Tuesday, February 23, 2010

History is the Prologue to the Future: The 1843 International Indian Council

This photograph of me was taken on Goat's Ridge on the eastern side of the Illinois River about 10 miles north of Tahlequah, Oklahoma. I've been speaking at FBC Tahlequah this week and Pastor Buddy Hunt and a few friends went touring with me through the historic area on Monday. Tahlequah is the capital of the Cherokee Nation, and beginning with the Trail of Tears in 1839, the city has played an important role in Oklahoma and United States history. When the Cherokees and four other "civilized" Indian tribes (Choctow, Chickasaw, Creek and Seminole) were removed by the U.S. federal government from Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, and other eastern states, they were forcibly marched to Oklahoma to live in the land given them by the United States "as long as the waters run." The U.S. would eventually break their promise after the five civilized tribes sided with the Confederacy during the Civil War, but for two decades prior to 1861, the Indians had other problems of their own in Indian Territory.

When the largest number of Cherokees arrived in northeastern Oklahoma in 1839 at the end of their Trail of Tears, they discovered they weren't welcome by other Indians. The Osage Indians had fished and hunted the rivers and woods of northeastern Oklahoma for centuries, and other wild "Plainsmen" Indian tribes had hunted the land for migrant buffalo and other wild game and considered it their land. By 1844 the wars between the various Indian tribes were numerous and fierce. The United States government built and staffed a few forts in Indian Territory (Oklahoma) to try to protect the "civilized" Indians from the native Indians, but the troops were largely unsuccessful. If something wasn't done, and soon, the Indians would fight and kill themselves out of any meaningful existence. It was the Cherokee Indians who proposed what ultimately became the solution.

In September of 1843, the International Indian Conference was held in the capital square of Tahlequah, Oklahoma. It was, and is to this day, the largest official pow wow and peace conference among Indians held on this continent. The agreements that came out of this conference formed the basis for a lasting peace among the Indian various tribes. It just so happens, that an American artist named John Mix Stanley, had accompanied a couple of tribes to the 1843 conference. His painting of the event, entitled "International Indian Council," is displayed at Smithsonian American Art Museum.

One of these days, hopefully soon, there should be a similar conference among Southern Baptists. The Great Commission Resurgence Task Force has issued their report. It is a difficult challenge to find common agreement among Southern Baptists in 2010, and I commend them for trying. But as long as some groups see other groups as the enemy (and want them gone from the SBC), it will be difficult to focus on the Great Commission. No group is able to expand her mission while the focus and energy is on fighting tribes of the same heritage. Someone has said that history is the prologue to the future. I would be thrilled for Southern Baptists to model the Indian nations of 160 years ago and actually sit down together and come to some kind of mutual understanding for a peaceful co-existence.

Then, the Great Commission can come into focus.

In His Grace,



Anonymous said...

"It's a key time in the life of the convention -- with a new CEO coming in Nashville [at the Executive Committee], a new IMB president, a new NAMB president and a new president of the convention [to be elected in Orlando in June]. If we can get the right four men lined up, we hope to catch a fresh wind of God."(emboldenment mine) -Ted Traylor, NAMB Trustee; NAMB Presidential Search Committee Chairman, GCR Task force Member.

There is the key. Get the right men in place...plus some slight "adjustment of nomenclature."

Steve said...

It might help some of these argumentative ones if they had to walk from No. Georgia to Oklahoma with their opponents!

Tom Parker said...


The SBC is so fragmented now after 30 years of "cleansing" and the 30 year anniversary of BMT is right upon us. The GCR will not work, it is not able to connect all of the factions to work together. It really makes me sad. But the Lord will work things out inspite of people.

Rob said...

I am rather surprised at the conclusions presented in the GCR report. Each church becoming a missional strategy center is an excellent idea. Moving the responsibility for CP promotion back to the states seems logical. I just don't get trying to save NAMB. It would make more sense to have a Baptist Church Planting Organization that focuses on church planting everywhere there isn't one, since that is our common goal. The 100 million in America that need to hear would be placed on equal footing with the 1 billion outside of America that need to hear. Giving the IMB 1% seems ... odd. How does that help?

I was hoping that we were going to see something like "5 steps to getting 10,000 SB's on the mission field," but at least there is something out there to discuss. Good job GCR folks.

Ramesh said...

Off Topic:

Great discussions taking place here ...

Ministry of Reconciliation [Debbie Kaufman] > Interview With Mohammad Khan: Creator Of Ergun Caner Fake Ex-Muslim Videos.

B Nettles said...

I was disappointed in some of the rhetoric of last night's presentation. I know some of the people on the task force would acknowledge what I'm going to write, but it just wasn't said. Yes, we need to humble ourselves and repent, but I think it is more because we have offered an empty, works-focused Gospel which has led to our being a prideful people. I didn't hear anything about examining the theology of disciple making.

Before any church becomes a "missional strategy center," that church needs to examine the Gospel and be sure they understand it rightly, both in relation to the unbeliever (in need of forgivenesss of sin) and the believer (forgiven and no longer under the wrath of God).

This is where some may disagree with me, but I think many, if not most, of our problems as a convention have been caused by "doing" without "understanding." 1)Sharing the Gospel does NOT mean getting as many people as possible to pray a prayer that we write for them.
2)Planting a church is hard work, not just finding a group of people and getting someone to preach for them (that may be a starting point, but it ain't a functioning church yet). It probably takes 18-36 months as a minimum to have an independent, healthy church.
3)A correct understanding of the Gospel means recognizing God's grace in our lives after salvation as well as before with the implication that not everybody is going to "do" what you "do." 4)Preaching Romans 3:23 without going to Rom 3:24 leads to a dead message.
5) It is the glory of God that is at stake in our sharing Jesus with others, not our survival.

Ted Traylor: The right 4 men? Why wait? That statement says to me that you are still depending on man and his pride in making things work.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking that I long as Southern Baptists continue to reject the Gospel of Grace we will never have the Truth much less be Missional
in the Biblical sense.
Lets return to our founding heritage
and serve the God of out first love.

Robert I Masters

Anonymous said...

Amen, Dr. Nettles, Amen!

The imperative MUST be informed by the indicative.

I have been thinking through the report both last night and this morning and I have to say that there are some serious power plays/shifts being presented here. And one can miss them at first glance. I will simply list a few "possibilities" if the GCRTF report as it stands, becomes an approved Orlando motion.

1. NAMB will become a more bloated and top heavy organization. While decentralization is not necessarily a bad thing, the cost factor of running 7 offices instead of one is a no-brainer. Additionally, without cooperative measures with the State Conventions, local church involvement in NAMB is going to be very difficult, costly and cumbersome.

2. "Great Commission Giving" is a slippery slope to near total circumvention of the CP. Now this may be either good or bad, time will tell, but the report indicated NO CHANGE in the CP. Obviously they do not understand the CP.

3. The IMB already struggles to support the present workforce around the globe. Now we are adding to that load 340 million people and only a 1% increase? Come on, that is like a 400 pound man gaining 50 pounds, and patting himself on the back for loosing 4 pounds. Paul may have called that excrement!

4. I am actually encouraged that the IMB will have a greater role, and providing the funding can be correctly appropriated, the elephant in the room just became two elephants. Actually 4--here are the groups who will now be vying to plant new churches and reach people in N.A:

i. IMB
ii. NAMB
iii. State Conventions/Associations
iv. Local Churches

Now this is not necessarily a bad thing, but knowing how we SB's work, this is going to be the biggest bureaucracy since The New Deal...ok, maybe ObamaCare.

5. CP/Stewardship control and promotion will now be given to the state conventions who I dare say are not going the like this new proposal. Now that they are stripped of NAMB funding why would they promote greater giving to the CP, or giving a higher percentage of the CP beyond the state level? Churches will now for several reason circumvent the CP and give directly do their desired causes. In other words, the state conventions are being fazed out.

6. My final observation echoes B Nettles' concern for this grand church planting scheme. We now will have the denomination planting churches. I am of the opinion that churches should plant churches, that churches should send missionaries, that churches should spread the Gospel. The IMB and NAMB ought to be there to assist the churches in WHATEVER they need to grow the Kingdom of Christ. The denomination plants churches who want nothing to do with the denomination.

My conclusion: The findings of the GCRTF will kill the SBC at all levels in 20 years.

Not quite the 20/20 vision we had some time back.

Anonymous said...

Wade - regarding your pictures on this site, are you sure you are a Southern Baptist pastor? You look happy and healthy with a full head of hair. I thought Baptist pastors had to be fat, bald and angry?

Darrell said...

some of my greatest memories are in that area. many great memories of Native American friends, time on the lake and canoes.

Paul Burleson said...


His dad carries all the F B an A qualities you mentioned. ;)

Sheila said...

If you haven't already seen it I highly recommend the documentary called "As We Forgive." (Details at www.asweforgivemovie.com) It deals with the problems facing post-genocidal Rwanda and chronicles the work of the church as they try to rebuild their country. The solution? Forgiveness. I believe that we Southern Baptists need to find that kind of repentance and forgiveness if we are truly going to seek a revival of any kind.

Rex Ray said...

The way you’re standing on the edge tells me that any strong gust of wind could blow you in any direction except over the edge.

I mean that leg is braced not to move.

I’m afraid your stance is a picture of the leaders we have today.

Aussie John said...


Now I understand what the term fundamentalism means in USA:

Anonymous said...

Reports indicate that Wade Burleson duked it out with Floyd over the inclusion of the tithe as a legalistic standard in the GCR.....see p .26.
alert ...Humour intended above.

"can you imagine the spiritual revival that would consume our Churches if God's
people would obey God in giving?"
GCR report page 26.

I wasnt aware that re-capitalization preceded faith...ordis capitalous was a Biblical principle; always thought it was Regeneration precedes Faith.

Robert I Masters

John Daly said...

Who goes hiking in a sports jacket? :)

Bob Cleveland said...


"can you imagine the spiritual revival that would consume our Churches if God's people would obey God in giving?"

Can you imagine the spiritual revival that would consume our Churches if God's people would obey God and start attending church and begin to actually BE disciples?

The GCRTF report didn't seem to touch that.

wadeburleson.org said...

John Daly,

That's funny! I had a noon day Bible study and no coat, so the picture was taken in the afternoon after leaving the church--nothing else to wear on the little hike with the game ranger and the pastor.


wadeburleson.org said...


You have good eyes.

All I could think about when they took the picture was the lady on Mt. Ranier last week who was told to step back for the photo and she fell to her death. Yes, I WAS braced.


wadeburleson.org said...


You have good eyes.

All I could think about when they took the picture was the lady on Mt. Ranier last week who was told to step back for the photo and she fell to her death. Yes, I WAS braced.


wadeburleson.org said...


I told my wife that you have good eyes too.


wadeburleson.org said...


I have come to expect such silly statements from leaders.

Christiane said...

I picked up on the 'money' theme and on the very strange statement that human choice of 'the right four leaders' would bring a 'fresh wind' of God (I assume they mean a new coming of the Holy Spirit upon them.)

But there is this to think about:
'unless the Lord builds the house, they who labor build it in vain.' This is from Psalm 127, the prayer book of Christ.

I believe this: that deep repentence for harm done to innocent people and seeking God's forgiveness openly, and seeking the forgiveness of those who were hurt:
this would be infinitely more effective than focusing on 'money' and 'the right human choices for leaders'.

But only the Spirit can lead men to repentance and only Christ forgives, and deep prayer must precede this healing.
But I speak from my own faith, and I know it is not the way of others of faith. So the only thing I can offer to share is this:
ask of God, in the Name of Christ, to come and help heal the wounds in the SBC that still bleed. He will do it.
Then peace will come and choices made will be 'of faith', and strength will come to those who suffered wounds in the SBC: both the victims AND their oppressors.

Some lenten thoughts. Sorry for length.
Much love, L's

linda said...

I'm sorry, but it sounds like more top down top dressing to me. And gardeners will know what top dressing is.

How are churches planted?

I guess you wait for NAMB or IMB or somebody outside the community to come do it.

And I guess some have started when members of 1st Baptist got torqued and started 2nd Baptist.

But I believe the best ways are these:

1st Baptist gets really big and rather than protect its' turf and get a bigger building and pay the staff more, they multiply by dividing. Form two churches in different parts of town and grow them.

Or folks move into a neighborhood with no Baptist church and start one. Get it going good and then apply to affiliate.

Of course, if your job is middle management you aren't going to like those two ideas.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

I'm absolutely flabbergasted at Ronnie Floyd's statements in the GCR prelim report about giving.

Is it any wonder Les Puryear and his ilk want professors fired who don't teach storehouse tithing? These guys actually view church members who don't fork over 10% of their income, MINIMUM, as being to blame for their denomination not reaching the nations, and for holding back spiritual revival.

To them, spiritual revival is the money coming in hand over fist.

Its sick, I tell you.

Some of the stupid statements:

"...I have been astounded at the selfishness of God's people. Every pastor needs to preach a series of messages on biblical stewardship"

In the video, watch Floyd's hand gesture when he says "preach a series of messages"...it balls up in a fist and he makes a hammer motion...sheesh.

Yep, they need more money.

And it aint just the "10th of the income" Floyd wants. Listen to this gem:

"The greatest amount of money that exists for the causes of Christ and the advancement of the Gospel is in the pockets and finanical portfolios of our church members."

WHAT??? The financial portfolios? Why is he mentioning financial portfolios of church members?

And then Ronnie Floyd (who by the way looks eerily like the late Ray Combs of the Family Feud), gives this gem after encouraging pastors to preach storehouse tithing:

"Remember the only people who ever get offended with the declaration of biblical stewardship are the ones who give little to nothing at all to your church."

This shows the complete arrogance and ignorance of the GCR to make such a stupid statement. Contrary to what Floyd says, the vast, vast majority of generous givers don't meet the 10% threshold, and they are realizing that the storehouse tithe is a false doctrine, and they ARE sick of being beat up over it. And they aren't stupid...they will take their money to churches and other non-profit orgs where REAL ministry is being done...and where there is financial transparency on how the money is spent.

We are seeing in mega churches that if we DID all start tithing, what they would do with the money. They would not be running to fork it over to missions...they would use it to build larger buildings, increase their salaries, put more people on staff....

...and some might even lease a jet and have the president of the Florida Baptist Convention fly over to defend it to the church.

Christiane said...

Instead of making money the criterion for success, take a page from the play book of the Franciscans who founded the many missions throughout the Southwest USA. You know the names of these missions: San Diego, Santa Barbara, San Antonio, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and on and on and on. . .
These friars (brothers) stayed for significant amounts of time among the people, and covered vast areas of land on foot.

The Franciscans were mendicant friars:
that means they were beggars.

It's NOT ABOUT THE MONEY, dear ones.
It never was.

Lydia said...

"I'm absolutely flabbergasted at Ronnie Floyd's statements in the GCR prelim report about giving."

We used to have a saying for such misguided leaders:

Beatings will continue until morale improves.