Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Robert Saucy on "Relating to Those Who Differ on Miraculous Gifts"

In the book Are Miraculous Gifts for Today?: Four Views, Robert Saucy, in his defense of the "open but cautious" view, makes some very honest and insightful observations. Below, I am including in today’s post several paragraphs from Saucy’s essay that I think are relevant for the discussion of the new IMB policy on "private prayer language." I have chosen to emphasize several phrases in bold print, which I think are especially relevant.

Among the many theological issues over which Christians differ, some hinder practical fellowship far more than others, especially those that immediately impact the life of the church. People may live together happily while differing on theological interpretations that do not directly or significantly impact behavior (e.g., eschatology or creation issues) or on those that are practices individually (e.g., particular practices of spiritual growth). Such is not the case with the topics of this book. Many of these issues directly affect behavior within the corporate church, making it difficult for people of differing opinions to fellowship together.

In my opinion the greatest problem to unity comes from those views that create (perhaps unintentionally) distinct spiritual levels among believers or cast aspersions on another person’s spirituality. Insisting that a particular relationship to the Spirit be evidenced by a particular miraculous manifestation clearly draws a line marking off some from others spiritually. So also does advocating the manifestation of a particular gift as providing a significant key to fellowship with God. Even teaching that the failure of the church to manifest gifts equal to the apostolic era is a sign of sin or lack of faith can imply a spiritual differentiation. At least those who believe this recognize their failure, while others are not even repentant over their unbelief.

At the same time, perhaps more subtly, those who advocate that no miraculous gifts are available today may disparage others who do believe, for example, that they are using the biblical gift of tongues in their prayer life. They imply (or even teach outright) that such tongue speakers are deceived at best and involved with other spirits at worst. In all such instances, it is hard to see how those who hold the contrary positions could maintain fellowship in the church.

Unity in fellowship is based on similarity of belief and practice. Unity grows as divergent beliefs become less or are held as less significant, thereby providing more toleration of those who differ. History demonstrates that full unity on all things is probably not possible. But it also reveals that discussion among those of goodwill can do much to dissolve some differences and bring greater love and respect when difference remains. The recent history of miraculous gifts, while it has engendered some confusion in the church, has also brought helpful dialogue among opposing positions and some blurring of the traditional lines. Believers who seek Christ’s goal of unity for the church must continue to make these issues a matter of study. Where the positions sincerely held allow for coexistence in church life, such fellowship should be pursued. Where issues sincerely held make regular church fellowship impossible, respect, love, and cooperation in the things of Christ must still flow across the lines to those who hold the same precious faith in the other areas of vital Christian doctrine.

I believe the old policy of the IMB—

Reasons for termination…

"A persistent emphasis of any specific gift of the Spirit as normative for all or to the extent such emphasis becomes disruptive to the Baptist fellowship"
—was probably a good policy, due to what Saucy says in paragraph 2 of the quote above.

At the same time, I believe that the new policy—

Tongues and Prayer Language

That the following policy regarding tongues and prayer language of missionary candidates be adopted:


1. The New Testament speaks of a gift of glossolalia that generally is considered to be a legitimate language of some people group.

2. The New Testament expression of glossolalia as a gift had specific uses and conditions for its exercise in public worship.

3. In term of worship practices, the majority of Southern Baptist churches do not practice glossolalia. Therefore, if glossolalia is a public part of his or her conviction and practice, the candidate has eliminated himself or herself from being a representative of the IMB of the SBC.


1. Prayer language as commonly expressed by those practitioners is not the same as the biblical use of glossolalia.

2. Paul’s clear teaching is that prayer is to be made with understanding.

3. Any spiritual experience must be tested by the Scriptures.

4. In terms of general practice, the majority of Southern Baptists do not accept what is referred to as "private prayer language." Therefore, if "private prayer language" is an ongoing part of his or her conviction and practice, the candidate has eliminated himself or herself from being a representative of the IMB of the SBC.
—violates the spirit of Saucy’s third paragraph.

I believe the trustees, in their wording of the justification for this new policy, have taken on the role of interpreting Scripture for Southern Baptists beyond what Southern Baptists have done for themselves, by way of the Baptist Faith & Message.

The reason given against "private prayer language" is not due to its potential to "disrupt," but rather out of a disqualification of one aspect of both "Third Wave" and "Pentecostal/Charismatic," and even some "open but cautious" biblical interpretation. The wording given, in my opinion, is tantamount to saying that: "tongue speakers are deceived at best and involved with other spirits at worst."

Although not officially given as a reason for the new policy, trustee Jerry Corbaley has implied on his blog (both the old one, in which his post on "tongues," and the related comments were removed, as well as the new one) that the practice of tongues (or "babble" as he calls it) in private, will invariably become "public," thus leading to "disruption" in church life.

I believe this is an unfair assumption, and that the burden of proof is on those making this claim. In any case, verifiable cases of the practice or "emphasis" of any spiritual gift to the point of "disruption" were already covered under the old policy.

The real "sticking point" for the Board of Trustees concerns those like myself, who do not actually practice a "private prayer language," but who do not at the same time, subscribe to the doctrinal basis given for the new policy against "private prayer language." If asked what I believe concerning tongues, or any other spiritual gift, ethics will not permit me to lie. When teaching through the Bible systematically, upon coming to the passages that teach on spiritual gifts, I will teach what I consider to be the proper interpretation, taking care, in accordance with my own convictions, to not "emphasize any spiritual gift as normative for all." But I will teach that I understand the gift of tongues to be valid for today, and that it is among the gifts that God might sovereignly choose to give you as a believer. At the same time, I am not going around "parading" my view on this subject (with the possible exception of this blog, in response to questions raised initially, in my opinion, by others). In the past 16 years of missionary service in Spain, I can honestly say I have preached and taught far more on the dangers of the excesses involved in the Pentecostal, Charismatic, and Third Wave movements than I have the benefits or blessings associated with any particular spiritual gift.

In my opinion, there is no reason to expect that the practitioner of "private prayer language" who agrees to abide by the same policy will be any more likely than me to "emphasize any spiritual gift as normative for all" or to become "disruptive" in their practice of their gift. Just like me, though, it would be unreasonable to expect him/her to lie or gloss over his/her understanding of Scripture on these issues.


Stuart said...

"Believers who seek Christ’s goal of unity for the church..."

I think therein lies the rub.

Grosey's Messages said...

while I am a cessationist, I have great fellowship with non cessationists who hold views similar to your own provided that they maximise on the gospel and evangelical truth. As I have said elsewhere, in my 6 years of pastoring a charismatic church, I actually never publicly or privately spoke about my own cessationist perspective. Rather I emphasised what AB Simpson emphasised (founder of CMA and I guess caught up to some extent in the early charismatic movement)
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

I found that by preaching up the cross, preaching up the Saviour and preaching up evangelical truth, the charismatic stuff just fell off the folks. Their lives deepened. I remember one guy came to me and said.. "Steve, we've been here at the church for 9 months now. I love my wife more than I ever did. I love the Lord more, I love reading His Word each day now. I never did that before. I witness for Him and have led fellow school teachers to the Lord now. My swearing has stopped. My anger is under control. My evil desires are under subjection. I'm growing as a christian. But I haven't been speaking in tongues for some months now.. do you think the Lord is mad at me?"
:) I smiled, restated what he had said and then asked "Do you honestly think the Lord is mad at you?"
It ain't the periferals that count. Its the gospel.
Somehow inspite of the tensions about PPL, you guys have to define yourselves as SBC, substantively non pentecostal, gospel, Christ- oriented churches.
I sure do apologise for taking up so much space, and will be most happy if you delete most of what I have written tonight David if you feel it doesn't contribute positively to the issues.

Anonymous said...

I feel that Grosey is spot on - as they would say down under. I was a teacher for two years in a charismatic school and as such I would see all sorts of things - many of them not good. I would see students that would get all these gifts of tongues - but their language remained foul and did not honor Christ. Since coming to the misison field I have worked wiht a worship team at one church where thee was a great deal of tongues speaking - as I began to work with the 6 of them and began to inquire about their spiritual lives - I learned that 3 of them had not even accepted Christ - even though they could speak in tongues (I was able to lead one of them to christ during that weekend). I have met countless "charismatic youth" who are wonderful and love the Lord and yet they all have a simliar story - they went to a camp where someone "taught" them how to speak in tongues. Recently while in another part of the country I was encouraging people there to spend time in God's Word and I was informed by one lady that she had no need to read her Bible because she spoke in tongues. One Hindu convert went to a charismatic church and saw the speaking in tongues and he left saying - if I wanted that I would have remained Hindu. (For more on this do a web search on Kundalini Hinduism and the Christian Holy Spirit and see how on many Hindu blogs and websites they are rejoicing that Christians are now practicing Hinduism in charismatic churches). When I have approached churches about the need to follow the guidelines that Paul gave in I Corinthians 14 concering tongues - I have been told that it does not matter what the Bible says - their experience trumps any Scripture. And therein I feel lies the real danger - experience is elevated to a position where people drop all discernment and are willing to accept anything they have experienced. The experience becomes what is sought after and the redemptive work of Christ is secondary. They become obsessed with "signs" and "wonders" - it is almost like some sort of spiritual fast food - it is a short cut to spirituality - why spend hors in God"s Word when you can just go to church and speak in tongues and get a spiritual high and become closer to God. I will admit that I may have met 2-3 who have made the claim that their spiritual lives have been enriched by tongues - and from outward appearances that seems to have a ring of truth to it. However there are also people who in medical situaiotns have taken placebos and claimed to have gotten better. I believe that these Christian friends who claim to have had their lives enriched by spekaing in tongues - would be just as spiritual if they did not - because of their heart's desire to know God - however the tongues is like a spiritual placebo that convinces them they are closer to God. For that reason there are many,many, many misisonary personnel in my area who rejoice in the new IMB policy. If I begin to see some cases that are contrary to the above I am open to changing my opinion. I find that in churches where the Gospel is strongly proclaimed (much as Grosey pointed out) the tongues or PPL is not an issue. People have put away speaking like a child and are grounded in God's Word. Serving in an Islamic country I am amazed at how many Muslims belive that speaking to God in a language that they themselves do not understand is a good thing. I believe that God wants us to speak from our heart in Words we understand. I can read something in Italian and make it sound fantastic and people might be impressed by it because I can pronounce Italian pretty well. However it would have absolutely no meaning to me as I would have no idea what the meaning was of the words that I said. I recently spoke with a young student that I had been witnessing to for several years. He had followed a friend to a charismatic service where there was speaking in tongues. He came away quite frightened by the entire thing - and this is not an isolated anecdote. Daivd you seem to be a good guy - however I would encourage yu to re-evaulate your position on tongues - or else give me some better anecdotal evidence to show me that there are some genuine users of this gift that I may have overlooked in my travels. I have looked hard - I have wanted to believe that yes this did happen - but I just do not see it anywhere. God bless you in your ministry.

Anonymous said...


I am someone who genuinely believes that such practitioners are (I choose to embrace the "at best" rather than the worst case) deceived. I have already posted such sentiment over at my place. I cannot simply wish that belief away. So what do you suggest for someone like me?

David Rogers said...

Anonymous (and Grosey),

Thanks for your comments. I do not discount the validity of what you say regarding the excesses and abuses seen in much of the Charismatic/Pentecostal world. My view on tongues, however, is based first, and foremost, on my understanding of Scripture. If you can convince me from Scripture where I am wrong, I will be open to "re-evaluating" my position.

As far more "secondary" evidence, in my opinion, the character and Christian testimony of many I know who claim to have spoken in tongues, seems incompatible with blatant deception, whether it be they trying to deceive me, or they themselves being deceived.

I do take seriously, however, the excesses and abuses. I think it interesting, though, that many of the most outspoken critics, for example, of the "Toronto Blessing" have been more moderate Pentecostal/Charismatic/Third Wave leaders.

David Rogers said...


If, after a diligent, and to the best of your ability attempt at objective, exegesis of Scripture, you come to that position, I suggest you remain loyal to your convictions. I would hope that would not exclude partnering together with people like me (or even people who claim to have a PPL, but don't create "disruption" as a result) for the proclamation of the Gospel around the world.

Anonymous said...

I have read your dialogue with Baptist Theologue on the tongues issue and I feel that well meaning people can make a case for both sides. He has a logical position and you do well to defend your position (I tend to agree with his position). So then how does one determine where the truth lies as that is the ultimate goal correct? So since both sides seem to make a Biblical case we go the next step to look at anecdotal evidence to see - how in reality are people who claim to have the gift of tongues using them? As Ipointed out in my earlier comment - abuse seems ot be the key word to describe it. This is probably the things that pushes me then toward to position of the Baptist Theologue - I see no widespread valid and Biblical use of tongues. While I know a FEW godly men who practice it - I am convinced that they would still be jsut a godly (and perhaps even more effective) without the tongues. The only difference I see that tongues makes is perhaps in their own minds - it perhaps convinces them that they have some special gifting that others do not have. Ironically I do not see this same attitude in those wiht the gift of service and osm eof the other gifts.
In addition as I read Scripture I read that deceiver will come in the last day who unless we are cautious will deceive "the very elect". So none of us (including myself) is above deception and therefore I would conclude that your friends while not intentionally deceiving you - have been deceived based on what I just said. I also read in Scripture where Jesus warns against those seeking after signs and wonders - he refers to them I believe as wicked and adulterous (in otherwords having left their love to run after something else - much as charismatics in my opinion have left their love for Christ to run after experience - read Grosey's comments for more example of that). In addition we are warned thatin the last days people will be come and say "Lord didn't we do all of these miraculous things in your name - cast out demons, etc. etc." and the repsonse form the Lord will be "despart from me I do not know you". If these are indeed the last days - where in Christendom do we see people performing signs and wonders in His name (and in reality it seems ot stir up dissension inthe church). I have looked all around - and have come to my conclusions as to who these are coming in this manner.
I would be extremely interested in your repsonse to the book"My Search for Charismatic Reality" - by a chairsmatic pastor who preached on and defended tongues for years. He was totally into the tongues movement. Then he began to study Scripture and for many reasons different from traditional cessationists arguments came ot the conclusion that he had been wrong. I would encourage you to read it - it is thought provoking at the least if you are indeed open to looking at other views - and this of someone with out a pre-disposition against tongues. Or check out the website at www.discernment.org by a man who by his own testimony spent thousands of hours speaking in tongues and then began to study Scirpture and realized he had been deceived. This man, the author of the book mentioned, Grosey and I can name many others who the more they studied scripture the further away from the charismatic movement they got.

Anonymous said...

Yet Saucy's article itself suggests that my belief is, in and of itself, perhaps an insurmountable barrier to cooperation beyond a certain point, doesn't it? Of course, even though you have quoted Saucy at length, you are certainly free to disagree with him.

David Rogers said...


1. Matt. 24.24 says: "For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect--IF THAT WERE POSSIBLE," the clear indication being that is NOT possible.

Does this mean no true Christian is ever misled about anything? Of course not. We are all mistaken from time to time about many things. But I do think your use of this verse is not sound, at this point.

2. As I said earlier, the primary question for me is my understanding of Scripture. I, like you, see many excesses and abuses of tongues and supposed tongues. However, I believe, at the same time, that for every authentic gift of God, the devil has his counterfeit. Counterfeits do not disqualify the real thing, though.

3. I have the book "A Search for Charismatic Reality," and read it a long time ago. I do not remember being convinced by it when I read it way back then. But, at your advice, I will go back and read it again, and try to get back fairly soon with my evaluation (I see it only has 91 pages :-)).

4. I will check out the website you mention as well.



David Rogers said...


Yes, Saucy does say that the more extreme positions on these issues do raise barriers to fellowship.

Yet, I know I have been able to have great fellowship with people representing all four of the positions mentioned. And, have also been able to work on a church planting team on various occasions with those representing all but the more extreme Charismatic/Pentecostal positions. From my interaction with you, I have a good idea I could work together with you on a church staff, or church planting team, if you would be willing to work together with me. We would need to come to some mutual agreements first about how we were going to handle these issues, but I think it could be done.

Even though this may be a little tricky on a church staff or church planting team, I think that in an organization as broad as the IMB, there is certainly room for those with differing views on these issues to work together at various levels. It may well be best for certain missionaries to not work on the same team with other missionaries, due to disagreement on some of these issues. But that is the reality on the mission field regarding any number of issues.

David Rogers said...


Hey, I just got on "discernment.org" and there's a whole lot of stuff there that may well be great stuff, but seems irrelevant to the discussion here. Could you direct me a little more specifically to the info. you wanted me to see?



Anonymous said...

Sorry David they must be upgrading their sight as there are a number of things that seem to have been temporarily removed - including the owner of the site's testimony of his involvement with, advocating of, and eventually leaving the tongues movement as he began to study Scripture. Hopefully he will put it back up but it is not there currently. Sorry - I should have checked first to have been more specific. Nevertheless I would stand by my comments about those who seem to have really studied the Scripture seem to come out of the charismatic movement and tongues practicing - while those who I feel seem to be spiritual and tongues practitionewould be the same if they never spoke in tongues at all - I really believe that they have given credit to an extraneous phenomena instead of the true source of their spirituality - which is a passion for Him. By the way - I am a semi-cessationist - since I believe that God can do what He wants - however I do not believe tongues is the norm for today and tend to believe that any instances of tongues are actual known languages which I feel is a legitimate interpretaiotn of the word glossalalia. Charismatics in my opinoin have broadened the definition of the term to meet their own purposes. I appreciate the attitude and Spirit in which you entertain and discuss comments on your blog - thanks and I pray that God continues to bless your ministry there. Obviously the charismatic issue is not as much of a problem in your country as it is in mine.

Grosey's Messages said...

G'day there folks,
Where are you from Anonymous?
Just to add a few thoughts to what he Anony. has said, Are you guys aware of Errol Hulse, (reformation today) ? He was a pastor of a large English Elim Tabernacle church and came away from that to a reformed position. He rights well about "The Believer's Experience" and "Crisis Experiences" (He ws a speaker at Piper's conference a few years ago, and spoke at my charismatic church 11 years ago.. (Both Carey press). His approach is to show how much more we have in Christ than just a "second blessing".
Gotta go, funeral time!. Steve

Anonymous said...

David, I agree with you. I also agree with those who have expressed a concern with excess and deceit. Clearly, with humanity, we have this problem called our heart. It is deceitful above all things. Without Christ we are nothing and even at our best can produce no righteousness. However, the scripture clearly teaches that God gives His children spiritual gifts. They are without a doubt for his purposes and glory, not our own, but that doesn't mean they don't exist. It also is true that simply because one Christian has not experienced a genuine gifting, whether through witnessing it or experiencing it personally, that such giftings do not occur. God is the same today as He was in the First Century Church, and I disagree that any scripture points to a ceasing of all gifts. The other issue we face is the spiritual war. Satan masquerades as an angel of light. And, he does all he can to deceive Christians and nonChristians. He can manifest "gifts" to try to destroy our faith. Thus, the fakes. Anyway, I've got to go. I'm trying to get my 5 and 2 year old to nap...

Anonymous said...

An observation I have had, while it may not be 100% correct, and it is based only on those few observations I've been able to make, BUT, most (all that I have encountered) people who have followed the call to cross-cultural missions believe that gifts still occur today.

Anonymous said...

Grosey - I serve in an Islamic country not far from you - but not the world's most populous one. It was a former British colony as well - that should give it to you. Again I repeat that I am a semi-cessaitonist in that I believe God can do anything. However the nature of something being defined as "miraculous" in the first place is the rarity or unusualness of its occurence. I love ot share the gospel with people and am not happy if I have not shared with several people everyday - however I am continually frustrated encountering people who have been to charismatic churches and been frightened by the tongues speaking and as a result want nothing to do with Christianity or have been and tongues speaking was exactly what they had experienced in their childhood non-Christian religion. How were all of the great movemnets of the Spirit throughout history occuring with tongues speaking NOT present if it is so important and so valid. Another book I suggest is Dr. Vines book "Spirit Works". Again however I find many people with compelling cases for each position - so I would disagree when that people cannot have a scholarly Biblical position that is cessationist. I would also disagree with the converse. I have less problem with an Assembly of God charismatic than I do with a Baptist one. I believe that the non-charismatic Baptist position is a viable one and I blieve that the Assembly of God can make a viable case for their position. I just happen to feel that the non-charismatic position is most valid and therefore with my AoG friends knowing that we have differences in that area which are clear and distinct help us clearly define the parameters and manner in which we can best work with each other. When I have seen it in Baptist churches it has bene a cause of division, church splits, spiritual pride and many other things that I do not feel are pleasing to God. 20% of the Baptist churches in my country have been stolen by charismatics and now no longer look like Baptist churches although they have the Baptist name. While the charismatic issue was the first deviation from historic Baptist practice - now these church have continued to drift away on other areas - alien immersion, non-immersion for membership, no eternal security, and a variety of other practices. I feel this is deceitful. If a pastor wants to start a charismatic church - I bless him. But to come into a place and slwoly lead a congregaiton in a different direction is not right. It would be like me going into a Anglican, Presbyterian or other non-Baptist church that had soem good facilities and trying to make them into a Baptist doctrine church. It would cause division and produce bad feeling and would not be right on my part. So what am I saying - I guess that maybe within the Baptist tent we need to take a position on this issue and let people know this is where we stand. I feel decied when I walk into a Baptist church in my country and suddenly see people spralled onthe floor, or hear that my teeth can miraculously filled with pure gold, etc. If I wanted that there are churches that I could go to and find that. And in EVERY situation in my country tongues has been the gateway through which all of these other things followed.

Grosey's Messages said...

Hey anonymous.. I understand where you are coming from.
I think that those located in the USA don't see the same excesses as we do down this way.
Our pentecostalism and charismatic movement here are NOT of American origin, in the main, but rather from New Zealand. For instance, here in Australia the Apostolic church is much saner and sounder than the AOG church. AOG here is strongly influenced by Hillsong and Christian City Church movements which are primarily New Zealand in origin.

I agree with you on the issue of baptist identity. I have no problems with a charismatic person worshipping in a pentecostal church.

I had to laugh awhile ago though. For a few years one pentecostal denomination (Christian Outreach Centres.. a bit more extreme than Toronto Blessing , made up initially of "fallen" AOG ministers caught in adultery, this is well known, not covered up, so please don't accuse me of slander) used to send me their pastor's paper.
It told of their methodology of infiltrating a person into an AOG church, getting him elected as an elder, and then letting him draw a following, and then splitting the church to form a Christian Outreach Centre. Every month there was the story of so-and-so who had acheived this goal, and had now been accepted to their COC college for 3 months training to be an ordained COC pastor, and placed into a new more permanent work as his reward.
Some of my AOG pastor friends were complaining, and I had to remind them that that was exactly what they had done to baptist churches in the 70's and 80's in Australia.
Well, that wasn't what I set out to say.

I am concerned that the parameters of what identifies Baptists as Baptist continually moves towards the extremes of pentcostalism and/ or liberalism.
What is normative of Baptists now was considered extreme 30 years ago.
For instance, here in Australia, open membership (of non baptised people) has become the norm, and closed membership is now considered to be "legalistic". Alien immersion? well that is normative here in EVERY Baptist church, mine included (we'll immerse anything).
Eternal security: Most Baptist churches in New South Wales would reject the doctrine of eternal security unless their pastors are reformed or over 50 years of age. The principal of our seminary here openly rejects eternal security.

Some NSW Baptist churches now advocate and practise complete OPEN membership, that is, whoever turns up on the day gets to vote on all matters.

There is a shift to the left, and the norm has changed.

These same churches advertise that if you come along to their service you can enjoy a free glass of alcoholic wine as a gift for coming. Some of our churches now have licenses to serve alcohol (the same as bars)and hold singles nights for baptist youth.

I guess part of the problem is that literature challenging these positions is not readily available in Australia (there are very few christian bookshops that stock and sell anything from the SBC, such as Broadman and Holman titles etc.)

I do believe that the opportunity to converse like this with SBC pastors through blogs may become a means of bringing the norm more to the conservative side in our country.

Hey anonymous, by the way, one of my church members is bro-in-law to someone in the Islamic party Opposition in your country. My church member is a retired chinese radiologist who attended John Stott's church while he was a London Harley street specialist.

David, thank you for letting us have this free and open exchange of ideas on your blog without acrimony. It is a real blessing and encouragement. I am very grateful for your insights and care in discussion. I was an avid listener of your dad's messages on short wave radio 15 years ago, after first hearing him while on sabbatical in the USA in Oklahoma. I still believe him to be the best preacher world wide this last century.

I guess my position is not a complete cessationist position, its more like Bart's position (half way, but in practise doubtful that any who claim to speak in tongues actually have that gift).

I see the main reason for tongues as being a demonstrative sign to the first century jew of his removal from a safe position in the covenant (vis 1 Cor 14:19) Brothers, don’t be childish in your thinking, but be infants in evil and adult in your thinking.
21 It is written in the law: By people of other languages and by the lips of foreigners, I will speak to this people; and even then, they will not listen to Me,says the Lord. 22 It follows that speaking in other languages is intended as a sign, not to believers but to unbelievers. But prophecy is not for unbelievers but for believers.)...

If this purpose was acheived in the 1st century, I see no reason for it to be continued past the historic cessation point of the end of the 1st century (see BB Warfield Counterfeit Miracles).
Now that is a suppostion ("reason"), not based upon a clear statement of scripture stating the word "cessation" although, after studying 1 cor 13 very carefully I am not unconvinced that this is an appropriate understanding of the passage.

1 Cor 13 :8 Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for languages, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when the perfect comes, the partial will come to an end.
11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put aside childish things. 12 For now we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, as I am fully known.

The more I study it, (preached on it a few times) the more I am doubtful that I fully understand what is being said there.

The view that the second coming is alone in view, and not the giving of the Word of God, and possible cessation of some charismata does not give adequate explanation for the passages sudden appearance in a discussion of miraculous gfts and love.
I see the possibility that both the giving of the Word of God (and consequent cessation of some charismata), and the second coming may both be in Paul's mind here. (How to balance it out, I am not at all sure).

I do not see that other gifts necessarily ceased at the same time (1st century). I myself have witnessed 2 miraculous healings this year (although I do not claim a gift of healing) both publicly acknowledged by the specialists involved.

Again, many, many thanks David for the opportunity to cross polinate during a crucial time in evangelical Chrstendom.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your points - I apprecaite them and I agree - having traveled in my part of the world as well as Australia on numerous occasions I have observed and affirm the things that you have encountered. And unfortunately our board sees Austrlia as such an "evangleized" country that they will probably pull all of our personnel from there in the next few years. And wile I realize that Australia is perhaps more evangelized than many countries - I also see value in being a presence in your country. However that is an issue for another day. If you are ever coming to our wonderful country - please let me know as I would love to welcome you here. I have a young volunteer from Perth coming for a couple of weeks in February to help in student outreach. Pray for us here - I have more opportunities that I know what to do with to share on a daily basis. You comments on the divisiveness of charismatic groups bears true - they are even worse than us Baptists. One medium size city in our country has seen one charismatic church split and its offspring split until now there are over 16 splits from this original one. Why? One person has some experiencse and half the congregaiotn jumps onthe bandwagon while the other half does not and then there were two churches. Then in one of these someone has a word of knowledge while another member has an opposing word of knowledge - and suddenly there are three. Experience should not and cannot trump Scripture - and yet in every charismatic group I know of - it DOES. I have heard there are some where it does not - but I have yet to see them first hand.

Alan Cross said...

Good thoughts, David. I'm obviously in full agreement with you.

David Rogers said...


I have finished re-reading Neil Babcox's "A Search for Charismatic Reality."

In general, I appreciate Babcox's sincerity, and have no reason to call into question his narration of his personal experiences, nor his reasons for determining that his supposed practice of the gifts of tongues and prophecy was spurious.

Babcox says in the introdution to his book: "Those in search of 'proof-texts' or theological profundities will be disappointed, for this book is not he product of abstract, theological reflection, but of inner conflict."

Since, as I have already indicated, my main basis for embracing "continuationalism" is my understanding of Scripture, and not experience (whether mine or that of others), I must concur with Babcox himself, in that I, as someone who would be more open to substantive doctrinal and hermeneutical considerations in regards to my evaluation of the validity or non-validity of modern-day tongues, was disappointed with Babcox's book in this respect.

By his own admission, the two strongest arguments out of the six he references (ad hominem, psychological, historical, anthropological, linguistic, and biblical) are the "linguistic" and "biblical" arguments.

Basically, the "linguistic" argument presented by Babcox is the same as that presented by Jerry Corbaley. It hinges on the assumption that tongues, as a real language (whether human or "angelic") should be able to be scientifically analyzed and validated as to meeting up to human standards of what constitutes an actual language.

For the sake of the discussion, assume for a minute that modern-day tongues of the "angelic" variety really was legitimate. And that, you could indeed unquestionably verify it to be so, by way of scientific methods.

All of the sudden, there would be incontrovertible evidence for the miraculous power of God. People all over the world would convert, as a result. You would also have people demanding that everyone with the supposed gift of tongues submit to an authenticity test. Those who "passed" would have guaranteed status as "holy people." Those who "failed" would be exposed as frauds. The whole thing could get quite "inquisitorial."

I personally have a hard time imagining this to be the way God would choose to work. He wants us to live by faith, not sight.

Miracles are almost always of this nature. There is often evidence showing them to be true, especially for those who have the heart of faith to accept that evidence. But you are never going to be able to incontrovertibly demonstrate the authenticity of a miracle to everyone. There will always be skeptics who will find some reason to discount your evidence. It's kind of like the studies on whether or not prayer really works. There seems to be some evidence that prayer really does work. But, at the same time, there are a hundred other possible explanations. Do we quit believing in the effectiveness of prayer because it cannot be scientifically proven?

The "biblical" argument presented by Babcox is basically a short summary of the "cessationist" argument presented by many others: "The sign gifts were for a specific purpose and specific time. That purpose and time have passed, so the gifts are no longer needed." Needless to say, there was nothing here convincing to me, as I have many times studied through the arguments on both sides of this question in the past.

To summarize: I agree with Babcox, Grosey and you that there are people out there, perhaps even the majority (only God knows), who claim to have the biblical gift of tongues, but who are deceiving themselves. I am happy Babcox was able eventually to recognize the truth, in regard to his personal experience.

However, nothing in Babcox's book, from my perspective, "across the board" invalidates the claims of others who believe they are legitimately speaking in tongues. For all I know, maybe only 2 or 3 of the millions around the world, are really legitimate. Maybe the vast majority are legitimate. Maybe none of them are legitimate. All I have to go by is my sincere effort to interpret Scripture as objectively as I know how, and the spiritual fruit of those who make the claim to have received the gift of tongues.

Nothing in Babcox's book convinces me to abandon my belief in the continuation of all the spiritual gifts at the present time, including the gift of tongues, which may be legitimately expressed in the form of a "private prayer language."

David Rogers said...


I have Erroll Hulse's book "Crisis Experiences" (as you might be able to surmise, I am a bit of a collector of books on this subject). In general, in my opinion, Hulse is a quite insightful and fairly objective analyst of the subject he treats in his book. It is a good refutation of the "Pentecostal/Charismatic" view, dealing primarily with "second blessing" theology. I would readily recommend this book to anyone struggling with these specific issues.

He only slightly "shows his hand" at a place or two, regarding the whole related, but separate, issue of cessationism, though. He does make one statement regarding tongues with which I do not completely agree: "since these were signs to unbelievers (1 Cor. 14.22) they were real languages." In a footnote, he also includes a quote from Merrill Unger on several problems generally related with tongues, that, in my opinion, is for the most part, objective (but with a few caveats).

Especially interesting, in light of the specific topic of this post, is a statement Hulse makes at the end of his book, in the "Bibliography" section: "Some Charismatic leaders such as Michael Green argue for the non-cessation of the extraordinary gifts, but with regard to the baptism of the Spirit hold the same approximate position as outlined in this book."

David Rogers said...


I hope you did not understand me to say "that people cannot have a scholarly Biblical position that is cessationist." I believe many defenses of the "cessationist" position are most certainly "scholarly." I just don't happen to be convinced by them, when I analyze them side-by-side with other "scholarly" presentations of the "open but cautious" and "Third Wave" positions.

Also, you say you have less problems with an "AOG Charismatic" than a "Baptist" one. What about people who hold my view, (whether or not they practice a "private prayer language")? Due to my theology, I would feel out of place as an AOG. And so would many who have a PPL.

Anonymous said...

Again thanks for your attitude, your wilingness ot look at issues and I feel pretty much a sense of objectivity.
I would say in response to a couple of your observaitons:
1. Someone who does not feel comfortable in an AOG church - currently has plenty of independent charismatic churches that they could choose from.
2. You spend a good paragraph talking about miracles - however what is a miracle - it is something that by definition is now usual, not common, not the norm. Does God do the miraculous today - He most certianly deos and perhaps the most miraculous is the transofrmed life that comes when a person comes to know Jesus. I often worry that this greatest of miracles is often overshadowed by charismatic gifts. Again if everytime someone got cancer - they automatically the next day were cured then it would cease to be in the realm of the miraculous - it would then just be an ordinary occurence. Therefore I would contend that these charismatic gifts becoming the norm would no longer then be in the realm of the miraculous. Not sure if I am making my point here - maybe you will understand.
3. I really feel what is probably needed by the charismatics and non-charismatics alike is instead of tongues gifts - which I Corinthians 14 says are for self-edification - we really need more brokenness and confesiosn. Tongues (and therefore self-edification) are a refleciton of what I feel is one of societies greatest ills. We are obsessed with self-edificaiotn- everything is about US and not about HIM. Tee shirts have emblazoned on them ME surrounded by a variety of other things. We are really into edifying ourselves. My biggest problem is ME - and I do not need edifying more than I already am - in fact I know I need more humbling and more borkenness before God. I guess that is why tongues does not even appeal to me at all - because I see no need in the world in which I live to be self-edified - nor do I see it in the lives of Christians in general. I Cor. 14:4 - "The person who speaks in tongues builds himself up" - I think we need less building ourselves up and more lifting Jesus up.

David Rogers said...


In regard to your point #1, yes this is true, and in the end, it may turn out to be the best option for some. However, at least until recent years in which some churches are sensing they are no longer welcome, there have been a number of cooperating SBC churches that also have an open (but not strictly Pentecostal/Charismatic) stance regarding spiritual gifts. Many have found a "spiritual family" there where they have felt at home. To now tell these they must look for a new "spiritual home" is a hard thing for many. This is not to say we ought to be welcoming to heresy, or blatant liberalism. But I don't see why people with slightly different views on miraculous gifts cannot live and work together peacefully in the same spiritual family.

In regards to # 2, I am not saying that any gift (tongues included) should be considered "normative." At the same time, it would be impossible, in my opinion, to draw the line where the "miraculous" crosses the line into the "everyday." As I say, it may only be 2 or 3 people in the world, for all I know, that legitimately have this "miraculous" gift today. I don't know. Does that mean these 2 or 3 should necessarily be disqualified from service with the IMB, though? I don't think so.

Regarding #3, "self-edification" in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing. Bible study and prayer, for instance, are done for self-edification as well. Listening to Christian music is done primarily for "self-edification." However, many times this "self-edification," if not abused, is transformed into ministry towards and edification of others, as we are better able to give freely to others of the grace first given to us.

Anonymous said...

Don't be shocked - this will be short - you probably thought I was incapable of brevity. :) I would say that you comparison of number breaks down in that Bible reading, prayer, and listening to music are not - at least the last time I cheked the Scripture - spiritual gifts - spiritual disciples maybe - but I certainly not think that only those who had the gift of "bible reading or the gift of prayer" were the only ones who could use it and the rest exempt. I feel you are comparing apples and oranges here to make your point on numbers three.

Anonymous said...

sorry mistake - should read your comparison in number 3 of ...

Anonymous said...

also should be spiritual disciplines and not disciples

Todd Nelson said...

Dear David:-
I'm with you, brother. I appreciate your taking the time to write the kinds of things about spiritual gifst that I would write if I made the time to do so -- and you're doing a superb job, btw, better than I would, no doubt. Our only real differences, I think, are that I do have a PPL, and I am not serving with the IMB (because I am more of a "third-waver".)

I have written a little bit on this subject over at my place.

Dear Jerry:-
As one who does have a PPL, I am reluctant to engage you about it because I feel that what you've set up to satisfy your own need for proof is unreasonable, unnecessary, and most importantly, based on a misunderstanding of the two uses of tongues as Paul describes them in 1 Corinthians 12 and 14. Time permitting, I'll elaborate a little bit over at your new blog.

I think the more pressing issue, however, is: Why can't we just go back to the original IMB policy on tongues and spiritual gifts? How was it deficient?

Dear Anonymous:-
From the clues you gave to Grosey, I think we may reside in the same country! I've met several from "the company" but not sure if we've met. I've been here in the capital city with my family for almost 8 years now.

If it's possible, wanna meet up sometime? Please email me. You can get my address from my profile, blog, or our church web site. I hope to hear from you!

Wisdom and peace,

Rusty said...

Thank you for the time and effort you have put into your blogs on PPL and the tongues issue. As someone who once held to a strict cesationist view and after much study, searching and prayer found myself not able to scripturally justify it, I appreciate your dialogue. I currently serve at a "charismatic" Baptist church with many people who have a PPL. I do not have a PPL and have never been even asked about it. I have always seen it as a "local church issue" in that I believe we are a Biblicaly conservative church that just happens to embrace the gifts and their availability to all. I am saddened that this issue has now moved out of the prayer closet and is effecting those Southern Baptist called to the mission field that might hold my view. I am not interested in "arguing" PPL and I appreciate the grace you exhibit in explaining your views. While many in my church ask why we just do not move out of a convention that would not allow many of them to serve on the mission field, I still beleive in the Southern Baptist principles I was trained under and raised to believe and that it is worth fighting for and the tent is still big enough for us to work together under. I am weary of arguing the excess' of both the charismatic camp and the fundementalist camp and painting broad strokes to label people and churches. Thanks for your clarity and grace to take a stand and to speak for many of us that do not have a platform to speak. May God bless your ministry and mission.