I am appealing to all Southern Baptists with a concern for missions. Many of you are aware of the personnel policies put in place two years ago concerning Baptism and "Private prayer language." Recently, Allan Blume, a
Previously, I have blogged on my reasons for opposing the “eternal security” clause of the baptism policy. This clause is the most personal for me, because it is the point of disqualification for me, were we to be called to international mission service. I was baptized, though by immersion and as a believer, in a church that did not believe in eternal security. I have come to believe that the baptism policy should be reversed in its entirety as well as the policy on private prayer language. Here are my reasons.
On the Baptism policy:
The policy goes beyond the BF&M 2000 and adds restrictions not included in the language of this consensus doctrinal statement.
The proper place for making decisions about baptism is the local church. The policy usurps the authority of the local church in determining whose baptism is valid and whose is not.
The policy makes a blanket restriction which does not allow for a more careful analysis of each situation – the local church is the best place for such a careful analysis and the proper place where such decisions should be made.
The remedy required, requesting (re)baptism by one’s local church is not practical in many cases. Many missionary candidates are pastors who have themselves baptized many members of their church. Others belong to churches who, because of their (correct) doctrinal stand, will not baptize the person again.
There is no biblical warrant for rebaptism of someone who has been baptized by immersion as a believer.
On the Private Prayer Language (PPL) policy:
PPL is a doctrinal issue, not a moral one, and is not addressed in the BF&M 2000 nor any resolution of the SBC. While I believe PPL to be a incorrect understanding of Scripture, I do not believe that a belief and/or practice of PPL should disqualify one from service, especially given the Convention’s silence on the issue up to this point.
PPL is part of a person’s private devotional life. There is no evidence that PPL practice among some Southern Baptists leads to Pentecostal/Charismatic doctrine or practice. Further, PPL is by definition a “private” practice not a public one.
Finally, it is absolutely bad form to pass a personnel policy which the current president of the IMB would himself be disqualified. The passing of this policy gives the appearance (whether or not this is actually the case) of intentionally embarrassing the current president. If there is a legitimate problem with Jerry Rankin, then by all means ask for his resignation. If not, then at the very least wait until Rankin retires to pass such a policy. To pass a policy which disqualifies the president, especially when there is no evidence of a pressing need to do so, is just plain wrong and in poor taste.
Well, for what its worth, these are my reasons. If you are familiar with the issue at all, there is probably nothing here that you have not heard before. Because of these policies, I would be disqualified from service with the IMB. I know several highly qualified persons, fine Christian servants, who also are disqualified from service with the IMB.
If you are concerned about this issue, I encourage you to sign the petition. At this time, I believe this is the best course of action to see these policies reversed.
***Addendum (June 19, 2008): Let me add that a significant reason these policies should be reversed is that there is no where near a consensus of opinion among Southern Baptists on either PPL or alien immersion. While I do not support imposing a rule on how trustees can govern their entities, I do believe that mission board trustees have a responsibility, on doctrinal matters, to reflect the consensus of Southern Baptist belief.