I have repeatedly asked my fellow brothers in Christ in favor of the new policies of the IMB for Scriptural support for "excluding" Christians from service or fellowship who do not hold to the same Landmark interpretation of baptism and the "cessationist" view of tongues.
I recognize that churches and pastors have various interpretions of Scripture regarding tongues and baptism. Some teach that there is no such thing as a "private prayer language," while others point to what they believe to be the clear teaching of Paul and say there is a "private prayer language." Others teach that a person is not properly baptized unless the church or person who is doing the baptizing "qualifies" as a proper administrator (Landmarkism), while others say the Scripture makes no such demand. I am not arguing for, or against either interpretation in this post, but rather, I want to ask a question: Where does the Bible say that you "exclude" people from service in God's kingdom who interpret the same Bible differently on these two issues?
Nobody has been able to give me an answer.
So allow me to give you a very clear teaching of Jesus Christ which seems to me to say that the IMB and the Southern Baptist Convention is making a huge mistake if these new policies of the IMB continue to be used in the screening of missionary candidates for the purpose excluding those who do not "conform" to a specific interpretation of Scripture. The historic practice of the Southern Baptist Convention has been to cooperate together in missions and evangelism, even if there is not an agreement in one's interpretion of the text in areas of controversy. The issue is not "Is the text the inspired word of God?", but rather, "Can people who believe in the Sacred Text interpret it differently and still work together?"
Jesus seems to teach that we can, and we should, work together though we do not conform in every area of faith and practice.
Those within our convention with a sectarianism bent ("you are not qualified to serve with us unless you are one like us") would do well to learn from our Lord's words in Luke 9:49-50,"And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us."
J.C.Ryle's comments on this passage are very fitting:
Our Lord Jesus Christ gives us a warning against a bigoted and illiberal spirit. Who this man was and why he did not consort with the disciples, we do not know. But we do know that he was doing a good work in casting out demons, and that he was doing what he did in the name of Christ. And yet John says, "we forbade him." Very striking is the reply which the Lord at once gave him: "Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us."
Thousands, in every period of Church history, have spent their lives in copying John's mistake. They have labored to stop every man who will not work for Christ in their way, from working for Christ at all. They have imagined, in their petty self-conceit, that no man can be a soldier of Christ, unless he wears their uniform, and fights in their regiment. They have been ready to say of every Christian who does not see everything with their eyes, "Forbid him! Forbid him! for he followeth not with us."
The plain truth is, that we are all too ready to say, "We are the men, and wisdom shall die with us" (Job 12:2). We forget that no Church on earth has an absolute monopoly of all wisdom, and that people may be right in the main, without agreeing with us. We must learn to be thankful if sin is opposed, and the Gospel preached, and the devil's kingdom pulled down, though the work may not be done exactly in the way we like. We must try to believe that men may be true-hearted followers of Jesus Christ, and yet for some reason may be kept back from seeing all things in religion just as we do. Above all, we must praise God if souls are converted, and Christ is magnified,—no matter who the preacher may be, and to what Church he may belong. Happy are those who can say with Paul, "If Christ be preached, I rejoice, yea and will rejoice," (Phil. 1:18) and with Moses, "Enviest thou for my sake? Would God that all the Lord's people were prophets, and that all did prophesy." (Numbers 11:29)
[Taken from Ryle's Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, under Luke 9:49-50]
May our Southern Baptist Convention's missionary efforts and evangelistic zeal be characterized by a Christocentric view of inclusion of all who follow after Christ within our convention, rather than what seems to be a sectarian exclusion in the hearts of some who don't like it when others in the SBC do it, or see it, another way.
In His Grace,