Thursday, March 23, 2006

Houston, We Have A Problem

Me, The SBC, and IMB

About a year ago, a small blip hit my radar screen in the "blogdom" as it is called. It is quite a unique place. It has helped me to see the world from another angle in the last several months. Now that blip has turned into a huge blip. The blip came across the screen when I started picking up on some trends in Baptist blog circles where there was much discussion about tongues and spiritual gifts. Real spiritual gifts, not flower arranging, cooking potluck dinners, or vacuum cleaner maintenance, but real stuff, like the 1 Corinthians 12-14 things. Soon thereafter, Tim Kelley, a friend of mine sent me the CD's from the Louisiana summer fest and there was one particular message that caused the blip to get bigger.

T. F. Tenney preached/taught a message about being an Apostolic in this age and how that many non-Spirit filled (and even some SF churches) churches are filled with apathy, indifference, and other things that are literally choking them down. He also noted that he had been invited to a large Baptist conference to speak and it was there that several Baptist ministers confessed that they had been filled with the Spirit and had spoken with tongues.

I got the typical "warm fuzzies" that we Pentecostals are famous for at the time but it progressed and touched something much deeper. So I just continued to do something that I have been doing for years (at least 10 years, maybe longer) and that was to continue to pray for non-Spirit filled churches to have an outpouring of the Spirit on their pastors, elders, and congregants.

Foolish though it seemed at the time, I would ride by these churches in my city, very slowly (usually at night) and roll the window down and hold my hand out and "prayer over" these places. I know that sounds preposterous and probably if you following behind me in my little white Mazda it looked preposterous! It was not a long drawn out deal, just a "God let Your Spirit find it's way into the lives of those folks." I have to admit that more times than not, I did feel a little foolish for doing something like this. I would save the more intense prayer meetings for when I was alone in prayer. The fact of the matter is this: I want revival in this city!!!! However it happens is not really the issue, just let it happen.

The blip continued to grow when I learned of this official statement that had come out from the IMB which is the Southern Baptist Convention's Mission Board:

IMB Prayer Language Policy

TOPIC: MISSIONARY
SUBJECT: TONGUES AND PRAYER LANGUAGE
DATE:
November 15, 2005
That the following policy regarding tongues and prayer language of missionary candidates be adopted:

GLOSSOLALIA
1. The New Testament speaks of a gift of glossolalia that generally is considered to be a legitimate language of some people group.
2. The New Testament expression of glossolalia as a gift had specific uses and conditions for its exercise in public worship.
3. In term of worship practices, the majority of Southern Baptist churches do not practice glossolalia. Therefore, if glossolalia is a public part of his or her conviction and practice, the candidate has eliminated himself or herself from being a representative of the IMB of the SBC.

PRAYER LANGUAGE
1. Prayer language as commonly expressed by those practitioners is not the same as the biblical use of glossolalia.
2. Paul’s clear teaching is that prayer is to be made with understanding.
3. Any spiritual experience must be tested by the Scriptures.
4. In terms of general practice, the majority of Southern Baptists do not accept what is referred to as “private prayer language.” Therefore, if “private prayer language” is an ongoing part of his or her conviction and practice, the candidate has eliminated himself or herself from being a representative of the IMB of the SBC.

APPLICATION
1. This policy is not retroactive.
2. Any exceptions to the above policy must be reviewed by the staff and the Process Review Committee.

Because of "blogdom" I discovered that the leaders in "mission control" had to give the above policy because some of their missionaries apparently have begin to let the Lord have more control than what has been standard and customary in the past. I think that any logical, cognizant mind would have to agree that when you see such a statement coming from "mission control" that there obviously is a problem somewhere! This is the problem that we Pentecostals have been praying would happen for a long time. However, the problem is not the problem. The problem is actually the solution!

I believe what is occurring in SBC circles and churches is there are some good, godly pastors who are finding some wicked church fights. Stories circulate of some SBC churches that are run by extremely carnal boards and when a pastor starts trying to make some changes that will benefit the spiritual (not social) atmosphere of the church, he finds himself at odds with the board. These boards then begin to position themselves in such a fashion that it makes the life for a pastor and his family very miserable. I know of at least one who resigned under tremendous pressure because he was rocking the boat. In these desperate circumstances, these men have no other place to turn but to God. When they get involved with God in a heart-rending prayer meeting, something occurs that has never happened before, they begin to speak with tongues as the Spirit gives the utterance.

Another scenario that presents itself is a little different from what I have just described. This scenario involves a pastor or a set of parents that find themselves in overwhelming situations with people whose marriages, finances, children, and other things are literally out of control. They are trying to provide counsel to those who are in involved with drugs, immorality, and all sorts of other difficulties. These men and women kneel down and during those times of desperate prayer, they are receiving the Spirit. It is at first somewhat mysterious to them and to some even frightening because they have never had this experience before. Yet, they find great comfort and encouragement from these times of prayer. The Spirit blows where it listeth as the KJV states and no man can quarantine the wind.


Furthermore, I begin to frequent some of the message boards scattered about Baptist theological circles. I begin to notice a trend among those in Baptist leadership circles. I believe that one of the things about the message boards is that it provides anonymity to those who want to sometimes ask the hard questions that are lurking in their souls. I am listing some comments (with some editing to remove extraneous matter not applicable to this post) that came from a message board that I ran across a few weeks ago. Again, more issues with the hot topic of tongues and whether or not the Spirit has "ceased" to work in this generation:

Dear Brothers

Are you smarter, know the scriptures better (Greek & Hebrew) or served longer than these men?

John MacArthur, Albert Mohler, Mark Dever, C. J. Mahaney, John Piper, Wayne Grudem (Have you written a Systematic theology that many seminaries use?) Robert Saucey (Talbot people), many Dallas Seminary teachers, Trinity Evangelical, Westminster and so on. You should trust them. It it very hard from scripture to prove that the all the gifts have stopped. The truth is we are only dealing with three gifts, we all believe in spiritual gifts, just not a healer or miracles or tongues. But I ask you, do you not believe in Mircales? Do you not believe that God can heal? We would all say yes, but it's by God's will and through pray. If a person prays and the other person becomes well, would the person that prayed, would he be known has a healer?

How about when God's speaks with us when we are praying and gives us insight into some problem or direction in life, would that be considered Charismatic? All of us get spiritual help from the Holy Spirit. How about that great prayer warrior in your church (The little old lady)that knows God, stays up all night praying to Him and has great spiritual insight of the church and the Bible, would she be considered Charismatic?

How about James 5 that commands us to pray for the sick?

Why are we arguing over three gifts? Pretty soon we will argue over the KJV only, Christian rock music, pants, ties and then try to start our own new fellowship. Because we believe we are so right. (With our Bible College degree or just a 3 years Seminary degree. The truth is that we have read some books, been taught something from our youth that says, "Spiritual gifts are not of the day.")

Does anyone know what is the Sword of the Lord is ? They have a book that says "How great souls winners were filled with the Holy Spirit." (D.L Moody, R.A Torrey, Chapman, Spurgeon, Finney, Sunday) if you read their testimonies, it sounds Charismatic but we all know they are not. The Holy Spirit is alive and real and it not for Charismatics only.

Anyone know Jack Hyles? He had a Spiritual experience that would sound Charismatic.

Here is the fact, if we are so smart and know more than these guys then why is God not using you.

The Shepherds Conferences and Grace Church, knows what they are doing, John MacArthur is not Charismatic or will be Charismatic, that is a joke. I am very glad to know this about C.J. Mahaney and John Piper and that John MacArthur has them at the conference.

Be grateful and stop complaining, I would love to have the gift of healing because there are so many people hurting in my Church. I don't have the gift but we do pray for them, that God would heal them.

God Bless You brothers, let us fight against the cults of the day more than each other.

Chris D.

Admittedly, Chris D. did wash a little laundry. Yet he was not the only one who affirmed this point that he was making. Others affirmed the position of the Spirit in the life of those who were seeking the Spirit. The whole reason for his letter is that John MacArthur had taken some criticism for allowing men like John Piper, C. J. Mahaney, and Wayne Grudem take some part in his conference. These men have some leanings toward a continued work of the Spirit and it's manifestation in our day. Notice what I am not saying, these men have not fully embraced what most who read this blog have. Simply, they are not hostile to what has been common in Pentecostal circles for years. (NOTE: Piper, Mahaney, Grudem, and MacArthur are not part of the SBC crowd, they are more so considered fundamentalists.)

We need to pray for men who are suddenly in the hot seat and taking criticism for their belief that spiritual gifts did not die with the Apostles. I have to place this in statement for sake of clarity and fairness to John MacArthur: He has never been and probably never will be a man who is a continuationist (one who believes spiritual gifts continues today). Furthermore, I would add that we Pentecostals might learn something from his dogged discipline at expository preaching and mirror the death grip that he holds on the doctrines that he believes.

In John MacArthur's defense and a lot of others in his category, if TBN were the only point of reference that you had for a work of the Spirit, it is doubtful that you would embrace it either. Sometimes, I personally think that TBN ought to change their name to The Cartoon Network. It is literally amazing and need I say heretical some of the Scriptural positions that these "ministers" take. (Pardon me. This is one of my personal soapboxes that I periodically need to get on).

What is my responsibility in this matter? There are several:

  • 1. Continue to pray for God to move to hungry hearts who are seeking a greater relationship with God.
  • 2. Seek out those men who are really hungry to know more about the manifestation of spiritual gifts and help them come to a Biblical understanding of these things.
  • 3. Promote a spiritual atmosphere in the Church that I serve to always have people in mind who are seeking for a work of the Spirit. This is more than a fast-song, the beat, etc. A spiritual atmosphere will always have the liberty of worship, a promotion of prayer, and a hunger for the Word through preaching/teaching.
  • 4. Encourage. . . .Encourage. . . .Encourage a deeper walk with God to anyone who comes into my path.
  • 5. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, ignore the nitwits, dingbats, and anything else that remotely resembles anything in between. There are nitwits, kooks, etc. on both sides of this issue. It can be approached biblically and logically.

2 comments:

Chad A. Moore said...

Barnabas,

Very good post. I've heard some about the SBC glossalalia and prayer language controversy. I'm actually a student at their Southern Seminary at Louisville. As you mentioned learning from John MacArthur concerning his steady stand and his expository preaching, so I have learned a great deal from the fine Southern Baptists that I know. Yet I pray, as you do, that God would pour out His Spirit upon them. And I agree that we should seek out such relationships. Lastly, I have found as you noted that for many Evangelicals, TBN is the source of their understanding of Pentecostalism. What a shame. So we have to work against that. Anyways, thank you for this interesting post and for your blog.

In Christ,
Grace and Peace,

Chad Moore
Bloomington, IN

Anonymous said...

Hi-I stumbled upon this blog after looking up some info on bro. t.f. tenney. i am a pentecostal from north louisiana (former southern baptist) and thought this was a very interesting post because we just had a ex-southern baptist preacher come to our church and give his testimony last sunday. he is just leaving the sbc and is praying for direction. he attended the conference where bro. tenney preached to the sbc members. the message fanned the already growing flame he had for more of God and he received the holy ghost. it's happening everywhere! very exciting. God bless!