"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

The Criswell Theological Review Interview with Tom Hatley

I was recently contacted via email by Dr. Denny Burk, Professor of New Testament at Criswell College. He brought my attention to the new issue of the Criswell Theological Review and an interview conducted with Tom Hatley, former Chairman of the International Mission Board. He said that I was mentioned prominently in the interview and asked that I respond. He graciously said he would link my response to their web site.

I wrote back and thanked Dr. Burk and expressed my strong objection that a theological journal would publish such an interview without publishing responses from Dr. Rankin and myself. I believe that every trustee should abide by the new policy that forbids the public disparaging of a sitting trustee, and my responses are simply an attempt to bring my perspective to the issue at hand. I had equal concern between the new baptism and tongues policies of the IMB, but the Criswell Journal only addresses the new tongues policy.

You may read the interview for yourself at www.criswelljournal.com. I will respond to specific statements with which I disagree with Tom Hatley. I think everyone knows that I am a conservative inerrantist who does NOT have the gift of tongues, nor desires it.

(1). Tom Hatley said: “What caused trustees to address this issue (a private prayer language) were complaints from some (not a majority) of our regions. Sources included some of our missionaries, complaints from pastors and seminary teams returning from mission trips, and observations by trustees returning from mission trips. Our President and some staff, however, dispute such problems, at least on the level claimed by these trustees.”

My response: This is the problem. We had (at the time) trustees in position of leadership who seemed to be undermining the President and his vision for our agency. This feels to me, from a corporate standpoint, to be a very dysfunctional situation. The President and staff of the IMB are disputing that there is a problem, while trustee leadership is saying there is a problem. The questions that the Southern Baptist Convention ought to ask are:

(a). Who were those trustees who said there was a problem on the field? I have no knowledge of who they were, and would like to visit with them (some may have already rotated off the Board). Many trustees have never had the opportunity to even be on the field with our missionaries. I think it would be appropriate for those trustees who felt there was a problem to make themselves known publicly. I am a trustee and I have never heard anyone say these things, but I am open to learn. I also think it would be interesting to see how many of these trustees were in leadership at the IMB and their connections to other agencies.

(b). Where is the documented evidence that these trustees have provided to the IMB President and staff that such problem exists on the field and that staff has not appropriately dealt with it (date, location, personnel, etc . . . )? I have asked for this information from the time I heard about the new policies, and have yet to receive it. I do not believe it exists. The President himself has denied in public meetings that there is a problem on the field that was not being handled appropriately under the old policy.. Nobody should be able to make such outlandish statements about problems without evidentiary support.

(c). The old policy forbad the promotion of speaking in tongues ‘publicly.’ The old IMB policy sought to restrict the speaking in tongues publicly, just as the Apostle Paul sought to restrict it. But the new policy now enters into the prayer closet of the missionary and asks the question “Do you speak in tongues in your prayer life?” Why? What is private should remain private. The missionaries are the ones being forced to make it public.

(2). Tom Hatley said: “(The Apostle Paul) would have no problem serving with the IMB (under the new policies)”.

My response: I truly don’t understand that statement.

The Apostle said, “I thank God I speak in tongues more than you all” (I Corinthians 14:18), and he said, “Forbid not the speaking in tongues.” (I Corinthians 14:30).

The Apostle Paul would be not make it through the initial consultation with the IMB.

(3). Tom Hatley said: “This IMB policy does not restrict the miracle of Pentecost, where real languages were spoken. Today we can identify language through technology. If someone has the gift of tongues they should not restrict it to the closet. What a waste that would be. If it is of the Lord, then find the language or languages you have and take a one way flight to the country where that language is spoken. The IMB will send you there if you can pass the body/mass index standards and health exam”.

My Response: According to Tom Hatley, tongues in the Bible is ONLY a language that human beings can understand. It is a known language, a real language, one that can be identified through technology.

Tom’s view that tongues were always known languages is an interpretation. There are other conservative Southern Baptists who disagree. Dr. Sam Storms, an ordained Southern Baptist pastor, writes eloquently refuting this interpretation,

“(a) To begin, if tongues-speech is always in a foreign language intended as a sign for unbelievers, why are the tongues in Acts 10 and Acts 19 spoken in the presence of only believers?

(b) Note also that Paul describes various "kinds” or “species” of tongues" (gene glosson) in 1 Corinthians 12:10. It is unlikely that he means a variety of different human languages, for who ever would have argued that all tongues were only one human language, such as Greek or Hebrew or German? His words suggest that there are differing categories of tongues-speech, perhaps human languages and heavenly languages.

(c) In 1 Corinthians 14:2, Paul asserts that whoever speaks in a tongue "does not speak to men, but to God." But if tongues are always human languages, Paul is mistaken, for "speaking to men" is precisely what a human language does!

(d) If tongues-speech is always a human language, how could Paul say that when one speaks “no one understands” (1 Cor. 14:2)? If tongues are human languages, many could potentially understand, as they did on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:8-11). This would especially be true in Corinth, a multi-lingual cosmopolitan port city that was frequented by people of numerous dialects.

(e) Moreover, if tongues-speech always is in a human language, then the gift of interpretation would be one for which no special work or enablement or manifestation of the Spirit would be required. Anyone who was multi-lingual, such as Paul, could interpret tongues-speech simply by virtue of his educational talent.

(f) Furthermore, in 1 Corinthians 13:2, Paul refers to "the tongues of men and of angels." While he may be using hyperbole, he just as likely may be referring to heavenly or angelic dialects for which the Holy Spirit gives utterance.

Gordon Fee cites evidence in certain ancient Jewish sources that the angels were believed to have their own heavenly languages or dialects and that by means of the Spirit one could speak them (The First Epistle to the Corinthians, pp. 630-31; see also Richard B. Hays, First Corinthians, p. 223). In particular, we take note of the Testament of Job 48-50, where Job's three daughters put on heavenly sashes given to them as an inheritance from their father, by which they are transformed and enabled to praise God with hymns in angelic languages.

Some have questioned this account, however, pointing out that this section of the Testament may have been the work of a later Christian author. Yet, as Christopher Forbes points out, "what the Testament does provide . . . is clear evidence that the concept of angelic languages as a mode of praise to God was an acceptable one within certain circles. As such it is our nearest parallel to glossolalia” (Prophecy and Inspired Speech: In Early Christianity and Its Hellenistic Environment, pp. 185-86).

The fact that tongues are said to cease at the parousia (1 Cor. 13:8) leads Anthony Thiselton to conclude that it cannot be angelic speech, for why would a heavenly language terminate in the eschaton (see his First Corinthians, pp. 973, 1061-62)? But it would not be heavenly speech per se that ends, but heavenly speech on the part of “humans” designed to compensate “now” for the limitations endemic to our fallen, pre-consummate condition.

(g) Some say the reference in 1 Corinthians 14:10-11 to earthly, foreign languages proves that all tongues-speech is also human languages. But the point of the analogy is that tongues function LIKE foreign languages, NOT that tongues ARE foreign languages. Paul’s point is that the hearer cannot understand uninterpreted tongues any more than he can understand the one speaking a foreign language. If tongues were a foreign language, there would be no need for an analogy.

(h) Paul's statement in 1 Corinthians 14:18 that he "speaks in tongues more than you all" is evidence that tongues are not foreign languages. As Wayne Grudem notes, "If they were known foreign languages that foreigners could understand, as at Pentecost, why would Paul speak more than all the Corinthians in private, where no one would understand, rather than in church where foreign visitors could understand?” (Systematic Theology, 1072).

(i) Finally, if tongues-speech is always human language, Paul's statement in 1 Corinthians 14:23 (“If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds?”) wouldn't necessarily hold true. Any unbeliever who knew the language being spoken would more likely conclude the person speaking was highly educated rather than "out of their mind.”

My conclusion, then, is this: NT itself provides no support for the idea that all expressions of it were necessarily human languages actually spoken by some people group. ” Sam Storms.

I, Wade Burleson, as a SBC pastor and duly appointed trustee of the IMB, respect both views. The issue I have is when people who affirm one particular interpretation seek to remove from participation and ministry in the SBC those who hold to the other view. This is what I call narrowing the parameters of cooperation within the SBC.”

(4). Tom Hatley said: ”My reasoning (for not appointing Wade to a committee) was that many had been offended and felt betrayed by Wade. Many on the board feared their comments in a meeting would end up on a blog, out of context, and under attack. They had good reason for such fears. Adding to the uneasiness was the fact that when such offenses were made known to Wade he would not apologize, nor offer a change in tactics. It is hard to be a trustee and a public critic of the trustees at the same time.”

My Response: This is the beauty of blogging. Every word, sentence, paragraph and post remains on the internet since last December. I think that any fair-minded person who reads this blog will see that I have fastidiously done three things:

(a). I have never attacked a person, but expressed my love and respect for everyone, including former Chairman Hatley.
(b). I have been fastidious to report only those things that are public and have never violated any confidential information.
(c). I write very intentionally, represent my perspective, nobody else’s, and will not change tactics because I believe the SBC is a better convention with MORE information about what is going on in our agencies --- not less.

(5). Tom Hatley said: ”A second reason for my decision regarding Brother Wade is that he was not handling sensitive information well, even before his blogging began.”

My Response: I am the chairman of two foundations, I have served two terms as the President of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, I have presided over Executive Sessions of several board meetings, and I have led countless training sessions that instruct others on how to deal with the matters of privileged and sensitive information. I understand how to handle sensitive information, and would propose that Tom’s general accusations, without evidentiary support, are without basis.

(6). Tom Hatley said: “When this passed at the committee level a demand was made by Wade Burleson and Dr. Rankin that this must be voted on at the full board level. I think they thought that with the public pressure that was brought upon the board that the vote would be different. Instead the vote was nearly 75% in favor of the policy.”

My Response: I cannot speak for Dr. Rankin because we never discussed this issue of full board approval. I can only speak for myself. I take my trusteeship very seriously and before I attended my first meeting, I read every word of the IMB bylaws. I realized after my first trustee meeting, when I heard about the new “guidelines” or “policies” that the Personnel Committee had approved the previous meeting (corporate law makes no distinction between policies and guidelines), that they did not have authority to pass policy without full Board approval. I had been appointed to the Personnel Committee, and when I told the chairman that the committee did not have authority to pass policy without full board approval, I was told that I did not know what I was saying. Subsequently, the attorney issued an opinion that I was correct. Of course, I was subsequently removed from the Personnel Committee.

Tom Hatley is asked by the editor: One of the concerns of the younger pastors, especially those trying to do evangelism in a postmodern context, is that by narrowing the doctrinal lines on secondary issues, the SBC is moving out of the mainstream of evangelicalism and is becoming the new voice of fundamentalism. Would you agree with this characterization, and why or why not?

(7). Tom Hatley said: ”I do not agree. I think Southern Baptists as a whole have not significantly moved at all. I do feel that evangelicalism is drifting left and as it drifts we will appear to be less in the mainstream due to no fault of our own. . . . seminaries and I have a great deal of confidence in these young pastors. Most are not like the few that have of late made a name for themselves by stirring strife among the brethren. Most have no SBC agenda but only the desire to build a doctrinally sound, missions-minded, soul-winning church.”

My Response: I do not know to whom Tom is referring, but if it is me, he is greatly mistaken. I have no personal desires for leadership in the SBC. I have never sought a position of service in our state and national conventions. I am committed to see that we do not lose this young generation of young pastors by becoming the bastion of Fundamentalism to the neglect of the gospel and the people in need of a Savior.

(8). Tom Hatley said: ”At the core of recent criticism is the theory that trustees are part of a conspiracy of a few people in the Convention who are trying to control everything in the Convention, including the replacement of Dr. Rankin.”

My Response: I would be happy to be proven wrong that there has been no manipulation in the past of the Nominating Process of the Southern Baptist Convention by sitting trustees seeking to appoint their replacements by contacting, vetting and bringing on board like minded trustees. I would be happy to be proven wrong that a sitting agency president of one of our SBC institutions not attempted to control the doctrinal requisites, personnel hiring, and future direction of the International Mission Board, in contradistinction to the sitting President of the IMB. I would be happy to be proven wrong that a certain few who are in control of the trustee system of our agencies are attempting to bring uniform conformity on interpretation of doctrines NOT addressed by the BFM 2000. I would be happy to be proven wrong in all these areas and will await the official report of to the Southern Baptist Convention on these matters by the IMB.

It is my belief that many of these problems have been corrected since last May. The trustee meetings since then have been filled with praise reports, prayer requests, and mission work. As you are aware, I have said nothing in the meetings. There is no need. We are doing the work the SBC has called us to do.

My Conclusion:

I want to thank the Criswell Theological Review for linking to this response.

I have not spoken for Dr. Rankin at this time, believing that he does far better representing himself than others who try to do so.

The Lord’s continued blessings to the Southern Baptist Convention, and may we be forever vigilant against narrowing the parameters of cooperation within the SBC.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson


Tim Cook said...

That was quite a gracious response, Wade, for all the accusations that were flung at you. I wonder, though, does it get as tiring repeating yourself and your defenses as I think it might?

In Christ,
Tim Cook

A 10-40 Window Missionary said...


In the first statement by Tom Hatley, he said that some of his sources were missionaries and trustees returning from mission trips...Hmmmm, I retire in less than three years, and have NEVER observed this problem among missionaries. And, the last time that I saw a trustee on the field was 13 years ago when a trustee's group was taken to the wrong church by a taxi driver who spoke no English, and ended up where I was worshiping by accident. I said at that time that it would have been nice to have known that a trustee was in our city, but the trustee had a different agenda than seeing missionaries.

When I last saw a trustee in the USA I asked why couldn't trustees visit the field. I was told that was a good idea.

Finally, in the old days we on the field were supplied the addresses of trustees and encouraged to write to them. No longer, and I am glad, as I just might say the wrong thing and end up in a situation like the librarian at Southern did.

martyduren said...

Same song, 10th verse. I'm glad nobody is listening.

Dr. and Mrs. Milton A. Lites said...

Recently we received a newsletter from a long-time friend who works in a large country in Asia. His contacts tell him that one of the biggest threats to the work there are the religious cults. A new cult has surfaced, and I think deserves to be mentioned here because it demonstrates the subtlety with which those who desire to control can manipulate uninformed and unsuspecting believers. This cult is titled "Three Grades of Servants" and is establishing human authority instead of God's authority. They prey on ignorant believers. They are very fervent and active in spreading their teaching and bringing harm to the body of Christ. The cult uses Jesus' parable of the talents in Matthew 25 as a basis for the church to be divided into "three grades of servants." The leader has appointed himself as "The Great Servant" and disobeying his commands is seen as disobedience to God. He also claims absolute power as the only mediator between God and man. Leaving the cult can result in persecution and even death according to a Reuter's News Agency report.
We need to pray for the church in China that God would protect them from such "wolves in sheep's clothing." And, we need to consider whether God may be calling some of us to be used in providing instruction in basic doctrine in some of these areas, instead of debating amongst ourselves the "jot and tittle" of the law.
Also, we need to be careful that we do not set ourselves (or even an esteemed leader) as the final authority on doctrine. As wise and as learned as some of our leaders are, they will never replace the Holy Spirit in interpreting the Word of God for believers. We need to guard the right of every believer to direct access to the Father through Jesus Christ (some may call this priesthood of the believer) from inroads such as the one mentioned above, and commit ourselves to providing basic doctrinal instruction to believers around the world.

Alyce Lee said...

Thank you for that wonderful reminder that the Holy Spirit is our teacher.
After 25 years as believers, my husband and I, at the instruction of the Holy Spirit, found that we had to go back to the basics and lay the foundations of the faith, not on what we had been told by mother, father, grandmother or even from the pulpit, but the doctrines needed to be claimed by a foundation from the scriptures taught to us by the Holy Spirit.
It was years of work together. It not only cemented our love for God and the doctrine of the Apostles, but our love for one another.
We now check and test everything.
The priesthood of the believer is terribly discounted in the body of Christ and has for a long time crippled us.
Thanks again. Good word!

Dr. and Mrs. Milton A. Lites said...

In a follow-up to 10-40 window missionary, let me say that in our 34 plus years on the field, we rarely saw trustees either. The only trustee who came to our area was not interested in the work we were doing, or the results of what we and our co-workers were doing. THe only question he asked was "Are there any liberals at the seminary?"
During the last few years on the field, we saw a decreasing lack of trust of missionaries than we had ever seen in previous years. We began reading about the reasons for this in state papers. It then occurred to me that while I had been counting on pastors and church members to pray regularly for the missionaries they were supporting financially, apparently some well-intentioned folk were beginning to undermine this trust and had begun questioning the loyalty and doctrinal integrity of the very missionaries they were supporting. This has been quite a change from the attitude that we had become accustomed to in the past. Thank the Lord this attitude was not wide-spread among church members or pastors either. However, some in positions of leadership exercised enough power to make many of us feel that the basis of our support was being eroded by such actions.
Let me plead for more prayer support for our mission effort overseas, and less insisting that every missionary conform to the doctrinal positions of certain individuals. I feel that it will be through concerted prayer, not doctrinal correctness, that the efforts of our missionaries overseas will be successful.

Bob Cleveland said...

One might ask if anything in the Criswell Theological Review article under discussion here is surprising.

Anyone surprised? (Not me)

miriam plowman said...

AMEN!! Ochands

I personally have found my volunteer trips to the mission field to work with missionaries is what has created within me the desire and passion to pray without ceasing for them and the people they minister among... they need our prayers and touch/ encouragement (from visits) more than our money.

RM said...

I am amazed that the Criswell publication would print an article like that! Tom Hatley should be censured at the least and removed at the most. And to think he blasts you for writing a blog... Might be nice to give us the email address of the current Chairman of the Board so we can write him personally.

Keep up the good work Wade. You are my kind of preacher! Too bad I'm a pastor or I'd come join your church.

Greg Cloud said...

Hmmm....much tension here.

Ochands! Well said, brother. We have had a tendency to forget that the only authorized infalable interpretor of scripture is...its Author, the Holy Spirit. Oh, that we would submit ourselves to Him instead of exalting ourselves and our opinions. It would save a lot of trouble.

Wade, your response is well stated and graceful. I am proud of you, for what that is worth.


Jesus said, "You will know them by their fruits..." The outward sign of the infilling of the Holy Spirit is His fruit. (You know, love, joy, peace, patience, longsuffering, goodness, kindness, gentleness, self-control, etc...)What kind of fruit are we bearing when we make such comments as in the article referenced in Wade's post, or act in anger or malice? Who are we listening to, to spew such things? Our credibility in scriptural matters is damaged to the extreme when the fruit we bear is not that of the Holy Spirit.

We need to ask at all times before we open our mouths, or put pen to paper: What spirit is this? And, we need to ask the same question when we read or hear what others have to say...what spirit is this, what fruits are these? And then give the appropriate weight to those words. If the spirit is God's--listen. If not, let it go. Do not return evil for evil. (Jesus said, "Do not resist an evil person" and "Turn the other cheek")

Now, before anyone goes there, I am not saying that someone who gets in the flesh and says something outside the Spirit of God because of hurt feelings or some other reason is evil in themselves...they have just done an evil thing...its called sin. We have all sinned. Thats why we all need Jesus, all the time. Grace overcomes sin, every time. And grace is what Jesus is telling us to extend to our brothers who get angry and "in the flesh".

Thanks, all, and peace...

Greg Cloud
VBC, Muldrow, OK

Charlie said...

You so wondrously laid out the scripture concerning tongues. Not your opinion but GOD's word. You do not desire to exercise this gift and that is fine. I personally want all GOD has to offer. There is no limit to what GOD can do. If a house divided against itself will crumble, ie tongue speakers and non-tongue speakers, how then is it possible that both groups glorify GOD and see many souls enter into HIS kingdom. If GOD isn't in it then
there would be no fruit. I don't see anywhere where tongue speakers such as myself, want to disenfranchise non tongue speakers.
All we want to do is for the glory of GOD and HIS precious SON, JESUS.
The HOLY SPIRIT enables us to do just that. We all have the HOLY SPIRIT. Some just keep HIM "bottled" up. May HE descend upon each of us in that the time is near and more souls need to recieve CHRIST and we christians
need to be more impowered to spread the Gospel of christ to a world that is fastly sinking deeper into the very pits of hell.
Thanks again for you straight forward use of GOD's Word.
Charlie of Gainesville

Pastor John said...

I'm curious,
I was attending seminary & taking my Missiology class when the baptism/tongues issue hit the fan at the IMB. We discussed the issues one-day in class, especially concerning the prayer language.
My prof said that he understood the trustee's concerns because charismatics were causing so many problems in S. America where he served as a missionary for many years. He said that he was aware of Pentecostal groups sending missionaries to join SBC churches & then get appointed to the IMB because our mission agency is so much better than other agencies. He also said that it was common in S. America for Pentecostal churches w/o church buildings to join congregational churches (like SBC churches), and then use their superior numbers to dismiss the sitting pastor (sometimes an SBC missionary) & turn the church into a Pentecostal church. Apparently the problem is so bad in S. America that many non-charismatic churches do not allow charismatics to join, and have been known to kick tongue speakers out of their congregations when discovered.
He also said that some Pentecostal seminaries were teaching their missionaries to do this as a “church planting strategy.”
He seemed to feel that the new IMB policies were aimed at ending practices such as these.

Some of this sounds incredible, but given his first hand experience on the field, and the fact that he wasn’t too thrilled with the new rules, I’m inclined to believe him.

Have you ever heard anything like this?

WTJeff said...

Tim Guthrie,

I don't always agree with you and have stated so at least once on this blog. However, anyone trying to silence you or anyone who demands that you keep your cessasionist views to yourself is guilty of much of the same things those in power are accused of. Although I don't usually agree with what you've said, you've abided in the spirit Wade has set here and have refrained from personal attack.

It seems our sinful natures rear their ugly head when we are challenged. It makes me wonder, how would we hold up if we truly faced persecution like so many brothers and sisters do in much less "sophisticated" countries? Would we tell you to get loss for your cessasionist views if our lives were in danger for following Jesus?

I know I am as guilty as anyone when it comes to living by my sinful nature and not by His Spirit. I think the answer is found in Heb. 12:3 - "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus...."


Jeff Parsons
Amarillo, TX

GeneMBridges said...

I would be happy to be proven wrong that a certain few who are in control of the trustee system of our agencies are attempting to bring uniform conformity on interpretation of doctrines NOT addressed by the BFM 2000.

And this is precisely why I have come to think that it may not be a bad idea to let a proposal to change the BFM 2000 with regard to say, this particular issue, might not be a bad idea...not that it would be proper to change it, but any move to change the BFM would be a tacit admission that the current BFM does not address this issue thus the actions @ the IMB and toward Dwight McKissic and any policiies of attrition that may be enacted at SWBTS are exceeding the BFM. So, they can't move for a change without admitting they wish to change it because they are exceeding it-a proposition they uniformly deny.

Bob Cleveland said...

Pastor John:

How can denying a missionary candidate the privilege of serving on a foreign field prevent a hostile take-over of a church on the field? If they're going to do that, whether the local IMB folks had a private prayer language would be of no consequence or effect.

That tactic is not new. I heard that it happened several times in Jamaica, where Baptist churches were taken over by Seventh Day Adventists. The Baptists found a way around that by deeding all the churches to the Jamaica Baptist Union. That stopped it.

Anybody for that?

If I didn't know any better, I'd say the IMB reaction was punitive, if indeed the reports of takeovers were correct, and played a part in the decisions that were made.

If they didn't, then I have yet to hear any concrete evidence.

Pastor John said...


I believe that forbidding a ppl would not stop takeovers on the field, but it would stop Pentecostal missionaries from joining a Baptist church & then applying for a position in the IMB.

Roger Simpson said...

To my knowledge this is the first time anyone around here has really addressed what the charasmatic/PPL "problem" is in the IMB in terms of experience on the field.

I had no idea myself that Pentecostals were infiltrating chruches started by IMB missionaries overseas and then in some cases "taking them over". No wonder red flags are going up.

However, I agree with Bob Cleveland: I don't see how clamping down on PPL at the IMB would solve the problem. Presumably the "takeovers" are being done by those who are not appointed by the IMB so how are any IMB rules relative to appointment criterion going to address the problem?

Are there also cases where closet Pentecostals join an SBC church for a "short time" (3 years) and then apply to the IMB masquerading as Baptists? If so, then I agree that the IMB needs to take action. I don't know if prohibiting PPL is the right action.

Wade Burleson said...

Tim Guthrie,

Those who email you and say those things are wrong --- dead wrong.

Unless the people have identified themselves and you know for a fact who they are, I would be very careful assuming anything.

Anonymous flamers can be anyone, including people who actually ACT as if they are for something, and proceed to do and say ungodly things in order to cast aspersions on those who hold to opposite views.

Just be careful.

Anyone spewing venom or hate cannot be born of the Spirit of God and is without grace.

Wade Burleson said...

Pastor John,

I have heard nothing like what you have related, but it wouldn't be surprised.

I would, of course, be opposed to such abuses. I think you would find that people like Dwight McKissic would as well.



Grosey's Messages said...

Pastor John,
As I have repeatedely stated here and on David Rogers blog and on Bart's Blog and on Brad Reynolds Blog those abuses you list have been normative in Baptist churches in Australia for 30 years.
But we didn't win. Probably around half of our Baptist churches now are more like your pentecostal churches in worship in doctrine and practise. Why, I pastored a pentecostal baptist church for 6 years!
It is sad,

irreverend fox said...

Given that has indeed happened in South America (and from my own pentacostal background I don't doubt it, they literally REJOICE when a "regular evangelical" church "becomes a Spirit filled church"...it's a real victory for them. Honestly, they basically react the same way you would if someone said, "hey, your uncle Bill got saved!"

To what extent has the IMB dealt directly with these Pentacostal/Charismatic mission agencies and denominations? Was this not something that could be worked out state side?

Which agencies and denominations were doing this? The Assemblies of God? Church of God?

Our concern OUGHT to be with them, not non-cessationists in the sbc.

Pastor John said...

I agree - and I too believe that Mr. McKissic would be opposed to these abuses. I was just wanting to get your insights on these reasons for IMB action.

Pastor John said...

Yes, according to my prof there have been instances of closet Pentecostals joining an SBC church for a "short time" (3 years) and then appling to the IMB masquerading as Baptists.
Apparentally they do so because we have a worldwide agency and because they want to use the insurance/retirement packages that we offer to our missionaries (few other agencies offer benifits as good as the IMB).
Given that I have little contact with the IMB I do not know how prevalent this practice is, nor do I know the specific denominations that are doing this.

Roger Simpson said...


As a trustee of the IMB do you have any information you could share with us as to how widespread the situation is where persons from other denominations become "facade Baptists" for the purposes of being supported by the IMB? To the extent that charismatics are subverting the IMB application processes under false pretenses then I think we have a problem.

If this practice is indeed going on and even becoming more prevalent (I myself have no information one way or the other to substiantiate or refute this) then I think most commentators on here would agree there is a problem -- regardless of you come down on PPL.

In fact, I believe that arguing about PPL is only loosly linked -- if at all -- with what may be the real problem.

Could it be that all the theological posturing on both sides regarding PPL is a sideshow that is diverting our attention from the real problem -- namely what do to (if anything) about the IMB being taken over by infiltration from Charismatics from other denominations?

If, in fact, this stuff is going on then arguing about the BF&M, the nuanced interpretation of I Corinthians 14 etc. seems to be missing the point.

If this stuff is not going on then I say "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" -- i.e. leave well enough alone.

Joel Rainey said...

Wade, and Pastor John,

Regarding Pentecostals "masquerading" as Baptists, I believe there is a better way to put a stop to this than to prevent ppl.

The difference between a true Pentecostal/Charismatic and a Baptist who speaks in tounges or ppl lies in their respective pneumatologies. The danger in my mind isn't that one prays in tongues. The danger is a Pentecostal understanding of that experience as a "second work of grace," and no Baptist I know who speaks in tongues beleives this.

Therefore, instead of asking about their practice, maybe we should be asking questions concerning the doctrinal origins of their practice. If a missionary candidate really is a closet Pentecostal, asking candidates to write an essay on their understanding of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit would reveal true Pentecostals for believing something contrary to the BFM 2000 (or BFM 1963 or 1925 for that matter)

I know of one missionary candidate who was rejected by the IMB because he spoke in tongues. He then went to a Pentecostal group (Assemblies of God, I think) and was rejected because he was "Baptist," (i.e he would not sign off on tongues as evidence of Baptism of the H.S.)

This is one of the problems we face in reaching consensus on this issue: the fact that anyone who speaks in tongues is automatically identified as "Pentecostal."

I would stand firmly with the IMB on the issue of preventing those with a true Pentecostal pneumatology from going to the field under the Baptist banner. But tounges-speaking and ppl by themselves do not mean one is a Pentecostal.

So again, I would propose asking more thorough questions during the candidating process regarding one's unerstanding of the Holy Spirit, and lift the ban on ppl., as well as the ban on tongues.

Ultimately, we want to prevent false doctrine on the field, but I certainly don't want to be found guilty of censuring something God is trying to do in a person, or in a church.

Rzrbk said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rzrbk said...

Pastor John,
I wonder who your prof is? I don't serve in South Ameica but I feel there are better ways to solve the problems he talks about than the IMB making a world wide PPL policy. Of course there have been instances of charismatics trying to take over an evangelical church whether it be Baptist or not. That has nothing to do with the PPL policy. How many charismatics are willing to joing a SBC church and then wait 3 years and hope they can get appointed. I think it would be easy for the personnel committe to pick these people out. Ask your professor for examples and the number of times this happens each year. Again, this has nothing to do with the PPL policy.
I have been on the field for 27 years. In the old days we had trustees come by from time to time. They would meet with the missionaries, answer questions and ask quesitons. The ones I met were always men or women who were encourging and supportative of our work. They came from churches who supported us. I have had trustees stay in my home. In recent years the visits to my field have been very rare. If we do see a trustee, it is in a large group meeting with little chance for interaction.

David Rogers said...

Pastor John,

I don't have first-hand access to the information you say you heard from your seminary professor, so I am not in a position to say if it is so or not.

But, I would like to ask you if you are confident you are being transparent and objective in your choice of the words "closet Pentecostals" and "masquerading as Baptists." By this choice of words (I do not know if these are the words your seminary professor used), I believe you are assigning motives to these people which it is difficult to evaluate correctly. I can understand, for instance, someone who has a heart for missions, and a call to take the Gospel to another people group, wanting to join a Baptist church, and meet the qualifications for appointment with the IMB, in order to link into a spiritual family and resource network that would help them to better fulfill their calling. It is even possible that such a person may come from a church background that was more open to certain so-called charismatic practices. But this does not necessarily mean, in my opinion, that they were doing what they were doing out of any motive to deceive or be unethical.

I myself am a Southern Baptist, first and foremost, because I agree with the doctrinal position defined in the BFM (with the exception of closed communion), and because I believe the Cooperative Program, and especially the IMB, is a great way to fulfill the missionary calling God has given me. It so happens that the church background in which I was raised is Southern Baptist also. But that is not, in my opinion, a key reason for me continuing to be a Southern Baptist today. Thus, if someone else happens to share these first two reasons, although they do not come from a Southern Baptist background, I see no inherent incompatibility with their joining a SB church with the intention of pursuing appointment with the IMB.

I can even envision a situation where a pastor or leader of the church from which such a person was originally a member might counsel them to join a Baptist church in order to pursue appointment with the IMB. Not as part of a "take-over" plan, nor with any intent of being devious, or introducing their divergent doctrine into Baptist churches, but rather as practical, and perhaps even, godly, advice for someone who is looking for the best way to carry out their missionary calling.

Do you think it is possible the scenario I am describing better fits the picture of what really happened? I don't know, since I wasn't there. But I wonder from what you say if you really know either. And if you don't really know, I think it is best not to assign motives to the actions of other people.

PBill said...

I think Tom Hatley is a good man who was unnecessarily and viciously maligned in blogs (not yours)for his actions as IMB Trustee chairman. I also believe his leadership on these was less than stellar.

He's gone. All you have to do now is persuade a majority of the other trustees that you deserve committee appointments and that your position on PPL is correct.

Back when this issue and policy change was made, I thought that the trustees should have documented that this is a problem area. Rankin said it wasn't. They said it was. They make the policy.

If the SBC has to tackle this issue, I remain one SBC pastor wary of formal approval of PPL for our employees. Let them make their case. I rather like what Patterson said about it the other day but am open to being persuaded otherwise.

BTW, my word verification on this comment is "nMAGOG"...very clever...;)

Wade Burleson said...

As usual, David Rogers has hit another home run.

I am amazed that we move from people who pray in private with a language not understood by man AND NOT HEARD BY MAN, to a Pentecostal/Assembly/Charismatic seige of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Grossey, your proposal for tongues is standard fair cessationist commentary. I RESPECT IT! but I also think it is weak and faulty exegesis. IT IS THE SAME hermaneutic that Liberals use to discount passages that speak of woman as pastors in local churches.

You guys can argue and throw out armageddon scenarios for churches, missions and the SBC by 'permitting' private prayers in tongues, but I will just continue to chuckle.

IT'S the TEXT!

And nobody is dealing with it.

Let's get off of the abuses of the gift that the PENTECOSTALS, ASSEMBLIES and other denominations have --- THEY VIOLATE THE TEXT AND ARE NOT SOUTHERN BAPTIST!

But when we forbid tongues in privte prayers WE ARE VIOLATING THE TEXT!

I don't have the gift, don't want the gift, but I also don't want a denomination where tradition supercedes the sufficient, inerrant Word of God.

With the kind of logic I am hearing every Southern Baptist church will be in danger of being overrun and damaged by people who think BIBLICALLY on other issues.

Nobody is asking anyone to speak in tongues. NOT ONE PERSON is saying that tongues is normative or should be sought. NOBODY IS SAYING tongues ought to be spoken PUBLICLY in violation of the rules and parameters of HOLY SCRIPTURE.

We are saying you should not forbid a person from have a private prayer language.


Let's stay on topic.

If you say the forbidding of a private prayer language is proper, then you must say,

(1). Those who have a private prayer language have it originating from the devil or the flesh, not God.

(2). Those who have it and use it in private prayers are in VIOLATION of the Word of God.

(3). Those who use a private prayer language are deficient morally and spiritually and not qualified to serve the SBC.

Who out there in blogland is willing to say the above three things?


Wade Burleson said...

Joel Rainey,

You nailed it as well.


Wade Burleson said...

Roger Simpson,

I have no information.



If I did, I promise I would be willing to deal with it in a firm manner.

We are NOT Pentecostal as a denomination.

We are Bibilciists.

Or at least I thought we were.

Bob Cleveland said...


I've heard a lot about "excesses" and "abuse" and "charismatic practices". That got me to thinking..

I used to sing in a choir. Most folks were pretty good at it, but I've sat next to some folks who could not hit the right note. They were drowned out by the masses, fortunately, but they clearly did not have the "gift of singing".

There have been some classes I've sat in, wherein something untrue was taught. Fortunately that can be corrected at the time. But I've also heard some teachers who really, really weren't good teachers.

Since those things hint at the abuse, or imitation, of gifts, do we need to pass a resolution against teaching, or against singing in the choir?

It would certainly bring a sense of uniformity.

Oh yes ... since so few SB's actually tithe, witness, or visit, I'm guessing that the need to do those things is not a widely-held baptist belief.

Church could get incredibly easy if we look for ways to apply the principles I'm seeing here and there.

miriam plowman said...

I guess I’m shocked by the denominational attitudes prevalent among my own SB. Do we seek to lead with an attitude which embraces the whole Body of Jesus Christ? The test of this doesn’t come in words only but in our practice of relating to one another. Philippians 2 enjoins us to prefer one another above ourselves.

Is sectarianism honoring to God? I think in general we are never taught to be hateful toward any Christian group, but I guess the discovery is - personally and congregationally we have everybody in denominational pigeonholes. Those are very real walls that shouldn’t be for the saints. Do we, when someone tells us they are another denomination, put them suddenly through some kind of a mental grid? We do. Do we do that when someone shares the gifts, abilities, beliefs they have as well? I’m sure.

But what type of spirit does that bring about in us? And in our congregations?

Acknowledging the whole Body of Jesus Christ will determine to a great extent how open our congregations are to what the Lord wants to do in it in our communities. This doesn’t argue against us having doctrinal convictions, but it moves us away from the notion that our doctrine is our strength. I’m not arguing against sound teaching or doctrinal conviction, but the Church’s strength is not in its creeds or it’s BFM. It’s in the life and love of God in the Body.

The power of God is in His love. We speak the truth in love. Truth without a tempering of love has a horrible way of slicing people to smithereens, and can crucify Jesus’ body that’s right down the street from us with a different name on the door.

Wade – I do have a question. Several times you’ve stated you don’t have the gift of tongues and don’t want it. My question – if God desired to give you that gift? What would that mean? I realize you stating currently you have the freedom to say you have no dogs hunting and don’t have gift envy. Would you, for sake of argument want God to restrict all that He wanted to do in you? Or with you? I don’t ask because I have the gift or because I think everyone needs it. I’m still processing all I’ve heard. I’m asking about our desire to limit God.. even in the smallest things. Would you not be open to anything God wants to give? As well, do we get to ask God for gifts or not and such? I mean someone with a gift received it because he wanted it?

Tim Rogers said...

Brother Wade,

You stated that Sam Storms was a Southern Baptist. I have tried to follow this line of thought but I cannot find in his bio any affiliation to Southern Baptist other than growing up in a "conservative Southen Baptist family". The only churches he acknowledges pastoring were either Presbyterian, Non-Denominational, or Independent.

I am not challenging, I just don't know how you arrive at him being a Southern Baptist. Does he now hold membership in a Southern Baptist Church?


Pastor John said...

Whoa there, let's not be too defensive.

First,my use of terms like "closet Pentecostals" and "masquerading as Baptists" were not original with me or my prof. They were originally used by Roger Simpson, whose post I was answering. If you are going to exegete my words, please at least check the background of my post first.

Second, you asked:
I can even envision a situation where a pastor or leader of the church from which such a person was originally a member might counsel them to join a Baptist church in order to pursue appointment with the IMB.

So you're saying its OK for organizations that do not support CP to send missionaries through our programs?
I never realized that the IMB had so much extra cash.

Finally, your post felt some what patronizing. You said that you "think it is best not to assign motives to the actions of other people." Yet that is exactly what you did to me throughout the course of your post.

Pastor John said...

I'm amazed at the course this discussion is taking myself. Your original post asked:
"Where is the documented evidence that these trustees have provided to the IMB President and staff that such problem exists on the field and that staff has not appropriately dealt with it."

Hoping to get some insight from someone close to the IMB I asked you about the statements made by one of my profs.
Now, you're moving to the broader issue of the experience of ppl itself.
If you want to discuss this that is fine, you may read my comments on my last post on my blog, or I will allow its comments to be posted on yours.
Until then, lets stay on task.
Possible reasons behind the IMB's new policies.

Pastor John said...

Joel Rainey,

Good call.
Examining a person's pneumatology would be better than putting down a blanket ban on all ppl practitioners.

Wade Burleson said...

Mr. Rogers,

I said he is an 'ordained' Southern Baptist pastor. He is in full time traveling ministry. I do not know what church he is a member of in Kansas City. He has told me that he has attended Northpoint (Southern Baptist) Church

Wade Burleson said...

Pastor John,

I answered your question.

I have no evidence of abuses on the field not handled swiftly, firmly and effeciently by administration and staff.




Your anecdote would be ruled out of order in a court as hearsay.

The missionaries that have spoken to me on the field verify that staff deals effeciently with any problems under the old policy.

I couldn't help but chuckle with your advice on how I should run my blog. Please don't be offended if I do what I believe is best.

The issue I am raising is not of one's experience --- I am saying we must deal with the text because we believe the Bible, and the sufficient, inerrant, Word of God.



Wade Burleson said...

We are now officially back on comment moderation.

I find that it is easier to keep a positive spirit and gracious comment section with moderation.

I may change back at some point in the future, but we'll give this a try for a season.



Wade Burleson said...


If God intended for me to have the gift He would give it to me.

I am following Scripture when I say I am following after Christ and doing what He has called me to do. To ask for a gift is a little presumptious, that is why I say, 'I don't desire it.' If He intended to give to me, I'm sure I would desire it.

Roger Simpson said...


I'm guilty as charged.

I was the one who broached the terms "closet Pentecostals" and "masquerading as Baptists" into this comment stream.

I did not say this was, in fact, happening -- only asking the question. I don't have any facts at all that would confirm these allogations and never implied that I did.

If in fact, these things were happening then it could explain why SOME (not you) on the IMB BoT are taking overt actions (maybe not the right actions) against "charasmatic influences" in the IMB.

Wade, I didn't mean to drift off topic. However, I think there may be a "perceived" linkage between "charasmatic excesses" and "PPL" in the minds of some on the BoT that led to the formulation of the anti-PPL "rules" being broached. I'm not saying this linkage is either rational or correct but that doesn't mean it isn't there.

I think you said a few times -- very loosly paraphraising -- "I don't know why people are bringing up this anti-PPL criterion for IMB appointment". One possible answer is that those doing so think (maybe incorrectly) that the anti-PPL criterion is a step twords purging the IMB of "charasmatic excesses".

Hey, I'm not an apologist for those who disagree with you. I agree with your position. But to make more progress sometimes you have to engage those who disagree with in terms of their "hot button" issues. What makes it tough is that they don't overtly tell you what they are.

I guess Wade, my point is that I think your argument would be augmented by showing in addition to your Biblical exegesis you could show that the supposed "charismatic abuses" are not happening. I guess this involves tracking down all the rumors and exposing them as without factual support.

I don't know how this is possible in practice since it is hard to argue a case from what you admit is "no information".

Wade, I totally agree with your three points in a comment up about ten comments ago. I agree with not narrowing the SBC with non-Biblical PPL rules. I just think that much of your opposition (not all) is not in the arena of Biblical interpretation -- it is instead of real or imagined activity on the mission field.

If you could hypothetically give "iron clad" uncontrovetible proof that there has never been any "Charasmatic abuse" in the IMB then this whole issue would dissolve into thin air making all this parsing of Biblical text unnecessary.

Wade Burleson said...


I agree with your sentiments. :)

But I can't post your comment, and I think you know why. It might be best to use your blog.



David Rogers said...

Pastor John,

My bad. I missed the context from the earlier comment from Roger Simpson. I do think it is relevant, though, that, although he was the one who originated this language, he gathered this impression from what you wrote, and you said nothing to correct this impression, if indeed it was in anyway out of line with what you intended to say.

Regarding your question of other organizations sending missionaries through the IMB, if someone first becomes a member of an SBC church, they are not being "sent" as missionaries from another organization as I see it. I do not see that we should penalize potential missionary candidates due to their former church affiliation. Or am I misunderstanding you here?

On the next point, if you felt I was "assigning motives" to you, I am sorry. It seemed to me (and still seems to me) that what you said about what your professor said about problems on the field is based more on "hearsay" (as Wade comments above) than it is on solid evidence. Perhaps there is more solid evidence to back up what you say. But, in my opinion, you do not present it here. I personally think the question Wade is asking is of such an important nature that it is best not to give answers unless they can be substantiated by more than the information you provide. I do not pretend to know the motives behind what you say, though. Sorry again if I came across like I did.

Last of all, I agree with you in agreeing with Joel Rainey that "Examining a person's pneumatology would be better than putting down a blanket ban on all ppl practitioners." In my opinion, if the BoT would have just stuck to that from the beginning, we would not even need to be having this discussion right now.



Tim Rogers said...

Brother Wade,

My point about Dr. Sam Storms would be your reference to him as "a conservative Southern Baptist". In your reference you present his as a middle of the road Southern Baptist, which I would presume without any background check that he is an active member or pastor of a Southern Baptist Church. This simply does not appear to be the case. Dr. Storms describes himself as a "charismatic Christian". He also describes his ministry as one that is trying to unite Reformed and Charismatic theology.

I am just saying your description of Dr. Storms would seem that he is active in SBC life. You refer to him as an authoritative Southern Baptist voice.


Wade Burleson said...


Sam's theology would be similar to Dr. Wayne Grudem and multiple Southern Baptist theologians and scholars, including at least two employeed at SWBTS. Sam was the pastor of Bethlehem Baptist during Dr. John Piper's sabbatical. I do not know where he is currently attending church, but he is much more of an authority and scholar on the subject than you or I.

In His Grace,


Pastor John said...

My apology if my original post was heresay - I was seeking clarification from one closer to the situation than I.

Also, I am sorry if my comments pertaining to being "on task" to you were too harsh. Indeed you may run your blog as you see fit.

Wade Burleson said...

Pastor John,

Thank you sir for your kind spirit.

I always listen to counsel from people like you who carry a sense of humility and grace.

Have a great Lord's day tomorrow.


Winning Truth w/Tim Guthrie said...


I will appeal to you in the spirit that is promoted on this blog. I have tried to share what happened to me Friday on your blog twice. My post is removed and yet the responses that people fired back at me are left on the blog making it look like I am bad or said something wrong. I am asking for an explanation. Why am I being censored or removed? I have not attacked you and have tried to make the point that if the tent needs to be bigger how can it when people even in the blog world throw darts and then posts are removed? I have not attacked you nor did I make any wild accusations - I appeal to you in the spirit that you have said you promote. I was attacked and called un gracious but did not attack back. I was told I was dreaming, but did not attack back. I have tried to take the high road - 25 emails today asking why you keep removing my posts.

What is it you want from me? I await your reply.

In Christ!

Scotte Hodel said...

After reading the 50 comments, I had to go back and read the original post to remember what you'd originally written.

A comment or two that cross my mind in the ongoing debate:

(1) The phrase "Private prayer language" isn't in the Bible. "Prayer in the spirit" in which "my understanding is unfruitful" is there. Of course, that's perhaps a weak argument, since "trinity" isn't in the book either. However, the choice of language (the word "private", in particular) steers the discussion in certain directions that are a distraction from the substance of the disagreement. On the other hand, the acronym for prayer in the spirit is PITS, which has its own disadvantages.

(2) I've been wondering why God used speaking in tongues and/or prayer in the spirit (unfruitful understanding) so clearly in many of the events in Acts, in Paul's prayer life, and in the Corinthian church. In turn, I wonder why this practice brings such division and argument in modern church culture. I don't have answers to either of these questions, but I suspect that there is a connection between them.

(3) A flaw in some Pentecostal exegetical analysis regarding speaking in tongues is that the book of Acts is studied as a scientific experiment. That is, statistical patterns of what happened when people were "filled with the Spirit" are treated as evidence that this is God's doctrine and teaching on the subject. Such analysis is flawed, in part because God, a living personality, is involved in the process. Unlike gravity and other physical laws, he's sovereign and deliberate in design. For example, Acts 2 involved tongues (known languages), but it also involved fire and loud windy noises, which are never repeated elsewhere in the NT. In Acts 8 we only know that something happened, but not what. Some Pentecostals/charismatics try to build a case that tongues were the miracle that Simon saw, but it's made in a vacuum: tongues aren't in the chapter.

The sole doctrinal statement in Acts on what happens when a believer is filled with the Spirit came from the Lord himself in Acts 1:8 : (1) "you shall be filled with power" and (2) "you shall be my witnesses." That observation immediately turns my gaze back on myself: do I see those two characteristics in my Christian life? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Idealistically, I wish that believers as a community would make honest assessments of themselves on those two criteria, and, if they're missing, to seek God's face and recognize that "apart from me you can do nothing."

In the overall discussion, I must repeat what I've heard and quoted for more than 20 years: "The cure for abuse is not disuse." Paul said that his preaching came not with persuasive words, but a demonstration of the Spirit's power (1 Cor 2). May we pursue the same in our own practice of the faith.

colinm said...

IT'S the TEXT!

And nobody is dealing with it.

Let's get off of the abuses of the gift that the PENTECOSTALS, ASSEMBLIES and other denominations have --- THEY VIOLATE THE TEXT AND ARE NOT SOUTHERN BAPTIST!

But when we forbid tongues in privte prayers WE ARE VIOLATING THE TEXT!

...I also don't want a denomination where tradition supercedes the sufficient, inerrant Word of God.

I have thought about this quite a while, and have formulated some conclusions. A buddy asked me today (one with a PPL that he is having trouble reconciling with the use of tongues in the SBC), "Why do Southern Baptists feel the need to regulate tongues in my prayer life?"

And it hit me...solidly this time. And I know this will further ostracize me and get more trying to sabotage me at school (see my blog), but it is clear: They do so for the same reason they forbid tongues in public. It is one in the same- no different. Paul CLEARLY does not say "Do not forbid PRIVATE speaking in tongues." It is unrefutable.

Wade says it is because Scripture itself forbids public tongues. I don't see that, and you cannot make that case. The most you can say is that all prescriptions must be followed.

The fact is you CANNOT advocate PPL while disallowing public tongues, because the very reason you cite for PPL is the same one that condemns you for forbidding public tongues. IF Southern Baptists violate the text for forbidding PPL, then they MUST violate the text for forbidding public tongues. You guys are painted into a corner, and will not address it.

...NOBODY IS SAYING tongues ought to be spoken PUBLICLY in violation of the rules and parameters of HOLY SCRIPTURE.

What you are saying is that it shouldn't be spoken at all. Your position fails to hold credence with people because it is duplicitous. You can't fight one while supporting the other- that is, well, you fill in the word.

Wade Burleson said...


Read more carefully.

The parameters of Scripture make tongues almost impossible to be spoken in public (there must be an interpretor, it must be done decently and in order, and in public five words of understanding are better than 10,000 words in an unknown tongue).

These are the restrictions of Holy Writ.

No such restrictions on tongues in private.

I am quite comfortable with the text, and whatever ducplicitous logic you see is solely in your mind, not mine.



Wade Burleson said...

Tim Guthrie,

I told you to deal with the people who need to be dealt with on your blog.

It is neither appropriate nor blog etiquitte to come to my comment section and talk about what is being done on your blog.

Deal with issues on your blog at your blog, not mine.

Thanks Tim for understanding.

In His Grace,


craig from Georgia said...

Acts 2:6-11establishes beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Biblical gift of tongues were known languages.
When Paul says “I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all” there’s no reason to believe he’s not talking about known languages and why do you not complete the whole sentence? “I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all: Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue. “ The same applies to 1 Corinthians 14:39, “Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues”. Prophesy is superior to tongues although tongues had their place at that time.
Acts 10 is when Peter visits Cornelius and brings the gospel to the Gentiles. They spoke in tongues (languages) like the disciples did in Acts 2 signifying they too had received the Holy Ghost. “And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. (Acts 11:15)” Acts 19 is the account of disciples of John the Baptist getting saved. Again tongues are a sign that they have now received the Holy Ghost as those did in Acts 2.

Tongues are not a sign for unbelievers; they are a sign for unbelieving JEWS. While many Jews were saved, the nation of Israel as a whole rejected the gospel message. "In the law it is written, With men of other languages and other lips will I speak unto THIS PEOPLE; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord. Wherefore, tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not" (I Corinthians 14:21 22).

There is no Biblical reason for a so-called gift of tongues that is not a known earthly language. The Bible gives no reason for a gibberish language. It serves no purpose, especially in the day we live in with the perfect, completed Word of God in our hands.

David Rogers said...


You proclaiming that "Acts 2:6-11 establishes beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Biblical gift of tongues were known languages" does not make it so.

I believe the evidence given to the contrary in Wade's quote of Sam Storms above is pretty substantive. It would help your case if you were to at least interact with what he has to say, instead of just boldly asserting your position is true "without a shadow of a doubt." Don't you see you lose credibility that way?

debbiewimmers said...

I go to First Baptist Dallas. My SS teacher is Alan Streett, the editor of the CTR. The reason he includes this interview is to get views from all sides of the issue. He's not singling out one person to attack or attack the issue itself. Like I said on another blog, what you pray in private is between you and God. If God hears you, fine; If not, reconform your prayer to the will of God.

debbiewimmers said...

I feel all the attacks on you, Rankin and McKissic are unnessecary. Tom Hatley has clearly misintrepeted your view on this issue.
I also feel that people that do have PPL should not be banned from the SBC, IMB or seminary. If the Bible says you shouldn't forbid Tongues, then why all the bickering. It seems hypercritical to say you believe in the Enarrancy of Scripture than turn arould and forbid a certian way a person prays.

Wade Burleson said...


I find it interesting that you can, with one reading of the documents, see what I have been saying from the beginning, and some in leadership, from the beginning, cannot see it.

It makes me wonder why that is.

Wade Burleson said...


I am beginning to see that some define 'intepretating the Bible' as simply:

(1). A dogmatic assertion and declaration that "this is what the Bible teaches, beyond a shadow of a doubt" with no substantitive textual support.

(2). A refusal to either dialogue with, or debate, those with a differing interpretation because (as Emir Caner says), "They are immature Christians."

(3). A proclamation that those who don't see it their way are either 'closet moderates' or not true Southern Baptists.

It is very difficult to try to discuss the issues in an environment such as this, but I will continue to press on, shall not give up, and remind those who disagree that we irenic conservatives welcome their participation and involvment in the SBC.

They may not think much about that last statement now, but in about five years they will appreciate the grace shown in it.

colinm said...


My comment has disappeared. Can you tell me why it got left behind, or if you never had it? I copied it, so I can paste it into the next discussion if you like.

colinm said...


Give me more credit for reading clearly. I have read exactly what you have written.

BUT, you failed to acknowledge your statement about why you are comfortable with not allowing open tongues on the mission field- your words:

"Because the Bible itself forbids it."

It undercuts your argument. Your words, not mine. We either let go of tradition for Bible, or let go of Bible for tradition. It seems your are practicing both methodologies.

Wade Burleson said...


I'm not sure what happened.

Sorry for the inconvenience.


Wade Burleson said...


I have stated on numerous occasions that the Bible

(1). Forbids tongues spoken publicly without an interpreter.

(2). Forbids tongues spoken publicly in a manner that is not decently and in order.

(3). Says specifically that when people gather for worship it is better "to speak five words in a known tongue than ten thousand in an unknown tongue."

These restrictions are Biblical restrictions, and make tongues spoken publicly a rare thing indeed --- 'virtually' impossible.

But the same restrictions are not on private tongues.

"The Bible itself forbids it" was a statement, taken in context, that simply pointed out that we will follow the Scripture's restrictions and not impose manmade ones. It is a man-made restriction to 'forbid the speaking in tongues' privately.

I am advocating we let go of our tradition for the Bible.

Nuff said. Move on.


Pamela Blume said...

In 2003, the IMB conducted a comprehensive evaluation of the board's work over the five years since the inception of New Directions (The Strategic Directions-21 Evaluation). This was a year's work of analysis and evaluation involving staff, regional leaders, field personnel, and trustees. The report was not confidential; it was presented in public plenary session, but we were told that some of the specific info was sensitive, so I want to be circumspect in my comments. One aspect of the study was a report from the Regional Leader and the trustee chairman of each respective regional committee. Questions for study involved church practice and ministry, church ordinances, church polity, doctrine and Baptist distinctives, and charismatic practices in the context of each region. Each of the questions about churches in the region was to be rated from 5 (all churches), 4 (most), 3 (some), 2 (few), 1 (none), or 0 (not relevant), or X (don't know). The questions regarding charismatic practices were: "To your knowledge, do any churches in your region: 1. Permit the practice of speaking in tongues in public worship," and "2. Teach the doctrine of a separate baptism of the Holy Spirit apart from conversion?" The answers from all regions to the first question ranged from 1 to 2 (none to few). The answers to the second question were 0 to 2 (not relevant to few). In the accompanying notes, it was explained that some of these churches were not planted by IMB personnel (the question was about any church in the region), and it was made clear that these doctrines are not taught or promoted by IMB personnel, and in areas where the charismatic influence was strong, "IMB personnel maintain a vigil to help these (autonomous churches) avoid these practices," among other comments.

I was a regional chairman at that time and worked very closely with my Regional Leader and stateside associates on this report. We had some great in-depth conversations and I can say without a doubt that this leader, long in experience in that region, had an accurate evaluation of that field. He certainly was not omniscient and omnipresent, but was bluntly honest with me on all information to the best of his knowledge. In this region, a very small number of churches did permit “tongues” only if there was an interpreter present. Those churches believed that it was a Biblical gift. Yet some of the unions or conventions in that region excluded churches for such practices. In all, the issue was not as prevalent or divisive as it had been 12-15 years ago. I took away from that report the belief that our field personnel were on the ball. I guess that's why the flap over the prayer language issue surprised me. Has there been an explosion of charismatic practice since 2003??? A friend has recently told me that the policy was necessary because of all the tongues-speaking in "X" region. That didn't sound right to me since I have two very close friends who are Ministers of Missions that work extensively in that region and I have never heard them speak of such problems. I called one of them and also spoke with that regional leader, who informed me that there had only been one instance of anything along that line in his area and it had been dealt with. There seems to be too much anecdotal information floating around. If there are specific incidences that need to be dealt with, then do it; the procedure for doing so has already been in place. And if there are specific instances, don't assume it is endemic to the entire organization. I hope, in the next field assessment, that the churches and Ministers of Mission that are doing work in the trenches in a regular and on-going basis with our personnel will be asked to participate and give input into what is going on in the field.

Wade Burleson said...


That is very important, informative information.

Thank you.

I will post about your comment later in the week.


P.S. For those of you who do not know, Pam is a former IMB Trustee.

Jeff said...

“In the law it is written…”

What was the purpose from the outset of the gift of tongues? Is there a text of scripture that tells us that its purpose was as a private prayer language? Is there a text of scripture that tells us that its purpose was a tool to evangelize the good news? What does the scripture say about what the original purpose was? In the outline I give you below I think you will see that the clear text from the apostle Paul was that tongues were a sign. A sign for what? Well it was a covenantal sign to show that those who stayed under the old covenant had judgment to look forward to and a warning for them to come out from that old covenant and embrace the grace and mercy offered by Christ Jesus in the New Covenant.

If you take a survey of the book of acts you will find three recorded uses of the sign gift of tongues. Interesting note: you will only find three recorded instances of the actual use of tongues in all of the New Testament. If this gift is limited to only these three occurrences we should be careful to note the particulars of the instances. The first is obviously on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2: Pay attention to verses 4-12). The second happened when Peter received a vision to take the gospel to Cornelius, a gentile (Acts 10: Pay attention to verses 44-47). The last one was the disciples of John the Baptist, when Paul asked them if they had received the Spirit since they believed (Acts 19: Pay attention to verses 1-8). In all of these instances it will be noted by a careful look at the passages that Jews were present at all three. Even with Cornelius Peter had taken an entourage with him to go proclaim the grace and mercy of God to this first gentile. It should also be noted that the reaction of the Jews is recorded for us. The various words used is that the Jews who saw this sign of the tongue were “Amazed” “Astounded” “Marvelled”. What is it that these Jews recognized from this sign gift that caused them to marvel and to be amazed astounded.

It is noted by Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:22 that “…the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom”.

In Matthew 12:38, “Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee.”

Matthew 16:1, “The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven.”

Matthew 24:3 “And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?”

It is clear that the Jews had a propensity to be moved by signs. They wanted outward and if possible miraculous proof of the message that was being given them. When they heard Christ preaching the new covenant; in stark contrast to the old covenant that they knew so well, they demanded a sign to prove his authenticity. So when the “Sign gift” of tongues occurred in the presence of Jews it had great significance.

OT & Tongues

Paul firmly anchored tongues in the OT law; therefore, we need to do the same. Tongues, a warning to unbelieving Jews, 14: 21, 22: were a sign. Here, as in all places, our final authority for all that is believed, said and practiced must be the word of God (2 Tim 3:16); Christ Himself commanded us to search the Scriptures (Jn 5:39, 46, 47). Both Paul and Christ were referring to searching the OT Scriptures to confirm any and every doctrine because there were no NT Scriptures when Christ spoke and Paul wrote. The OT, as we presently have it, was safely kept in the synagogues. The Bereans were commended as being more noble than those in Thessalonica because they searched the OT Scriptures daily to confirm what they were being taught by Paul (Acts 17:11); might we do the same, therefore, we must reach back to the OT, as Paul does here, to find the true purpose of tongues.

Isaiah says that if anyone speaks not according to the law and to the testimony (of the prophets), there is no light in them (Isa 8:20. See also Lk 24:44-48); Therefore, we have no choice but, as Paul does, to go back into the OT to find the reason for the tongues of Acts 2, 10, 19; I Cor 12, 13 and 14. Paul rebukes the Corinthians for not understanding the OT Scriptures in their use of "the gift of tongues" by quoting Isaiah 28:11-12, 1 Cor 14:20-22.

Isaiah & Tongues

Isa 28 takes place in the latter years of Hezekiah, king of Judah, 705-701 B.C. Before his rule (722 B.C.), Assyria invaded Palestine and the Northern kingdom; Ephraim was destroyed. Now, many years later, Isaiah warns the people of the Southern kingdom, Judah, that the same thing will happen to them (cf. Jer 3:7-10). But instead of trusting in the Lord for their deliverance from Assyria, Judah makes a deal with Egypt. Their unity with pagan Egypt brings an influx of heathen practices into the congregation of the Lord, and their hearts turn from Him. In vs. 7, 8, the prophet Isaiah points to the leaders of Judah and tells the world that they are involved in wicked evil practices: a drunken party. The leaders mock Isaiah and his warning concerning their spiritual condition. Not liking to be addressed as irresponsible children, even though they are childish, they call his teaching childishly simple. As far as they are concerned, Isaiah, a fundamental legalist preacher, speaks down to them as one would to a minor, and, considering themselves "free adults," they resent Isaiah . . . they sneer at his warning.

Isaiah, vs. 11-13, deals with them in the very point of their sarcasm (he continues to speak to them as children, using their scorn for God's word against them) as he makes his prophetic announcement of coming judgment, v. 14ff. Since the people will not listen to God as He speaks to them in the plain and simple language which they understand and use daily, He will now speak to them in a language they cannot understand, Assyrian. Now they will need an interpreter to understand the other "tongues," languages, 10:5-6. When they hear the stammering lips and another tongue on the streets of Jerusalem, as well as all through the land (the Assyrian language which they understood not), they will know that God's judgment is upon them according to Isaiah's warning. The another tongue will be a sure sign pointing them directly back to Isaiah's warning of the coming judgment which they had mocked and sneered at.

Moses & Tongues

The warning goes back even farther than Isaiah. We find the basic law which was the foundation for Isaiah's (and Paul's) warning in Deuteronomy 28:15-68 (36, 49). There Moses points out to the congregation of the Lord (the seed of Israel) that one of the results of God's people rejecting the Lord as their King will be servitude to a people whose tongue (language) they will not understand. If God's people refuse to serve God as their King, they will serve the heathen, 47-48. Therefore, let us not suppose for a moment that the rebellious Jews that Isaiah and Paul spoke to didn't make this connection of Deut 28:45-68; there is no way they could have missed it, but knowing human nature as we do (we have it), they ignored the facts. "Other tongues" was the result of rejecting God's rule (Authority) over them. This is established in the law of God and will not change. The rejection of the new covenant by the first century Jew was met with the warning sign of the tongue.

Deut 28:15-68 was fulfilled at least twice: it was fulfilled when Assyria moved against the Jewish nation in fulfillment of Isaiah's warning. (Note that even though God exalted Assyria as the rod of His anger, an instrument of chastising His people, when Assyria in its pagan pride exalted itself, God destroyed Assyria completely. God's people are still here; Assyria is nothing but dust today. Furthermore, one of the symbols of Assyria was a winged lion. See Deut 28:49.) Moses' prophecy was fulfilled again in 70 A.D. as Rome, under Titus, came against Jerusalem. Both Rome's and Hitler's ensign was an eagle. Deut 28:15-68 has been completely fulfilled (See our extensive study on Mat 21-24). The stammering lips and another tongue was God's judicial sign of judgment upon the Jews because they hardened their hearts against the simple truths which Moses and the prophet Isaiah spoke.

In Isaiah's day, the judgment came in the form of Assyria, and the speaking of the Assyrian language on the streets of Judah pointed to Isaiah's prophecy being fulfilled; they could not understand the language without an interpreter. In Paul's day, the Jews had again degenerated into an apostate nation and had rejected the true prophet, Christ the Messiah, and His warnings. No doubt if He had come as a worldly king or as an elite man of some kind, they might have listened to Him, but He didn't. He came as a humble servant of God; He came with a simple and plain message which the common man could readily understand, identify with and accept, and the elite rejected and killed Him. Christ warned of the horrible judgment which would come as the result of their rejection of the Son, Matthew 21-24. In fact, He said that the former judgments would be nothing compared to the one which was coming, 24:21, 22; Assyria, as terrible as it was, would pale compared to the punishment in store for Christ's crucifixion.

Signs & Tongues

After the crucifixion of the Son of God and before the final destruction of the Jewish nation, the sign of tongues re-appears. To the Jews who knew the law (Deut 28) and the prophets (Isa 28), this meant only one thing, JUDGMENT. Other tongues were not new to them; it happened in the past. (Remember, if it is new, it's not true; if it is true, it's not new.) In the middle of Paul's significant warning concerning the proper use of tongues (chap. 14), we have his reference to Isaiah, 14:21. Paul clearly identifies tongues in the same context as did Isaiah: a sure sign of judgment for rejecting the warning of God and the Roman language would be spoken on the streets of Jerusalem; they could not understand the language without an interpreter.

Observe the similarities of circumstances.

Something which is quite amazing here is the context in which Paul quotes Isaiah's warning and the resistance (even anger) put forward by the Jewish leaders against Isaiah, accusing him of treating them like children (let me strongly urge you to read Isaiah 28 because it is basic, or Paul would not have used it here). Both Isaiah and Paul are dealing with immature people who claimed to be the God's people; they were children whose pride and rebellion caused them to harden against being treated and spoken to as children.


Our Lord said, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Mk 10:15). It is not hard at all to follow this thought as the gospel of the kingdom goes out from the very first day that Christ taught it to the last days of Paul as he taught it (Mat 3:2; Acts 28:31). The idea of becoming as a child would have struck at the very heart of the rebellious nation as once again these religious leaders get hostile at the thought of being treated like children. In fact, having to put on the spirit of a child is enough to make any "natural man" hostile. But not only is this required in order to enter into the kingdom, but it is required to advance in His kingdom. Stephen told the religious leaders (as did every other preacher of the gospel, including Christ) that they were the same pious, rebellious, stiff-necked, proud, hardhearted, hypocritical men as were their fathers who mocked and sneered at Isaiah's instruction. This did not win friends and influence people for Stephen any more than it did for Christ (Acts 7:51-60).

Let's move to the middle of Paul's instruction in cp. 14, v. 20, where he warns them against childishness. Paul's warning fits in with the situation in which Isaiah spoke (1 Cor 14:21-Isa 28:11). Isaiah was rejected by the Jewish leaders because he was treating them like children; Paul here tells the folks at Corinth, "Don't continue in your childish attitudes as your fathers did in Isaiah's time. Grow up! Remember, the reason for other tongues is to speak to a rebellious, stubborn, stiff-necked people who will not hear me, saith the Lord. When your fathers rejected the clear plain message of repentance toward God, then they had to listen to other tongues: an ethnic and unintelligible language of a foreign invader. Your fathers needed an interpreter to understand what was being said." Paul's thought continues, "The another tongues had nothing to do with salvation or with being spiritual; rather, it is a sign of judgment which is either already here or is coming."

Also, notice Paul's indictment against this church for being childish, 1 Cor 13:11; 14:20. The Supernatural ability to speak an unknown (to the speaker) foreign language was being used with pride as a child would be lifted up with pride over abilities which he had and considered superior to another's abilities. Paul points out that childishness is only commendable in the matter of malice, not in understanding, and tells them to grow up. Again, the connection is significant as he moves from this exhortation into the quote from Isaiah. The context of both Paul and Isaiah has to do with childishness and maturity. (Note that the Romans, as they moved in judgment against this rebellious nation, camped at the place which was called, "The Camp of Assyrians." Furthermore, neither the Jews nor the Romans could understand each other; therefore, both needed an interpreter to understand the other.

In my explanation of how I see the scripture in regards to tongues, do not read in that any idea that I support running the people who cling to this gift out of our churches. Far from it. Since this is a difficult subject and widely disputed I feel that grace should be the overriding characteristic of our approach. I do not feel that this should disqualify any sincere prepared and otherwise qualified person from serving as a missionary from our churches. I do however think that a careful and honest dealing with the scripture will show that tongues ceased after their stated purpose was completed. After God had finished in judging the nation of Israel for their rejection of messiah and after the total destruction of the city, temple, priesthood, sacrificial system; i.e. the end of the old covenant, then the sign had no further purpose and it ceased in and of itself. I feel the scripture teaches this clearly but my fellowship will not be determined on your agreement with me on this topic.

For His Glory said...

Wade wrote:

Let's stay on topic.

If you say the forbidding of a private prayer language is proper, then you must say,

(1). Those who have a private prayer language have it originating from the devil or the flesh, not God.

(2). Those who have it and use it in private prayers are in VIOLATION of the Word of God.

(3). Those who use a private prayer language are deficient morally and spiritually and not qualified to serve the SBC.

Who out there in blogland is willing to say the above three things?


This is the really the issue at hand for me. Consider: if Dr. Rankin our IMB president says he has a PPL, either this is of God, or as Wade says, of the flesh or devil.

What say you? Do you believe that folks like this are practicing something of the flesh or of the devil? Are they violating the Word of God?

Or, are the BoT forbidding something between God and some of His children that is real and is of God? If the answer is yes, to that question then shouldn't we wonder about God's blessing upon this convention?

TruthOfActs said...

Let’s see—you said on Monday, October 30, “I have received probably 100 comments favorable for a statement of cooperation…there have been 4 that could be considered critical of it including the 2 that focused on Ron’s comment—for the sake of keeping the focus on the issue at hand I am closing the comment section.”

Well, well, well—what kind of truth and grace is that? Should Ron’s comment be deleted because two people didn’t like it? He wrote what he thought was the truth. Let’s hear what these two guys say. I thought discussion was the basis for your blog. To shut the post down is what Hitler did to newspapers.

Wade, a few times you have disappointed me, but this is the first time I’m angry. You say you want to change the SBC, but you’re not going to do it with your tail between your legs.
Rex Ray

jerry said...

An awful lot of back and forth with no resolve.