So much for Grace and TruthJanuary 11, 2006
I few days ago I stumbled across a blog by a member of the Board of Trustees at the Southern Baptist Convention's International Mission Board: Grace and Truth to You by Wade Burleson. While I do not agree with him on all issues, he has some insightful thoughts.
Today, Burleson is making the news because the Board voted to kick him off because of the blog, though it is not official until approved by the messengers to the next SBC annual meeting: Mission board trustees seek removal of trustee Burleson - (BP). On his blog, Burleson has explained in response:
"I have consistently maintained that a growing problem within our convention is the removal from leadership and service those who do not conform to specific interpretations of the Bible. We Southern Baptists have already fought the battle for the Bible, but I sense that the new battle that must be waged is for the freedom of Baptists to disagree on interpretations of difficult texts in the Bible, and to always remain in fellowship and cooperation with each other in our mission."
"My desire has always been to capture the interest and commitment of what I believe is a critical mass of conservative SBC members in general, and a younger generation of SBC pastors and leaders in particular, who are increasingly feeling disenfranchised because of attempts to demand conformity to interpretations of the Bible with which even reasonable, conservative innerantists may disagree."
"I simply ask that you vote your conscience. As for me, here I stand. I can do no other."
Bruce Prescott over at the Mainstream Baptist blog wisely writes:
"My advice to Burleson and anyone else trying to work within the SBC is to decide that you would rather that Southern Baptists be identified as 'Christian' than as 'conservative.' There's nothing Christ-like about the incessant purges that have taken place in the SBC over the last twenty-five years. No matter how conservative the values being defended, conscientious dissent from the policies of authoritarian leaders will never be accepted as 'conservative.'”
“The purges will continue as long as Southern Baptists keep competing with each other for the title 'conservative.'"
It is sad to see a denomination that is supposed to be led by the people—not from the top-down—would remove someone who was doing his part to fully inform the people he serves. To remove him suggests they are trying to hide things, because he was only doing his duty of reporting back to his bosses. To remove him suggests they are insecure in their positions, because they do not allow anyone to challenge them. To remove him suggests that they no longer care about Grace or Truth, because this does not seem to be how Jesus would respond.