From my point of view, a good bit of the disparity of views brought out by recent developments related to the IMB Board of Trustees hinges upon the approach one takes to the following paragraph in BoT Chairman Tom Hatley’s recent letter to SBC pastors:
After all, these special leaders will be representing Southern Baptists while they are starting churches in the field that are also distinctively Baptist. They will be financially supported by Southern Baptists. Therefore, we are right to expect their ministries to be more in line with our heritage and doctrinal core than those of other denominations or belief systems. We are not an ecumenical movement, determined to send anyone who wants to go to the field. We are Baptists, and therefore we are only sending Baptists.
Upon reading this paragraph, on the surface it seems reasonable. By human standards, it almost certainly is reasonable. However, by biblical standards, I am not sure that it passes the test of obedience to God and conformity to his will.
As a missionary, I consider that I am sent out first and foremost in obedience to Jesus’ Great Commission. Nowhere in the Great Commission (nor in other parts of the Bible) do I read "Go ye therefore and start Baptist churches". Nor is the Great Commission, as I understand it, given exclusively to Baptist churches (unless, of course, you are Landmarkist, and regard only Baptist churches to be true churches). The Great Commission is given to the Church, the Body of Christ, made up of born-again believers down through the centuries from every nation, culture, ecclesiological background, and denomination.
Yes, we are Baptists, because we agree on a certain set of biblical doctrines based upon our common interpretation and acceptance of the Word of God. And yes, we cooperate together with other like-minded churches in our missionary efforts, because we believe that is a wise stewardship of the resources God has commended to us. Also, as good stewards, we try to ensure the missionaries we send out are doctrinally sound, and faithful to the teaching of the Word of God.
Although it doesn’t say it directly, Hatley’s paragraph seems to imply that we are sending out missionaries, as it were, "under the banner" of Southern Baptists. Biblically, I think it would be more correct to say we, as Southern Baptists, are doing our part to cooperate with the Church around the world to fulfill the Great Commission, "under the banner" of Jesus alone.
I would agree with Hatley that we are not an "ecumenical movement", if what he means by that is an attempt to work towards an organizational union of all the different local churches and denominations. However, if the implication is that, as Baptists, we do not worry much about the unity of the Body of Christ at large, and how we can better join hands with other believers around the world to work together at fulfilling the Great Commission that Jesus gave to all of us, I am not sure if I can in good conscience "sign on" to that vision.