"controversial and superfluous guidelines"

This is an article posted on SBCOutpost.com:

Pastors, former missionaries join former IMB trustees in calling for removal of controversial, superfluous ‘guidelines’

‘Time to Change’ group opposes policies on baptism, private prayer practices

NORTH CAROLINA –– A group of 37 former Southern Baptist missionaries, former International Mission Board trustees and Southern Baptist pastors has issued a call for rank and file Southern Baptists to reverse “guidelines” enacted by IMB trustees in 2005 that prohibited appointment of missionaries whose baptisms and private prayer lives do not meet those guidelines.

“We express our concern over the restrictions that have been put in place in the form of additional ‘guidelines’ concerning a missionary candidate’s private prayer life and baptism,” says the statement, which was released June 2, 2008. “Our conviction is that these guidelines stray far beyond the parameters set forth by our denominational confession of faith, the Baptist Faith and Message.”

One position adopted by IMB trustees prohibited appointment of missionary candidates who were not baptized in conformity with a narrow, extra-biblical definition of baptism. The second position prohibited appointment of missionary candidates who practice a “private prayer language.”

The group objects that those restrictions amount to “intrusive scrutiny into the sanctity of the personal prayer closet” and “dictating to local churches what constitutes a legitimate Christian baptism.”

The result of adopting those “guidelines” – with no evidence they were needed – was that “otherwise worthy candidates” for missionary service are unnecessarily rejected and “valuable, faithful IMB personnel” are leaving the field at a time when the overseas missions harvest is greater than ever, the group says.

“Each day, we are all made painfully aware of the scope of the lostness of our world. We agree with the words of our Lord that, indeed, the harvest is abundant. We also, with great sadness, agree with His assessment that the workers are few,” the statement says. “There are good, loyal Southern Baptists who see the multitudes also, and just as Christ did, feel compassion for them. Let us as Southern Baptists not purposefully turn away any qualified worker who has heard and obeyed the call to ‘Go.’”

The group plainly asserts that their opposition to the “guidelines” should not be read as a lack of support for IMB missionaries, staff or administration. They “commend the obedience and commitment to God’s call of the more than 5,000 dedicated brothers and sisters who have been appointed, sent, and supported by Southern Baptists to carry the gospel to the ends of the earth” and declare that they “enthusiastically support our IMB missionaries through their praying, giving, and going.”

They also affirm that the IMB’s candidate approval process “has been fair, thorough, and complete, producing a dedicated, well-trained missionary force” that meet the criteria set out by the SBC Constitution that “all missionaries appointed by the Convention’s boards must, previous to their appointment, furnish evidence of piety, zeal for the Master’s kingdom, conviction of truth as held by Baptists, and talents for missionary service.”

The group “call(s) on Southern Baptists to hold the entities of the SBC accountable to the direction of the convention’s churches, not the churches to the sentiments of their entities” and “strongly urge(s) Southern Baptists to seek the removal of these controversial and superfluous guidelines from use in the candidate approval process.”

The group has created a Web site at imbchange.info to “encourage appropriate principles and guidelines for missionary service through the International Mission Board of the SBC.”


For more information, contact:

Allan & Pam Blume 828-265-0220 or 828-266-9700
Steve Hardy 336-714-5468


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