Ministerial Meanderings

God centered theology in a man centered world.

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Location: Springfield, Missouri, United States

I was born in Washington D.C. and raised in Laurel, Maryland. I served in the United States Air Force for 20 years then retired. Then God led me to become a pastor. I was converted to Christ in the summer of 1966. I enjoy the company of my wife, children and grandchildren. I live with my three cats Taz.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Should the SBC Include Charismatics?

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) will be holding it's annual meeting this week in San Antonio, Texas. One of the topics that will be discussed is the place of charismatic Christians in the SBC. This comes on the heels of the flap earlier when a trustee at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth told at a chapel service how he came by the "gift of tongues" while he was a student there. His sermon was censured by the Seminary administration and he was almost removed from being a trustee. Since then, SWBTS has issued guidelines saying no one there will promote the idea of "ecstatic tongues or prayer languages." In the meantime, conferences have been held and much has been written about the charismatic movement inside the SBC and the place, role, and even existence of "tongues."

No doubt, there are charismatics inside the SBC. If the events of the past few months have taught us nothing else, they have taught us that much. But I ask "Is this a good thing for the SBC?" On reflection, I have to answer "no."

The SBC is still recovering from a 25 year long battle called the "Conservative Resurgence." This battle rescued our Convention from liberals who had taken over our seminaries and many of our institutions. It returned us to being a people of the Book. Southern Baptists are, if nothing else, a Bible believing people. This high view of the Bible has caused several consequences among us. One is the rise of Calvinistic theology among Southern Baptists. David Dockery, president of Union University in Tennessee has said that wherever there is a high view of the Bible then Calvinism is ascendant. Other issues in church life and practice have also come under examination as Southern Baptists have turned back to examining everything by scripture.

But the charismatic movement (and it's children) are not a scripture based movement. It is an experience based movement. In a biblically based model, one builds a theology around scripture and then every experience is tested against scripture. We interpret our experiences in light of scripture. However, in the charismatic movement, theology is built around experiences, then scripture is interpreted in light of these experiences and all experience is interpreted in light of other experiences.

One case in point to illustrate this. I read a book by a former professor at Dallas Theological Seminary. He firmly believed that scripture did not support the idea of a modern tongues speaking movement. Then, as he said, "It happened to me." That caused him to change his entire theology. Instead of rejecting this experience in light of scripture, he changes his view of scripture in light of his experience. This is the pathway of the charismatic movement. Once you open the door to extra-biblical experiences, there is no limit. Among other charismatics, not the ones in the SBC, we see people claiming the titles of apostle, prophet, seer, and so on. There are visions, and conversations with Jesus (face to face), there are trips to heaven, hell and beyond. And every experience is to be believed and accepted. Why? Because scripture is no longer the test.

If Southern Baptists are going to move into the future being a people of the Book then this Southern Baptist charismatic movement will find no place among us. To hold a high view of scripture is to bring everything, and I mean everything, under the authority of scripture. Any movement that takes away from scriptural authority, even a little bit, must be rejected. That is why, in my opinion, this charismatic movement inside the SBC is not a good thing for us. I believe it works against what we have worked so hard to become. That is what I think.


Blogger Chris said...

I totally agree with ya John....but I do have a question....what about conservative Christians that think that the gifts of the spirit are valid for today but should be used within the context of scripture.....Example: Benny Hinn doing his Blah, blah routine on stage and calling it speaking in tounges but it totally violates scripture on how it's supposed to be used......??

3:47 AM  

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