New guidelines for the International Mission Board’s missionary appointment require adherence to the Baptist Faith and Message.
The International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention has dropped a controversial ban on missionaries who use a “private prayer language” that a decade ago helped stimulate the growth of blogs as a medium for dissent in denominational life.
IMB trustees meeting May 12-13 in Louisville, Ky., approved streamlined guidelines for missionary appointment as part of a strategy being developed by new IMB President David Platt.
Platt, a former Alabama pastor elected as the IMB president last August, said the IMB aims to provide “multiple pathways” for service that include both traditional missionaries and people in the pews who work overseas.
The new policy requires that missionary candidates be “currently a baptized member of a Southern Baptist church” and demonstrate a “commitment to and identification with Southern Baptists.”
Doctrinal requirements are “expressed in the current Baptist Faith and Message statement of the Southern Baptist Convention.”
Gone are criteria narrower than the official SBC confession of faith last revised in 2000 which were put in place to ensure that people representing Southern Baptists overseas are planting churches that comport with Southern Baptist faith and practice.
In November 2005 IMB trustees adopted guidelines requiring missionary candidates to be baptized in a Southern Baptist church and banning the use of a “private prayer language” by missionaries on the field.
The action followed a 2003 white paper by a missions professor voicing concern about IMB cooperation with other “Great Commission Christians” around the globe and dropping a requirement that missionaries have a seminary degree.
Keith Eitel, then at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and now at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, warned that then-IMB President Jerry Rankin’s strategy lacked safeguards against “unbiblical practices,” like women holding authority over men, creeping into new churches being started overseas.
Wade Burleson, at the time an IMB trustee from Oklahoma, criticized the policy change, adding his observations about political inner workings of the board of trustees, in a blog titled Crusading Conservatives vs. Cooperating Conservatives: The War for the Future of the Southern Baptist Convention.
The board responded by censuring Burleson for “slander” and “gossip,” which the pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Enid, Okla., defended as “principled dissent.”
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SOURCE: Baptist News Global