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.


Anonymous said...

Hello...thank you for this article. I found it from I have been following this story. I think you are pretty much right. Mr. Burleson is going to find himself on a little island, cut off from the SBC, cut off from more moderate Baptists. I hope that CBF people will offer him a welcome, and I'd be interested to see how he responds to that. One possible correction: was it in 1982 that Keith Parks left the IMB? I thought it was later, not sure...?

David Flick said...

Hi Neal,

I really don't think Wade would join or "cooperate" with the CBF. He doesn't like us very well. He posted a "95 Theses" why we shouldn't exist. Besides, he's much too busy fighting this battle right now to even think about us...