The following is a letter I received yesterday from a current student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The author of the letter gives permission to post his letter, but requests that his name be left off in order to avoid any possible retribution that might come his way. He seems to have taken a great deal of time and effort to show that in the conservative, academic environment of SWBTS faculty, there is room for people who disagree on the issue of a private prayer language.
After you read the letter and the supporting footnotes, I would like you to ask yourself three questions:
(1). Why is there a movement by some within the SBC to narrow the doctrinal parameters of cooperation and participation beyond the BFM 2000?
(2). Why was a public statement made by administration of SWBTS that what Dr. McKissic taught in chapel regarding a private prayer language was "harmful" to churches, and not the position of the "faculty" at SWBTS, when the published writings of several faculty members seem to support the very thing Dr. McKissic was saying?
(3). Why does anyone in the SBC need to "take sides" on this issue, when in reality, Southern Baptists should be able to fellowship and cooperate with each other in spite of different views on third tier doctrines such as this one?
Dear Rev. Burleson:
I have been following your blog for many months now, and I really appreciate what you are doing to address the issues surrounding the IMB policies on tongues and baptism. Thank you also for posting the chapel sermon of Dwight McKissic so that people could read his words for themselves.
Many students have been following the way that our seminary president handled the situation. Some students don't ever think Dr. Patterson does anything right. Other students, like myself, think that he is a godly man who is able to make mistakes, as I believe he did when he chose to censor Rev. McKissic's sermon.
I was discouraged when I saw the press release from Southwestern because it is misleading, if not an outright lie. The press release gave the impression that Rev. McKissic's view about tongues and private prayer was inconsistent with the views of the faculty and staff. But I know of at least five professors in the school of theology who would share Rev. McKissic's view, and have done so openly in class. Other faculty members have taught that his view is a legitimate view for Southern Baptists.
The press release also gave the impression that Southwestern Seminary would not "disseminate openly" views that are consistent with Rev. McKissic's view because such views are "harmful to the churches."
I was curious if this claim was factually accurate so I looked back to old copies of the Southwestern Journal of Theology to see if the seminary had "disseminated" such views "openly." You can imagine my surprise to discover that current faculty had written views consistent with Rev. McKissic's and that those views have been published and/or recommended by Southwestern Seminary.
I am writing you in confidence because I still have some time left before I graduate and I don't want to do anything "openly" that might be "harmful" to my graduation. ;)
Feel free to use my letter and the quotes I have included on your blog if you think it will be helpful. I am also forwarding this material to Rev. Dwight McKissic so that he knows that his views are not quite as "harmful" as our president said. If you choose to use this email on your blog, please do not publish my name.
Name Withheld by Blog Administrator
Schatzmann, Siegfried. Southwestern Journal of Theology. Vol 45, No. 1. Fall 2002, pages 60-61. Current New Testament professor at SWBTS.
"Does the gift of interpreting tongues represent a more circuitous venue of prophecy? Nowhere does Paul even come close to intimating such. Rather, he insists on rendering intelligible what the tongue-speaker has expressed in his prayer, praise, and perhaps even his petition. In other words, the interpreter, under the Spirit's guidance, formulates in a prayer-form what had previously been uttered as a mystery, that is to say, in a manner inaccessible to anyone apart from the tongue speaker. Paul attaches the gift of interpretation to the gift of speaking in tongues because of his overarching conviction that in the community public speaking in tongues without interpretation is inadmissible because it is not intelligible.
This does not mean, however, that Paul does not also affirm a place for speaking in tongues to oneself, in the believer's own devotional practice, for instance. Thus he is able to say, "I desire for all of you to speak in tongues" (14:5) and "I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you" (14:18). It is important to note, however, that the affirmation in v.5 is followed by the contrasting "but rather" (mallon de) and the testimonial in v.18 gives way to the superordinate "but in the church" (alla en ekklesia) of v.19, thereby indicating that his own personal practice, however beneficial, is not the criterion for the gift's public use."
Schatzmann, Siegfried. A Pauline Theology of Charismata. Hendrickson Publishers, 1987.
"What did Paul believe glossolalia was? His interpreters differ widely in their answer their answers to this question. Some have proposed that, true to the basic meaning of the term 'glossa,' Paul thought of tongues as 'speaking in other languages,' either human or angelic. Perhaps even 'geno' (different kinds) means a variety of either or both.
Others have concluded that Paul must have conceived of 'glossa' as 'the unbroken speech in religious ecstasy,' which was, therefore, unintelligible. The apostle's counsel in ch 14, as well as Paul's allusion in 12:2 to the Corinthians' former pagan practices, would support this view." (42)
"It is noteworthy that Paul did not overreact to the Corinthian abuse of glossolalia by eradicating it altogether. Recognizing its value as one of the many enabling graces of God, he sought to correct and rechannel the gift for its orderly incorporation into their gatherings (14:16). He thanked God that he spoke more in tongues than they (14:18) and wished that they all spoke in tongues (14:5). Paul also affirmed that the one speaking in tongues speaks to God, thus edifying himself (14:2,4)." (43)
"The debate over the permanence or temporariness of charismata has ranged along two lines of argument. One, it is claimed, primarily by some scholars outside the classical Pentecostal and charismatic movements, that certain charismata were never meant to be permanent but, instead, proved to be temporary and ceased after the first few centuries of the church. Two, charismata as equipment for service are said to be given as the believer's permanent possession and not temporarily, as some assert. In the case of the latter, charismata are given to a believer only for a specific ministry at a specific point in time and in a specific place.
The first argument is generally not advanced on the basis of thorough exegesis, but receives its impetus from presuppositional and historical biases. Scriptural evidence is brought to bear more in terms of prooftexting than in terms of contextual interpretation. The second line of argument deserves a closer look since it seeks to understand the Pauline concept of charismatic service for the church's upbuilding." (77)
"Nothing in the text of 1 Cor 13, or in any other Pauline passage concerned with charismatic endowment, permits the conclusion that certain gifts of the Spirit were to function for a limited initial period only. For Paul, all Spirit-bestowed charismata were given for the upbuilding of the body. There exists no reasonable exegetical warrant for denying that the same gifts which equipped the church for service then should fulfill the same purpose today." (78)
Garrett, James Leo. Systematic Theology Vol II. Bibal Press, 2000. - Retired emeritus professor of theology at SWBTS. His systematic texts are the main texts for Malcolm Yarnell's courses on theology.
"Exegetes and theologians are not agreed as to the nature of the occurrence described in Acts 2:4b. When 'they began to speak,' did they do so 'with' (KJV) or 'in' (RSV, TEV, NEB, NIV) 'other tongues' (KJV, RSV, NEB, NIV) or 'other languages (TEV) or 'different languages' (Phillips) or 'foreign languages' (JB) (erxanto lalein heterais glossais)? The oldest interpretation, the accepted one among the Church Fathers, understands the tongues to have been intelligible foreign languages (xenoglossolalia). But present-day expositors also hold to the foreign-language view.
A second interpretation of Acts 2:4b understands 'other tongues' as reference to 'fiery eloquence' or linguistic persuasiveness. Willibald Beyschlag opted for fiery language, and William Barclay took the phrase to mean speaking with great or convincing persuasiveness.
A third view interprets the text as referring to rapturous or ecstatic speaking in which the miracle consisted of acoustical certainty about the Holy Spirit. According the hearing was supernatural. But the text emphasizes speaking.
A fourth view consists of a critical theory that alleges that Luke, as he had done with the birth of Jesus and the ascension of Jesus, 'invented a myth,' using the Jewish feast of Pentecost, to provide a setting for ecstatic utterance through the Spirit. . .This view contradicts the historical reliability of Acts.
A fifth view, a critical view involving the use of electronic computers, has posited that Acts 1:15-2:47 was not included in the original Acts of the Apostles (called Proto-Acts) and instead came with a later redaction. Hence 2:4b is downgraded as a source. This theory contradicts the textual integrity of Acts.
A sixth, common to but not restricted to Pentecostals and Neo-Pentecostals, takes Acts 2:4b to mean the same kind of supernatural utterance, that is, glossolalia, that Paul mentioned in 1 Cor. 12-14.
A seventh interpretation understands 'other tongues' to refer to intelligible utterance, either 'mysterious' languages, though not necessarily foreign languages or intelligible speech in the sense of understandable language.
The fourth and fifth interpretations by their critical presuppositions deny any extraordinary speaking, and the second and third interpretations by shifting to eloquent persuasiveness and to miraculous hearing, respectively, do in essence the same. Hence only the first, sixth, and seventh interpretations are of major importance in any effort to correlate Acts 2:4b and 1 Cor. 12-14." (227-29)
"We approach this question of correlation on the assumption that in 1 Cor 12-14 Paul, by referring to the 'ability to speak in different kinds of tongues' (NIV) or 'various kinds of tongues' (RSV) and to 'one who speaks in a tongue,' alluded to a Spirit-given utterance more likely to be described as ecstatic than as a foreign language. We also assume that what happened according to Acts 10:46 and Acts 19:6 was not markedly different from Paul's reference in 1 Cor 12-14."
(229) "Pentecostals and Neo-Pentecostals continue to insist that tongues-speaking is the single and sole evidence of baptism in or with the Holy Spirit, the baptism being post-conversional. Moreover, they place great emphasis on tongues-speaking while affirming that all the other gifts listed in 1 Cor. 12:8-10 are being given and exercised today. How ought non-tongues-speakers to respond to these claims?
First, they can recognize that the gift of tongues is seemingly a present-day reality and abandon [B.B.] Warfield's apostolic cessation theory. Second, they can take note of abuses of tongues-speaking and of other gifts, as Donald Gee acknowledged. Third, they can recognize that both Neo-Pentecostal and non-Pentecostal authors have identified present day tongues-speaking as a 'special language,' different from any known language but expressive of meaning. Fourth, they can be aware that leading exponents of tongues-speaking make the practice almost identical with praying with the Holy Spirit. On both sides of the tongues issue authors have emphasized that tongues-speaking can lead to the 'enrichment' of one's prayer life or 'personal devotional life.' Fifth, they can respectfully ask tongues-speakers not to elevate the gift above all others, so as to contradict Paul, or to look on non-tongues-speakers as inferior or second-class Christians. Sixth, they should refrain from efforts to exclude or disfellowship those who exercise tongues-speaking within the Pauline perimeters. Seventh, they can express thanks to Pentecostals and Neo-Pentecostals for their clear witness to the dynamic agency and the sovereign lordship of the Holy Spirit in today's world. Eighth, they should make certain that their own use of known languages is for the witness of Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit." (233-34).
______________________________ (End of Letter)
Bottom line people, there should be room in the SBC for disagreement over this and other issues that some seek to divide us over.
In His Grace,