Rankins' statements on IMB use of 2000 Baptist Faith and Message
by Wm. Robert Johnston
last modified 28 May 2003
IMB: Initially the International Mission Board was less strict with regard to the 2000 BF&M. In 1993 Rankin, chair of the IMB, had stated "As long as I am president of the IMB, no missionary will be obligated to sign a doctrinal statement."  In December 2000, he said "Asking people to sign the BF&M would make it a creed. No one is proposing that be done. And I stand by my statement [of 1993], although it was probably unwise for me to make such a statement since I do not have the authority to prohibit our board from requiring it if they should so choose." 
Following adoption of the new BF&M, the IMB first required affirmation of the document by prospective missionary candidates. The IMB said "The BF&M is not imposed upon anyone, but we seek those missionary candidates who share these convictions and join in voluntary affirmation of our confession of faith." 
Subsequently, current administrative staff was asked to affirm the 2000 BF&M. On May 21, 2001, Bill Phillips, the IMB administrator for west Africa, resigned from that post following his decision to decline to sign an affirmation of the 2000 BF&M. Phillips and his wife are being allowed to return to service as IMB missionaries. Both Phillips and IMB President Jerry Rankin agreed that the decision did not involve questionable doctrine on behalf of Phillips. 
On 30 January 2002 the IMB released the text of a letter sent by Rankin to all currently active missionaries asking them to sign an affirmation of the 2000 BF&M.  Rankin stated in February 2002 that missionaries who fail to sign will not necessarily be fired, but that there had not been a final decision on how to deal with such a situation.  Subsequently (late 2002 to early 2003), various sources report that some missionaries are being fired or forced to resign for declining to sign the affirmation (the IMB reports 32 resignations, other sources report more);  this situation is still developing.
(excerpt from A Report on the SBTC)
- 43 Report of the BGCT Missions-Sending Agencies Study Committee, 2001, Baptist General Convention of Texas [http://www.baptiststandard.com/2001/5_7/print/missions_studytext.html].
- 44 Ibid.
- 45 Ibid.
- 46 "IMB regional leader declines to sign BFM form, steps down," Baptist Press, 22 May 2001, on line [http://www.sbcbaptistpress.org/bpnews.asp?ID=10939].
- 47 Allen, Bob, "Rankin reverses course; IMB missionaries must sign," The Baptist Standard, 4 Feb. 2002 [http://www.baptiststandard.com/2002/2_4/pages/imb_rankin.html].
- 48 Wingfield, Mark, "Has IMB changed requirements? Past and present leaders disagree," The Baptist Standard, 11 March 2002 [http://www.baptiststandard.com/2002/3_11/pages/imb_disagree.html].
- 49 Warren, Charlie, “Sign BF&M or don’t return to field, furloughing missionaries told by IMB,” The Baptist Standard, 21 Oct. 2002 [http://www.baptiststandard.com/2002/10_21/pages/imb.html]; “Missionary Tug of War,” The Baptist Standard, Oct. 2002, on line [http://www.baptiststandard.com/2003/ 2_3/pages/tug_list.html]; Associated Press, “Baptists push foreign missionaries on faith,” The Brownsville Herald, 1 Feb. 2003, p. A8.
© 2003 by Wm. Robert Johnston.
Last modified 28 May 2003.
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