March 29, 2006

What Does Public Criticism Mean, Anyway?

The new code of conduict for IMB trustees, according to trustee Mike Smith, is not intended to stifle honest differences between board members. At least, that's the story today from the SBTC Texan.

“We really got started on this two years ago, way before Wade Burleson or anything like that,” Smith told the Southern Baptist TEXAN in a phone interview March 23, referring to the Oklahoma trustee whose board status was in question until the board’s vote March 22 to rescind an earlier action requesting his removal. “We ourselves said we need something (drafted) in a concise way for being accountable when attending meetings and being faithful (as trustees).”
So this has been sitting for two years, and RIGHT NOW, just after the whole controversy, it's passed and implimented immediately -- even though many trustees expressed concern about voting for or against a document that they had only received the night before.

Why the rush? It's obvious to everyone watching what the rush was -- "we have a problem we need to take care of ASAP, before it gets out of hand."

Later in the article, Smith says that "we just do not want continuous open criticism." I think that a measure that effectively turns the trustee board into a group of yes men will certainly ensure that trustees don't criticise. It also means that nobody will pay any attention to what the trustees say publically about a decision ever again. It means that we're going to have to look at things for ourselves.

An new SBC, full of people who take an interest in what is going on at the national convention level? Who are involved and vocal? Who knows what we might be able to accomplish when we ALL are involved in the process. I'm starting to think that the IMB trustees have done us a favor.

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March 23, 2006

Crazy? Like a Fox!

Yesterday, I expressed my disappointment in the IMB trustees' decision to not allow public dissent by trustees. I am still disappointed, but I now have hope, and that hope has come from Wade Burleson.

His 'Ten Terrific Things'has encouraged me, especially this point:

(3). Bloggers other than trustees are now going to do all they can to be at the important meetings of the IMB.

(4). I met 20 young people for the first time who attended the IMB meeting simply to ATTEND. Not to be appointed, not to see family, but to simply ATTEND. When is the last time that many young adults attended the IMB meeting for no official reason but to participate in missions at the grass roots level.

(5). This participation of young adults in the Southern Baptist Convention is exciting. The SBC has long needed involvement from the generation of evanglical, missional minded young peole from our convention.


A message has been sent to the "power brokers" at the IMB: we're watching you. You cruised along below the radar for a long time, but that time is over. You've muzzled Wade Burleson with this new policy, but it doesn't matter. The things he would have talked about on his blog will be talked about anyway, by folks like Marty Duren and many others. The action by the board has sparked action by people who may otherwise have simply cruised along, paying no attention to the politics in the convention.

The light is on. We're watching.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 06:05 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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March 22, 2006

I Wish

I wish I had never heard about the new policies at the IMB, which effectively closed the door on many missionary candidates for non-essential differences.

I wish I had never heard about the IMB trustees' efforts to silence Wade Burleson, to the point of actually seeking his removal from the board of trustees.

I wish .... but I did hear. And what I found out today grieves me even more.

A proposed new conduct guide for IMB trustees. A proposed manual that would state " ... trustees are to speak in positive and supportive terms as they interpret and report on actions by the Board, regardless of whether they personally support the action."

In other words, the average Southern Baptist shouldn't know that there are people who disagree with "established policy." And the rest of the world shouldn't think that there are Southern Baptists who would actually disagree with said established policy.

Well, guess what? The rest of the world holds a pretty low opinion of Southern Baptists already -- something about us being a bunch of Jesus freaks or something. And the average Southern Baptist needs to know what is going on where their money is being spent. Without Bro. Burleson's dissent, nobody would have known what was going on -- maybe that's the intention. Keep the proles in the dark.

This is a gag order. It's no secret who this is designed to silence, and Wade Burleson is a man of enough integrity that he will abide by the board's decision, to the extent that he won't air his disagreements if the new manual is adopted.

I've seen groups run by 'yes men' before. Growing up in IFB land, I saw men of integrity, but I also saw men who were afraid to condemn the actions of certain "Men of God" when they were wrong. They didn't want to be kicked out of the camp -- one thing you'll find out quickly is that the I in IFB may stand for Independent, but it doesn't always mean independent. There are camps and cliques, and you don't want to be in the wrong one. So you put up a front, and deny that there are any problems -- at least in public.

We need principled dissent. Baptists have historically been the voices of principled dissent. And now we are going to lose that. We are going to stifle that voice so we can shore up a facade of unity that everybody knows isn't there to begin with.

Who are we trying to kid? We are not fooling anybody, not even ourselves. Vacating the Board of Trustees of the IMB now seems like a reasonable solution.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 05:23 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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March 02, 2006

Blogging Trustees

I promised in another post that I'd link to other IMB trustees' blogs if they started one. And one of them has done just that.

The Most Excellent Way is a blog by IMB trustee Jerry Corbaley. According to Marty Duren, he was the person who sent the trustees into Executive Session shortly before the motion to remove Wade Burleson was made, so he should bring the other side of the story to the blogosphere at last.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 11:28 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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