On November 15, 2005 a new policy adopted by the IMB regarding the forbidding of a private prayer language stated than anyone who possesses this spiritual gift has disqualified himself from representing the Southern Baptist Convention on the mission field.
I do not have a private prayer language. I do not want one. But I have several friends who profess to have this gift, and I know them to be Christ honoring, Bible believing Christians. Several Southern Baptists, some of whom you know, speak in a language unintelligible to men in their prayer closets.
I believe our convention is such that they should be able to represent the Southern Baptist Convention on the mission field.
On November 15, 1999 Judge Paul Pressler and Paige Patterson spoke at the Arkansas Pastor's Conference at First Baptist Church, Springdale, Arkansas. An account of their messages to the pastors can be found in a BP article entitled Patters and Pressler Caution Baptists Against Detractions from Evangelism.
Patterson is addressing the notion that the Southern Baptist Convention is large enough to be represented by people who are all over the soteriological spectrum. We have room for 5 point Calvinists and those who would not consider themselves even close to Calvinism. The BP writer states, "Patterson described Southern Baptists as a people who believe the Bible to be the Word of God as their final authority, that salvation is by grace through faith alone and that adult-like faith witnessed by believer's baptism provides a testimony to a watching world. "If we believe those things all fall within the purview of the Baptist faith, then there's plenty of room for all of us in these various emphases that we bring. I think they're all very helpful."
I think we as Southern Baptists need to keep a broad view cooperation. Our abiity to cooperate with each other and represent the Southern Baptist Convention should not be based upon a conformity of interpretation of non-essential doctrines.
Let's not get distracted from our goal of missions and evangelism.
In His Grace,