News: Missionary couple challenges IMB's grounds for termination

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by Sherrie, Apr 22, 2003.

  1. Sherrie

    Sherrie
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    Missionary couple challenges
    IMB's grounds for termination

    By Mark Wingfield

    ARKADELPHIA, Ark. (ABP) -- "We cannot resign. We are guilty of no misconduct or false teaching and have been accused of none," missionaries Rick and Nancy Dill told International Mission Board President Jerry Rankin in a letter April 18.

    The Dills, the first Southern Baptist workers to enter East Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall, are among 31 missionaries who recently received letters from Rankin about their refusal to sign an affirmation of the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message. Rankin announced a May 5 deadline to either sign, resign or be fired.

    The Dills, whose situation was the subject of a recent USA Today story, currently are on a leave of absence and serving as missionaries-in-residence at Ouachita Baptist University. That they received the letter from Rankin was no surprise to the Dills. Earlier they received a phone call from IMB Executive Vice President Avery Willis informing them they could not return to their place of service in Germany without signing the faith statement as requested by Rankin last year.

    Willis insisted this would not constitute "termination," however. But Rankin's latest letter makes it crystal clear: "If I do not hear from you regarding one of these options by May 5, 2003, I will be recommending that the board take action to terminate your service in their May meeting."

    Rankin told the Dills and other missionaries that failure to sign the controversial faith statement or to resign on their own initiative would "undermine the integrity and credibility of the IMB."

    The Dills asked Rankin why that is so. "The answer is simple," they then wrote. "It is not possible with integrity to terminate missionaries who are guilty of nothing but years of faithful service and having a deep sense of love for God's Word."

    Rankin has insisted that missionaries must sign the revised faith statement to remain "accountable to Southern Baptists."

    "To which Southern Baptists are we being accountable?" the Dills asked in response.

    "The truth is that Southern Baptists have not required missionaries to sign the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. Alabama, our home state, acknowledged all three statements of faith (versions of the Baptist Faith and Message). Texas, our partner state for the last three years, rejected the 2000 version outright. ... Even the trustees of the IMB have not required missionaries to sign. To whom are we not acting accountably? Who is actually requiring us to sign?"

    Rankin has said non-signing missionaries are guilty of advocating "positions contrary to what Southern Baptists confess to believe." Again, the Dills asked, what positions have they held that are contrary to Southern Baptist beliefs?

    "Is it that we believe God's word must be supreme in our lives and that it is wrong to make a man-written document the test for our faith and calling?" they asked Rankin. "Or would Southern Baptists disagree that Christ is Lord of Scripture and that we must understand the word of God first and foremost through his love, his teaching, his death and his resurrection?"

    The only possible point of contention, they report, is their belief "that God can call whomever he chooses to serve wherever, whenever and however he so chooses." That runs counter to the new Baptist Faith and Message's declaration that women may not serve as senior pastors.

    "Is a different understanding of Scripture in this matter really grounds for dismissal?" they asked Rankin.

    Critics of the SBC's revised faith statement, including many in the Baptist General Convention of Texas, have faulted it for placing greater authority in the Bible than in Jesus, for demanding that wives "submit" to their husbands, for mandating that churches not hire women as pastors, and for weakening the traditional Baptist understanding of the autonomy of the local church and the priesthood of all believers. Critics also have charged the faith statement is being used more like a mandatory creed than a voluntary statement of shared beliefs.

    IMB spokesman Mark Kelly said the missions agency has no response to the Dills' letter other than what had been reported previously in a news release about the deadline for missionaries to sign or lose employment.

    IMB trustees meet May 6-8 in Framingham, Mass.
    -30-

    [ May 22, 2003, 11:43 AM: Message edited by: Squire Robertsson ]
     
  2. KenH

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    Well, I reckon if they want to continue to be missionaries they can try to find another church or organization to sponsor them. Every group has the right to set its own rules and to not financially support those who refuse to abide by them. Just as no one should be forced to join an organization whose rules they disagree with.

    People change churches all the time over doctrinal issues, regardless of what position they may hold in a church.
     
  3. rlvaughn

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    I agree with Ken, although I am not sure who made the rule that the missionaries must sign the BF&M. Rankin; the IMB; the SBC; anyone know? By what authority is the rule in place? If it was officially made into a rule, wouldn't it be irrelevant whether even a large minority disagrees? It seems the Dills are playing with words as well, because it may come down to the fact that they disagree more with the statement on women pastors than with the concept of signing it.
     
  4. Thankful

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    I agree, Ken.
     
  5. Daniel David

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    Well, I will be glad when the offerings my family gives are not going to fund liberals and people who lack integrity.
     
  6. Sherrie

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    Not to run away from the story....but according to this statement.....can women then be Jr. Pastors?

    Sherrie
     
  7. Thankful

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    Not to run away from the story....but according to this statement.....can women then be Jr. Pastors?

    Sherrie
    </font>[/QUOTE]Sherrie, the new Baptist Faith and Message states the following:

    While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.
     
  8. Sherrie

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    Thank you Betty...I am well aware of the rules of Baptist..but the statement was "may not serve as senior pastors ."

    Sherrie
     
  9. Anthro

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    THE BIBLE AND WOMEN'S LEADERSHIP

    Opening Scripture

    2 JN 1:1 - The elder, To the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in the truth--and not I only, but also all who know the truth-- 2 because of the truth, which lives in us and will be with us forever:

    2JN 1:3 Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father's Son, will be with us in truth and love.

    2JN 1:4 It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us. 5 And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another.

    Introduction

    Among those calling themselves by the name of Christ, regarding women’s leadership, even as pastors, there appears to be generally three camps.

    First, there are those who embark upon a form of systematic feminist theology from the impetus of an inordinate feminist agenda, often born of bitterness. These attempt to weave their pre-held, feminist-centered approach into the interpretation of Scripture, and into all of life. Many in liberal camps are included in this, and all sorts of ills have generally been the result.

    Second, there are those who ignore the cultural and historical contexts of the Scriptures, and weave an inordinately male-centered approach too their holding of the Christian faith, and the Scriptures. From these ill-conceived notions, oppressions occur upon women, and the fullness that God intended them to be is quelled from the get-go. Many in conservative camps are included in this; and equally, all sorts of ills have generally been the result.

    Third, there are those who want to know the truth of what the Bible says about women's leadership, and live them out in the context of sound New Testament faith. It is for these later few that I now attempt a small contribution.

    Notion One

    The general notion in the conservative Christian community is that the text in 2 John does not have anything to do with women in leadership. The notion goes that it merely shows that "dear lady," whoever she was, as a hostess who had male biological children, who themselves may be church leaders one day.

    But is this really supported by the usage of the word "children"? In the Johannine usage, every other time, the term "children" indicates spiritual children to be in view.

    In the 2 John text: "The children of your chosen sister send their greetings."

    In two samples of the Johannine uses of the word children elsewhere:

    1 JN 2:1 - My little children, I am writing these things to you that you may not sin.

    1 JN 2:12 - I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name's sake.

    In every other instance it has the same usage.
    Were these John's biological children he was speaking to? To assert so is merely to impose our bias upon the Scripture.

    In the 2 John letter, John addressed the "dear lady and her children," an obvious terminology for a group that was led by a leader, which leader was under John. And that is why John is even writing to her.

    John is shown writing commands to the dear lady--"And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another (vs. 5)."

    Apostles don't write commands to Moms of male kids who might be church leaders one day, but to leaders of house churches. The passage is showing chain-of-command, chain-of-authority.

    John continued writing her,

    2 JN 1:7 Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8 Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. 9 Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. 11 Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work.

    Obviously, the "elect lady" was responsible over her spiritual children. From the passage it can be inferred that she regularly had teachers coming to her house bringing words reportedly to be from God. In this, John is concerned that her and her children not allow any Gnostics to have their say. He stated, "If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed.”

    In verse 7 it says, "Many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist."

    These "deceivers" would go around to churches trying to obtain a hearing. Once they did, they would propagate their heretical notions upon the Body there. John did not wish this to occur because, if it did, the budding church would be leavened or ruined. Hence he said to the Body and elect lady, "Watch yourselves, that you might not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward."

    He gave the "elect lady" a standard with which to measure the Gnostics, a kind of telltale criteria:

    9 Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; 11 for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.

    Clearly, this lady had responsibility over who did and who did not get to speak at her house church--"If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting."

    Giving a "greeting" in our culture means for the most part an introduction, "Hello, pleased to meet you." And we do this to everyone out of common courtesy.

    But in the New Testament culture, "giving a greeting" meant, in essence, Receiving someone into your midst and giving him or her your endorsement as full followers of the Faith. Hence it says, "do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds."

    Clearly, if understood within the New Testament culture, John is indicating the lady had responsibility over who got to teach in her house church. He was saying for her to not receive the Gnostics into her house church. She had too guard "her children" against them, which in the Johannine usage has in view spiritual children.

    As the Biblical commentator J.B. Darby states,

    "We learn several important things in this little epistle... A woman having the word as this epistle, for example was capable of judging...doctrine, and responsible to do so."

    Note who the dear lady was under. As mentioned prior, John opens his letter indicating chain of command, "The elder to the chosen lady and her children."

    A woman can rarely be Biblical within specifically ecclesiastical authority such as this unless she is also under authority. In short, John addressed the "dear lady and her children," an obvious terminology for a group that was led by a leader, which leader was the elct lady, and over her, John. And that is why John is even writing to her.

    When a woman functions ecclesiastically under authority to do a task she is appointed to do by an ecclesiastical authority, she functions within the authority of the person who set her to do the task. Hence, when one rejects the person under the authority, they reject the person who sent them. The principle is found in Luke 10:16:

    "The one who listens to you listens to Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me."

    Similarly, when one rejects the leadership of a woman who is set apart to do a certain task by one above her, including pastoral work such as this elect lady undertook, they do not reject her but the one that sent her. In the case of the elect lady, John sent her, and to reject the elct ladt that would have meant to reject John. John authorized it to be so.

    Interestingly, 2 John closes indicating perhaps another house church led by a female: "The children of your chosen sister send their greetings."

    Are we going to try and maintain that this was John writing to the "elect lady" about her biological sister and nephews? Again, to twist the Scripture in this way is just: a twisting of it.

    Such a notion stems from Camp #2, above, and is an eisegeting of pre-held notions upon the Scriptural text.

    Notion Two

    Another is that the "elect lady" means a spiritualized term, an analogy for "the Body and Bride of Christ." This meshes with neither the facts, nor the Johannine prior usages of those terms, which were fully in his vocabulary to use if he chose. Biblical commentator Gill states,

    "The elect lady is the person he writes unto; by whom is designed not the church of Christ, since such a way of speaking is unusual; and besides, he speaks of coming to see her face to face, and of the children of her elect sister: but some particular person."

    Another commentator writes,

    "Unto the elect lady." The term is Kyria in the Greek, a term which we know to have been a female proper name. Hence many of the best commentators from the time of Athanasius have held that this is the name of the sister. If not a proper name Kyria would be the feminine form of Kurios (Lord), the term applied to Christ, a worldly title unaccountable in the church, which does not recognize artificial distinctions of rank. To avoid this difficulty some have held that by "Kyria" the church is meant. It is better to regard the term a proper name.

    Still another commentator,

    "The elect lady" (Kuria) is undoubtedly a proper name, both here and in 2 John 1:5; for it was not then usual to apply the title of lady to any but the Roman empress."

    Now if that is not a first-century advancement in women's issues! As it says, "It was not then usual to apply the title of "lady" to any but the Roman empress." But John applied the term to the lady over his house church!

    In short, the Johannine language patterns and N.T. Greek indicate that the lady was...a lady!

    Interestingly, in the Syriac and Arabic translations of the New Testament, "Kyria" is retained as a proper name. Hence, in transliteration it would say, “To Kyria and her children, whom I love in the truth.”

    Notion Three

    Another theory on the "elect lady" is that she was JUST a patroness in whose house the "children" met to worship. In this notion it is postulated that John addressed the "elect lady" to exhibit his thanks for her patronizing the church in her home, and the "children" because the church were the addressees of the letter and the Apostle's concern.

    She may have indeed been the patroness. But if JUST that, and the letter JUST a thank you letter, there are some real problems to be dealt with in the text:

    1. John is warning them about traveling Gnostics. John wanted to warn this house church about them. Problem: He addressed to the lady the criteria whereby to measure the Gnostics. He told her not to endorse ("give a greeting") them. Indication: The lady had responsibility over who and who did not get to speak at her house church.

    NOTE: Responsibility = Authority

    2. The children were addressed as her children, which in every other Johannine usage has in view spiritual children. Problem: The children were the lady's. If the children were in a house church where someone else was the leader, they would primarily be that person's children. In addressing her and not some supposed other leader, John would have been going around the pertinent chain of command. Indication: The elect lady had responsibility over these "children." That is why they were her children.

    NOTE: Responsibility = Authority

    3. John is shown writing commands in a "we" context to the dear lady. Apostle-elders don't write commands to patrons. Problem: The commands were addressed to the lady and her children, not "the pastor of the children in her house." John is showing chain-of-command. Indication: The lady had responsibility over these "children" that they follow Apostolic commands. That is why she was receiving Apostolic commands.

    NOTE: Responsibility = Authority

    4. The book closes indicating yet another house church led by a female, "The children of your chosen sister send their greetings." That would be some really slippery semantics to turn that into, "The children of the pastor of another wealthy hostess in another house church send their greetings." And again, "greetings" implies endorsement, and to endorse implies responsibility.

    NOTE: Responsibility = Authority

    Application

    Now, I do not think 2 John is in scope enough to negate the general notion that male ecclesiastical leadership is to be the primary ecclesiastical leadership. I do, however, think it is to say that God can and does make his exceptions. The Apostles apparently thought so too.

    I hear many cautions against allowing female ecclesiastical leadership, pastors, and so forth, and think they have some measure of validity. But I think a sound exegesis of 2 John indicates that, whereas God may have male ecclesiastical leadership as the general rule, He most certainly has His exceptions. Deborah the prophetess certainly thought this too.

    The bottom line is this: In cases of women whom God anoints, we need to be open to appoint them. And we need not be fearful of anything about this if God is truly behind it.

    Hence, our own experience and subjective impositions upon the New Testament texts need to be put away. Our contextual and cultural socialization must give way to Biblical truth.

    In reaction to conservative camps, the liberal camps place women pastors from bitter motives and forms of improper feminism, and who knows what all else. In reaction, to the liberal camps, the conservative camps tend to throw out the whole notion. But the cycle of reacting CAN be gotten out of. Women in ecclesiastical leadership CAN be done Biblically.

    Note something well: For Paul to have advocated for female ecclesiastical leadership into the New Testament world where Timothy ministered--that would have been tantamount to him suggesting the appointment of a female Head of State into today's Saudi Arabia! It would have meant probable suicide for the newly budding Christian faith. But I believe he did have a very long-term strategy in mind to lift the worth of women in all societies, and as John shows, there are NT exceptions that showed some women as pastors.

    There is something I have come to profoundly realize. Namely, that Jesus and the New Testament writers were the first ones who profoundly fought for women's rights. Now, today, wherever the gospel has gone, wherever the New Testament has gone, properly understood, there with it has come the most historically significant advances in human rights, including women's rights. This is irrespective of those who have a faulty Bibliology--who view the Bible as if it were some book of mindless mandates just dropped out of the sky last week or so. But when once the inherent, infallible Scriptures are understood with a proper hermeneutic, one simply cannot retain a stance that is oppressive to women—one where they are not permitted to function in literally every sliver of every call God may put upon them, whether individually, ecclesiastically or societally.

    I believe significant portions of the historical and contemporary church have been lost to half its God-given giftings, and half its God-desired effectiveness, simply by reason of an oppressive, non-Biblical stance on women's issues. It is very much past time for this to stop; it is very much time for us to stop hobbling about on one leg.

    This all is not to deny the real psychobiological and spiritual distinctions that God created between men and women, and how each gender has their attendant strengths and weaknesses. Rather, it is to deny the false social and cultural distinctions that are man-made, and even Satanically inspired, so as to keep women from making their full potential onslaughts against Satan's kingdom.

    I am a man. Too, I am properly, a Biblically-based feminist: I celebrate our real, God-given differences, and seek to abolish all false ones. How about you, sir?

    And what about you, dear woman? It is time for us as a Body to have no more women hiding their talents—hiding their lights under the bushels of cultural conditioning. Daughters of Heaven, arise! Men, let them!

    Closing Remarks

    When I was a new Christian I needed a lot. I had come from a heavy partying background.

    Early on Friday evenings, an older man would pick me up. He took me to a nearly all night house church and prayer meeting that met in someone’s house. The meeting was always filled with a diverse Body of regulars from all kinds of backgrounds and walks of life.

    Who was the leader? We all called her Ma Powell--I never knew her first name.

    Ma Powell was an 80-year-old saint of God who was as stellar as an oak tree that had weathered seven storms.

    God profoundly used Ma Powell's house church during those early days of my new life. She was there for me during a particularly difficult period of my early Christian life, when I needed to pour out my broken heart upon a loving shoulder.

    Ma Powell died a few years after I was benefited by her life and ministry. Still, her influence upon me--and many, many other women in leadership besides--is still nourishing, and her example, profound.

    I will be eternally grateful to God for placing this "elect lady" of His in my life. I shall always consider myself among "her children."

    Closing Scripture

    Php 4:3 - Indeed, true comrade, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

    Anthro holds copyright but this may be freely used by Christians if it is distributed for free.
     
  10. rsr

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    Robert, I think this is, more or less, the chronology:

    1. In January 2001, IMB trustees affirmed the current Baptist Faith and Message statement as "the standard for carrying out the program and ministries" of the IMB. They also strongly affirmed the agency's missionaries and stateside staff members, saying their beliefs already have been adequately screened and that nothing more should be required of them. Elected administration and regional leaders have since signed a statement affirming the BF&M." (Source: Baptist Press)

    2. International Mission Board President Jerry Rankin then asked missionaries to affirm the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message. (BP)

    3. In March 2002, the IMB trustees voted to endorse Rankin's position. (BP)

    What has been odd about the procedure is that the IMB in 2001 "strongly affirmed the agency's missionaries and stateside staff members, saying their beliefs already have been adequately screened and that nothing more should be required of them. Elected administration and regional leaders have since signed a statement affirming the BF&M." (BP)

    The affirmation was required, Rankin said, not because of the IMB's concerns about doctrinal orthodoxy but because " ... the issue has continued to 'generate controversy throughout the convention' and 'is creating suspicion that there are IMB personnel whose beliefs and practices are inconsistent with those represented by Southern Baptists.'

    " 'While we believe this is unfounded, we do not need an issue such as this to generate needless controversy, erode support and distract us from the focus of our task at such a critical time of opportunity around the world.' "

    According to the Baptist Standard:
    "Missionaries who do not agree with every detail of the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message will not be fired or forced to resign, Jerry Rankin told editors of state Baptist newspapers Feb. 13.
    "Rankin, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's International Mission Board, said some have misunderstood the intention of his recent letter to missionaries regarding the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message.
    Rankin's letter to the IMB's 5,100 missionaries asked them to sign a document affirming the controversial faith statement adopted by the SBC but twice rejected by the Baptist General Convention of Texas.
    " ... Rankin told the editors all IMB missionaries will be given latitude to note areas of disagreement with the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message. This is the same procedure through which 1,500 missionaries have been appointed since the faith statement was changed, he said."
    "It is 'pure speculation' to assume that missionaries who do not sign the affirmation will be terminated or forced to resign, Rankin told the editors."

    The actual number of missionaries who won't sign appears to be fairly small, but this has become yet another point of contention between the SBC and the Baptist General Convention of Texas (which has maintained the 1963 BF&M) and has offered to help missionaries who won't sign make the transition to another ministry and has begun setting up its own mission program.

    More than you wanted to know, but I think it's generally accurate.
     
  11. Sherrie

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    Ok anthro I appreciate that...but it was not necessary. I told you I am well aware of what a womens duties are and what the Baptist believe.

    I just simply wanted to know why the words Senior Pastor was there, and not just Pastor.

    The long post was just uncalled for.

    Sherrie
     
  12. rlvaughn

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    Thanks for the information, Stephen, although I am not sure I understand SBC lines of authority. I would assume that the IMB trustees have the authority to require that missionaries sign the BF&M?? If so, any missionaries operating within the system have little right to complain (or at least little recourse). Sounds like some double-speak from Rankin, though, if the events have been reported correctly - first he says missionaries not signing won't be forced to resign, then it sounds like they will have to resign. Is it possible that this confusion reflects some of the bias of the two agencies - ABP & BP - and that neither have given the whole story?

    Daniel D., I guess liberty cuts both ways. Just as the Dills are free to not serve as missionaries of any group whose policies they find unfair and constricting, you are also free to not support any group that may be funding liberals and people that lack integrity. When all the smoke finally clears, maybe y'all SBC-types and CBF-types and Mainstreamers and in-betweeners will be rid of one another, and the rest of us won't have to listen to y'all fuss and fight. :rolleyes: ;)
    But then what would we do? :confused:
     
  13. Anthro

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    I am challenging the notion that woman should never be pastors in the transcripted sermon.
     
  14. Daniel David

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    rlvaughn, if it weren't for us SBCers, y'all indies wouldn't have anyone to be more spiritual than. [​IMG]

    Btw, I am support something that is weeding the libs out. So, I look forward to the day when they are gone.
     
  15. Daniel David

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    Take your fight elsewhere or I will quit.
     
  16. rlvaughn

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    Excellent point! [​IMG] Live long and prosper! :D :eek:
     
  17. Anthro

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    Take your fight elsewhere or I will quit. </font>[/QUOTE]Goodness sakes. That is certainly a schoolyard way to deal with things. Is this what our churches are producing?

    You might consider instead critiquing and attempting to falsify my above post with reasoned and sustained arguments.
     
  18. rsr

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    rlvaughn said:

    I don't think there was any question about their authority to do so.

    The Rankin quotes about the BF&M not being used as a litmus test came from The Baptist Standard, the Texas Baptist paper, from a meeting of state Baptist newspaper editors.

    [ April 23, 2003, 12:38 AM: Message edited by: rsr ]
     
  19. Ernie Brazee

    Ernie Brazee
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    Ah me, how many times has it been said that the missionary is sent by the church and the board is merely the clearing house?

    Since when can a clearing house fire someone sent by the church?
    That couple is serving God on their respective field where God has called them; no man can "fire" them. They need to trust God and tell the mission board to take a hike. Will God honor that stand and provide? The God I know will.
     
  20. Thankful

    Thankful
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    <img src=/BettyE.gif>

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    Sherry, I did not imply that you did not know the rules.

    I did not find the statement that you quoted in the Baptist Faith and Message. Perhaps you can point me to the place where it says that.
     

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