Monday, October 30, 2006

When Elves and Dwarfs Work Together

One of my favorite scenes in the Fellowship of the Ring (Lord of the Rings) is when the fellowship is formed. I especially enjoy when Gimli and Legolas lay aside their lifelong distrust of each other, in order to accomplish the goal of defeating the greater evil that threatens both lands. That is not to say, that both the dwarfs and the elves had legitimate concerns about each other…but it is to say, they laid those concerns aside, for a time, in order to concentrate on more pressing matters. We could learn from that strategy.

I will gladly cooperate with Mormons in order to elect morally conservative representatives. I will cooperate with Catholics in order to legislate pro-life statutes. In fact, I will even cooperate with moral atheists in order to make state constitutional changes, which would protect from the legalization of same-sex marriages.

Perchance those of us who disagree about how big the tent in the SBC should be, can concentrate on more important issues this week: Namely…THE ELECTIONS.

I feel VERY STRONGLY about not widening the SBC to become an ecumenical group that sacrifices doctrinal purity for ecumenical unity (a place we have been before). Nevertheless, I am even more concerned about the greater evils of Sodom and Gomorrah becoming legal in our country. Perhaps, we (bloggers) can take the time we would normally devote to SBC issues (on which we disagree), and, for the next week, give it to prayer for our elections.

I will gladly respond to comments this week…but I feel compelled to not post until after the elections (giving the time I would normally use for posting, to prayer).

After the election we will return to the issue of PPL. I will post my personal thoughts and also some evidence from a BP article, which contrary to what some say, reveals this really is a no spin zone. (As I have said on numerous occasions, “I will gladly retract ANYTHING I have said which is not accurate.”)

Have a great week, may God Bless America, and may we stand for truth and justice.

“Righteousness exalteth a nation; but sin is a reproach to any people.” - Proverbs 14:

Friday, October 27, 2006

Tongues - The NT Kind

In order to give Southern Baptists a thorough understanding of issues, we pursue them in great detail here (no drive-bys or spin). Therefore, we are continuing our study on tongues. The following “white paper” was also given to the SW Trustees at their last meeting. It was written by Dr. Malcolm Yarnell. For space considerations we have once again not included the foot-notes. To view the foot-notes as well as other excellent papers please visit - a ministry of SWBTS.

I have noticed that very few blogs have commented on how SW numbers are up this year. I wonder why blogs are not mentioning this? By the way, SE reached an all-time high this year…and I am confident that Southern’s and Midwestern’s numbers are up also (under the leadership of Dr. Mohler and Dr. Roberts respectively). Dr. Kelley shared in SE chapel how well NO is doing, especially in being a light to the community in ways it never could before…and I am sure Golden Gate (Dr. Iorg) is doing well also. (Of course if I were sending a young pastor to seminary, SE would be my first choice:)

While there are some in the blogosphere who claim the full glass SB have been given by God, is half empty, I disagree. SB have long been blessed by God and He has in His grace chosen to bless us now as much as ever. The seminaries, IMB, NAMB and all of our institutions are truly feeling the hand of God. Praise His name. And thank God for our leaders. Concerning the doomsday nay-sayers, let me encourage you to stop trying to make SB a people we have never been under the guise fixing problems. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it:) With that in mind we will turn to Dr. Yarnell’s paper.

Speaking of “Tongues,” What Does the Bible Teach?

When two African theologians, Arius and Athanasius, squared off concerning the ontological relationship of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to God the Father, they both treated Scripture as authoritative. Today, both men would probably affirm modern evangelical terminology concerning both “inerrancy” and “sufficiency” with regard to Scripture. However, facile or superficial affirmations of Scripture’s inerrancy and sufficiency are simply not enough when it comes to forming true doctrine; there is also the critical issue of the orthodox “interpretation” of Scripture. Orthodoxy separates the Christian, Athanasius, from the heretic, Arius. Thus, interpretation can lead to either orthodoxy or heresy.

Unlike postmodern Christians, who naively consider differing interpretations of Scripture to be a mere matter of openness or adiaphora [“indifference”], conservative believers recognize that the orthodox interpretation of Scripture preserves the faith of the people and glorifies God. (We pray the Holy Spirit will guide the churches to the orthodox conclusion in the particular matter under discussion here.) On the other hand, errant and heretical interpretations may lead to unhealthy churches at best or false Christianity at worst. Misinterpreting the biblical teaching regarding “speaking in tongues” is, fortunately, closer to the former than the latter.

This essay is written in an effort to set out what this Southern Baptist believes is the orthodox doctrine of Scripture regarding glossolalia, or speaking in tongues. What follows is a popular presentation of one tertiary aspect of the rich biblical doctrine of the Spirit. Those desiring historical and experiential reviews of the modern phenomena of tongues should consult other sources. The author recognizes that a number of close Christian friends will disagree; however, he begs those friends to consider the text and correct his interpretation according to the witness of that text. Let us not allow the Corinthian corruption of glossolalia to bring division; may Love instead reign.

The Biblical Witness Regarding Glossolalia

There are a number of biblical passages cited by advocates of the various modern practices of “speaking in tongues.” Rather than beginning with the positions of these modern advocates, it is best to consider the biblical passages in their canonical context.

While modern enthusiasts begin with their personal experience, it is proper to begin with the witness of Scripture. The relevant biblical passages shall be considered below according to their primary or secondary impact upon the doctrine of glossolalia.

The theological implications of the biblical teaching will be drawn out. Thirteen conclusions regarding the biblical doctrine of glossolalia follow our scriptural review. Please take the time to consider the Scripture’s witness with me rather than jumping to the thirteen conclusions, for the truth is in the biblical text. Historical tradition, personal experience, and rational conclusions are subservient to the Bible and must always be judged by the Bible.

Primary Biblical Passages Regarding Glossolalia

Mark 16:17-18: In this critically questioned yet infallible passage, after delivering the Commission, Jesus declares concerning believers, “And these signs will follow those who believe: in My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues [glossais lalasousin kainais]; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” These five amazing occurrences are labeled “signs” [semeia]. A biblical sign is an indicator of a deeper spiritual reality. In this case, the signs are intended to provide divine verification of the gospel of Jesus Christ (cf. Heb. 2:4). This gospel concerns Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and continuing ministry, and the salvation available in and through Him by personal faith, a faith evidenced in the first submissive act of a disciple, baptism.

Among the five signs, glossolalia appears second. The languages spoken would be “new” [kainais], indicating their relation to the speakers as something they had previously not learned. These prophesied signs found their fulfillment in the early days of the church, as recorded in the book of Acts, thus verifying the movement of God in the life of the early church (cf. Acts 3:7, 5:16, 28:3-6). The prophecy of Jesus concerning glossolalia was soon fulfilled at Pentecost (Acts 2), while there were subsequent fulfillments in Acts 10 and 19, echoing the structure of Christ’s command concerning the successive movement of the gospel beginning from Jerusalem (Acts 1:8).

Acts 2:4: After watching Jesus ascend to heaven, the disciples were gathered in prayer on the day of Pentecost. A fourfold phenomenon occurred where they had gathered: a heavenly sound of rushing wind filled the whole house, tongues like fire settled on each head, they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they “began to speak with other tongues [lalein heterais glossais], as the Spirit gave them utterance.” According to Peter, this event fulfilled the prophecy of Joel. Peter was clear that the coming of the Spirit upon the church occurred in this miraculous, wondrous and significant manner (Acts 2:22) for the purpose of letting Israel “know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (2:36). The Holy Spirit’s gifting of tongues at Pentecost was explicitly to verify to Israel that the crucified Jew named Jesus is indeed God.

According to Peter and Luke, who were inspired by the Holy Spirit respectively to speak and write what we have in Acts 2, the sign of speaking with other tongues publicly conveyed the gospel of Jesus Christ. There are four aspects of this significant event which must be grasped. The first three aspects tell us about the speakers, the hearers, and the meaning communicated. The fourth aspect tells us why the communication occurred in the way it did.

First, there is no doubt whatsoever that this was a miracle of speaking in languages that the individual speakers did not know but that others in the Jerusalem crowd did know. From Parthia to Asia to Arabia to Egypt to Rome, multiple languages were being spoken by these provincial Galilean Christians.

Second, these multiple languages were heard and understood by witnesses from around the world. The Christians conveyed information in actual languages to actual people that heard and understood those languages. What amazed the hearers was that the speakers should not have known their unusual languages. Their attention had been effectively obtained.

Third, this event centered on the communication of certain information. That information concerned the gospel of Jesus Christ and prepared the hearts of the hearers for what Peter would soon proclaim and draw to an invitation. In other words, the gospel was being manifested through this miraculous working by the Spirit. Speaking “with other tongues” was not for personal edification but for public proclamation of the gospel to other people.

Fourth, the accompanying and attention-gripping nature of speaking in tongues was intended to draw attention to the gospel of God. Fulfilling His own prophecy (Mark 16:17), the phenomenon of tongues was given by Christ Himself as a sign (cf. Acts 2:22, 34). Signs draw attention to something; Christ intended the sign of speaking in tongues to draw Israel’s attention to the gospel. Peter’s role was then to call the hearers to turn from their sin to Jesus Christ and to be baptized in His name, receiving for themselves the Holy Spirit.

It is also important to grasp what did not occur here. The existing believers received the gift of speaking in tongues, but there is no evidence whatsoever that the new believers received that same gift when they too received the Spirit. Rather, in converting to Christ by repentance and faith, the new believers simultaneously received the Gift Himself, the Holy Spirit. The focus of Peter and the early church was not upon the sign gift of speaking in tongues but on converting their neighbors to Christ. The points emphasized by Peter as he concluded his sermon with an invitation concerned forgiveness, repentance, Jesus Christ, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). And when the hearers responded to Peter’s repeated fervent invitations to be saved, they were baptized and brought into the church. Incredible awe overcame the growing church and the lasting effect of the Spirit’s coming at Pentecost upon the Jerusalem church was the growth of the church and the fostering of unity, fellowship, and community in that church (2:41-47).

Acts 10:46: The unique experience of the Jerusalem church at Pentecost in Acts 2 occurred in similarly public and significant ways for non-Jews in Acts 10 and for followers of John the Baptist in Acts 19.

In Acts 10, God specifically dealt with Peter to help the Jewish Christians overcome their opposition to Gentile conversion. The Holy Spirit came upon these foreigners when Peter preached to them. The Holy Spirit then manifested Himself in these Gentiles in the same way that He had shown Himself upon the Jews at Pentecost.

The Jews who were present in Caesarea heard the Gentiles “speak with tongues [lalounton glossais] and magnify God” (10:46). This wondrous event had a significant impact upon Peter. The sign of the Spirit’s coming upon the Jews was now evident in His coming upon the Gentiles. The Jewish Christians heard these foreign Gentiles magnify God as they communicated intelligibly in languages. Peter therefore commanded that his Jewish Christian companions baptize the Gentile Christians, thus bringing Gentile believers into fellowship with the Jerusalem church (10:47-48).

Afterwards, when word of these events spread, other Jewish Christians questioned Peter. Peter relayed to them that the Holy Spirit had come upon the Gentiles at Caesarea as He had come upon the Jews. The sign-value of this event was not lost upon Peter’s questioners, for they too glorified God that He had graced the Gentiles with repentance and life (11:12-18). Similar to the events at Jerusalem, speaking with tongues at Caesarea publicly magnified God. Moreover, like the Jerusalem occurrence, the purpose of the sign of speaking with tongues was to verify that the Father was active in saving people—here, the Gentiles—by sending His Son and His Spirit. While speaking in tongues, they “magnified God:” the gift both helped publicly convey the gospel and uniquely signified divine verification of that gospel.

Acts 19:6: The dual role of the gift in proclamation and in verification occurs once again in Acts 19:6. Here, the followers of John the Baptist, who were expecting the Messiah but had not yet surrendered to Jesus Christ, were also converted and received the Spirit. For the third and final time in the book of Acts, a unique group of people was publicly verified as coming into the church through the sign of glossolalia. The former followers of John the Baptist were now Christians and “spoke with tongues [elaloun glossais] and prophesied.” Again, the gift functioned as verification that a new people were brought into a church. Again, the gift intelligibly conveyed the gospel. The verification concerned the conversion of the followers of John the Baptist. The proclamation can be seen in the coupling of prophesy with the gift.

These three passages—Acts 2:4, 10:46, and 19:6—are the only instances regarding speaking in tongues in the book of Acts. Pentecostal theologians assert glossolalia also occurred in Acts 8;4 however, there is no textual support for such speculation. All three passages treat the gift of speaking in tongues as the public and intelligible communication of truth about God. These passages also treat the gift of speaking in tongues as a verifying sign of the unique coming of the Holy Spirit upon a new group of people, thereby incorporating that group into the church. There are numerous other instances of the coming of the Holy Spirit upon new believers without any indication of the gift of tongues being present (Acts 2:41-42, 8:12, 9:17-19). Although Scripture teaches that the Spirit must accompany the proclamation of the Word to be effective (1 Thess. 1:5-6), there is no specific reason to assume that the verification provided by the particular spiritual gift of speaking in tongues is required beyond the verification of the incorporation of these three main communities – Jews, Gentiles, and followers of John the Baptist.

1 Corinthians 12-14: In contrast to the churches in Acts, the church at Corinth was an extremely unhealthy and fractured church. Its membership included a number of former pagans who were finding it difficult to leave behind their ungodly ways. In discussing spiritual gifts, a major concern for these former pagans, Paul found it necessary to re-educate the Corinthians by placing the gift of tongues in its proper context. First, he reminded the Corinthians that before converting to Christ they had followed “dumb [aphona] idols” (1 Cor. 12:2). An aphonic idol is literally an idol “without a voice” or “without meaning.” In the Old Testament, God’s powerful voice [translated as phona in the Septuagint] indicated His self-revelation by His Word. In the New Testament, phona may indicate a powerful voice expressed through those who bear the Spirit of God.

Opposite the biblical examples of God speaking phonically, powerfully and clearly, through His servants, idols are known to be aphonic, incapable of speech and meaningless. Pagans believed their idols could express themselves in speech through an oracle, but their speech was unintelligible and a religious poet was required to translate. Examples of ecstatic, untranslatable speech may be found in the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi as well as the cults of Dionysius and Cybele. The pre-Christian background of the Corinthians indicates that ecstatic religious experiences involving unintelligible speech conferred special status upon those who practiced such. Unfortunately, the Corinthian believers brought their pagan religious practices, its attendant elitism, and the resulting social divisions into the Christian church (cf. 1 Cor. 1:10-11; 3:1-4, 18; 11:17- 22).

Where the healthy churches of Jerusalem and Ephesus experienced tongues as a significant verification of popular conversion which proclaimed the gospel and united the people of God, the unhealthy Corinthian church was experiencing tongues as a sign of personal status which was unintelligible and resulted in divisions among the people of God. Paul was therefore forced to put the idea of glossolalia in its proper Christian context as intelligible and significant speech, in opposition to the pagan context where glossolalia was unintelligible and insignificant speech. He began fulfilling that difficult task by reminding the Corinthians that the Spirit will never lead people to curse Christ; instead, the Spirit’s role is to lead people to confess Jesus as Lord. The pagan practice of glossolalia, characterized by unintelligibility, could apparently lead some to ignorantly curse Christ (1 Cor. 12:3).

Paul then taught the Corinthians that spiritual gifts are not subject to human manipulation, but are under the sovereign gifting of the Triune God (12:4-6). Paul affirmed that glossolalia is a spiritual gift, but he clearly taught that in the hierarchy of gifts, it was the least (12:10, 28). Moreover, not every Christian possessed this gift (12:30) and this particular gift should be desired the least (14:1).

God’s gifts are given for one primary reason, the common good (12:7). This overarching goal of communal welfare is expressed in three important ways through the remainder of chapters 12-14 of 1 Corinthians: First, the diversity of the members with their various gifts finds its single purpose in the mutual care of the members in the “one body” whose head is Christ (12:12-27). Second, although Christians should desire the better gifts, their goal must always be the “more excellent way” of radically selfless love on behalf of the other (12:31-14:1). Third, Paul then outlines his understanding of the gift of proclamation [propheteia] as better incarnating love for the other because it allows Christians to practically fulfill the important theological end of the “edification” [oikodoman] or mutual “up-building” of the church (14:3).

In light of Paul’s understanding of the common good as the one body, the way of love, and ecclesial edification, his description of the Corinthians’ glossolalia as intended for self-edification shows that this fractured church’s understanding of the spiritual gift is grossly perverse (1 Cor. 14:4). Spiritual gifts, as Paul repeatedly indicated, are for mutual edification, thus the Corinthians should re-orient themselves away from their selfcentered doctrine of tongues.

In chapter 14, Paul shows how the Corinthians’ doctrine of tongues differs from the orthodox Christian doctrine: the Corinthians’ doctrine of glossolalia is insignificant and unintelligible as well as disorderly and indecent, while the orthodox doctrine of glossolalia is significant and intelligible as well as orderly and decent. Paul reconstructs the orthodox doctrine of glossolalia for the Corinthians by closely correlating it to prophesying, or euphemistically, the public proclamation of the gospel. In some detail, Paul denigrates the idea that true glossolalia may occur apart from meaningful communication, which involves the full engagement of the mind with the spirit and the speaker’s intentional edification of his hearers.

Everyone must communicate with languages, but even more than merely speaking, they should clearly proclaim the gospel. Speaking without regard for the correct transference of the meaning of the gospel (i.e. “interpretation”) does not edify the church (14:5). If a person speaks without being concerned for communicating meaningfully, his sounds are meaningless [aphona], like a trumpet which cannot call troops to battle or like a person in a foreign land who cannot understand the local language (14:7-8, 10-11). Those who are zealous for spiritual gifts should above all seek to edify the church (14:12). If one speaks in a tongue, one should pray that God will help him speak with understanding (14:13).

Paul concludes that the idea of unintelligible speech is extremely odd, for the human spirit must not be disconnected from the human understanding in prayer or in song (14:15). After all, how can others be edified if we speak meaningless words (14:16)? Speaking tongue-in-cheek (pardon the pun), Paul lets the Corinthians know that their meaningless speech may represent their sincere effort to thank God, but he is more thankful that he can publicly proclaim the gospel intelligibly with five words rather than mumble on with ten thousand meaningless words (14:17-19).

Echoing his previous reference to the passing childishness of speaking in the tongues of angels (cf. 13:1, 11), Paul exhorts the Corinthians to cease being immature in their understanding (14:20). Those who are mature will understand that language indicates not only blessing but judgment. Unknown tongues in Scripture signify divine wrath. The biblical significance of unintelligible tongues is worryingly different from the biblical significance of intelligible tongues. Paul quotes Isaiah 28:11-12, regarding God’s judgment of unrepentant Israel by sending an invading army of foreigners. The vivid imagery of Isaiah 28 recalls the horrors of watching the occupation of Jerusalem by an invading army, an army which speaks in a meaningless language. In the Old Testament passage, Israel was noted for its refusal to think clearly (Isa. 28:9): will the Corinthians be the same way? The biblical significance of intelligible Christian speech is that the gospel brings life to those who will believe; the biblical significance of unintelligible speech is that God will judge. Unintelligible tongues are intended by God to serve as a sign of judgment on unbelievers; intelligible proclamation of the gospel is intended to bring life to those who believe (14:22). The unbeliever who enters the church and hears unintelligible speech will leave with the understanding that the Corinthian Christians are senseless (14:23). The person who enters the church and hears an intelligible proclamation of the gospel’s power will be convicted of sin, and may repent and turn to worship God (14:24-25).

After carefully distinguishing the orthodox doctrine of glossolalia as intelligible and significant speech from the Corinthian doctrine of glossolalia as unintelligible and insignificant speech, Paul then launches into a discussion of order and decency. If these Corinthians believe they have the true spiritual gift of tongues, then they must practice it in such a way that they function intelligibly and significantly. Paul indicates how the gifts of tongues and of prophecy must be conducted so that all things are “done decently and in order” in the church (14:40). With regard to tongues, it must be practiced for public edification, there must be an orderly presentation, and there must be an interpreter. If these requirements cannot be met, then Paul is clear that the Corinthian enthusiasts must “keep silent in church” (14:28). Paul did not forbid the practice of speaking in tongues in the church (14:39), but he severely qualified its practice with requirements that still apply to churches today (14:26-28).

Secondary Biblical Passages

Romans 8:26: Some scholars consider various other biblical passages in relation to the issue of glossolalia. Romans 8:26 is often utilized in this regard; however, the passage does not address the phenomenon. First, in the prayer of Romans 8, there is an explicit inability to utter words [alalatois], while glossolalia explicitly concerns the utterance of words (cf. Acts 2:4). The only way to equate the phenomenon of Romans 8 with that of glossolalia is to engage in contradictory logic and say that “not speaking” is “speaking.” Second, through much of Romans 8, Paul discusses the Spirit’s role in salvation, and as Martin Luther demonstrated, Paul here expounds the prayer of faith which concerns personal regeneration by the Spirit. Third, if Paul had the gift of tongues in mind in his letter to the Romans, he would have included it in the gifts discussed in Romans 12:3-8. Although many Charismatics as well as the odd higher critic have tried to place this text within the conversation over glossolalia, the most authoritative modern commentator on Romans has declared, with typical British understatement, that such a connection is “not likely.”

Other Passages Cited in Support of Modern Practices: Other biblical passages have also been brought forward by Pentecostal and Charismatic theologians seeking to buttress their modern practices. These passages include Ephesians 5:18-20 and 6:18, 1 Thessalonians 5:19, and Jude 20. However, glossolalia is not mentioned in any of these texts. Modern enthusiasts freely equate biblical glossolalia with various modern practices of “speaking in tongues.” Included among the modern practices are the Pentecostal requirement of speaking in unknown tongues as the initial evidence of receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit; the congregational practice of simultaneous expressions of unintelligible ecstatic speech; and, the private practice of unintelligible ecstatic speech as a prayer language. The modern advocates of these various practices assume that the biblical doctrine of glossolalia is what is being practiced today under the name of “speaking in tongues.” This is a precarious assumption, for not all that calls itself biblical actually is biblical.

The Cessation of Glossolalia: On the other hand, advocates of Cessationism have gone to Hebrews 2:3-4 to argue that “signs” [semeiois] were intended to verify the original dissemination of the gospel message. Since that message has now been recorded in the apostolic writings, there is no longer any need for sign gifts like speaking in tongues. W.A. Criswell affirmed this interpretation: “One of these sign gifts was speaking in tongues. When the authenticating necessity for the sign gift ceased, the phenomenon ceased. It was needed no longer. It had served its purpose. For us to seek to re-create the sign is not faith but presumption.” In the debate over whether the miraculous gifts are for today, the Cessationist argument makes valid points; however, the “Open but Cautious” view is also worthy of consideration. The open but cautious view allows for the continuation of many spiritual gifts into the modern churches, but is unwilling to make a one-to-one correlation between modern practices and the biblical witness. Unfortunately, the “Third Wave” and “Pentecostal/Charismatic” positions too often begin from the vantage of personal experience or tradition.

Thirteen Conclusions Regarding Biblical Glossolalia

1. Biblical glossolalia is a gift of the Holy Spirit from Jesus Christ.
2. Biblical glossolalia involves a Christian using an existing spoken language that he or she has not previously learned.
3. Biblical glossolalia involves non-Christian hearers who understand an existing spoken language they previously knew.
4. Biblical glossolalia involves the public communication of intelligible information concerning the gospel.
5. Biblical glossolalia was intended by Jesus as a sign to verify the proclamation of the gospel concerning salvation through His death and resurrection.
6. The sign of biblical glossolalia was fulfilled in the unique events surrounding the incorporation of the Jews, the Gentiles, and the followers of John the Baptist into the New Testament churches.
7. Biblical glossolalia is not intended for every Christian.
8. Biblical glossolalia is the least important of all the various spiritual gifts.
9. Biblical glossolalia is intended for the common good and results in unity, loving fellowship, and congregational edification.
10. The biblical sign of intelligible language indicates divine blessing, but the biblical sign of unintelligible language indicates divine wrath.
11. Biblical glossolalia must be distinguished from Corinthian glossolalia.
a. Biblical glossolalia comes from the Holy Spirit while Corinthian glossolalia comes from the pagan religious background of Corinth.
b. Biblical glossolalia involves intelligible speech concerning the Gospel while Corinthian glossolalia is unintelligible speech that may curse Christ.
c. Biblical glossolalia results in unity, love, and edification, while Corinthian glossolalia results in division, discord, and destruction.
12. In light of the problem of Corinthian glossolalia, if a church wishes to discern whether biblical glossolalia is present, Scripture establishes some guidelines:
a. It must involve the congregation.
b. It must result in public edification.
c. There must be a decent and orderly practice.
d. There must be an interpretation.
13. Biblical glossolalia may be allowed by the church, but those who embrace Corinthian glossolalia must keep silent.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Glossolalia and Southern Baptists

I promised to start dealing with the issue of tongues and so I thought a good start would be to post one of the “white papers” which was given to the Trustees at SWBTS. Dr. Emir Caner is the scholar who wrote this paper. For length consideration I have not included the footnotes. To see all the footnotes please read the paper at:

The situation seems all too familiar now. Trustees of a mission board, empowered to enact policies they believe best represent Southern Baptist doctrine and practice, pass a new policy which stipulates that any missionary candidate who speaks in a private prayer language has disqualified himself from consideration. This stricter set of regulations is first birthed via general guidelines which the trustees believed needed to be codified with stronger language. Subsequently, one trustee speaks out against the new directive questioning the definition of glossolalia (Gr., “speaking in tongues”). Moreover, the president of the agency, elected because he was considered a conservative, incredibly speaks out against the new policy, although he subsequently promises to follow its guidelines. Finally, accusations are then leveled at some of the trustees, alleging a dispensational view of Scripture is behind these actions. One noted critic wrote, “If a fundamentalist understanding of scripture was to be the guiding principle, then glossolalia could not be allowed.”

Yet, the situation is not exactly what one may think. The above situation is not about new directives given to the International Mission Board in November 2005; rather, it involves the Home Mission Board (now North American Mission Board), and the year this new policy was adopted was 1987. At the time, the battle for the soul of the Southern Baptist Convention was raging and in many ways reaching its peak. The Dallas convention of 1985, which registered more than 45,000 messengers, proved to be a watershed year for the conservative cause with Charles Stanley being elected President. By 1988, the year following the enactment of these new policies regarding tongues, Southern Baptists met in San Antonio, Texas, where more than 32,000 messengers were registered.

Considering the present outcry from a few Southern Baptists over the new IMB policy, one would think a similar chorus of disapproval would have arisen during the 1988 San Antonio convention. Yet, when the report of the Home Mission Board was given, there were no objections and no questions whatsoever. In fact, the session was rather poorly attended—with less than one thousand people in the audience. Therefore, what possible reasons could there be for this lack of protest? Consider the following facts:

1) The president of the Southern Baptist Convention, Dr. Adrian Rogers, voiced no disapproval of the new policies.

2) Jim Strickland was the sole opposition to the new policy, in spite of a good number of “loyal opposition” moderates and “swing votes” on the board.4

3) The trustee board was obviously far more unified regarding the new tongues policy than they were regarding the new divorce policy adopted at the same meeting. The vote for a more restrictive policy on divorce passed 48-20; the vote strengthening the policy on tongues passed with near unanimity.

For nearly twenty years now the North American Mission Board (NAMB) has maintained its course with regard to its restrictive policy on tongues, while experiencing substantial growth in its missionary force and its new church plants. Today, the board employs more than 5,300 missionaries, an increase of more than 1,500 since 1987. Additionally, NAMB is now reaching out to more ethnicities than ever before. The narrowing of parameters did not prove to be a detriment in any evidentiary way. Indeed, pristine doctrine proved to be a boon to growth. Once again, Adrian Rogers may have proven to be a prophet, when he reminded conventioneers during his sermon in San Antonio, “The more divine doctrines a church can agree on, the greater its power and the wider its usefulness. The modern cry, less creed and more liberty, is a degeneration from the ‘vertebrae to the jelly fish.’”

The Issue at Hand: Glossolalia and Policy

The issue at hand is not merely the interpretation of glossolalia, but whether the Board of Trustees has the right to make restrictive policies. Does this duly-elected body of governors have the right to go beyond the bounds of the accepted confession of faith? The obvious answer concerning their right to do so is an unequivocal “yes.” Trustees are charged by Southern Baptist churches through appointments during the annual Southern Baptist Convention to represent Southern Baptists in carrying out the task of sending biblically-qualified missionaries to the field. Frank Page, newly elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention in 2006, reiterated this notion: “There are a multitude of issues that have to be dealt with within the trustee framework that go way beyond the Baptist Faith and Message…. There are many things that the Baptist Faith and Message just simply doesn’t deal with….”

Furthermore, not all—or perhaps any—decisions will be met with unanimous agreement. For example, although the Baptist Faith and Message does not address the matter of divorce, the International Mission Board has from its inception in 1845 argued that divorced men and women may not be considered for appointment. This was reaffirmed by the preceding Foreign Mission Board in 1987.8 Here is another decision that carries many similarities with the present-day controversy. It is certainly clear that the biblical parameters of divorce are hotly contested in some Southern Baptist circles, and even more so in the broader evangelical world. Godly scholars often disagree with each other’s interpretation on this issue. Yet, although many interpretations from Scripture have been offered, Southern Baptists have consistently come down on the side of caution. In the end, it is our responsibility as Southern Baptists to speak for Southern Baptists, not to appease a broader and often poorly-defined Evangelicalism.

Autonomy is another issue that must be addressed. Not only is each church autonomous, but every association, every state convention, and the Southern Baptist Convention are autonomous as well. Thus, in spite of claims otherwise, there is no violation of local church autonomy when trustees address the issue of glossolalia. Just as every church has the right to affirm or deny the modern practice which goes under the name of “speaking in tongues,” so does the Southern Baptist Convention.

In fact, historical precedent demonstrates that many local associations and state conventions have dealt with this very issue. Note a few representative instances:

1) In 1975, six churches were “barred from fellowship by four associations of Southern Baptist churches in three states.” A news article acknowledged the divisiveness of tongues upon congregations, and Robert Baker, then professor of church history at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, articulated that he would rather see these churches withdraw.

2) In 1996, the Florida Baptist Convention’s mission board voted to disfellowship two churches for neo-Pentecostalism.

3) In 1999, the Webster County Baptist Association (Missouri) voted to withdraw fellowship from Calvary Baptist Church, Marshfield, over the issue of charismatic worship. As one article noted, the issue involved “practices such as speaking in tongues.” The vote was 102-2.

It is evident that Southern Baptists have historically taken a cautious tone towards the Charismatic movement in general and glossolalia in particular. They have recognized the lesson of church history that these enthusiastic movements can be greatly divisive to the local churches and to the larger body of Christ. One need look no further than the second-century Montantist movement—the first true dissenting movement within early Christianity which was largely based on prophecy and ecstatic utterances—to understand the controversial nature of these practices. A mature Christian clearly knows that this problem is not simply an argument over Paul’s command to “not forbid the speaking of tongues.”

Moreover, the International Mission Board itself has, to a certain extent, previously dealt with the issue of speaking in tongues. Indeed, the Mission Personnel Committee handled the subject of tongues and issued a statement on June 23, 1992. It maintained:
The Foreign Mission Board has not voted a policy statement with regard to glossolalia and it is not mentioned among the criteria for mission service. However, the Foreign Mission Board represents all Southern Baptists and it is important that our missionaries be people who are comfortable with worship as it is normally expressed within the Southern Baptist family of churches. As we talk with candidates we discuss their beliefs, patterns of worship and devotional life, and a host of other issues related to their life as Christians and Baptists. In the course of such discussions we find that it is appropriate and natural to talk about worship and prayer, including glossolalia if that is a part of the individual’s experience. Our intention in those discussions is neither to interrogate nor to instruct, but to come to a point of mutual understanding. In terms of worship practices, the vast majority of Southern Baptist churches do not practice glossolalia in their public services. Therefore, if a person feels that glossolalia is a vital, significant and public part of his or her conviction and practice, we believe that person has eliminated himself or herself from being a representative of the majority of Southern Baptists [emphasis mine]. At the same time, we do not try to enter into the prayer closet of an individual to monitor or evaluate that person’s prayer language or life.

This quote illustrates the importance that IMB trustees and staff have always placed upon relating to “worship as it is normally expressed within the Southern Baptist family of churches.” It is critical to understand that guidelines or policies must acknowledge the need for Southern Baptist missionaries to represent faithfully those who support them financially and pray for them continually. This faithfulness to the churches extends to the public practice of speaking of tongues—and, with the new policy, it extends to “private prayer languages,” too. The guideline argues that a person who “feels that glossolalia is a vital, significant, and public part of his or her conviction and practice…has eliminated himself or herself from being a representative of the majority of Southern Baptists” [emphasis mine].” Jerry Rankin, who was elected after this guideline was passed, affirms the position held and fully supports its justification.

Exegetical Fallacy: Can Public Tongues Be Divorced from Private Tongues?

The controversy, then, does not pit Cessationists (those theologians who believe that the spectacular gifts ceased to be necessary once the New Testament was written) versus Continualists (those who assume that the New Testament gifts are still in evidence among Christians, today). For example, Jerry Rankin, who prohibits the public speaking of tongues, may be considered a semi-Cessationist, because he forbids speaking in tongues in public worship but not in private worship. Instead, the disagreement concerns whether one can exegetically argue that a private prayer language is allowed while a public prayer language is prohibited.

There are two principle passages which must be considered regarding a private prayer language: Romans 8:26 and 1 Corinthians 14. Paul writes in Romans 8:26: Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

Though it may (and should) seem logically incoherent to non-Charismatic readers, many Charismatics argue that “the groanings which cannot be uttered” can be better rendered “with groanings that words cannot express.” Thus, the argument goes, when a believer can no longer use his own language, the Spirit intercedes in His language.

But it takes hermeneutical gymnastics to get to the point where that which is unutterable—“words cannot express”—means “articulated through the Holy Spirit and His language.” First, the context of Romans 8 concerning the Spirit’s decided role in salvation, has nothing to do with speaking in tongues. Second, any word study immediately identifies the “groanings” as speechless or lacking speech. A.T. Robertson, the greatest Greek scholar ever produced by Southern Baptists, exclaimed, “It is the picturesque word of rescue by one who ‘happens on’ (entugchanei) one who is in trouble and ‘in his behalf’ (huper) pleads ‘with unuttered groanings’ (instrumental case) or with ‘sighs that baffle words’ (Denny). This is the work of our Helper, the Spirit himself.” Confirming this interpretation, the Revised Standard Version translates the phrase, “with sighs too deep for words.” Third, it may be worth noting that the Spirit intercedes “on our behalf” or “for” us, not “through” us. Fourth, any insistence upon the Holy Spirit speaking for us is, as two scholars have noted, “to admit that God cannot know the mind of the Holy Spirit or the mind of the believer unless prayer is verbally expressed, or else He has an inclination toward hearing spiritual mutterings that are non-sensical to the masses. No Christian would wish to argue that way.” In the end, one should be wary of building doctrine on one verse of Scripture, especially according to such an unusual interpretation of that verse. Thus, if an unusual interpretation of Romans 8:26 is the sole basis for one’s practice of a private prayer language, that believer should excise this experience from his walk with the Lord.

But most of those who defend a private prayer language use 1 Corinthians 14 as the justification for the practice. In particular, verses 14 through 17 play an integral role in such an interpretation. Paul writes in these verses: For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding. Otherwise, if you bless with the spirit, how will he who occupies the place of the uninformed say “Amen” at your giving of thanks, since he does not understand what you say? For you indeed give thanks well, but the other is not edified.

The issue of prayer, of course, is center stage in the discussion. With that reminder, A.T. Robertson asserts, “Paul is distinctly in favour of the use of the intellect in prayer. Prayer is an intelligent exercise of the mind…. There was ecstatic singing like the rhapsody of some prayers without intelligent words. But Paul prefers singing that reaches the intellect as well as stirs the emotions.”

Using the same line of reasoning, John MacArthur contends this passage discourages any prayer language, because “[t]he type of tongues the Corinthians practiced had no edifying value at all.” His argument is based on certain principles in the text, including:

1) Prayer is always intelligible. “I believe a better translation, however, is ‘to a god’…. The translation here of ‘a god’ is supported by the fact that the Bible records no instance of believers speaking to God in anything but normal, intelligible language…. His reference included the repetitious and unintelligible gibberish of pagan tongues-speaking, in which certain meaningless sounds were repeated over and over again.”

2) Without interpretation, private prayer language is useless. “Because even true tongues must be interpreted in order to be understood, they cannot possibly edify anyone, including the person speaking, without such interpretation. They cannot, therefore, be intended by God for private devotional use, as many Pentecostals and charismatics claim.”

3) Spiritual gifts are for the edification of the body. “The purpose of gifts, Paul was saying, is to minister for God but not to God….’ To each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good’ (12:7)”

In early church history, most of the church fathers would agree with MacArthur’s conclusions. Ambrosiaster, a proconsul in Africa in the mid-fourth century, whose commentary was used by Augustine, remarked on verse fourteen by asking the rhetorical question: “What can a person achieve if he does not know what he is saying?” John Chrysostom (347-407 AD), the Eastern bishop nicknamed “Golden Mouth” for his homiletical prowess, affirmed Ambrosiaster’s sentiment, exclaiming, “Paul does not forbid speaking in tongues, however much he may belittle the gift, but he insists that it be kept under control and used for the edification of the whole church.”

In the end, one must recognize that Paul was engaging practices within the local congregation at Corinth. He was not issuing statements on any private consideration, but was referring to the need for balance found in the fact that all spiritual gifts are for the common good, not for self-edification (1 Corinthians 12:7). Indeed, this passage, which has been used by some to justify a private prayer language, actually argues against such practice. First, Paul affirms that he will pray both in the Spirit and in understanding. But a prayer language cannot accomplish the latter. One would have to claim that Paul was discussing two different types of prayer in the passage, an argument from silence at best, and an argument which has no confirmation in any other New Testament passage. Second, the prayer in the context of the passage was given for the benefit and affirmation of the congregation. That is why they say “Amen.” Yet, a private prayer language cannot grant this blessing. Finally, tongues in the form of a private prayer language would be singled out as the only spiritual gift listed that has a personal use outside the body of Christ. Can anyone imagine prophesying privately? Or, teaching privately? Or, giving privately? Or, leading privately? Or, helping privately? Or, evangelizing privately?

Evangelical Ecumenism, Southern Baptists, and the Need for Prevention

The contemporary phenomenon of speaking in tongues, along with other Charismatic practices has infiltrated every major denomination in America, including Southern Baptist life. With historical origins of the Charismatic movement beginning in the 1960s, many believers, regardless of church affiliation, “started seeking all the spiritual gifts mentioned in the New Testament.” One need look no further than at examples such as Abba’s House in Hixon, Tennessee, a church led by Southern Baptist pastor Ron Phillips that holds charismatic conferences annually praying that many Southern Baptists will receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Charismatic influence has also arisen in academic circles through scholarly books, such as Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology (Zondervan, 1994). In that text, Grudem, a Reformed Charismatic, grants a sympathetic hearing for a Charismatic interpretation of spiritual gifts. In fact, it is quite telling that less than a generation ago, most Southern Baptist seminarians were using more traditional Baptist texts like Millard Erickson’s Christian Theology (Baker, 1983). Unfortunately, that is not the case today.

Noting the paradigm shift, one cannot overlook the momentum the Charismatic movement is having on Evangelical life. Yet, Southern Baptists remain very uncomfortable with Charismatic practices, especially when they note the weak epistemology of experientialism latent within the movement. For the most part, Southern Baptists have reacted negatively to inroads Charismatics have forced into the local Baptist churches. This response is largely due to the novel interpretation of how such gifts should be used and the excesses generated. The Southern Baptist response toward the Charismatic movement has always been extremely cautious.

Yet, the question must be asked, “Should Southern Baptists acquiesce in their policies due to the claims of a few who practice some or all of these Charismatic gifts? From the perspective of a pastor, one should answer “no.” A pastor leads his flock by preaching the Word of God as faithfully as he can. When the pastor comes across certain issues in the Scripture which are highly controversial, he must teach his congregation to uphold theological parameters that he deems most faithful to the biblical texts. Though some godly Christians in his congregation may reasonably disagree, his position should remain unchanged unless he is convinced otherwise from Scripture.

For most Southern Baptists, there is little or no compelling evidence that tongues as practiced by the Charismatic movement has any basis in Scripture. Since we are a people of the Book, whose authority must be guided by what the Scripture says, we have a weighty obligation to uphold the principles in the Word of God in every one of our policies. The first generation of the Conservative Resurgence focused upon the inerrancy of the Bible, a battle which has been victorious for more than 25 years. But the second generation of the Resurgence must spotlight the sufficiency of Scripture in our lives and in our policies. Ultimately, Southern Baptists must remember that truth is eternally vigilant and hence, as soldiers of the Lord, we must always be ready to stand for truth.
Truth is immortal.
Dr. Emir Caner

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Joshua Convergence and other NEWS - Updated!

For those interested you can review those who signed the Joshua Convergence Affirmations and add your name if you so desire at

Also, I have been asked by numerous individuals to address the situation in the blogworld this week. I am not familiar with all that took place at SWBTS but from what I can gather from some colleagues and pastors, apparently there was a closed door meeting where Trustees were asked to “consider and pray” about some confidential matters regarding the entrusting of millions of dollars of funds to a company who has managed funds for multi-billion dollar investors and who specializes in non-profit organizations (Apparently, information from this closed door session got out). I am assuming that Trustees are either still prayerfully considering it or they have dropped the issue (I really don’t know) because it was not even mentioned in the Plenary session. Now, while it would be nice to read apologies for all the implicatory comments made on blogs this week I highly doubt that will happen, although I am an eternal optimist.

Also BP has run a story, that few of the blogs are picking up on a vote by the SWBTS Trustees on the tongue issue. You can reference Jeremy Green's Blog Tuesday October 17th for a bloggers take on the vote...also Bart Barber presents a good analysis in his post (also on Tuesday October 17th).

Concerning the IMB, I know I said we would continue our revelation but after some thought I truly think it is best to let it lie for now.

This week a student asked me what caused me to become involved in blogging. As I drove home that afternoon I contemplated the question. What would cause anyone to become involved in blogging? What caused you to become involved?

As I considered the question, I did a lot of soul-searching. Is blogging a wise use of time? Does it accomplish anything for the kingdom? Is it worth the abuse that apparently accompanies it?

Had I not started blogging I would have much more done on the books I am trying to write (blogging consumes the time I set aside for this activity). Had I not started blogging I would not have had the numerous false statements and hateful things said about me (not to mention the false assumptions and misunderstandings). Had I not started blogging I would not have seen the pain that my wife goes through when she reads things said of me on blogs (this is perhaps most difficult).

Why in the world would a pastor and seminary professor ever begin addressing the issues in the SBC on a blog? First, I must admit I felt the Lord’s prompting to start a blog back before the convention this year. Therefore, the first, primary and really only reason I began to blog was out of obedience. But I believe there were reasons behind His prompting.

I believe God created me in such a way that I am almost unable to keep silent when others say or imply erroneous things about men of God. I feel God also used my love for the SBC, and my concern about some widening the tent far beyond where we have been since 1979. Finally, I feel God used my sincere desire to see an open and honest exchange of ideas.

I have done my best to maintain a blog, which allows the free exchange of ideas without spin (I have stated time and again if I post something erroneous or with spin, please point it out and I will gladly correct it). I have expressed my concerns about the widening of the tent and I have passionately defended men of God whom I feel have been maligned erroneously.

Inevitably, those of us who blog must honestly consider whether what we are doing is making a difference, and especially if it is pleasing to God. I am not sure we can answer the second question in the affirmative if we don’t answer the first in the affirmative.

I think it is making a difference for those whose minds have not been made up, but I have no empirical evidence. I have e-mails and comments from two who have said their eyes have been opened but I am not sure if these two are representative of masses or not.

What do you think? Do you believe we are speaking to ourselves? Do you think that those who participate on blogs already have their minds made up on the issues and cannot see the others’ views? What are your thoughts? Why did you start blogging?

I can state I certainly enjoy getting to meet and correspond with so many SB across the nation and the world…this has been the most enjoyable aspect of blogging for me. If I don’t ever get to meet my fellow bloggers here in this world we can sure look forward to glory:)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Legitimate Concerns Update.

Yesterday, I posted a comment on Wade’s blog referencing my response to his post “we must not be sidetracked from the issues” and I asked him the following two questions:

1. Do you think CP funds should be given to M’s who believe Genesis is “metaphorical?”
2. Do you think one should be allowed to serve as a Trustee if he views Genesis as “metaphorical?”

He answered NO to both questions. He and I agree here:)

However, his response about my post was “I would encourage you to read Debbie Kaufman's blog.”

I read her post. I consider Mrs. Kaufman a sister in Christ and trust her heart is pure before God and yet I don’t think I could have planned a better example of subjectivity and ad hominem statements. Let’s note some facts:

1. Mrs. Kaufman accuses me of attacks. Please read the post “Legitimate concerns with SB bloggers.” I simply QUOTE Wade…I don’t attack him or put words in his mouth, in fact, even when he attacks me and calls me a legalist, I give him the benefit of the doubt (notice there has been no apology for his statement, rather a continual defense of him, mounted by his supporters). It is my understanding that quoting others is NOT an attack, but simply stating where they stand. If someone can show me where I have called him a name or misquoted him, I will gladly remove it!

2. I was attacked in her response: I was called dishonest. I was accused of playing to the crowd in my message and much more; most of which I have dealt with in my post, “My statement on alcohol.”

3. The issues were not dealt with: The legitimate questions I posed were never discussed. I have given Wade an easy way to clear things up…I have even suggested ways in which he can answer the questions. I would like him to be clear on these issues. The fact he chooses not to, begs many questions and concerns.

4. The following are some of the things said of me in the comment section of Mrs. Kaufman’s blog:

In his Name says:
“No that would not be part of Dr Reynolds agenda to attack Brother Wade? This man is so full of hate He should be removed from his position as a Professor in a SBC Seminary. Dr. Brad Reynolds is paid by CP Funds that means our tithes are paying his salary to spread Hate and Slander. I think the people in the pews need to know what is going on here. IMHO I believe Brad Reynolds is a Disciple of ________ and as I have stated many times, I could not see Brad Reynolds Heart.”

Wow - I’m not sure I have ever read a worse accusation on any SBC blog. "In His Name" is forgiven before he even asks, but one wonders where all the voices of “remove that comment” went.

(It should be noted that Mrs. Kaufman admonishes the commenter who gave the above comment and she disagrees with the last statement, as does Wade).

Anonymous says:
A layperson who sees through the smoke and mirrors of professional legalists in our convention.”

(another accusation of legalism)

Doug “how’s the weather” Meriweather says:
“It should be obvious to all that Dr. Reynolds owes his job and his future to Dr. Patterson.
He is obviously doing all he can to discredit people, using tactics that are dishonorable. In other words, he is appointed by the powers that be to do the dirty work.
Everyone I know sees through it.”

It concerns me greatly that some attribute the Sovreignty of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit to mere mortals. Anyone who knows anything about higher education and the SBC knows the way to get somewhere (if that is one's goal) is to stay quiet about most controversial issues and to write books. I can't keep quiet on these issues, and thus have not endeared myself to those who feel I should. Further, this blog takes up my "writing" time. But I must be obediant to Christ and feel He led me to start and maintain this blog for the sake of Truth.

Folks, here is the reason dialogue seems almost impossible. We seem so subjective that we cannot see the difference in ad hominem comments and legitimate questions. Until we can step back and look at things a little more objectively, true dialogue will not take place.

Soon we will be back to the IMB. I will be posting Dr. Rankin’s response followed by Dr. Eitel’s response and then we will tackle the tongues issue. Also, I will give a Joshua Convergence update soon.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Legitimate Concerns with SB Bloggers

In a debate between Dr. William Provine and Dr. Philip Johnson (one of the great apologists for Intelligent Design) Dr. Provine commits a debating faux pas. He attacks the person of Philip Johnson, by mocking his Christian faith. This ploy of ad hominem statements is often used in political campaigns, in order to stir emotions. It is a technique, which brings high-fives from one’s comrades…yet is very poor debate form. Sadly, it occurs in Christian blogging also.

This past week a blogger (Wade Burleson) expressed concerns over the tenor of comments on blogs in the SBC. His frustrations seemed to be that many were more interested in making ad hominem comments rather than dealing with issues. I share his concerns. I firmly believe we can disagree and yet do so in a Spirit that honors Christ.

Many times an attack takes the form of an outright frontal assault, yet sometimes it is done by telling half of the truth or through innocent implications. I started this blog for the purpose of seeking the whole truth on matters and yet I am certain I have committed subjective errors. I think we all have – therefore, I give the following example in trepidation. The purpose of the example is to caution us all about how subjective we can be. Thus, I refer to Wade’s post expressing concern about ad-homenim comments.

In his post “We Must Not be Sidetracked from Issues,” of the seven comments cited, five are from this blog (I don’t think Wade intended to imply anything but I inferred that this could cause some to believe that this blog somehow condones ad hominem statements)…and yet he fails to portray the entire picture. First, he fails to see the same problem on his blog and second he fails to admit my continual pleadings to steer commentators away from ad hominem comments.

Wade expressed concerns with statements made about him, on this blog. However, he failed to note the statements I made in his defense:

“And Wade has made clear that alcohol played NO PART. While I too have a difficult time reconciling that with the post...WE MUST TAKE HIM AT HIS WORD and trust him. He knows his heart and we do not.”

“concerning Wade we must trust him at his word. If he says that is not what he was saying then we should and are compelled to trust him.”

“he states that alcohol played NO PART in her coming to Christ. To me that's all that matters. I don't care what he said earlier, if he states he believes it played "no part" then that's the end of it.”

“Wade has answered your questions many times now. Let's trust his word.”

And More.

Further, he also failed to note the things said of ME, on my blog:

“Why is it that you insinuate whatever in your apologies and that is not what a Holy Man would do? I don't believe you are a man of integrity”

“there is no denying that you must have willfully and intentionally completely misrepresented that story regarding alcohol. You then proceeded to tell it in such a way that you could get the biggest EMOTIONAL reaction”

“I took time to listen to your message. The pejorative rhetoric of the meeting was alarming. Brother, your willful misrepresentation of this story to get the Amen, was simply the wrong use of the pulpit. Shame on you.”

And More.

Moreover he fails to see the things said of me on his blog, which he never tried to stop or deter by issuing cautions.

Dltj said:
“You sounded quite reasonable at the beginning, but now you are starting to sound like you are losing your core beliefs just to stay on the good side of the powers that be. I know your job depends on keeping these people happy, but don't you think this is starting to go too far. I am reminded of Senator Joseph McCarthy. As you will remember, he went so far that people started to see his quest for what it really was; political demagoguery.”

Scripture Searcher:
“Of course, he dare not humiliate himself by starting his own blogspot...who would read and take most of his bloviating comments seriously???”

PLEASE DON'T POST THIS. This is for your information only, just didn't know how to say it without someone getting offended.
Maybe you and Mr. Reynolds can continue this debate via email instead of on the blog.
It has become like sitting in a Sunday School class with one person dominating the conversation. After a while, people just quit listening.”

Wade did post it, with this comment:
Sorry, but your sentiments are too valuable not to post.”

Wade Burleson:
“I say this gently --- the new problem of the SBC may be your brand of Legalism and Fundamentalism.”

A legalist is one who believes we are saved by works, not grace. A legalist is a heretic. Now I don’t think Wade intended it that way, rather I think he meant that he thought I was trying to push my convictions on others (which I would never do). Nevertheless, such an accusation could cause hurt in my family, and my church without God’s sustaining grace and providence.

And More.

Finally, I think he fails to see some have legitimate concerns:

1. There are true concerns about his understanding of the BFM2K because of these two statements:
A. “since (the BFM2K) is not inerrant and infallible then you can disagree with it in some areas, but still affirm it where it speaks to major, foundational issues of the faith --- which I do.”
B. “I personally affirm all of the BFM 2000”

Possible Solution for Wade: To state if one does not believe in all of the BFM2K (including the exclusion of women pastors) one should not be a Trustee or be paid by CP funds.

2. There are true concerns about his position of wine opening the door for a gospel presentation because of these statements:
“The woman was saved by the grace of God, but she listened to me intently and patiently as I shared the gospel in all its fullness.
She gave me an audience because of who I was (a pastor who had helped her husband and did not fit the stereotype she had of Baptist preachers), how I treated her (with love and respect), and how I behaved (with gentleness and kindness rather than condemnation and superficial spirituality)
The point of my post is that I did not let my cultural or preferential ethic regarding alcohol (abstinence) become a stumbling block to a woman who needed a Savior and happened to be a collector of wine.”

Possible Solution for Wade: To state he believes the woman would have been saved even had he not asked her for wine.

3. There are true concerns about Wade wanting to open the tent wide enough for those who do not believe in inerrancy to be paid with CP funds or serve as Trustees:
“I was further confused because I was told other men like Dr. Daniel Vestal and Richard Jackson were also part of those who wished to lead our convention down the slippery slope of liberalism, from which we would never recover… I now realize that several good, solid conservative evangelical Christians have been slandered and maligned.”

Possible Solution for Wade: To state he believes one must affirm totally the inerrancy of Scripture to serve as a Trustee or be paid by SB.

4. There are true concerns about he and Ben being politically active amongst BGCTers

Possible Solution for Wade: to address why he and Ben were traveling across the state of Texas a few weeks back to speak to pastors.

Until Wade addresses these questions openly he will be plagued with legitimate concerns of how far back into the pre-1990’s era he may desire to see our convention go.

Hopefully Wade will address these concerns; in the meantime may we realize that this example of blogging subjectivity is most applicable to all of us. May we all be more careful. And may our Father guide this blog and open my eyes to my own subjectivity.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Christian Blogging

It seems whenever something like alcohol, or widening the tent, or such issues arise, the discussion becomes most heated. In heated discussions we say things we would not have said were our emotions under control.

This week while I have been in El Salvador much heated debate took place here on this blog. On two different posts in the comment section I asked numerous times to stay away from ad-hominal approaches. Both sides of the debate seemed to see the other side attacking, rather than dealing with the issues…I think they were both right to a degree.

I have never removed comments because of ad-hominal statements. The reason: it becomes very subjective and I would be accused of allowing some to stand while removing others. Further, a large number of ad-hominem statements are made towards me and I did not want to appear as if I was removing those who disagreed with me…such practice is not open-minded. Finally, I think many times in an ad-hominem statement there is an accompanying comment that actually deals with the issues. Therefore, MY practice has always been to continually caution others while allowing all comments and questions without fear, for we are about truth and truth never needs to run.

I will share more on this soon. But for now, I will not allow any comments that attack individuals. I know this is subjective and so if you feel I am enforcing this with a bias please e-mail me your concerns. I will continue to allow anonymous comments because of the many Missionaries who read and may desire to comment. I do not check ISP’s currently, and have no reason to begin with our new rule in place.

I like to believe we can discuss without devolving into character assassinations. We are about the issues here and will seek truth and answer any and all hard questions. Truth will win the day. Some have warned me that commenters are making remarks in order to discredit this blog. My response has been - people can read this blog, my posts and my comments and make decisions for themselves. I have stated on numerous occasions: if I have said anything slanderous, unChristlike, or erroneous I will be glad to remove it. I certainly try to be a no-spin zone and now with the new rule (which I feel I am compelled to enforce) we will be spin-free (to the degree it is possible) in our comments also.

God Bless