Wednesday, November 15, 2006

SBTC's Glossolalia Resolution

Art Rogers has taken notice (see here) of the SBTC's resolution "On Glossolalia and Private Prayer Languages" that passed overwhelmingly last night. I would like to offer a few thoughts about the resolution:

  1. The article over at Twelve Witnesses suggests that "we should not divide ourselves on such an issue" and the comment stream goes on to mention that "Ken Hemphill has come out against making PPL an issue to divide over." Perhaps those involved will be glad to add to the names of those who do not regard this as an issue to divide over—jot down Bart Barber, Malcolm Yarnell, and the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention:
    RESOLVED, That we encourage all Southern Baptists to be patient, kind, and loving toward one another (1 Cor. 13:4-8) regarding this ancillary theological issue, which ought not to constitute a test of fellowship...
  2. Note: Art has revised his article to remove the verbage that led to this second rebuttal. Thank you, Art. The article also suggested that this was "a resoution opposing 'toungues' [sic] in any form." That's odd...the resolution I remember said:
    WHEREAS, Some conservative Texas Southern Baptists affirm that certain spiritual gifts have ceased to be necessary, because the apostolic witness is now canonized in the New Testament (Heb. 2:3-4); and

    WHEREAS, Other conservative Texas Southern Baptists are cautiously open to the continuation of spiritual gifts, but are extremely wary of sanctioning modern practices as biblical; now, therefore, be it

    RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention meeting in Austin, Texas, November 13-14, 2006, declare that Southern Baptists in Texas typically believe that the modern practice of private prayer languages lacks a tangible foundation in Scripture; and be it further

    RESOLVED, That we are opposed to unscriptural teaching relating to speaking in tongues, whether such speech be done in private or public...(emphasis mine)
    Obviously, this resolution acknowledges both the cessationist and the "open but cautious" positions and opposes only "unscriptural teaching" relating to speaking in tongues. The resolution also specifies that the typical Southern Baptist in Texas believes that "the modern practice of private prayer languages lacks a tangible foundation in Scripture." Thus, the resolution opposes any teaching regarding these practices that is unscriptural, and it further proffers the opinion that private prayer languages fall within that category. This is far different from "a resolution opposing tongues in any form."
  3. This is a resolution, not a motion. A motion sets policy or takes an action for the convention. Because this was not a motion, it did not set any SBTC policy or take any sort of action. I have no reason to believe that anyone on the Resolutions Committee or in the messenger body at large had any desire to add this topic to our confession of faith or to be a "PPL exclusionist." Every SBTC messenger surely knows that we have at least one church within the SBTC that holds a different view, yet no action was even attempted against that church. Resolutions cannot do that sort of thing, anyway.

    Nevertheless, resolutions are important. They exist to answer questions regarding what the churches of our convention believe or would opine on some topic or another. Some have posed the question as to whether the majority of Southern Baptists are not actually (contrary to all indicators for the past hundred years) harboring some furtive endorsement of Pentecostalism/the Charismatic movement/the Third Wave. When we are uncertain what Southern Baptists believe about something-or-other, resolutions are a great way to get the pulse of the churches. They are not perfectly representative, but certainly they are more representative than my blog or anyone else's.
So, why pass a resoution on glossolalia? To run people out of town on a rail? No. To give SBTC churches an opportunity to clear up any misunderstanding about what the majority of us believe.

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