Friday, February 2, 2007

The IMB Report

To tell you the truth, I know very little about the inner workings of the IMB. For the duration of my blogging, I have said precious little about IMB policies. I have opined at length about theological issues raised by the IMB. I have responded in detail to events that had anything to do with ecclesiology, SWBTS, or Texas, as these are matters of particular interest to me. But I've said very little about IMB policies.

Bro. Marty Duren was first, I believe, to post the text of a draft IMB report on the Burleson motion (see here). I quote the text from his site, so if there are errors in the text, Marty, I'm blaming them on you <grin>. Some of the responses are written in internal IMB-ese, and I will have little to say about them. Others deal more with the structure of the SBC, and I'm full of opinion about that.

In general, I think it is a good report, as far as I can tell.

In response to the motion that “the Executive Committee appoint an ad hoc committee to determine sources of the controversies in the International Mission Board, and make findings and recommendations regarding these controversies, so that trustees of the IMB might effect recomciliation and effectively discharge their responsibilities to God and fellow Southern Baptists by cooperating together to accomplish evangelism and missions to the Glory of God,” the International Mission Board meeting in session on January 30, 2007, respectfully submits the following response:

The Board of Trustees of the IMB, which consists of 89 trustees elected by the Southern Baptist Convention, is convinced that it has, and will continue, to discharge its responsibilities and fiduciary accountability to the SBC in cooperation to accomplish the board’s ministry assignments of evangelism and missions. The diversity of personalities, backgrounds and churches represented invariably is reflected in different opinions in giving oversight to the work of the IMB. This diversity is necessary in arriving at consensus and determining the leadership of God in making decisions within the board’s assigned responsibilities. We contend that any controversies have been dealt with according to appropriate Biblical guidelines and in line with democratic processes and approved board polity.
This section articulates their judgment call on whether the board as a whole has dealt with controversy appropriately and whether controversy is hindering the accomplishment of their mission. Their answer is yes, they have dealt with controversy properly, and no, the controversy has not hindered their work.

I'm not sure that the controversy has been dealt with perfectly. First an overture toward having Burleson removed from the board, then a reversal. Their manner of dealing with the controversy has not been consistent; therefore, it cannot logically have been correct. But, I'm guessing that, when you show up as an IMB trustee, they haven't been giving you a manual for how to deal with situations like the past year!

So, I'm saying that they haven't dealt with the matter perfectly. But they aren't saying that the controversy has been dealt with perfectly—only that it has been dealt with biblically and democratically. I don't know enough details to adjudge the first criterion. As to the second one, they are 100% correct. Neither am I privy to any information that would make me a good analyst regarding the impact of the controversy upon board effectiveness, so I'll take their word for it.

Now, on to the specifics:
With the counsel and concurrence of the International Mission Board executive staff, the board of trustees responds to the five concerns expressed in the motion as follows:

(1) The manipulation of the nominating process of the Southern Baptist Convention during the appointment of trustees for the IMB.

The International Mission Board has no authority to speak to the work of the nominating committee elected by the Southern Baptist Convention or to investigate the process by which it does its work.
This is a perfectly accurate answer. These trustees are the nominees, not the nominators. The messengers to the convention vote on the nominations. Who are the trustees of the IMB to question the slates of nominees approved by the messengers? Any response by them to this question would be entirely inappropriate.
(2) Attempts to influence and/or coerce the IMB trustees, staff, and administration to take a particular course of action by one or more Southern Baptist agency heads other than the president of the IMB.

It is assumed that any and all heads of SBC entities are concerned about the effectiveness of all entities in order for the SBC to fulfill its kingdom task in the world. While the IMB may exercise authority over its own president and elected staff, we are not in a position to question or investigate the actions and motives of heads of other entities.
Again, this is a basic truth of our polity. The trustees of the IMB have no authority to investigate the actions of people outside the IMB. The IMB apparently has no interest in muzzling Dr. Iorg. :-)

All kidding aside, might I add that one of the great benefits of the convention method over the society method, IMHO, is the opportunity for the entities to communicate and coordinate with one another. Institutionally, none of the other agency heads have any authority over any other agency. That does not mean that they are constitutionally required not to have an opinion. I can't imagine that Marty, or any of us bloggers, would stand for anyone telling us to keep our opinions to ourselves.
(3) The appropriate and/or inappropriate use of forums and executive sessions of the IMB as compared to conducting business in full view of the Southern Baptist Convention and the corresponding propriety and/or impropriety of the chairman of the IMB excluding any individual trustee, without Southern Baptist Convention approval, from participating in meetings where the full IMB is convened.

The IMB does not allow formal business to be transacted in its closed Trustee Forums, but uses this time for prayer, personal testimonies and preliminary questions and discussions regarding issues of mutual concern between senior staff and trustees. Official executive sessions are limited to matters dealing with sensitive personnel actions related to staff, missionaries and/or trustees or those in which public exposure would result in detrimental consequences for personnel serving in sensitive and restricted locations around the world.

Any actions that may be taken to exclude any trustee from participating in closed board sessions by the chairman will have been made with support of the board as a last resort and in order to avoid disruption and distractions to the board fulfilling its assigned tasks with unity and appropriate decorum.
How much trouble has Wade Burleson made for the Board of Trustees? I don't know the answer to that question (I mean, apart from the public aspects that are apparent to everyone). I do agree that the trustees have the right obligation to keep one person from grinding the work of the board to a halt. With this response they are clearly claiming that Burleson's actions have posed an obstacle to the ongoing work of the board, in their opinion.

Burleson is appealing to the Southern Baptist people, as is his right. Until the situation is resolved, the trustees ought to proceed according to the will of the preponderant majority of trustees. If they have the procedural right to exclude Burleson from some sessions, if doing so does not preclude him from exercising his vote as a trustee on "formal business", and if such an action is necessary for the board to move forward, then I guess it might be the best thing to do.

Personally, I would keep him in the loop and continue to vote him down, assuming that he is in as drastic a minority as it appears. But such a course of action would presume that every scintilla of every meeting is not going to show up on the Internet that evening.

Knowing whether these actions were appropriate and necessary would require contextual knowledge of what all has transpired recently. I do not have such knowledge (other than one-sided accounts); therefore, I offer no firm opinion of this response.

I and several other readers of this report were apparently confused. Burleson has not been excluded from the forums. So, it appears that the report is simply reserving the right for the board to exclude a hypothetical someone in the hypothetical event that it found such action necessary.
(4) The legislation of new doctrinal requisites for eligibility to serve as employees or missionaries of the IMB beyond the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message.

While the Baptist Faith and Message represents a general confession of Southern Baptist beliefs related to Biblical teachings on primary doctrinal and social issues, the IMB retains the prerogative and responsibility of further defining the parameters of doctrinal beliefs and practices of its missionaries who serve Southern Baptists with accountability to this board.
Precisely correct.

In fact, after the SBC adopted the BF&M, each institution had to adopt it separately. Why? Precisely because each board of trustees explicitly and exclusively has the authority to set the doctrinal parameters for that entity.
(5) The suppression of dissent by trustees in the minority through various means by those in the majority, and the propriety of any agency forbidding a trustee, by policy, from publicly criticizing a board approved action.

All board approved actions result from a process of committee, and sometimes multiple committees, consideration before they are brought to a plenary session for adoption. All trustees have opportunity in the committee process and plenary session to express and advocate minority opinions. As in any democratic body, once the majority has determined the action to be taken, the board feels that the action should receive the unified public support of all trustees for the sake of effectively moving forward to fulfill our mission task.
I do not entirely agree. I believe that individual trustees ought to be able publicly to express their opinions about board actions, so long as their statements have to do with general policy and do not compromise the security of board employees. Nevertheless, I do not believe that trustees ought to be able to express publicly the opinions, statements, votes, or blow-by-blow details of other people's service in connection with board activity.

I'm a free-expression kind of guy, and I want to see good reason before anyone is silenced. Providing a setting in which all trustees can express their opinions confidently without fear of public chastisement is a good reason, I think.

Final Note

I find very interesting the "concurrence of the. . . executive staff" line in the introduction to the specifics. Apparently staff and trustees are in agreement on this report.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Commentor contribution to your dilemma:

sbc pastor said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts concerning the IMB Report. Let me just say that you have articulated them in such a convincing manner that I will be forced to agree with you once again :0). I too find it interesting that the statement carried with it the "counsel and concurrence" of the IMB executive staff. Apparently, they are not too thrilled with the tactics of Burleson either. God bless!!!

In Christ,

4:22 PM
Tim Rogers said...
Brother Bart,

You have pointed something out that does not seem to be getting across. This report has been approved by the BoT and the Administration before it was released.


4:30 PM
volfan007 said...

very interesting and very informing. thanks.


5:01 PM
Les Puryear said...

In your response to the BFM part of the statement, you said, "each board of trustees explicitly and exclusively has the authority to set the doctrinal parameters for that entity."

Please correct me if I'm wrong but are you saying that any board can set any doctrinal paramters asthe board sees fit whether it agrees with BFM2000 or not?

If my understanding is correct, why doesn't that raise a concern? An extreme example would be if NAMB wanted all of their missionaries to be ardent snake handlers, wouldn't that be a concern? Is there no avenue for addressing doctrinal error among these boards? Are these boards considered to be autonomous?



6:39 PM
Tim Rogers said...
Brother Les,

I do not presume to answer for Brother Bart. However, you question is one that I have been trying to explain every since I entered this blog world.

The institutions have the right to form their own doctrinal standards. For years the only doctrinal guidelines held by SEBTS was the Abstracts. The institutions adopting the BF&M was not a requirement of the convention it was a free choosing of the various institutions.

The only direction the convention has in setting doctrine is correcting doctrine that is outside the majority of SB. We do that through our annual meetings. If a institution sets a doctrine the majority of SB do not accept then it is changed at the annual meeting.


7:00 PM
CB Scott said...

You do not need me for confirmation,but I would like to say Tim is right in what he is saying about board authority in SBC entities.


7:23 PM
selahV said...
Bart, Les and Tim: WOW! This has been the greatest "Cliff Notes" on SBC "stuff" I've read in all of Blogland. Thanks soooo much. The fog has lifted. The windshield is cleared and I can pack up my microscope. Finally. I get it! SelahV

7:26 PM
Les Puryear said...
Tim and CB,

So there is a way to address doctrinal policy set by these boards. If I'm understanding you correctly then that avenue is via the Annual Convention. Right?

How would this be done? Would it take a motion of some sort? I know a resolution is non-binding, so it can't be that.

Please excuse my ignorance in these matters. I really appreciate your explanations.


P.S. At least for me, something good is coming out of Wade's actions in Greensboro. It's helping me to understand the inner workings of the SBC better. :)

7:37 PM
CB Scott said...

You are correct. It takes a motion and not just a "motion" yelled from a mic. It takes a motion that is in order as prescribed by the guidelines of the SBC in session.

Many, many motions have been made in our history that were ruled out of order. I have made a few that were ruled void of proper order myself:-)

I made one to get the church President Clinton was a member of "kicked out" of the SBC when Dr. Patterson was President of the SBC. After the smoke cleared he ruled my motion out of order. We had a good laugh about it later. I have missed those times.


8:11 PM
Bart Barber said...

Everyone else's comments have correctly surmised that, although setting doctrinal parameters is the job of the trustees, that doesn't mean that they are unaccountable in performing that job.

The making of motions to direct trustees to set certain theological parameters (or un-set them)...I'm not sure to what degree the SBC can do that. Governing the boards is the job of the trustees. Someone else will know the intricacies of how the convention can and cannot instruct them in their duties.

But the SBC does have two major gigantic venues of oversight. First, the SBC elects the trustees. If it so desires, it can deliberately elect trustees who will change the policy of a board to suit the will of the messengers.

Second, the SBC controls the flow of Cooperate Program dollars. The SBC can de-fund an institution if that institution gets so far out of line that the SBC chooses to take such action.

Of course, with the SBC being the sole member of these entities, if they were de-funded by the convention, they'd be in a pretty pickle. Then again, with the SBC in this position, there's no reason why option one wouldn't work, and therefore no reason that option two should ever be considered.

6:51 AM
selahV said...
Bart: You know how churches have a "Committee on Committees"? Maybe the SBC needs a Trustee Board on Trustee Boards, and a CP on the CP. Chuckle, chuckle...just a thought. selahV

9:39 AM
Tim Rogers said...
Brother Les,

One more item that may help in understanding the need for resolutions. Resolutions, while not binding, clearly state the will of the SB. Here is what Brother Art Rogers referred to as the myth of the majority. The majority of the messengers at the time of the resolution is passed. However, it still speaks volumes as to "this is what SB believe".

Therefore a motion based on resolutions passed direct trustees as to the majoritive thinking of SB.


10:07 AM
Bro. Robin said...
This post has been removed by the author.
12:39 PM
Bro. Robin said...
Bro. Bart

Thanks for the info.

Good questions Bro. Les. Notice in all the responses, there is no avenue for taking such grievances directly to the internet through the medium of blogs.

Things that make you go hmmmmmmm?

12:44 PM
Les Puryear said...
Thank all of you for your learned explanations of the SBC political process.

I must admit that I am still wary of BoTs freedom to define doctrinal policy beyond BFM2000.

Blessings to all.


12:54 PM
Bart Barber said...

I can understand your concern. The weaknesses of such a structure are evident, I suppose. The structure is a function of our historical development—some of these institutions started out without any clear governance relationship with the SBC, after all.

I do think there is a strength to operating this way. We are able to have different nuances among the seminaries (one a little more Calvinistic, one with a history of emphasizing evangelism, etc.) precisely because they can add their own tweaks to the baseline core of the BF&M in pursuing their ministries. I think our convention is the healthier for those nuances.

Of course, there is only one IMB, so there is no opportunity to benefit from variety there.

The big picture for me is this: The agencies have done with the BF&M precisely what we told them to do with it. They have adopted it and they operate within its parameters. We (the messengers) did not ever instruct them by saying, "These and these only are the sum total of doctrinal parameters that you may use." Certainly we could pressure the various agency trustees to adopt such a policy, but we have not up to this point. I do not believe it would be wise to do so.

They are called "trustees" for a reason. Either we trust them or we don't. The existence of trustees assumes that there are specific applications of general principles that will arise, requiring people of good judgment to make the right call. Our current system gives them some freedom to act in such cases, leaving the messengers of the convention full authority, if the trustees have proven untrustworth, to replace them with people whom we trust better.

1:08 PM
Alan Cross said...
Thanks for detailing how this works, Bart. I'm in the same boat of confusion as Les. I feel that it is a journey into relativism to require employees to sign the BF&M and be fired, and then to say that you have the right to create doctrinal policies that go beyond it, if you desire. They use it when it suits them and add to it when it suits them as well. I don't think that you can have it both ways and be logically consistent, because the rest of us do not know what to think or follow.

I have a real problem with the way it is set up, if what you are saying is the case. Do we actually have a system that enables 40-45 men to set doctrinal requirements beyond the confession of faith of the 16 million member SBC? You say that we can replace them, but what damage is done in the mean time? What if 45 Calvinists get appointed and they pass a policy that says only 5 point Calvinists can be appointed as missionaries because that is the historical baptist position? In the year or two that it would take to replace 10 or so of them, how much damage would be done? That position would go beyond the BF&M and should not be a litmus test (of course it could go the other way as well).

I just think that this is an unworkable precedent. How can we TRUST people that have clearly stated that it is within their perogative to set their own doctrinal parameters? Where is the accountability? Replacing trustees takes far too long, in my opinion, for this type of thing to be workable. Does the BF&M mean nothing? It appears so.

I think that you know this to be the case. As I read your defense, I don't sense a great deal of confidence in your writing. PLEASE, can someone show some objectivity and at least admit that this precedent can lead us down a dangerous road and completely destroy a spirit of cooperation amongst churches and baptist entities? Forget PPL and baptism. Just think about what this is saying in regard to our BoT's accountability to the denomination. What if one agency gets taken over by liberals, who, while affirming the BF&M2000, discover ways around it by adding on doctrines that we would consider fringe? It seems that we have no recourse.

Anyway, you can read my entire argument on my blog, but I just wanted to voice serious concern and call us to think about the implications of this in a different way.

Thanks for your writing, Bart. Although we often disagree, I always learn a lot from you.

1:22 PM
volfan007 said...
thats why its so important that good trustees are elected, and that we are at the sbc to vote them in...or out.


2:42 PM
Bart Barber said...

I'm sure you correctly perceive a lack of confidence in my writing. Nevertheless, you would detect even less confidence in my writing about a system where we attempt direct governance of the entities by the messengers to the annual meeting because we've tied the hands of the trustees.

My lack of confidence is in humanity. Any system consisting of us is vulnerable to us. But this one has a great system of checks and balances that are effective. The Conservative Resurgence is proof that the system works—that the messengers to the convention can make any change that they desire fervently enough. Good.

Yet, as you correctly observe, you can't turn the whole thing around in one year, or even three years. If you could, the agencies would be whipped around by the whimsy of every year's meeting. Bad.

Your points, it seems to me, are strong ones in favor of attending the meetings and being involved. As you correctly observe, the price to pay for being asleep at the wheel, even for a few years, is potentially a high one. The remedy will take years to accomplish and a high level of commitment Vigilance is required.

Why do you think I'm encouraging people to go to San Antonio this year? :-)

2:51 PM
Bart Barber said...

I hear you out there. BTW, never apologize for making long posts into my comments. I enjoy them. Thanks for your recent readership and faithful participation, both here and elsewhere.

2:52 PM
sbc pastor said...

Your response to Alan is right on target. Thanks and God bless!!!

In Christ,

7:12 PM
CB Scott said...

I still believe the way we do business as Southern Baptist is the best way in this imperfect world.

That is what I believe,now.

I will know for sure when God opens the "books" at a time only He knows.


7:18 PM
ColinM said...

I am missing your logic on relativism.

There are two sides to a brick wall. Let's assume the BF&M is that wall. First, would I be right to surmise that you are looking at the BF&M as the maximum restrictions that any SBC entity can impose? That is, the BF&M is viewed as the strictest set of standards, and any additional standards would be "going beyond it." And, that the IMB is viewing the BF&M as the minimum set of standards required for participation? That is, once those standards are verified, they then add additional restrictions (like no speaking tongues publicly in the field) in order to maintain their objectives? In this manner, presuppositions are playing a much greater role in this debate than is healthy? The wall, therefore, is the perimeter in which the further restrictions are contained for the BF&M. But for you, the wall is the perimeter that restricts further restrictions, and the frontlines in the battle between angels and demons, orthodoxy and unorthodoxy, can only be viewed from the lookout tower on the perimeter. This is what it seems to me you are arguing.

I do agree with Bart and CB that one must at least retain the wisdom of the Resurgers in that they saw that subverting the trustees and entire SBC organizational structure would render its system and authority useless, and thereby preclude the need for any takeover. I wonder if they feel like the Viet Nam vets ever, "We appreciate your service to our country but hate how you did it."

By the way, people-all-things-SBC-knowledgeable, how do I go about writing a resolution to get our trustees renamed "Transparencees"?

11:47 PM
volfan007 said...


thats good.

and, you said a mouthful, bro. i liked the phrase....

"I wonder if they feel like the Viet Nam vets ever, "We appreciate your service to our country but hate how you did it."

very insightful.


5:13 AM
Alan Cross said...

I'm not saying that the BF&M is the minimum OR the maximum standard. I'm saying it is the agreed upon standard. It is the set of rules for the playing field. Of course, the IMB is free to create new restrictions in many areas, but on doctrinal issues, it seems that the BF&M should be our guide because it is what we have all agreed to. Isn't that why Jeremy Green is trying to get Wade Burleson removed as an IMB trustee? Jeremy doesn't feel that Wade supports the BF&M. Well, if you are going to use the BF&M as a club to drive people out, you should accept those who agree with it without adding yet more qualifications. I think that it is relativistic to try and have it both ways - that is the basis of my argument.

The SBC at-large has zero to little ability to speak into this process. The trustee appointment system is hardly democratic. It is about 3 times removed from the average person in the SBC and is controlled by the election of the president, which before last year was hardly in doubt. The IMB trustees have de facto changed the rules of the playing field from what we have all agreed to. I just don't think it should be that easy and that we should have no recourse, especially when a trustee group has gone beyond our agreed upon statement of faith.

I know that I'm not in friendly territory here and that Bart would not even let Jerry Rankin teach a Sunday School class in his church. But, I really am surprised that you guys are alright with the illogical nature of this position. If this were happening on another issue that you didn't agree with, would you be so quick to accept the action of the trustees? I think not. I'm just asking people to be objective and see the bigger picture. It seems to me that our whole system is in peril and those checks and balances are being thwarted because our "constitution," so to speak, is being subjected to the will of a small cabal of trustees.

2:34 PM
Debbie said...
But the questions still remain unanswered Jeremy, Colin. Why have a BF&M? Why then was the BF&M to be signed by missionaries who were fired if they did not sign. These questions have been asked several times and left with no answer. Anyone?

2:39 PM
ColinM said...

I am still at a loss as to why you think it is relativistic. It is loose by your definition, but not in any way relativistic.

You say the BF&M is an agreed upon standard. What does this mean? Does it mean it is the agreed upon minimum standard? If so, what about those who want caveats? Is it the agreed upon maximum standard? If so, why not allow open theists, women pastors, those who don't pray, and homosexuals? For those all would fall below the maximum standards. If, however, it is a simple guide, then you must be lenient both ways, both to add restricitons and take away restrictions, for I doubt seriously that you could find a large poole of missionaries who exactly agree with each other and the BF&M, no more, and no less.

On recourse and the trustees system, I find it hard to believe that the conservative resurgence orchestrated the greatest conservative takeover of the last century and worked within the inefficient and stacked trustee system, while being the (F)undamentalist neanderthals they are made out to be. On recourse specifically, I suggest prayer. In addition, I suggest praying to God about leadership changes instead of broadcasting dirty laundry to pre-gospel ears. I also suggest submitting to authority, and relying on the sovereignty of God. Call me (C)razy or (F)undamentalist or (S)pooky, but I happen to think prayer and reliance upon God is the way that glorifies His name, not "principled dissent" by means of castigation, rumor, "ethics," emotive pleas, federal law, and whatever else is going on, even if you disagree with the way things are going. But I can understand the feeling that God's hand isn't enough, for all of redemptive history has been making that strategic miscalculation.

2:56 PM
ColinM said...

For the same exact reason we had the Anabaptist Confessions, the English-Separatist Baptist Confessions, the English Baptist Associational Confessions (like the London 1644), the later American Baptist Confessions, and earlier Southern Baptist Confessions.

3:00 PM
Bart Barber said...

It is really just as simple as the difference between direct democracy and a republic. Your you-guys-are-the-winners-so-you-like-it-now approach ignores the very real fact that people cannot be boiled down to one side or the other. On the issue of private prayer language, the IMB trustees have adopted the position with which I agree. From that one, solitary fact you have projected to this fantasy that I support the system because it lock-step operates to my advantage.

It does not; therefore, this kind of argumentation is not tenable.

I would not pass the requirements to serve as a missionary with the IMB. I am not particularly happy with the status of things over at NAMB. The Abstract of Principles does not exactly rev my engine, since I am not a Calvinist.

My position is neither self-serving nor relativistic.

As I have stated already, I favor the system because I know of no better one. Furthermore, I see as one of its strengths the very thing that you dislike about it: It does not facilitate coup d'etat by a group of bloggers (or anything elses) in six months. To turn things around in the SBC, you have to have what the Conservative Resurgence had—issues substantive enough to field a majority of messengers for nearly a decade.

3:01 PM
Bart Barber said...

My apologies…although I have seen the question many times, I never realized that it was a serious one.

Why go to the trouble of having a constitution, which the President must agree to uphold, preserve, and defend or be fired, if we're just going to keep on having a legislature meet every year? How moronic! :-)

The answer to both of these questions is the same: The documents in question were not purported to be the end of discussion. They are foundational documents with which agreement is mandatory, but which are neither exhaustive, immutable, nor hegemonic.

3:07 PM
volfan007 said...
colin and bart,

how loud can i shout.... hallelujah! amen!

you fellas bless my heart. i mean it. thank God for you.


3:39 PM
Alan Cross said...
Colin and Bart,

O.K., so it's two on one! That's fine. :) Don't you think that bringing up the Abstracts at Southern is spurious in this debate? Does Southern forbid non-Calvinists from going to school there? Of course not. But, they would have to for the use of the Abstracts to equal what the IMB has done with their new policies. We aren't telling someone to not speak in tongues publicly on the mission field (we already said that). We are telling them that if you have ever spoken in tongues privately, you are disqualified. I have no problem with prohibitions against alcohol consumption while you are a missionary. But, do you eliminate someone if they have ever been a moderationist? Or, if they are a moderationist but agree not to partake of alcohol while they are missionaries? The IMB has set up policies that go beyond guidelines and they are eliminating people for differences in tertiary doctrines. And, they have done it without reference to the confession that guides Baptists in our attempts at cooperation. I won't even start to make the biblical argument here, because I have already made it previously and we have shown that we disagree.

The IMB is using the BF&M in a relativistic way because it IS their standard on one hand, and it IS NOT on another. Someone might FULLY meet the standard that was applied to missionaries in 2002 when the IMB used the BF&M as a theological standard, but they might not meet it now. If you are looking for relativism, why don't you ask about the missionaries that are on the field RIGHT NOW that presently speak in tongues. The policies are not even retroactive, so I don't begin to understand how this can be about a consistent barometer of truth. Hence, relativism.

As far as praying about the problems that I see, I do. Many others are praying as well. Is that all that the participants of the conservative resurgence did? Did they only pray? If they had only prayed more! How much character assassination took place? How many dirty deeds went down? Look, I'm a complete conservative and have no tolerance for liberals or moderates in the SBC. I would probably agree with you on most things and I am a strict inerrantist. But, I don't believe that the end justifies the means. For my part, I write on a blog and make comments elsewhere. I do pray and trust God and I try to conduct myself civily. We'll all be judged for our actions so we had better be trusting God in this.

The problem with the system, Bart, is that once the participants of the Conservative Resurgance gained power with "issues substantive enough to field a majority of messengers for nearly a decade," they went beyond their original mandate. The mandate was to restore conservatism and biblical inerrancy to the SBC. We all agreed with that, at least those of us who are still in the SBC. But, when you go beyond that mandate, just because you did the work to gain power, you abuse that power, in my opinion. What if their platform had been, "Rid the SBC missionary force of all continualists and those who were baptized in churches who do not believe in the security of the believer"? Would they have gained power? Of course not! Those things weren't a problem then and they aren't a problem now. They also were not issues substantive enough to gain a majority. We already have procedures in place that keep us away from charismatic excess. Some people have taken the power granted them to restore the SBC to a conservative course, and are now using it for other ends. That is an abuse of power, in my opinion, and it is why our confession of faith, the BF&M needs to be our guide on issues substantive enough to eliminate missionaries.

Everyone who joins a baptist church gets a copy of the BF&M to read. They then get to decide up front whether they fit with our doctrine. It is reasonable to think that if they grow in maturity and follow our beliefs according to Scripture, that if God so calls, they would be able to be missionaries through our sending agency. However, they get to the IMB and find that the rules have changed. What they thought baptists believed and where they thought there was room for disagreement is now proven wrong. They find that baptists have "secret" beliefs on issues that only come up when it is time to appoint missionaries. These beliefs are so important that you must walk lock step with them or you are eliminated, but they are not important enough to be broadcast when you are joining a baptist church.

Under this approach, church membership is degraded. Discipleship is degraded. You have to be initiated into a secret theological club to understand what is acceptable and what is not. Two classes of Christians emerge: those who "know" what doctrines are appropriate, and those who have read the Bible in a different way and did not realize that some things were okay and others were not. Is there a secret handshake as well? Of course, this sitiuation exists because it is easier, now that you have power, to appoint trustees who follow the pet doctrines of some who have gained power on another legitimate platform.

If these doctrines are so important as to eliminate missionaries, why not follow the appropriate processes for baptists and amend the BF&M so that we can all know the rules up front? This won't happen because it is too hard or too much of a gamble, in my opinion. Or, maybe it will happen. At least then we will all be on the same playing field.

I've been taught that continualism and gifts like speaking in tongues were biblical for years as a baptist. Maybe I've been isolated, but I didn't realize that perspective was taboo. Now, because of the actions of less than 100 men in November of 2005, I have learned a different lesson.

The trustees of the IMB were not selected with a mandate to eliminate the people that the two policies target from missionary service. There is no mandate to do so in Southern Baptist life. Yet, they have taken it upon themselves to do so, and in that they have abused their power. They would have been wise to consider the BF&M2000 as their doctrinal standard, and if there was a need to go beyond it, they should have done so in a way that was representative of the views of all conservative baptists. If they had looked, they would have seen that the policies that were already in place did just that.

I could write much more, but you've already gone blind if you've read this far, so I'll leave it at that. Thanks for the dialogue, by the way. My convictions only grow stronger as I talk with you guys.

5:16 PM
sbc pastor said...

First, let me simply say that you are incorrect in saying that “Jeremy doesn’t feel that Wade supports the BF&M.” Burleson offered three written caveats when he signed the document and has since expressed his disagreement with it in at least two other areas since having signed it. There are no “feelings” involved at all in that determination, only “facts.”

Second, the BF&M is not a “club” as you have affectionately referred to it. It is our convention’s statement of faith containing those “doctrines we hold precious and as essential to the Baptist tradition of faith and practice” (BF&M, 5). Furthermore, as an “instrument of doctrinal accountability” (Ibid.) it provides a minimal doctrinal standard for service. This of course does not negate the fact that the Trustees of each individual SBC entity have the sole authority to set the doctrinal parameters for that entity (all of which have adopted the BF&M). However, the messengers to the convention have the privilege and the responsibility of electing Trustees to serve on the boards of our various entities. Thus, it is imperative that each cooperating Southern Baptist church send messengers to the convention to elect Trustees that can be, well, “trusted.”

Third, please forgive me, but either I am not following your train of thought in regard to “relativism” or the train has completely jumped off the tracks altogether :0). Perhaps you will provide further clarification.

Fourth, your suggestion that the “SBC at-large has zero to little ability to speak into this process” is incorrect. I think that the problem may be a lack of understanding our convention’s polity. As Bart has already correctly pointed out in his response to you, “It is really just as simple as the difference between direct democracy and a republic.” Our convention’s polity is a republican form of government which clearly has a democratic element. We, the messengers to the convention, elect those who represent us on the boards of our various entities… we can them Trustees. This requires vigilance on our part and accountability on their part. God bless!!!

In Christ,

5:19 PM
sbc pastor said...
The next to last sentence should read, "We call them Trustees." Perhaps I had a particular Trustee in mind when I accidentally wrote, “We can them Trustees.” :0)

God bless!!!

In Christ,

5:42 PM
Bart Barber said...

Actually, the correct analogy between the IMB and SBTS (the Abstracts) would either be between professors and missionaries (employees) or between students and nationals (targets of the employees' work). So, the analogy is indeed precisely on point.

We have two disagreements ongoing here: one about results and the other about the process. The process (the trustee system) could just as easily achieve your desired results as mine. It is a fair process. If you are committed to your goals, Alan, and if enough Southern Baptists agree with you and are committed enough to see the process through, this process will facilitate precisely the changes that you wish to seek.

But there is no microwave…you have to use the oven and wait for it to cook.

Nevertheless, the only question is how many people agree with you and how many people agree with me. That is precisely how the system is supposed to work.

5:48 PM
Les Puryear said...
Jeremy, Bart, and Colin,

Your argument about whether Wade or anyone else holds to BFM2000 or not is moot when it is not the standard by which the BoTs do business. I've got to go with Alan and Debbie on this one.

It's amazing to me that some of the same people who were recently defending the signing of agreement with BFM2000 are now the ones arguing against its validity as it applies to BoT doctrinal policy.

Folks, this kind of "flip-flop" is the same tactic that "we" (I include me in the "we",) have been trying to get across to Wade and friends for a while now as unfair and wrong. Does anybody else see the irony here?

I will defend those in current leadership against those who are attacking them without merit. I have stood side-by-side (in a manner of speaking) with many of you against these sort of attacks. But I will not defend current leadership when something like this is obviously wrong.


7:31 PM
Alan Cross said...
Thanks for the response, guys. This is fruitful on my part in bringing further understanding.


Thanks for the correction on your perspective. I'll let Wade defend his stance on the BF&M since I know nothing about it. My point, however, is that if you are going to use the BF&M to bring conformity in one direction, it should be sufficient as a basis of cooperation without then adding more to it.

As far as your accusation that I referred to the BF&M as a club, here were my exact words: "Well, if you are going to use the BF&M as a club to drive people out, you should accept those who agree with it without adding yet more qualifications." I didn't say that it WAS a club. I said that if some people were going to use it that way, they should be consistent. I hope you see the difference. I do not see the BF&M as a club, and everything that I have written has shown the utmost respect for our statement of faith. I'm starting to get the feeling that you are reading me through your own presuppositions. I hope that is not the case. As far as not following me in the case I am making for relativism, perhaps those presuppositions are getting in the way? I don't know how to be any more clear. Fourthly, I've already spoken to how I believe the TRUSTEES have abused their power by bringing us down a road for which they had no mandate.


I see your point regarding Southern's abstract of principles. The analogy is well taken regarding missionaries = professors, etc. But, to carry it further, there are SIX SBC seminaries. If you don't like Southern's stance, you can choose another one. I don't have a huge problem with that. In regard to the IMB, there is no other option among Southern Baptists. If we had another missions agency that accepted those who have now been eliminated, I would not protest the IMB's stance. Are you suggesting the formation of another Southern Baptist missions sending agency? Or six?

Regarding your comments about collecting a majority and taking over the system, I really think that we should be protected against that type of move doctrinally. It should be harder than that. Who trusts the will of the majority? We should be protected by the Word of God and a confession of faith that reflects that same timelessness. I think Athanasius would agree.

If the SBC is a republic, as you state, then there should be separation of powers and checks and balances in a way that protects the republic from abuse. As it stands, the IMB Trustees have stated that they are autonomous. They will decide which doctrinal parameters the IMB follows. At this point, there is nothing we can do except unseat them. That happens through winning presidential elections so our guy can choose the nominating committee, which then chooses the trustees, is that correct?

That process is akin to the liberal strategy of changing our laws through appointing liberal justices to the courts. Then, the courts can interpret the constitution how they want to and apply that interpretation to all of us, despite what the majority says. There is no "standard of truth." Simply, he who has the power and position gets to decide what is true. If you want to change it, you have to elect a conservative president so that he can appoint conservative judges. It takes forever, and it is not guaranteed to be successful. In the meantime, terrible misinterpretations of the constitution and legal precedent takes place. The executive and legislative branches are powerless to stop it, because the judicial branch has set itself up as the interpreter of what is true. Unfortunately, truth changes like the shadows. Relativism holds sway and the politics of power and persuasion rule the day. This is not what our Founders intended for this Republic, yet it has happened. Conservatives have rightly called us back to a strict constructionism in regard to the Constitution, so that a small cabal of judges, legally appointed by sitting presidents, cannot MAKE law for all of us without our consent. To change law legally, you have to win elections. To change the Constitution, you need a 2/3 majority of states and or Congress. That is too difficult, as it should be. So, liberals have resorted to trying to control the courts.

That is the same thing that I see happening in the SBC. The Conservative Resurgence was right to call us back to the Bible as our inerrant rule of faith and practice. The BF&M is not Scripture, but Southern Baptists use it to reflect what we believe Scripture to teach. It is our Constitution, so to speak. Some would say the Bible is our Constitution, but that analogy does not work, since multitudes of groups use the Bible to make it say whatever they want it to say. We have, through many theological councils, drafted and revised our statement of faith, the Baptist Faith and Message to reflect what a majority of Baptists believe to be the essentials of our faith and to be the basis for our cooperation. It has been approved by the vast majority of Southern Baptists and we have used it accordingly. It is hard to change.

But, some who were faithful to bring us the Conservative Resurgence, have abandoned their principles and are now using shortcuts to remake the SBC in their image now that they have power. They have gone beyond their initial mandate and have stacked the Trustee boards in much the same way that liberals stacked the courts. We call them back to the BF&M and they respond by saying that they have every right to do what they are doing since their agency is autonomous. BUT IT IS THE ONLY MISSIONS AGENCY WE HAVE!!! It doesn't belong to the Trustees. It belongs to Southern Baptists!

If we try and influence the process in anyway, we are called political and ungrateful for the sacrifice of the Resurgence. But, I say that the Resurgence, if it still exists, is what has jumped the tracks. It is using political manuever to solidify their doctrinal perspective far beyond the rallying cry of Inerrancy. It is now bringing forward a fundamentalist, cessationist agenda that WOULD NOT have been approved by a majority of the SBC if they had moved forward on that platform.

Bart, it is akin to the pastor who is a closet Calvinist and is quiet about it when the church is interviewing him. Then, after he has gotten in, he brings his Calvinism and splits the church. That is what I see the "Trustees" doing.

Inerrancy = Yes
Cessationism = No

I don't think that we should have to engage on a 10 year crusade to take over the boards of the SBC just to allow continualist missionaries on the field, especially when the BF&M2000 is silent on that issue. The previous policies regulated that perspective fine. If you care about the issue that much, why don't you do this the right way and get the BF&M changed?

Again, thanks for the debate. It helps me to see both sides more clearly. I am full of sorrow that we are on different sides of this issue. I am just glad that we are on the same side of the only issue that really matters, our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ!

7:33 PM
joerstewart said...
Good job, Bart! As always, you get to the point of the matter. The end result of this debate will be a decision about whether we will be Southern Baptists or baptistic in expression. I recently posted about this, but the point is seen on Wade's recent post from David Shively. PPL is the fruit not the root of the issue. The question is Baptist identity. We are guilty of collective amnesia and spiritual myopia (to quote Timothy George).

8:30 PM
ColinM said...

You must have me confused with someone else, as I have not participated in the debates defending what you describe.

My method is this: I take no official position but look at the events and the arguments, compare them to recent SBC history and not so recent church history, praise God for His wisdom through Solomon, and argue logic plus sovereignty of God. It has been my MO since day one.

Alan, I appreciate your responses. It is refreshing to hear actual rebuttals rather than casual dismissals. Thank you, sincerely. I pray God's grace on you and your family. I just am not seeing the doom and gloom everyone else is seeing. I also think God has orchestrated events just as we have them. Further, I choose to trust and believe that each of our trustees and SBC heads seek God's face on their knees each and every day, with a humble heart and complete openness to God's will. I dare not assume they are subverting God's decrees as they see them, or employing unethical tactics despite Him. Therefore, I will hope and trust in God alone, and not dare get more worked up over silly issues of PPLs and political manuveurings more than I would the millions of souls headed for hell.

9:18 PM
ColinM said...

To some of your The BF&M is rightly considered a magnifying glass of doctrines with the entire counsel of God through Scripture pinpointing its complete revelation on specific doctrines. Thus, the BF&M points at the Bible a the foundation of truth, precluding any relativistic interpretation (unless, of course, you have sold the farm and undercut all doctrine by rejecting inerrancy); whereas the Constitution points (in their view) to a conception of a creator, no more.

This seems to be the crux:

Does the IMB have the right to make restrictions "beyond" the BF&M?

If so, and you don't like them, should there exist a quick-release button on their policy and appointment as a trustee?

Another aside on tongues. Since tongues is not in the BF&M, how does it fit into going beyond the BF&M? Is it ok since their view is the same as yours, or most SBCers? Therefore, are we giving more weight to the masses than the Scriptures? If not, what is the biblical basis for forbidding the public speaking in tongues, given the possibility of the right situation to exist where tongue speaking would fit all Paul's parameters? If it is just a matter of division, and on that basis is ok, why can't we lump PPL into that divisive category and call it a day? Just curious.

9:30 PM
Debbie said...
This post has been removed by the author.
10:25 PM
Debbie said...
Colin: The IMB was asked to investigate, they did not even investigate. Where is that honorable? Where is that even just?

3:33 AM
Tim said...

The vote was to refer the motion, not to ask the board to take action on the motion. I one ever voted on Burleson's motion. They voted to refer the motion. To refer a motion only means that the board has to consider the motion not that it must act on it. Referring the motion meant that the Board could do whatever it wanted to with the motion . Their only obligation is to report back to the convention what action they took. The document that has been approved by the board and published is the boards action on Wade's motion. That is far more than what happens to most motions that are referred.

11:53 AM
David Rogers said...
Wow Alan!

I think you make your point masterfully here! I think this needs to be whole separate post. It helped me to put a lot of things in perspective, and I think could help a lot of others to do so as well.

Bart (and others),

I am really interested what reply you have to the point Alan has, in my opinion, made so well here.

12:09 PM
sbc pastor said...

Thanks for your reply. First, I agree that there is no need for you to address the fact that Burleson signed the BF&M with three written caveats and has since then proven to be in disagreement with it in at least two other areas. The fact that you have repeatedly avoided that particular issue is an answer in itself :0). Thanks for proving my point.

Second, the BF&M is indeed an “instrument of doctrinal accountability” (BF&M, 5); however that “instrument” is not a “club,” but rather a doctrinal measuring stick of sorts. In my understanding, each entity has always included other doctrinal criteria as well as our confessional statement (such as the Abstracts). In fact, the SBC didn’t even have a statement of faith until 1925 – decades after the formation of our beloved convention. Interestingly, the BF&M did not make the Abstracts obsolete at either Southern or Southeastern seminaries. If you are to be consistent, then every other doctrinal criterion (including the Abstracts) should be done away with and the BF&M should be our sole “instrument of doctrinal accountability.” Are you suggesting that we do so?

Third, the “case” that you are attempting to make for “relativism” appears to be nonsensical, in my opinion. I am left only to believe that your “presuppositions” are once again “getting in the way” :0).

Fourth, in regard to your statement that the Trustees “have abused their power,” are you suggesting that they are guilty of some type of impropriety (as Burleson has done)? If so, can you substantiate that claim with evidence? In my understanding, the Trustees of our various entities most certainly have the sole authority to set the doctrinal parameters for that entity (whether they choose to employ the Abstracts, the BF&M, both, or other). Thus, any allegation of impropriety would seemingly be both inaccurate and unfounded. God bless!!!

In Christ,

1:34 PM
sbc pastor said...

I have consistently pointed out that the BF&M is an “instrument of doctrinal accountability” (BF&M, 5). Since all SBC entities, including the IMB (where Burleson is currently serving as a Trustee), have adopted the BF&M, then the fact that Burleson cannot honestly and wholeheartedly affirm our confessional statement in its entirety is very relevant. This fact alone disqualifies him from serving as a Trustee of the IMB (or any other SBC entity, for that matter).

My position is consistent. However, I am afraid that yours (as well as a few others) is not. In my understanding, each entity has always included other doctrinal criteria as well as our confessional statement (such as the Abstracts). In fact, the SBC didn’t even have a statement of faith until 1925 – decades after the formation of our beloved convention. Interestingly, the BF&M did not make the Abstracts obsolete at either Southern or Southeastern seminaries. If you are to be consistent, then every other doctrinal criterion (including the Abstracts) should be done away with and the BF&M should be our sole “instrument of doctrinal accountability.” Are you suggesting that we do so?

God bless!!!

In Christ,

2:01 PM
Alan Cross said...
Jeremy, I am not trying to dodge your question on Wade. I haven't talked or corresponded with Wade on these issues, so I don't know anything about it. From my understanding, there are other trustees and employees who have signed the BF&M with caveats. Obviously, that must be alright, because he is still allowed to serve. I'm really not interested in defending Wade or following him, so to me, it is not pertinent to the discussion. This has nothing to do with Wade. If you want him removed from the IMB BoT and you have a basis for that, why don't you stop complaining about him and do something? Surely, your complaint, if valid, could be heard through the processes that you keep calling us back to. Or, are you only able to complain about it on the blogs? If you are right, bring up charges and move to have him dismissed. If you are incapable of doing that, perhaps you should be a part of the process that elects trustees who will do that for you. Our present trustees seem to have stopped that movement. Don't you trust the wisdom of our trustees?

As far as accusing them of an abuse of power, I am not saying that they are guilty of an impropriety in a moral sense. I am saying that I believe that their action on these policies goes beyond the mandate that Southern Baptists gave them to return us to a conservative footing. I was very clear in what I was saying. My evidence is the addition of the new policies and #4 in their answer to Burleson's motion. I believe that for trustees to say that they can set doctrinal requirements as they see fit, beyond the BF&M, is an abuse of power. The evidence that I provide is what they themselves have said. It's in Bart's post.

As far as other entities having further doctrinal requirements, we have other seminaries. You are free to go to the seminary that suits you, if we are going to go the route that one seminary chooses one direction and another goes a different way. I don't agree with that personally and I would try to influence things in the other way, but if that's the way it works out at the end of the day, I can live with it - even in the case of SWBTS. I cannot live with an IMB that sets it's own doctrinal policies beyond what Baptists have agreed to. We have no other options for foreign missions. Would you suggest that we start other Southern Baptist missions agencies?

Again, I agree with you that the BF&M is not a club. I said that already. I said that if some are going to use it that way, they should be consistent, but I do not advocate that it be used that way. I don't have a problem with signing it or using it as a measure of doctrinal accountability. Despite where you might like to place me on the theological spectrum (and I am purely speculating), I affirm the BF&M2000 and have no problem signing it. I just don't trust a trustee process that can add stipulations to it in regard to our missions agencies. If we do not cooperate in missions, we do not cooperate at all. It is too big a deal.

If you can't follow the rest of my argument involving relativism, I cannot help you. Others seem to be able to follow it, so I don't know if the deficiency is on my end. I was as clear as I could possibly be. Now, you can disagree with it and back up your arguments, but I guess it is easier to dismiss it by saying it is nonsensical than it is to actually counter it. I might not be right, but I'll never know if you continually dismiss me when you disagree.

It seems that we keep talking past each other. I really am interested in debate on this issue, and if you can show me where I'm wrong, I will listen and change my thinking. I am not so set in my ways on this to be beyond logical argumentation if it can be provided. But, I have yet to see it. Thanks for taking the time, however. I sincerely mean that.

3:28 PM
Debbie said...
Tim: Why didn't they come out with a statement earlier than they did? The whole wait was because they were supposedly investigating. Then in the end, they made the statement that they did. I for one feel terribly misled.

9:45 PM
Debbie said...
Bart said: "The answer to both of these questions is the same: The documents in question were not purported to be the end of discussion. They are foundational documents with which agreement is mandatory, but which are neither exhaustive, immutable, nor ."

My questions are most usually serious. I do want to know the other view. But the question then remains in addition to Alan's well put points. Why were IMB missionaries fired for not signing it?

9:51 PM
Paul said...

I have no problem understanding your argument about relativism. It makes perfect sense.

I also think your whole line of thinking on this is dead on.

10:29 PM
ColinM said...

"Agreement is mandatory," as was stated and quoted. This means that the BF&M must serve as a minimum standard for qualification. Does qualification=cooperation? The minimum standard for cooperation is unity, not uniformity, nor the BF&M.

On relativism: For the actions to be relativistic, they must be based on whims and fancies (what is true for me) rather than objective moral truth or reality. In other words, decisions must be grounded in truth. This is what I understand to be the essence of relativism. If the IMB said, "We will make decisions based on our opinions and the way we feel," we would have a problem, but not necessarily a relativistic one. If they said, "We are going to set a parameter for the IMB because it is a timeless truth in the Bible; but, the seminaries don't need to adopt it because it is not true for them," then we would have relativism.

So, if we have a board that bases minimum qualifications for its missionaries on affirmation of the confession, but goes beyond it in policy, what does that mean? It means they are basing policy decision on principle- hopefully always biblical principles- like unity, cooperation, minimizing division, achieving end-goals of reaching the nations, etc. If these principles are grounded in truth (the Bible and their biblical convictions) they are by definition principles based in realism, not relativism.

I also want you to consider the seminaries in this matter. Your advocating for policy and decisions to be dictated by the BF&M. Good start, because its based on the Bible. Is it a timeless standard, the BF&M? No, for it does not yet address future heresies and aberrant theologies, as past confessions did not address current heresies combatted both by the 63 and 00 rewrites. Consider how a seminary president's hands would be tied in hiring and firing of professors, if one candidate affirmed the BF&M wholeheartedly, but refused to be in daily, confessional prayer. That is a serious flaw in Christian character, especially for one about to disciple future pastors- yet, he meets the qualifications set out in the BF&M. Consider the same candidate for the mission field, yet his refusal is to pray for salvation specifically. Can you see the problem of setting the BF&M as the maximum standard by which candidacy must be judged? Just because additional policies be set forth, be it pragmatic or health related such as the BMI, or theological and biblical such as prayer, doesn't make anyone relativistic nor does it make them evil and set to take over the SBC by fiat.

10:49 PM
ColinM said...
This is worth reading.

11:27 PM
Matt Brady said...

Tim is correct about the process of referring motions. If the trustees response is not well received, further action can be requested at the next convention meeting.

As for the time involved, you said "The whole wait was because they were supposedly investigating."

I don't think the board was trying to mislead you or anyone else into believing that they were spending several months doing an in depth investigation. I could be wrong, but I think the full board only meets quarterly. I don't see a problem with them waiting for their regular meeting to establish a committee and then waiting until the next meeting to vote on a report.

The trustees are not evil men run amok with the lone exception being your pastor. They are working within the established framework of the organization.

6:11 AM
Matt Brady said...

I don't see an inconsitency in the BFM versus additional statements debate.

As I see it, the BFM should be a minimum requirement to work or serve in any convention agencies. There have to be some minimum areas of agreement in order to safegaurd CP funds from being used by those who would teach doctrine contrary to what the churches sending the funds believe. All of the convention's entities should and do claim to uphold the doctrines outlined in the BFM.

The BFM provides the minimum level of agreement convention wide, but individual entities can and should be able to set requirements that are appropriate for their task and direction. Those additional requirements, of course, should not contradict the BFM.

6:29 AM
Matt Brady said...

I'll stay out of the relativism debate, but you mentioned that you were taught that gifts like speaking in tongues were biblical for years and didn't realize that perspective was taboo amongst Southern Baptists.

I grew up in churches across the south from Florida to Texas and have been very involved in SBC churches in five different states and fairly active in SBC life in general. I must say that my experience has been the exact and clear opposite. Southern Baptists as a whole have vehemently rejected the modern tongues movement. The issue of rejecting the tongues movement is not a recent narrowing of parameters by a handful of conservative resurgence operatives who have gone beyond their mandate. In fact, the conservative resurgence infrastructure is practically non-existent today (compared to what it was). There is no vast right wing conspiracy here. The trustees of the IMB are merely reflecting the majority opinion of Southern Baptists. We reject modern tongues speaking and don't want to support missionaries who practice them.

6:40 AM
Debbie said...
Matt: Thank you for answering. I do not know all the workings of the IMB, but they have had this request since last June. In their statement they did clearly say that they could establish the parameters even going beyond the BF&M 2000. That is a troubling statement. Very troubling.

Also I would like to clarify, that I do not see these men as evil, just misguided. I believe they have more power than any organization should have. Their statement goes beyond the established framework of any organization.

7:02 AM
Alan Cross said...

My argument involving relativism deals with the fact that the IMB used the BF&M2000 as a standard for employment for missionaries just 5 or 6 years ago, and now they are saying it is insufficient. If you did not sign the BF&M, you were removed from the mission field. Now, they are saying that the BF&M is not sufficient and they must add to it. What has changed? Is there heresy on the mission field? We still have not heard any evidence to that end. If a change of this magnitude is warranted, evidence of how the previous policy was failing should be submitted. I have followed this very closely, and I have seen no evidence. I do think that they are changing the rules based on what suits them without regard for timeless truth or the direction of the convention.

Now, if those restrictions were incorporated into the BF&M, then I would have no argument. The SBC would have spoken and the IMB Trustees would be acting as trustees and carrying out the wishes of the convention in the same way that they did when they had the missionaries sign the BF&M in the first place. I call relativism, because the BF&M is either sufficient or it is not. The trustees said it was when they had the missionaries sign it, now they are saying it is not. This decision only seems to be based on the mood of the current board.

In regard to the examples you gave on daily devotions and prayer for salvation, those are behavioral, character, and obedience issues, not doctrinal ones. Of course every missions agency has the right to regulate behavior beyond the BF&M. I had many regulations on me when I was in seminary that I felt went a bit beyond what the Bible required. I was okay with it, because if I wanted to go to that seminary, I needed to have a submissive attitude. Regarding the IMB position, however, I am talking about doctrinal beliefs and positions. This is why the previous policy on tongues was alright with me, even though I felt that it went a bit beyond Scripture. The IMB, in my opinion, has a right to regulate the behavior of it's missionaries on disputable matters. They saw tongues as a point of controvesy and they regulated the public practice away. I personally think that they went beyond Scripture in this, but I am not in charge and I am willing to go along and submit to authority on this disputable issue. I can do that, because they did not eliminate people who spoke in tongues privately. They did not consider those people, as long as their behavior was appropriate, to be a danger. The new policy does that, and at that point, I feel that the trustees have gone beyond their mandate. If you want to regulate that type of thing, there should be some direction from outside the IMB from the churches. The only avenue we have for that is through the BF&M or some type of motion from the convention, just like we did in 2000.

Matt, I do not disagree with you that there are many churches that teach cessationism. My point is that I have had a varied experience. I have been in churches, sat under seminary professors, and known denominational workers who do not consider tongues to be taboo. I have met many cessationists as well. My point is that there are both sides in the SBC, not just one. I did not know that there was a uniform standard on this, since there has never been a denominational statement on this issue. This matter has seemed to be left up to the individual, much like eschatology or the doctrines of election and predestination.

By the way, under the current set up, what keeps the IMB BoT from stating next year that missionary candidates who are Calvinists or who are amillenialists cannot be affirmed? They could trot out an argument that says that if you hold to contrary doctrines on those issues, you are not effective in evangelism and missions. With the latitued that they are being granted, are you saying that that action would be appropriate? Many people would like to see that happen - perhaps a majority would go along with it. Does that make it right?

I would argue against that as well, even though I am not a Calvinist or an amillenialist. It is the principle of the thing, not the just particular issue that has motivated me.

7:54 AM
Matt Brady said...

If you believe the trustees have too much power, remember that it is the messengers from the churches who invest them with that governing power. If you feel the trustee system is lacking, how would you suggest that the entities be governed?

8:00 AM
Matt Brady said...

I think that we have to work within the system to place men on the boards that we can trust to make good decisions. My opinion of a good decision and yours may be different on some issues, but we both have an opportunity to involve ourselves in the nominating and voting process.

If America chooses a President with whom I am in great disagreement (which I think is very likely in the next election) that does not mean that the United States Constitution and our system of government is broken or relative. It simply means that the majority of the people who got involved disagreed with me. I don't like the fact that my views are in the minority, but I'm still OK with the system.

8:09 AM
ColinM said...

They could ban calvinists if they wanted, but a president would be elected to put trustees in with common sense.

I disagree that prayer is merely a behavioral issue. Whatever. And by your definition, it is not relativism you speak of, but simple inconsistency. That is the source of the confusion. I think you completely glossed over my point by dismissing my simple examples, but that is ok. I have a feeling you are pretty mad at the IMB right now and won't be easily swayed.

However, since both you and Debbie are up in arms about "going beyond" the BF&M, which I now assume to mean establishing further doctrinal criteria for cooperation with the IMB in missions endeavors, I am going to assume you take the BF&M to be the maximum set of standards by which an IMB employee must be accountable. If this is the case, would I be correct in saying that you are ok with those who do not fully agree with the BF&M being admitted? Would it be a problem if they, ignoring the strict standard of the BF&M, set standards "below" the BF&M for admittance?

8:12 AM
Alan Cross said...
I agree with you Matt, but we are people of the Book. We should not be held captive to the whim of the majority. When that has happened in the past in SBC life (slavery, segregation), it didn't go so well. I am all for our system, except for the fact that there seems to be no doctrinal limit placed on the trustee boards. Fix that problem, and we are in agreement. Presidents of opposing parties can pass laws, but they cannot change the Constitution. If they pass a law that is unconstitutional, it gets removed by the courts. You can change the Constitution, just like we can the BF&M, but it is very hard and rarely done. This system is set up to protect the republic from the whims of presidents and congress or the mood of the people.

8:15 AM
volfan007 said...
lets keep in mind that we have around 90 men and women on the imb board who love the Lord. they also didnt fall off the truck and land in the position they're in right now. you know what i mean? they aint dummies who are misguided by some bad conspiracy to narrow the boundaries and be mean to women. they are very smart, wise, Godly people who love the Lord and who love the sbc and who love missions. they have the world on thier heart.

so, if they have looked over something, and they all discussed it, and this is what they found, then maybe we ought to accept it. maybe we ought to say a big thank you to them for taking the time and the money spent in checking all these things out.

and, you know what? maybe they know what they are talking about... reckon?


11:49 AM
Grosey's Messages said...
Amen David!! (uh oh, was that a mean and nasty comment?)
Well said. Trust trustees..

1:12 PM
Les Puryear said...

I have no issue with having the Abstracts and BFM. As you pointed out, the Abstracts was in force at Southern decades before the first BFM.

My problem is when any agency or institution goes beyond these to set doctrinal policy. The Abstracts and all three BFMs (1925, 1963, 2000) have all been viewed by Southern Baptists as representing our doctrine. To go beyond these statements is to go beyond doctrine that Southern Baptists as an entity have stated they are in agreement.

If BoTs have that power, and I'm not conceding they do, then it should be changed. They can set all of the rules and regulations they want, but when they start setting doctrinal policy that goes beyond what Southern Baptists have agreed with, then they go too far, IMHO.


You're right. I wasn't talking about you regarding the positions that "we" have been defending. I'm talking about Bart, Jeremy, and the Tims. If I've left anyone out, sorry. :) This is a "flip-flop" worthy of John Kerry.


3:52 PM
Winning Truth w/Tim Guthrie said...
You said the following: "Why go to the trouble of having a constitution, which the President must agree to uphold, preserve, and defend or be fired, if we're just going to keep on having a legislature meet every year? How moronic! :-)

The answer to both of these questions is the same: The documents in question were not purported to be the end of discussion. They are foundational documents with which agreement is mandatory, but which are neither exhaustive, immutable, nor hegemonic."

Wow - you said a mouthful! Great explanation and great historical accounting!

9:03 PM
Debbie said...
David(volfan) not to be picky but there are no women trustees. At least not to my knowledge. They are fallible humans and not to question actions that I disagree with results in blindly trusting and hierarchy, which seems to be the case here.

7:37 AM
Debbie said...
BTW I didn't just fall off the turnip truck either. :)

7:38 AM
Debbie said...
Matt: I do not agree that the messengers gave the trustees this amount of power. Most messengers did not even know about this issue until it was made public. Messengers do not have any idea what goes on behind closed doors.

I do think that Alan Cross laid this out better than I could, so I revert to his posts. I believe his concerns are representative of my concerns as well as others.

7:44 AM
volfan007 said...
the reason we pick trustees is because everyone in the sbc cannot attend every meeting that needs to take place for the imb to be run properly. so, we elect men and women who we trust to carry on this business.

also, in an unrelated matter, did yall see where two churches in n.c. left the north carolina convention due to its boundaries not being wide enough. the two churches believed that being gay was ok. they are also mad that the boundaries of the sbc seem to be tightening.


8:07 AM
Matt Brady said...

The lack of knowledge or understanding of messengers, does not negate the fact that they are vesting trustees with the power and authority to govern the various entities.

Last August Zogby conducted a poll in which they found that more Americans could name the three stooges than could name the three branches of government. Clueless though we may be about the process and powers, we are still vesting governing powers in the men and women we elect to office.

The fact that a messenger doesn't know they are vesting power in a trustee does not mean that they are not doing it.

I certainly agree with you that most Southern Baptists do not know the structure and processes of the convention. I think the fault probably lies with pastors who ought to take more initiative in teaching our congregations about it. Unfortunately, a SBC civics lesson just doesn't fit well into a Sunday sermon.

As far as the closed door meetings are concerned, Southern Baptist circles are not as big as some might suppose. If you want to know what is going on with any of our SBC entities, it's not that difficult to find out.

8:17 AM
Matt Brady said...
By the way, in that Zogby poll,

74 percent were familiar with the Three Stooges — Larry, Curly and Moe

42 percent could name the three branches of the U.S. government — judicial, executive and legislative


8:24 AM
Debbie said...
Volfan: That has nothing to do with what we are talking about. No one believes gays are ok. I agree with you on some things as well, doesn't mean I am liberal because I disagree with you on many things. It doesn't even make me moderate.

Matt: Ignorance is not due to no education. In fact the messenegers are educated. It's just that one can't peek through the keyhole when the doors are closed.

10:39 AM
Winning Truth w/Tim Guthrie said...
You referred to peaking through key-holes - when and where?

Trustees have always had the power they have today. Even before the CR - the system was in place and it has not been changed.

I do not understand?

10:45 AM
volfan007 said...
if people will read my comments, i said in an unrelated matter.......


ps. i hope nobody is peeking in any of my keyholes!

11:25 AM
Tim Rogers said...
Brother Bart,

Allow me to wade into the water on this issue once again.

First, not only do we need to remind everyone that the administration was in joint agreement with the Trustees, but they presented the report together. What does that mean? Dr. Rankin signed off, and possibly helped pen the report.

Second, the desire for this motion to go to the Executive Committee is beyond me. Why? What is there that seems to be the driving force behind Brother Wade desiring this to make its rounds in the Executive Committee BoT? Could it be that he has received some assurances from somone, or someones, at the Executive Committee? Also, if the motion were to go to the Executive Committee how would they have the authority to investigate the IMB BoT? That is connectionalism. We are not a heirarchy. The IMB, I thought, was an autonomous body when it came to the Executive Committee.


11:50 AM
Alan Cross said...

I didn't mean to gloss over your examples. I thought that I dealt with them. As far as the BF&M being a maximum standard, I guess that I agree that it should be. But, if you actually read the BF&M, you can create guidelines that flow from it quite easily. For instance, of the examples that you gave, wouldn't they, and just about every aspect of a Christian's devotional, relational, and missional life be covered in Articles 4, 6, 9, 11, 13, & 15? You could develop TONS of further guidelines that have a basis in those articles, just like our legislatures develop laws that have a basis in the rights, freedoms, and responsibilities provided by our Constitution. But, the two new IMB policies have NO BASIS in the BF&M, in my opinion, since it is silent on those issues (some might say that the Baptism issue flows out of the statement "being of Church ordinance." I would respectfully disagree.). The Bible does speak to those issues, but you and I would come to different conclusions on what the Bible says, perhaps. Since those teachings are in what is considered by most scholars and pastors to be of a nonessential or controversial category, can't we have guidelines in place that protects the unity and ability of believers from both perspectives to be able to work together, without eliminating one side or the other? Do we lack wisdom on that level? I think that the previous guidelines preserved Christian unity and cooperation according to Article 14 of the BF&M, while at the same time allowed people to be who they were in regard to a tertiary doctrine that the BF&M does not address.

12:00 PM
Anonymous said...

Do you believe that enthuiasm and support by Southern Baptists would increase, decrease or stay the same if extra BF&M 2000 restrictions on

1. Use of alcohol
2. Marital status of appointees
3. Tongues
4. Role of women on the field

were removed?

Tim B.

12:14 PM
ColinM said...

Thanks for the reply. First, those articles may touch on the subject, but do not explicitly spell it out. My point was that one could make the case that specifying duties of prayer was going beyond what is explicit in the BF&M. But more could be said. You must deal with the issue of public tongues speaking, and whether that is going beyond the BF&M. Also, you must deal with relativity as it relates to institutions. You say holding to the abstracts, which go beyond the BF&M on certain issues, is ok because of what? Number of institutions. You are making a policy based on pragmatism, not on any doctrinal basis. Yet, if the IMB was to adopt the abstracts, or were to make a decision ON DOCTRINE based on pragmatism (not the BF&M), you call it going beyond the BF&M. Sounds like relativism. :)

BTW, you guys may be right. I want you to convince me, however, with sound biblical arguments.

And Tim B.:
4)unaffected or increase

Now mine: If the SBC were to pass a resolution that local churches be made up of regenerate church membership, and we ought to affirm it and set goals to that end, would that increase enthusiasm and support?

1:59 PM
Alan Cross said...

My point has to do with consensus. Baptists have spoken through the BF&M on what their consensus theological positions are. You could draft many regulations that would have strong biblical backing with a basis in those articles in the BF&M. They would flow out of it - no contradiction there. The two new IMB policies flow from neither the BF&M, nor a baptist consensus in any form. They were arbitrarily drawn up by the Trustees to eliminate whole groups of people with no evidence being shown as to why the previous policies did not work. If anyone could show me where the previous policies or the BF&M did not work, I might be swayed. But no one will do that because no one can - not even the trustees. So, why is this worth all of the controversy?

In regard to the policy on public tongues speaking, while I do not believe that it most closely reflects the Biblical position, as I have shared with Bart on this point, I am not interested in making a big issue over that. That policy does not eliminate a whole group of potential missionaries, it only curtails their behavior on the field. It might not be my way or how I read the Bible, but I do not expect to get my absolute way on every issue. However, I do not think that whole groups of people should be eliminated from service for no good reason, other than the theological prejudices of the IMB trustees that are not based in any consensus of Baptist life, or our confession of faith. It strikes me as an abuse of power and I feel that the trustees have exceeded their mandate.

In regard to theological institutions having other statements of faith like the Abstracts in addition to the BF&M, I like Les Puryear's perspective on this. He reminds us the Abstracts predate the BF&M and have been accepted in Baptist life as a valid statement of faith for over 100 years. They were not just drawn up and added in without denominational accountability 14 months ago by a handful of people. If anyone had had a problem with them, that problem would have been successfully voiced by now. I am willing to go along with the Abstracts because of their longevity and prominent place in Baptist life, as I am the confessions of 1925, 1963, and 2000. I see no relativsm in my argument here, and I think you are arguing apples and oranges.

As far as having to convince you, I have tried to do that by using the line of argumentation I have seen by the traditionalists in this debate. I have appealled to the BF&M because I have seen you guys appeal to it again and again. I don't think that I am in the position of having to convince, but rather, I think that you should do the convincing that it is alright for trustees to go beyond the BF&M. But, that's just my opinion. :)

I would love to appeal to Scripture on these issues, and I have many times on my own blog. But, sense we are in a situation where each side has their own interpretations, we don't get very far. I chose to appeal to the governmental structure and the foundational basis of the BF&M in this debate because I thought that it carried water with the people I was hoping to convince. It has on every other issue. I am very concerned about the ability to have meaningful dialogue if we keep shifting with the people that we side with, no matter their actions. I have gained a great deal of respect for Les because of the objectivity he has shown.

I have gained a great deal of respect for you, Colin, because you continued to discuss these issues with me. I am a strict biblical conservative and inerrantist and have gotten along quite nicely in the SBC until these recent developments. I just disagree with the IMB as a matter of principle and biblical interpretation. Thanks for the dialogue. It makes us all sharper, and I pray that we can continue to respect one another through it.

I hope I have answered your points satisfactorily.

9:12 PM
SelahV said...
Volfan: In your unrelated matter: I didn't know about the N.C. churches. Where did ya read this?

To your comment on keyholes.
Ha ha ha ha ha! giggle giggle giggle. Who would want to peek in your keyholes? You silly goose. Always good for a laugh! Thanks Volfan007. Can't for the life of me call you David. selahV

9:40 PM
ColinM said...

You have done a great job clarifying some points for me, and I can see your side much more clearly.

When I look back on my dialogues over the past year, I can tell that I have been much more reactionary to the verbal actions employed against the trustees and my seminary than I have been fighting to defend IMB policies or policy makers. I see no room for the tactics employed by Ben Cole in the whole of Scripture, and frankly do not understand why he gets a pass. There are others who express love for certain principle characters on the one hand, yet smite him with the other a few lines later. If this is the way change has to come, I, frankly, want no part of it. In fact, I will uphold a bad policy decision made with integrity rather than turn aside to ungodly and unholy behavior to combat it. I have read about, seen, witnessed, heard about, and told of God overcoming bad policy decisions in his sovereignty...but overlooking his children maligning Scriptural mandates publicly, and pastors at that? No, that is burned in the fire.

Further, I want to make clear that certain parties touting that they represent the younger generation of baptists is simply conjecture, and doesn't apply here. I think the older generation, now fighting the old guarde, forget (or do not comprehend) the extreme doses of the doctrine of God's Sovereignty we of the younger generation have received in our top notch educations. I am perfectly content to rely on methods of accountability that fully comport with Scripture and the commands of our God- above reproach, not slanderous, not PUBLIC exposure of sin or accusation, etc.- rather than approach the holy mountain of God's presence with unclean hands and an unpure heart.

To God alone be the glory.


10:10 PM
volfan007 said...



i read about the two churches in n.c. in the you can go there to read the entire story. also, i am always glad when i can help brighten someones day.


7:35 AM
selahV said...
Colinm: Wow! Double Wow! Your fruit is indeed refreshing to behold. Amen and amen. SelahV

Volfan: thanks for the info.

8:56 AM
Les Puryear said...
Tim B,

Rather than play your little game, let me try to explain myself better. :)

The BFM2000 is a statement of what the SBC believes. To go beyond that statement is to go beyond what the SBC has agreed is what they believe.

Since our commonly held beliefs are part of BFM2000, then the intention of leaving out statements on things like tongues, alcohol, etc., is to allow freedom on that doctrine. If the SBC intends freedom on that doctrine, then why should an agency of the SBC autonomously decide to override that freedom? I don't think they should.

If the SBC believes that tongues should not be practiced, then our statement should say so. Otherwise, freedom is assumed. That freedom should not be negated by any small group of people, i.e., the BoTs, without bringing it before the entire convention.

I hope that explains my position more clearly.



11:31 AM
volfan007 said...

did you hear that we who are not for widening the tent in the sbc are now being called pharisees and nazi's? another blog has labeled us thus.

bart, i am no pharisee, and i am certainly not a nazi. are you?
also, i just want to go on record as declaring that i have never worn a white hood either.


1:00 PM
Jim Champion said...
Les gives the best statement on this issue that I have read anywhere. Great job Les.


You are reading into Wade's post much more than he intended, then running to each blog to try to stir everyone up. No one is being called a phairisee or nazi - go back and re read.

2:22 PM
Anonymous said...

According to the 2006 SBC Annual, there are 11 women trustees of the IMB (judging by first names). I think there are a total of 89 or 90 trustees, so the vast majority are men, but we can't say that they are ALL men!

2:59 PM
volfan007 said...
i believe that fundamentalists...which seems to be anyone thats not for widening the tent....were compared to nazi's and called pharisees over and over again.

personally, i dont like being compared to a nazi, and i really dont like being called a pharisee.


ps. i only commented about this on one other blog. i wanted to see what tim guthrie thought about this as well.

4:05 PM
Alan Cross said...
Uh, what Les said. Exactly what Les said. That has been my position all along, but he said it in 1/10 of the words I use. I like his style better.

Unless someone can effectively refute his very clear points, I'll have to assume that you have nothing to say to that logic and have ceded the point. I don't see how you can. It just seems so obvious to me.

7:12 PM
ColinM said...

I curious as to how authoritative you think Lumpkin's view of the confessions of the SBC is in his book, "Baptist Confessions of Faith." Comparing your statement to his history, this is my conclusion:

Your statement, then the intention of leaving out statements on things like tongues, alcohol, etc., is to allow freedom on that doctrine, seems to be an assumption of great consequence. It seems that Baptists formed a consensus of beliefs in the confessions with the qualifier that it does not represent the totality of consensus beliefs, and that portions of each confession is directed toward "needs of the generation."

Does anyone know that the specifics of doctrines left out of the BF&M were intended to be freedoms that were not to be "trampled on?" I am curious as to how much latitude the convention has formally and informally given the institutions in regards to doctrinal specifics in order to carry out the mission they are charged with.

Dr. B, any insight that may sway one or all of us?

10:21 PM
Debbie said...
Colin: Considering autonomy, I would say Les was correct.

1:03 AM
Anonymous said...

Your position is does not work when it comes to adopting personnel policy at the IMB. The IMB has been trusted with the authority to set standards for missions appointees. The BF&M is the criteria by which the boards evaluates a candidate's belief. The BF&M is utterly inadequate as an instrument to evaluate a candidate's calling, competency, character and practice.

For instance, you could cry "foul" because they reject candidates who do not have certain educational experience. After all, the BF&M doesn't speak to that. Who is the IMB to discriminate based on education. Who are they to say that a diploma makes one more qualified than another. A lot of good baptists don't have higher education and some of our churches don't believe in it. Those candidates and churches from which they come are being disenfranchised. Where is Wade to take up the cause of those candidates who are being discriminated against?

Or what about the cadidate who handles snakes or performs faith healings? The BF&M doesn't forbid either practice. Yet the Board would shy away from such candidates leaving out good, godly, godfearing men and women of faith all because of a theological position not addressed in the BF&M.

We could go on and on. The BF&M doesn't address the issue of language. Perhaps one of these emergent types who doesn't mind a little foul language applies and is rejected when it is discovered that he uses a few curse words (for shock effect of course)in his sermons. But again, we have an individual who both he and his church have been disenfranchised because they are being held to a standard not addressed in the BF&M.

Les, I exaggerate for effect. But you and I both know that the IMB has both the right and the obligation to use standards not specifically addressed in the BF&M in the vetting process for candidates. Most churches expect that the people they appoint will be representative of the mainstream of Southern Bapist life and would have similar doctrial and moral qualifications as the kind of men they would call as pastors. That said, 90% of all the baptist churches I know would not call a pastor who speaks in tongues either publicly or privately. The Baptism policy is silly.

Tim B

9:56 AM
Alan Cross said...

The examples that you use are more behavioral than doctrinal. The tongues and baptism statements are doctrinal. You know that you would not find any argument in evangelical life regarding snake handling. Do you seriously place tongues in that category? I don't see snake handling being dealt with in 3 chapters of one of Paul's letters. You're comparing apples and oranges, in my opinion. And, of course the IMB has the right to set standards in areas of expertise and behavior. This is why I did not have a major problem with the previous tongues policy, even though it is not what I personally feel best lines up with Scripture.

But, you make the statement, "That said, 90% of all the baptist churches I know would not call a pastor who speaks in tongues either publicly or privately." Fortunately, we are not to make decisions for all of us based on the people and churches that you or I know. Our decisions should be based on a more uniform understanding of truth and consensus, rather than personal experience (funny, this seems to be the same argument that I end up making against cessationism).

I think that Les' (and my) argument that where the BF&M is silent, we should consider those doctrines a non-essential, carries a lot of weight when you compare it with the Baptist doctrines and practices of soul competency and autonomy (and I am not using those doctrines in a liberal sense). There must be some areas of freedom. As far as the IMB goes, they are free to set policy that provides for the greatest amount of peace, the least amount of division, and the highest level of effectiveness on the field. The previous policies did just that. The current policies go beyond that and eliminate a group of people for what they believe and privately practice, with solid biblical basis, whether or not they ever cause a problem. That is an abuse of power, in my opinion.

I'm sure Les could have said all of that in half the words I used. :)

10:28 AM
Anonymous said...

As I understand the current the IMB policy, one can believe in tongues but not practice. As I understand it, the question that they ask is not "Have you ever spoken in tongues" but "do you speak in tongues." It is not what they believe but what they practice. By the way, it is the same with alcohol. It is not a BF&M issue but an issue of personnel policy. The personnel policy is guided by what trustees and IMB leadership believe the Bible to teach and what churches expect of their leaders and missionaries. There are some issues that Baptists have traditionally have been very uncomfortable supporting but a minority of churches and baptists have supported. Issues such as the use of alcohol, divorced persons as pastors and tongues come to mind immediately. There are other issues coming to the forefront in the name of "Christian liberty" which most baptists would be very uncomfortable supporting in their leaders or missionaries. None of these are addressed in the BF&M but if forced to render via vote on policy at a convention the result would be about the same as the alcohol resolution went last year.

Tim B

10:50 AM
volfan007 said...

in all fairness to tim, i believe that you missed his point. that the imb has the right to further define parameters of who can serve or not....on something like education and experience. you have to have a certain amount of education before you will be sent. thats not in the bfm2k. that is a boundary more narrow than the bfm2k. thats the point tim was making.

and, what about that point? i know of churches right now that believe education hurts a minister rather than helps. would you discriminate against thier missions candidate....who is coming out of thier church?
well, the imb does....just as it does in other matters of belief and practice that go beyond the bfm2k.

another one is marriage. you have to be married for a full year before you can go. another one is how much you wiegh, and how old are your children, and there's a host of other ones.

so, maybe we should be voting on all these issues instead of trusting the trustees to watch over the imb for us? you think?


11:27 AM