Friday, January 13, 2006

Biblical wisdom for the IMB controversy

Several have questioned why I have only recently expressed my opinions about the issues arising from the IMB policy changes. The main reason is that I had not seen an unedited copy of the actual policy changes. Yesterday, I did finally get a copy. Scripture warns us to resist the temptation to form conclusions without getting adequate information. Proverbs 18:13, "He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him." This biblical wisdom should guide all who are concerned about what is going on with the IMB trustees.

This same warning has led me to be very measured in my statements about the attempt to oust a trustee from the IMB board. Very few facts of the case have been made public. Many of the allegations have been veiled and vague, perhaps, as has been pointed out, to honor the rules of operating in executive session. Regardless of the reason, however, not enough information has been made public to form firm conclusions about the matter.

Let me reiterate one of my main observations from this fiasco. Unless specific charges of fiduciary failure on the part of Wade Burleson are forthcoming, I am convinced that the attempt by the IMB trustees to remove him from the board will fail if it is brought to the floor of the SBC convention in Greensboro. The reasons for my opinion have nothing to do with the facts of the case, but rather with my own assessment of what is going on in the convention. Here are my thoughts:

1. A significant lack of trust has been bred among grass roots Southern Baptists (conservative, inerrantist Southern Baptists) over the last several years.

2. Though this diminishing trust is not limited to younger pastors and church leaders, it certainly is pervasive among them.

3. The prospect of a debate/discussion/dialogue/chat about Calvinism by Paige Patterson and Al Mohler at the Pastor's Conference preceding the Greensboro convention will attract a large number of these younger pastors and church leaders.

4. The vote to remove a trustee will pass only with a 2/3 majority.

5. Last, but not least, the "whoop-de-doo" factor. Many of those being asked to act on this recommendation will be unafraid to go against the "movement conservatives" on this question, if there is insufficient evidence brought forth or if there is any hint of a high-handed approach in presenting the case.

Those are my thoughts. Notice that I have not made any assertion that one side or the other is either right or wrong in this case. The jury is still out on that question. What I am suggesting is that the removal of a conservative trustee will be a hard sell to the messengers of the upcoming convention. If the case is weak, I expect it to be rejected outright.


james said...

What do you suppose is the probability that the IMB trustees will exercise full disclosure so the convention can make a truly informed decision? Do you think that there may be a fair measure of pride driving this whole situation?

Honestly I'm troubled by what the gains of the resurgence has done to many conservatives and their way of thinking and acting in positions of authority. And I pray that you are correct in your assessment that many at the most important level of the convention, the local church, are troubled as well by the behavior of convention leadership.

David B. Hewitt said...

Thank you, brother Tom, for clarifying. You speak with wisdom, but I have found that to be expected. :)


Stephen A Morse said...

Tom, how pervasive is this kind of situation in the SBC? I have been follow Wade's blog (along with several other blogs) concerning the IMB.
When I read Sutton's, Pressler's, Ammerman's, and Hefley's accounts of the resurgence I was somewhat shocked by this very attitude back then, the attitude of the few rulling the many (but the conservatives were then crying foul). Now what do we (young conservatives) do? How do I as a small church pastor, in Middle Tennessee, get informed and involved?

dan said...

Stephen wrote:

"Now what do we (young conservatives) do?"

I watch all this with sadness. I was saved and grew up in an SBC congregation in East Tennessee. I'm now 55, and, having moved back here after living in other places for about 20 years and attending SBC Churches during that period, a few years ago, attend the same church.

The Texas crowd that ran good conservative Christians out of the SBC only hid their rule and ruin philosophy from those who did not have eyes to see. (By rule or ruin, I mean ruin the reputation of anyone who interferes with their rule.)

It looks like this attitude has now spread to the IMB, the one SBC organization I still supported financially (as recently as post-Katrina.) Wade will be ssmeared beyond recognition by the time the convention meets, count on it.

My church now belongs to the CBF, a decision made several years before I moved back, and I haven't seen a trace of liberal theology. We still hear about sin and hell, mortal death, eternal life, and Jeus as the risen-- and only-- Savior. As for me, I call myself a 2.5 point Calvinist-- I believe that TULIP is 100% correct in being the only way to salvation, and that is half the struggle. The other half is how to live every day as a servant, and that takes a loving relationship with a good local church. If you are tired of the politics, come on over.

Tom said...


I encourage you to look more deeply into the workings of the CBF--including addresses at their national meetings. No one in Southern Baptist life is debating whether to affirm unrepentent homosexuals who profess to be followers of Christ and even Gospel ministers. From my perspective, the CBF is no haven for those who are committed to the full authority of Scripture.

dan said...


I would urge you to go to a CBF meeting, not rely on the same kind of second hand distortions that will be used to smear Wade. Are there some churches in the CBF that are more liberal than mine? Sure. But not anywhere near as many as the Texans would have you believe. And, we don't have Baptismal pools in Sunday School playgrounds for the five year olds, or teach them that Jesus is "Your Forever Daddy" as you reported here about some SBC churches in Florida. If that is what being in the SBC and being "committed to the full authority of Scripture" leads you to have to be in communion with, I'd rather argue about homosexuality, thank you.

But the real point I wanted to make probably got lost; I should have left off the last paragraph om my previous post. It was just so obvious to me that Pressler, Patterson, were on a power trip. I've been active in politics since I was a teenger (conservative Republican), maybe it just takes one political operative to recognize others.

But, I agree that the convention won't back the IMB this time around. The Board acted to0 quickly, without giving the Texas fog machine time to prepare the battlefield and soften up Wade with one of their typical smear jobs.

GeneMBridges said...

When I read Sutton's, Pressler's, Ammerman's, and Hefley's accounts of the resurgence I was somewhat shocked by this very attitude back then, the attitude of the few rulling the many (but the conservatives were then crying foul). Now what do we (young conservatives) do? How do I as a small church pastor, in Middle Tennessee, get informed and involved?,

This is a tad difficult to answer in terms of the IMB situation. As I posted in the original thread, read up on the situation, talk to folks directly. I understand that there is only one spokesman for the Board presently.

The big question to ask is, "Can you be specific?" So far, all we're being told is "trust us." If this is what you're told, kindly remind the person with whom you communicate, if a trustee, that they have a duty to disclose the specific reasons to you if they want you to support their measure.

If you decide you oppose these policies and Wade's removal, then make plans to attend the Convention in Greensboro and be sure to take a full complement of messengers.

I also encourage those troubled by these policies to study Landmarkism, as those of us opposed to these policies openly believe they smack of Landmarkism, and, as best we can tell are now being admitted as such by some of the major proponents of them serving on the IMB board. I do know that the trustees spearheading this move come from Arkansas and Texas, historically the centers of Landmark ecclesiology in the SBC (and outside the SBC) in the South and have even admitted to being Landmark themselves.

I have been asked to write a booklet on the history of Landmarkism in the SBC and am compiling resources for that purpose. It has to be something accessible, not too detailed--we're not talking a major published paper. Tom, if you know of any resources, particularly any past specific decisions by the SBC prior to the 1906 Schism, please let me know.

Other than get educated, pray, make up your decision and be at Convention with a full contingent, there isn't much you can do about the IMB situation at present.

In the interim, and this is true in addressing the larger issues about cooperation, you can educate your people on ecclesiology and the ordinances and their administration. You can also teach them church, viz. Baptist history, given the fact that most Baptists seem to have a concept of church history that goes back to their grandfather or great-grandfather. Finally, educate them about staying informed about missions and what God is doing abroad and the need to put missionaries on the field in a God-honoring, biblical manner.

Sojourner said...

I feel so special, having coined the "whoop-de-doo" phrase for this discussion, so I feel compelled to tell, in part, why I believe that this factor exists now.

One thing is for certain, this isn't the 1980's. It is much harder to make a straw boogey man now. If this had been 1985, we wouldn't have heard of Wade until the convention. That is, unless we were already 'in the loop.' Now, regular Joe pastors, like myself, can go to the web and do investigating with a point and a click. I can read the IMB disclosures; I can go to Wade's website; I can go to any trustee website; I can email friends who may know what is going on.

At the end of the day, if slanderous accusations are made or if someone is seizing attention with grandstanding and demagoguery, we are in a position to find out.

Was inerrancy and issue in the 1980's? I have no doubt. Through strong-arm tactics were used to 'win the day,' I don't doubt that the problem was real. I wonder about the means used to "acheive victory" though. For that matter, is the CBF being merely slandered? I don't need to go to a convention to find out 'what they are really like'. I can read their official statements, and I am completely unconvinced based on what I have read from CBF people that they are actually misunderstood/slandered inerrantists.

Basically, if the leadership of the convention runs around saying the sky is falling, I can walk outside now and see for myself long before we "have to do something" at the convention.

grrr8wing said...

well said sojourner! better means of communication today are a blessing for everyone.