We Southern Baptists constantly affirm our love for the inerrant Word of God and our desire to see the lost saved. For this reason it is extraordinarily schizophrenic for us as a Convention to ban from mission work Southern Baptist inerrantists who have been called by God to the mission field, and have exhibited tremendous gifts in reaching people for Jesus Christ, simply because they have a "private prayer language." (This post will deal with the North American Mission Board and not the International Mission Board in order to abide by the new IMB policy forbidding public criticism against the IMB).
I have said on many occasions that I do not have a "private prayer language" and I am not looking for one, but I have no problem in believing the Southern Baptist Convention is large enough, and the Baptist Faith and Message is broad enough to allow those who do to cooperate fully in the mission enterprises of our convention.
Recently, I heard a very sad story from a young Southern Baptist who had been incredibly effective in reaching the lost in a very difficult area of Los Angeles, but when it came time for the NAMB to approve him as a missionary, he was rejected because he had a "private prayer language."
His name is Jason Epps and you can read his story here.
After reading his narrative, you might go to Paul Burleson's blog here, and read a very pertinent post on why it is vitally important for us as Southern Baptists to keep our cooperation around the essentials of the faith, and some practical ways we can work with fellow Southern Baptists who disagree with our interpretations of the sacred text.
If we don't draw a line in the sand today on the issue of the "gifts" then tomorrow you may be rejected for your views on soteriology (Calvinism or Arminianism), your views on eschatology (dispentationalism or amillenialism), or your views on ecclesiology (the local church emphasis of Landmarks vs. the universal church of theologians like J.L. Dagg). We can enjoy the debate on the non-essentials of the faith, and vigorously defend our interpretations based on the sacred text, but when we start excluding conservatives because they don't agree with us, we begin moving down the slippery slope of isolationism that will dump our Convention into the vast sea of powerless conformity rather than propel us into a lost world where we minister in the power of the GOSPEL of Jesus Christ because it is that glorious GOSPEL that unites us.
In His Grace,