Burleson Details Ethical Shortcomings at IMB

February 24, 2009

Ethics Daily ran my latest article, which is entitled "Burleson Details Ethical Shortcomings at IMB." The piece reports on some of the findings and stories in the forthcoming book Hardball Religion: Feeling the Fury of Fundamentalism by Wade Burleson, a former trustee at the Southern Baptist Convention's International Mission Board. The piece notes five ethical problems that Burleson details in the book.

Burleson's book, which will be released in April by Smyth & Helwys, is available for pre-order here (where you can also read an excerpt and the table of contents). It is well written as Burleson tells the story of what he experienced during his controversial tenure as a trustee. Although much of the story is already known from his blog and other media accounts, he offers much more detail and names more people involved. There were several times I found myself stunned by what people were saying and doing. It is tragic that the conflict erupted to level of negativity that it did, but Burleson should be commended for being willing to stand by his principles even in the face of public and private attacks.

This is a story that needs to be told because Christian organizations should be held to high standards and should be open and transparent. Although I am sure that many Southern Baptist leaders--especially those Burleson criticizes--will attack the book and refuse to consider his arguments, hopefully some will learn from this story in order to more appropriately and effectively lead ministries. Even for people not involved with Southern Baptist life, this book offers a cautionary tale about Christian ministry leaders and how they should and should not act.