Saturday, November 17, 2007

CONCLUDING COMMENTS ON THE CENSURE

I wonder if Southern Baptist people realize the IMB/BOT rule adopted in March of 2006 states that a trustee must present an atmosphere of silence or say only words of agreement about a decision that has been made by the IMB BOT. But, the rest of that policy says or face the possibility of being censured for not doing so.

It would seem to me if one were to agree to abide by the first part of the rule but later come to realize that to do so violates a higher principle of one's life namely, that it makes one hypocritical, or worse a liar, [not every trustee would share this personal conviction obviously] such an one would then have two choices. First, to resign and effectively lose any ability to change a bad policy or, second, to graciously accept the censure which is in fact, in keeping with the policy after all. [Just the last part instead of the first part. No trustee could keep both parts unless they are voting on a censure.]

It would certainly not be the way those who passed it expected anyone to be willing to keep it. But were one to choose to violate the first part out of a desire for keeping that greater principle they would be choosing to keep the second part. [Or resign, as I said.]

Let me pause here... and offer a scenario. Suppose an embattled trustee [from here on known as ET] is
told to write out a
proposal which he has suggested to end the conflict.
It would include, among other things, a
statement of a potential of
resigning by the end of the year. Then, suppose that that
ET were asked
to meet with a small group to discuss it. So the small
group interupts him
in the writing of it but he tells them what is in the
forthcoming
proposal and they write it down for themselves. [Remember, this group is
supposed to report their findings.]
Then
suppose that small group
leader is asked by the ET if
a censure is forthcoming and he says, while he can't
predict the future, he
didn't think so, which means the ET enters a meeting thinking he will do as he has proposed but has
no need to finish writing the
proposal that day because One..they wrote it down..Two..they will present it as
stated to them. But, suppose it is in THAT meeting that the censure is
presented and voted on. Then that ET later discovers
that the censure had
been drafted the night before in the presence
of the one who said "I don't
think so" when asked if a censure was coming.
Who would you say withdrew the
proposal that included the resignation? The three man group? The Executive group? [IF the Executive group was, in fact, reported to.] Or, the ET?


Finally, what if there were circumstances that had been
revealed to both the
Executive committee AND the small three-man group that
would cause any
thinking
person to know the proposal would be fulfilled
by the ET. Say an
influential, well-known
Church sincerely wanting the ET to be
their Pastor was a looming possibility. [From
another State no less,
requiring the ET to resign
from the board.] But ,
because of the censure surprisingly
being voted on, the ET, having no desire to spread the pain, chooses to
refuse to consider
any thing but to be
faithful to his being an elected
Trustee of the IMB
and Pastor of the great
Church who stands with him and has for many years. In this scenario--I again ask--who
failed to present the proposal?
What you would have is a trustee who decided too much attention is being focused on him instead of the mission field, particularly at the Christmas Lottie Moon offering time, hence the offer to resign. This, instead of the censure that would create turmoil even further for all. But it doesn't play out that way. What a scenario that would be. Take it to the bank.

But, the real problem we have is A BAD POLICY. This has been true from it's inception as are the policies of private prayer language and baptism wrongly defined by the IMB/BOT which are also CENSURING prospective missionaries.

No matter one's personal view of Wade as an individual or the IMB, would you not agree that he has chosen within the frame-work of the adopted policy and is only illustrating the terrible nature of such a bad policy? Far from not abiding by the policy...he has been faithful to the policy, albeit, the concluding aspect instead of the prohibition in it which would be a violation of his conscience. By the way, we might be wise to not focus on the BOT for the censure. They were only following policy. So was Wade. Let's focus on the wrongness of the establishment of such a policy in the first place.

So the point we must ponder is the policy itself. What it boils down to is that we have a policy adopted by one of our entities that is bad and has been from it's birth. Why? because it violates a Baptist principle that MUST NEVER BE LOST, namely, the right to dissent in Baptist life whether it be the people on boards, agencies, or even missionaries on the field.

There must be freedom to register a disagreement over policies and even share differing views of lesser doctrines without fear of loss of job, reputation or assignment. It must also be the job of those in charge to show the biblical basis or at least the wisdom involved in decisions being made by the directing body. Any wise Pastor would. I think any wise CEO of a company would. Even a husband/father giving leadership to a family had better be this wise.

When true Christian character is displayed unity will not be lost just because of differences. Someone says "you know human nature..it will never work." I know we possess a Divine nature and the power of the Holy Spirit and..yes..it will take a miracle for it to happen. But that is what HE'S ABOUT after all. We are not pragmatists. We are to be principled people.

The only other way to function is BEHIND CLOSED DOORS in an attempt to control things...but in our day those doors don't remain closed and I, for one, don't believe as Christians or Baptists they ought to ever be. Let's open our doors to the LIGHT and let's speak the truth IN LOVE over every issue and every disagreement.

Let's be Christian.... Let's be what Baptists have been historically.


Paul Burleson

PS..
As I stated at the beginning of my last post, I'm a member of both families in the dispute. That post spoke of my thoughts about the Burleson family..this one speaks of my Southern Baptist family.

11 comments:

Bob Cleveland said...

Paul,

I don't even know what to say. If there is any factuality mixed with your hypotheses, this needs to be broadcast loud and long, just as a MRSA infection needs to be exposed and hit with mega-medicine.

Infections kill. Cures don't.

Paul Burleson said...

Bob,

I'm not into writing fiction although I took the "suppose scenario" so I could write without too much emotion or redflags being waved for the purpose of emphasizing what is Wade's mantra.

That mantra is "he" is not the issue that is so in need of addressing. The policies that are adopted with little or no input from others and, when input is given contrary to what is desired by those in charge, the bearer of that input is viewed as the enemy. THAT'S the real problem.

Bob Cleveland said...

Paul,

That's fine and I understand but it omits any significance of the actions of those who took the action. In this case, it was more than enforcement of the rules, it was the purposeful use of those rules to inflict punishment. That's wrong no matter who's doin' the doin', and who's on the receiving end. And there's nobody willing to hold those men accountable, apparently.

People also need to note what that says about the character of the ones who did what was reported.

In your hypothetical example, anyway.

Paul Burleson said...

Bob,

You've got a point...about my hypothetical. :)

Seriously, this is, IMHO, only a symptom of what may be more widespread than we're willing to recogize. Namely, closed doors to the will and wishes of the entire Southern Baptist Convention.

An hierarchical approach to the denomination that leaves out any voice of the people is not an appealing atmosphere to me as a longtime Southern Baptist.

Debbie Kaufman said...

It's a scenario that would be a lot easier for me to swallow.

Paul Burleson said...

Debbie,

The truth always is for you. That's one of the many reasons I like you so much. :)

Paul/Mary Burleson said...

Hey, Handsome,
Thanks for writing this. I agree wholeheartedly.

An incident in our lives illustrated, perhaps, one of the truths being seen in our current circumstances, as follows:

We bought an electric blanket with individual controls recently. It's been great! Until...

You decided you didn't want the heat on, and I wanting heat, turned my control on and you didn't. After an hour I snuggled up to you and your side was very warm. I was still cold. Aha! I knew what was wrong. Our wires were crossed. Your control was actually mine and mine was yours. We had crossed the wires when we put the blanket on the bed. To fix this, you and I have to first agree there's a problem, listen to one another, and work together to get it right.

Bottomline truth: As long as you and I wanted the same thing, we were not aware of the crossed wires, but let one of us want something different, and the truth comes out.

I think maybe some people today have their wires crossed in the denominational community, but it's okay as long as they all want the same thing. But let someone think individually and want something different, not wrong just a different preference, which I thought was our Baptist heritage, and suddenly we're aware that some wires have gotten crossed and need to be straightened out.

You may not think this is as profound as I do, but I thought it was very apropos.
Mary

Paul Burleson said...

Beautiful,

What you're too nice to say, so I'll go ahead, is that I said emphatically that you were wrong in what you said. Later that night the evidence [sweat] presented itself that your idea had much merit. I got up, turned off your control, which solved my problem, and taught me again..listening is a good thing. I'm learning. :)

Alycelee said...

Paul, yes the policy is wrong.
The bigger issue is, why was it ever instituted in the first place. There lies the real problem. This idea of 'closed doors, hush hush and whatever you do, do not question us,' is prevalent in Baptist life, particularly with those who head agencies and seminaries. I honestly believe most people are Baptist and give because of missions. A great way to cooperate and send missionaries around the world. When people start seeing and believing that the most powerful agency in the world is mismanaging and stifling, well I'm no prophetess, but there will be consequences. My natural reaction to this is concern for our missionaries, ah but then I remember Who sends, Who provides, Who is in charge and I stop. I rest completely in God sovereignty.

Chuck Andrews said...

Paul

I have my doubts as to whether the policy will change. The powers that be, the ones that initiated and enforced the BAD Policies, seemed to be thoroughly entrenched and appear to be deaf to anyone who disagrees with them. I’m sure they believe that they are doing the right thing, that they are guarding the truth, maintaining doctrinal purity. So, I agree with you, let’s not make this about a person or a group of people.

The issue is bad policy. Anybody who has led a church has made an occasional bad policy mistake. The best way to straighten up the mess and correct the problem the policy has created is to publicly admit to the mistake and withdraw the bad policy.

To do that says nothing negative about a person’s character. Although, to burrow in, hunker down, circle the wagons and refuse to admit the mistake and correct the wiring might be indicative of a character fault.

I, too, have reversed the wiring on the electric blanket controls. Instead of a peaceful night of rest it was a miserable night of restlessness. Hopefully, as the heat is turned up some will be awakened and enlightened that the wires are crossed. With any luck, they’ll be as wise as you and listen. If not, they may get cooked.

Chuck

P.S. If you are the one not wanting the heat, it becomes very easy to blame the lack of rest on the one who is turning up the heat. But they are not at fault for dialing in their desired comfort and expecting a desired result. In fact, if it weren’t for the one turning up the heat we may not realize that the wiring is crossed. Of course, if you don’t want the heat it doesn’t matter unless you care about the comfort of the other person. (Just trying to stretch Mary’s analogy as far as possible.)
:)

Paul Burleson said...

Alyce,

I agree with you that our hope IS in the One who is in charge of the sending and the providing. That gives me the same confidence it obviously does you. A good word. Thanks.


Chuck,

Wow..Mary and I BOTH agree you said it better than either of us did. You got it..explained it..applied it..and, if I could get them to hear you, things could turn around quickly with great lessons learned and people loving the Lord, the lost and each other. What a different day that would be for the SBC. Way to go.