Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Farewell, Jerry Corbaley

Jerry Corbaley, Director of Missions for the North Coast Baptist Association in California resigned yesterday, September 9, 2008, from his trusteeship on the International Mission Board because he is moving from California to Hawaii to beome a pastor of a Southern Baptist Church. I do wish Jerry Corbaley the best in his new ministry, and would like to articulate the reasons why I believe this move is good for the International Mission Board.

It was trustee Jerry Corbaley who wrote the initial "paper" for IMB trustee leadership that proposed you could not possess true "Baptist Identity" and have a private prayer language. It was Corbaley, John Floyd, Tom Hatley, and about twenty other trustees who pushed very hard for the International Mission Board to exclude missionary candidates who professed to having a "private" prayer language, and to further exclude those missionary candidates whose baptisms did not occur in a Southern Baptist Church. Corbaley was so confident of his ability to speak for all Southern Baptists on the issue of private prayer language that he wrote on his May 29, 2007 blog these words.

The IMBoT has defined glossolalia. I am confident that about 95% of Southern Baptists would agree with that definition. That would be 19 out of every 20 people. If the vast majority of Southern Baptists agree with the definition of glossolalia that the IMB has adopted, then the tiny minority who advocate glossolalia have a monumental task. You will have to convince the vast majority. I doubt that rhetoric alone will succeed.

In summary, the attitude of Corbaley and other IMB trustee leaders could be expressed this way: "Farewell, those of you in the tiny minority of Southern Baptists. You will not be able to cooperate with us in mission work. We know what true Baptist Identity is, and you don't meet the standard." No longer was the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message the consensus doctrinal statement for cooperative missions. IMB trustees had doctrinally "backdoored" the SBC and narrowed the doctrinal parameters of SBC missionary cooperation without full Convention approval.

Three days later LifeWay come out with their survey that 50% of Southern Baptist pastors believed glossolalia was a legitimate gift of the Spirit of God and glossolalia could be used in private prayers. Conveniently, Corbaley removed his blog post that trumpeted 95% agreement in the Southern Baptist Convention with his cessationist views.

It was Corbaley who also called Dr. Rankin, a man who possesses a private prayer language, an idiot. Corbaley said that the IMB administrator who told me that there was "no internal investigation of the IMB" as had been required by the 2006 Southern Baptist Convention was an idiot. That administrator was Dr. Rankin. Corbaley deleted the offending blog post shortly thereafter.

It was Corbaley who publicly threatened David Roger's job as an IMB missionary because David Rogers, son of Adrian Rogers, dared to question IMB trustee leaders' rationale and authority to implement "doctrinal policies" that exceeded the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. Corbaley wrote to Rogers (19th comment from the top):

I find such (criticism) intolerable.

Please immediately contact your Regional Leader and discuss your need to criticize the IMBoT publicly. That is my strong preference. I think he would concur.

Or, please ask me directly to contact the trustees and ask the proper subcommittee to consider your criticism of the Board of Trustees. I will not choose to “rat you out”. Nor do I particularly look forward to the public accusations that will come my way should you outright ask me to contact the trustees. If you want it to happen this way, and have me involved in it, you will have to ask me directly.

I will not insult your sincerity and integrity by asking you to stop criticizing the Board of Trustees. That is your choice.

Of course, the implication was clear. You choose to criticize, you lose your job. Mr. Corbaley is like others who held trustee leadership positions from 2005-2008; all of whom were not comfortable with being challenged. They seemed not to be able to understand that there is a difference between Southern Baptists challenging a "position" and Southern Baptists attacking a person. For whatever reason, Mr. Corbaley believed that for someone to challenge his "position" on tongues, was an attack on his personal integrity.

It was Mr. Corbaley who, without even once approaching me personally about his intended actions, made the extraordinary motion to remove me from the International Mission Board. Less than 60 days later that motion was unanimously rescinded by the trustees of the International Mission Board due to the uproar in the Convention over such a drastic action to silence a minority view. Mr. Corbaley sought to defend his repeated, over-the-top actions to silence anyone who disagreed with him by starting a blog called The Most Excellent Way. Corbaley said of his blog.

"Dozens of articles were written, comments were posted, and the interactive exchange of information continued through the months and years.

However, I became a lightning rod in an electrical storm of half-informed voices who interpreted patience, kindness and gentleness as an opportunity to attack. So I have ceased addressing convention political issues, deleted the vast majority of articles, and closed this blog to comments.

Truth has a way, in the end, of standing the test of time. When it is difficult to defend one's positions under the intense scrutiny that comes when one declares he speaks for 95% of Southern Baptists, then the temptation comes to remove the blog. When it is frustrating to realize that you have to answer tough, penetrating questions from people who challenge your assumptions, then it is tempting to call those who question you "half-informed voices" and close all comments to your blog. When it is obvious that not all Southern Baptists hold to your "doctrinal" views, and will not sit by and allow you to impose your "doctrinal" convictions that exceed the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message on all Southern Baptists through forbidding those who disagree from serving on the mission field, then it is tempting to threaten the employment of those who dare challenge your "authority."

But truth, in the end, will stand the test of time.

I wish Jerry Corbaley the best in his new efforts in Hawaii. I pray his ministry prospers and his family enjoys serving Southern Baptists as a pastor of a local congregation. I also hope that Jerry will be able to express more tolerance to members of his congregation who may disagree with his teaching, or at least, allow members to question him without assuming it is a personal attack.

Our International Mission Board is one step closer to overturning the two "doctrinal" policies that have ripped the thread of cooperation from the fabric of Southern Baptist cooperative missions. For that, I am grateful. In time, they will be overturned. That time can be measured one trustee at a time.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson


Anonymous said...

Wow, first to comment!

On the other hand, you, Wade, opened yourself to being "a lightning rod" of voices even including a few who might be called "half-informed" by some and gave many an "opportunity to attack". You have continued to address "convention political issues", not "deleted the vast majority of comments", and now reopened your blog to comments, even those who disagree with you.
As for "patience, kindness, and gentleness", let's let those words speak for themselves in both cases.


Anonymous said...


I find that your post about Corbaley is surprisingly reserved.

Had I been through what Corbaley initated against you, including the failed attempt for your removal, the extraordinary and over-the-top very personal attacks directed at you, and the incompetent IMB leadership attempts to publicly and vicisouly assassinate your character . . .

I would have bitten his head off.
Kudos for being a better man than I.


John Daly said...

I'm curious, when missionaries are discipling folks, how do they address the glossia issue? For example, if you have two missionaries with differing views, do they both have an opportunity to present what they believe Scripture teaches? Is this an issue for those with "boots on the ground?"

This same dilemma could reveal itself with other doctrines too I suppose. Maybe that's one benefit of the local church not going through a board for their mission endeavors.

Anonymous said...

Policies that require a 'champion' present (regardless of the organization)in order to be followed are at best unnecessary policies, and at worst a personal agenda.

It will be interesting to see as the 'champions' rotate off the IMBoT if their cause rotates off as well.

Anonymous said...

Isn't this the man who refused to eat with you at one of the meetings? I agree that your post was very reserved considering what he has put you through. And I also hope his new church will be a fresh start for him to listen to to others with an open heart and not try to lord it over on secondary issues.


Anonymous said...

What I don't understand is why fundamentalists such as Corbaley, who are clearly in the minority in the SBC, keep serving SBC churches! There are many fine fundamenatlist churches and denominations in this country where he would feel right at home. I don't know the man personally (something I can be thankful for, judging by what I have heard and seen from him), but I can't help but feel sorry for the church in Hawaii! Such churches often become merely "soap boxes" (often unwittingly) from which men such as he can carry on their tampering with the Body of Christ. You don't know the name of the church do you Wade -maybe we could warn these fine people of what is to come!

DT Boy said...

I hope you are correct about the policies being overturned someday. I am not as optimistic as yourself.

For the record it is not about if i agree with the policies or not. It is about the exclusion and inclusion of others. It is about the entire idea that any one person or even group can fully define what it means to be Southern Baptist. said...

DT boy,

I am with you.


Yes, he is the one.



Anonymous said...

Wade, to which Hawaii church will he be going?

Florence in KY

Writer said...


I like the more open approach of your blog now. Previously, it appeared that you were reluctant to name "names" perhaps because of your position as a trustee. Now I perceive that you are reluctant no longer.

I like it.


Anonymous said...

I wonder if pressure was put on Corbaley to resign his directoral post? Perhaps he was beginning to be too much of an embarassment to the leadership? said...


You are correct. As a trustee I sought to speak to issues and refused to give names of those who were pressing conformity and exclusion. That self-imposed restriction for me no longer applies.


wade said...


The trustees who keep me informed of what is taking place at IMB meetings (this one in Atlanta) did not share that information with me.



Jeff said...

Sounds like the IMB Trustees should have begged you to stay on. :)

Tom Parker said...


I find it interesting that Jerry deleted the articles and closed his site to comments. What was he so afraid of? The truth will live on, he can not hide it. He does not like dissent, it is his way or the highway. I feel sorry for the people at the church he is going to. People will get hurt again. It is a recurring pattern.

Ron said...

You may remember my exchange with Jerry Corbaley on his blog. He said Jerry Rankin's statement that there were no theological problems with our missionaries was wrong and said there were problems. I asked him to explain his statement. Was he saying there were problems and they were being ignored or allowed by our administrators? How many missionaries were causing theological problems? Was it one or two or hundreds or thousands? I twice asked him to explain his statement on his blog but he refused to be accountable for his words of criticism of our missionaries.
He attacked David Rogers for criticizing the BOT but evidently thinks he is free to attack our staff and missionaries and no accountability is required. He is not the first IMB trustee with this attitude.
We missionaries are willing to be accountable for our words and actions. Is it too much to expect the same from trustees such as Corbaley?
Ron West said...


A great question, Ron.

I have been informed, as of today, that some very significant changes occurred at the Atlanta IMB meeting - changes for the good.

No longer will trustees have as much authority to "approve" or "disappove" missionary candidates. The Personnel Committe, then the full board, made the recommendation to trust the work of Candidate Consultants and administration regarding IMB STAFF'S recommendation regarding missionary candidates - something I advocated for months.

In addition, I was told that the trustees who are still on the board pushed for the new policies in 2005 were vehemently attempting behind the scenes to stop the new recommendations, but they were defeated.

Maybe things are genuinely changing on the board. The trustees who informed me of the good things that are happening sure seemed to believe that the atmosphere is changing for the better.


Anonymous said...

Where were all those trustees when you needed help while on the board, Wade? They let you be thrown under the bus!


Anonymous said...

Dear David,
Wade may have been thrown under the bus, but it didn't break his spirit. I have not detected any mean-spirited response or bitterness on his part to his ordeal. Not the first time a Christian leader has been badly treated; won't be the last.

Anonymous said...

Paul weeps when mentioning about those care only about their own bellies and are enemies of the cross, he weeps with tears about savage wolves coming in the fold, he meekly response to Bereans who are not certain about his teaching and would like to verify it by the Scriptures. Somehow we missed the meek manner of ministry. Surely the desires of God our not only a good exegesis but also a "broken and contrite heart." (Psalms 51)

Anonymous said...


I agree. Wade has continued to behave as a godly Christian gentleman during all this time despite the unrighteous treatment he received from some mission board members and the apparent lack of support he received from seeming spineless ones. Other bloggers here and myself have stated that we, in contrast, fear we probably would have invited some board members to "converse" out on the IMB's sidewalk--but not Wade.

Keep up the good work, Anonymous.


Anonymous said...


You asked:

I'm curious, when missionaries are discipling folks, how do they address the glossia issue? For example, if you have two missionaries with differing views, do they both have an opportunity to present what they believe Scripture teaches? Is this an issue for those with "boots on the ground?"

My response:
My contention would be that this is the wise decision that also upholds the autonomy of the local community. But some church planters only expose local brothers and sisters to those who believe exactly as they do. In my experience, this is typically due either to an authoritarian personality or lack of confidence in doctrinal beliefs.

May His face shine upon you,
From the Middle East

John Daly said...


Thanks! I was beginning to wonder if my comments only showed up on my screen. In Vermont we had situations like this but it was between those who wear flannel and those who didn't.

Anonymous said...

Do you think the "tongues" policy was an underhanded attempt to ultimately get rid of Rankin? And if/when he goes, the board, who is influenced by outside forces, will be more open and not make secondary issues of such consequence?

Robert said...


I apologize for not answering your question. I was desiring missionaries to chime in instead of answering myself. said...


It was not an "underlying" attempt; it was a blatant attempt. Trustee leadership was short three votes of removing Rankin (and I was expected to be one of the three votes from "new" trustees), Rankin received a letter from Paige Patterson after trustee leaders forced the passage of the new "doctrinal" policies at the IMB - a game plan that Patterson had himself set out for those trustees - that said, "Don't you think it is time to step down as President of the IMB? Your own trustees have turned against you."

The majority of IMB trustees had no idea. Trustee leaders and a handful of other trustees knew precisely what was going on. I simply made others aware through my blog,and severely angered trustee leadership. The entire story will be told in the book out next spring.


wade said...

Kevin Crowder,

Blasphemy of the Spirit and blasphemy of the great state of Oklahoma will not be allowed. Of course, you will never be guily of the first, but you were guily of the latter in your comment. :)

Comment disparaging this great state deleted. :)

Blessings, said...


You ask, "Where were all these trustees when you needed them?"

They were there. They voted the way I did. They were in the minority, and they were very, very supportive.

They now very well may be in the majority. The information they gave me about the meeting in Atlanta is wonderful. One trustee told me that trustees are now allowing administration to do their job, they are not "meddling" in affairs that are NOT their job ("doctrinal" policies, micromanaging staff, etc . . . ), and they are allowing Dr. Rankin to move forward in his vision of restucturing the IMB - his swan song before he retires. It will be a massive restructuring, and part of the plan will be to reduce trustee meetings from the unconscionable number of 6 to 8 a year to a manageable 4.


Anonymous said...


Very well. My apologies to any and all board members from whom we've never heard and who, as a result, have appeared less than supportive of your stance in these matters.

The entire matter has served as another reminder that: (1) 'way too little training is provided to ones elected to board positions about what their roles are--and are not; and, (2) trustees serving on any board--including those of the SBC or its agencies, state conventions, or associations--must (among other things) be courageous when the circumstances call for courage, must be humbly honest teamplayers always, and must be life-long learners both doctrinally and otherwise. May we all learn from the examples of those who were not and those who were during the last few years.

You've set a good example, Wade. Carry on (and thanks for writing your book; it will be one used for quite some time, I think, in the teaching of Christian and board ethics).


Wayne Smith said...

Thanks for standing for TRUTH with GRACE.

J. Gresham Machen, in his final sermon at Princeton Seminary, declared: "Athanasius fought against the Arians; Augustine fought against Pelagius; and as for Luther he fought a brave battle against kings and princes and popes for the liberty of the people of God. Luther was a great fighter and we love him for it. So was Calvin; so were John Knox and all the rest. It is impossible to be a true soldier of Jesus Christ and not fight". Machen was suspended from the ministry in 1935 as a troublemaker. Faithfully standing for the truth this great man of God was thrown out of the Church which he loved.
Addressing the Free Church General Assembly in 1927 Machen said: "You have stood for liberty of conscience; and you have stood for the Reformed Faith, the system of doctrine which is taught in the Scriptures, which are the Word of God. You are a city set on a hill which cannot be hid. Your example has been an encouragement to those all over the world who are facing the same issue which you, by the grace of God were enabled to face so nobly". Could he say the same if he came back to speak in our day?

Steve said...

Keep tellinmg the Truth, Wade. Sunlight kills germs and gives the rest of us vitamins. Tell 'em, brother.

Anonymous said...

You can have all kinds of good training for incoming board members (of any board) but if they come onto the board with an agenda that will override everything else.


Anonymous said...


I suppose that's part of what I mean: ALL OF US need additional appropriate board training, including (and especially) those responsible for nominating potential members to boards. Those folk must have the courage to tell nominees, "If you have an agenda, leave it at home or don't get on board. This thing isn't about you--it's about a team seeking together to serve Christ by serving others!"

Let's promise each other now: we'll do that.


Wayne Smith said...


Very wise words. We all need to Pray for our Missionaries and the IMB Leadership.

Wayne Smith

Anonymous said...

I would suggest next time you want to wish someone God's blessing you would refrain from bringing their negative past (from your point of view)
in to the conversation.
It makes you look small and phony said...

Thanks, Mr. Anonymous, for your input. Since it is critical of me and not others, I shall allow your comment to stand. I would also suggest that next time you wish to post such a comment that you sign your name. I may seem phony with my post in your eyes, but you reveal cowardice with your unsigned comment in my eyes, and I pay no attention to cowards - only men of principle.


Clif Cummings said...

I think there are some more new voices within our convention that fully understand the role our SBC agencies play in God's Kingdom. Here is a quote from Ed Stetzer's blog post from today:

"In the past I have worked for Southern Seminary and the North American Mission Board, and I currently serve Lifeway, the International Mission Board, Southeastern Seminary, and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Whatever you call them, they are not the church but serve along side it."

Unlike Jerry and some seminary presidents, Ed seems to understand that the SBC and its agencies are not THE church or even A church!

May his tribe increase!

Steve said...

Hmmm ... not many Hurricanes in Hawai'i, are there?

Hope the man does well there. Perhaps he just got tired of the tension, like the Outpost folks have.

Of course, fellow snoops, if this is the beginning of the break-up of the cabal of BI insiders, then clear skies may lie ahead.

Anonymous said...

Steve, there are not many hurricanes in Hawaii but we experienced one in the late 50s--it was eerie and frightening! Tsunamis occur more frequently.

Florence in KY

Anonymous said...

In reading this news Mr. Burleson, it just promotes great grief. What has happened to the days when leadership meant to building up consensual understanding. If authority is not to be questioned in regards to their decisions and why, then it only leads down the same path that the bishops of Rome fell into.

Anonymous said...

"Consensual understanding" went out the window (or should I say was thrown under the bus) when those who wanted power rather than sharing a purpose of spreading the Gospel came on the scene.

Baptists seem to have always been contentious (look at how many different groups there are) but there's a difference between differing over principles and fighting for power. We have seen how those who want power can mislead those who simply think it's a matter of principle. The Bible says they are known by their fruits. I guess the problem is waiting for the plant to grow enough for the fruits to appear.
By that time the plant is usually established.


Anonymous said...


Man, what a great question! I can respond from my own personal experience after 18 years on the field, the "issue" of tongues is not an issue 99.999999% of the time. Isnt' that ironic??In fact, the issues that swirl around here in the states and at the IMB are usually like tracer bullets going way over our heads most of the time. Occasaionally some "leader" that wants to feel important may come to a meeting and "sound off" but is pretty much ignored and it's back to work for most of us.

My view is that there are 2 places where this sad policy has been a major barrier and obstacle to what we are trying to do cooperatively as Southern Baptis.

One is on the front end in slowing the flow of fully qualified, committed, potential workers for the harvest in a lost and dying world.

The second is a realization on the field that the focus is NOT on the main thing. Morale suffers.

Anonymous said...

"Whatever you call them, they are not the church but serve along side it."

Satan serves alongside the church as well. He serves his own needs though. Stetzer has it wrong. These entities are extensions of the church. Save trinity, the other entities are direct extensions of Southern Baptist Churches and were created to not simply serve along side, serving their own needs (see Satan above), but to be training and mission extensions of local churches. Most of our smaller churches are totally disconnected from the IMB and many of our larger churches have begun doing foreign missions on their own--because they can, while other SBC churches are asking the question, "Is the IMB the only foreign mission agency with whom we can cooperate?" Some of course because they want a more liberal approach to missions (i.e. drinking, orality, more STMT's and less career missionaries, camel book, etc) and some want a more conservative methodology (i.e. lifetime commitments to missions, helping people to learn to read their own language, drilling community water wells, teaching farming and methods of cleanliness and sanitation, trying to end syncretistic practices, translating the Bible on the field, Getting the WHOLE counsel of God into the hearts of the locals, etc.). You remember--the old FBM. Today we give a local man an evange-cube and a flannel-graph, teach him a few scripted lines, and call him a pastor. It simply does not work that way.

Now for a positive note. As the pastor of a small church with limited resources, the free and low cost resources from the IMB have been a God-send in getting my folks connected with foreign missions. I have been active in promoting prayer for the South American Region and will begin an extensive campaign for the LMCO soon--the first time this little church has promoted it in a long time. And for now that is how I feel led. I am becoming, however, increasingly convinced that local NT churches of any size can be Acts 1:8 churches on their own if need be, but the cooperative spirit is much healthier. Even William Carey knew when it was time to cut and run from the bureaucrats and bean counters. Somebody is doing it wrong if it’s not working right. On that we can all agree. I simply believe the IMB needs to be less systematic and more flexible to the callings of potential missionaries and allow the phone line to be open to the man from Macedonia.

Wade, I was not overtly dissing your beloved state. I was simply thinking to myself that when God created the earth and painted creation with His divine brush, that sometimes he used brown, and sometimes he used pretty colors. That's all.
Good day dear brother,

Kevin said...


You, obviously, have never been to Green Country, or what is commonly known as Oklahoma.

When the Baptist missionary Isaac McCoy was given the assignment by President Jackson to find land for the civilized Indians of the east, McCoy chose Oklahoma ("land of the red people") because of her "beautiful streams and rivers, abundant forrests and wild game, and vast prarie land."



John Daly said...

Excuse me dear brothers, if a discussion is to be had on verdant pastures and bucolic settings then might I suggest the Green Mountain State? Unfortunately we are the second least unchurched state in the nation but that is not the fault of our Lord who has certainly supplied the general revelation needed for man to come to a Specific revelation.

One that He has graciously given to us.

Anonymous said...


You, obviously, have never been to Green Country, or what is commonly known as Oklahoma."

I lived in Tulsa for about 8 months in the late 90's. It was flat, there WAS a river, all the houses had walls around them, and I had to pay a toll to Will Rogers to go back to Missouri. But I will take your word that your state is OK outside of Tulsa and repent of my exaltation of the Kingdom of Hawaii over the Great state of Oklahoma. May the descendants of Sky-Boy and Pollen-Girl live in peace and may Pele not stroke her fiery blow upon me. And may the God of heaven and earth be upon us all as we endeavor to serve Him faithfully.


-and may Vermont's cheddar be the sharpest forever!

Anonymous said...

My post may be too late & not read, but that is okay.
I have read about the turmoil surrounding Wade & my heart was heavy for him & for others who have been trying to be voices of reason within the IMB. As one who is working in the fields in a closed area, it saddens me that some trustees just don't get it. (I'm not speaking about Mr. Burleson here).It is NOT about them nor what they think is right or wrong. It is about reaching a lost and dying world. So what if someone has a private prayer language. Note the word "private". To me, that denotes God alone is privy to what is said. So what if someone is baptized, as Jesus was, but not in a S.B. church. Obedience is the important thing. It's really hard being out here in places so far from home and family. We need the prayers of the trustees & leaders, not their self centered attempts to get their way. Such a waste of time when people are dying eternally.

John Roland said...

Excellent article. Your blogs are a tremendous breath of fresh air, honesty, and accountability for some of our arrogant SBC leaders run amuck.