Wade and All,
As I said in answer to a question on the panel at the Holy Spirit Conference at Arlington, the way people interpret biblical passages (regarding tongues) today is going to be significantly affected by at least the following areas:
- Cultural Leanings (Are you still a Modernist with a closet anti- supernatural suspicion, if not bias, or are you young enough to where you grew up with at least a mild Postmodernist bent, even if you didn't know what it is?)
- Colored Lenses (Did you come to the text having been taught by your highly respected pastor/ mentor/professor/"hero" [or all the above] that a certain view was true, and who are you to think otherwise?)
- Comfort Zone (Are you fearful of change or being "out of control" or even scared of the Holy Spirit?)
- Controlling Passages (They function this way: "That passage can't possibly mean that, because I've already made my decision on this doctrine from this other passage [or passages], which fit my preconceived notion.")
Bottom line here: You guys, all of whom I really like, and all of whom are passionately convinced of your positions, are not going to change the other's views... at least not much, unless something shifts significantly in one or more of the four categories above.
I wish it wasn't so, but it is.
Here's the only other thing I think is worth saying here: Alan, (who is a continuatist) I think you are wrong that a tide is turning against you. If anything, I think there are signs the opposite is happening, though slower than you would want.
Here's what I think you are reacting to: You didn't hear this argument played out at Golden Gate, and you didn't become really aware of things until the recent IMB controversy. In that regard, these "guidelines" sound ominous to you.
But, the other side of the story is that the SBC has been heavily Cessationist behind the scenes right on along, although almost no official stances were taken (either because nobody wanted to mess with the BFM for so long, or because it was not thought that anything even needed to be done).
Now, however, the issues--although I would agree with Wade that they are 3rd tier doctrinal areas--are front and center because of the IMB BoT's 2005 decisions and because evangelical Christianity in many parts of the world, which is unquestionably growing much faster than in North America, is also unquestionably Charismatic. And, what has just happened?
Was it a setback? Yes, but nothing at all like the type or number William Wilberforce et al had to absorb on the way to their final victory in the British Parliament.
You see, after the first CR generation, in which many, if not most, of the leaders and lieutenants were left-over Cessationists more or less of the Criswell variety, things have now BEEN changed, first slightly by the recognition in 2005 that there may be such a thing as legit. tongues, then this week by the elimination of the previous statement "The majority of Southern Baptist churches do not practice glossalalia." W.A. Criswell and his followers would have been scandalized even by the quasi-Semi-Cessationist wording in 2005 and completely dumbfounded by the elimination of the "majority" statement in 2007 (which adds up to Semi-Cessationist/Semi-Continuationist exegetical conclusions, even if the application of them is Dogmatic Cessationist, due to the narrower Fundamentalist desire to hold the fort.
It would appear that the IMB Trustees are smart enough to see the writing on the wall long-term.
The make-up of the SBC is clearly getting less Cessationist with every passing year and even the new BoT policy at SWBTS is unlikely to change that much, given how many other SBC educational options exist and SWBTS's trending decline in numbers and impact for some time now (Does anyone remember not that long ago when SWBTS was considered the SBC flagship and the idea of her enrollment [which did not then include the College] dropping below 4,000 seemed totally ludicrous?). Thus, the IMB trustees' ad hoc committee definitely had their job cut out for them: 1) Put their finger in the dike in the face of of an increasingly less Cessationist and more Continuationist (though not necessarily Charismatic) SBC; 2) while facing the facts that the only even partly Cessationist position they can still make a straight-faced case for exegetically is Semi-; 3) but having to "save face" with those who got them their appointments by maintaining what appears to be a hard-nosed Cessationist practical stance (and even that has moderated somewhat).
We must face this fact: Meaningful change is almost always hard and very seldom quick. But, from a "big picture" standpoint, the glass is half full if, for no other reason than, the IMB BoT, representing the SBC, a people of "the Book," have updated their exegesis reflecting a generational reality and toned down their negative implications and practical outworkings. And, for that same reason, the glass is half empty for the shrinking Cessationist ranks in SBC life. They no longer have the unquestioned large majority of the churches and they no longer have a prevailing, if unofficial, "close the door completely" exegetical stance in their favor. And, frankly, with the virtual admission that there are no real problems on this front in the missionary force on the field, they do not have a whole lot left there either. And, if the new "guidelines" were only passed by a 3/4 majority on a seemed to be a fairly well stacked board, there would appear to be reason to hope that this is not the last time these issues will be heard by this Board in the foreseeable future.
Just let the heat (it's only "righteous indignation" if short term [Eph. 4:26-27]) level die down and the light [loving wisdom] level gain its equilibrium and things may look at least a tad different.
The Final Post on Grace and Truth to You on the New Tongues Guideline at the IMB
Unless providentially shown otherwise, today's post will be the final one on this subject at Grace and Truth to You. I will move on to other issues related to the SBC. The words of Dr. Boyd Luter, former dean of Criswell College, a New Testament theologian and currently a Southern Baptist pastor, shall provide the benediction. If you would like background to Boyd's comment, you might wish to read the comments at the end of Friday's post.