Thursday, March 30, 2006

V for IMB

I have recently become a fan of the movie V for Vendeta. I actually watched twice in theatres. In the movie the government has complete control and all those who speak out against it are executed. While I still believe that the truths of this movie may be a good distance off for the United States, I fear that it may not be as far off for the Southern Baptist Convention. As some of you know in Nov. 2005 the International Mission Board (IMB) implemented two new policies. The first concerns a “private prayer language,” stating that any IMB missionary applicant that claims such a private “gift” will not be allowed to serve as an IMB missionary. The second stated that the applicant must not only have been baptized by immersion, but in a church that holds to eternal security. If they have not been baptized in such a way they can apply with their church for “re-baptism.” The purpose of this letter is not to refute these heretical and divisive policies, but to address another policy that was adopted last week.
After these policies were passed, several IMB trustees spoke and wrote publicly against these policies. One trustee, Wade Burleson, was recommended for removal from the board because of statements made on his blog, This was recently rescinded after strong backlash from many in the convention. Since this attempt failed to silence him, the IMB decided to adopt a new manual. In the previous manual, know as “The Blue Book,” trustees were encouraged to report back to their people about the happenings in the IMB, this includes allowing for dissent. The new policy, which supersedes “The Blue Book,” states "Individual IMB trustees must refrain from public criticism of Board approved actions." So now dissent has been banned.
Anytime a change for greatness has been made it has started with a few men. Now those with the most powerful voices to make a change have been silenced, but the most authoritative have to be heard. In the Southern Baptist Convention our ultimate authority is the Word of God. That Word has been completely left out of all supporting arguments. Not one thread of Scriptural data has been presented in defense. Also, in Southern Baptist churches new policies are to come from the bottom up. Our policy decision makers are to be the people in the pews. The Scripture is the foundation and the elect are the first floor of our convention.
Now is the time that we as Southern Baptist must stand together. We must let it be known that while we are in full favor of a conservative, God-centered statement of faith such as the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message we refuse to lightly accept extra biblical interpretation that is non-essential and has been interpreted in varying ways throughout history. We must become informed on what is going on with the IMB policies.
If they are willing to enforce policies that go beyond our conventions stance and then quite all those in dissent what will they attack next? Reformed theology, local church autonomy (which is already under attack), worship styles, etc.? We as Southern Baptist have a uniting statement of faith in Christ, and we must protect the right to disagree on non-essential elements of the faith.
We were formed because some believed that certain people should not be allowed as missionaries and today we make the same mistakes that were made back then. I pray it does not require another division to realize our folly.
Please take the time to learn of what is happening inside the IMB and what it truly means. Then the trustees and let them know that you appreciate their work and heart for missions, but also wish the IMB to remain scripturally sound. Please pray for those on both sides of the issues, and realize that whether you agree with the policies or not the option for vocal dissent should always be an option lest we fall into a world where a bomb is believed to be more powerful than a prayer (in any language).

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Jason-It's crazy my friend. I would tell you how I feel on here but I'm afraid that I am being watched closely, especially my blog. I'll send you out a secure email one of these days. Hey, are you going to be in G-Vegas on Saturday? I'm heading up there Saturday morning to meet up with Jeni Sinclair. We have a wedding to attend that night. Anyway, it would be good to hook up with you and share with you my thoughts on all this. I wish I could do it here but for the sake of my job and my livihood for after graduation, I'm going to have to watch my words. My thoughts are being held capitive in my head!