Friday, February 16, 2007

The Latest Edition of the Florida Baptist Witness and PPL

There are several new articles in the Feb. 15 online edition of the Florida Baptist Witness on the issue of “private prayer language.” The headline article entitled Is charismatic theology historically Baptist? deals with some specific questions I was already planning on discussing on Part 9 of the series on Wayne Grudem’s article, Why, When, and For What Should We Draw New Boundaries? When I get to that particular post, I will have more to say about James A. Smith’s article in the Florida Baptist Witness. There are also several other articles in this new edition of the Florida Baptist Witness that I would like to comment on, pointing out what I believe to be lack of objectivity in certain places, and plan to do so as time allows.

In the meantime, I think it is relevant to point out that it is very unlikely that the question of “private prayer language” would occupy such a prominent space in the Florida Baptist Witness if it were not for the new policies at the IMB. For that matter, if it were not for the new policies at the IMB, I would probably not be blogging about PPL. It is not an issue that, by its very nature, in and of itself, would normally merit a great deal of attention in Southern Baptist life. It is not an issue that I have dedicated a whole lot of time to discussing before the new policies at the IMB. However, the narrowing of parameters that would limit the missionary ministry of God-called Baptists due to their practice and/or belief in something as secondary or tertiary as PPL is something that I believe is worth talking about and writing about.

The result of all of this is that the entire issue of PPL has now become a lot more prominent in Southern Baptist life than it ever was before. I don’t believe this was the intention of those who came up with and passed the new policy at the IMB. Nor do I believe it is the intention of the staff of the Florida Baptist Witness, nor of the authors of the articles in the new edition. Nonetheless, that has been the result. A bit ironic, if you ask me.


Geoff Baggett said...

I flashed over the articles ... seemed like a lot of repirition from the same interviews. I'm looking forward to your enthusiastic analysis. :)

Wade Burleson said...


You see irony. I see intentions. One must ask himself the question, "Why did the issue of private prayer language arise in the first place within the IMB?"

Was there a problem on the field? (I have asked as a trustee to see evidence of a problem, and I have received nothing - not even a copy of SD21).

Is there a problem with staff and administration not being willing to deal with problems on the field? (Dr. Rankin and staff have vigorously denied this publicly, and I have heard them and I believe them -- having seen them deal with any problem quite effectively).

Are an increasing number of missionary candidates making it an issue? (Absolutely not. The old policy was clear that missionaries would be disciplined or terminated if they spoke in tongues publicly on the field. They were being paid to preach and teach the gospel intelligently, but what they did in their private prayer closet was their business. The ONLY reason a private prayer language ever became a public issue is because missionary candidates, under the new policy, were being asked to make it public in the interview process).

So, I ask again, where did this issue of concern over private prayer language originate, and why is it being pushed?

I will not answer the question directly at this time, but the answer is given in detail in a book I have written, with thorough documentation. I have refrained from publishing the book, and have hopes that it will never have to published, because if I do it will require me to resign from the board. My simple desire is for our board to focus on missions and follow the vision and direction of our President.

But the one question that I think everyone should ask Dr. Rankin is simply this:

"Dr. Rankin, did you receive any communication from any agency head after the passing of the new policies, that in effect, suggested you should step down because your own trustees have turned against you?"

I do not for a minute believe that the majority of trustees at the IMB who voted for the new policies understood the implications. A handful did, and those who did were the ones who actively, persistently, and repeatedly pushed the policies. Of course, they are also the ones who sought my removal until they realized I would be able to defend myself before the entire convention - then they led the board to unanimously rescind the recommendation for my removal.

So, David, I see intentionality. And some media within our SBC, knowingly or unknowingly, are part of the intentionality.

It's time for us in the SBC to quit politicizing our boards and get on with the task before us. The monarchy we call the SBC is quickly becoming more democratic, for which many of us will breathe a sigh of relief. Unfortunately, a few of us will be misunderstood, slandered, and demonized -- but it is definitely worth it in the end.

In His Grace,


timothy cowin said...


Thanks for continuing to stand up for wonderful conservative SB's who practice a PPL.

Mr. Sullivan has a long history of marginalizing and removing Baptists from cooperation if they advocate or have a PPL. Florida at one time removed a couple of churches becasue of "charismatic practices." Have they removed a church becasue of liberal practices? No. In Florida being a charismatic is more grievious then fully supporting the CBF.

Wade! Wade! Wade!
Powerful! I truly think SB need to know!!

As a graduate of SEBTS in 1998, it was no secret on campus concerning what the Mr. Eitel and Mr. Patterson felt about the leadershi at the IMB. The behind the scenes attempt at forcing a leadership change at the IMB is deplorable.

Somebody ought to talk to Larry Lewis and get "the rest of the story" from him about his departure from the Home Mission Board. Larry has always been known in Missouri as a godly, conservative, evangelical.

Timothy Cowin

Scotte Hodel said...


My laymans understanding of the subject raises three warning flags:

(1) The emphasis of "Baptist distinctives" vs devotion to Christ. Reminds me of "I am of Apollos" vs "I am of Paul" etc. Not long ago I recall you blogged on post denominationalism, which may be related.

(2) While autonomy and cooperation are inherently in tension; the recent events of the IMB deny both: churches with God-fearing, mature charismatic members are told to put up (donate) AND shut up (or deny one's beliefs).

(3) Historical precedent is irrelevant in the face of Biblical liberty. That's where Luther got started. Of course, he got kicked out of his church, so maybe I should get a thicker pair of pants.

As I fill in this month for our youth minister (on mission in S. Asia), I understand so much more clearly Wade Burleson's comments that these administrative arguments are usless to those who are hurting and in need of rescue or healing. My "charismatic" background provides me with the only tool I have to offer these kids: "God is real, he cares, and he does stuff! Let's pray."

In those moments, I really don't much care if I've got historical precedent on my side.

Bowden McElroy said...

Unknowingly intentional? I think the phrase you may be looking for is intentional vs being manipulated.

Wade Burleson said...


I yield to your superior logic regarding some in the traditional forms of SBC media.


Ken Sorrell said...


Whether this discussion on PPL is ironic, intentional, or manipulative, what I see as a result is that Southern Baptists are once again distracted from our task of taking the Gospel message to a lost and dying world.

I really wonder if a lost person read a cross section of Baptist blogs would he sense our Lord's command in John 13:35.

I was in a conference the other day where the question was asked, "Is the U.S. Church about to enter a time of persecution?" I thought the response of the speaker was classic. He said, "Why would Satan want to wake us up when he has already shut us up?"

I do understand that these issues are important and have significant repercussions, so I do not wish to diminish the impact of important issues. You are correct, we would not be discussing some issues if recent policy decisions had not been implemented. For some time now it seems that we as Baptists have become addicted to controversy. If we are not fighting over something we are not happy. How sad.


We have not met and I do not know you except through the barrage of blogs that mention your name. I am and IMB M and serve on the RLT of the RL who is currently attending your church during his stateside.

In my humble opinion and as one fellow traveler only offering feeble advice to another sojourner, I not sure I would see moving back to a democratic system as being that much of an improvement. First of all, the majority in Scripture tended to be wrong. And secondly, I've seen just as much politicking and close doors meetings under a democratic system as with any other system. Here's a simple-minded idea, why don't we all together fall on our faces before a holy God and confess Lord, we're not smart enough to figure this out and we need to hear from you and not from man.

I can honestly say that I can't remember any other time in my life that I have felt more discouraged about the state and future of our denomination than I do today. I praise God that He is allowing me the joy of being part of His work in another culture as a reminder that He is still at work.

David, I know that many of my comments on your post do not exactly respond to the direct issue at hand. But your comments and the comments of others still impact a wide variety of thoughts that I am working through. I appreciate your effort to keep us informed and challenged and I hope that I do not come across as a distraction to what you are hoping to accomplish. Thanks for the opportunity to interact with you and your readers.

Wade Burleson said...


I would agree with you regarding the solution. It may be a little naive though to believe that the exclusionary policy making practices will end until there is a change in leadership, and the way in which the SBC is structured, it requires people being involved. The democracy to which I refer is regarding the assembly of Southern Baptists for the convention. The more, the better. Thanks for your comment.

Ken Sorrell said...


I know that my response does sound somewhat naive, but I can assure you that prior to missionary life I was well informed as to the workings of our convention on all levels. Because of the pastor I served with I attended many meetings that most did not know even took place. And even then it just felt wrong.

I wish I had a good answer for the challenges that we face. I can only go to Scripture and be obedient to God's Word in how I respond. Thanks for the response.

Alan Cross said...


This whole issue continues to grieve me. Thank you for continuing to shed a light on the inconsistency of these positions.


I continue to pray for you as you weigh difficult decisions. This is all so sad . . .