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Proposed ban on 'tongues' prayer divides Baptists

By Anita Wadhiwani, The Tennessean

A move by Southern Baptists to bar enlistment of missionaries who profess to speak in tongues as they pray is stirring some controversy within the nation's largest Protestant denomination.
Leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention's international missionary branch say their vote in November to ban the private practice of speaking in tongues — which they call "private prayer language" — is in line with Baptist traditions and the beliefs of most Baptists.

Southern Baptist ministers opposed to the new directive include those who say they or other Baptist church members have been taken over during prayer by the Holy Spirit and made to utter words in languages they often do not understand.

"Are we now going to set a policy that says if God in his sovereignty gives someone a prayer language, we are now going to disqualify them?" says Rick White, pastor of the 6,000 member Baptist-affiliated People's Church in Franklin, Tenn. "My concern is, who's next?"

The ministers opposing it say the measure stifles free spiritual expression among missionaries in the field and sends a message to Baptists at home that the denomination is dictating how people can pray.

It's a message that potentially alienates Baptists drawn to more spirited expressions of faith at a time when growth among Southern Baptist ranks is stagnating, they say.

"It seems like the denomination is drawing lines more and more narrowly all the time at who can participate in the Southern Baptist Convention, and I think that is going to impact younger generations who want more diversity," White says.

White says he has never had the experience of speaking in tongues but members of his staff and congregation have.

It's the first time speaking in tongues has emerged as such a public controversy among conservative members of the Southern Baptist Convention, who have worked together for years to prevail over liberals to firmly establish the doctrine that the Bible is literally true, according to Robert Parham, executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics.

The controversy points to a small but growing tension among Southern Baptists over whether spirited expressions of faith — increasingly popular among Christians here and abroad — are really Baptist.

Southern Baptist worship styles traditionally involve less expression and emotional participation by people in the pews, according to Vanderbilt Divinity School Assistant Dean James Byrd Jr.
There also is disagreement about what the Bible says about speaking in tongues really means.
Those opposed to the notion of modern-day speaking in tongues say that its mention in the New Testament was a unique phenomenon.

Baptists who defend the practice say the gift remains alive in some today, but they also say it's something that people experience in private prayer rather than during church services.

Baptist experts say openly speaking in tongues from the pews is a rare phenomenon that is frowned upon by most in the denomination.

Last month, the chairman of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board, which creates policies for the denomination's overseas missionary arm, issued a public letter to all Baptist pastors and laity explaining the policy decision to bar the private practice of speaking in tongues among foreign missionaries.

Acknowledging the controversy, chairman Tom Hatley said he would ask an internal group to review the decision and he invited pastors to e-mail him suggestions on possible revisions.
Hatley said the decision is designed to ensure uniform spiritual practices among Southern Baptist missionaries, a 5,200-strong international evangelical force that represents the denomination in faraway places as they seek to convert future Baptists.

The policies, he wrote, were in response to concerns about "charismatic problems that could intrude on our mission work."

Charismatic practices include speaking in tongues and are a hallmark of Pentecostal churches, with rapidly growing popularity in nations where Baptist missionaries are at work, as well as within the United States.

While pastors weigh in, the controversy divides Southern Baptist leaders. The president of the International Mission Board says he speaks in tongues during private prayers.

President Jerry Rankin, who works closely with the board that voted to ban the practice that has been part of his spiritual life for 30 years, has not openly criticized the board's decision.
But a dissenting board trustee — Oklahoma pastor Wade Burleson — has done so openly and prolifically on his Internet blog.

Burleson's fellow trustees first moved to oust him from his leadership position, citing "broken trust and resistance to accountability," but later backed away from that.

In March, the board adopted new guidelines for all trustees to "refrain from public criticism" and from "speaking in disparaging terms" of any decision they make.

3 comments:

jac said...

Dears in the Lord
Speaking in tongues is actually as mentioned in bible are a sign (Mark 16: 16)and a gift (1 corinth)
God is the same yesterday, today ad tomarrow and same is the case with the signs and gifts bestowed by Him to the church

Even it was written that in the end times I will pour upon all My Spirit and you will have all the gifts of the Holy Spirit

So brethern, insted of voting or having arguments/discussions on this matter let us all follow what GOD said and given to all

Anonymous said...

http://forum1.aimoo.com/revival/Please-Consider-An-examination-1-29541

MothandRust said...

http://tinyurl.com/6oynv3