Southern Baptist belief on 'prayer language' defies ban

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Tue Jun 5 14:23:52 UTC 2007

  Southern Baptist belief on 'prayer language' defies ban
 Official policy bans missionaries from speaking in tongues

By Julia Duin
The Washington Times

WASHINGTON -- Fifty percent of Southern Baptist pastors revealed in a poll
they believe the Holy Spirit bestows a "private prayer language" on
believers, a repudiation of official denominational policy banning its
missionaries from speaking in tongues. In a survey released Friday, the
Nashville, Tenn.-based LifeWay Research, the research arm of America's
second-largest Christian denomination, revealed that 50 percent of Southern
Baptist pastors answered "yes" when asked the question: "Do you believe that
the Holy Spirit gives some people the gift of a special language to pray to
God privately?" Forty-three percent of the 405 pastors polled said "no," and
7 percent responded "don't know."

Ed Stetzer, LifeWay's research director, called the results
"surprising." "As a whole, Southern Baptists are less affirming of a private
prayer language so the fact that 50 percent of the pastors answered 'yes' is
very surprising," he said. "There are a lot of implications birthed out of
that . Southern Baptists have become at least half of them more open to a
practice that was not mainstream 100 years ago." However, the denomination's
leaders remain split over whether speaking in tongues even exists. Forty-one
percent of Southern Baptist pastors polled said the spiritual gift ceased
after the early days of the church, compared with 29 percent of other
Protestant pastors.

Many Southern Baptists oppose the current practice of tongues, one of nine
"gifts of the Holy Spirit" mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12. In November 2005,
the denomination's International Mission Board forbade future missionaries
to pray privately in tongues even though the head of the board, Jerry
Rankin, had admitted to using a "private prayer language" for more than 30

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