Dwight, however, is one of many leaders and laymen in our convention who are beginning to feel disenfranchised and perceived as outcasts because of their view on the gifts. As I have stated on several occasions, I do not have the gift of tongues, nor do I desire it, but I have absolutely no problem cooperating with my fellow Southern Baptists who pray in tongues in private (a private prayer language), nor do I have a problem cooperating with any Southern Baptist who believes all the gifts of the Spirit continue to this day. Like any other third tier doctrinal interpretation held by Southern Baptists, the only time problems with a particular interpretation arises is when there is an overemphasis on the doctrine or a demand that everyone believe the same. The old IMB policies prevented this from happening.
The controversy in our convention began a year and a half ago when missonary candidates began to be rejected for possessing a 'private prayer language' or those who were members of Southern Baptist churches, having their baptism accepted by their respective Southern Baptist church, but rejected from being missionary candidates because their baptism did not take place in 'a church that believed in eternal security.' I have voiced my opposition to the two policies on this blog, and of course, it was that opposition that eventually led to a recommendation for my removal from the board of trustees of the International Mission Board. Though this recommendation was later unanimously rescinded, the policies remain in effect.
Rachelle and I will be attending the International Mission Board meeting this next Monday through Wednesday in Memphis, Tennessee. I have been praying for the two ad hoc committees of the board that were appointed by Chairman John Floyd to review the policies. There may be a report and/or recommendation from this committee to the full board regarding these two new policies. My objections from the beginning have been based upon the belief that the IMB is unwise to narrow doctrinal parameters beyond the BFM 2000, because the churches who cooperate in SBC mission efforts disagree on third tier issues. If there were concrete anecdotal evidence that these policies would make our mission field better, or if these policies were enforcing fundamentals of the faith, I would be for them without hesitation. But when people like Dwight McKissic and members of his church (and mine) begin to feel disenfranchised by the new policies, then the tent of cooperation is being narrowed in the SBC and this will ultimately spell trouble.
The other day Steve Davis, an associate pastor at Parkwood Baptist Church in Concord, North Carolina sent me some quotes from Judge Paul Pressler's book "A Hill On Which To Die" (Copyright 1999). All quotes are from page 158 and describe Pressler's views on the conservative resurgence. These statements also form the reasons why I am concerned about these new policies, which are based upon disputable interpretations of the sacred text, and lead to the exclusion of otherwise well qualified Southern Baptists from missions service or leadership. Pressler's statements lead me to believe our convention has become even more narrower than we were a decade ago. Here is what Pressler said about the resurgence.
"The issue in the convention was neither an interpretation of Scripture nor an effort to create unity of thinking on theological issues ....The liberals had said that after the conservatives finished with those who held different views of the nature of the Bible, they would begin attacking the charismatics (neo-Pentecostals). They also alleged that conservatives would later attack various other groups until they "purified" every aspect of Christian life. They said conservatives wanted to make everybody think just as they do."
"Such a charge was ludicrous, but it did worry some people such as my friends .....Charismatic worship and understanding of spiritual gifts is an interpretation of Scripture. That was not our concern. Our concern was the nature of Scripture."
"The liberals have tried to make much of the fact that some Calvinists exist within the conservative movement. Calvinism also is an interpretation of Scriptures. Although I am not a five-point Calvinist, I am perfectly content with persons who seek to convince others to have Calvinist convictions form the teaching of the Word of God."
"An interpretation of Scripture is a derivative issue and not a primary one. Interpretation is not a hill on which to die. In fact, the presence of such persuasions as Calvinists and charismatics in the conservative ranks merely shows that conservatives never sought to have all Southern Baptists think exactly alike. All we wanted was for people to base what they believe on an intelligent study of what the Bible says."
Judge, what happened?
In His Grace,