Wednesday, January 11, 2006

A Dark Day for the Southern Baptist Convention

UPDATE---IMB Board of Trustees Vote to Recommend Removal of Wade Burleson as IMB Trustee

The following is an excerpt from Wade Burleson's blog regarding the IMB trustees' recommendation:

The Chairman has just read a statement into the record that the Southern Baptist Convention is being requested by a 2/3rd majority vote of the trustees of the International Mission Board to remove me as a trustee of the IMB. I have not been given a copy of the statement, but I know it contained the words "slander" and "gossip."

Anyone who has read Wade's statements knows that he has NOT slandered or spread gossip about ANYONE. He has always been careful to express his love and respect for those with whom he disagrees, not to reveal anyone's name without their consent, and not to reveal anything said in confidence. If anyone has been slandered or libeled, it has been Wade. (See this post for an example.)

Apparently, the IMB Board of Trustees now defines slander and gossip as:
  1. Showing members of SBC churches how THEIR IMB Board of Trustees operates. (Apparently, many of the trustees have forgotten that they are accountable to the SBC and do not constitute an independent oligarchy.)
  2. Speaking out publicly when the board adopts policies that impose extra-biblical (or even unbiblical) requirements on missionary candidates.
  3. Using a public forum to share personal views on issues facing the SBC. (But isn't that what BP's "First Person" feature is?)
  4. Expressing disagreement with any decision made by the board.
  5. Sitting down to share one's views with someone whose views are different, and LISTENING to their views, in a respectful, loving manner.

It seems that the majority of IMB trustees have decided that anyone who does not march lockstep with what they decide must be silenced. Disagreement is not to be tolerated. Today it's tongues and baptism, tomorrow it will be Calvinism/Arminianism, views on the end times, worship styles, or any other issue on which conservative Baptists who believe in the inspiration, infallibility, AND INERRANCY of Scripture have long agreed to disagree. But no more. We now DEMAND uniformity on interpretation, or at the very least for you to shut up if you disagree.

If we allow this to go unchecked, then we can kiss the SBC as we know it good-bye. We are standing at a moment of decision in the SBC. This action by the IMB Board of Trustees is either the first step toward the SBC becoming a fundamentalist dictatorship, or it is the first step toward the difficult and painful path of cleaning up the SBC and returning our focus to missions instead of power. I pray that it's the latter, but for that to happen we're going to have to make the sacrifice. What can we do?

  1. PRAY. Over at Missional Baptist Blog, Kiki Cherry suggested that we set aside this Friday as a day of fasting and prayer for the SBC.
  2. Contact the IMB trustees. Point out that, regardless of their view on the tongues and baptism issue, that it is wrong and dangerous to attempt to remove a trustee for expressing views contrary to the majority of the board. Jason Sampler has listed contact info for each trustee at his blog.
  3. Contact your state Baptist paper and encourage them to cover this story. Explain to the editor the issues at hand and the potential consequences of this action.
  4. Attend the SBC Annual Meeting in Greensboro in June. This may be the most important annual meeting in years. The result of the vote on the recommendation to remove Wade will indicate which of the two paths mentioned above the SBC will likely head down. There also will probably be an effort made to overturn the tongues and baptism policies, but I can't say for sure.

Also, if you haven't done so yet, stop by Wade's blog and let him know you appreciate his courage, grace, and love during this difficult time.


Decree.Info said...

Hey Tim

Good to see your still blogging.

concerning The IMB and Burleson,

on the tongues issue, , personally i dont follow the Prayer Language as scriptural, WITHIN THIS CONTEXT, *** within the walls of the church in worship*** Now personally, in your closet, alone, privatly,, I cannot say with any scriptural support that it is to be forbidden. So given what i have read so far. I do not see this policy as being exceptionally well grounded.
Someone please correct me with scripture where i am wrong should that be the case.

Secondly Baptism, I do understand the Greek as indicating immersion, but I have not found the clarity on this issue as to the exact particulars the IMB has apparently developed a Bug in their bustle about. Maybe you can clarify this for me,,

but as contrary as i am with the positions burleson may or may not hold. I will support him in a few areas and also agree with him,

last i read in Galatians 6.1

Ga:6:1: Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

I have yet to read where this has been done for Mr. Burleson, and should the IMB Board continue their action without following this scriptural admonition. I would say that those who fail to do so are in ERROR.

As far as accountability, press on, praise God and pass the ammunition, THEY NEED IT.

This same group has a twisted support funding maze that justifies a different
( albeit a considerably lower rate ) of financial support based upon past marital status.

please correct me if I am wrong, they also restricted the chaplaincy program, or was that the HMB.

I too am troubled with this claiming " sufficiency of scriptures, but instead utilizing "Scriptures PLUS mans opinions" in leiu of JUST scriptures..

We have become bedfellows with the Legalist, Fundamentalist, and Pharisitical types and in the process have forgotten the Spirit of the same letter of the law we preach.


2Co:3:5+6: Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

This is my beef with the IMB and the convention as a whole.

for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

Worship the letter, but lets not forget the spirit.

Anonymous said...

PS, sorry Tim , I lost your email, so if this is too long please delete it. Blessings to you , your family and your church. Gene

Tim Sweatman said...


Good to hear from you again. On the tongues/prayer language issue, it seems that to be considered fit for missionary service now one must be a total cessasionist, both in private as well as public worship. While many, if not most, Southern Baptists are cessasionists, the Bible does not speak clearly to this issue. I don't believe we should impose doctrinal requirements on missionary candidates unless they are clearly grounded in Scripture.

As far as the baptism issue goes, the problem that I (and many others) have is that it makes belief in eternal security on the part of the person or church administering the baptism a requirement for recognizing the baptism as valid. Again, I don't see any biblical basis for such a policy. Interestingly, to my knowledge none of the supporters of the new guidelines have provided any biblical justification for them, despite several requests for such justification.

From what I have seen, the only thing Wade is guilty of is speaking what he perceives to be the truth. He has gone out of his way to be respectful and charitable toward those with whom he disadrees. As far as I know he has not slandered anyone, he has not engaged in gossip, and he has not violated any confidences.

Decree.Info said...

Thanks for the update,, I really have a struggle with the baptism position they hold,,

Given the theif on the cross, the baptism of John the Baptist, the Ethiopian enunich that was baptized.

Non were baptized in a church, much less what the IMB board is asking, It looks like , smells like, and walks like it is POLITICS,, I dont see a place for it within the church, but then again, the scribes were the lawyers in Jesus day, and the Pharisees were the hair splitters,,,,

May our savior reward the instigators of this political action with the same lot he cast the pharisees and scribes to.

The only scriptural example of this action is from the pharisees and scribes. I think we could remove the lot of them, if they were not so secret about their wispering, and in secret with crafty maneuvering,, funny, peter says false doctrines arise the same way ,, with wispering, and in secret with crafty maneuvering..

goood to hear from you tim,,will log back in time to time,, working 50 hour weeks, so will be slow in replies,

Press on, and keep passing the ammunition.

Decree.Info / Biblicist / Gene

Anonymous said...

I thought you might like to read my post about the IMB controversy. Let me know what you think.

Howie Luvzus

Tim Sweatman said...


I tried to post a reply on your blog, but it didn't want to take. So I'll respond here. I do see one major difference between what happened in 2000 and the current situation. In 2000, the entire Southern Baptist Convention voted on a new statement of faith. To my understanding, all SBC entities and personnel were expected to affirm the new BF&M. To me it seems reasonable to require any entity or person that receives CP or other direct denominational support to affirm the denomination's official statement of faith. In this current situation, I believe the IMB trustees erred by imposing doctrinal requirements that go beyond the BF&M (not to mention go beyond Scripture). To me, by imposing these additional requirements the IMB trustees are no longer affirming the BF&M, but have established a competing doctrinal statement for our missionaries. So I see no contradiction if a person who supported what happened in 2000 opposes the trustees' actions in this case.

As far as the way the trustees have gone after Wade, that is the greatest evidence that they are really fundamentalists as opposed to conservatives. True conservatives are willing to cooperate with those who hold to core doctrines but may disagree on secondary matters or on the interpretation of passages where the Bible is not absolutely clear. Fundamentalists, on the other hand, demand conformity on secondary matters and in the interpretation of uncertain passages before they will cooperate with someone.

Hashman said...

Hey Tim,

I just now waking up to this issue. I'm pretty disturbed about what I'm hearing. I'm gonna try to get in touch with Paul Chitwood and try to get his perspective on it. I'm trying to keep my mind open and be gracious. (a rarity)

I do not agree that this is same old same old SBC. Much of what has been done in the past has been justified. But I think it may be overreaching and a waste of time, energy, and goodwill.

Since the SBC rolls are riddled with unregenerate professors of faith, resulting from sloppy evangelism driven by big baptism numbers... I don't think we are in a position to be creating such drama on issues that are probably not that pervasive.

This decision is even being attacked over at the Founders Blog, which are Calvinistic Baptists like myself. Of course the Founders are not lacking in critical anaylysis of the SBC.

Tim Sweatman said...


So far the reporting on this issue by BP and the Western Recorder has missed the main point of contention regarding the baptism policies. The problem that I, along with many others, have with the new baptism policies is that they base the validity of one's baptism on the doctrinal views of the administrator of the baptism. I cannot find any biblical support for such a basis, nor does the BF&M make such a claim. Furthermore, I have yet to see the proponents of the new policies offer any biblical support for them. I am very uncomfortable with any of our entities adopting doctrinal requirements that are not based on clear biblical teaching and which exceed the parameters of the BF&M.

Many of the opponents of the new policies are Calvinistic Baptists, in part because of concerns that Calvinists may be the next target of those seeking to narrow the doctrinal parameters of the SBC.

If you want to know more about how I see this issue, read my previous posts The IMBroglio Over Tongues and Baptism and Concerns About Fundamentalism and the Future of the Southern Baptist Convention. The latter post is where I made my remarks about fundamentalism that I mentioned on your blog.

Hashman said...

Hey Tim,

I sent an email with various questions that I keep hearing to Paul Chitwood, who is an IMB Trustee.

If he shares anything that I can pass on I will.

I did talk to Dr. Yorrk about it a very little bit. He agrees with the policy changes but it frustrated with the way it has been handled.

I wonder if this proposal was brought up in part because of Piper seeking to change the baptism requirements for his church. Perhaps that feared a trend toward a blurring of the importance of believers baptism.

Tim Sweatman said...

I haven't heard of any connection between the policy and what Piper is doing. From what I understand, these policies have been under consideration for about two years.

Did Dr. York give any biblical justification for the new policies, or did he discuss why he supports them? I emailed Paul Chitwood and the other KY trustees a couple of weeks ago, but haven't heard back from any of them. From what I've seen in the Western Recorder Dr. Chitwood seems to support the policies.

I guess my concern is that we are excluding people from missionary service on the basis of specific interpretations of Scriptures that do not speak with absolute clarity and, for that matter, go well beyond the scope of the BF&M.

Hashman said...

What's your email address? Somethings I can't share in a public blog.


Tim Sweatman said...