Southern Baptist Mission Agency Bans Tongues

The International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist convention has voted to bar new missionaries who speak in tongues as a "private prayer language."


I think this decision is interesting for various reasons:

The article seems to imply that public tongues (with an interpretation) would still be acceptable; but in my (limited) experience of charismatic and neo-pentecostal worship, most people speak in tongues to themselves while they pray or sing and public interpretation is relatively rare.

I wonder what it means that a mission agency is banning something that many Christians experience as or believe to be a move of the Spirit? Church history shows that this is often how new denominations form; the Methodists were run out of the Anglican Church and the Holiness/Pentecostals were run out of the Methodists over disagreements about which unusual behavior was and was not a move of the Spirit.

Maybe more tangibly: since neo-pentecostalism is the fastest growing form of Christianity, especially in Africa, South America and Asia, I wonder how this policy will affect Southern Baptist missions and evangelism (if it does).

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of all, scripturally you should have an interpreter for when tongues is spoken. For example: the Corinthian church. See 1 Cor. 14. The church became disorderly and chaotic when there was not an interpreter. Second, tongues is often used to describe other languages being spoken--this isn't always the case but it is at times.
Southern Baptists are not against speaking in tongues, and this decision does not affect many people. True, the former president of the IMB used to speak in tongues privately, but I can't name many other souhern baptists, let alone IMB missionaries who make the same claim.
No one does international missions like the SBC--this decision really won't change much. It just helps ensure we won't get any crazy theologies different from what we believe applying to the IMB.
See--I still read your blogs!
Love ya-Bethany

10:24 PM, January 04, 2006  
Blogger Daniel McLain Hixon said...

Hey Bethany, I am glad somebody does: I still wonder how a non-creedal Church like the SBC can decide which crazy theologies (or at least "unpopular among most Baptists" theologies) to exclude. And I would probably want to take issue with, or at least qualify that interpretation of 1 Cor. 14 - but we can do that next time I see you - it will be fun. haha - Did you see that I re-did the theological worldview link for you?

10:36 AM, January 05, 2006  
Blogger Michael Davis said...

How sad! It would be ironic if, when baptist missionaries led someone to Christ, the converts would immediately start speaking in tongues. I think the 1 Cor 14 interpretation could be challenged as well.

3:57 PM, January 05, 2006  
Blogger John T. Meche III said...

non-creedal doesn't mean non-ideological. Remember, the SBC is run by fundamentalist politics. It's not what is most popular among Baptist that determines the official standpoint on an issue but the ideology of the leaders. Anything that they don't agree with can be snubbed out by a witch hunt. I hate to sound cynical, but it's history (remember the "inerrant" battle, female pastors, etc).

6:29 PM, January 05, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is ridiculous. Like Daniel mentioned, this is a time when most new converts in South America, and I'm even willing to say, around the world, are converting through more charismatic missionaries, or Churches. By taking a stance such as this the SBC is basically saying that their doctrine is correct and anything else is not acceptable. I am going to go ahead and put words into their mouths. The SBC is basically saying that people who pray in tongues are not saved. There,I said it.

Over the years I have heard many Baptists preachers talk about this. They never really say the words "Praying in tongues is of the devil", but that's basically what they're trying to say.

You can add this to the long list of reasons why the SBC is going to collapse in the next few years.

Similarly, I am sick and tired of the sins the Church finds acceptable and unnaceptable. I should know, I am a member of a Southern Baptist Church. I hate the fact that it's okay for Church people to be selfish and/or gossipy, but the second someone finds out Jane over there had premarital sex, the Church crucifies her, and gossip spreads like wildfire. Likewise, in SBC churches, pastors get fired for being homosexual, but not for being obese. This is ridiculous, people.

I am not saying that the IMB shouldn't ask about theology when choosing missionaries. But I'd like to know how the ability or gift or whatever you want to call it, of praying in tongues is a hindrance to the furthening of God's kingdom.

It should be all about knowing Jesus and making Him known. But it's been my particular experience over the past few years that the SBC is not about Jesus but about their own doctrine.

It makes me so mad when I listen to IMB missionaries speak of a place they serve in where there are no known Christians, only to find out later other denominations have more than one Church in that place. (This is an actual example of a town in China in which, suposedly there were no Christians, and I researched it and found out by "Christians" they evidently meant "Baptists". The assemblies of God were doing great work in that city. I am not making this up).

The arrogance of the SBC is growing at an alarming rate, but as long Baptist doctrine and Baptist doctrine only is being preached at SBC Churches and Seminaries, and around the world through the IMB and NAMB, it doens't matter.

The issue is much, much bigger than just "The IMB doesn't allow missionaries to pray in tongues", coming up next will be "If you have EVER prayed in tongues you are out" and later, "If you BELIEVE it is a prayer language you are out".

I have tons more to say, but I think that's good for now.



12:42 AM, January 07, 2006  

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