Skip to comments.Power Play? Board boots Baptist pastor in flap over speaking in tongues
Posted on 02/04/2006 2:44:05 AM PST by WKB
A Southern Baptist pastor being removed from a national board governing worldwide evangelism says he doesn't speak in tongues himself but is defending missionaries who do to keep the denomination "broad in our cooperation."
The Rev. Wade Burleson, the senior pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Enid, said that the board of trustees of the Southern Baptist Convention's International Mission Board wants him to be removed because of his criticism of a policy change enacted by the IMB in November 2005. It stated that any candidate speaking in tongues, even privately, "has eliminated himself or herself from being a representative of the IMB of the SBC."
In a statement, the International Mission Board says it wants him removed not because of the tongues issue, but because of "broken trust and resistance to accountability." Burleson's removal depends on a June vote of the entire Southern Baptist Convention, but the controversy is being watched beyond Baptist circles, largely because of the dispute over tongues, an issue that has rankled many religious groups.
Tongues is described in the Bible as a spiritual language used by early Christians, enabled by the Holy Spirit. The issue of whether it is still relevant, or appropriate, for modern times has divided many denominations.
Burleson says he is not most concerned about tongues, but a willingness to remove ministers who disagree with what he and others consider "nonessential doctrines." Since the changes in the mission board's policy were made official, Burleson has been writing open letters and explanations of his position on his blog, kerussocharis.blogspot.com.
He has repeatedly referred to those who wanted the policy changes as "crusading conservatives."
"Crusading conservatives seek to convince you that their interpretation of the Bible on nonessential doctrines must be accepted by all conservatives, and if someone chooses to not conform to their specific interpretation, then he/she is removed from service," Burleson said.
Burleson says he considers himself a "cooperating conservative," which he defines as a person who is in agreement on the major doctrines of the Bible but gives freedom in areas of interpretation regarding nonessential doctrines. The SBC has long considered the Reformation's rallying cries of faith alone, grace alone, Scripture alone and Christ alone as summing up the major doctrines of Scripture.
The use of the spiritual gift known as tongues or glossolalia would fall into the nonessential category. Southern Baptists have a policy that prohibits their ministers from using tongues in a public setting.
"I do not want people to lose sight of the real issue," Burleson said. "It is not about the new policies. It is the direction we seem to be moving as a convention that shuts out dissent and desires conformity in the interpretation of minor doctrines."
Burleson said he does not practice a "private prayer language," the phrase some use for speaking in tongues, nor does anyone he would consider a close friend or family member. The issue, he said, is one of principle and "is not personal."
Leon McBeth is a retired distinguished professor of church history at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. He said that the SBC has a long-standing antipathy toward what some call the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit.
"In my day, our concern over the tongues issue was a biblical one," McBeth said. "In the Bible, tongues is always associated with conflict. And tongues isn't exclusive to Christianity. The practice goes at least as far back as the Oracle at Delphi.
"Sometime in the 1970s, as a way of ameliorating opposition to tongues, some Southern Baptists began to talk about private prayer language. They believed it was less offensive than calling it tongues."
Lyle Story, a professor of biblical languages and New Testament at Regent University School of Divinity in Virginia Beach, Va., said that the Southern Baptist resistance to tongues is tied to their belief that all the miraculous gifts (healing, prophecy, tongues, miracles) ceased with the death of the original 12 apostles and the completion of the Bible.
Burleson said he is resistant to the policy change because so many Christian men and women throughout history would have violated it.
"Some of our greatest missionaries of all time had a private prayer language, including Miss Bertha Smith of China, who led thousands of people to Christ and died an ambassador of the Southern Baptist Convention at the age of 100," he said.
Jerry Rankin, the president of the International Mission Board, has acknowledged that he has practiced a private prayer language for 30 years.
"We have become so intolerant that everyone must now march in lockstep with us or we kick them out," McBeth said. "I believe this (the policy change) was part of a power play to force Rankin into retirement."
The IMB made the policy change non-retroactive, so Rankin's position as president will not be threatened.
The trustees of the IMB deny that Burleson's criticism of the policy changes had a bearing on their decision to work to remove him. In an official statement released Jan. 11, board chairman Tom Hatley said: "In taking this action, trustees addressed issues involving broken trust and resistance to accountability, not Burleson's opposition to policies recently enacted by the board."
Burleson will remain on the board until the Southern Baptist Convention meets in Greensboro in June. The convention must vote to remove him, as the IMB has no power to do so. Burleson said he remains a strong supporter of the SBC and IMB.
"The International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention is doing the greatest work in our 161-year-old history," Burleson said. "I and my church support the IMB. We will continue to support the IMB."
Oh man, why did you have to go there? I'm staying awaaaaaaayyyy from this. bye.
Oh man, why did you have to go there?
The devil made me do it??? :>)
Sounds like the Sountern Baptist have a problem with parts of the Bible.
Sounds like the Sountern Baptist have a problem with parts of the Bible.
Maybe you should chnage your screen name to
This doesnt surprise me. The SBC can see the trends as well as anyone. The SBC is starting to show levels of decline. As a former Baptist but still an interested observor it all comes down to this Religious Education. That has gone down hill big time. SBC of course has never been big at all on Speaking in Tounges. But the issue is the growing Pentecostal Movement itself. One reason the SBC memebers are at risk is that they have really forgotten to teach and drill into the youth an Trinitarian concept of God.
Futhermore, let me elaborate. Just not on Trinitarism but on a whole host of issues the Evanglical church has that educated their members. This is really quite ironic since the Scholarship in Academic circles in Evanglical Thought has increased greatly.
The idea the gifts of the holy spirit died with the apostles is laughable. There is no Biblical support for that assertion. It is also odd to call it a private prayer language. What speaking is tongues is according to the Bible is evidence of being filled with the holy spirit. Nothing more, nothing less. Southern Baptist are wrong in kicking people out of Church for something Biblical, while Pentacostals are wrong for making it much more than it is.
I always thought these dudes with foreign tongue chatter....were having some kinda drug flashback from events in New Orleans, which we won't describe in detail...but the ladies involved weren't members of the local church or even Baptists.
Having grown in a Baptist community and attended throughout my youth...my dad one day laid down a pearl of wisdom. "Son, you need some morals and strength in life...with character...and always some patience...but when some dang fool is standing in front of you for an hour...in some kinda convulsive fit and appears to be in some kinda "foreign tongues" episode...you'd best leave the church and find a good fishfry place to cool off and chill out. There are better ways to enjoy one's time, family and life." I remember the discussion...and like so many pearls of wisdom...he was right. I don't need a minister in front of me who is using some kinda fit to keep me on the straight and narrow path...I need a man with insight and common sense. When you play this "tongues" game....you treat the audience as if they were at some WWF match with Hulk Hogan and waiting for King Kong Bundy to show up.
Southern Baptist are wrong in kicking people out of Church for something Biblical, while Pentacostals are wrong for making it much more than it is.
See you ARE "right sometimes". :>)
I hate to say this but to me the whole tounge issue in the SBC comes down to a issue of polite Southern middle Class conformity. You know we teachers , bankers, etc in the First BAptist Church of "..." just dont do that. I understand the major problems with Pentecostals esp the oneness kind. I know this is going to be controversal but Baptist shoould look to the Catholics to see how the Church dealt with the issue and incorparated the Charismatic movement into the local churches as a whole without disturbing everyones feelings
YOU SEEM TO HAVE A PERPENSITY TOWARD EARLY SATURDAY MORNING DISCUSSION POSTS THAT YOU BLAME ON THE DEVIL!
C:\My Documents\Pentecostalism Spirit-Filled Blessing___or Dangerous Heresy.htm
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven.
And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language.
Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, "Look, are not all these who speak Galileans?
"And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born?
"Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,
"Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes,
"Cretans and Arabs--we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God."
The saints actually where speaking [heard] in known languages not just grunting out noises.
Paul spoke very clearly to the church of corinth concerning the propensity of some to pridefully display so- called gifts.
1 Corinthians 13:1
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.
The 100 year old notion of building a DOCTRINE around one snippet of one bible chapter IS WRONG!
I agree, that is the root of the problem. Many people are uncomfortable with speaking in tongue thing, so they rationalize it out of existance.
I agree with you, I think the whole prejudice against tounges goes back to the days where unfort icontrol associated with a Heresy. Its highly suspected that the Monatist spoke in tounges. After St Augustine was successful in fighting t that heresy(tounges really wasnt the issue) I am convinced that tounges fell out of favor for centuires as a general practice of the laity. So it was found after the Apostolic age and didnt die out.
Does God allow heresy to arise, to bring us back to the truth?
Does he allow people of his, to take a truth to the point that it is no longer true, in order to wake the rest of us up?
IE: We don't like the "name it and claim it", or "blab it and grab it" doctrines of the health, wealth and prosperity movement. They do misuse and abuse scripture in my opinion on this issue, BUT, doesn't the presence of the errors made regarding that issue make the rest of us sit up and think about "How do we really interpret the scriptures that do actually deal with God blessing people who give and give abundantly?"
Same thing with the Holy Spirit and such related issues of speaking in tongues, miracles, etc... I have been around people who are vehemently opposed to speaking in tongues today, and those who practice speaking in tongues.
Some who say "you're not born again unless you do speak in tongues", and others who say, "you're not born again, if you do, you're demon possessed."
WOW, what a conflicting dynamic! Apart from this issue, people in both camps were loving, caring, people, who were well aware of their own sinfulness, and need for Christ as their savior.
As you can see, I have found that there are idiots in both camps. They're still my brothers and sisters, but they're still WAY WAY out there, on their points of view.
Personally, after growing up Catholic, graduating from an Assembly of God Bible College, and spending time in various churches, including an SBC church in Missouri for awhile, and now serving in a Christian and Missionary Alliance church, I have to say that, I have found brothers and sisters in all the camps.
I have also found the same dead "riff raff" in all of the above churches, too.
I have more and more found that the simplicity of the gospel is so profound, that the "best" minds in the world, can't get right down and admit that their pet issues mean nothing. After thousands and thousands of dollars from years of Bible College, and time spent as a youth and associate Pastor. I have only found a few statements in scripture that clearly and definitively describe what being a true Christian is all about. Here are the two most prominent:
1. John 13:35
By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
2. Romans 10:9
... if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
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