Tuesday, January 29, 2008

AN UNACCEPTABLE APOLOGY

What follows is the exact document read before the entire Board of Trustees of the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention today by Wade Burleson at the IMB/BOT meeting in Florida in an effort to go on with the work of missions and wait for the Convention to speak in session in June 0f 2008.

It was deemed unacceptable by the Executive Committee of that Board. It is the same letter that was presented in December of 2007.

I will briefly comment at the conclusion of the letter.





January 29, 2008

My fellow trustees, I want to briefly share with you what a great privilege it is to serve with you as a trustee. It is my belief that God has uniquely gifted and called each one of us to this role so that we can work together to advance the IMB’s mission. My earnest desire is to be a working member of our team so that we can accomplish that mission together. While I understand that some of you may harbor doubts about my ability to actually be a “team player”, I want you to know that I am committed to being a team player and that perhaps you have not yet seen or understood a full picture of me. Accordingly, as we move forward into a new year of serving the IMB together, I would like to say a few words to clear the air of past events, express my commitment to working with you within our internal standards, and then once I’ve spoken, let the proof of my verbal commitment be seen in my future actions.
To begin with, I do admit that I have in the past I intentionally violated our newly revised (Spring 2006) internal standards of conduct. In particular, I publicly disagreed with certain actions taken by this board, rather than speaking in supportive terms or staying silent on matters about which I disagreed. The new standards of trustee conduct, adopted in the spring of 2006, state that a trustee must publicly affirm a board approved action even if he cannot privately support it. I want you to know that I never expressed my dissent out of a desire to harm the work of the IMB or any of you, my fellow trustees and brothers and sisters in Christ. Instead, I did so out of an exercise of my conscience. Simply put, I believed in my conscience that it was the right thing to do to further our mutual goal of supporting the IMB’s purpose of cooperatively taking the gospel to all peoples of the world. I recognize that many of you may have been upset by my decision to express my disagreement and feel that it has hurt the work of the IMB. Scripture teaches us that sometimes we can exercise our conscience in a way that offends others. I am sorry that this seems to be the case here.
Therefore, it is my goal going forward, to the extent it rests in my power to do so, to live at peace with all of you and not cause you offense. It is also my goal to have a greater focus on the work of the IMB than on me. Accordingly, I commit to you this day that I will no longer violate, intentionally or otherwise, our new trustee standards of conduct. If I find myself in disagreement with a policy or proposed policy of the Board, I will express my disagreement using the channels that are available—for example, plenary forum sessions, trustee forum sessions, and private communication with fellow trustees—but will not take my disagreement outside of those confines to the blogosphere or world at large. In fact, if this statement is accepted, I intend to shut my blog down immediately after this board meeting. I should add that it is possible, however unlikely, that an occasion might arise where I believed that we had enacted a policy that violate Scripture or conscience. If that were to happen, I would resign and express my disagreement outside the structure of the IMB or understand I will be censured. I do, however, consider such a future occasion to be unlikely. It is my belief that God has blessed the work of the IMB because it is carrying out a mission close to his heart and that so long as we collectively continue to seek him in prayer, he will guard us from error and bless our work.
I do look forward to working with you as a fellow servant this year and in the years to come.

In His Grace,


Wade Burleson



As a result of this action [finding the apology unacceptable] by the Executive Committee.. Wade has finally deemed it best to resign from the Board. To read his statement go to http://kerussocharis.blogspot.com/.

Now from me.....

My personal thoughts are few and simple. Religious institutions and systems can become a mechanical process by which we are called upon to agree to and abide by religious laws, rules, or whims established by the powers that be to achieve certain goals at the cost of thought, convictions or conscience personally. By doing so, those institutions and systems establish themselves, unfortunately, as exactly that. Religion. Christianity is, and is to remain, far different.

One of the tragedies of some cultures is that many, if not most, of their systems foster dependency. Anytime they demand cookie-cutter lookalikes and demand people function without personal conscience and choices they are creating mechanical followers who are robbed of initiative, giftedness, and responsibility. That is a culture that devalues people as unique and sacred. That culture CAN invade religious systems as well. Just some of my personal thoughts. I'm sure more will be coming later.

Paul B.

UPDATE on my thoughts..

Wade,
I thought of writing this to you privately as I normally do, but decided to do it publically after reading the comment to your post by David.

Courage of convictions is so lacking among leaders in our nation [including religious leaders] that many will never understand the decisions you've made now or in the past.
Detractors will see this as a victory for their side or a lack of character on your part. [This simply shows they neither understand character nor the issues from my personal perspective...but that is another issue in itself.] Friends will perhaps see this with some relief that you won't have to continue to face the pressure that has been on your person, family, or Church any longer and rejoice. Or..some of those friends may see it as a setback for what is right and needed and may even wonder if you have capitulated to that pressure.
But people who REALLY know you and know you well realize that it is the same guiding principle of conscience and openness to counsel that you've excercised from the outset in dealing with the effort you discovered to use an SBC organization to hamstring, if not remove, a duly elected leader in Southern Baptist life.
You have sought out, fought for, and taught what the issues really are. That has been a troublesome and costly journey for you at a price you've been willing to pay. Again, I say...I'm proud of you.
Now you will face the cost of another decision based on principle first. The greater problem of becoming the issue has awakened you to the need for this action. You have chosen your course of action.
Some will not understand. You, however, have NEVER wanted to become the issue. You've never allowed anyone else to be the issue and when you did feel that slipping you quickly corrected it. You're now being consistent in this as you have in all things.
To stop short of a calling...because of fear or of pain... is a lack of character. Mark Twain said "Courage is the mastery of fear, not the absence of it." You've never stopped short of your calling.
To go beyond a calling...because of an agenda or cause...is pride. A.W. Tozer said "Nothing that comes from God will minister to my pride or self-congratulations." You've chosen to not go beyond your calling.
As always with you, it is, again, based on principle and is for the good of people, and will not be understood or acepted by all as the right thing. But, praise God, you have been are still being true to your calling.

You said..."I deem it better to be censured by men than to be condemned by conscience." That says it all.

DAD






13 comments:

Alyce Faulkner said...

Paul, Mackey and I were initially sad when we heard the news of Wades resignation.
This morning, it is a different story.
I feel this sense of excitement and anticipation. I know God is about to do great things.
The Burleson family walks in grace and thank you all for teaching us the same.
We treasure your friendship.
Alyce and Mackey

Paul Burleson said...

Alyce,

You have precisely expressed my own feelings. Even the sequence in which they came.

Bless you and Mackey in all you're doing.

Bob Cleveland said...

I read Wade's blog at 4am.

Now. Do you recall a certain remark I made in Arlington ... the aroma of a new denomination?

This is why. Well, the arrogance and high-handedness and triumph of political manipulation over godliness in certain lives of the "lower-ups" and all that sort of thing ... THAT'S why.

I know that Pastors are prone to want to see the best in others. Perhaps that's why Wade was so gracious about his fellow trustees in the opening of his post. Me, I've not had the training that leads to such graciousness. 50 years in the workaday world enabled me .. IMO .. to see the IMB BoT stuff for what it really is.

So. Wade wins another round.

I'm excited.

Paul Burleson said...

Bob,

You've joined Alyce and Makey in expressing what's inside me. You guys are reading my mail. That's spooky but comforting. :)

Kevin Bussey said...

I'm so glad to know you and your family. I'm proud to call you friends. I'm sorry for the pain this has caused you. I will continue to pray for all of you.

Paul Burleson said...

Kevin,

As you well know..the pain of any experience is mixed with the pleasure of God's Hand in special ways. I'll take that mixture any time as I know you will.

Part of that pleasure is getting to know you and your family. If you will recall we met because of the happenings of the past couple of years. I can't imagine NOT knowing you as a friend now. THAT is part of the bigger blessing of it all for me. Thanks.

Lee said...

Wade only did what he believed Southern Baptists needed from their trustees--to serve, to encourage the missionaries, and to keep us informed about what the board is doing. He did so courageously and with honesty and integrity. For doing so, he was eventually forced by his own conscience and conviction to resign.

So what does that tell us about that board and the way it is operating?

God is on the verge of doing something, and he's raised up at least two, possibly three, leaders who are, by their own testimony, now seeking his will and his desire for their continued involvement in the Southern Baptist Convention. Isn't that exciting?

Paul Burleson said...

Lee,

I agree.

Bob Cleveland said...

I got to thinking. My brother didn't get upset when I witnessed to him and told him he was lost. But if he had, I wouldn't have apologized for saying something that upset him. I would have been sorry he got upset, but could not have apologized for the content of what I said.

Same deal with Wade. I know he's sorry the BoT got all bent out of shape, but being sorry he said it would not be in order; to do so would be a violation of his convictions, and I'll take his convictions over the BoT's, any day.

And, what Lee said.

Bryan Riley said...

I am praying for all of you, as you hopefully know. It is my prayer that God's voice is leading each of you, not the voices of dissenters or encouragers (or any other human voice). He definitely will lead you along that straight and smooth path! We love you.

Paul Burleson said...

Bob and Bryan,

I've just returned from several days of minisrty where I was without my normal Internet ability. I've GOT to get upm a new post quickly I know. But I do appreciate you guys hanging around.

Bob..what a great illustration. I think you have nailed exactly what Wade was speaking to in his apology. I can't think of a BETTER illustration to use than yours. GREAT.

Bryan, That is my prayer and hope too. I want Wade to hear the Lord on this. I know whatever the Lord desires will be best for everyone concerned. It's His voice that needs to be heard today as never before in ALL areas of our denominational life it seems to me. Thanks for remembering us in prayer.

Anonymous said...

Paul,
Just re-reading your post and wanted to comment...as usual, you have stated your thoughts with clarity and precision. We always appreciated that at Southcliff. Wade is such a gifted communicator and gentleman...he came from wonderful and gifted parents. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
Ken Colson
Montana

Paul Burleson said...

Ken.

You would be interested to know I just finished a meeting just a couple of miles from Southcliff in Burleson Texas and while there had a great visit with several former members at Southcliff including retired Vice-President of SWBTS, Dr. John Seelig and his wife Virginia.

Those were wonderful days and wonderful people. It's good to be reminded of them by your gracious comment. Thanks.