Ichabod. And I Don't Mean Crane.
I feel a lot like the kid who asked his mom where babies came from. She said "Ask your dad .. he's a doctor and he delivers babies". The boy said:
"I don't want to know THAT much."
When I first wrote Wade Burleson in early 2006, asking if he thought I ought to go to the convention in Greensboro, I had one picture of the SBC. As I've come to learn in the last 18 months, that SBC was like the Yeti, the perpetual motion machine, and altruistic politicians.
None of them really exists. And I didn't want to know THAT much about the SBC.
The second motion I spoke to at the 2006 Convention was Wade Burleson's motion requesting the Executive committee to investigate certain goings-on, including on the IMB Board of Trustees. That motion was referred to the IMB to investigate (which seemed to me to be about like asking the class bully if he's the class bully), which Wade actually supported (the referral). I spoke in objection to the referral, saying I thought it essential that the SBC as a whole .. through the EC .. check out what he alleged, and take immediate action. In my argument, I pointed out that King Saul had learned that kinging thing so well that, when God withdrew His Spirit, Saul kept right on trucking as king. And we all know how THAT ended.
I said that the allegations in Wade's motion were serious enough (the "given" was "in the King's work that we're about down here") that the SBC should do something immediately, if not instantly, and that we could not pass the buck. See .. if the charges were true, it was a very serious matter in God's work. And, if they weren't true, it was a very serious matter in God's work. Either way, if the SBC did not address them directly and swiftly, I said, I fear we might come back next year and find the Spirit had departed.
Apparently my logic was up to my usual standards, as my arguments were to no avail.
And, in response to the referral, the IMB BoT renamed the "rules" the "guidelines". Beyond that, business as usual. Just as was expected.
Now, Dr. Jerry Corbaley has send a 153-page letter to IMB BoT members, doing what I can only term "assailing" Wade Burleson. I'll let that one stand on its own merits, both as to content and to the fact of its writing in the first place, but it's going to be very interesting to see the BoT's reaction thereto. That may tell more than anything, what's what with them. But .. it did bring back another attack that I think it's time I shared.
Let me start with as honest a statement as I can possibly pen; that I hold no animosity for the trustee I'm about to refer to. I wouldn't mind having him as my pastor. But what happened, happened, and may well be (IS, in my mind) indicative of problems with the IMB BoT. What I'm about to post happened immediately after I'd spoken to the convention about Wade's motion.
Peggy and I had gone to the Sheraton, the Convention Hotel, after the business meeting. As we were approaching the front door, I was set upon by a man who identified himself as an IMB trustee. The details follow this paragraph, with the notation that the atmosphere was such that when I was first approached, Peggy ducked into the hotel, knowing what was likely coming. She went in there to pray. She's pretty perceptive that way. Also note that I wrote Wade Burleson, who I knew only distantly at that time, that very night as he'd providentially happened upon our "discussion". What follows is what I wrote Wade on June 14, 2006, the afternoon following the meeting, after an exchange of emails concerning whether I should pass the information along.
"As we approached the entrance to the Sheraton, a man said "Hey .... aren't you the one who made the motion?"; his wife said yes, that I was the one. I immediately told (the trustee) that I hadn't made a motion, but that I had spoken against the motion to refer.
He launched immediately into a diatribe against you. He said, and I think I recall these words precisely "Let me tell you about this trustee.." The words "most disruptive" and "impossible to satisfy" were used. It was quite a flurry and I thought very unnecessary. He even went so far as to state that the vote to remove you "was overwhelming .. it wasn't even close".
He also said that he was the man who'd come after you, as he was leaving that infamous BoT meeting, shouting "What's if going to take (to get you to resign)?"
I stopped him after just a few seconds and said "My position had nothing to do with Wade, or with his motion". I went on to explain (I don't know if you heard all that I said) that my concern was for the SBC, and I told him that they could NOT escape their responsibility by sweeping it aside and referring it to the IMB. I told him that was tantamount to saying "You aren't doing that stuff, are you?"
Despite my explanation, he said "But you need to have the background on him" .. and he repeated most of what he'd already said. I again stated that he missed my point; my concern was with the SBC.
When he'd said a few more things, I told him that:
1) I had not been at any of the BoT meetings, so I could not form judgments on any behaviors, but issues and facts were all that I could deal with. I explained to him that, if I were to want to form judgments about your behavior, i would also have to set about getting information about HIM, so I could do likewise with him. And I would not do that."
More followed, in the discussion, but that was the part that pertained to Wade. The rest was about the reasons for the IMB BoT actions.
Now I have two reasons for dredging up all this stuff now:
1) Apparently, some if not most trustees feel that such behavior is OK for one trustee, to a man that trustee had never before met, and who had no involvement in SBC/IMB matters.
2) It was about this time that Wade happened upon our happy little confrontation. Although I suspect he may have known what was happening there, or perhaps had heard some of what this trustee was saying, his demeanor was as Christlike as I can imagine. Wade shook his hand, put his arm around his shoulders, and said "We're going to work through this, brother".
So, the only trustees with whom I have had direct contact (other than a phone call to Dr. Corbaley early last year .. and now his letter to the IMB trustees), are Wade Burleson and this particular trustee. And there is simply no comparison as respects their behavior. I've seen Wade in adversity, and I've read all his blog posts ever since, and probably most of the comments on the blogs we both happen to read. I think I know the demeanor and the manner of the man that Dr. Corbaley attacked in his letter, and there's no doubt in my mind he (Dr. Corbaley) is dead wrong.
Note that I originally included the trustee's name in this post, but then decided it wasn't relly relative. If you think I'm making this up, drop me an email and I'll tell you who it was.
I don't think I can be silent any longer about that.
So how about the SBC? Well, if I was right about God writing Ichabod over the door of the SBC, how would we even know it? Consider the following:
A) One thing we cannot do is to point out conversions here or on the mission field, or baptisms, or any other result of the SBC work. Those things happen as a result of God's love and concern for lost souls, and not out of His love and respect for the SBC.
B) A young acquaintance of ours, who spent two vacation periods on foreign mission fields with the IMB, reports that several missionaries had resigned in between the two, over real, substantive issues with the IMB.
C) I personally know more of than one missionary who has, or is about to, resign from the IMB over just such issues as Wade has been highlighting for 18 months now.
D) The SBC in its annual meeting has twice rejected a motion calling for honesty in membership. HONESTY. Rejected by the SBC.. (Note to Wade: I really, REALLY wanted to use an exclamation mark right there).
E) One seminary President has refused to divulge FTE's and other numbers for the seminary he heads, as required by the SBC constitution (I think it is). The same man whose new portrait for the seminary is 5'2" high and 4' wide. I surmise that it was simply ordered bigger than his prior presidential portrait, which was only 4'4" high and 3'6" wide. What do those two facts .. the refusal, and the humongous portrait .. teach seminary students, I wonder.
F) The SBC adopts a statement that the BF&M 2000 is an adequate guide for various entities and at least two entity presidents tell the SBC to buzz off .. that THEY know how to run an institution, we don't.
G) Dr. Corbaley's letter refers to "slander" at Wade's hand (actually, the written words wouldn't be slander, but I'll ignore terminological inexactitudes). I've seen Wade, over the last year and a half, repeatedly ask for examples of that. I have yet to see any. Yet that seems acceptable behavior by a trustee, again, to the IMB.
H) Then there's the whole Klouda matter. 'Nuf said. Side note: lots of flap about whether Dr. Klouda should have resorted to a secular court system. But I must ask: if God can use the Babylonians .. see Habakkuk for details ..to bring justice to Israel, why can't He use a secular court to bring justice to the SBC?
I) Dr. Corbaley posted a story on his blog during the 2007 SBC Convention, purportedly about his speaking in unintelligible speech and subsequently interpreted by an older lady. As it happens, it was really about his infancy, with his mother interpreting his cries as being that of his hunger, the need for a diaper change, his being in pain, etc. It was intentionally misleading. I find, personally, that intentionally misleading people, even with the truth, is another form of lying. I find it disgusting behavior, and perhaps even poking fun at a legitimate gift from the Holy Spirit. You can guess the conclusions that line of reasoning might develop.
In retrospect, I may have been wrong in my statements about King Saul at SBC 2006. The word may already have been written. Maybe we just didn't see it. Maybe we were too busy looking at ourselves.
Maybe we still are.