Biblical wisdom for the IMB controversy

Several have questioned why I have only recently expressed my opinions about the issues arising from the IMB policy changes. The main reason is that I had not seen an unedited copy of the actual policy changes. Yesterday, I did finally get a copy. Scripture warns us to resist the temptation to form conclusions without getting adequate information. Proverbs 18:13, “He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him.” This biblical wisdom should guide all who are concerned about what is going on with the IMB trustees.

This same warning has led me to be very measured in my statements about the attempt to oust a trustee from the IMB board. Very few facts of the case have been made public. Many of the allegations have been veiled and vague, perhaps, as has been pointed out, to honor the rules of operating in executive session. Regardless of the reason, however, not enough information has been made public to form firm conclusions about the matter.

Let me reiterate one of my main observations from this fiasco. Unless specific charges of fiduciary failure on the part of Wade Burleson are forthcoming, I am convinced that the attempt by the IMB trustees to remove him from the board will fail if it is brought to the floor of the SBC convention in Greensboro. The reasons for my opinion have nothing to do with the facts of the case, but rather with my own assessment of what is going on in the convention. Here are my thoughts:

1. A significant lack of trust has been bred among grass roots Southern Baptists (conservative, inerrantist Southern Baptists) over the last several years.

2. Though this diminishing trust is not limited to younger pastors and church leaders, it certainly is pervasive among them.

3. The prospect of a debate/discussion/dialogue/chat about Calvinism by Paige Patterson and Al Mohler at the Pastor’s Conference preceding the Greensboro convention will attract a large number of these younger pastors and church leaders.

4. The vote to remove a trustee will pass only with a 2/3 majority.

5. Last, but not least, the “whoop-de-doo” factor. Many of those being asked to act on this recommendation will be unafraid to go against the “movement conservatives” on this question, if there is insufficient evidence brought forth or if there is any hint of a high-handed approach in presenting the case.

Those are my thoughts. Notice that I have not made any assertion that one side or the other is either right or wrong in this case. The jury is still out on that question. What I am suggesting is that the removal of a conservative trustee will be a hard sell to the messengers of the upcoming convention. If the case is weak, I expect it to be rejected outright.

Tom Ascol has served as a Pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, FL since 1986. Prior to moving to Florida he served as pastor and associate pastor of churches in Texas. He has a BS degree in sociology from Texas A&M University (1979) and has also earned the MDiv and PhD degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas. He has served as an adjunct professor of theology for various colleges and seminaries, including Reformed Theological Seminary, the Covenant Baptist Theological Seminary, African Christian University, Copperbelt Ministerial College, and Reformed Baptist Seminary. He has also served as Visiting Professor at the Nicole Institute for Baptist Studies at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. Tom serves as the President of Founders Ministries and The Institute of Public Theology. He has edited the Founders Journal, a quarterly theological publication of Founders Ministries, and has written hundreds of articles for various journals and magazines. He has been a regular contributor to TableTalk, the monthly magazine of Ligonier Ministries. He has also edited and contributed to several books, including Dear Timothy: Letters on Pastoral Ministry, The Truth and Grace Memory Books for children and  Recovering the Gospel and Reformation of Churches. He is also the author of From the Protestant Reformation to the Southern Baptist ConventionTraditional Theology and the SBC and Strong and Courageous. Tom regularly preaches and lectures at various conferences throughout the United States and other countries. In addition he regularly contributes articles to the Founders website and hosts a weekly podcast called The Sword & The Trowel. He and his wife Donna have six children along with four sons-in-law and a daughter-in-law. They have sixteen grandchildren.
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