Baptists and Tongues

This AP report flashed across my Google Reader this morning:

DALLAS (AP) – A pastor who has been at odds with the leadership of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary over the practice of speaking in tongues has resigned from the school’s board of trustees. The Rev. Dwight McKissic said in a resignation letter that he has been “distracted and consumed” by the controversy and needs to refocus on his family and church, The Dallas Morning News reported on its Web site Thursday night.

The letter was addressed to Van McClain, chairman of the Fort Worth seminary’s trustee board, the newspaper said.

In October, trustees voted 36-1 against any promotion of “private prayer language” at the school. McKissic, pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, was the lone dissenter. Speaking in tongues is a common among Pentecostals, whose more exuberant brand of Christianity is spreading in the U.S. and in foreign countries where Southern Baptist missionaries work.

No longer are the charismatic gifts, particularly speaking in tongues, restricted to Pentecostals. The continuationist viewpoint (the view that the supernatural sign gifts have not ceased but have continued) is becoming prevalent in many Christian circles; even among folks who have not historically held continuationist convictions. I find it interesting that many people who are of a continuationist persuasion do not refer to the gift as “tongues”, instead it is called a “private prayer language”. Funnily enough, the Bible never refers to tongues as a prayer language, private or otherwise. Scripture is clear that the gift of tongues was a supernatural empowerment to proclaim the gospel in a tongue – a language – previously unknown by the speaker. In Jerusalem on Pentecost “the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, ‘Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?'” (Acts 2:6-8)

Southern Baptists are quickly becoming divided over this issue. I am not a Southern Baptist, but I do think it worthwhile to follow the goings on in the Convention. I encourage the reader to visit Hershael York’s recent post on this very issue. I have linked to it here. Dr. York is a pastor, and he is a professor of preaching at Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY; the flagship seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention. I believe that Dr. York does a masterful job of biblically refuting the continuationist position. You decide for yourself.

About Travis

Christ follower. Husband of one woman. Father of three young men. Former 11B. Blessed to pastor the Bible Baptist Church of Mount Vernon, KY.
This entry was posted in Charismatics, Christianity, Tongues. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Baptists and Tongues

  1. Philip says:

    Hershael York’s article about this issue is right on. It’s about time preaches just take the Word of God at face value and quit trying to read in all manner of preferences and odd rituals.

  2. Rodrigo says:

    Oi, achei teu blog pelo google tá bem interessante gostei desse post. Quando der dá uma passada pelo meu blog, é sobre camisetas personalizadas, mostra passo a passo como criar uma camiseta personalizada bem maneira. Até mais.

  3. Travis says:

    Que Rodrigo?

  4. Fresh Dirt says:

    The charismatic influence on North American Christianity is very wide spread. Baptists and non-denominational churches tend to be more influenced by the movement than mainline protestant churches; however, even among Lutherans and Episcopalians the influence can be seen. Having spent 2 years of my life in Tulsa– land of Oral Roberts, Rheima, and other charismatics– I have seen the dark side of the pentecostal/charismatic movement. Much of it is a fake imitation.Have I ever been so overwhelmed in private prayer that I utter only sounds– sure. Would I call this a prayer language– absolutely not. “Language” implies some type of form, function, and structure– the so called prayer language of the charismatics lacks all three.

  5. Kent Brandenburg says:

    Do you see the Charismatic movement as a separating issue?

  6. Kristee Weldon says:

    I am very baffled by this whole thing. I don’t do tongues my church is not charismatic, but some of my friends are. These people are no different from me in their zeal, righteous living and passion for scripture. Would Jesus have us to separate over this? Is their understanding on these gifts really a problem/danger? Will we all be together worshipping in the Kingdom? Is it really worth the time and energy to battle our brothers and sisters over? Sincere questions. I had an incident where my friend was praying with me over a serious crisis in our family. She used her “prayer language”. I heard her speak in hebrew and I understood her. She does not know any hebrew. I do. It was “return the joy of my salvation in the Lord”. She didn’t know my exact issue, but this was very fitting. It certainly made me scratch my head in bewilderment.blessings,Kristee

  7. Travis says:

    Kent,Yes I would separate – ecclesiastically – over this issue. To my knowledge I do not have any personal friends who believe in the charismatic gifts. I say “to my knoweldge” because in the past I have had friends who switched previously held doctrinal convictions. Specifically on the view of the church. I don’t think that has happened with the supernatural sign gifts. I also make the “ecclesiastically” distinction because I have benefited from the writings of some continuationists; specifically Mahaney, Grudem and Piper. I also make that distinction because I would have no problem befriending a continuationist, although I would not join a church where that doctrine was taught. If someone who held that position desired membership at Antioch (where I pastor) they would have to understand and comply with our cessationist position. In other words, they would not be allowed to teach or promote the continuationist view.Kristee,I hope that answers at least some of your questions. I believe a clear and accurate interpretation of the scriptures to teach that the supernatural sign gifts have ceased. My problem with churches and/or individuals who hold to a continuationist position is best summed up by the words of my former pastor: “the supernatural sign gifts seems to dominate in churches, is regarded as a sign of spirituality, and is elevated as authoritative equal or surpassing Scripture.” The instance you describe is puzzling to me. In fact, I have never heard of any other modern instance where someone has plainly and miraculously spoken in a language they had never learned or heard.

  8. D says:

    Travis, In terms of “personal prayer language” what our your thoughts regarding Paul’s letters to the Corinthians? Furthermore do you think this is something that should divide a church?

  9. Travis says:

    D,Thanks for your comment and your visit to the Oxgoad. To answer your question, I cannot find in the Corinthian letters, or anywhere in the New Testament, where tongues are referred to as a “personal prayer language”. The supernatural sign gifts were tools to authenticate the meesenger and communicate the message as both being from God. The completed canon of scripture is now the litmus test.I don’t think anything should divide a church. Churches are supposed to be paragons of unity in Christ. If one holds to a continuationist position then one should not join a cessationist church and vice a versa.

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