Thursday, May 31, 2007

Holy Spirit Conference Reflections

Pastor Dwight McKissic has forwarded to me the audio CDs of the conference to which he graciously invited me. Having had some opportunity to review them, I can now intelligently comment on the conference. Thanks, Bro. Dwight. no particular order:

  1. My biggest regret is that I so flagrantly violated the time scheduled for my session. That was rude of me. It was not intentional. It bothers me still today.
  2. My most cherished attribute of the conference was the opportunity to meet in person so many of the people with whom I have swapped electrons over the past year.
  3. I was treated with the utmost of respect and courtesy, even during the infamous "panel discussion" Q&A time.
  4. I think that Robin and I may have frustrated some of the folks involved by not tailoring our presentations to some sort of a preconceived concept of "cessationism/semi-cessationism." It is possible that we did not live up to our assignments, but if that is the case (and I do not know that it is), then I think what I actually did was better than what I was assigned to do. It seems to me that sometimes the folks who have tended to argue the other side of our contemporary issues would like for folks like me to step neatly into a theological box, perhaps because their arguments address the box better than they address who we really are? I do not fit into the box, nor do the Southern Baptists I know.
  5. I detected very little actual difference in the doctrine of the Holy Spirit among most of the presenters (although I'm not so sure that biblical glossolalia derives from the Holy Spirit speaking "frog" and "locust"). Our differences relate to how we apply our doctrine of the Holy Spirit to the specific phenomena around us. Are the specific Pentecostal/Charismatic/Third-Wave practices in view to be equated with and accepted as the genuine biblical gift of tongues, or are they counterfeits? With fear and trepidation, I violate the Art Rogers Rule and offer my bald speculation that, from my experience, most Southern Baptists do not believe that the ecstatic utterances (oh, wait, we've been forbidden from using THAT terminology now), just make that "the kind of utterances that are not known languages"…that most Southern Baptists do not belive that these kinds of utterances are what the Bible actually means when it refers to the gift of tongues.
  6. People who believe in non-communicative tongues struggle between two poles—on the one hand, they wish to avoid portraying tongues as useless; on the other hand, they wish to avoid portraying tongues as something that gives the modern-tongues-speaker any advantage over the non-tongues-speaker. In this conference, if there was a danger of stepping over one of those boundaries, it was the danger of presenting tongues as a gift conveying special advantages to the possessor. By a very few presenters and by many of the participants in the audience, tongues were referred to as a breakthrough-gift for spiritual advancement to the next level, that which empowers one to speak to cancers or demons to be able to effect healing or exorcism, etc. I think that the majority of the presenters deliberately wanted to avoid this kind of approach, but I think that the difficulty is inherent to the question—there is a reason why such a large number of people who have advocated the modern practice have come to endorse it as a distinguishing mark between healthy Christians and less-healthy Christians.
  7. I appreciate Jack Maddox, who—unlike many unnamed souls among you—actually did come and participate as a conference attendee sympathetic to mine and Robin's presentations.
Overall, it was a great privilege to be able to participate in the conference. Nobody has ever asked me to do anything like that before, and as far over time as I went, nobody ever will again! So, I'll just have to bask in this experience as long as I can. :-)


sbc pastor said...

Again already, I told you that I was sick (cough, cough). Besides, I'm allergic to moderates, liberals, and charismatics... :0)

Perhaps I'll have to host my own "Conference on the Holy Spirit" where we will expose ecstatic utterances for what they really are... unscriptural gibberish!

God bless!!!

In Christ,

Anonymous said...

That last sentence was stupid and offensive, JLG.

Anonymous said...

No more offensive that Wade stating that what he presented might not be what was assigned, but it was BETTER.

VERY healthy ego you have there Wade

Bart Barber said...

Uhhh....Anonymous....Are you in the right place?

Anonymous said...

Sorry - I assumed that was WADE talking since it seemd so VERY WADE like.

Bart Barber said...

But, to answer your concern, certainly I battle ego as much as the next guy. Nevertheless, my point was simply this—the conference organizers were unable to produce a single presenter who held to the caricature of "cessationism" against which some like to trumpet. Perhaps, if we can't find a single spokesperson for the view, it isn't very relevant to the SBC discussion.

Benjamin S. Cole said...

Fragrant or flagrant?

Bart Barber said...


Color me embarrased.

Benjamin S. Cole said...


You might have been fragrant. I'm not sure.

And I don't think I ever want to be sure.


Debbie said...

I truly wish anonymous commenters would have the guts to sign their name when they make such wild comments. Jeremy does. :)

Bart: I thought you did a very good job at presenting your viewpoint. I learned things I did not know which at least helped me personally know where you were coming from. I don't agree with the conclusion but realize how you arrived there.

I did wonder however when you were done, that as David Rogers asked that possibly there is a difference in the definition of certain words.

Bart Barber said...



Bart Barber said...


Thanks for your kind words. Definition of terms is indeed an important (and often overlooked) part of discourse.

Steve Young said...

It is interesting to me that the more some "concerned Baptists" blog, the more they sound like what they propose to battle - "harsh," "narrow" (just different issues), "unreasonable." Just recently another blog first defined "fundamentalist," and then put folks there like Jerry Falwell, who never fit their definition.

Alan Cross said...


Very good analysis of the conference. As far as trying to make a caricature of cessationists, I actually did try and deal with what classic cessationists like MacArthur teach. The assignment was to make a case for either cessationism/semi-cessationism or to define and defend continuationism. You and Robin focused on tongues. In not focusing on that and deciding to focus on the larger picture, I was not trying to push you and Robin in a corner or respond to you at all. I was just trying to fulfill my assignment as I understood it. I am not saying that you said I was doing that, but I just wanted to be clear.

Honestly, it does get confusing for everyone involved to know exactly where everyone stands. I have been frustrated with people like Jeremy Green labeling those who believe in a PPL to be charismatics. A charismatic believes in a seperate Baptism of the Holy Spirit with tongues as the sign. Neither I nor anyone who is Baptist on the other side of the debate believes that to be true. Maybe correction is needed all around?

As far as your going over, don't worry. EVERY speaker did it and it turned out that I was the one who had to shorten my talk. I planned for around 50 minutes as I was told, and reduced it to 35. Ugh. But, you weren't there to see me sweat or to try and keep up with my rapid fire push through my slides, so I don't know if I should forgive you after all! :)

Anonymous said...

It's always fun when the two opposing flamethrowers get in on a comment thread. Too bad they don't aim at each other...

Alan Cross said...

One other thing: Are you saying that if the position of the IMB BoT was not the majority, or at least not the majority that has been claimed you would change your mind on the appropriateness of all of this?

Bart Barber said...


"Flamethrowers"? Does your inability to be clear about who is doing the speaking somehow prevent you from clearly expressing about whom you are speaking?

Bart Barber said...


Thanks for the kind words. I'm not sure what "all of this" signifies. If it refers to my personal theology—only politicians arrive at their beliefs in response to the daily polls, and I am not of that ilk.

If it refers to SBC institutional policies, I have repeatedly stated that I will accept whatever determination Southern Baptists make through our polity.

Jack Maddox said...


I was glad to be there. Although Alycelee chastises me on another thread for amending Robin and Yourself, I was quick to correct her in and that I shared my amen with several of the presenters that day...I EVEN GAVE A HEARTY AMEN TO BAPTIST BAD BOY BEN COLE! When he said “I am done now" I said "AMEN!" Just kidding Ben...I actually ran interference for you in the foyer with a couple of military guys who took exception to your flag comments...

anyway...agreed, a good conference, not really on the Holy Spirit, but on the views supporting the charismatic expression of SOME gifts of the Holy Spirit...with Bart and Robin serving as 'Another View"


Jack Maddox said...

woops...that was supposed to be "Amening" not Amending



Bart Barber said...

Yes, Jack, if you are going to amend me, you're going to have to go to San Antonio to do so. :-)

Matt Brady said...

Speaking "frog" and "locust"!


By the way, that is a "really?" of incredulity, not of questioning your integrity. I have no doubt it is true.

Bart Barber said...


Did I not tell you about that? I'll do so privately.

Alan Cross said...


The "all this" was the IMB policies. You are correct.


Bart was referring to a man who was talking about God being able to communicate with His creation and direct them, if I remember correctly. I don't know exactly where the man was going with what he was saying and I missed part of it. But, no one was there claiming to be able to speak "frog" or "locust" if that is what you were implying.


Again, I don't know anyone in Southern Baptist life who is a proponent of Charismatic theology. If you do, please point them out. I will join you in disagreeing with them.

volfan007 said...


there used to be a horse that could speak english. his name is reported to have been mr. ed.


was there a man there who said that he could talk to frogs and locusts? lol. boy, i'm sorry i missed that conference. :)

i wonder if there's anyone out there who can speak to thier language? i need someone to tell a certain mole to get out of my yard!


Jerry Corbaley said...

Hi Bart,

I appreciate the tolerance of the brothers and sisters on the IMBoT who are cessationists. They cooperated on common ground with the rest of the board in adopting a guideline that is NOT cessationist.

I have asked Dr. McKissic to please consider correcting the factual errors of his proposed resolution.

Pastor John said...

An honest question from one wanting to keep terms straight.

You said that "A charismatic believes in a seperate Baptism of the Holy Spirit with tongues as the sign."

Now, everyone from self described Pentecostals and Charismatics to SBC seminary profs. have all told me that such a belief is the hallmark of Fundamental Pentecostalism, not Charismatics.

Charismatics are those who believe in the continuation of what are commonly refered to the "sign gifts" (the one cesssationists believe are no longer active).

Thus why people like Wayne Grudem can call themselves charismatics while not believing in a second "Baptism of the Spirit."

What's your thoughts on this & what should we call folks who believe like you?


Bart Barber said...


Thanks, brother, for coming by and making a very good point.


No, the man did not suggest that he could speak "frog" and "locust." Rather, he suggested that he could, by speaking in tongues, speak "cancer" and "demon." He said that the Holy Spirit is able to speak "frog" and "locust" as evidenced in the plagues.

But that is really not the focus of my post, which has sought to highlight the commonalities among most of the presenters. I do understand, however, why such a bizarre statement piques people's interest.

Jerry Corbaley said...

Hi Bart,

Me again. I just offered my apology to Dr. McKissic (on his blog) for my failure to address my comments to his blog post, not his resolution.

My apologies to you and your readers also.

To be precise; I have asked Dr. McKissic to correct the factual errors on his recent blog post, "The IMB Tongues Policy: 'Emotional Prejudice' or Exegetical Precision?".

Jack Maddox said...


Hi again! I had to re read my comment to see why you would have singled me out and I see now why. Although I really was not commenting on "Charismatic" practices per se, I can see how one could come to that conclusion. My point was simply this...the conference in Arlington was not truly a conference on the Holy Spirit and His ministry as much as it was a conference on the gifts of the Spirit and even more precisely the gift of tongues. That is really all we talked about. There was nothing concerning the Deity of the Spirit, nothing on Sanctification, nothing about the filling vs baptism, nothing about the fruit of the Spirit, we heard no essays or presentations on the Spirit in conversion. The Spirit is about much more than tongues and gifts. The Convicting ministry of the Spirit, the Converting ministry of the Spirit, The Counseling ministry of the Spirit...that is all I am saying, that the conference was great, I enjoyed it, but to say that it was about anything more than a forum on the pros and cons biblically of speaking in tongues in the context of Baptist historical and contemporary theology I believe is to miss the whole point of the Conference. This conference was about advocating the PPL issue in SB life. I am not saying that it is wrong to do so. I went to the conference to learn and I learned a great deal.

Now not that it matters to me, but I will answer your question.

Ron Phillips

But I am to busy to 'disagree' with him right now. I have to go and take camp forms to students who are going to camp with us this year : )


Alan Cross said...

Pastor John,

Good question. I think that those people are wrong, from what I have read and seen in people that I know. The difference that I know of is that Classic Pentecostals are those who believed in a seperate baptism of the Holy Spirit with tongues as the initial evidence and formed their own denominations, like Assembly of God and Church of God. Charismatics are those who believe the same thing on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit but have stayed within their denominations through the Charismatic Renewal of the 1960's through the 1980's. They did not start their own denominations, but either stayed in the ones they were already in or started non denominational churches. To a person, I have never met a self proclaimed charismatic who did not believe in a separate Baptism in the Holy Spirit with tongues as the intial evidence.

That belief is incompatible with Baptist soteriology, so the charismatic movement never gained a foothold in SBC life. Through people like Wayne Grudem (who perhaps calls himself charismatic because he believes in the giftings of the Holy Spirit), and others, much theological work has been done in evangelical life that says that the gifts, including PPL are for today, but there is no seperate baptism. I don't know what to call that, but that is where I stand. A continuationist has been used as a term, but it is a clumsy term and will probably soon be replaced by something else, in my opinion.

Alan Cross said...


Thanks for answering. I see your point. I would have loved to have talked about the other things as well, and when given the choice of talking about the gifts or the fruit of the Spirit during the panel discussion, I chose to speak on the fruit of the Spirit for the very reasons that you suggest were necessary.

Nathan Finn said...

What Alan is getting at, if I understand him correctly, is that there are very few Charismatics and no Pentecostals in the SBC. I would agree. There are Third Wavers in the SBC, who practice some of the gifts associated with the other two groups (tongues, etc.), but typically do not affirm a second baptism and do not always form new denominations or networks. This is one debate where we need a great deal of definitional precision--Bart is surely right about attempts to paint all cessassionists with one brush, and Alan is right that not everyone who is not a cessassionist is a "Charismatic." The picture is simply more complicated than it was forty years ago, even among Southern Baptists. Please note I am not speaking to the debate itself, but the need to use proper terminology and exercise better Christian charity in the midst of the debate.