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.