IMB: speaking in tongues (cont'd)

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Fri Sep 1 12:19:43 UTC 2006

 Chapel speaker amplifies stance; SBCs Page sees positive outcomes

By Staff Aug 31, 2006

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)--A chapel speaker whose statements about a private
prayer language sparked media attention Aug. 29 has written a letter to
the president of the seminary where he spoke, amplifying his view of
speaking in tongues but affirming the seminarys right to disagree with
him. Meanwhile, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention, Frank
Page, has issued a statement on what he called an awkward situation for
the seminary, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and its
president, Paige Patterson.

My prayers go out to them, Page, pastor of First Baptist Church in
Taylors, S.C., and a graduate of the Texas seminary, wrote. I love
Southwestern Seminary and wish Gods greatest blessings on the school and
its president. While some may question the handling of this situation,
please remember that they are trying to be fair, even under great
pressure. The seminary, in a statement after the chapel service, stated
that its website will not display a link to the sermon by Dwight McKissic,
pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas, who also is a
member of Southwesterns board of trustees.

The SWBTS statement expressed disagreement specifically with McKissic's
embrace of a private prayer language and noted that the seminary would not
distribute views critical of a sister SBC entity, in an apparent reference
to the International Mission Board which last year adopted a policy
against the appointment of missionaries with a private prayer language.
Southwestern also noted it may be harmful to the churches to disseminate a
view akin to McKissic's and that some people may wrongly conclude that
such a view is representative of Southwesterns position. Page, in his
statement on the controversy, noted: While some may see this as a negative
occurrence, there are some very positive outcomes if we choose to deal
with this in a godly, mature, and appropriate fashion.

1. We must affirm the principal of theological discussion, even debate,
within our seminaries. While there are certain bedrock doctrines that must
be affirmed without debate within the Baptist family, there are many
issues which are open to interpretation. I am very thankful for
Southwesterns stance that they do not 'instruct its chapel speakers about
what they can or cannot say,'" Page said, quoting from the SWBTS

2. It is very encouraging to know that Southwestern Seminary joins this
president in strongly asserting that they do not need to be in a place
which appears to be critical of the actions of the board of trustees of a
sister agency, Page wrote, again quoting from the SWBTS statement. I
believe that both professional staff and trustees need to be very
respectful about the issues and stances of other entity Trustee boards and
professional staff, the SBC president continued. While it is certainly
appropriate for there to be disagreement and even debate, professional
protocol needs to be observed when one is dealing with disagreements,
particularly in (but not limited to) a public setting.

Obviously, SWBTS recognizes this. I believe that this public recognition
will help our entire convention in the days ahead, Page wrote. McKissick,
in his letter to Patterson, strongly defended his view of a private prayer
language and, at the same time, expressed graciousness toward the
seminarys position. Because I said nothing during my message that
contradicted the Bible or the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message, I fail to see
how my comments are viewed as outside of the Baptist mainstream, McKissic
wrote. He said banning the free distribution of my message on the school
website is a form of unnecessary censorship that is most unusual because
many Baptist scholars and leaders ... have expressed views similar to
mine. McKissic did not specify, however, the extent to which others in the
SBC practice a private prayer language or are reticent to call it

McKissic stated that the leading evangelical African-American churches in
America including Black Southern Baptists, would affirm the practice of a
private prayer language by those who are so gifted by the Holy Spirit.
They would certainly not invoke a policy denying freedom of a gifted
person to practice a private prayer language, which would be extremely
alienating, McKissic wrote. The IMB policy on private prayer language is
not in keeping with Baptist conviction regarding religious liberties,
McKissic wrote, and it encroaches upon the autonomy of the local church.
He described the practical effect of the IMB policy as treating adults as
if you have authority over their private lives and personal relationship
with Jesus Christ, beyond the boundary of Scripture.

For those of us who believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, I find it
difficult to understand how we can hold that view and at the same time
disregard or deny tongues or a private prayer language as a valid
spiritual gift, McKissic wrote. Patterson, asked by Baptist Press for any
reaction to McKissic's letter, noted in a statement, All that the seminary
feels is necessary to say we have said in our previous release. We
continue to affirm our love and appreciation for Dwight McKissic, and pray
heavens blessings upon him.

McKissic had stated in his letter to Patterson, If addressing the [IMB]
policy violated SWBTS chapel protocol, and apparently it did, I deeply
apologize for having done so. Please forgive me; I was unaware of this
protocol. I was speaking from my faith tradition (National Baptist
Convention) and cultural background that encourages addressing unbiblical
and discriminatory issues prophetically and publicly. However, I do
believe in submission to authority and I will submit to SWBTS protocol in
the future to the extent that I am aware of it. He offered to submit an
advance manuscript of his message if he is invited again as a chapel

McKissic stated that I do understand if I'm not invited again, and that
would in no wise affect my love and respect for you and the school. My
prayerful, moral, and financial support of you and SWBTS will continue
whether or not I'm ever asked to preach again in chapel.

Click here for the Aug. 30 Baptist Press story initially reporting on
Dwight McKissic's chapel address at Southwestern Seminary.


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