Monday, September 28, 2015

Don't Let a Blood Moon Become a Bloody Mess

A year and a half ago I wrote a post entitled Four Blood Moons: It's Called Lunacy for a Reason. I refuted the claims of John Hagee that the four blood moons of 2014 and 2015 -- all of which were to occur on Jewish holidays -- were a sign of cataclysmic changes and the end of the world as we know it. Last night's blood moon (September 27, 2015), was the last of the four blood moons - and nothing cataclysmic has happened. I am re-posting that March 2014 article today, because we often forget that the prediction of future events based on one's biblical interpretations is a foolish proposition. Only God knows the future, Prophets of old were specifically told by God what was to happen, but any self-proclaimed prophet who inaccurately predicted the future - just once - was deemed a false prophet and stoned.  It's a serious thing to represent speaking for God. A.W. Pink wrote a letter to my grandfather years ago and told him to "concentrate on the gospels and the epistles," He encouraged my grandfather to learn how to live before delving into prophecy, lest he wind up looking more like a pagan charlatan than a follower of Christ. Good advice. Here's the re-post of my March 2014 article.:

Lunacy - Def. "originally referring to temporary insanity attributed to changes of the moon." Cf. Old English "lunatic," literally "moon-sick."

I'm sure John Hagee is a fine Christian and a great pastor. I have enjoyed hearing him preach a few times on television. However, Mr. Hagee's newest book Four Blood Moons: Something Is About to Change makes a case that the author may be suffering from a form of temporary insanity.  Christians who believe what John Hagee is proposing without thinking for themselves, could find themselves afflicted with the same disease.

Mr. Hagee believes that something terrible, but ultimately triumphant, is about to happen to the nation of Israel due to the four total lunar eclipses  that will occur in the northern hemisphere during 2014 and 2015.  These four eclipses, called by astronomers a tetrad, occur on April 15, 2014, which is Jewish Passover; on October 8, 2014, which is the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles; on April 4, 2015, which is (again) Jewish Passover; and on September 28, 2015 which is (again) the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles.

Contrary to what Hagee would have the reader believe, lunar eclipses aren't that special. There are at least two to five lunar eclipses every year. Likewise, lunar tetrads (total lunar eclipses that occur six months apart, with no partial lunar eclipses in between) also occur frequently. There have been 62 tetrads since Christ. The last one was in 2003 and 2004, and there will be a total of 8 lunar tetrads in this century (2001 to 2100).

Hagee writes that what is rare is that this lunar tetrad is occurring on Jewish holy days. Well, maybe. Since the times of Christ, there have been eight tetrads that have occurred on Jewish Passover and the Festival of Tabernacles. Think about this for a moment though. If the first total lunar eclipse of a tetrad happens to occur on Passover (15 Nissan on the Hebrew calendar), it is guaranteed that the second total lunar eclipse will occur the Festival of Tabernacles (15 Tishri on the Hebrew calendar) because the Hebrew calendar is lunar, and the Festival of Tabernacles is exactly six lunar months after the Festival of Passover.  So it is also guaranteed that the third and fourth lunar eclipses of a tetrad will occur on those same Hebrew festival days the following year.  Again, the lunar tetrad falling on Hebrew holidays is not as rare as Hagee would like you to believe. Here are the eight that have occurred since Christ.

1. AD 162-163
2. AD 795-796
3. AD 842-843
4. AD 860-861
5. AD 1493-1494
6. AD 1949-1950
7. AD 1967-1968
8. AD 2014-2015

Hagee writes that every time a tetrad occurs on Jewish feast days something traumatic  and 'world-changing' happens to Israel. He gives three examples. First, in 1492 Spain expelled the Jews and Christopher Columbus discovered America, giving the Jews a place to go. Second, in 1948 Israel became a nation again. And third, in 1967 Israel won the Six Day War and captured Jerusalem. In a moment I will absolutely destroy Hagee's conclusion about "traumatic things" happening to the Jews and the nation of Israel every time a lunar tetrad occurs on Hebrew holy days. For now, just think about this: Israel wasn't even a nation the first six times a lunar tetrad occurred.

Yet, Hagee concludes that something traumatic, but ultimately triumphant, is going to happen to Israel during 2014 and 2015, an event that 'will change the course of world history.' More to the point, Hagee believes the "rapture" will occur, Israel will go to war in a great battle called Armageddon, and Jesus Christ will return to earth because the prophet Joel said,
"The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD" (Joel 2:31).
Now, while being kind to Mr. Hagee as a brother in Christ, and writing as one who also believes in the full inspiration of Scripture, I would like to show you why the premise of Hagee's book is speculative at best, and pure lunacy at worst.

7 Reasons Why the Premise of John Hagee's Four Blood Moons  Is Potential Lunacy

(1). Anytime Jewish literature describes the fall of a government or nation, apocalyptic language is used. This highly symbolic manner of writing, with language like, “the sun was darkened, the moon would not give her light, and the stars shall fall," is the way the Hebrew prophets described how God would come in judgment upon a nation. The Old Testament refers to the fall of Babylon in 539 BC (Isaiah 13:10-13) in this manner. Likewise, Egypt's collapse in 590 BC (Ezekiel 32:7-8) and Judah's fall in 586 BC (Zephaniah 1:14-16) are described with this stellar apocalyptic language. The sun going dark and the moon turning to blood is biblical symbolic language describing the fall of a nation by the judgment of God, not literal astronomy.

(2). John Hagee falsely calls the lunar tetrad occurring in 2014 and 2015 four blood moons. These four lunar eclipses are not blood moons at all! They are simply full moons that are eclipsed! Hagee wrongly calls them "blood moons" in order to bring Joel 2:31 into play and act as if Jesus is coming as Messiah over Israel after "the moon turns to blood." Astronomers who hear Christians call the next four lunar eclipses "Blood Moons" will rightly think we ignorant of astronomy. Truth be told, we are mostly ignorant of the Bible.

(3). When the prophet Joel wrote "The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD" (Joel 2:31), he was describing the judgment of God upon the nation of Israel for their rejection of His Son. National judgment on any people in rebellion to God is often described as "the dreadful day of the Lord." Joel's prophecy, referred to by Luke in Acts 2:20, was a prediction of the "great day of the Lord" against Israel, the day when God judged the nation by destroying Jerusalem, the Jewish Temple and scattered the people (AD 70). God brought to an end the Old Covenant, formally ushered in the New Covenant (agreement) where people of every nation, race, family and language group find peace with God through faith in the person and work of His Son. Listen to the great Hebrew linguist and Baptist theologian John Gill commentary on Acts 2:20 and Joel's prophecy:
"The sun shall be turned into darkness"... as at the death of Christ, by a total eclipse of it: "and the moon into blood," as at the opening of the sixth seal (Rev. 6:12) "before that great and notable day of the Lord come": when he shall come in power and great glory, as God did a few years after this (AD 70), to take vengeance on the Jews, and destroy their nation, city, and temple; in which there was a display of his greatness, and power, and which was awful and terrible to them, as in Joel it is called "the great and dreadful day of the Lord" (see Gill's note on Matthew 24:29 also).
 (4). Hagee attempts to prove that every time a tetrad occurs on Jewish holy days, something 
happens to the Jews and Israel. That's simply not true for a couple of reasons. First, the Jews were scattered for nineteen centuries and Israel did not exist as a nation. NOTHING happened to the Jews or the nation of Israel during the years of the first six tetrads. Hagee tries to suggest that Spain "expelled the Jews" in 1492 and that was this was a 'traumatic and terrible' event. However, astronomers tell us that the actual tetrad occurred on Passover and Tabernacles in 1493 and 1494, not 1492. The Jews were expelled from Spain a full eighteen months before the first lunar eclipse of 1493/1494 tetrad even began. Second, there are only two tetrads that fall on Jewish holy days during Israel's time as a nation (since 1948). Interestingly, Hagee makes the same dating mistake when he speaks of Israel's "traumatic" war for independence. Israel was declared a nation and went to war in 1948, not during the lunar tetrad of 1949/1950. Hagee's error of misstating the actual date of astronomical tetrads seems intentional. He must misstate the dates of previous tetrads in order to convince readers that his prophecies in Four Blood Moons are reliable. However, fudging facts to prove an argument is not scientific or ethical.

(5). One of my favorite Bible series I taught at Emmanuel Enid was "Portraits of Christ: The Feasts and the Festivals of Israel." I know enough about Jewish calendaring and the holy days of Old Covenant Israel to know that the priests watched the moon from the mountains of Israel to declare new moons (months), holy days, and other events by blowing the shofars. In other words, the moon was eyeballed by the priests of Israel! Interestingly, the lunar eclipse tetrad of 2014/2015 will not be visible from Israel! We Americans seem to think the world truly revolves around us. Smile. One would think if a special occurrence in the lunar cycle (a tetrad) were important to Israel, they could at least see it!

(6). Hagee's use of the term blood moons for the upcoming lunar eclipse tetrad is utter deception. A tetrad is four successive total lunar eclipses with no partial lunar eclipses in between, each of which is separated from the other by six lunar months. Hagee's book is about a tetrad, but he's calling it four blood moons. There are NOT four blood moons occurring in 2014 and 2015. A blood moon can only occur in the fall. The twisting of science to conform to one's alleged presuppositions of Joel 2:13 (the rapture, Armageddon, the return of Christ as Messiah of the nation of Israel, etc...) is pure deceit. Of course, this is done in order to convince people that "the moon turning to blood" before the "day of the Lord" (Jesus' return), and that Jesus return is going to happen in 2014/2015. We've heard these same kinds of predictions on the return of Jesus in times past (88 Reasons Why Jesus Will Return in 1988), and there will be additional false prophecies regarding the "return of Christ" in the future. What's unfortunate is Christians never take the time to think through these silly predictions for themselves.

(7).  The great theologian John Brown once wrote:
"A person at all familiar with the phraseology of the Old Testament Scriptures, knows that the dissolution of the Mosaic economy, and the establishment of the  Christian economy, is often spoken of as the removing of the old earth and heavens, and the creation of a new earth and new heavens." (John Brown, vol. 1, p. 170).  
Amen, John Brown. I stand with you in promoting Christ, His mercy and grace, and the incredible blessing of living in a world built on the principles He taught--the Christian economy as you call it.  Love your enemy. Do good to those who abuse you. Be merciful and kind, seek justice for the sake of others, forgive those who have wronged you, and remember the poor, the fatherless, and the widows. What kind of world would we live in if we all took seriously the establishment of the Christian economy in our spheres of influence?

I love the nation of Israel. It is a democracy in the middle of Islamic totalitarianism. However, the only hope for Israel and this world is for individuals in these various nations to become followers of the true and eternal King, to learn to live at peace with all men, and to love others the same way Jesus has loved us. Yet, John Hagee, has declared:
"When all is said and done, the flag of Israel will be flying over the walls of the city of Jerusalem when Messiah comes, and it's going to be forever. And every nation that rises up in judgment against Israel God will punish and punish severely."
Mr. Hagee, our time as followers of Jesus might be better spent telling others about the love of God in Christ, and not blindly supporting the nation of Israel. It seems that the New Covenant Scriptures attributes the judgment of God in terms of our treatment of His beloved Son. Do I trust Him, or do I despise Him? Do I love Him, or do I hate Him? It is far better to make a sinful soul at peace with God through a faith relationship in Jesus Christ than it is to muster support for the nation of Israel. Nations come and go. Kingdoms rise and fall. Christ's Kingdom is the only eternal one. God calls those who love and trust His Son "a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His special possession, so that we might declare the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His wonderful light" (I Peter 2:9).

We live in a changing world. Something catastrophic may happen to Israel and/or America during 2014/2015, but it's not the result of blood moons or God's judgment. God judges individuals on the basis of whether or not they trust in His Son. The only favored nation now is "the holy nation" of people from every nation, tribe, kindred and tongue who have received Christ as Lord and Savior. Our praises of Jesus to a people living in darkness are never enhanced by the proclamation of false prophecies. My hope is that this little blog might save just one person from the lunacy of Four Blood Moons.

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Fury Within: Hidden Relational Hostility

There are times when I think relating to people in a bar would be easier than relating to people in a church. Angry people in a bar let you know their angry. Angry people in a church often hide their emotions. It doesn't mean church people don't get angry; it just means church people don't want you to know they're angry. 

The common term used to describe those with a hidden fury is passive-aggressiveness. This compound word wrongly conveys the idea of fluctuation between passiveness and aggressiveness. In reality, the passive-aggressive person is always aggressive. There's a fury inside that boils like an underground volcano waiting to erupt. Passivity is the fierce attempt to hide the fury, but the lava seeps out and destroys anyway. Passive-aggressiveness is a little like placing a lid on a boiling pot of water. Just because you can't see the hot water bubbling doesn't mean it isn't cooking the eggs. Churches are full of people with hidden hostility who slap a silly smile on their face to cover the fury within.

According to Psychology Today there are four ways to identify passive-aggressive behavior.  
(1). Hidden Verbal Hostility- Negative gossip. Overt and constant criticism. Sarcasm. Veiled hostile joking — often followed by “just kidding.” 
(2). Disguised Relational Hostility- The silent treatment. The invisible treatment. Social exclusion. Neglect. Backstabbing.
(3). Disguised Task Hostility- Procrastination. Stalling. Forgetting. Stonewalling. Withholding resources or information.
(4). Hostility Towards Others Through Self-Punishment. ("I’ll show YOU" attitude). Quitting. Deliberate failure. Exaggerated or imagined health issues. Victimhood. Dependency.
If you have ever been in relationship with someone who works hard to cover their anger, then you know that passive-aggressiveness is never easy to confront. I recently came across a few wonderful suggestions for dealing with a passive-aggressive person.

(1).  Absolutely refuse to engage in the game.

Passive aggressive adults are experts at getting others to act out their hidden anger. When you are easily able to recognize passive aggressive behavior, then you can make the choice not to become entangled in a no-win power struggle. One of the favorite tactics of a passive-aggressive person is to put the focus on the other person: "Why are YOU so...."  There will be no conversions from passive-aggressive relationships when people fall for the diversions of the passive-aggressor. Relationships only grow when people are more interested in the problems within their own hearts. When someone entices you to play the game of attack and defend, just simply talk yourself into non-engagement.

"He is being passive aggressive and I will not participate in this routine. I need no defense. If he desires something, he can ask outright. "
"I will not yell or become sarcastic because my behavior will only escalate this conflict. I can't control anyone else, but I sure can control myself."

(2). Gently point out the elephant in the room.

A passive-aggressive person spends his or her life avoiding direct emotional expression and guarding against any open acknowledgment of anger. One of the most helpful ways to confront passive aggressive behavior and to change the dynamics of any relationship for the long-term is to be willing to point out anger directly. The "calling out of the elephant" should be matter-of-fact, non-judgmental, and done for the good of the one you love. Saying something like, "It seems to me that you are angry at me for making this request." The impact of seemingly simple exposure can be quite profound. Once there's an admittance of the anger, the focus can then turn on "Why?" "Why am I angry?" "Why am I full of hostility?" Nobody ever finds healing until the "Whys?" are answered for themselves. Surprisingly, the "Whys" are never about another person. It's always about something missing within the person being passive-aggressive

(3). Expect a denial, and accept the denier. 

The goal of everyone who loves someone with a hidden fury within is to bring that anger to the surface. That which has been covert, stuffed inside, and kept secret for so long must be identified for the good of the sufferer. Expect that once the anger is called out, the passive aggressive person will deny the existence of anger.

When that happens, go ahead and accept the statement of denial (e.g. "Love believes all things"), and quietly back away from further discussion. A pregnant thought not fully birthed often causes the hearer some powerful moments of self-reflection. By simply sharing your awareness of a covert anger, you have sent a bold and powerful message that the passive aggressive behavior cannot continue and the relationship needs to change.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Paige Patterson Declares War against the IMB: "How Many Wars You Got Left Boy?"

Dr. David Garrison
When I was a young pastor in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1987, I chauffeured Paul Pressler around the Tulsa metropolitan area arranging meetings with Southern Baptist pastors, seeking to continue the eight year old "Battle for the Bible" within the Southern Baptist Convention. I was convinced as a 26-year-old at the time that our greatest enemy in the SBC was a denial of the inspiration and inerrancy of God's word, and I was going to play my part in helping return our convention to biblical fidelity.

I believed the Bible then, and I believe the Bible today.

However, I don't believe so much anymore in the so called "conservative" takeover of the SBC. A few of my moderate friends tried to warn me back then. "Wade, fundamentalists love to fight. You may think you are helping to recover a belief in the infallibility of Scripture, but when the so-called "moderates" are gone from the SBC, those leading this fight will turn against anyone who doesn't agree with their interpretations of the Bible."

Paige Patterson at War with the International Mission Board

The International Society of Christian Apologetics held their annual meeting April 10-11, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Dr. Paige Patterson, President of Southwestern Theological Seminary, spoke on the subject: The Consequences of Revolution: The Conservative Resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention: A Case Study.

I recently discovered this speech on YouTube. One must remember that this speech was delivered over eight months after David Platt was appointed the new president of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board. In an hour long delivery, Dr. Patterson points out the problems he sees in the Southern Baptist Convention, including those who are charismatic, Calvinistic, and otherwise in ecclesiological error. However, it is what Dr. Patterson said about the International Mission Board that astounded me.

Paige Patterson declared he and others are in a "battle" against the International Mission Board and against the leading Southern Baptist missiologist and global missions strategist, David Garrison, Ph.D (University of Chicago). Dr. Garrison, author of the bestselling books Church Planting Movements: How God Is Redeeming a Lost World, and A Wind in the House of Islamlives in Colorado with his wife Sonia where he serves as the Southern Baptist International Mission Board’s Global Strategist for Evangelical Advance.

I want you to hear Dr. Patterson in his own words. Watch the brief four minute video tape below.

Dr. David Garrison of the International Mission Board is highly educated, supremely respected, and most importantly, Spirit anointed. He is a Southern Baptist who cares about the lost. He not only professes belief in the infallibility and inerrancy of the Bible, he is a Southern Baptist who actually lives out that he believes. In other words, David is actually doing the Great Commission, not just preaching it.

Yet, Dr. Patterson says he is in a battle with Dr. Garrison. Good grief.

I am amazed that in a day when Southern Baptist leaders are urging us to "give more" to the International Mission Board, when Southern Baptist leaders are shaming Southern Baptists for giving just 2% to their local churches, and when Southern Baptist leaders are all about "people in the pews not doing enough," not one Southern Baptist leader has called out Paige Patterson for his provocative, public, and pugilistic words about the IMB and their global strategist for church planting.

Look, again, at what Dr. Paige Patterson said
"I just shake my head and I say, 'How many wars you got left in you boy? Here you're going to have to fight again.  Unfortunately we got about 750 missionaries that need to be brought home. Uh, either they are in this movement (the church planting movement) or else they're singing "Stand'n on the Promises" while they're only "sit'n on the premises." And, uh, in either event they need to be brought home. And, uh, so we are fighting another grand battle, this one more subtle than the other one actually. And so I ask you to pray for us as we fight the next battle. It is forever the devil on parade."
I've taken several courses on body language. I'm not an expert, but I do know more than the average person. During the entire speech Dr. Patterson has a body tic expressed by the involuntary pushing out his right elbow and the raising of his right shoulder (and every now and then his left elbow and left shoulder) as if he is pushing someone off him or elbowing people back. It's the tic of a person who sees himself constantly in a battle others and is in effect saying "Get off me. I'm the boss. Get back and do what I say."

He closes his diatribe against the International Mission Board with many tic movements indicating a person clearly reading to push people off and around. I think its high time Southern Baptists said "enough."

I suggest that the best way to get more money from the average Southern Baptist is for Southern Baptist leaders - Presidents, agency heads, and others -- to tell aging "heroes" and "icons" that the "war" and the "battles" are over.

A house divided will never stand.

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Hungry Need Bread, Not an Essay on Hunger

Clive Staples Lewis, more commonly known as C.S. Lewis, died suddenly of a heart attack on November 22, 1963, exactly one week before his 65th birthday. The author of some of the finest literature ever written, Lewis conducted his final public interview on May 7, 1963 with reporter Sherwood Wirt. Last words -- whether public or private -- have always fascinated me. C.S. Lewis said something in his last public interview that has captivated my imagination. During a discussion of contemporary authors and books who have influenced him, C.S. Lewis mentioned G.K. Chesterton’s The Everlasting Man, Edwyn Bevan’s, Symbolism and Belief, Rudolf Otto’s The Idea of the Holy, and the plays of Dorothy Sayers. In response to Lewis mentioning Chesterton, the interviewer says, "I believe it was Chesterton who was asked why he became a member of the church, and he replied, 'To get rid of my sins.'"

The interviewer would later reflect that he was  "surprised by the suddenness of Professor Lewis’ reply." Lewis had a tendency of erupting suddenly, either verbally or in writing, when strong impulses inside him needed out. Lewis even declared that his best writing came "suddenly and in a rush." Earlier in the interview Lewis reflected, "Writing is like a ‘lust,’ or like ‘scratching when you itch.’ Writing comes as a result of a very strong impulse, and when it does come, I for one must get it out.”

So when Lewis heard the interviewer opine that Chesterton had joined the church "To get rid of my sins," he released the strong impulse that arose within him. His next words to the interviewer are a brilliant verbal ejaculation on the primary objective of Christian people.
"It is not enough to want to get rid of one’s sins,” Lewis said. “We also need to believe in the One who saves us from our sins. Not only do we need to recognize that we are sinners; we need to believe in a Savior who takes away sin. Matthew Arnold once wrote, ‘Nor does the being hungry prove that we have bread.’ Because we know we are sinners, it does not follow that we are saved.”
It is my opinion that many of us who preach the word, lead churches, and seek change in people have never understood the premise of C.S. Lewis. The institutional church, particularly in evangelical conservative circles like ours, is so focused on making sure people know that they are sinners that we seem to have lost our gospel focus. Convincing others of sin gives no deliverance like telling people their hungry gives them no bread.

"Be sure your sin will find you out" (Numbers 32:23). This verse tells us that sin itself will convince sinners of their failure. In other words, the Spirit of God has a way of "convincing the world of sin" by allowing sin to to convince the sinner of his sin. 

Do you get that? Sin will find you out. Be sure about that truth. A world full of sinners needs gospel churches - good news churches - that provide deliverance. The world, either corporately or one sinner at a time, will always experience the pain, destructiveness and shattering results of sin. It is sin 'that finds you out" and convinces you of its inherent failure. Sinful people turn to the church to find a Savior. Hungry people turn to relief centers to find bread. Why is it that when many turn into the doors of an institutional "conservative" church that allegedly "believes the Bible," they will only hear expositions on the sinful nature of man and the sinfulness of culture?

Count me in the camp of C.S. Lewis.

I'm writing this post because of an inner compulsion within me. I have an itch that I must scratch. We need more proclaiming of the glory, beauty and power of Jesus Christ! When the sweet music of Jesus plays on the strings of our hearts, the inferior music that sin sings in our heart will be drowned out by the Divine symphony of God's goodness and grace. The Bread of life satisfies the hungry heart.

This Sunday I am preaching on the Gadarene demoniac. It's not my desire so much to point out the ugliness, grossness, and nakedness of the demoniac as much as it is to promote the glorious love, power and healing of the Savior. We're all seen in the Gadarene. Whether we are convinced of our sin is only a matter of time.  "Sin will find us out" - all of us - in time.

I want to be the person who shines the light on the Person who delivers us from sin, not the person who keeps pounding people with their sin. In other words, I want to deliver the Bread of life to hungry people rather than to read an essay on the attributes of hunger to the hungry.

Friday, September 04, 2015

A Platt-Full of Trouble: The IMB's Fiscal Crisis

David Platt, the 36-year-old President of the International Mission Board recently stated that there would be a "15% reduction in IMB personnel." In a town hall meeting joined by Southern Baptist missionaries from around the world, President Platt said, "If we are going to balance our budget, we must reduce approximately 600 to 800 of our staff and field personnel."

In a follow-up press release, an IMB spokesperson said, "The IMB plans to reduce the total number of missionaries and staff by 600-800 people — or approximately 15 percent of its total personnel. Currently, approximately 4,800 personnel serve as missionaries and 450 as staff."

Several people have written me and asked what I thought of President Platt's plan. A few have sent me the criticism of others for the plan, asking me to comment publicly. There seems to be only three possible reactions  Platt's vision for "balancing the budget' of the IMB - (1). praise, (2). anger, or (3). indifference.

Count me as a person in the first category. I praise David Platt for his decision. Here's why.

For years I have known that there has been a fiscal crisis in the International Mission Board. I was appointed a trustee of the International Mission Board in 2005. In essence, the board has spent more money than it has taken in for many, many years.  The fiscal irresponsibility of the IMB can be attributed to a philosophy of a previous IMB President who believed Jesus was returning soon and it mattered not whether or not bills could be paid, and by David Platt's immediate predecessor who, as a friend of mine opined to me yesterday, "ran the IMB into the ground."

In other words, David Platt was handed a Platt-full of fiscal trouble when he became IMB President.

For the past twenty years, the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention has been selling capital assets and using those funds for "operational" expenses, a practice outside the radar of average Southern Baptists. The IMB owned hundreds of millions of dollars of land, office buildings, homes, hospitals, and other hard assets (capital) in foreign countries which the board had accumulated over the decades. Land bought cheap years ago in places like Thailand, South Korea, Hong Kong and other exotic locations were sold in the 2000's and turned a tidy profit for the IMB.

When the philosophy of the IMB turned from its historic and traditional missionary care (e.g. leprosy colonies, hospitals, shelters, food centers, etc...) into solely "church planting," the IMB began to "sell" their hard assets and use the proceeds for operating expenses.

Let me say that again to let it sink in. For years the IMB has been selling hard assets to fund annual operating expenses. There is an important caveat to the preceding statement. For tax and legal reasons, the revenue the IMB gleaned from the sale of hard assets in a foreign country would never show up as "revenue" for annual operational expenses in the United States. What would happen is that the money would be placed in "slush funds," similar to what Congress does with money used for "black operations" or for covert agencies that they wish to keep out of public scrutiny.

For example, revenue from the sale of a multi-million dollar office building in a far eastern country was placed in an overseas designated account. Credit cards expenses, hotel bills, plane fares and entertainment expenses for upper level management of the IMB were paid from the slush fund. The accountants in the Far East responsible for overseeing finances would receive communication from Richmond to "pay for" this plane ticket, or this hotel bill, or this credit card, etc.... Some of the accountants were bothered by the practice, but they were not sure what could be done about it.

One thing is certain. An organization can never operate indefinitely on revenue from the sale of capital assets. At some point, someone in leadership will have to face the cold, hard facts that the money will soon be gone. David Platt was handed the International Mission Board at the tail end of a spending spree that would have made Croesus blush. Not only do I not fault David Platt for getting control of the fiscal budget of the Southern Baptist Convention's missions sending agency, I call upon every Southern Baptist leader, including Frank Page, to stop the their pleas for Southern Baptists to "just give more money to the SBC." It's time SBC leadership became transparent in our financial practices, beginning with what has actually happened to all the revenue from the sale of the IMB's capital assets.

Again, don't blame David Platt for the IMB's fiscal crisis. His predecessors created the problem.