Saturday, January 13, 2007

Application of Grudem's Article to the Current Situation in the SBC (Part 5)

The next in Grudem’s series of eight questions (from the article Why, When, and For What, Should We Draw New Boundaries?) that should be asked when deciding For What Doctrinal and Ethical Matters Should Christian Organizations Draw New Boundaries? is:

2. EFFECT ON OTHER DOCTRINES: Will this teaching likely lead to significant erosion in other doctrines?

In regard to the PPL policy, I think it is a fair assumption to say that this concern is the real “bogeyman” driving the issue. Several have implied that the work of the IMB is in imminent danger of being diverted into “Charismatic extremes.”

Consider, for example, the following quotes:

Paige Patterson, The Church in the 21st Century

With the advent of “Third Wave churches” partnering with other “Great Commission Christians” and the age of post-denominationalism, new horizons force contemplation of questions of cooperation both new and old... To accept the funding provided by Baptists and proceed in a direction distinct from what that supporting constituency believes is no different. The author does not allege that this is what is happening, but it is the case that disturbing reports do continue to filter in from the field. If any of these represent the trajectory of even a few, then that issue must be faced; and a solution acceptable to the Convention must be found.
Paige Patterson, Keith Eitel, & Robin Hadaway, Follow-up to Keith Eitel’s “Vision Assessment”
Rather we’re planting churches that reflect more the mix of ideas inherent in a blend of Great Commission Christian ideas, often neo-charismatic leaning and quasi Biblical… In addition, SC’s were encouraged to include charismatic groups such as the Assemblies of God denomination in their strategies, including church planting… 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"?
Emir Caner, Southern Baptists, Tongues, and Historical Policy
The contemporary phenomenon of speaking in tongues, along with other Charismatic practices has infiltrated every major denomination in America, including Southern Baptist life… Noting the paradigm shift, one cannot overlook the momentum the Charismatic movement is having on Evangelical life. Yet, Southern Baptists remain very uncomfortable with Charismatic practices, especially when they note the weak epistemology of experientialism latent within the movement. For the most part, Southern Baptists have reacted negatively to inroads Charismatics have forced into the local Baptist churches. This response is largely due to the novel interpretation of how such gifts should be used and the excesses generated. The Southern Baptist response toward the Charismatic movement has always been extremely cautious.
Let me make one thing perfectly clear. I am not arguing in favor of making room within Southern Baptist life for classical Pentecostal and Charismatic teaching on the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I understand the Baptist Faith & Message 2000 to have already addressed this question. Neither am I interested in promoting manipulative practices common in certain Pentecostal, Charismatic and Third Wave circles that tend towards working people into an emotional frenzy, and falsely promote short-cuts to spiritual maturity and victory in our walk with the Lord. I, on several occasions, have had to teach against these things in churches, warning people of dangers of experiential emotionalism as over against sound biblical interpretation.

I will concede, as well, that, without a doubt, the great majority of those who would like to introduce “Charismatic extremes” into Southern Baptist life would also tend to promote the practice of “private prayer languages.” However, I do not make the corresponding conclusion that everyone who believes in or practices PPL has a “hidden agenda” to introduce “Charismatic extremes” into the life of the church. As I have stated previously on another post, the great majority of hyper-Calvinists also believe in the doctrine of eternal security. However, that does not mean we ought to limit the teaching of eternal security in order to keep a check on the spread of hyper-Calvinism.

At times, I am sure, all of us would like for things to be a lot simpler. It makes us feel more secure to have neat categories of black and white, right and wrong, orthodoxy and heresy. And there definitely are certain things that are, either black or white, right or wrong, and orthodox or heretical. But there are other things that the Bible does not specify quite so clearly. I, myself, out of a concern for shielding myself from something I don’t understand, or is out of my “comfort zone,” do not want to stand in the way of something God may sovereignly choose to do. I understand that He will not go against what He has already revealed in His infallible Word. But I am also aware that my cultural biases can sometimes blind me to what His Word really says.

On the basis of all of this, I believe (and I imagine Grudem would concur) that without a firm answer on question #1, How Sure are We that the Teaching is Wrong?, question #2 takes on a relatively diminished importance. Basing our entire spiritual and doctrinal outlook on the need to avoid the “slippery slope” towards other extremes is a sure path towards legalism and a closed-minded attitude toward the work of the Holy Spirit that I am convinced ends up quenching the Holy Spirit.

Regarding the baptism issue, it is hard to determine just what the new policy is intended to accomplish. Some have suggested that it is closely linked with the PPL policy, intending to discourage those candidates who might originally come from other church backgrounds that are more open to Charismatic practices. I suppose there are others who are strict denominational loyalists (who, if not 100% Landmarkist in their beliefs, are, at least, influenced by Landmark teachings) who just like to keep things “within the family” so to speak. I suppose those of this second group might be afraid that those who were baptized in a non-baptistic church would have a tendency to also de-emphasize biblical ecclesiology. Once again, though, I feel the important question is whether or not there is clear biblical teaching to justify the position taken. If not, I am afraid that, at times, our fears of things getting out of hand and not fitting in neatly with our denominational traditions can actually be an impediment to new ways that God may want to work, and His plans to get out the gospel to all peoples of the world.

19 comments:

Ken Sorrell said...

David,

This is been an interesting series of posts. I would like to attempt to make a couple of comments in response to what I understand some of this current post is addressing.

First, I stand in utter amazement that so much is being debated about the "questionable practices" of IMB missionaries who receive support from SBC churches who would not be in support of these"questionable practices". I agree that great care must be taken if any type of partnership work arrangement is entered into with Christians of distinctly different beliefs from our own Baptist beliefs.

At the same time no one seems to be blowing a clarion call urging SBC churches who are going overseas on mission trips to also avoid this unwanted and dangerous liaisons. Every week there is another SBC volunteer team in our region who, for a variety of reasons, are not working alongside IMB missionaries or local Baptist partners, but with churches and organizations who will facilitate what they, the U.S. church wants to do, never giving a second thought to the doctrinal position of the supporting group.

If we are going to shout out a warning, let's shout it out to the entire SBC and not make the extremely naive assumption that missionaries are the only ones who might be involved in these issues.

As a practice in our region, we do refrain from partnering with any other denominational group once we enter the evangelism and church planting phases of our work. The differences for us are just to great and we are not willing to compromise at many points. However, many of our SBC churches do not practice the same position.

I would agree wholeheartedly with you that must keep returning to Scripture for our answers. And at times, this too can prove challenging with Scripture appears to be silent or variant opinions arise from thoughtful and prayerful exegesis.

It is wise to avoid slippery slopes, but I am old enough to remember other slippery slopes that were going to bring down the SBC if unchecked. For instance, allowing musical instruments other than a piano and organ in the church. Or, could a woman wear something other than a dress to church. I'm not saying that we shouldn't take seriously challenges to our faith and doctrine that could truly negatively impact our ability to be salt and light in the world, but great care must be taken when this issues arise.

I have stated this on your post before but I am compelled to state it again. I find it somewhat hypocritical for us as Southern Baptists to blasts charismatic doctrinal teachings, but we have not problem making money from the sales of books from these same groups at Lifeway. Am I the only one that sees the hypocrisy here?

Thanks again for the series.

Wade Burleson said...

David,

Your logic is impeccable. Your conservatism is unquestionable. Your conclusions are irrefutable.

Keep it up. People will listen to you because of who your are.

I listen to you because you are Biblical in every sense of the word.

Thanks for your leadership.

Alycelee said...

David, I came over and read this post when Tim Guthrie quoted you on Debbie's blog. He quoted you on "charismatic extremes"
I pointed out to him that I had spent 17 years in a charismatic church 1972-1989 and I'm not sure what it means-perhaps "Word of Faith or Benny Hinn type stuff is the only thing I can think of. Is that was is implied by extremes?
Thanks

Strider said...

I for one am not so immature in my walk with the King as to be afraid of 'charismatic' practices. Tongues- private and personal- are not a threat to me or the SBC. They are not a slippery slope that leads anywhere.
Health and Wealth Gospel, obnoxious 'worship' practices that exalt man and ignore God, Second Blessing teaching that contorts the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer are all easily discernable tenets of Pentacostalism that SB's have already decided to reject and will not ever give in to. These are clearly outside of the Word and contrary to what God wants for His people.
Private tongues is a different issue from these and we need to allow all of our people the opportunity to explore the Word of God and seek ernestly all that God has for them without fear of retribution from a controling oligarchy. SB's need to find out all that God has for them. Many young people have been totally convinced by the inerrantists and have dived into the Word eager to find all that God has for them. Some of them have experimented with tongues. This is not the result of selfish ambition or self promotion but of a heart sold out for Jesus. They will learn in time the value or the lack thereof of a ppl. In the meantime, these young people are precisely the kind of sold out for Jesus servants that I want to work along side. Today we are pushing them out. It will kill our Convention in the end if we alienate the disciples among us most hungry for God.

volfan007 said...

strider,

i wonder if the baptists in australia felt that they too could control it. steve grose can testify, and has testified, that it did go down the slippery slope in australia. and, its turned very bad for them down under.

steve, would you weigh in on this?

david and strider, i agree in not making non essentials a dividing point between christians. but, would yall not agree that there has to be some second tier division in sbc life? i mean, are we willing to let those who sprinkle instead of immerse be sb missionaries? thats certainly a second tier doctrine.....but, its very important to sb's...correct? or, what if an m believed and taught that it was ok to have women pastors? thats a second tier doctrine...but very important to sb's...right?

so, can you all see that something like ppl's are of great concern to us in the sbc due to the bad things that we have seen with charismatic practices? i mean, i have a dont ask..dont tell....keep it truly private....approach to ppl's. but, can yall see that its a great concern to some very godly men who are not legalistic meanies who just want to choke the sbc out?

and, i would very much be against any m's going forth from the sbc who believed in public tongue speaking....wouldnt yall?


volfan007

Grosey's Messages said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Grosey's Messages said...

I deleted the above comment and rewrote it because of my poor typing.

:) well Volfan,
I wasn't going to say anything on David's blog about the issue anymore except if someone asked me directly, and you did.
One comment above yours demonstrates clearly the very thing Caner says (the weak epistemology of experientialism latent within the movement.)
Rather than arguing on the basis of provable theological propositions, there are jumps all over the place and innuendos that can only be called character assassination.
Caner did hit the nail on the head so far as the vital issue is concerned. A conservative position means arguing strongly from a single basis of authority, the Word of God. There is an agreement on the basis of authority, and there is an agreement on epistemological issues, and so something can be argued as right or wrong and agreement arrived at on that basis (i.e. the doctrines of the Person of Christ over the first 5 centuries, and the doctrines of the work of Christ during the reformation age).
When there is no agreed basis of authority (i.e... Neighbour's 4 bases, Scripture, Tradition, Reason and Experience, where the last 3 become more operative in practise than the first) or the basis of authority shifts all over the place with no consistency because of experiential issues, then debate is fruitless.. you may as well be speaking a different language (hence "epistemology").
I have been involved in accrediting and ordaining about 80 PPLers over a ten year period (This may be startling to you because of my theological position, but I as a committee member had to "abide by the rules" so far as our denomination is concerned ; some of those rules are ; we do not encourage and we do not forbid PPL, we do ordain women to senior pastor positions). I guess it gives you opportunity to see the outworking up close and personal.
You hear how different pastors are going, and you hear when they hit an extreme, usually indicated by a church split.
So far as women's ordination is concerned, I, as a conservative opposed to women's ordination, had to encourage our denomination to move to local church ordination (rather than denom ordination) as a way of not actively being involved in ordaining women to ministry. 8 years ago when Women';s ordination was on the Aussie moderates agenda, while we the conservatives represented 1/3rd of the denom, the moderates (much more to the left than your moderates incorporating extreme neoorthordox people like Lorenzen of Reushlikon seminary) were 1/3rd, the swinging 1/3rd charismatics would vote with the moderates to overturn conservative policies (the charismatics tend to be enigmatic and unreliable on any theological position...we never know which way they are going to vote, according to who is influencing or what they are dreaming). I think someone prophetically told them that if they vote for women's ordination they could become the dominant force in our convention, and eject the other two parties (the “someone” probably did a deal for office with the moderates). That would be a good example of power politics.

In keeping an eye out on what happens in PPLer churches, sooner or later they tend to descend into some form of chaos of extremism.
i.e. my secretary last year went to an evening service while on holidays.. the church he attended was in darkness, 2 candles placed on the “altar”, 30 people falling sitting, wailing muttering. He said after 20 mins he couldn't tell whether they were getting demons into them or getting them out. So they left terrified.
Many of those pastors I knew who were PPLers went on to try and make their churches full blown pentecostal churches. They saw it as their manifest destiny.
My role on the ordination committee was on the doctrine committee, so for an hour I would ask questions to ensure that PPLers wouldn't set their church to extremism ( to be fair, I would do the same for fundamentalists and liberals and emergents also. Hey do you notice in those groups by the way the four different bases of authority.. Tradition, Reason (shown in either exalting scholarship above scripture, producing moderates, or exalting pragmatism above scripture, producing emergents), Experience).

But the sad reality is that no one can really stop themselves from advocating their heart conviction.

I don't blame them for doing this.
I just think its a shame that PPLers sooner or later think they have to convert Baptists to their beliefs and experiences.... it would be far better for the lost if they would set up their own churches by winning the LOST, rather than focus their efforts on Christians and stealing their facilities (many of the PPLer pastors in our denom view it as "liberating frozen resources for the kingdom of God." I have heard them say this publicly)
The bottom line is that advocates of differing theological experiences will always tend to flock together and seek the ascendancy of their view and experience.
The IMB is in a unique position again for evangelism. From an aussie perspective you guys can get on with the gospel, or you can get on with tongues, but you really need to choose which you are going to do. I would advocate that you should choose the gospel.
Expending energy on your slippery slope is dumb.
Hey I baptised a minister of an infant baptising denom yesterday in a Lake.
Can I give you my three point message?
1. You Must Always Be A Gospel Man
1 Cor 1: 14thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one can say you had been baptized in my name. 16 I did, in fact, baptize the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t know if I baptized anyone else. 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with clever words, so that the cross of Christ will not be emptied [of its effect]
2. You Must Always Be a Gospel Minister
1 Cor 2:2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
2 Cor 4:5 For we are not proclaiming ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves because of Jesus.
3. You Must Always Have a Gospel Ministry
Romans 6:3 Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may • walk in a new way of life.
5 For if we have been joined with Him in the likeness of His death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of His resurrection.
A Gospel ministry always effects the miracle of the New Birth. It brings changed lives, and changed lives are always marked by a death to sin and rising to life in Christ. Therefore a gospel ministry shoul;d be marked by the practice of believer's baptism by immersion.

As with the issue of Baptism, and the issue of PPL,and many other subordinate issues, the real emphasis and energy must be placed upon the gospel.
Even inerrancy has the goal of the gospel at heart 2 Tim 3:15 and that from childhood you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

OK.. sorry to be so wordy (I guess few will read long stuff any way).
Steve

Debbie said...

Steve: The emphasis is on the gospel. It has always been about the gospel, and while we are speaking up on private prayer language, we are also spreading the gospel. Both can be done effectively. It is because some missionary candidates are being rejected that I and others are speaking up. It's wrong. I believe we should speak up.

While I hear what you have said, I still do not see how all who claim a private prayer language can be grouped in the abuses and again we have the BF&M 2000 that covers this as well as the old IMB policy. I see this as minimal and as has been said, throwing the baby out with the bath water over what might be just doesn't seem plausible. The Bible being the final authority. I believe a good Biblical case has been made by David that hasn't even been discussed. It hasn't even been alluded to and I would like the discussion to be with what David has laid out.

Grosey's Messages said...

David, if you agree with Debbie and feel that I am not worthy to contribute information on your blog, I will withdraw from fellowship with you here.
Steve

Debbie said...

Steve: That is not what I said. Read my post again please.

David Rogers said...

Steve,

As I understand the whole blogging thing, it is all about free expression of ideas. And, although I don't always agree with you, I certainly haven't heard anything from you that would make me want to "withdraw fellowship" from you. I hope you haven't heard anything from me that warrant doing so either.

So please feel free to keep on commenting. But, also please allow others who don't agree with you to say so openly without being told they are saying you are not "worthy to contribute information."

David Rogers said...

Alyce,

In my opinion, "charismatic extremes" run the gamut of many manipulative practices that seek to provide short-cuts to spiritual maturity and power through emotional experiences and certain manifestations. I am not necessarily saying all "charismatic" doctrine and practice is "extreme." But "charismatics" as well as just about any other identifiable sub-group of believers, have their more "extreme" edge. Also, I realize the term "charismatic" is very hard to define, and means different things to different people. However, what I am trying to say here is that I recognize there is such a thing as "charismatic extremes" and that we do well to try to avoid them, both in our local church and denominational life.

volfan007 said...

david,

amen.

volfan007

David Rogers said...

Steve,

I agree with you on the "epistemology of experientialism" thing, it's just I know people with a "ppl" that are totally Scripture-based, not experience-based.

Also, I think the following statements from your comment are generalizations that are not always true:

"In keeping an eye out on what happens in PPLer churches, sooner or later they tend to descend into some form of chaos of extremism."

"I just think its a shame that PPLers sooner or later think they have to convert Baptists to their beliefs and experiences..."

If you had said "some PPLers" or "some churches that allow for PPL," then I might be able to agree with you more. But, then again, that's my whole point. The "guilt by association" thing is not really objective or fair. Yes, there are extremes, and yes, some who practice "ppl" end up falling into these extremes. But, there are others who don't.

In my experience, cessationists have a bigger probability of falling into legalism. That doesn't mean by any means that I brand all cessationists as legalists, though.

Grosey's Messages said...

Thanks David for your warmth in welcoming free exchange of ideas. I just felt I needed to "clear the air" after last weeks event with WB. I wasn't sure of where I stood with you. The association with the other name (D) is because she has made clear her position.
http://debbie-thoughtsof.blogspot.com/2006/12/end-result-of-new-imb-policies-and-this.html
https://www2.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=33756883&postID=3266370701093558619&isPopup=true

I am sorry if I appeared paranoid.
:) Steve


Now on your comment,
I am sorry that I have appeared to generalise to your american situation. I did not intend to. My comments on extremism were meant to be limited only to our Australian Baptist situation, and the eighty or so pastors I know personally. I am very aware that even USA AoG in the main, and particularly COGIC (which we don't have here in Australia) is far far tamer (biblical, saner sounder and all the other words that go with it) than in Australia.
There was a core of similar AOG in Australia (past tense) but they were driven out of the AOG here by the Hillsong NZ gang.
I had a pastor and his family from an "old style" more biblical, AOG church as church members and dear friends in my last church. They were good friends, and a support in bringing our Baptist church back from charismatic extremism.

Your comment on other forms of extremism is VERY valid. I know extreme calvinists, premills, KJVers, amills, neoorthordox, liberals, liberationists, but there are so few cessationists in Australia that I think it may be impossible to have extemism (I think there may only be half a dozen in the whole of Australia); extremists seem to gain their momentum from their cause and their friends.
However having said that, I think there is an extremist in us all just waiting to get out!
:)

Steve

Debbie said...

Steve: I'm disappointed. Don't bring this to David's blog. I thought we ironed things out on Tim Rogers blog where both apologized. I am human and I was frustrated with you. I apologized for this, so I assumed you knew what my latest comment here was saying. I was and am willing to begin again. I will not defend myself on David's blog. But I felt this needed to be said. My apologies David.

Grosey's Messages said...

Debbie, your statement ot me was " I believe a good Biblical case has been made by David that hasn't even been discussed. It hasn't even been alluded to and I would like the discussion to be with what David has laid out."
I read back over david's post and felt that much of what was raised coincided with David's post. I assumed you were making another personal attack. I apologise.
Steve

Debbie said...

Steve: Insults were the last thing on my mind. Let's begin again. I see David raised many good questions that I do not see answered in your posts. I would like to see them answered. I think the critical questions that David asked crucial to the discussion.

Debbie said...

Personal attacks were the last thing on my mind as well. I just wanted the questions David asked answered.