After a long battle over his blog, Wade Burleson resigned from the International Mission Board (IMB), the overseas mission wing of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). The trustees had censured the Oklahoma pastor from involvement in four meetings, beginning this week in Gainesville, Florida.
Burleson has clashed with trustees since joining the board in mid-2005 because he has reported on board business on his blog. The Georgia Baptist Convention passed an anti-blogging resolution in November. Many trustees were angered by Burleson's harsh criticism of policies passed in 2005 that forbid missionary candidates from speaking in tongues and require them to be baptized in an SBC church. Burleson and IMB trustee chairman John Floyd spoke with Christianity Today about his resignation.
You have been in a battle with the board for almost three years.Why did you decide to resign now?
I made a promise to myself that if I ever felt that I became a distraction to missions and the work of our missionaries, I would resign. I did not believe, as far as the board was concerned, that I was a distraction, until the last meeting, when it was evident that there would be no reconciliation over the issues over which we are divided. The impasse could not be bridged.
What was unacceptable to the IMB about the apology you read at the meeting?
Only one thing: They continued to insist that I apologize for violating a new standard of conduct, which they passed in March of 2006. It states, "A trustee must publicly affirm a board-approved action, even if he cannot privately support it." In 161 years of Southern Baptist history, there has never been a worse policy passed by any agency.
In essence, that new standard of conduct ...