Mission Lab 2018

Burk named new CBMW president after Strachan steps down

July 21st, 2016 / By: Keith Collier | Managing Editor / comments

LOUISVILLE, Ky.—The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood announced on its website July 20 that the organization’s board of directors has appointed Denny Burk as its new president. The announcement comes a week after CBMW announced that Owen Strachan had resigned as president of the organization.

Strachan, who also serves as associate professor of Christian theology and director of the Center for Theological and Cultural Engagement at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, had served in the position since 2014 following two years as CBMW’s executive director.

Burk becomes CBMW’s ninth president since its founding in 1987. He will continue to serve as professor of biblical studies at Boyce College, the undergraduate school of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and director for The Center for Gospel and Culture, based at the school. He also serves as an associate pastor at Kenwood Baptist Church in Louisville.

Burk has written and contributed to a number of books, including Transforming Homosexuality: What the Bible Says about Sexual Orientation and Change, co-authored with Heath Lambert, and What Is the Meaning of Sex? He also addresses cultural and theological issues on his popular blog, DennyBurk.com. 

In a blog post on CBMW’s website July 20, Burk said he had a “very clear vision” as president—to affirm and advance the organization’s vision statement. He explained that the organization will continue to affirm its Danvers Statement on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, which “define(s) the mission and vision of CBMW.” At the same time, he said, “in the 30 years since the drafting of the Danvers Statement, challenges to this biblical vision have not abated. In fact, the challenges have only increased and broadened.

“Western culture has embarked upon a total revision of sexual and gender norms. It has evicted the male-female complement from the definition of marriage. Indeed, with the transgender challenge, it has thrown into question the meaning of the sexual binary that God has encoded into every cell in our bodies.

“As a result, churches find themselves facing questions about manhood and womanhood that were barely imagined when the Danvers Statement was written. Nevertheless, the theological vision of Danvers has implications for the current challenges we are facing. For that reason, I believe that CBMW needs to address these challenges explicitly, and we need to do so in some specific ways.”

Burks concluded that evangelicals must “come together to produce a new statement of conviction concerning these current challenges.” He assured that this new statement would not replace or revise the Danvers Statement and may take time to develop.

The announcement of Burk’s appointment received ringing praise from a number of prominent Southern Baptists.

“Denny Burk is a brilliant, experienced, Christlike leader who understands both the Bible and the culture,” said Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. “I am excited about his selection to lead CBMW and about his vision for the organization. We at the ERLC look forward to working with CBMW to serve the church toward a biblical view of God’s good design for men and women, girls and boys.”

R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of Southern Seminary, said that Burk is “an outstanding theologian and a leading Christian intellectual. …  I am confident that Dr. Burk will bring the wisdom and courage needed for this important task. He is rigorously biblical and is a man of great character. Furthermore, he models in his life, marriage, and ministry what he teaches in the classroom and in the public square.”

As for Strachan’s departure, he clarified his reasons for stepping down on his blog July 12 and in an interview with Baptist Press.

“I first started thinking over my role a year ago,” Strachan said. “The responsibilities of full-time leadership and a professorship at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary were not small. Fundraising in particular is a preoccupation for most any non-profit leader. My goal was to leave CBMW in a strong financial position, which meant putting on our April 2016 Together for the Gospel pre-conference. By God’s grace, that event was a success. This meant that I could step down in good conscience.”

A theological debate this summer regarding the relationship between God the Father and God the Son—a debate that has included criticism of CBMW—“played no part” in Strachan’s decision to resign, he told Baptist Press in an email.

“The summer of 2016 has been surprisingly active in terms of theological debate, but the online discussion has played no part in my decision,” Strachan said, noting, “My decision was made months ago.”

At issue in the debate is the argument of Strachan and other theologians—including  Grudem and Bruce Ware of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary—that God the Father and God the Son eternally have been equal in divinity but that the Son eternally has submitted to the Father. Strachan articulated that view in his 2016 book The Grand Design, coauthored with Gavin Peacock, and defended it in subsequent blog posts.

Strachan and other proponents of this view additionally argue that the “authority-submission dynamic” within the Trinity illustrates the proper relationship between a husband and wife: possessing different roles but equal in value.

CBMW praised Strachan’s leadership and the growth experienced by the organization under his direction.

Board member and CBMW co-founder Wayne Grudem said, “Owen has served as an excellent president for CBMW, and the organization has grown remarkably in influence through his leadership.”

“I’m sorry to see him leave the presidency of CBMW, but I am glad to know that he will continue associating with CBMW as a senior fellow, and I fully expect that we will continue to see additional valuable contributions from his writing and speaking on issues of biblical manhood and womanhood.”