What a whirlwind week this has been for Southern Baptists. If you don’t know what I mean, then you have some considerable reading to get you up to speed. Follow the links in this post, and follow the links found at those web logs, and after about a week of steady reading you will be up to speed.
I am sure that the emotions of countless concerned Christians, Southern Baptist and otherwise, have been on an emotional roller-coaster ride as they waited for news from the International Mission Board meeting this week in Tampa, Florida. One day news was good, then the next it was not so good. Business from one day which looked favorable, on closer scrutiny didn’t look so good the next. New policy papers superseding the “Blue Book” were the end one day, only to reveal glimmers of hope on closer scrutiny the next. And then cries of “Where was the apology?”, and “With this kind of secrecy descending over the IMB, I don’t know if I can give to the Cooperative Program any more.”
Since this issue surfaced shortly before the first of the year (It has really been below the surface since last summer.) I haven’t posted much on it because there were numerous others who, being closer to the situation, have been doing a very fine job of it. As this came to a crisis this week, there were a few things that I feel haven’t been said, or haven’t been adequately emphasized.
- “Where was the apology?” I have yet to hear Wade Burleson complaining with this question, so why should anyone else on his behalf? I have read every post Wade Burleson has posted on Grace and Truth to You, and I have yet to find a harsh or unkind word. He doesn’t take swipes, is not sarcastic, doesn’t gripe. Read his last two posts here and here, and look at how a godly and gracious Christian man responds to great personal upheaval. We all have before us an object lesson of what it means to obey Philippians 2:5. Wade wants Christ to be magnified in his life, as well as in the IMB. He’s a part of the IMB, so it starts with him. He has larger motives than just his own personal reputation.
- “I don’t know if I can give to the Cooperative Program any more.” Cutting off funds is going to help all of those missionaries – uhhh, how? When they all have to come home, the lost are going to be reached – uhhh, how? Sounds to me like cutting your nose off to spite your face. It is way too early to be saying, or even thinking, things like this. A great post that I did read, which emphasized the missionaries, was by Marty Duren, at the SBC Outpost. A better post you will not find to both inspire and convict concerning those laboring in the mission fields.
- The Sovereignty of God: Especially for us in the reformed tradition, where is our confidence in the doctrines of grace? Is our God on his throne, or not? I thought about Wade a couple days ago in light of these events. Is it too dramatic to say he may be the Luther, or Edwards, or Whitfield of our day? What is God doing, or about to do through him? I found this same theme of God’s sovereignty, much more eloquently than I have put it, at CrossConnect, by David Phillips.
- Determined and optimistic: Again, I found one – there may be more – post that wasn’t doom and gloom. Bowden McElroy at Interregnum, who I had the priveledge to meet a couple of weeks ago, had this to say: “I am neither shocked, outraged, depressed, or angry over the recent changes Wade and Marty have written about. Instead, I am determined.” This comes from a man who very likely will see one, if not of his daughters enter the mission field in the not too distant future under the umbrella of the IMB.
Back when I use to blog on a wider range of issues, I always liked to quote something, anything from Douglas Wilson. I try in vain to keep up with what goes on over at Blog and Mablog, since his pen is never idle. When I find the time I can always find something good to read there, even though I don’t agree with much of his ecclesiology. Besides, I enjoy his “serrated” wit. Turns out, even Wilson may be watching the comings and goings over at the IMB. In yesterday’s post he drops a line that indicates he very well may be:
“Keeping track of all the groups that go all the way back is almost as hard as keeping track of all the Presbyterian microbrew continuing church movements that go all the way back to Thomas Chalmers. Oh, and I forgot the Baptists. Their trail of blood goes all the way back.”
You never know who may be watching. That’s something we need to keep in mind too.