Thursday, April 19, 2007

Sam Storms on Jimmy Draper on "The Bible & Tongues"

Jimmy Draper is currently writing a week-long series of columns on biblical doctrine that are being posted on the Baptist Press web-site to coincide with "Baptist Doctrine Study" week within the Southern Baptist Convention. Draper is a good friend of my family, and a man I deeply respect. I very much appreciate his leadership in the Southern Baptist Convention and in the Body of Christ at large. As such, I hesitate to voice disagreement with what he has written.

Draper's first article is on "The Baptism of the Holy Spirit." I agree with the view Draper presents on this matter, and was actually considering posting a link to this article stating that the view presented therein is a view on which the vast majority of people on both sides of the "private prayer language" discussion can unite. However, just as I was getting ready to do so, I noticed Draper's next article on "The Bible & Tongues" was up. Upon reading this article, I realized the view being presented, at least in regards to this particular aspect, was not quite so representative of the view I, and others like me, take.

Although Draper does not come directly to the point of defending "cessationism" or arguing against "private prayer language," he does say a few things in this second article that would point towards a more "narrow" view on these issues.

A few years back, sensing the significance of the issues related to spiritual gifts and the "charismatic movement" for the ministry of the church in general, I decided to do an exhaustive study of the various texts in the Bible possibly related in any way to these topics. There seems to be an assumption on the part of many that those who defend a more "open" stance on spiritual gifts tend to do so as a result of an emotional experience they may have had sometime somewhere that has led them to eisegete, or read into the text of Scripture interpretations that back up their experience. I can assure you, however, that such was not the case for me. My intention, at that time, was to free my mind, to the best of my abilities, from denominational prejudices, and try to determine, on my study of Scripture alone, just what the text was actually saying. The conclusions I reached based on my study of Scripture have led me to be more open in regard to certain experiences, and degrees of fellowship with certain groups of believers. But it was not primarily my experience and contact with other groups of believers that led me to reach my conclusions on the teaching of Scripture.

I say all this to point out that some of the conclusions drawn in Draper's article on "The Bible & Tongues" do not square up with some of the conclusions I reached in my personal study on this issue. That is okay with me. I do not make the pretension to be a more accomplished exegete of Scripture than Dr. Draper.

However, this morning, upon checking my Bloglines feed-checker, I noticed that Sam Storms, on his newly inaugurated blog Enjoying God, had commented on Draper's article, pointing out a few points of discrepancy in interpretation. It just so happens that the points that Storms makes are pretty much to the tee the same points that I had noticed on reading Draper's article myself.

In the light of the discussion over "private prayer language" and the IMB, and also the upcoming Baptist Conference on the Holy Spirit (in which Storms is a headline speaker), I hope that all of us who have an interest in these issues will do our best to objectively analyze and exegete the biblical text on these matters. In keeping with this, I recommend you read Draper's article, and I recommend you read Storms's article as well. Most of all, I recommend that, as you read, you take on the attitude of the Bereans, who "received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true" (Acts 17.11).


Tim Patterson said...


Excellent post and thanks for the links. I respect Dr. Draper but agree more with Dr. Storms interpretation of Scripture concerning the tongues issue.

During our time with IMB on two different fields, I observed something interesting concerning the use of languages (not unknown tongues) in response to the work of the Holy Spirit. I have personally witnessed occasions when a message from God's word was shared or taught in a trade language understood by the people, and then the people responded spontaneously with praise to God in their heart language (a different language from the trade language). It made me wonder about the examples we have from the book of Acts... could this have happened when the message was shared in a trade language (like Greek) and then the people responded in their heart language (whatever that was for them)? I don't think Paul and others were able to communicate in all of the various dialects of that day and used trade languages to plant the gospel and new churches. But the new churches reproduced by communicating in their heart language. What do you think, is that a possibility?

Grosey's Messages said...

G'day there David,
I am more inclined to go with Dr. Draper than Dr. Storms. (I guess that is no surprise!) I am sure that Dr. Storms criticisms of Dr. Drpaer are only valid concerns because of the limitation on space imposed in Dr. Draper's BP article.

While Dr. Storms criticisms do pick up on some sparity in argument from Dr. Draper, I personally do not find his responses entirely fair to the texts quoted.
ie.. acts 10: 44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came down on all those who heard the message. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46 For they heard them speaking in [other]languages and declaring the greatness of God.

I think it is fairly clear there in acts 10 (as also in Acts 19) that the tongues was interpreted by those who heard, who understood the tongue as "declaring the greatness of God".
I will grant that it is possible to understand that they were speaking in tongues about who knows what, and then later were "declaring the greatness of God", but I think its unlikely. Would Dr. Storms hazard what they were talking in tongues about, if it was not the greatness of God?

The instances of "special pleading" for a more charismatic way at looking at the interpretation of the text that doesn't fit with either the laws of grammar (I was a teacher before becoming a pastor) nor the laws of Greek expression leaves me a little cold. And yes, :) I do agree that you can tell an Aussie, but not much (they are too thick headed).
Every Blessing David,

Strider said...

David Rogers blog response
Dr. Draper is a true statesman and in this article he is fulfilling his role. In his arguments here he is guilty of a number of logical fallacies that are explainable by the fact that he is writing with the intent to unite rather than divide his audience. I don't necessarily disagree with that approach.
Notice the points he makes appealing to both sides:
Tongues exist
They were not necessarily known languages
They are a gift from God
He then moves to:
Tongues were divisive in the Cor church
They were not a very popular gift
They should not be dwelled upon.

So, he tries to reach both sides and as a statesman I commend him but as a theologian you just can't have it both ways.
You can not say that tongues existed and were a gift from God and then declare that every instance of tongues today is a deception of the enemy. They are a gift or a snare. They existed or they did not. I am not a very black and white guy on many things but I don't see how we logically get out of this. If 1 Cor 14 is addressing a real gift of unknown languages then it is a real gift and I can not categorically say that whoever claims this gift today is under the influence of the enemy. I can discern the spirit and behavior of people and I can confirm that there is plenty of abuse and no small number of instances of fraud but I can not judge all the brethren this way. There are many humble non-divisive people who just want to be faithful and we condemn them out of hand because of a gift that Dr. Draper admits to being a valid NT gift of the Holy Spirit.