An International Mission Board trustee under fire for blogging about internal politicking among Southern Baptist leaders has rewritten a December blog that attacked “crusading conservatives,” using softer and less-militant terms.
Wade Burleson, a trustee from Enid, Okla., originally titled his Dec. 10 post “Crusading Conservatives vs. Cooperating Conservatives: The War for the Future of the Southern Baptist Convention.”
On Jan. 10 trustees voted to seek his removal from the board. An IMB press release said it was for lack of accountability and a loss of trust, but Burleson said charges read into the official record also included slander and gossip, which he denied.
Burleson has continued to post regularly to his Web log, which according to an on-screen counter has had more than 60,000 visitors since Dec. 10. On Saturday Burleson said he defends his original blog but wishes he had chosen different words.
“In hindsight, I regret some of the word choices in that post,” Burleson wrote. “I stand by everything I said, and will never apologize for saying it, but I just wish I would have said it softer.”
“The secular media and others pick out what they want, and rarely pay attention to the context of the words they choose to use,” he said. “Anyone who has read all my other posts knows I have a love for all my Southern Baptist friends, even those with whom I disagree.”
The new title is “Political Conservatives vs. Cooperating Conservatives: The Struggle for the Future of the Southern Baptist Convention.” In the rewrite Burleson uses “political” instead of “crusading” to describe trustees he says are using political power to impose doctrine and exclude fellow conservatives. He uses “struggle” in place of war and omits fighting words previously used to describe moderate Baptists and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
In December Burleson wrote that 20 years ago “liberalism in the Southern Baptist Convention experienced her Waterloo” at the SBC annual meeting in Dallas. The rephrased version terms the Dallas convention merely “a turning point.”
Before, he praised SBC leaders including Paul Pressler, Paige Patterson and Adrian Rogers for “snatching the SBC from the clenched jaws of dead neo-orthodoxy and restoring our seminaries, agencies and institutions.” He now credits the men with “charting our course as a convention for the decades to come.”
He still recounts nailing on the door of the organizational meeting of the Cooperating Baptist Fellowship of Oklahoma a “95 Theses Against Formation of the CBF.” But he now explains: “I consider everyone involved in the CBF a brother or sister in Christ, but I nailed the thesis on the door because I believed if someone is truly an evangelical conservative, then he or she should cooperate with the Southern Baptist Convention and not separate. Otherwise, separation from the SBC because of a denial of the inerrancy of God’s word is both appropriate and needed.”
Burleson said he still believes the SBC needed a “doctrinal course correction” but now admits he might have been naÃ¯ve about tactics used in the conservative “resurgence.”
“A new war has begun” in the December posting is now “a new struggle is occurring within the SBC.”
Gone is the phrase, “It is a war initiated by conservatives; conservatives who somehow have forgotten how to put their swords in their respective sheaths.”
In its place Burleson now says: “It is a struggle initiated by some of my fellow conservatives; conservatives who somehow have forgotten that a strong belief in the Word of God should unite us in cooperation for the purpose of missions and evangelism.”
Burleson removed: “Conservatives who loved the battles of decades past have fallen victim to a crusading mentality of bloodthirst. Since all of the liberals are gone, conservative crusaders are now killing fellow conservatives.”
Instead the blog now says: “A few conservatives who sought to remove the denominational political powers of the past, have now themselves become the political powers, and have fallen victim to the belief that nothing can happen within the convention unless they give their approval. This control and political posturing is the antithesis of ministering and working in the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.”
Burleson said some conservatives are intent on pointing out “heresies” that are really just different interpretations of minor doctrines.
“I am writing a new post to replace the old one, using words that aren’t quite as militant,” Burleson explained in the rewrite. “It says the same thing as the previous post, just a little softer. Again, I regret my choice of words, but I do not apologize for making public my concerns. I believe self-criticism is healthy.”
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.