Friday, June 26, 2009

FOLLOWING AN EXAMPLE

I, like many of you, had just about given up on the SBC. Then about four years ago Wade Burleson, our son, was called upon to serve on the IMB and to represent all Southern Baptists, especially those of Oklahoma, on that BOT. He did that much to the chagrin of many in leadership. When refused the legal and ethical ability to adequately discuss and research some decisions being made by that leadership that affected many future appointees of the IMB, Wade began to report the situation to those who had entrusted him with the responsibility of being a trustee, the Southern baptist people themselves. The proverbial fat hit the fan. I got interested in the SBC once again. The rest is history as the saying goes and can be found quite accurately recorded in the the book "Hardball Religion" written by Wade as a result of the controversy and well documented as to accuracy.

Four years later we have received word that Wade is laying aside writing anything of a political nature. Don't hear that as laying aside anything controversial because his theology will be that thank you. But he will be refusing to write anything that addresses the political state or condition of the SBC for the next year. I have not spoken to him since his announcement and am writing my thoughts without him knowing anything about what those thoughts might be. But I do have some thoughts.

In my humble but accurate opinion, [:)] Wade has been operating under a real calling of God for these past four years. He has suffered rebuke, revilement, questioned motives, and has been called too many things/names to begin listing them here. But the truth is, he could care less because of a belief that he HAS had a calling of God for what he has done. It has always ONLY been a principled thing for him like him or not.

A few months go when he chose to step aside as a trustee to get the focus back on missions I wrote this to him..."To stop short of a calling...because of fear or of pain... is a lack of character," someone has said. Mark Twain reportedly said, 'Courage is the mastery of fear, not the absence of it.' Wade you've courageously never stopped short of your calling."

"Someone also said, 'To go beyond a calling...because of an agenda or cause...is pride.' A.W. Tozer once wrote 'Nothing that comes from God will minister to my pride or self-congratulations.' Wade you've chosen to not go beyond your calling."

I can write those words to Wade again. So I do.

But that leaves us with a bit of a personal dilemma it seems to me. What do those of us, like me, do now? I was ready to give up on the SBC a while back. I got encouraged. Some say there is more reason for encouragement now than ever before. Maybe. I don't know. Fool me once...fool me twice...you remember that? I'm thinking and I'm watching.

It may be that I have only a couple of options that are legitimate for me personally anyway. I can't go back to just pretending the SBC can go her way while I go mine with a nominal connectedness to her. That isn't fair to anyone.

I certainly can't let happen again what happened when there was a move to recapture a confidence in the integrity of the text of scripture, with a perhaps legitimate need for that correction, but then it became a conservative movement that did great personal damage to far too many with far too little restraint.

Following that was the accumulation of power which became far too seductive to far too many. We wound up with what we've got and that's unacceptable to me.

So, maybe I will stay with the SBC. But I will have to voice my concerns and viewpoints when they are there to whomever I must. I will expect to be heard, respected, and answered. I don't have to agree with the answer but to be ignored or told it is none of my business will not do anymore at all. I will respect the leaders of the SBC but will under no circumstance receive as legitimate something they say BECAUSE they say it. I will need to know WHY they say it.

If for whatever reason the above cannot be accomplished I would have to opt out with my integrity intact and find other Kingdom avenues to follow to do ministry and to share relationships therein. The Kingdom of God IS, after all, quite big and diverse.

To facilitate the hope of the first option I'm going to talk to Wade and get a list of people, blogs, and organizations he would suggest I stay in tune and in touch with during this next year. When I get this list I will publish it, with his approval only.

All this said, who says you can't be proud of, learn much from, appreciate the example of, and just generally like your own kids? I do.

Paul B.

22 comments:

CB Scott said...

"'To go beyond a calling...because of an agenda or cause...is pride.'"

True, Paul; very true.

cb

Paul Burleson said...

CB,

Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

I personally think the point you've connected to in the post is the fatal flaw of the CR itself. But we'll have to let the ONE who judges all things accurately [motives..1 Corinthians 4:5] tell us one day the whole truth of it all.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Paul. Wade's absence will create a void that'll be hard to fill. Hope you can get that list and let us know soon.

Tom Parker said...

Paul:

It is so hard for me to understand how you can post a blog item about your son and the very first commentator attacks your son.

I commend you for the kind reponse.

I believe with all my heart that your son has tried to open the eyes of many in the SBC and it has cost him alot. Sadly, too many have been blinded by the CR.

Aussie John said...

Paul,

You mentioned,"....the accumulation of power which became far too seductive to far too many". The inevitable result certainly being your next sentence,"We wound up with what we've got and that's unacceptable to me."

I have been much interested in Wade's blog because of my past association with the Australian version of the SBC.

Sometimes I have sat at my computer and wept as I read of an hierarchical system, which Baptists don't have, and political struggles motivated by the lust for power and control, which Baptists don't have, and popes and archbishops, which Baptists don't have. In any other circumstance it would be comical.

Memories were often stirred of the long trips home, after annual conferences, when I wept about the behaviour of those in leadership, who often made arbitrary decisions to silence the representatives of the churches, and to maintain the status quo.

As I read, I sometimes weep when I read the comments aimed at Wade, and those commenting, and am reminded of the many I held dear as friends, who, when false accusations were made against myself, were invisible because of the dust from their heels. Baptist politics gave them no option!

My heart grieves when I think of the many men,some pastors, and the precious Dorcas's, Phoebes and Priscillas,of whom I have knowledge, whose lives have been damaged because of the cold hearted "my way or no way" attitudes revealed over so many years.

I think of so many years ago,the ideals and energy I began with in my early twenties as I joined the Baptists, because they were "people of the Book".

In recent years as my close companion osteo-arthritis constantly reminds me of its presence I find myself fighting against the loathsome disease of cynicism creeping in, and I ask myself "where is Jesus Christ being glorified in all of this?"

Paul Burleson said...

Anon,

Thank you. I'll share whatever I come up with for keeping abreast of all things SBC.

Tom,

Thank you for your gracious comment about Wade. I agree that Wade has had no hidden agendas in his journey and his one calling has permeated all he's said.. that with grace and truth.

I must confess, if the first commenter meant something about Wade one of two things are true of it and maybe both.

One is I know Wade while I don't know the commenter. [We've met, I mean 'know' in a relational sense as true friend to friend.] I'm quite sure of Wade's character and know pride when I see it. I haven't seen a shred of it in him in this whole thing yet. If others think they do, so be it. As I said the TRUE Judge will bring it all to light in proper time.

Second, it may have been a bit too subtle for me. I'm not the sharpest pencil in the box when it comes to using coded or shaded language. Perhaps the commenter didn't mean anything at all. Only he can say were he to choose to.

All that said, your last paragraph spoke tons to me. Thank you for it.


Aussie John,

Some people use language, smothered in wisdom, that all understand and need. You, my friend, are one of those.

Thy Peace said...

I truly enjoy reading Pastor Wade's blog posts. More than his blogging, his sermons are the best of all. For some reason, they are not as talked about as his blog posts. Maybe at Emmanuel, they talk about it. For it definitely benefits me.

Paul Burleson said...

Thy Peace,

I personally believe a serendipity of Wade's change in blog content may well be MORE people listening to his messages and hearing his theological thoughts and responding to those. I can personally assure you that the people he pastors are constantly doing that and love doing it.

By the way for what it's worth, he has given you a green light to say ANYTHING you desire so I hope YOU keep linking us to the thoughts of on the SBC even in Wade's comment section. I for one would appreciate it.

Paul Burleson said...

Thy Peace,

Add the wors "others" after "thoughts of" and you'll get my drift.

Bob Cleveland said...

Paul,

We're supposed to follow the Holy Ghost's instructions.

We're supposed to act in a Christlike manner.

We're supposed to trust God to work in our midst, give the increase, produce the fruit, glorify Himself.

We need to confess the truth of Romans 8:26-27, that we really don't even know what to pray for.

We should believe that it's Jesus that holds all things together by His powerful word.

We need to acknowledge that all victories are His, not ours.

Bottom line to me? Just do what I'm told and don't try to "bring about" what I think ought to happen. God does want to use me, but NOT as a consultant. If He were to offer me the ability to bring about the results I wanted in the SBC (or anything else, for that matter), my response would be "no thanks". I'd far rather He make that call.

God bless. It's going to be interesting.

CB Scott said...

Tom Parker,

I read Paul's post. I read it with interest.

I know the SBC as well or better than he.

I know preachers or pastors as well or better than he.

I know about sons and men as well or better than he.

I related to what he said, plain and simple. My comment relates to knowing sons and men. I understand what he means by this comment:

'To go beyond a calling...because of an agenda or cause...is pride.'

My response was:

"True, Paul; very true."

Paul made a statement as a man of reflection. I responded as the same.

Have Paul and I disagreed? Yes. Vehemently? Yes.

But upon that reflection he made, we agree. I wish you had left it alone as it stood. But alas, you did not because, in my opinion, you cannot. I think tunnel vision has you in its grasp.

Tom, some of us are not so very narrow that we cannot appreciate what a man we often differ with may say. Especially when we relate to what he has said from much experience and personal reflection.

Paul,

There was nothing "coded or shaded" in my agreement with you. You are, as you well know, free to take it as you may.

cb

Paul Burleson said...

Bob,

Thanks for commenting. I read your post by the way. As usual, you've said some things worth being reminded of scripturally. For that I'm appreciative.


C.B.,

Again, thanks for commenting.

In responding to Tom's thoughts about your original comment I said there was this possibility.. "Perhaps the commenter didn't mean anything at all. Only he can say were he to choose to." You've chosen to say so. I accept your word for it.

I guess, however, we will have to agree to disagree about your assessment of Tom's words. "Tunnel vision" is not what I saw in them. I took them as from one having an opinion and simply expressing it. I had a differing opinion and our conversation left it to you to say which was on target. I'm sure Tom is satisfied, as am I, with knowing from the one who wrote it that no attack was intended.

Again, thank you.

Benji Ramsaur said...

Paul,

Personally, I'm looking forward to Wade's theological posts.

God Bless,

Benji

Aussie John said...

Paul,

I reckon Benjamin Franklin had it right when he said, "Mankind are very odd creatures: one half censure what they practice, the other half practice what they censure; the rest always say and do as they ought."

Think about it! :)

Paul Burleson said...

Benji,

So am I. Wade has a style of communicating Divine truth that is very edifying. I think he will gain a whole new audience perhaps.


Assie John,

That's PROFOUND. [I think.] I'm still trying to figure out which half I'm in. I know I'm not with the rest. :)

Debbie Kaufman said...

It's certainly not pride that causes someone to know there is going to be controversy and loss of one's own position in standing for what is right and for standing up for those who cannot stand for themselves. It comes at a great cost. That is not pride but the opposite. It does come from strength however.

All that to say I agree with you Paul. I am glad for this post. I stand with you and Mary.

Paul Burleson said...

Debbie,

You got that right. That wouldn't be pride. it would be stupidity or calling. I think you and I know which it has been.

I know you join me in accepting CB's statement that he WASN'T refering to Wade at all. Just agreeing with my statement about going beyond a calling would be a pride thing.

Hope to see you today at Emmanuel. I'll be speaking on Matt 5:10-12 by the way. Interesting!!

Paul Burleson said...

Oh my. Aussie John, Mary JUST pointed out to me my misspelling of your blog name. SORRY. [She's still laughing.]

Debbie Kaufman said...

Yes, I accept it.

Aussie John said...

Paul,

My keyboard has a similar malfunction :)

If you used the word here you would be describing someones elephantine sized rear end.

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie John,

That is absolutely hilarious. You're funnier than ANY of America's late night comedians.

traveller said...

Thanks for giving me a good laugh today. Often we forget God has a sense of humor as well. I believe it is a part of his wonderful nature that is reflected in humans. Laughing more is good.