"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

"Headship" Is Either the Design of the Creator or a Description of the Curse and It's Really That Simple

Wade and Rachelle Burleson teaching on Sunday morning
The Bible is a collection of many books with one theme. 

Restoration. 

In Genesis, God brings Creation into a perfect existence.

But throughout history, beginning at the Fall, mankind corrupts Creation's order

In the Scriptures, God reveals His purpose to redeem man and to restore Creation to its original state (eg. Paradise Restored).

In Revelation, God finishes His restorative work by bringing mankind and Creation back to their original purpose (eg. redemption).

The way man and woman (Adam) was at Creation is the way man and woman (Adam) will be in the New Creation.

At the time of Creation, the Bible says:
So God created man (Hebrew: Adam) in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:26-27)
"Male and Female" compose the biblical definition of "man" and together reflect the "image of our Creator" (Imago Dei).

What God designed for the male and the female in the Creation is what God intends eternally for the male and the female in Paradise Restored (Heaven). 

Patriarchalism


Some Christians believe God designed the male to be "head" over the female. The male's role is “protector, provider, and defender.” The female's role is "helper, encourager, and supporter."

The male should always have control and lead and the female should always be in submission and follow.

That's the way God designed it, they say, at Creation.

The female "usurped" God's design of male "headship" by "coming out from under the authority of the male" and listening to the Serpent herself (Genesis 3:1). 

That's why, they say, a female should "never teach men" or "be in authority over man" (I Timothy 2:11-12). 
Eve blew it, and anytime a woman acts like Eve by imitating “the God-created authority of a man,” then ladies (listen up, Beth Moore), you blow it like Eve.”


Co-Functionalism


Other biblical Christians, like I, believe that God designed the male and the female to both have authority over Creation (coregency) and gave to both males and females the equality of essence ("both together are Man”), and God made them both in His image.

So a person can only understand the full-orbed image of God when seeing both male and female together relating to each other in equality. 

Creation is about the equality of the male and female. 

Unlike biblical patriarchs or even secular feminists,  some Christians believe that the Bible teaches God designed co-functionalism between males and females and that the concept of "headship," "control," and "authority over" is a description of the curse after the Fall, not God's design at Creation. 

After the Fall, say these co-functionalists, men and women began fighting each other for control. 

Patriarchalism (men rule) is as sinful as matriarchalism (women rule); both want control over others. 

God intended at Creation for males and females to co-rule Creation and to serve one another. 

Christian adherents to "headship" and the co-functionalists both believe that God will restore Creation.


What God intends in Genesis, He restores in Revelation.

Notice the similarities between the first two chapters of the Bible ( (Genesis 1-2and the last two chapters of the Bible (Revelation 21-22) .


Genesis

  1. In the beginning (1:1)
  2. God created the heavens and the earth (1:1)
  3. Let there be light (1:3)
  4. The darkness He called “night” (1:5)
  5. The gathered waters He called “seas” (1:10)
  6. God made the two great lights (1:16)
  7. He also made the stars (1:16)
  8. Subdue [the earth]. Rule over (1:28)
  9. Tree of Life (2:9)
  10. A river watering the garden (2:10)
  11. You will surely die (2:17)
  12. Or you will die (3:3)
  13. A man will. . .be united to his wife (2:23-25)
  14. Shown a garden into which sin entered (3:6-7)
  15. Walk of God with man interrupted (3:8-10)
  16. Initial triumph of the Serpent (3:13)
  17. Cursed. . .cursed (3:14, 17)
  18. I will greatly multiply your pain (3:16-17)
  19. God banished him (3:23)
  20. He drove the man out of the garden (3:24)

Revelation

  1. I am. . .the Beginning and the End (21:6)
  2. I saw a new heaven and a new earth (21:1)
  3. God gives it light (21:23)
  4. There will be no night there (21:25)
  5. There was no longer any sea (21:1)
  6. Does not need the sun/moon (21:23)
  7. The Morning Star (22:16)
  8. And they will reign forever (22:5)
  9. Tree of Life (22:2)
  10. River of the Water of Life (22:1)
  11. The free gift of the Water of Life (22:17)
  12. No more death (21:4)
  13. The bride of the wife of the Lamb (21:9-10)
  14. Shown a city into which sin will never enter (21:27)
  15. Walk of God with man resumed (21:3)
  16. The ultimate triumph of the Lamb (20:10; 22:3)
  17. No longer. . .any curse (22:3)
  18. No more. . .pain (21:4)
  19. They will see His face (22:4)
  20. I saw the Holy City (21:2)

It's evident from the Bible that what God intends at Creation, He restores in the New Creation. Grace is God at work; He reverses the curse. What were men and women like before the curse of the Fall? 

For those who say God designed men "to rule over" women, to be "the head" of women, and to always lead women, I have three questions for you:

1. If at Creation God designed the man to be the “head over” the woman and to have “authority over” her, then is it God’s intention for men to be the “head over” women for all eternity and for men to have “authority over” women in heaven? If not, why not?
2. Jesus prayed, "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." If you understand that those who believe the Bible teaches co-functionalism (co-regency) is God's design for males and females from the beginning, then you must accept that any attempt to bring equality to men and women (God's original intention) into the earth now, just as Jesus prayed, is an attempt to glorify God and live according to the pattern of the New Creation.
3. Jesus explicitly taught in Matthew 23:8-11 that His people are to reject the world's system of top-down governance by declaring, "It shall not be so among you" (Mark 10:43). "The greatest among you shall be your servant" (Matthew 23:11).  Which system of thought -  "headship" or co-functionalism - allows a Christian to be obedient to Christ's command of servanthood to all and to avoid the idea that one is to have rulership, control, or power over anyone else?

More to come... 

The Russell Moore of 2007 and the Russell Moore of 2019 Illustrates Baptists Can Change Our Minds

Dr. Russell Moore speaking at the 2019 SBC
One of the more remarkable moments in the 2019 Birmingham Southern Baptist Convention occurred during the question and answer portion of Dr. Russell Moore report from the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC).

A young man asked Dr. Moore about a comment that Russell had made in 2007 that indicated he believed a woman should never "teach a man" or "preach to men."

The young man read Moore's 2007 quote in full, then asked:
"Is this still your position on women preaching in the church?"
Dr. Moore gave a lengthy response that included these words:
"The idea that we are listening too much to women in the Southern Baptist Convention is not an idea that makes very much sense to me right now."
Later, Dr. Moore stated:
"That was the Russell Moore of 2007 and this is the Russell Moore of 2019. 
Social media has been on fire over this issue. It's similar to the controversy that ensued in 2007 when Dr. Sheri Klouda was terminated from Southwestern Seminary for teaching men Hebrew.
Some think that their belief in weak women and warrior men is biblical. 
Some think that the promotion of declarative men to "teaching positions of authority" and the prohibition of deceived women from "imitating the authority of a teaching elder" is biblical. 
Some think that their views that men are always in control as they lead, defend, and fight while women are always in submission as they follow, receive, and acquiesce are biblical. 
Those who think these things about women have made one huge mistake.
They believe that their interpretations of the Scriptures are inerrant and authoritative rather than in the inerrant and the authoritative Scriptures with a humble awareness that they could be in error in their interpretations of it.  
The argument against the increased role of leadership from women in the Southern Baptist Convention on social media goes like this:
"This should never happen!" they cry. "We who believe the Bible must stick to what the Bible teaches! The Bible teaches women should be silent and submit to the authority of men." 
The Southern Baptist who are restricting women from positions of servant leadership and corporate instruction never give pause to consider if they are actually wrongly interpreting the infallible, authoritative Scriptures.

I believe any Bible teaching that refuses to acknowledge Spirit-gifted, God-called, Christ-honoring servant leaders of humble character - regardless of gender - is a gross misinterpretation of the infallible and authoritative Scriptures.

Of course, I can fellowship and cooperate with those who disagree with me in the SBC.

Change is coming soon in the SBC to reflect a more biblical approach toward women. The Southern Baptist Convention may even have a female President sooner rather than later.
But if Baptists believe the Bible, how can Baptists change their minds about what the Bible teaches?
 How can Russell Moore and others change their views on what the Bible teaches about women? And, yes, he has changed his interpretation of the sacred text.

Russell Moore believes, like I, in the authoritative and inspired sacred text. We are inerrantists.

But we realize Baptists don't always get it right in terms of interpretations.

That's our history as Baptists.

Let me show you what I mean with a quick history of Baptists changing our minds.

Baptist Pastors Receiving No Salary


Elijah Craig (1738-1808), was one of the most well-known Baptist preachers of his day. He was influential in the Baptists of Virginia helping to adopt the First Amendment of the United States. Elijah later served as pastor of the large Crossing Baptist Church (Kentucky). Elijah is said by one historian to have “played a vital role in communicating the views of the Virginia Baptists to the new state government."

Elijah Craig wrote a book entitled A Few Remarks on the Errors That Are Maintained in the Christian Churches of the Present Day (1801). In it he wrote:
"Pastors…are precluded by the Scriptures from receiving any compensation for their services...”
Well, I would expect that out of the 8,000 Southern Baptists pastors present at Birmingham last week, the vast majority of them will be glad that Baptists have changed our position on what the Bible teaches about paying pastors.

But there's more...

Baptist Drinking and Distributing Whisky


Baptist Pastor Elijah Craig made his living to support his wife and six kids by inventing Kentucky Bourbon, a corn liquor aged in charred barrels, and selling it to the general public.

Elijah Craig Bourbon, produced since 1789 in the distillery Baptist pastor Elijah Craig named Heaven Hill, is still available for purchase around the world.

This past year (2018), Elijah Craig Bourbon was voted America's best bourbon.

What? I thought the Southern Baptist Convention has always deemed the sell and use of alcohol to be a sin? No. Not even close.

In 1796, the Elkhorn Baptist Association, a Kentucky association (constituted in 1785), ruled that "denying a member church membership because he sold intoxicants was unjustified." It was not until 100 years later (1886) that the Southern Baptist Convention began passing resolutions against alcohol.

So Southern Baptists have changed our minds on paying pastors and drinking whiskey.

But there's more.

Baptists Smoking and Selling Tobacco


Add caption
The first Baptist church which called Elijah Craig to be their pastor, the Blue Run Baptist Church, met in a tobacco farm shed. That's right. All the members smoked tobacco and sold it to make a living - including their pastor.

Baptists in Elijah Craig's day smoked and chewed tobacco, drank and sold whiskey, and wouldn't pay their pastors a salary.

But there's more.

Baptists Giving Grief to the Government


It was while plowing his field in 1768, that Baptist pastor Elijah Craig was arrested and imprisoned for seventeen days for preaching “schismatick doctrines.”

Contrary to many modern Southern Baptist leaders who believe national government and the church should be one and the same, Baptist pastor Elijah Craig advocated that government and the church should always be separated. Government officials imprisoned him.

But apparently, the prison couldn’t keep Elijah from preaching. Baptists gathered outside the jail, and this Baptist pastor named Elijah Craig preached the gospel through the bars of his jail window. Consequently, the authorities built a high wall around the prison to keep people from hearing.

Eventually, Elijah Craig was released to go back to his whiskey and tobacco business - and to preaching the gospel.

But there's more.


Baptists Seeing Slavery as Scriptural


Baptist Pastor Elijah Craig and the members of his congregation needed people to work their tobacco fields, char their bourbon barrels, and carry their fermented corn (bourbon) to the market.


Southern Baptists for decades believed that holding slaves was not only biblical Christianity, they also preached tens of thousands of messages on the evil of abolition

Of course, we've changed our minds...once again. 

Summary


Nobody has ever accused me of holding back from speaking my mind, so let me summarize this little history lesson and bring it back to 2019 and the Southern Baptist Convention's imminent change on its patriarchal views of men and women. 
"I'll not believe a Southern Baptist pastor cannot change his mind about what the Bible teaches about women until I meet a Southern Baptist pastor who receives no salary, who smokes tobacco and drinks whiskey regularly, who refuses to identify with any political party to the point of prison, and who can introduce me to the slaves he keeps in his house."
Until then, I'd encourage Southern Baptist preachers to stop the shallow sanctimonious sermonettes on restricting women from leadership roles and teaching roles.

Maybe it's you who is missing the actual teaching of the Bible on women.

The history of Baptists and the changes that have come our way indicates I know of what I speak. 

A Fixation on Authority Is a Sign the Spirit Has Left

Attending the "For Such a Time As This" rally (6/11/19)
Photo: Jon Shapley, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer
It's been my privilege this week to be a small part of the reform that is beginning to take place within the Southern Baptist Convention to help stop an epidemic of sexual abuse. 
Some of the stories I've heard shared this week, many for the first time, are fuel for my soul. It gives me the incentive to keep doing everything I can to bring down power bases built on fraudulent authority. 
Predators prey with power. Abusers are armed with authority. If one wishes to end abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention, one has to strike at the root of the problem.
Many SBC men and leaders think that they are the "head" over women, that men "rule over" women and children, and that pastors "rule over people." 
It's the ugly disease of male patriarchalism.

Traveling home from the airport this week, my friend Jeff VanVonderen called me. Jeff is the author of The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse, Families Where Grace Is In Place, Good News for the Chemically Dependent, and a host of other superb books. Not to mention, Jeff is the star of the award-winning show Intervention.

He wanted to know how the Convention went. I explained to him the crisis of sexual abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention. Then Jeff asked me this question:
"Do they understand that child sexual abuse and sexual assault crimes against adults all have at their root the sin of power, control, and "authority over."
I told Jeff I'm doing all I can to tear down the unbiblical doctrine of spiritual authoritarianism and bring back the biblical doctrine of humble servanthood in Christ's Kingdom to the leadership of the SBC.

What follows is the biblical antidote for any man infected with the venom of authoritarianism by the bite of the power viper.
Men and women are equal in Christ's Kingdom. Spirit-gifted men and women of humble character can both be servant Kingdom leaders. 
If you are able to prove the concepts of power, authority, and control OVER OTHERS is not biblical, then you stop abuse cold in its tracks in the Convention that says it believes the Bible. 
The Apostle Paul writes in Galatians 3:27-28:
"All of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus."
Paul is emphatic that there is no room in the body of Jesus Christ for racial distinctions, no room for class distinctions, no room for gender distinctions. To forbid a woman to serve, read, lead, or teach (when men are present) is twisting the gospel of freedom in Christ into a gospel of bondage by gender. To restrict a Holy Spirit gifted and empowered woman from edifying other believers through the free exercise of her Spirit given gifts is to resist the Holy Spirit Himself--and qualifies as a very foolish act indeed.

An ancient Jewish prayer from the Hebrew Siddur (prayer book) went like this: "Blessed are you, Hashem, King of the Universe, for not having made me a Gentile. Blessed are you, Hashem, King of the Universe, for not having made me a slave. Blessed are you, Hashem, King of the Universe, for not having made me a woman." "Hashem" was a Jewish name for the one true God, a name used by Jews in the days of Christ.

The same spirit ancient Jews possessed that caused them to believe that only men were created to lead, rule and serve and that women were born to receive, follow, and help men who lead, is the same spirit now at work in more than a few evangelical leaders. Interestingly, the rise of the Siddur coincides with the glory of God departing the Temple of Jerusalem in the days of Ezekiel (see Ezekiel 10).

Jewish Temple worship continued, but it was during this Spirit-less intertestamental time period that you have the rise of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and other male-only Jewish orders that were constantly focusing on male "authority," male "leadership," and male "power."
A preoccupation and fixation on authority (whether it be conservative patriarchalism or liberal feminism), is a sign that the Spirit of God has departed. Jesus Christ explicitly forbids any one individual assuming authority over other adults in the Christian community (Matthew 20:20-28). In fact, after describing the imperialism of political rulers and the authority fixation of religious rulers, Jesus said to his disciples ... "It shall not be so among you" (Matthew 20:26).

I would propose that any portion of the body of Christ that is placing emphasis on male leadership to the exclusion of female leadership (or vice-versa) is void of the Spirit of God.

The New Testament covenant of God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ totally turns the world's concept of authority on its ear. The world is concerned about position, power, authority, prestige, control, and ruling over others. Jesus Christ teaches His followers to serve, to love, to express their spiritual gifts to their fullest for the good of others, and to never fear what any person in so-called "authority" can do to them because "All authority ... has been given to Me" (Matthew 28:18). There is to be a mutual equality, respect, and submission within the home between husband and wife (Ephesians 5:21-33).

There is to be a mutual equality, respect and submission of men and women toward one another in the body of Christ based upon the gifts that the Spirit gives to each male and female believer who has been baptized into Christ (Acts 2:15-21Galatians 3:28). References to the churches' teaching ministry and other gifts are found in Romans 12, I Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4 and not one of those passages excludes females from being recipients of any one of those gifts. Let me say that again in a different way. The gifts of the Spirit are never differentiated on the basis of gender in the New Testament -- ever.

______________________

Wade Burleson is a writer, avocational historian, and teaching pastor at Emmanuel Enid, Oklahoma. Burleson was twice elected President of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma and served as a trustee for the Southern Baptist Convention's International Mission Board.

A Fresh Pastoral Perspective on the Changing SBC

Photo: Jon Shapley, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer
If one has never been to the Southern Baptist Convention, the best way to describe the experience is "the world's largest business meeting run by parliamentary rules." 

There are enormous exhibit halls attached to the Convention arena where any agency, educational institution, or business affiliated with the SBC can set up booths to pass out more information.

The SBC is also like a family reunion.

Just like dysfunctional families, there are some members that love to see you, and others that you can tell wish you'd skipped the reunion.

I love all the SBC family, even those who are unbiblical, illogical, and ultimately detrimental to the cause of cooperative mission work. I no more want them to leave the SBC than I want people to leave my church.

But I never cater to people in my church whose actions are without grace. They are always welcome to teach whatever they believe the Scripture to say, and nobody's threatened at our church (especially me).  We realize that gentle persuasion and "the ability to give an answer for the hope within you" is the only way you convince people of what's true.

So, with that said, I always love meeting new people.

I met Kendra, a young student at UAB who was at her first Convention with her mother. She is a reader with a keen mind. She's read things that I and others have written about the changing SBC, and she and her mother were so encouraged, they decided to join a Southern Baptist church in Birmingham.

When the staff of the church asked her what she wanted to do with her life, Kendra said, "I want to be a missionary!" 

The response from the male pastoral staff member was, "You'll make a great missionary's wife!" Kendra asked me if that's the attitude of most in Southern Baptist churches.

I assured Kendra, "No! Keep reading. Keep studying the Scriptures. God's call on your life will send you to places that patriarchal people may not like, but you answer to Him, not them."

Other stories could be told, but I want to focus on just one.

Travis Collins is the pastor of FBC Huntsville, Alabama. He is leading FBC to do some very creative ministry work locally and missions work globally. He and I have connected through the Internet, and he came to this year's Convention and we were able to share a lunch and sit through one of the sessions. Travis wrote a column reflecting on Tuesday's sessions of the 2019 SBC.
I just spent a fascinating day at the Annual Meeting of the SBC in Birmingham.  And I’m more encouraged about the Southern Baptist Convention tonight than I was this morning. 
I’m encouraged because I believe the SBC is getting serious about addressing and eliminating the scourge of sexual abuse in the Church, and is going to call out those Southern Baptist congregations that are enablers of abuse.
I’m encouraged because I witnessed a conversation about race on the platform of the Southern Baptist Convention gathering, the honesty and depth of which I never thought I’d witness.
I’m encouraged because I know there are lots of Southern Baptists who are tired of the male hierarchicalism that has dominated the SBC for three decades and believe God intends for men and women to serve as full partners in ministry.  Oh, I know those Southern Baptists aren’t in the majority. 
Yet. I’m encouraged because I spent a big part of the day with Wade Burleson, an Oklahoma Baptist pastor whom I consider a friend.  An out-spoken, plain-spoken, well-spoken guy who is the most skillful at declaring “The Emperor has no clothes” than anyone I ever have met.
I’m encouraged because I attended a dinner event celebrating Graffiti, a Southern-Baptist-related congregation and community ministry in New York City.  Graffiti is a group of folks who represent the best of Baptists—doing real ministry on the streets (not just pontificating about it) and ushering people into a transforming relationship with Jesus.
Maybe I’m just nostalgic for the good ol’ days, when Southern Baptists made us feel (even if I was a bit na├»ve), as missionaries to Nigeria, that our service was more important than who was elected President of the SBC. 
But today I was glad that a large portion of our church’s mission dollars go to the Cooperative Program of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Travis Collins
Pastor, First Baptist Church,
Huntsville, Alabama
More and more people in the SBC are understanding things like Travis Collins.

Brighter days for the SBC are ahead

Sex Abuse in the SBC and Taking Steps To Stop It

Sexual abuse survivors in a meeting after Tuesdays SBC
This 2019 Southern Baptist Convention, which is the 40th anniversary of the 1979 Houston SBC which began what some call the Conservative Resurgence, will go down in history as the Stop Sexual Abuse Convention.

In 2005, my first year as a trustee of the International Mission Board, I discovered that the SBC had a patriarchal power problem. Men in denominational leadership were doing everything they could to exclude women from leadership,  from teaching others Gospel truth, and from doing anything that "imitated the authority of a male." I won't take time to recount the issues, but you can read about them in Hard Ball Religion.

It didn't long for me to see there was a massive sexual abuse problem in the SBC. Power trips typically end in twisted trysts of sexual submission.

Sadly, rather than approving my recommendation to create a sexual abuse database in 2007 to track the patriarchal power problem in the SBC, it took the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio News-Express in 2019 to jolt the SBC into action.

At least things are now moving.

The Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, under the leadership of Russell Moore, has zoomed to the forefront of the fight to stop sexual abuse. The ELRC has published some superb materials called Becoming a Church that Cares Well the Abused. Every Southern Baptist Church should take advantage of them.

That said, the International Mission Board did not mention the problem of sexual abuse on the SBC mission field in their report to the Convention. To be fair, on May 29, 2019, the IMB published on their website the preliminary sexual abuse report that the law firm Gray Plant Mooty released. The preliminary sexual abuse report contained specific recommendations for the IMB to prevent any further sexual abuse cases on the mission field.

We had a wonderful IMB commissioning service at the Convention, but the Southern Baptist Convention has a moral obligation to put in the official record what is needed to reverse the curse of sexual abuse within our respective agencies.

The IMB made a wise choice  by using outside counsel to investigate past history of the IMB’s handling of sexual abuse cases and to recommend specific steps the IMB can implement to prevent sexual abuse on the mission field.

I made a motion to put into the Southern Baptist Convention's Offical Annual the specific steps the law firm Gray Plant Moody recommended that the IMB take.

According to the platform, SBC "legal counsel" advised them against such an action. After the session, I had a cordial but heated exchange with the Southern Baptist Convention’s legal counsel. They said the International Mission Board decides what they wish to report out to the SBC, and we can't make them report anything.

That’s wrong.

It's our (the SBC's) report, and we can do anything we desire with it because WE (the SBC) place it in our Convention Annual three months from now. The SBC needs in “the official record" what the IMB must do (according to Gray Plant Moody). The SBC legal counsel gave the Convention bad legal counsel, mostly because they don’t understand parliamentarian rules, the SBC annual and archives, and they didn’t take the time to understand the motion I made (a simple phone call would suffice because they had my cell).

We (the SBC) has every right to put into the official record the following sixteen recommended steps for the IMB:
1. Create a new full-time position to oversee prevention and response efforts. This new senior staff member would have a broad range of responsibilities, including overseeing training, receiving reports of child abuse or sexual harassment (including sexual assault), and overseeing the investigation process;
2. When IMB receives a report of child abuse or sexual harassment (including sexual assault), involve outside legal counsel with expertise in this area to provide advice throughout the process;
3. Continue the current practice of using a forensic psychologist with expertise in interviewing children to conduct investigation interviews of children.
4. Adopt protocols for consistently reporting allegations of child abuse committed by IMB personnel or others affiliated with IMB to U.S. government authorities, even when there is not a legal duty to do so.
5. Adopt protocols for reporting allegations of child abuse to foreign government authorities;
6. Revise policies and trainings to make clear that in addition to personnel’s obligations to report suspected child abuse internally to IMB, personnel also have the option, and sometimes the obligation, to report directly to government authorities;
7. Report every known incident of alleged child abuse by IMB personnel or others affiliated with IMB that has not previously been reported.
8. Revise the screening process for employees to more thoroughly screen for concerns related to child abuse or sexual harassment (including sexual assault);
9. Provide increased training, incorporating additional content, for expanded audiences, and with greater frequency. Topics should include child safety, sexual harassment, sexual assault, and domestic violence, as well as more frequent age-appropriate education for children of IMB personnel to help children recognize and report abuse;
10. Implement a consistent, centralized process for screening volunteers including effective oversight from IMB personnel;
11. Modify the investigation process to use trauma-informed interview techniques and a trauma-informed approach to weighing evidence;
12. Adopt additional policies to enhance the resources and support available to victims during and after the investigation;
13. Publicize IMB’s current reference policy to encourage employers considering working or partnering with former IMB personnel to contact IMB to receive accurate information;
14. Encourage reporting to IMB leadership when individuals are aware that perpetrators are working in a position that would provide access to children following the end of their affiliation with IMB;
15. Adopt a clear process by which IMB will provide affirmative safety warnings when individuals report to IMB leadership that perpetrators are working in a position that would provide access to children following the end of their affiliation with IMB;
16. Implement overall changes to policy and practice aimed at eliminating or reducing barriers to reporting and strengthening IMB’s prevention and response efforts.
These actionable steps to prevent sexual abuse within the International Mission Board should have been reported out and placed into the official record of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Legal counsel said "No."

We live in a crazy day when the SBC legal counsel says "no" to our Convention placing into the official record of the Southern Baptist Convention sixteen steps of action recommended by a legal firm (Gray Plant Mooty), an action plan paid for by the International Mission Board, and made public on the IMB website.

Talk is cheap.

The Southern Baptist Convention messengers are charged to hold accountable the independent agencies of our Convention. I will be back next year to make sure we have a report from the IMB that tells us if they have actually taken the steps Gray Plant Mooty recommended.

Now, off to the Convention to see if we're going to continue to promote patriarchal power plays by limiting the "functions" of a pastor to males only.

I Now See Why They Say Women Are Not to Preach

Co-Equal, Co-Regents, Co-Heirs of Christ
I arrived at the Birmingham Convention Center very early Monday morning to register for the 2019 SBC and to attend the Founder’s Conference all-day seminar on Mature Manhood in an Immature World.

First, let me say that Dr. Tom Ascol, the head of the SBC Founder’s Conference is a very humble man of character. He and I had some good conversations face-to-face today. Everyone with the Founders treated me cordially. I could tell there were hurt feelings from some, mostly family members of the men I charged with bullying Beth Moore. But we worked through it.

Second, after sitting an entire day (my rear-end is sore), I come away with a much clearer sense on why most Founders men and a lessoning majority in the SBC believe so differently than I and other biblicists about Spirit-gifted and God-called women of character being free to serve in the same capacities as men in the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.

I believe what I teach about the equality of women with men is biblical. The Founders believe what I and others teach about the equality of women with men is borderline heresy.

So, with that said, the Founders men don’t think that the negative things they say about gifted Christian women like Beth Moore preaching, teaching, and giving spiritual encouragement to men and women is ‘bullying.’ They believe they are ‘correcting’ the serious error of a woman “imitating the authority of a man.”

I believe their aberrant patriarchal doctrine of male authority is a serious problem in the church of Jesus Christ.

And I’ll go one step further. I am going to make a prediction.
Within a decade or two, what I say the authoritative Scriptures teach about gender equality will be considered biblical, normal, and eternal by the majority of Southern Baptists, and what I heard today will have gone away, just as the former racism of Southern Baptists went away 100 years ago.
 The Bible is clear to me on this issue of gender equality.

But after today, I understand better why the Founders are confused about my clarity but have clarity about their own lack of confusion.

It’s All About Eden

The Founders (and others in the SBC ) who believe women should be silent in the churches and not lead any man, all believe that God created man (Adam) to be “the head” and the “authority over” the woman (Eve). Adam’s role was “protector, provider, and defender.” Eve’s role was that of helper, encourager, and supporter. God intends a man to be a man, and a woman to be a woman. “A soft (effeminate) man is the bane of society, and a warrior woman is a curse.” That’s why mature manhood and biblical womanhood must be vouchsafed and guarded. It’s God’s design, according to the Founders.

I learned today that the Founders believe Eve usurped God’s design by leaving the “authority” of Adam, listening to the serpent herself, and thereby enticing Adam to sin, plunging the entire world into a curse. That’s why when the Apostle Paul argues in I Timothy 2:11-14 that a woman is to be silent and “learn,” not teach, he (Paul) goes back to Creation!
“EVE BLEW IT, and anytime a woman acts like Eve by imitating “the God-created authority of a man,” then LADIES (listen up, Beth Moore), YOU BLOW IT LIKE EVE.”
What do I believe the Bible really teaches about male and female equality?

At Creation, God gave Adam and Eve BOTH authority over Creation (co-regents), gave them BOTH equality of essence (“both TOGETHER are Man”), and made them BOTH in His image. In other words, Creation is about equality - as well as the NEW CREATION.

It’s the CURSE of sin that causes Adam to wish to “rule over” women, and Eve to “rule over” men. Christian patriarchalism has the same diseased root as secular feminism. Both wish to RULE OVER OTHERS.

When Christ begins His work in the hearts of His people, He turns the stony heart that wishes to “rule over others” into a soft heart that wishes to “serve all others.”

You can see how the Founders cultural patriarchalism is so opposite of my free grace biblicism.

How does the SBC move forward? I believe having more debates, more dialogue, more face-to-face discussions is a good start.

I love the fact they believe they have the Bible on their side. I can fellowship with them. They displayed gracious hearts today.

At the conclusion of the today’s debate on whether women can preach the Bible on “the Lord’s Day,” I was able to ask Tom Ascol a question. My name was not on it because we were asked to submit it anonymously. Here’s what I asked. I am not going to give you his answer because he said he couldn’t answer it. “I don’t know,” Tom Ascol said. Watch the recording.

I’ll give the answer to my own question:
Question: If at Creation God designed the man to be the “head over” the woman and to have “authority over” her, then is it God’s intention for men to be the “head over” women for all eternity and for men to have “authority over” women in heaven? And if not, why not?
My answer: God didn’t design men to ever have “authority” over women. Neither did he design “pastors” to have an “office of authority” over people. Nor did he design husbands to have “authority” over wives. That’s the sign of the curse, not Creation.

God in His work of redemption - by His grace and for His glory (couldn’t resist!) - reverses the curse in every heart, home, and church.

God’s people rule over no one and we are servants to everyone.

Amen.

'Tie an Animal to a Tether and It Will Know the End of the Rope by Morning'- The SBC and Its Women

The "tie an animal to a tether" quote in this blog's title comes from Cotton Mather, but it was used by a strict complementarian pastor last week to justify tethering Christian women so they aren't allowed to lead, instruct, guide, or 'imitate the authority' of a male.

To tie a tether to women so they don't "imitate the authority of a male," according to this strict complementarian pastor, is the only way to prevent women from sinning against God for doing things they shouldn't be doing (see his quote at the 1 minute and 25 second mark of this video),

It seems Beth Moore and other gifted SBC women have become dangerously untethered in the eyes of some SBC men.

And now,  the issue of what women can and can't do for Christ has sadly risen to the level of Gospel heresy in the minds of some of these SBC complementarians.

The 2019 Southern Baptist Convention convenes in Birmingham, Alabama, Tuesday, June 11, 2019.

The SBC has faced two huge crises this year.

First, the sexual abuse scandal uncovered by the reporters of The Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News showed that many men in the Southern Baptist Convention used their "authority" to sexually prey on victims, and other men "in authority" (pastors) covered for the predators, refusing to involve law enforcement or in some instances, even assist the victims.

Second, and more recently, a social media uproar occurred when some men who deem themselves doctrinally authoritative on all things in the Southern Baptist Convention let it be known that Beth Moore's preaching on "The Lord's Day" (2019 Mother's Day) at an SBC church was a violation of biblical guidelines for women.

According to these men, the Southern Baptist Convention "(has) reached a critical moment...for there are now open calls to retreat from our biblical convictions on complementarianism" (Al Mohler).

Interestingly, complementarianism is a word that is not found in the Bible. That alone doesn't make it false doctrine, but it does cause men like me to scratch my head in wonderment as to how complementarianism can be turned into a Gospel issue.
"Complementarianism is a systematized doctrinal system that promotes the belief that women are eternally subordinate to men in the same manner that Jesus is eternally subordinate to God."
Complementarians believe an unbiblical, illogical, and some say heretical theology of manhood and womanhood. I don't call it heretical because I reserve that word exclusively for Gospel error regarding the Person and work of Jesus Christ, the theme of the Bible. 

The roles of women in the church are never Gospel issues.

But some in the SBC (not all) who believe in complementarianism are making their systematized theology on manhood and womanhood a matter of primary importance and a standard of fellowship in the Southern Baptist Convention. They are trifling with subtleties while ignoring certainties.

"But," you may ask, "What do the authoritative Scriptures actually teach about men and women?
  1. Read Marg Mowczko for a biblical and scholarly understanding of gifted Christian leadership.
  2. Read Christians for Biblical Equality to find out what the Bible teaches about gender equality.
  3. Find some scholarly works on biblical equality that are written by those who believe in Scriptural inerrancy and biblical authority.
  4. Read Fraudulent Authority (shameless self-promotion).
  5. And most of all, read your Bible.
In the Museum of the Bible in Washington D.C., there is a Bible on display called The Slave Bible. It was published in 1807 and distributed on behalf of The Society for the Conversion of Negro Slaves.
"The Slave Bible publishers deliberately removed portions of the biblical text, such as the exodus story, that could inspire hope for liberation. Instead, the publishers emphasized portions that justified and fortified the system of slavery that was so vital to the British Empire."
It's almost as if some Southern Baptist leaders in 2019 are trying to write and publish a new Bible called The Complementarian Bible.

In this truncated SBC Bible, all references to New Covenant oneness between the genders, all the texts that speak of women teaching or preaching or leading in Christ's Kingdom based on their character and giftedness, and all statements of our Lord Jesus Christ about Christian leaders having "no office of authority, no control over anyone, and being servants to all" (Matthew 20:25-28) have been cut out.

I have no hesitation calling complementarianism unbiblical because it is.

Yet I also have no problem cooperating in the SBC with my complementarian friends for some worthy causes like missions, disaster relief, and other things we do in the SBC.

The Southern Baptist Convention is supposed to be built around Gospel cooperation. Sadly, some men in the SBC are making complementarianism a Gospel issue of cooperation within the SBC.

Tom Ascol, the head of the Founders' Conference, the organization that is sponsoring a rival 2019 SBC Pastors' Conference on manhood, wrote an article the week the SBC sexual abuse story broke in The Houston Chronicle.

Tom's article is entitled Southern Baptists, Sexual Abuse, and a Far More Serious Problem.

Read Tom's article carefully and comprehend what he is saying. I call Tom a friend (so this isn't personal), but what Tom and other complementarians are advocating is dangerous for the SBC. Tom writes:
1. "The real problem (in the SBC) is spiritual... Southern Baptists have a problem with God... They trumpet their affirmation of the inerrancy of Scripture and unhesitatingly call it the written Word of God...yet they blatantly defy the God of that Word."
2. "How else can we explain the loud trumpeting of Southern Baptists’ commitment to inerrancy while at the same time blatantly refusing to do what the inerrant Scriptures say to do?"
3. "If a pastor is satisfied to neglect clear biblical commands and allow members to go to hell unhindered, it should not surprise us if he looks the other way when they suffer hell on earth at the hands of abusers."
Though Tom's article is primarily concerned with a lack of "church discipline" and "regenerative membership," the principles he advocates about 'authority over others" is the basis for his and other complementarians demand for complementarian conformation across the Convention. SBC complementarians think with this logic:
  1. What we (complementarians) believe about men and women is from God and His inerrant Word.
  2. If you don't believe or do what we tell you God clearly says about the roles of women in the church and home, then your defiance is against God.
  3. We are only doing our job as "men with spiritual authority" when we correct you and shun you because of your unbiblical beliefs and practices regarding men and women. 
Sorry complementarians, but only the Word of God is inerrant, not your interpretations of it.

Southern Baptists must learn to understand and appreciate the differences of biblical interpretation and seek to persuade others we believe to be in error by our charm, intellect, humility, and grace. Never are we called to use any so-called "spiritual authority" over anybody else in the Kingdom.
No creed but Christ. No lord but the LORD. No demand for submission by anyone, but delight in service from everyone.
You may think you are being biblical, and I do admire your perceived adherence to the authoritative Scriptures, but guys like me are pointing out your serious error of you believing in your own authority rather than Christ's authority.

The demand that others submit to your interpretation of the sacred text is a major problem in the SBC. Jesus is the Chief Shepherd, and His Spirit rules well in the hearts of His people.

Nobody needs tethering except those wishing to tether.
"You shall know the Truth, and He shall set you Free."
We are a Convention of cooperation, not conformity. The SBC should cooperate around who Jesus is and what God has done for sinners. 


As mentioned above, the Founders' Ministries has set up what they call a "micro-conference" for SBC pastors this Monday, June 10, 2019, but it is, in reality, a rival Pastors' Conference (the subject is "Mature Manhood in an Immature Age").

I've called them out on this attempt to divide the SBC over the role of women.

Yesterday, Founders published an article entitled "Will the SBC Do The Wade Burleson?"

The major mistake in the article is that they think I'm attacking Tom Ascol, Al Mohler, Owen Strachan, and other complementarians personally.

Nope, I like these men. I'm not even going after their unbiblical principles as much as I am their demands that Southern Baptists acquiesce and submit to their views on complementarianism to be in SBC fellowship or leadership.

I'll not stand by as these SBC men bully Spirit-gifted, Christ-honoring, God-called women who minister in churches and in Christ's Kingdom at large.
The man tethering a Christian woman to keep her from imitating a male's spiritual authority thinks he's being biblical. The gifted-Christian woman of character who is trying to serve others in churches and the Kingdom while SBC men are attempting to tether her thinks she's being bullied.
#DoTheWade
The Founders' article closes by asserting Wade Burleson is making false assertions and accusations of good and honorable SBC with "a long track record" of biblical fidelity.

The author calls this "doing the Wade." He challenges the 2019 SBC not to "Do The Wade."

I laughed out loud at that one.

15 years ago I warned the SBC of child abuse in our midst. It's taken 15 years and outside reporters to do what we should have been doing ourselves

For many years I have also been warning the SBC about another major problem in our midst: The tethering of Christian women while at the same time turning differences over gender issues into a Gospel issue.

Both problems in the SBC have the same root: "An unbiblical concept of male authority over others."

I call on all Southern Baptists to not ignore this warning like you did the last one and #DoTheWade

The 2019 SBC Pastors' and Founders' Conferences

Yonat Shimron and Adelle Banks are a couple of really fine reporters who write for the Religious News Service (RNS). I've spoken to them on a number of occasions. Adelle will be at this year's Southern Baptist Convention in Birmingham, Alabama to work on articles that both women will be contributing to RNS throughout the Convention. 

Yesterday, Yonat and Adelle co-authored a piece on Beth Moore and the SBC entitled Beth Moore's Ministry Reignites Debate Over Whether Women Can Preach.

It's a fair, balanced article. I spent about 30 minutes on the phone with Yonat.  We discussed the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message, parliamentary procedures at the SBC, and the issue of women in leadership at the SBC. 

But there was one topic that took Yonat by surprise.

I mentioned to her that there would be TWO Pastors' Conferences at the SBC this year, both being held simultaneously on the same day, Monday, June 10, 2019. There is the official Southern Baptist Pastor's Conference and then there is the Founder's Conference for SBC pastors being held in the Convention Hotel ballroom at the same time and on the same day (Monday, June 10, 2019).

Yonat didn't know there were two competing conferences. Holding a competing "pastors' conference" at the same time as the official SBC Pastor's Conference is unprecedented in modern times.

The Founders' Conference, a Calvinistic assembly of SBC pastors have held breakfasts and luncheons during the Southern Baptist Convention, but now they are hosting a competing pastors' conference. 

The official SBC Pastor's Conference looks like one of the best ever! The line-up is diverse, there are "roundtables" designed to discuss difficult issues, and I commend this year's leadership, Dr. Danny Wood, for thinking outside the box to equip SBC pastors. Well done.

Here's a description of this year's Pastors' Conference:
"The theme, Kingdom Character, calls us to examine our lives in light of the beatitudes. This year’s conference will include a variety of formats including sermons, roundtables, and videos. There is no cost to attend, and the conference is open to the public."
The Pastors' Conference sounds very interesting! Well done!

However, the simultaneous 2019 Founder's Conference has a surprising theme.


Here are the speakers for Mature Manhood: Tom Ascol, David Miller, Owen Strachan, Josh Buice, Tom Nettles. 

Dwight McKissic will be debating Tom Ascol at 4:00 pm on whether or not women should be allowed to preach/teach on "the Lord's Day" in SBC churches. 

So, Southern Baptist pastors have a choice this year.

Attend the official Pastors' Conference and learn in a creative way how to teach and live the beatitudes to develop men and women of Kingdom character. 

Or attend the unofficial pastors' conference and learn how to be a mature man. 

As an aside, my friend Dwight McKissic's picture is the only one not in the line-up of speakers for the Founders' Conference. Granted, he is only "debating" Tom Ascol, but even a man of color (or a woman?) in the line-up of speakers would communicate something different than this photo line-up.

If I didn't know any better, I'd think that that Southern Baptist Convention is only composed of white, upper-class males (landowners). Oh...wait...I'm thinking back to 1845. Just a minute... Oops.

The SBC has changed since 1845. Thank the authoritative Scriptures for the change. Let's not revert back to something unbiblical. 

I have multiple other questions about this year's Founder's Conference.
1. Is the time and date for this Founder's Conference intentionally set to send a message of displeasure for the topics and speaker line-up for the official SBC Pastor's Conference?
2. Is it a coincidence that most of the men (not all) chosen to be the featured speakers at the Founder's Conference were the same ones who started the social media blitz against Beth Moore on Mother's Day?
3. Is it possible that Mature Men in an Immature Age a euphemism for "biblical men in an unbiblical age?" 
4. Are those who choose to attend the official SBC Pastor's Conference, or allow Beth Moore to exercise her gift of teaching at their church, or believe the beatitudes are more important than the mature manhood all "immature" or "unbiblical" in your minds?
5. Is it possible that you may be taking a page out of the old Conservative Resurgence playbook to lable people who disagree with you on tertiary doctrinal issues as "liberal." or without a belief in "biblical authority"? 
I recently received an email from a divinity student in one of our SBC seminaries. He told me about a large class he took with fellow Southern Baptist males at this seminary. He wrote:
It was easily 95% strict complementarian with only two of us identifying with the equality of women. I'm shocked to see the fear behind many SBC pastors at the thought of empowering women.
This week, I received a comment on my blog from a Southern Baptist pastor who holds to the strict complementarian viewpoint.

Ed Dingess' comment is difficult to read.

Though it would be "condemned" by every speaker at this year's Founders' Conference (I imagine a few of them contacted Ed Dingess and asked him to take it down), it does reflect the logical conclusions of those who exalt Male Maturity in an Immature Age over the beatitudes.


The final part of Yonat's and Adelle's Religious News Service story yesterday on Beth Moore is below:
The Founders' Conference daylong conference (is) on “Mature Manhood in an Immature Age.” And for some Southern Baptists, that conference itself is intended to do just what the president of the SBC (JD Greear)  has tried to steer clear of.
“Why in the world are they holding another conference” the same week, asked the Rev. Wade Burleson, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Enid, Okla., and a frequent SBC critic. “It’s almost like they’re driving a wedge in the SBC over the issue of women.”

One thing appears certain: Beth Moore won’t be at the Founders Ministries conference.

But she just might tweet about it.
Sorry, Yona and Adelle. The two edits in your story are mine alone. I'm not a "reverend." I have the gift of teaching and exhortation and I shepherd, lead, empower, and encourage others in Christ's Kingdom. I have no "office of spiritual authority" over anyone else.

Second, I am not a critic of the SBC. I can tell you more history of the SBC, share more anecdotes about the SBC, and recite my SBC heritage of father, grandfather, great-great-grandfathers and their families (including years and service of each).

I love the SBC.

I criticize those who wish to hijack the SBC and turn it into something other than a broad-based cooperative convention of Christ-believers who hold to the authority of Scripture and seek to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ to the nations.

In other words, I'd rather teach someone the beatitudes and the glories of biblical human equality in Jesus Christ than have people force me to teach people Western Civilization cultural norms that have included the supremacy of males and the suppression of women, both of which are completely unbiblical.

So guess which Conference I'll be attending this year?

I've already sent in my $20 to attend the Founders' Conference ($30 at the door).

Why?

Because somebody wanting nothing from the SBC needs to let others in the SBC know the demands for conformity that are being issued by the theological descendants of one who burned Servetus at the stake.

And I will be tweeting too.

D-Day, Vance Air Force Base, and Leon 'Bob' Vance


Wade and Rachelle at Vance, Enid, OK
The photo of Rachelle and me (left) was taken at the invitation of Col. Paul Vicars, my mentor when I served as an Honorary Commander at Vance Air Force Base in Enid, Oklahoma.

Vance's mission is to train world-class pilots for the United States Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and its Allies and to prepare the Air Expeditionary Force (AEF) to deploy in support of the combatant commanders.

Rachelle and I have developed some wonderful friendships with the men and women from Vance.  From current  Commander Col. Corey Simmons and his wife Dawn, Col. Andy Hamann and his wife Tammy (currently overseas), and soon-to-be Col. Paul Vicars and his wife Marti, our lives have been enriched by these friendships and many more men and women who found themselves stationed at Vance.

Just last week, Rachelle, Rob and Daneille Cummins, and I shared dinner in Enid with Paul Vicars. Paul is a good friend. When he lived in Enid, Paul taught in my absence one Sunday at Emmanuel. Recently, he's been overseeing the development and implementation of U.S. Air Force Pilot Training Next, the new pilot training program designed specifically to integrate new technologies to make pilot training faster, more productive, and more cost-efficient. Paul is currently obtaining his Ph.D. from Baylor University. These are the caliber of men and women Vance brings to Enid, Oklahoma.

Though many Americans have heard of Vance Air Force Base, few know why it is named Vance Air Force Base. How the United States Army Air Corp Base in Enid, Oklahoma, came to be called Vance Air Force Base is a story that is worth telling and one worth remembering. So I write this post to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, June 6, 2019, my way of saying "Thanks" to the countless men and women who've fought for freedom from tyranny.

Someone once said:
"If you can pick up a book and read it thank a teacher. If you can read the book in English thank a soldier." 
Lt. Col. Leon Robert Vance, Jr. (1916-1944)
Today I would like to thank Leon Robert "Bob" Vance (1916-1944), the man for whom Vance Air Force is named.

Bob posthumously received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroic actions on June 5, 1944 (75 years ago today).

Bob's mission that day was to soften defenses along the coastline of France in preparation for the D-Day Invasion which was to occur the following morning, June 6, 1944.

The very compelling story of Bob Vance is told in the exit lobby of the impressive American Cemetery and Memorial in Normandy, France. During news coverage of the ceremonies at Normandy today and tomorrow, you will see the American Cemetery on your television screen. The story I'm about to tell you is told in that lobby, and Vance Air Force Base, Enid, Oklahoma, is known around the world because of it.

Rather than recount what Leon Vance did on June 5, 1944, I'll cite from his Congressional of Honor award.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty on 5 June 1944, when he led a Heavy Bombardment Group, in an attack against defended enemy coastal positions in the vicinity of Wimereaux, France. Approaching the target, his aircraft was hit repeatedly by antiaircraft fire which seriously crippled the ship, killed the pilot, and wounded several members of the crew, including Lt. Col. Vance, whose right foot was practically severed. 
In spite of his injury, and with 3 engines lost to the flak, he led his formation over the target, bombing it successfully. After applying a tourniquet to his leg with the aid of the radar operator, Lt. Col. Vance, realizing that the ship was approaching a stall altitude with the 1 remaining engine failing, struggled to a semi-upright position beside the copilot and took over control of the ship.
 Cutting the power and feathering the last engine he put the aircraft in glide sufficiently steep to maintain his airspeed. Gradually losing altitude, he at last reached the English coast, whereupon he ordered all members of the crew to bail out as he knew they would all safely make land. But he received a message over the interphone system which led him to believe 1 of the crewmembers was unable to jump due to injuries; so he made the decision to ditch the ship in the channel, thereby giving this man a chance for life.
To add further to the danger of ditching the ship in his crippled condition, there was a 500-pound bomb hung up in the bomb bay. Unable to climb into the seat vacated by the copilot, since his foot, hanging on to his leg by a few tendons, had become lodged behind the copilot's seat, he nevertheless made a successful ditching while lying on the floor using only aileron and elevators for control and the side window of the cockpit for visual reference. On coming to rest in the water the aircraft commenced to sink rapidly with Lt. Col. Vance pinned in the cockpit by the upper turret which had crashed in during the landing.
 As it was settling beneath the waves an explosion occurred which threw Lt. Col. Vance clear of the wreckage. After clinging to a piece of floating wreckage until he could muster enough strength to inflate his life vest he began searching for the crewmember whom he believed to be aboard. Failing to find anyone he began swimming and was found approximately 50 minutes later by an Air-Sea Rescue craft.
By his extraordinary flying skill and gallant leadership, despite his grave injury, Lt. Col. Vance led his formation to a successful bombing of the assigned target and returned the crew to a point where they could bail out with safety. His gallant and valorous decision to ditch the aircraft in order to give the crewmember he believed to be aboard a chance for life exemplifies the highest traditions of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Bob Vance survived the events of June 5, 1944.

But there's more to Bob Vance's story that you must know. 


Wade and Col. Norman Lamb at Normandy, France (2013)
Born in Enid, Oklahoma, on August 11, 1916, Bob's father was the principal at Enid's Longfellow Middle School, and his mother was an Enid educator as well. Bob Vance graduated from Enid High School in 1933.

Bob had been an exceptional athlete and an honors student in high school, and after graduation, he entered the University of Oklahoma and the ROTC program at OU.

Bob attended the university for his freshman and sophomore years before transferring to the West Point Military Academy in 1935.

Bob would spend the next four years at West Point, graduating with The Class of 1939,  the class that Newsweek magazine called in 1999 The Warrior Class because the graduates would go on to fight in WW II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

Bob had trained to become a pilot for the U.S. Army Air Corp, now called the United States Air Force. While at West Point he met a native New Yorker, Georgette Brown, and the day after his West Point graduation, Bob and Georgette were married at the Academy's chapel.

When the United States entered World War II in December 1941, the Army assigned Lieutenant Robert Vance to train Army Air Corp pilots at various Army Air Corp bases around the United States, including a new Army Air Corp base opened in Enid, Oklahoma, in an effort to fill the shortage of pilots required for the war.

Bob sometimes wonder if the war would be over before he actually saw combat, but his expertise as a pilot trainer was both needed and rewarded.

By 1944 he had become a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Air Force. One of Bob's best friends in the Army Air Corp,  having met him early on in pilot training at San Angelo, Texas,  was Horace S. Carswell. Carswell, a native Texan, earned his wings in November 1938 and was subsequently assigned as an instructor in the Air Corp, just like Lt. Bob Vance.

The Vance and Carswell couples became fast friends.

Both Vance and Carswell would eventually leave the Air Corp training program to fly combat in B-24 bombers. Both would arrive in different theaters of combat in April of 1944. Both would earn the Medal of Honor within six months of each other. Both would have Air Force bases named after them - Vance Air Force Base and Carswell Air Force Base.

Bob Vance's Actions at Normandy which Led to His Medal of Honor



B-24 Liberator Bomber
Lieutenant Colonel Bob Vance kissed his wife and two-year-old daughter Sharon goodbye and left for England in April of 1944. 

For two months he trained with other men in a B-24 bomber, preparing for D-Day and the invasion of Europe. Vance's combat mission on June 5, 1944, was to fly with a crew in a bomber named the Missouri Sue and to drop bombs on the German lines located on the shores of France twenty-four hours before the invasion. 

Early on June 5, 1944, the Missouri Sue took off from England for the bombing mission. The bombs failed to release on the first run over the target, so Lieutenant Colonel Vance ordered a 360-degree turn for a second pass. Somewhere in the process of the second bomb run Missouri Sue was repeatedly hit by German flak, killing the pilot, wounding several members of the crew, and nearly severing Bob Vance's right foot, pinning him to the floor of the plane (see Medal of Honor Citation). 

The crew fought to complete the mission and then turned the plane toward home. Three of the bomber's engines eventually shut down and the fourth had to be shut down to prevent a stall. The damaged plane showered gasoline throughout the trip back across the channel to England. The bomb bay doors remained open with an armed 500-pound bomb dangling precariously.

Vance was the command pilot of the craft, and as the plane continued its forced descent from 10,000 feet, he ordered that all the crew parachute to safety. Unwilling to have the plane crash into the English landscape, particularly with a 500-pound bomb dangling from the bomb bay, Vance, still pinned to the floor with his severed foot, piloted the gliding plane back into the English channel where it crashed into the water.

The force of the crash propelled Bob Vance from the plane and knocked him unconscious. Somehow he managed to float to the surface where he was eventually rescued. Unfortunately, Bob's career as a pilot was over. His right foot had been severed.

The surviving ten men credited the actions of Bob Vance for their safe parachute landing on English land.

Vance's Recuperation and Tragic Death


Vance recuperated in England from his injuries for the next eight weeks. He wrote letters home describing to his wife and family the injuries he sustained, urging them not to worry, and that as soon as he was able, he would be on a medical flight home. 

His letters were initially filled with excitement and enthusiasm for Operation Overlord (the invasion of Europe), and he expressed pride for what his bombing crew had done in preparation for the landing. His spirits lowered, however, when he left the hospital for the first time, hobbling on his crutches in the streets of London. 

Bob Vance was met by a small boy who looked him over, saw his missing foot and said:
 "Don't worry Yank, you won't miss it!" 
The emotional impact of realizing he would never fly again was enormous. Bob's depression increased when word came that his own father had been killed in an aircraft accident.

The only thing that kept Bob Vance going during his eight weeks of recovery was the knowledge that he would soon see his wife and his little two-year-old girl Sharon. He made plans to leave England on a medical evacuation plane. Just before he left he discovered he had been nominated for the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions. 

On July 26, 1944, Vance joined other wounded soldiers as they boarded a transport plane for the trip back to America. His wife Georgette and Sharon anxiously anticipated their loved one's arrival. Sharon, just over two years old, didn't understand much, but she would declare, "Daddy's coming home!" and excitedly clap. 

But Bob Vance never made it home.

Somewhere between Newfoundland and Iceland, Bob's medical evacuation plane taking him home to America went down in the ocean. 


Georgette received a telegram, informing her that her husband was reported missing "while being evacuated by air to the United States. Search is continuing and you are assured that as further information is received you will be kept promptly advised. Your distress during this period of anxiety is fully understood."

The Vance family was stricken with grief.

The plane was never been discovered, nor was Bob Vance's body ever been recovered. 

A few months after Bob Vance's plane went down over the Atlantic, the U.S. government told Georgette that her husband had been bestowed the Medal of Honor.

Georgette requested that the official ceremony be delayed until her daughter, Sharon, was old enough to comprehend what her father had done.

Two years later, in 1946, Sharon Vance, Bob's four-year-old daughter, officially received on behalf of the Vance family the Medal of Honor which the U.S. government had bestowed upon her father.

It is the highest recognition given to American soldiers.

In July 1949, the United States renamed the Air Force Base in Enid, Oklahoma Vance Air Force Base in honor of Leon Robert "Bob" Vance, Jr. (1916-1944). 

On this 75th anniversary of D-Day, I say "Thank You" to Bob Vance and every man and woman in our Armed Services. We are grateful to you. We are proud of you. We will always take time to remember your sacrifice


Somewhere out in the Atlantic, lying on the bottom of the ocean floor is the plane holding the remains of Bob Vance.

He and the thousands of others who have given their lives that we might live in freedom will never be forgotten.