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. Now...in no particular order:
- 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.
- 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.
- I was treated with the utmost of respect and courtesy, even during the infamous "panel discussion" Q&A time.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.