Sunday, October 01, 2006

Differing Views of Miraculous Gifts and the SBC

Among frequent comments registered in the debate throughout the blogosphere in recent months regarding the new IMB policy on "private prayer language" have been those expressing the sentiment that, as Baptists, we should be planting "Baptist" churches and not "Charismatic" or "Pentecostal" ones. I personally believe these comments reflect some false presuppositions and unfair stereotyping about who we are as Baptists, as well as who are those who may either practice or allow for the practice of a "private prayer language."

It is often assumed that all those who "speak in tongues," whether publicly or privately, are either "Charismatic" or "Pentecostal." But this is not the case. In the book, Are Miraculous Gifts for Today?: Four Views, editor Wayne Grudem, while not dealing exclusively with the gift of tongues, describes the following five categories of belief and practice regarding spiritual gifts in the contemporary church (two of them, the Pentecostal and Charismatic views, are later treated together as one):

1. "The cessationist position argues that there are no miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit today. Gifts such as prophecy, tongues, and healing were confined to the first century, and were used at the time the apostles were establishing the churches and the New Testament was not yet complete."

This view is defended in Grudem’s book by Richard B. Gaffin, professor of systematic theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.

2. "Pentecostal refers to any denomination or group that traces its historical origin back to the Pentecostal revival that began in the United States in 1901, and that holds the following doctrines: (1) All the gifts of the Holy Spirit mentioned in the New Testament are intended for today; (2) baptism in the Holy Spirit is an empowering experience subsequent to conversion and should be sought by Christians today; and (3) when baptism in the Holy Spirit occurs, people will speak in tongues as a ‘sign’ that they have received this experience."

3. "Charismatic, on the other hand, refers to any groups (or people) that trace their historical origin to the charismatic renewal movement of the 1960s and 1970s and that seek to practice all the spiritual gifts mentioned in the New Testament (including prophecy, healing, tongues, interpretation, and distinguishing between spirits). Among charismatics there are differing viewpoints on whether baptism in the Holy Spirit is subsequent to conversion and whether speaking in tongues is a sign of baptism in the Spirit."

Both the Pentecostal and Charismatic views are defended in Are Miraculous Gifts for Today?: Four Views by Douglas A. Oss, professor of hermeneutics and New Testament and chairman of the division of Bible and theology at Central Bible College (Assemblies of God) in Springfield, Missouri.

4. "In the 1980s a third renewal movement arose, a movement called The Third Wave by missions professor C. Peter Wagner at Fuller Seminary (he referred to the Pentecostal renewal as the first wave of the Holy Spirit’s renewing work in the modern church, and the charismatic movement as the second wave). Third Wave people encourage the equipping of all believers to use New Testament spiritual gifts today and say that the proclamation of the gospel should ordinarily be accompanied by "signs, wonders, and miracles," according to the New Testament pattern. They teach, however, that baptism in the Holy Spirit happens to all Christians at conversion and that subsequent experiences are better called "fillings" or "empowerings" with the Holy Spirit. Though they believe the gift of tongues exists today, they do not emphasize it to the extent that Pentecostals and charismatics do."

The defense of the "Third Wave" view is given by C. Samuel Storms, at that time president of Grace Training Center, a Bible School connected with the Metro Vineyard Fellowship of Kansas City.

5. "There is yet another position, held by a vast number of evangelicals who think of themselves as belonging to none of these groups. These people have not been convinced by the cessationist arguments that relegate certain gifts to the first century, but they are not really convinced by the doctrine or practice of those who emphasize such gifts today either. They are open to the possibility of miraculous gifts today, but they are concerned about the possibility of abuses that they have seen in groups that practice these gifts. They do not think speaking in tongues is ruled out by Scripture, but they see many modern examples as not conforming to scriptural guidelines; some also are concerned that it often leads to divisiveness and negative results in churches today. They think churches should emphasize evangelism, Bible study, and faithful obedience as keys to personal and church growth, rather than miraculous gifts. Yet they appreciate some of the benefits that Pentecostal, charismatic, and Third Wave churches have brought to the evangelical world, especially a refreshing contemporary tone in worship and a challenge to renewal in faith and prayer… For the purposes of this book, we have called it the open but cautious position."

This view is defended by Robert L. Saucy, Distinguished Professor of Systematic Theology at Talbot School of Theology in California.

It is my position that we, as Southern Baptists, are not Pentecostals, and certain Charismatic interpretations of Scripture seem to clash with traditional Baptist interpretation. The "Baptist Faith & Message" states, for example, in the section on God the Holy Spirit, that "at the moment of regeneration He baptizes every believer into the Body of Christ."

At the same time, I believe there is room in SBC life for much (though not all) "Third Wave" belief and practice, as well as that of the "cessationist" group and the "open but cautious" group. Nowhere have Southern Baptists officially defined ourselves one way or another, in relation to the continuation of all of the spiritual gifts present in the New Testament church. Neither have we defined ourselves regarding our understanding of the nature of the gift of tongues, whether it is always expressed in the ability to speak known human languages, or whether or not it includes as well "languages" that cannot be translated by normal human means.

Wayne Grudem, editor of Are Miraculous Gifts for Today?: Four Views, is not completely neutral regarding his own perspective on these issues. He does try to remain as objective as possible in his moderation of the different views presented, but is widely known as a leading proponent of the "Third Wave" position. Although Grudem has in the past been involved in the Vineyard movement, he is currently, as I understand it, a member of a Southern Baptist church. Apparently, Grudem does not see his "Third Wave" theology to be incompatible with being Southern Baptist.

Grudem’s Systematic Theology, together with Millard Erickson’s text, is one of the leading theology textbooks used today in Southern Baptist seminaries. The following is a quote from Southwestern Seminary President Paige Patterson:

"Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem is a fair-minded, thorough text in systematic theology--the best I have seen in recent years in terms of convenient organization, clarity, and a willingness to tackle the most salient issues of the day. This is an admirable blending of the scholarly and devotional elements seldom achieved in academic books."

Apparently, Paige Patterson does not think that Wayne Grudem is either naïve or shallow in his theological convictions.

I, personally, when I read each of the four views, find something compelling in each one. I find myself almost being convinced by the arguments presented for each view. At times, I wish Scripture were clearer on these issues. But God, in His sovereignty, has chosen to give us a record that can be interpreted differently by different scholars, each of whom is fully dedicated to the Lordship of Christ, and fully committed to the authority of His inerrant Word.

After carefully thinking through, and searching the Scriptures, I have come to the conclusion that my own understanding lies somewhere between the "Open but Cautious" and "Third Wave" view. Of the four views defended, Sam Storms’s "Third Wave" exegesis is the most convincing to me personally. However, due to what seem to me to be certain excesses and abuses commonly associated with the "Third Wave" movement, I also identify closely with the "Open but Cautious" view defended by Robert Saucy. It is not my purpose on this post to defend my personal position, but rather merely to point out that there are those, like myself, who hold to these different positions, and who, at the same time, consider themselves to be good Southern Baptists.

Lately, some seem to be suggesting that perhaps the view I, and/or others like me, take is out of line with traditional Southern Baptist interpretation; and thus, those, like me, who hold to it, would be better off in other denominations. I believe the new policy on "private prayer language" at the IMB is a reflection of this opinion. It also appears to be the opinion implicit in the paper written by Paige Patterson, Keith Eitel, & Robin Hadaway referenced several days ago on this blog.

I do not personally speak in tongues, either in private or in public. However, my interpretation of Scripture is essentially the same as many who do. I believe the gift of tongues is valid for today. I also believe that the gift of tongues may be legitimately used as a "private prayer language." In my opinion, the only reason I do not have a "private prayer language" is because God, who in His sovereignty distributes each gift to each one "just as he determines" (1 Cor. 12.11), has not chosen to give me this particular gift.

On the basis of the information given here, I would like to ask two questions:

1. In your opinion, are the views I take on these issues compatible with service in the IMB?

2. In regards to IMB service, what is the practical difference between someone like me, who holds these views, and does not practice a "private prayer language," and someone else, who holds the same or similar views, and does practice a "private prayer language"?




Related links:

Sam Storms: Speaking in Tongues and the Southern Baptist Convention (part 1)

Sam Storms: Speaking in Tongues and the Southern Baptist Convention (part 2)

Wade Burleson, The Point Is Being Missed Yet Again

Wade Burleson, What Students at Our Seminaries Learn About Tongues

30 comments:

mr. t said...

David,

Thanks for shedding some more light on this. I think we have similar views about this particular subject. I too fall somewhere between what is described as "open but cautious" and "third wave".

mr. t said...

Oh... and I don't see any conflict between holding to these views and serving with IMB.

Wade Burleson said...

As usual, you focus on the issues with clarity, grace and keen insight.

You ask,

1. In your opinion, are the views I take on these issues compatible with service in the IMB?

Absolutely.

2. In regards to IMB service, what is the practical difference between someone like me, who holds these views, and does not practice a "private prayer language," and someone else, who holds the same or similar views, and does practice a "private prayer language"?

There is absolutely no difference as far as it comes to your daily service to the IMB.

Of course, this is why I am asking why new missionary candidates are now being excluded with these views.

tim rogers said...

Brother David,

Am I missing something here? Would you not agree that one who holds the view that you hold, but does not practice it, would be less likely to allow the practice of these views, than one that holds these views and practices them?

While I agree that you are not disqualified in your service, I would have to disagree with you on one that holds these views and practices them.

Blessings,
Tim

David Rogers said...

Tim,

No, I would "not agree that one who holds the view that [I] hold, but does not practice it, would be less likely to allow the practice of these views, than one that holds these views and practices them."

I think I can probably better explain my reasons for this in the context of my next post.

Stay tuned...

Bob Cleveland said...

David:

The very premise we are discussing is "gifts".

Since it is the Giver Who controls the giving of gifts, it is not man and his abilities to discern, who dictates the terms.

That gift is what it is, period. And what is a church to do when God drops it into their midst? Prohibit it, in contradiction to scripture? Deny it, thereby attributing the event to someone other than God (which is, IMO, either profane or blaspemous)?

I have known several folks in whom God did something miraculous, and for some reason, they later denied it .. they "walled it off". It's as though the Holy Spirit simply left them alone after they did that. They seemed to just go on in the flesh.

We'd best be exceedingly careful when we set out to deny a gifting.

Mankind seems to think that, if we can thoroughly explain things, we can control them. Silly us!

tim rogers said...

Brother David,

I am looking forward to your next post. Therefore, until then I believe one who holds to the view but does not practice it is less likely to advocate the view than one that holds to the view and practices these gifts.

Blessings,
Tim

blampp@juno.com said...

David,

To answer your questions;

#1. I affirm your privilege to serve! I also believe most messengers would, as well!

#2. I believe Bob Cleveland hits the nail on it's head!
These different interpretations give their opinions, but the simple definition of "karis" is a gift...... I believe you will discover that there will be many opinions similar to Tim, but when can we indulge the luxury of analyzing every possible "what if......"
Consequently, I believe our Convention will not be well served if we begin to compress our performance evaluations on a fleshly world system of analysis or even the multitudinous expressions of Scholarly opinion and not on Scripture! My personal opinion is where it speaks with clarity..... we need to announce it loudly.... where it's silent....... well, we need to be......
I think it would be wise for folks to revisit Romans 14..... Blessings.... I appreciate your thoughtful approach.... it appears you've had some "good mentoring"!

Anonymous said...

David,

Great post. I certainly agree with you and am also towards 3rd wave. I am a PK, MK, and always been a member of an SBC church.

God has given me a PPL (don't like that term). I will not go into how this occurred or when, but it had absolutely no association with any Charismatic or pentecostal associations. During an intense time of prayer at my first pastorate the Lord just gave it.

If interested, I could describe my practice and understanding in more detail. I have been an SBC pastor for 15 years. I am not in a "charismatic" church. I do not intend nor do I desire to be charismatic, pentecostal or anything else. I am a conservative, Baptist, fully supportive in the conservative resurgence in my state and appreciative those who won the struggle on the national level. I graduated from SEBTS.

TIM, now why am I not allowed to serve as an SBC missionary? Our church gives tremendously to the CP, percentage wise, then most mega-churches. I am active in my association, an elected trustee of a State Baptist Universtiy.

What are you and others afraid of?

I posted earlier as MK.

Stuart said...

It is most unfortunate that more people do not understand the difference between Charismatic/Pentecostal on the one hand and Third Wave/Open but cautious on the other.

It is more unfortunate still that some who do understand the difference would allow fellow Southern-Baptists to be mischaracterized in the name of denominational politics.

Grosey's Messages said...

G'day David,
As a pastor who has,
a. been strongly affected by close friends who got swallowed up by the tongues movement of the 70's,
b. come to a cessationist position acc. to 1 Cor 14. (contra Storm, I see tongues as a sign to the unbelieving jew whether present or not of their removal from covenant)
c. pastored a charismatic/pentecostal church where more than 25% spoke in tongues regularly
I am more concerned that the 3rd wave position will have a detrimental effect upon those who do not read the bible's much at all. I have no hesitation in affirming many pentecostal people as brethren (one of my greatest supporters over the years was an AOG pastors' family who chose to attend our church, and were much saner theologically than most of my Baptist members; they were "old school AOG").
I remember discussing this issue with a long term pentecostal theologian who had recently left the AOG over the changes that had been occurring. He said, "Since I became a theology professor in 197(?) we have always taught our pastors to read their bible's (in Greek and Hebrew), to draw their messages from the Bible and to preach from the Bible. Now they don't care about the Bible at all. They preach any idea that pops into their head!" He resigned 2 or so years ago and now heads up a jewish evangelism organisation. (H was ex-Lutheran and became AOG when that denomination in the USA became the first to experience cross-over).
The problem is not so much with the theological position. The problem is with the long term consequences denominationally.
I think that AB Simpson understood very well the vital issues.

1. Once it was the blessing,
Now it is the Lord;
Once it was the feeling;
Now it is His Word;
Once His gift I wanted,
Now, the Giver own;
Once I sought for healing,
Now Himself alone.


All in all forever,
Only Christ I'll sing;
Everything is in Christ,
And Christ is everything.

2. Once 'twas painful trying,
Now 'tis perfect trust;
Once a half salvation,
Now the uttermost;
Once 'twas ceaseless holding,
Now He holds me fast;
Once 'twas constant drifting,
Now my anchor's cast.

3. Once 'twas busy planning,
Now 'tis trustful prayer;
Once 'twas anxious caring,
Now He has the care;
Once 'twas what I wanted,
Now what Jesus says;
Once 'twas constant asking,
Now 'tis ceaseless praise.

4. Once it was my working,
His it hence shall be;
Once I tried to use Him,
Now He uses me;
Once the pow'r I wanted,
Now the Mighty One;
Once for self I labored,
Now for Him alone.

5. Once I hoped in Jesus,
Now I know He's mine;
Once my lamps were dying,
Now they brightly shine;
Once for death I waited,
Now His coming hail;
And my hopes are anchored
Safe within the veil.


Simpson's life and ministry is inspiring and instructive. He had "been there, done that!"

My concern is that, it takes years of bad experiences to bring a godly man to that position (I guess we call it maturity). Emphasis on tongues etc distracts from the real thing.. the Lord Jesus. Most of our congregations are immature and enjoy "the sights that dazzle", but these sights are sadly what Bunyan would call "a by-path".
Perhaps it is the problem of the soils :
matt 13 And the one sown on rocky ground—this is one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy.
21 Yet he has no root in himself, but is short-lived. When pressure or persecution comes because of the word, immediately he stumbles.
22 Now the one sown among the thorns—this is one who hears the word, but the worries of this age and the seduction of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

Fruitfulness comes by abiding in Christ, not the distractions of tongues or anything else.

My dear friend (I say this sincerely), making this a do or die issue in the SBC raises it to prominence among those who are scarcely able to handle basic christian doctrine, and are liable to chase it for deeper experience. We need to point people to Christ.

For His Glory said...

I agree...it is sad that the b.o.t. have made this "a do or die issue" within the SBC and thus, should the next young Jerry Rankin come along he could not serve an international missionary within the SBC

Wayne Smith In His Name said...

David,
Thanks very much for your sharing of what the Holy Spirit puts on your Heart. I do not have the gift of a PPL that I know of.
Because of my hearing problems I do pray in a whisper when I'm alone and talking to God (Praying). I believe these matters should be left to the Holy Spirit. I have been in AOG churches and did not like hearing the speaking in Tongues when we were all in prayer. I also don't like mood music being played when we are in prayer. Small Children crying during prayer is also a distraction. I love prayer,music, and small children which are all Gifts from God. So IMHO never interfere with what God is doing thru the Holy Spirit.

In His Name
Wayne Smith

David Rogers said...

Steve Grose,

I am trying to figure out what you mean by:

"The problem is not so much with the theological position. The problem is with the long term consequences denominationally."

Would you mind elucidating a bit more?

Also, I agree with "for his glory" in that PPL was not even a bleep on the radar screen for most Southern Baptists before the new IMB policy. What has become distracting is the policy, not the various views on spiritual gifts, which have always existed among Southern Baptists. I am not saying that views on spiritual gifts have not distracted at times, especially in individual congregations, that have even, at times, ended up dividing. But I do not see how that was a widespread problem in the SBC or IMB, especially in recent years, up to the approval of the new policies.

Bob Cleveland said...

David:

If there is such a thing as speaking in unknown tongues, one thing is absolutely clear: it is a gift from God. How dare we, then, put rules on how it is to be manifested beyond what the Bible says?

Further, it's time folks read the bible clearly and without bias, and in context, as to what it says about that gift. Sadly, most of what I've read seems to be justifying one's own position, even to the misuse of scripture itself.

Anonymous said...

David,

Good morning. I've missed our discussions while I've been busy about other things. It is good to be in your "house" once again.

As you perhaps have noticed, I post very little about IMB policies and requirements. It is just not an area of expertise for me. I am usually willing to proffer an opinion with regard to theological issues, feeling much more comfortable there. Because this topic combines both, I'm really only comfortable offering more of a question than an answer. I hope that you don't mind.

Reading the information that Brad Reynolds has posted on his blog has been informative for me. Wade Burleson's posts on this issue and your post (this one) as well seem to imply that Eitel's concern is that some missionary somewhere around the world might be speaking in tongues in private without anyone knowing about it, and therefore such a person must be rooted out and STOPPED DOGGONE IT!!!

Although I believe that present-day speaking in tongues is counterfeit, even I would find that level of obsession to be unhealthy.

But reading the material from Eitel, instead there seems to be some concern that the practices and views that have stirred up so much controversy about speaking in tongues are not merely held and practiced in private. There seems to be some concern that IMB officials are using their positions for advocacy of speaking in tongues and a whole host of other controversial ideas.

Isn't that the issue? And if it is not, then how did Eitel or anyone else even know what somebody somewhere was doing in their private prayer life?

David Rogers said...

Bart,

Good to hear from you again! I too have enjoyed our interchanges, and have missed the dialogue.

Let me make the following observations, and then you may want to re-word your questions.

First off, I have never read anything by Dr. Eitel referring directly to "private prayer language." I, although I could give a pretty good guess, am not even certain of where he stands in regard to the new policies. What I did say in this post is that Patterson, Eitel & Hadaway's paper seems to imply that those, like myself, who take a sympathetic view towards "Third Wave" belief and practice, may not be in the best organization. Maybe I am jumping to unfounded conclusions here. But that is what it seems to imply to me.

Next, this is the first time I have heard anything about IMB officials supposedly "using their positions for advocacy of speaking in tongues." I have never read Eitel, or anyone else, that I can remember, make that charge. If someone has made that charge, I would be most interested to know more about it, though.

Also, when you throw in the topic of "a whole host of other controversial ideas," it makes it hard for me to respond. It would be helpful, from my point of view, if you would specify which controversial ideas you are referring to.

Anonymous said...

David,

Apparently, recent lack of practice has dulled my comment-making skills. :-)

Right now, I have to produce the weekly program for the Rotary club meeting (unwisely allowed myself to be roped into that responsibility). I think I'll be able to comment a little more substantively this afternoon.

Anonymous said...

David,

Rereading, I suppose that I have, in my own mind, linked together the speaking in tongues issue with Eitel's "issue two" in the second paper. The specific example cited there dealt with the concept of territorial spirits, but the overall gist of the point seems to be a concern that Third Wave ideology as a whole is being promoted through the IMB: "How many of our IMB missionaries are involved in the neo-charismatic movement, and what is presently being taught and advocated by staff concerning 'spiritual warfare'?"

Yet, as the text stands, my inference is perhaps unwarranted. The context of that inferrence is having heard people articulate specifically this concern since Dr. Rankin's initial election.

I suppose that the "other controversial ideas" would refer to the territorial spirits notion that the paper does specifically address, the questions of gender roles, etc.

I am also curious about my final question in my first comment: How would anyone ever have known about anyone's speaking in tongues in private prayer unless the practice or the topic were not strictly private?

David Rogers said...

Bart,

Whereas many times the various issues we are dealing with do indeed go "hand in hand," you are by no means unique in suggesting dealing with them as "all part of the same pie." However, due to the nuances and complexities involved, I am afraid this often leads to stereotyping and unfair conclusions.

On my latest post, Robert Saucy on "Relating to Those Who Differ on Miraculous Gifts", I deal with "private prayer language," and how it does not necessarily go along with things that cause division on the mission field.

The questions of approaches to "spiritual warfare" and "territorial spirits" are separate issues, in my mind. It is true that "spiritual warfare" is one of the questions that new missionary candidates (as well as seasoned missionary veterans) are most interested to learn about. The training staff at MLC in recent years has no doubt responded to this demand, and has seen itself in a position of taking one stance or another, or perhaps presenting various options from which to choose.

I will admit there are some pretty bizarre and extreme ideas that go along with some of what many "Third Wave" teachers are teaching about "spiritual warfare." But, I, personally, think there is a "baby" that we need to be careful to not "throw out with the bath-water." In any organization as big as the IMB, from time to time, we will almost certainly fail to throw out some "bath-water" that ought to be thrown out. But, at least we are dealing with these issues, and not "sticking our heads in the sand."

As far as "gender role" issues, I got into a big comment exchange on Brad Reynolds's blog on this post that I don't really care to re-hash here. You can review what I said there, and if you have any more specific questions, I will be happy to dialogue with you about them either here or there.

Regarding your last question, I don't see the "private" in "private prayer language" as necessarily synonomous with "secret." I also deal with this more in depth on my latest post.

Grosey's Messages said...

David,
I think your next post of Saucy's viewpoint answers that question adequately. If you look at the Baptist denominations worldwide that are struggling with their specific Baptist identity due to the charismatic renewal emphasis (i.e. Baptist Union of NZ, Baptist union of Queensland), it is only too apparent that the aberrations (such as Rodney Howard Browne's Toronto Blessing at Randwick baptist church Syd.
Prosperity gospel preaching such as Victory Baptist church, (which has now become Victory Christian centre, in the Christian City Church denomination) become expressed firstly at the local church level, and then at the denominational level. So while it is primarily a doctrinal problem, the difficulty is the ability to discipline aberrant theologies denominationally. There is neither the willingness nor the ability to restrain aberrant teachers in a "Big Tent" situation.
Soon those aberrations can become normative. In Australia Hillsong music is normative in Baptist churches. Hymns are not normative, and are sung in very few Baptist churches.
Charismatic expressions are normative in many Australian Baptist churches. Charismatic aberrations are becoming normal. Haven't you guys had the evangelists that turn your fillings into gold come to your churches? They come to Australian Baptist churches to help us with our church budgets! It is no longer considered aberrant behaviour in many Australian Baptist churches.
Maybe we have had a longer time to deal with the "renewal" of our denomination than you guys have.
The renewal has not issued in growth. In fact, in my opinion, the only growing edge of our denominational work has been that which has been strongly influenced by the SBC in our migrant churches. Our white anglo churches are declining in membership numbers, mainly because our charismatic baptist brethren seem to run from one church fad to the next, which usually winds up in an AOG church.
It is at the denominational level where the problems are most felt. This, by the way, has been the long standing discussion among baptist leaders in our country for 3 decades. I hope I haven't uttered truisms that have come from these discussions, but I speak as an observer.
Steve

Grosey's Messages said...

Oh I should have said that the current discussion for the last few years at the denominational leadership level is the end of the denomination as a whole, and the fragmentation of our united denomination into small clusters united by doctrinal beliefs and aberrations. Those that SBC pastors would be happy to cluster with would be quite few.
Imagine 34 Baptist churches town...
there is the pro-homosexual grouping of churches (akin to the American baptist churches denom in the US(5), who have nothing to do with the conservative churches (7) who have nothing to do with the Toronto Blessing Baptist churches (6) who have little to do with the general charismatic Baptist churches (7) who have nothing to do with the
reformed Baptist churches (4) who have nothing to do with the Willow Creek baptist churches (5). Wow that is what is happening in my town. I rarely attend the local Baptist Association meeting because the charismatic/pentecostal lobby control that. They perceive non charismatics as anti church growth, and are keen that these churches should be changed into their ever changing image, or close. Non charismatic pastors are deprived of normal fellowship in sufferings by the associational leadership. My daughter (19) suffered a serious heart attack a few months back, and although the evangelical Salvation Army prayed for her denominationally, we had no contact from local associational leadership at all (except to ask us for money).
Yes, the charismatic movement will spell the end to the denomination by broadening the Tent.... Can anything be done about that? I really don't think so. I'll just wait for the rapture (I am one of the very few Baptist pastors that believe in it in Australia anyway).
Steve

David Rogers said...

Steve Grose,

Thanks for the explanation. I think I understand, and even appreciate to a certain extent, where you are coming from.

I am curious to hear from your perspective: What are some practical ways in which you think conservative Baptists in Australia should respond to the biblical teaching regarding Christian unity among the Body of Christ at large?

I am not saying this to challenge you. I really do want to learn from your experience that I believe adds an interesting perspective to these questions I have been wrestling with for some time now. I am not saying I necessarily agree with you. But I am sincerely interested in your perspective, and learning what I can from you.

Grosey's Messages said...

Well the piority, I think is Prov 3:5,6. Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. You see , its the Lord's church, not ours. He is repsonsible for the growth of the body.
I am often reminded of the situation with Elijah..
1 Kings 19 And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?
14 And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.
15 And the LORD said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus:
... the comment by Alexander maclaren that God is more concerned for His glory than you or I ever will be is important.
In the last ten years we have seen the charismatic influence bring itself to public disgrace again and again. Even last week the headline was that the popular Hillsong church has been fraught yet again with finacial fraud. Every few months there is a public scandal to do with the charismatics, and the liberals, i.e. they have blown themselves out of the water a few times in our baptist Union with immorality or recently $4.1 m went missing from the Baptist Investment Fund....
Secondly, although we may be on the decline through the theological confusuion, the Lord has raised up another group. The evangelical Sydney anglicans are currently planting succesful non charismatic evangelical churches (pretty much like congregational churches that practise believer's baptism) throughout Australia. (oh, Mark Dever has close associations with this group through Phil Jensen)These are growing wonderfully. I have undertaken joint activities with them.. and I guess, it wont be long before our allegiance as evangelicals is really with them. Thankfully, some of these guys are now lecturing in our Baptist theological seminary.
Thirdly, as we continue to proclaim the gospel and make that the central platform of our faith, we tend to outlast our enemies.
I am the only one of my college year still pastoring a Baptist church. One other is now pastoring an anglican planted evangelical church (He is one of the most brilliant men alive). Most of the charismatics dropped out (mainly for immorality reasons) long ago. The liberals dropped out when they got paid better in secular employment.
It is just sad to see so many shipwrecks. I don't think it brings glory to the Lord.
I think if we as Baptists had defined our faith and practise better in the 70's and 80's the situation would be much better.
Where we were then, you, the SBC are now. For this reason I don't think that the development of a strong SBC identity through your IMB policies is probably not such a bad thing.
Steve

Grosey's Messages said...

hmmm that last sentence has a double negative. Let me try that again: I think, (although there are many dangers)developing a strong SBC identity through the IMB policies is a good thing.

Donald said...

Interesting post as usual. There was a great book on the Third Wave that came out about four years ago. I am looking through my library now and do not see it. ARGGHH!!! It was a great read.

Don Minshew said...

One thing that gets lost in this discussion is the setting where it began: the trustees of the IMB. We all know that our President claims to have a PPL. Though I disagree with him over this (AND a myriad of other issues), he has consistently kept this issue quiet. He had done so in his years as an M and as an adminstrator.

When it comes to new missionaries, however, we deal with a new question:risk. We have both known missionaries over the years who have failed to live with integrity morally -- and we have had to live with the fallout caused by that lack.

I believe that the trustees must think through the worst case scenario. An example: they appoint a missionary who claims the gift of tongues (with whatever caveats). Once on the field, that missionary begins to express this gift and to teach it as normative. The resultant confusion, especially in a new work area or an area where the question of tongues already causes confusion, is not worth the risk.

The problem: how do you deny otherwise appointable Southern Baptists from appointment when they claim a gift of tongues? Draft a policy. (If many of the standards for appointment had not been relaxed, we probably would not be having this conversation -- but that's a question for another day.)

Do the trustees have the right to make these kinds of calls? I believe they do. They make them all the time with standards that are extrabiblical and not covered in the BF&M.

David Rogers said...

Don Minshew,

I have seen missionaries who had a strong conviction about "cessationism" that led them to be overly defensive and divisive on the mission field, in their relationships with fellow believers with different doctrinal convictions. Does this mean the IMB needs a policy eliminating "cessationists" because of the "risks" involved? I don't think so.

Publius said...

I'll tell a short story from my days as a computer systems administrator. It's intructive for me, and you might find it so as well.

A lot of employers today are concerned about the use of computers and internet in the workplace. Pornography, illegal pirating of software and media, illegal music downloads, even instant messaging and chat rooms can lead to scandal and embarrasment, not to mention loss of productivity.

Some employers seek to limit such abuses by prohibiting risky access. They hire guys like me to install firewall and monitoring systems that block access to porn sites, block video and audio streaming, block instant messaging, block private email, whatever. In the end, it accomplishes two things:

First, those employees who were prone to abusing the system in the first place (and it's only a few) find work-arounds. They find ways to defeat the firewalls (it's not that hard if you know how), or find other ways to waste time (say, posting on a blog instead of using IM).

Second, employees who weren't abusing the system (which is the vast majority), but who need unfettered internet access to do their jobs, are burdened with unnecessary restrictions. If I'm using YouTube not to watch porn, but to post an instructional video for a customer, the firewall just made my job a lot harder.

So what's the answer? When an employer asks my professional opinion, I tell them the best system is to tell employees what you expect of them - be professional, do your job, don't embarrass the company - then have the guts to fire those few bad seeds who abuse the system.

It's not hard, but it takes trust from the top, trust that your lower level managers will share your vision and not tolerate blatant abuse. And in the end, the productivity of the company as a whole is much higher.

Todd Nelson said...

Publius:-
You've offered a very pertinent analogy. I think the new IMB policy on tongues was unnecessary. It appears to be overly averse to risk and directly disobedient to Scripture (1 Cor 14:39). Why wasn't the old policy sufficient? I think it represents a mature, trusting, and biblical position, and it provided adequately for dealing with divisiveness based on the misuse of or over-emphasis on any of the spiritual gifts by missionaries.

I personally know an IMB couple who was fired in 1995 for allowing some charismatic phenomena in the church they planted and he led in SE Asia. (The ironic thing to me about that situation was: there was no division in the local church and little or no division in the national Baptist convention, but a large outcry among some IMB trustees when they heard about what was happening. But that’s a whole other story … :)

David:-
I really appreciate your contribution to this discussion of positions related to spiritual gifts. I find myself very close to Grudem's position and your position -- somewhere between "third wave" and "open but cautious".

To answer your questions:

1) Your views are definitely compatible with service through the IMB.

2) You and I represent essentially the same view, yet you do not have a PPL and I do. And based on this distinction alone, I don't see any difference in our ability to serve faithfully as Baptist missionaries or pastors. I am not an evangelist for tongues, but for Jesus! I believe PPL is normal but not normative (Gordon Fee's phrase). I believe in the need for multiple fillings of the Holy Spirit. And I believe equally in the saving/renewing power of God's Word. I abhor the "have/have not" and "1st class/2nd class" distinction that many Pentecostals and charismatics make.

So should I be considered "disqualified" for service through the IMB based solely on my private prayer language?

Related to your questions and Publius's comment, and at the risk of stating the obvious ... The current disputations on Baptist blogs reveal that part of our challenge in working together (IMB trustees, staff, missionaries, and churches) is that we have varying levels of concern over whether or not the churches we plant are Baptist (as opposed to baptistic, indigenous, "charismatic", or "open but cautious"). There is a risk involved and a discomfort when churches we plant develop differently than what we intended, or are "hijacked" by others. (That's why the history of missions includes a long period of paternalistic control over the churches which were started by the many different denominations.)

Some people are more willing to live with this risk than others are. Some people value Baptist distinctives more highly than others do. And some Baptists don't want to pay the salaries of others who are perceived to be less Baptist than they are.

Personally, while I have been a life-long conservative SB, I value healthy Kingdom growth and a Spirit-led church planting movement more than I value Baptist distinctives. I leaned in that direction as a Baptist pastor in the States, and I'm more convinced of it now living in the 10-40 Window.

I have no answer for our current dilemma other than to recommend civil discussion, spiritual and emotional maturity, and cooperation in missions based on first-tier doctrines (core beliefs about our Lord, His Word, and our salvation.) Some second-tier doctrines should be included for discussion about what is basic for Baptist identity, and I think that's where this discussion is leading us.

Praying for wisdom and peace -- and grateful, David, for M's like you, and for those who can disagree on non-essentials and still cooperate,

Todd

P.S. Sorry for such a long comment!