we should definitely be careful of the slippery slope of liberalism we need to recognize that there are other slippery slopes as well. If we focus too much on one slippery slope we may find ourselves sliding down one of the other slippery slopes, which can be just as dangerous as the liberal one......Phariseeism being only one such example.

Paul Burleson said...


It isn't often I find myself agreeing with everything someone says in a comment. I'm an independent thinker and am even called a rebel [lovingly] my most of my friends and some of my family. I pride myself in letting the text speak without personal presupposions as much as is possible by any individual interpreter of the scriptures.

On top of that..I just don't like agreeing with everything anyone says..period...on the principle of the thing. But...I agree with ALL of your comment. [Rats] :)

Savage Baptist said...

Either the SBC is open to disagreement, or it is only for a select few...

No doubt it's just me, but this seems mildly problematic, at least as worded, to wit:

1) Every organization, seems to me, has certain things on which it brooks no disagreement. To say otherwise, seems to me, is tantamount to saying that an organization has no reason whatever for its existence. The question is never whether an organization is open to disagreement, as such, but on what things it is open to disagreement.

There are things I do not agree with--modern-day tongues-speaking being one of them, for example--that are not things that I think are worth "going to war over," as some might put it.

But would I "go to war" over the bodily resurrection of Christ, in the unlikely event that, say, a Marcus Borg sought a position of influence in the SBC?

Oh yeah. You betcha. There are some things without which you no longer have Christianity. On those, disagreement ought not to be brooked.

It seems to me that the SBC is for a select group. It is not for all Christians. It is for those Christians who are willing to cooperate on, in particular, missions and evangelism, within the framework of a fairly bare-bones doctrinal stance agreed on by a majority of those voting on it at the Convention. Not wanting to stay within OR to insist on going beyond the confines of that doctrinal stance doesn't necessarily mean that one isn't a Christian, but it does mean, I think, that one may not be suited to play on our particular team, so to speak.

Put another way, seems to me that before two can walk together, they have to agree on something--maybe even something as simple as which direction to walk.

Anonymous said...

To suggest that following "doctrine" will transforms us goes against the teaching of all of Scripture. Transformation (sanctification) is a work of the Holy Spirit not following doctrine.

Are you sure you want to maintain this position in light of Rom 12:2, 2 Tim 3:16-17 (teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,) & 1 Tim 4:

1Tim 4:6 If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed.
7  Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness;
8  for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

And these:
Joh 17:17  Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

Rom 6:19 now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

And this:

1Th 4:3  For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality;4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor,
5  not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;
6  that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you.
7  For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.

You are arguing either/or when you should be arguing both/and. I assume you are being careless, but your comment and the agreement that followed are contrary to the Scripture I provided. Simply, we are indeed transformed by the renewing of our minds through doctrine, that is, teaching by the HS through the Word of God. What could ever be the use of teaching... reproof,...correction, and ... training in righteousness if it wasn't to transform?

By the way, the last comment of mine wasn't clarification but substantiation. If you would like to continue, I beseech you to bring Scripture next time you give universal hypotheses about what Scripture says.


Anonymous said...


I don't think there is any disagreement among those who post here with regard to doctrines that lead to regeneration and transformation.

The disagreements with regard to IMB policies stem from doctrines on which the Bible can legitimately be interpreted in different ways (e.g., PPL and authority of baptizer) by conservative inerrantists.

The problem is that there are people who would like to elevate disputable doctrines on such issues to the level of doctrines about which disagreement should preclude cooperation and participation in the SBC.

I cannot recall any examples in scripture in which churches were advised to refuse to cooperate or to allow participation because of differences with regard such doctrines as have prompted the IMB controversy. The only justifications for withdrawing fellowship that I recall involve people who lived openly in sin and refused to repent or who believed and taught heretical doctrines that distorted or omitted at least one key element of the gospel.

If there are examples in which fellowship was withdrawn over fine points of doctrines on issues not critical to the gospel, I would genuinely like to be reminded of them. At present, my understanding is that excluding believers from cooperating and participating with us in the cause of Christ over issues such as PPL or proper authority of baptizers is not supported directly by scripture.

Can Baptists restrict participation on the basis of acceptance of Baptist distinctives such as believer's baptism or refraining from a non-scriptural practice of the gift of tongues? Sure we can, and probabaly we should.

The question is, should we continually extend the list of doctrines and distinctives about which we must agree to fully participate in the SBC? I think the answer is no. The list is long enough. It has worked well for a long time and has allowed Baptists to cooperate in missions in spite of a variety of different views on eschatology, Reformed theology, and even ecclesiology.

The IMB BoT were not acting in a manner consistent with conservative, traditional Southern Baptists when they adopted the two policies at the center of the current dispute. It is frustating to me that those who support BoT actions do not seem to recognize that they are a radical (and I believe disastrous) departure from traditional Baptist practice of not insisting on uniformity of doctrine except for a small list of Christian essentials and Baptist distinctives.

The action of the BoT might not have generated the counter movement that has developed except that it seemed consistent with actions from others in leadership positions designed to further narrow the parameters for cooperation (e.g., Dr. Patterson's determination that proper doctrine holds that women cannot teach Hebrew to men in a seminary).

One can hold that doctrine is important and that doctrinal purity is desirable without holding that every issue of doctrine should be used to define the limits of participation and cooperation within the SBC.

Rex Ray said...

My my. I said, the Inquisition of 1184 established a Holy Office to kill those in disagreement, and it looked like that Holy Office had a new name of IMB.
You replied that I should “hold on” because I was referring to you. I thought you were one of the ninety or so on the IMB. So I went to your blog to check you out. WOW! What a wonderful work you and your companions are doing for the Lord.

I felt like the time I bragged I had been selected on the State Church All Star softball team because I wanted to impress a friend who I heard was a good player. He replied the year before he had been put in the Softball World Hall of Fame.

I’m confused why you think you, as a missionary, are part of the IMB (International Mission BOARD). Missionaries didn’t fire missionaries…the Board did. When something goes wrong the first rule is to find someone to blame it on as shown by the paper below:

Southern Baptist Struggling with Post-Modernism
Reflections on Response to Missionaries Affirming the BFM
By Jerry Rankin 2003
On the last page is this statement: “The issue is not about individuals being terminated, but about the credibility of the IMB being doctrinal accountable to our denomination.”

(There’s that word “doctrinal” again.) So Strider, according to this statement YOU are responsible for firing missionaries because you are part the Baptist denomination.

Of course Rankin broke his word that existing missionaries would not be fired to keep himself from being fired.

The fundamentalist mind set is they have to control because they don’t trust the Holy Spirit to do what He said He would do. So they replaced the Holy Spirit with their legalism to keep sin out; not realizing they make prisoners within.

They say the truth is in the pudding, but the pudding in the SBC has turned to mush.

Strider said...

To be clear Rex I am just saying there is a difference between the Board of Trustees and the IMB. I am an employee of the IMB. The Board of Trustees is Board to whom the IMB is accountable. They are not the same organization. BoT guys are not members of or employees of the IMB. I almost always agree with your comments, and I agree with the spirit of this one. As people get tired of 'politics' I just want there to be a good deal of distance between what the IMB does as a Mission organization and what the BoT does as an accountability organization. I am pretty sure that BoT members want that same distance. Hope I am making sense.

Christopher B. Harbin said...

IMB BOT has ultimate responsibility for the firings, yes. It is not quite correct to says that missionaries did not fire missionaries, however, for there were plenty complicit in pinpointing individuals to be accused and fired.

By the time BOT got around to voting on the termination of most, the same individuals were already off the field through a process begun by missionaries and leadership on the field.

Strider, I notice you were likely at MLC with me the second time around. As you mention at one point in your blog, the agency has changed greatly over the last dozen years. The change was great enough for me that as terrible as termination has been, it was also a relief from oppression!

Dan Paden,
Yes, the wording was a little overreaching, but the truth behind the takeover has been a push to exclude those who would disagreed or challenge those seeking power. Your definitions of who is welcome fall far too shy of the boundaries now pushed for service with any SBC agency. Under 1963 guidelines of cooperation, it was an open system for those desiring to identify and call themselves Baptist. We sought to assure ourselves that those looking for service positions were indeed what they claimed, just as churches calling pastors. We are now in a whole new world.

FMB was a sending agency. IMB is an employer. FMB verified one's call and sought to enable one to fulfill that call of God. IMB employs people to fulfill its own vision. That is a very significant change! Most of those fired were commissioned by the FMB and fired by the IMB.

Christopher B. Harbin said...


In our last years on the field, there was a great deal of time and energy placed on issues unrelated to ministry, related solely to IMB BOT controversy and politics. Maybe this did not affect your work, but it mis-directed 50% of the time of many missionaries in our area off "ministry of the IMB" onto issues of compliance with BOT, SBC politics, and administrative hoop jumping.

I hope I am hearing in your last comment that some of this has been reversed.

It was interesting to note that you call yourself and employee, though in 1995 we were commissioned by a sending agency, not hired by a corporation.

Lin said...

"You are arguing either/or when you should be arguing both/and. I assume you are being careless, but your comment and the agreement that followed are contrary to the Scripture I provided. Simply, we are indeed transformed by the renewing of our minds through doctrine, that is, teaching by the HS through the Word of God. What could ever be the use of teaching... reproof,...correction, and ... training in righteousness if it wasn't to transform?"


I can know every single scripture you quoted by heart and quote them all the time to people and still be a mean hateful person that only cares about my power and position.

IOW: I can know correct doctrine and not be transformed by it. That has been the point all along.

You are right. It is NOT either/or on the essentials. But there is room for cooperation when there is disagreement on the non-essentials.

But there doesn't seem to be any non- essentials anymore. It is now to be 'their' interpretation of secondary doctrines or you are labeled a liberal or leftist and told to join the CBF.

Savage Baptist said...

Mr. Harbin:

Your definitions of who is welcome fall far too shy of the boundaries now pushed for service with any SBC agency.

Agreed. I noted the matter only because it seems to me that in arguing against making all these secondary and tertiary issues tests of fellowship and qualifications for the mission field, it is terribly easy for our words to come across as though we have gone to the opposite extreme of saying nothing is essential. Just something to watch out for, is all I'm sayin'.

...there doesn't seem to be any non- essentials anymore.

What a way of putting it. It captures the situation beautifully.
Everything is worth division and schism, war and chaos.

Anonymous said...


Thank you for continuing the conversation. It seems I am not able to convey very well in my earlier comment that it is both/and. I agree with you. However, the difference it seems to me is the emphasis. I read the Bible to put the emphasis on God, not on doctrine. To put it another way if there were no doctrine, God, through the Holy Spirit, would still teach us and bring us to what he created us to be. But if all we had was doctrine, without the Holy Spirit, the doctrine would be just dead law. The key is God himself, not the doctrine.

But as others have pointed out in the particular context of this post the issue is how should we relate to one another when there are different human interpretations of doctrine or biblical teaching? To elevate our interpretation, or the interpretation of those in positions of authority within the SBC, to be the same as the Bible is not helpful since our interpretations are subject to being erroneous.

When anyone, and particularly those in positions of authority, prevent, or even discourage, discussion of the interpretation of doctrine they are effectively, even if not intentionally, placing their interpretation on the same level as the Bible. The issues of PPL and baptism as well as the role of women in ministry are doctrinal issues that are open to multiple legitimately supportable interpretations.

It is very difficult for "iron to sharpen iron" when one of the irons is being used as a rod to beat the other into submission. And, the Holy Spirit is quenched in this process.

Anonymous said...


Thank you for the far too generous expression of kindness. Coming from you it means a great deal to me personally.

Maybe you agree because I am too much like you, at least as you described yourself. :-)

Rex Ray said...

Strider and Chris Harbin,
You both have enlightened me with your comments to the point I believe we are much in agreement. I see that Strider considers himself in the IMB organization by being employed as a missionary.

Harbin points out a great difference in the IMB when he wrote: “It was interesting to note that you [Strider] call yourself an employee, though in 1995 we were commissioned by a sending agency, not hired by a corporation.”

For some background history on missionaries being fired, it seems one little email of dissent by a missionary may have caused a spark that ignited an explosion of fury that missionaries were not toeing the line of their employers. The email was a request to cancel a SBC ‘newspaper’ being sent to him as he was tired of it badmouthing Christians such as the BGCT.

On June 7, 2002, I wrote Jerry Rankin saying: “Just received a ‘certificate of appreciation’ for construction …Japan…October 2001 from you.” In the letter I said, “The background that started the mandate for missionaries to sign the BFM seems to have started from an email by Scott McIntosh, a team leader/strategy coordinator for IMB work in Scotland. His ‘complaining’ email indirectly made its way to the Executive Committee president, Morris Chapman. He asked you to call McIntosh and find out why he had written the email and where he stood on denominational matters. You told McIntosh, ‘Now we have to do some damage control, and this might cause the missionaries to have to sign the BFM.’ A year later, McIntosh (no longer a missionary) said, ‘Jerry Rankin in my opinion is an honest, fair-minded person. I have never had any bone to pick with Jerry.’ From McIntosh’s perspective, the mandate for IMB missionaries to sigh the 2000 BFM is not the IMB’s fault. Rather, he believes, blame for any trouble caused on the mission field lies at the feet of other SBC leaders.”

On August 8, 2002, Rankin replied to my letter: “Dear Brother Rex…” He wrote: “Morris Chapman did not ask me to call Scott McIntosh, as reported; I did so because of my personally concern for one of out effective missionaries I respected who was obviously having a problem due to some unfortunate perceptions.
Where did anyone get the idea that our missionaries are being ‘forced’ to sign something that they may not agree with, or that anyone would be terminated if they did not respond to my request? Neither of those positions has been advocated or communicated by the IMB.
Our board drafted a policy that current missionaries who had already been processed for appointment in the past, would not be required to sign the revised BF&M.

However, to dispel growing suspicions and mistrust which were threatening to undercut the credibility and support of the IMB, I did personally ask our missionaries collectively to affirm once again to Southern Baptists that they would work with the BF&M and not contrary to it.”

Rankin never denied that Chapman called him or he told McIntosh, “Now we have to do some damage control, and this might cause the missionaries to have to sign the BFM.” I think the biggest clue who forced missionaries to sign the BFM is brought out in Rankin’s statement: “To dispel growing suspicions and mistrust which were threatening to undercut the credibility and support of the IMB…”

WHO was Rankin referring to? The Baptist Standard reported that Rankin said his request to missionaries avoided 9-11 to the IMB. McIntosh said the blame was other SBC leaders. WHO has power over the IMB? Not long ago, the IMB was told to leave Wade alone or the IMB could face a law suit. WHO told them?… Morris Chapman, the president of the most powerful committee of all…the Executive Committee.

Paul Burleson said...

I was once asked why I thought the Church of Acts was so powerful and the modern Church is not. It was.. and.. we don't seem to be.

In teaching through Acts entirely a bit later I discovered that the NT Church was powerful indeed and, perhaps, I found, it was in connection to her simplicity. It was simply the reality of Christ and what He accomplished in His doing and dying that captivated their thinking and living.

It is obvious to me they understood the reality and correct intrepretation of "You shall know the Truth and the Truth shall set you free."

Know" has the meaning of 'intimate knowledge of'. Jesus Himself is our "Truth" as we well know. The definite article "the" is just before "Truth" in the original language referencing that fact. So.....

To have a real intimate relationship with Jesus Christ is the power aspect of Christian living [made real by His Spirit resident within] since He is our Salvation, Life, Victory, Sanctification, Security..etc.

He is the object of our faith, not doctrine. Our faith increases as we get to know the Object [Christ] through the written record, but, He is Himself our all in all. [As the scriptures show.]

Each is, in it's proper place, terribly important, it would seem to me. So it IS both doctrine and Christ but... NOT on an equal basis. One is the Object of our faith and the other a very important tool in the development of that faith fixed on Him.

Semantics? Maybe. But I don't think so.

Anonymous said...

There is no God without doctrine, and no doctrine without God. There is no relationship with Christ without doctrine, and no doctrine without the possibility of a relationship with Christ. Someone, somewhere gave you the most rudimentary bit of doctrine before you knew you had to make a response to Christ. It is as equally important to know who you are worshipping as it is that that God of worship exists. Romans 10:2 demonstrates as much, and I think I have demonstrated such earlier from the Scriptures. Perhaps you could as well.

Initially, however, I postulated that Havner's quote as given here, "Your doctrine can be as straight as a gun barrel—and just as empty!", is incoherent. Doctrine cannot be empty by definition and nature. It can be wrong. But the assumption is that it is correct ("straight"), and therefore necessarily possesses the power of God given to it by the Holy Spirit. Whether or not someone uses it correctly may demonstrate the fullness of their faith, but not of the doctrine itself.

With that, I am signing off.


Anonymous said...


Would you be so kind as to clarify? Are you suggesting that doctrine is some kind of fourth person of the Godhead? Or, that God in some way is dependent on doctrine to be fully God?

Rex Ray said...

Paul Burleson,
I’ve respected your insight and opinions for a long time. Your saying, “In teaching through Acts…” leads me to ask, have you taught chapter 15, or preached on that chapter?

I believe it is one of the most avoided chapters in the Bible. I’ve never seen a SS lesson on it, and have heard only one sermon on the subject.

Why is that? I believe we don’t want to face the fact that two Bible writers had different opinions on how we’re saved.

Chapter 15 truly records James’ word “but” or “except” as changing his agreeing with Peter. In fact, Peter’s words: “all are saved the same way, by the free gift of the Lord Jesus” (Verse 11 Living) were omitted in the letter to the Gentiles, and only James words were in the letter. The letter even added to James’ speech the word: “necessary.”

While Peter’s speech was based on God showing the vision of a sheet with animals, the motivation for James’ speech was tradition: “For these things have been preached against in Jewish synagogues in every city on every Sabbath for many generations.” (Verse 21 Living)

I believe the Church of Acts was powerful in spreading the Gospel so fast was not based upon them knowing all the truth of the right doctrine.
They missed truth as show: “You see brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law.” (Acts 21:20)
The truth was NOT being zealous for the Law of Moses, but being zealous for Jesus. They believed Jesus was coming back maybe the next day. They had to spread the news to everyone they knew or would listen. Expediency was a motivating factor.

Paul Burleson said...


I did teach this chapter. It seemed to me at the time [remember this was several years ago and my memory isn't as sharp as I'd like] I saw James as agreeing with Peter because of the "therefore" of verse 19 and then suggesting some things that might help them live among the Jews in Antioch... [They were already saved in his mind it seems to me] shown by the "but" of verse 20.

This might be an illustration that the minor things of the law could help or hinder, only depending on the context. In other words, When not dealing with salvation. Much the same as when Paul could recommend that a brother be circumcised to enable ministry and, at another time, refuse a brother being circumcised because it dealt with whether or not one had to be Jewish to be truly converted.

My thinking is there wasn't disagreement between James and Peter. They were adressing two different questions. That's off the top of my head and I might have to correct a thing or two were I to research it afresh.

Paul Burleson said...


One other thought.

If I remember correctly, it seemed to me at the time that the apparent difference between Acts 15 and Galations 2 which is that in Acts 15 there appears to be agreement with Paul by Peter and James. [Peter was not the main person of the council at all.] But in Galations 2 Paul indicates some disagreement. I thought that difference was as simple as Acts 15 being the public meeting and Galations 2 being the private one where issues were hammered out. I could have been wrong on that.

Just a further thought.

Rex Ray said...

The purpose of the first Church Counsel’s was to decide how Gentiles could be saved.
After a business meeting, what is remembered is what is in writing. The letter to the gentiles fulfilled the purpose of the Counsel.
Gentiles were overjoyed they didn’t have to be cut on.

Paul, what are the ‘rules’ when we look for truth in the Bible? Because someone is ‘good’, does that mean what he does or says is always right? The promise of killing the first person that welcomed him home that a good king made if God would help them win a battle was stupid and a sin. But the Bible does not tell us it was a stupid sin.

Because Bible writers wear white hats, does that mean everything they said in life comes from the mouth of God? Numbers tells that Moses was lying in Deuteronomy when he told why he could not go to the Promise Land.

“When some friends of James came, Peter wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles anymore. He was afraid of criticism from these people who insisted on the necessity of circumcision.” (Galatians 2:12 NLT)

Why was Peter afraid? He preached and 5,000 were saved. He’d seen the vision. He preached and Gentiles were saved just as Pentecost…tongues? fire?
He’d been criticized before: “When he arrived back in Jerusalem, some of the Jewish believers criticized him. You entered the home of Gentiles and even ate with them.” (Acts 11:2-3)
That time he stood his ground and convinced them God had saved Gentiles.

But this time was different…it was “friends of James.” Being friends of James was very prestigious.
James was known as ‘the Just.’…the most honored man of all Jews. His daily job was praying for the sins of the people in the Holy place of the Temple. When he was martyred, there was such an outcry of the people; King Agrippa fired the high priest who ordered his death. Even the Pharisees told him “We and all the people should obey thee.”
Many believed the destruction that happened to the Jews a few years later was God’s wrath for killing James. (Foxes Book of Martyrs)

It seems to me that the friends of James (identified in Acts 15:1 as men from Judea) were probably the same men in Acts 15:5 that were “believers from the party of the Pharisees” who said, ‘It is necessary to circumcise them and to command them to keep the law of Moses’.”

After Paul straightened Peter and Barnabas out, they took on these friends of James: “Paul and Barnabas disaagreed with them, arguing vehemently. Finally, the church decided to send Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem, accompanied by some local believers to talk to the apostles and elders about this question." (Acts 15:2)
I’m sure these friends of James believed the Counsel would prove Paul and Barnabas wrong.

Verse 6: “Then the apostles and the elders assembled to consider this matter.”
This means they left the main assembly to a private room and discussed the issue.
I believed they reached a decision, but James did not express his view at this meeting.

It’s easy to think that verse 7 is said in the private meeting, but it couldn’t be because Peter’s speech of declaring the private meeting’s decision starts in verse 7, ends in verse 11, and verse 12 says “the whole assembly fell silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul describing all the sign and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles.”

The debate is over…case closed…all saved by the free gift of Christ…meeting adjourned.

But that didn’t happen did it? James’ “but” got the shoe in the door for legalism that Paul fought the rest of his life but lost.

James popularity made it easy for the multitude to accept “My judgment…”

Paul, you said, “They were already saved in his mind it seems to me as shown by the “but” of verse 20.”

What was in James’ mind; only the Lord knows, but I believe after all the Apostles and James were gone, his words were used by the ‘party of the Pharisees’ to establish the Catholic church.

While James was alive, nothing was added to the letter (BFM?) sent to the Gentiles, but when he was killed I’ll bet it wasn’t long until there were many revisions.

After his stoning was stopped by a priest, a man killed him with a ‘club’ used to clean rugs.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve heard that man was a member of James’ church. If that is true, maybe he was tired of waiting for a revision.

Paul Burleson said...


I'm not quite sure there is any problem with seeing in the text the private meeting [mentioned in Gal. 2] and the public declaration [mentioned in Acts 15] as the answer to what Paul mentioned as the impact James's friends had had on Peter and how Paul confronted it privately with the resulting Jerusalem decision.

I'm also sure there was much to work out in the early church as to the total transition from the Jewish based mentality to the inclusive mentality of the New Covenant. [No gender,race or age and a new law qualifications]

But I'm NOT sure of the point you are making and I'm sure that's more my mind than anything. Sorry.

AND I will admit your knowledge of that passage far surpasses mine and perhaps it will spur me to further study of it as time allows.

I am going fishing today however [literally] and will be out of pocket until tomorrow but have probably gone my limit on using Wade's blog anyway. Thanks for the dialogue.

Rex Ray said...

You said, “I’m not sure on the point you are making and I’m sure that’s more my mind than anything. Sorry.”

I’ve never heard, thought, or said that in my 76 years. When I don’t understand what someone says, I usually think why can’t the person talk intelligently? No wonder your son has such a good attitude toward people.

My point:
As Custer asked, ‘Where did all those Indians come from?’ many years ago, I wondered where did all those Catholics come from? I mean, since the Jewish religion is old as it is and not changed all that much, if early Christians were ‘Baptists’, how did they change so quickly to Catholic?

My search of the Bible to find where and why ended at Acts 15. They set out to answer the most important question ever asked: ‘How is man saved?’ Until that time, Jews knew the way to salvation was the Law of Moses.

I think the following imaginary conversation portrays the attitude of Christian Jews at the Church Counsel:

“Can you imagine our leaders deciding if Gentiles can go to heaven? We’re God’s chosen people. Not those pagans. They’re dogs!”
“But they say God’s Spirit has been given to everyone.”
“Well, they’ll have to obey the laws of Moses!”
“Paul and Peter say anyone believing in Jesus is saved by His gift.”
“Outrageous! That’s what to expect from a man who lives with Gentiles. Paul helped kill Stephen and put us in prison, now he’s blaspheming God’s laws. We ought to stone him. James’ friends got Peter in line until Paul brainwashed him. I hope James puts a stop to this nonsense.”

The Law was like a lifejacket on a sea of sin until Jesus became the lifejacket. The Christian Jew added Jesus to their lifejacket; not realizing Jesus fulfilled the Law, and if anyone had Jesus, they no longer needed the Law to keep from drowning in sin.

The Jews kept their lifejacket and wanted to force Gentiles to wear one...“But some of the believers from the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, ‘It is NECESSARY to circumcise them and to COMMAND them to keep the law of Moses!’” (Acts 15:5 Holman)

James’ speech did not use the word “necessary”, but I’ll bet this ‘party of Pharisees’ got in their “NECESSARY” since the letter to the Gentiles read: “For it was the Holy Spirit’s decision—and ours—to put no greater BURDEN on you than these NECESSARY things:” (Acts 15:28 Holman)

Paul, do you see a conflict with Peter saying: “So why are you now challenging God by BURDENING the Gentile believers…” (Acts 15:10 NLT) and the above (Acts 15:28)?

I believed as the years rolled by, the roots of Baptists argued “necessary things” were the result of being saved, while the roots of Catholics argued “necessary things” were requirements to be saved.

The important thing about knowing how Christians became Catholic is to keep the SBC from making the same mistake by their increasing rules of legalism and forbidding descent.