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...

3 comments:

Tad Thompson said...

David - the issue is the lines of cooperation stop when essentials have been breached. Surely we can agree that there is a point where two groups cannot cooperate. This is why this battle is so different from the one before. The battle lines were clear and broad. Now the lines are blurry and naroow.

David Flick said...

Actually, Tad, there isn't an ounce of difference between the IMB trustee controversy and the controversy that led to the takeover. The battle lines are the same. Both had to do with absolute control and absolute conformity. It is a myth to say that the SBC was ever threatened by "liberalism." The so-called, "conservative resurgence," was really a battle for complete control of the denomination. This battle is the same. It's a battle over who will absolutely control (make policy in)the IMB.

It's interesting to me that Wade claims to be a "cooperating conservative," yet he won't "cooperate" with those who disagree with his views. Apparently, he will cooperate only those who cooperate with him. The battle lines in this controversy are clear and broad. Simply put, it is a question of who is going to control IMB policy.

Awburkhart said...

David,

Are you proposing that Anthony Jordan listens to the voice of people over the voice of God?

Apparently, your 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." That's too bad, I didn't see anything in there about prayer, or asking the Father's heart. The God I serve is strong enough to handle these issues. His name is Yahweh, and I pray that He reveals His Power, Authority, and Faithfullness to you. Let's not forget about Romans 8:23.

I would recommend having slightly more faith in your brother in Christ than that...