Baptist Press has an article today regarding the amicus brief that the International Mission Board joined last May in support of a New Jersey Islamic Society’s right to build a mosque.
There has been a lot of talk across our convention over the last few weeks regarding this brief. The brief was actually filed last year, but the recent talk was triggered by an IMB trustee’s decision to resign over the issue.
Some, like myself, had concerns about the IMB’s participation in the filing of the brief. I have no problem with the ERLC’s participation. There are legitimate religious liberty concerns related to this case, and one of the purposes of the ERLC is the promotion of religious liberty. But I felt that it was unwise for the IMB to get involved. It seemed to distract from the mission of the IMB. And David Platt has now acknowledged that to be the case.
According to Baptist Press, Dr. Platt apologized to Southern Baptists for how “distracting and divisive this has been.” These comments were made during a February 15 meeting with Baptist state paper editors. Platt said, “I can say with full confidence that in the days ahead, IMB will have a process in place to keep us focused on our primary mission: partnering with churches to empower limitless missionary teams for evangelizing, discipling, planting and multiplying healthy churches, and training leaders among unreached peoples and places for the glory of God.”
Unfortunately, the conversation concerning this issue has been so toxic that I have to this point refused to address my real concerns about the IMB’s participation in the brief. But now that Dr. Platt has addressed those concerns, I think we can all say that we are thankful for his humility in the matter and willingness to make the mission our number one priority.
Steve Gaines addressed the controversy as well. His comments were reported in a separate article by Baptist Press. He said, “I know from being a pastor that there are times when you make decisions without asking a lot of people for their input. I know David’s heart; he is a good man. He loves Jesus. And I believe that is exactly what happened.”
Gaines continued, “You may not agree with his theology but he has no arrogance whatsoever in his heart. I really don’t think he would have signed the document [favoring government permission for the construction of the mosque] if he knew the ramifications.”
Sometimes our entity heads get accused of not being very receptive to the thoughts and concerns of rank and file Southern Baptists. Sometimes that criticism is warranted. But in this case, I am thankful that Dr. Platt heard the concerns of the people, addressed those concerns, and will now move on in an effort to reach unreached peoples with the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
That is an example to all of us. We can and should have our disagreements. After all, we’re Baptists! But when it really comes down to it, the mission of taking the gospel of Christ to unreached peoples and places for the glory of God is more important than our internal squabbles.
So, thank you, David Platt.