I just added my name to the list of signatories to the statement issued today by a number of former IMB trustees expressing their opposition to the recent guideline changes related to baptism and private prayer language for potential appointees.
You can read the statement for yourself here.
I wish to make it clear, as the statement itself explains, that I "desire to express (my) unwavering support for the work of the IMB, its staff, and administration." I would also like to make clear that I consider myself to be under the authority of the Southern Baptist Convention as a whole, by way of the trustee system that has been set up to represent the will of the majority. As such, I recognize that I have a responsibility to abide by the guidelines and policies that have been established by the Board of Trustees.
I am also thankful for the opportunity to voice my loyal opposition to policies like this. I am not calling on anyone to rebel, in any way, against the lines of authority that have been set up, or to lessen, in any way, their support for the IMB.
I realize that, as an employee of the IMB, this is a bit awkward. Others who may feel the same way I do may not feel the same liberty to add their name to the statement as I have. That is completely understandable. I should make clear as well that I was not asked to add my name. I have done so on my own initiative. Also, I have already, close to the time I began this blog more than two years ago, been open about my personal opinions related to the new guidelines (see here).
I also want to add that I think it is signficant that this amount of former IMB trustees have come forward with this statement, among them two (this is a correction, as someone informed me it is not just one) former chairmen of the board. No doubt, there are others who are sympathetic with it, but who, for one reason or another, have not felt the liberty to add their names. I am confident there are also current trustees who are sympathetic with the statement. However, I understand that it would most likely be a conflict of interest for them to sign.
Of all the things that could help bring reconciliation and increased unity among the various factions of conservative Southern Baptists that have arisen in the past couple of years, I believe that a reversal of the IMB guidelines on baptism and private prayer language ranks right near the top. I am hopeful Southern Baptists "of all stripes and colors" will read this statement, and prayerfully consider the earnest plea that those who signed it are making.