Sunday, January 22, 2006

It's in the DNA...

While surfing the blogsites which are writing about the IMB trustee controversy, I found a post by a youngster named, "Joey." He is a student pastor who hails from Buford, GA, which in northeast Atlanta. In support of Wade Burleson's cause, he seems to be eager to see fireworks and fighting ensue. He wrote an interesting post which he titled, "Let the Fireworks Begin." Joey wrote:
It is a sad day to be a Southern Baptist. I can only hope and pray that we can mobilize a group who are willing to stand up for God and His Word to show the Southern Baptist Convention that being conservative is not the end of the battle. It seems that it has just begun. We do not need to exclude viable opinions and arguments from the boards and committees. Rather, we should freely discuss, debate and decide what is biblical, not what is practical or what secures our power. Just because some of us have a different methodology and philosophy of ministry does not make us liberal. If not accepting the status quo is not conservative enough, I guess we'll have to rewrite Scriptures to sanitize and conservatize (is that even a word) Jesus Himself.
How odd that the young guns, who seem to love fighting and "fireworks," are saying exactly the same thing the moderates were saying decades ago. How about these comments:

1) "We do not need to exclude viable opinions and arguments from the boards and committees."

2) "Just because some of us have a different methodology and philosophy of ministry does not make us liberal."

How ironic that these youngsters are saying precisely the same things we moderates were saying years ago. There was no honest reason to exclude the CBFers and moderates because they held different opinions about the Bible. The CBFers and moderates, while holding a different methodology and philosophy of ministry, were not liberals. These youngsters are completely oblivious to the fact that this is just another round of a fight that the older fundamentalists fought three decades ago.

It's not about doctrine or theology. It's about who holds the reigns of power. The youngsters fancy themselves as being "cooperating conservatives" but are unwilling to cooperate with anyone who will not cooperate with them. Small wonder that they love fighting and fireworks. They come by it honestly because it's in their DNA. The DNA of every fundamentalist contains a gene that produces a tendency to fight and watch fireworks...

Friday, January 20, 2006

Burleson, Blogggers & Bloviaters

I spent four hours this afternoon reading scores of blogsites. Most of the bloggers were from the younger generation of Southern Baptists who are either in seminary or less than a decade out of seminary. I must admit that the younger fellows are phenomenal blogging bloviaters. They are powerfully cocksure when expressing their opinions. And some of them can be quite humorous. One blogger (One who I’ll let the reader search and find on his/her own) wrote the following:

I've shaken the hand of Jerry Rankin, heard O.S. Hawkins respond to "How are you?" by saying "I'm blessed," and have an autographed autobiography of Jimmy Draper. I've heard Roy Fish tell a class on evangelism to "Put THAT in your Calvinistic pipe and smoke it." I've peed next to Danny Akin while he told me stories about the ethics class he took under Paige Patterson. I've had Ken Hemphill (cowboy boots and all) and his wife Paula in our Fort Worth townhouse for brownies and ice cream. I've had many conversations with Al Mohler, including one about an episode of Prairie Home Companion.
This guy is way beyond me because I don't believe I've ever had a conversation with anyone about anything while standing in front of a urinal.

I discovered several interesting points while reading the young bloggers. Especially in the discussion about Wade Burleson:

1) The younger fellows seem to be ignorant (in the sense of being unaware or uninformed) of the history of the SBC takeover. It seems they believe rebelling against existing SBC leadership is something new. They believe the "conservative resurgence" of the last generation (the generation in which they did not personally know) was a theological battle while the IMB controversy is a battle over legalism. In truth, both battles related to power and control in the denomination.

2) The younger fellows seem to be oblivious to the fact that their rebellious nature mirrors the rebellious nature of the of the Pressler/Patterson faction. The Pressler/Patterson faction believed the SBC "liberal" leadership was nothing more than a "good ole boy" system designed to prevent conservatives from getting equal treatment in the system. The younger generation believes the present leadership runs things from behind a "green curtain." The younger fellows are suspicious of the very people gained the power for the fundamentalists. In truth, their rebellious nature is the same.

3) The younger fellows, especially the ones from Southern Seminary, believe that Al Mohler and Russ Moore are excessive legalists. I was surprised at the animosity shown toward Mohler and Moore. They are only recently discovering something that many of the older generation have known for a long time.

4) The younger generation has an element of communication (blogging) that the older generation did not have. They are at home communicating through the blogosphere. They know how to use the bells and whistles of the internet much better than the old codgers like myself and those of my generation. They're way ahead of us. My generation had only the print media through which to express ideas and opinions. Sometimes it took weeks to get a controversy going full-blown. The younger guys can get a controversy going in a matter of hours. Through the print media, we couldn't produce near the volume of material that they then can in the same amount of time. I'm into the blogging scene but in reality I'm a dinosaur compared to the young fellows. They leave me, and others of my generation, in the dust. They're true bloggers. I'm a slogger...

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Shootout at the IMB Corral...

There's a war going on over at the IMB corral. The war is between the SBC Crusading Conservatives and the SBC Cooperating Conservatives. The majority of the IMB trustees are crusading conservatives. Wade Burleson is one of the leaders of cooperating conservatives.

The crusading conservatives are on an eternal crusade to keep Southern Baptist missionaries spotlessly pure according to their view of Southern Baptist orthodoxy. The cooperating conservatives are willing to fudge a bit and allow missionaries to hold views that aren't exactly in line with Southern Baptist orthodoxy. Crusading conservatives and cooperating conservatives are exactly alike. Neither group will cooperate with people who refuse to cooperate with them. So much for the idea that "cooperating conservatives" really want to cooperate with others unless others cooperate with them on their terms.

Here's the way the war at the IMB Corral started. The IMB trustees were all gathered at the corral for a regular trustee meeting. Some of the trustees were caucusing in small groups outside the corral. In a previous meeting, the trustees had changed the IMB policy regarding missionaries. The new policy change tightened the ropes around the necks of the missionaries. Apparently, they were also planning strategy to put a hangman's noose over the head of IMB foreman, Jerry Rankin. Wade didn't like this one bit. He didn’t like the fact that he couldn’t control the same IMB policy that the crusading conservatives were trying to control

Wade had a plan when he went to the corral. He loaded his shiny, smooth blogosphere pistol with cyber bullets. The shots that initiated this war came from his cyber pistol. Wade walked into the IMB corral and emptied his pistol of cyber bullets at the at the IMB trustees who would not cooperate with him. The IMB trustees were stunned for a short while, but none were severely wounded. They ran and hid in the back room of the ranch house behind the corral.

For a day or two, the IMB trustees hunched down behind closed doors and yelled loud verbal curses at Wade. They were very angry at the kind of bullets he was using. Many of the IMB trustees had never seen the kind of bullets he was using. Some said the bullets were made of something akin to pornography. Others said the bullets were made of slander and gossip. Finally after taking Wade's best shots, the IMB trustees decided to return the fire with a shot of their own. Instead of using a cyber pistol, which can only inflict injury to one's ego, the trustees used a huge cannon that could kill one's membership in the body of trustees. The IMB trustees fired only one shot from their big cannon and Wade was fired from the IMB trustees.

At the end of the day, Wade lay not dead, but severely wounded. He managed to crawl back to his hideout. Meanwhile back on the SBC ranch out in the hinterlands, Wade’s buddies heard about fight at the IMB corral. The young guns called one another to arms. They began firing cyber blogshots at the IMB trustees and everyone else within range. Of course the whole world is within range of a blogshot. An interesting thing about shooting with cyber pistols is that cyber bullets can go literally around the world in a split second. They aren’t always accurate, but they sure are fast. They’re much faster than speeding bullets of the regular kind.

I am happy to report that Wade, although wounded, is gaining strength every day. He’s not dead. Certainly not by a long cybershot. His cyber buddies are whipped up into a cyber frenzy. They are excited about waging cyber war with the IMB trustees through the blogisphere. The big shootout is yet to come. That will happen at the Greensboro corral in June. Stay tuned…

Monday, January 16, 2006

Is God the Author of Controversy?

From the beginning of the of the SBC takeover until now, the fundamentalists have claimed God's leadership in controversial actions. The fundamentalists have consistently claimed that God "led" them to controversial actions that would rid the denomination of so-called "liberalism." Paul Pressler was one of the first to openly express the idea that God was behind the takeover. Regarding the takeover, Pressler wrote:
The SBC controversy was a hill on which to die. Many did die-if not phys­ically, in other ways. It was a hill that had to be won, and won it was. I am grate­ful for those who will lead in the future. I am grateful for the many, many young people who will not be damaged in our Southern Baptist institutions by liberal teachers but instead will go forth with hearts aflame for God. I am grateful for the increased mission activity. I praise God, for only He could have brought about the present result.
Source: A Hill On Which To Die, p. 306

According to Pressler, God was power behind the takeover. If God was behind the takeover effort, then God was the author of division and controversy. Is God the author of controversy? Apparently he is, if we can believe Pressler.

In response to the current controversy of Wade Burleson's removal as a trustee of the International Mission Board, he wrote an interesting blog that delineates Five Salient Points about his position. Point 5 is interesting:
(5). Finally, I am convinced that these actions were caused by God to bring about result that would be impossible without such a public act. Because I believe God is behind it all I don't pay much attention to what men say.
Wade is convinced that God is behind the current controversy. Essentially, he is crediting God for the controversy. Apparently, God is on his side and is opposed to those with whom he disagrees. The logical conclusion is that God is the author of controversy.

Does God cause controversy? Does God create situations where controversy is the only way to solve disagreements between believers? I think not. I can't imagine a situation where God deliberately creates controversy. The God I know and love isn't that kind of God...

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Anthony's Dilemma

Wade Burleson is an Oklahoma Baptist. He is pastor of the Emmanuel Baptist church in Enid. He is a past president of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. He is a freshman trustee on the SBC International Mission Board. He is an avowed inerrantist who opposes anyone who appears to be "liberal" among Southern Baptists. He is an influential figure both in Oklahoma Baptist life and Southern Baptist life.

Wade has two claims to fame. First, he opposed the formation of the Cooperating Baptist Fellowship of Oklahoma. In a recent blog, Wade wrote:
"I have stood side by side with my fellow conservatives and toe to toe with liberals in our convention over the years. When the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship organized in Oklahoma I nailed on the door of their organizational meeting "Thesis Against the Formation of the CBF", an act which marked me forever as an opponent of the CBF."
Secondly, Wade's latest claim to fame is that he stood toe to toe with fellow trustees over a disagreement in the direction which the IMB is moving. He dared to oppose the powerbrokers, both inside and outside the body of trustees. The powerbrokers inside the body of trustees have apparently been violating the rules of decorum. Many of the trustees are unhappy with IMB President, Jerry Rankin. Wade claims that the trustees want Rankin's head on a platter. They want him fired or relieved of his position.

The powerbrokers outside the trustees are led by Paige Patterson and friends. Apparently, they also want Rankin's head on a platter. For more than two years, Patterson has been working behind the scenes to replace Rankin with a person of his choosing. Wade is fighting tooth and toenail as he stands toe to toe against the group of people he claims to be "crusading conservatives." Wade claims to be a "cooperating conservative," but he is certainly not cooperating with the crusaders. His refusal to cooperate with the crusaders has launched him into the limelight in a big way. So what we are observing now is a major war between the crusading conservatives and the cooperating conservatives.

Anthony Jordan is an Oklahoma Baptist. He has served in the highest offices available to an Oklahoma Baptist. He is a past president of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. He is presently serving as the Executive Director of the BGCO. He also is an influential figure in Oklahoma and Southern Baptist life. He has several claims to fame, not the least of which is his service on the committee that gave Article XVIII of the Baptist Faith and Message to Southern Baptists. The article was added to the BF&M in 1998. Anthony was the chairman of that committee.

The significance of Article XVIII is threefold. One, the article codified the doctrine that women are commanded to be "graciously submissive" to men in the home and the church. Second, it helped to codify the doctrine that women are not allowed be pastors of local churches. And third, it emboldened the powerbrokers to execute yet another revision just two years later in 2000. The 2000 BF&M codified the doctrine of inerrancy for Southern Baptists.

Anthony is facing a major dilemma concerning the current IMB trustee controversy. He is between a rock and a hard place in the worst way. Anthony's is being forced to choose between the crusading conservatives and the cooperating conservatives. The crusading conservatives are backed by the major powerbrokers in the denomination. The crusading conservatives are led by the group that affected the takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention. This would be Paige Patterson, Paul Pressler, and numerous others.

The cooperating conservatives are led by one man, Wade Burleson. As it stands now, there are no major Southern Baptist figures who claim to be in agreement with the cooperating conservatives. But there has been a ground swell of cooperating conservatives who have risen up in arms over the past week. If one is to believe the huge number of messages in the blogisphere, one would have to concede there are more than a few cooperating conservatives who refuse to cooperate with the crusading conservatives. It's interesting that the crusading conservatives will not cooperate with the cooperating conservatives. It's also interesting that the cooperating conservatives want desperately to cooperate with the crusading conservatives, but flatly refuse to cooperate with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. I can hardly believe that the cooperating conservatives are really cooperating kinds of people. They will cooperate only with people who will cooperate with them on their terms.

Anthony's dilemma comes down to this. Will he choose to cooperate with the crusading conservatives who have the denominational powerbrokers power behind them? Or will he choose to cooperate with the conservatives who are composed of one powerbroker and a host of disgruntled cooperating conservatives? Now that's a real dilemma if there ever was one. My hunch is that Anthony will lay low for a short while, stick a wet finger in the air, see which way the wind is blowing, and then make his decision. Since he has plenty of denominational political aspirations, he can't afford to choose the wrong side in this uncooperative fight. If he chooses the side of the crusading conservatives and they lose, he loses. If he chooses the side of the cooperating conservatives and they lose, he loses. In the end, I believe Anthony is in a lose-lose situation. I can't see how he can possibly come out a winner; even if he chooses what he thinks will be the winning side. Am I ever glad I'm not in Anthony's shoes...

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The IMB Meltdown Continues...

It comes as no surprise to me that the International Mission Board of the SBC (IMB) is experiencing yet another crisis. It's not surprising that the fundamentalists are now beginning to turn on themselves.

Wade Burleson, the immediate Past President of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, is facing the worst of what fundamentalists do to those who do not stick with the party agenda. Fundamentalists desire absolute control and will tolerate nothing less from anyone, including their own. I want to make two points in this blog:

First, the IMB is in a meltdown. Actually it's the continuation of a meltdown that began many years ago. It began when the IMB board of trustees reached the tipping point and became a majority of fundamentalists. In 1982, Keith Parks, resigned from the IMB in protest against a hostile fundamentalist board of trustees. He joined the CBF and became head of the CBF Global Missions program (which is the CBF equivalent to the IMB).

There have been numerous signs of meltdown in the IMB, not the least of which was the mandate for all IMB missionaries to sign the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message. That crisis led to the firing and exclusion of over a hundred missionaries. There were no tears shed by the fundamentalists as Jerry Rankin and the IMB forced many good and faithful missionaries home from the field because they could not in good conscience sign a man-made creed. The hurt and pain of this crisis was felt by thousands of Southern Baptists who couldn't understand why the IMB would act in such an unchristian manner.

Now comes Wade Burleson's attempt to stand up to the powers that be. He is now facing the wrath of those who will tolerate nothing short of absolute conformity. I feel Wade's pain. I experienced it myself. I understand what he's going through. For all practical purposes, Wade is now persona non grata to the very people he supported when the SBC attempted to silence the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. It's a crying shame. I can't say, however, that I'm surprised at the way he is being treated.

Secondly, many of Wade's supporters are attempting to say that there is a difference between what he did 16 years ago and what is happening now. In 1992, Wade wrote a "95 Thesis Why the CBF Should Not Exist." He tacked it a door of the room where the CBFO was formed. In one of his blogs, Wade wrote:

I have stood side by side with my fellow conservatives and toe to toe with liberals in our convention over the years. When the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship organized in Oklahoma I nailed on the door of their organizational meeting "95 Thesis Against the Formation of the CBF," an act which marked me forever as an opponent of the CBF. Source...

(On 2/6/06, Wade edited out the words highlighted in red)

Now that Wade is experiencing the wrath of the fundamentalist IMB trustees, his supporting friends are attempting to say that this is a different sort of fight. Wade wrote a blog that attempts to differentiate between groups of fundamentalists. Wade says there are "crusading conservatives" and "cooperating conservatives." He is casting lots with the "cooperating conservatives." Many of his supporters are casting lots with "cooperating conservatives."

The truth of the matter is that there isn't ounce of difference between the "crusading conservatives" and "cooperating conservatives." Both groups have the same attitude toward all others who don't agree with their line of thinking. Crusading conservatives fight everyone including themselves. Cooperating conservatives desire to cooperate with crusading conservatives, but despise the Cooperative Baptists (the CBF). Cooperating conservatives cooperate with hardly anyone other than their own kind. Which hardly qualifies them as being "cooperating conservatives."

A curious thing to me is that Wade didn't want to cooperate with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship but he desperately wants to cooperate with the fundamentalists. In the end, those who try to differentiate between "crusading conservatives" and "cooperating conservatives" are fooling only themselves.

Wade Burleson is hurting. I feel his pain. I've been there and have experienced that. I applaud his courage to stand up against powerful people. I am praying for him.