Tuesday, October 17, 2006

A Perfect Rule for Faith and Practice

R.B.C. Howell was an early leader of the Southern Baptist Convention, serving as the second President of the newly formed Southern Baptist Convention, and holding the office of President of the SBC for a record eight terms.

In Dr. Howell's book, The Evils of Infant Baptism, he shows quite clearly that infant baptism cannot be supported by the Word of God. He then writes eloquently on the sufficiency of God's Word.

"'The Word of God is a perfect rule for faith and practice.' To this maxim every evangelical denomination professes to bow with entire submission. It avows the scriptures to be not the supreme authority only, but also the sole authority, in all that pertains to religion. It repudiates all tradition. It looks to to the Fathers of the church of whatever period, except in so far as they are sustained by the divine word. It relies exclusively upon the scriptures. If any doctrine or practice be there clearly taught, it must be received heartily, and fully. If otherwise, you dare not admit it. 'The word of God is a perfect rule of faith and practice.'" (R.B.C. Howell, "The Evils of Infant Baptism," Baptist Heritage Press, Watertown, WS, Reprinted 1988).

Well said Dr. Howell. It seems that genuine Southern Baptists are those who believe God's Word to be supreme and sufficient in all matters of faith and practice.

What should we call those in our convention who don't hold tenaciously to this principle that the Word of God is a perfect rule for faith and practice? Are they evangelicals? Are they Biblicists?

They sure can't be called Southern Baptists in the tradition of Dr. Howell. :)

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson


Jack Maddox said...


Why in the world did my comment get deleted? I amswered your question and then posed a question. I can only assume you feel I violted some rule of ediquet? Please clarify


Roger Ferrell said...

I don't know what to call them, but you are right, they are not Southern Baptist. But there are many people in churches which practice infant baptism who do not believe in it. Some PCA friends of mine said they just grit their teeth and those services and think in their heads "it is just a dedication." So why do they stay at their church when they do not believe it's teachings?

Wade, I also would love to see this discussion opened up to discuss who can baptize. Our church invites the candidate to decide who they want to baptize them. I am always there to help if needed, but many times it is a parent, an older sibling, or the friend who first shared their faith with the candidate who does the baptizing. This has energized our congregation for evangelism and is completely biblical (John 4:1-2). So why don't more SBCers practice this?

Geoff Baggett and I have been discussing these baptism issues on our blog at http://www.missionmpossible.net. Feel free to comment there as well.

Winning Truth w/Tim Guthrie said...

What is the implication to the previous post or is this one totally a different discussion? Just curious.

irreverend fox said...

Wade you asked: "What should we call those in our convention who don't hold tenaciously to this principle that the Word of God is a perfect rule for faith and practice? Are they evangelicals? Are they Biblicists?"

We should call them dis-fellowshiped.

I'm serious.

wadeburleson.org said...


Your post was accidentally deleted, as well as mine. I apologize.

You asked me,

"What should we call those in our convention who don't hold tenaciously to this principle that the Word of God is a perfect rule for faith and practice?

You call them heretics.

And just what exactly is your point Wade?

I answered:

Jack, my point is for people to think about what Scripture teaches, not tradition. I would be hesitant though to call people heretics who build their faith and practice on tradition because one may be condemning himself.

Bob Cleveland said...

I wonder if the tendency to not view the Bible as the sole authority is rooted in an inability to discern someone's Spiritual status.

My example: I'm a 5-point Calvinist in whom God has manifested the gift of tongues. Yet my pastor, who is as Baptist as can be and not a Calvinist nor a "tongue-speaker" is happy to have me teaching in Sunday School. I think it's because he knows me and trusts me.

It occurs to me that, if they toss out candidates from service in the IMB (or elsewhere), it's because they do not trust them to conform to scripture. Perhaps they do not believe the authenticity of professed gifts, which would mean that they cannot determine the spirituality involved.

I cannot believe that of all the "ineligible" folks who have applied to the IMB et al, in recent years, had some phony experience and thought it to be real. All of them?

Yet, in their forbidding the use of unknown tongues, scripturally manifested, those in authority are, themselves, guilty of failing to conform to scripture.

Am I missing something here? Are we sanctioning something that is but an imitation of a spiritual organism?

Unknown said...

Peter Fromm?

SigPres said...

I'm all for calling the Bible "God-breathed," or, God-inspired. It was written by men who were "carried along by" the Holy Spirit, and it becomes alive for us when we are illuminated with that same Spirit. That's what it says about itself. Isn't that enough?

Unknown said...

"and it becomes alive for us when we are illuminated with that same Spirit."

That is not what the Bible says, that is what Barth, Bultmann and Brunner posited in their neo-orthodox beliefs. This is a great illustration of the pervasiveness of twinges of liberal theology that penetrate seemingly conservative strongholds. But I guess this is all apart of the big tent of man-centered theology and private interpretation.

davidinflorida said...

To whom it may concern : Heb 4:12 ...."For the word of God is (living) and (powerful) and (sharper) than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the division of the (soul) and (spirit), and is a (discerner) of the (thoughts) and (intents) of the heart" ......... Is that liberal?

Unknown said...

David, I think you missed the point. The Word is always living, and does not "become" alive. It is subtle, but is clearly a neo-orthodox belief. I am not saying Lee is liberal by any means; I am suggesting that neo-orthodoxy pentetrates our pulpits without notice, and views espoused veer further away from orthodox Christianity.

irreverend fox said...

colinm is right.

Wes Kenney said...


The words of Dr. Howell, as quoted in this post (the bracketed text is my insertion for clarity):

If any doctrine or practice be there [in scripture] clearly taught, it must be received heartily, and fully. If otherwise, you dare not admit it.

There are those we would recognize as Christians who have reached a different conclusion regarding paedobaptism than you and I, and that view is not accepted within the SBC.

Do you believe that the test of this quote could be applied to the practice of "private prayer language" in such a way that a conclusion could be reached that would be similar to our resolve concerning baptism?

SigPres said...


I Corinthians 2:6-16

Unknown said...


right, no one is disputing that God's Spirit makes one understand, as He also draws one to repentance and faith. Is the Word living, or does it become alive, thus becoming the Word of God, when you read it? The Scriputres say we are the ones who come alive for God, not His word for us.

SigPres said...

I think you are misreading what I am saying. I'm not saying that the Bible only comes alive when we read it. Obviously, according to the scriptures themselves, it requires us to be illumined by the spirit in order for it to be understood. Perhaps I should have stated that a little more clearly.

In Hebrews 4:12, is the term "word" referring to the Bible? I don't see that the author of Hebrews equates the 66 books of canonized scripture as "The Word of God." I'm of the opinion that's a reference to Christ, as in the logos of John 1:14.

Is there any scripture reference that declares the 66 books of the Protestant canon to be "The Word of God?"

I'm not doubting that the Bible is a perfect rule for faith and practice, as the original author of those words intended, but I am not comfortable going beyond what the scripture says about itself to describe it.

At some other time and place, we might discuss why what you call the "neo-orthodoxy" of Barth and Bultmann is not liberalism.

Unknown said...

Well, if that is your opinion, what do you do with "logos" in v3 and 13? Further, the word referenced is the word they heard, as referenced in v1 and 6.

Yes, I am confident in the process of Canonization, and confident that a sovereign God has revealed that which He intended; and yes, I think it is referenced as the word that is living and active.

Wade, is this the kind of teaching you are referring to when you refer to not making extra-biblical requirments for missionaries? The platform, once again, did not refer to science.

wadeburleson.org said...


I believe Dr. Howell was much too harsh in his rhetoric against those who practice infant baptism, but he lived in a day where that harshness was not uncommon with the pen.

I have read every word of his book and agree with everything he said against infant baptism, but I would have said it in a softer tone, acknowledging that this is an important issue for those build their lives and Christian experience on the traditions of the church.

wadeburleson.org said...


All I know is the Bible says, "Forbid not the speaking in tongues" (I Cor. 14:39).

I don't have the gift. I don't want it.

Since the Bible itself restricts the speaking in tongues in public with so many guidelines and rules to virtually make it almost impossible for tongues to be spoken in a cooperate worship service where the gospel is preached in a known language of the people, it seems that the speaking in tongues that the Apostle was referring to when he said, "I speak in tongues more than all of you" is something he did in private. Nothing wrong with the convention restricting the public speaking in tongues, as does the Bible.

But to ask someone 'Do you speak in tongues in private?' and if they answer in the affirmative, to then dismiss them from Southern Baptist service seems to me to not be able to trust in the sufficiency of Scripture.

wadeburleson.org said...


Absolutely I believe a solution in the SBC to the tongues issue can be arrived at from Scripture.

Scripture teaches that there are very restrictive guidelines for tongues to be spoken in a corporate worship service. So restrictive as to virtually make it impossible to be done (decently and in order, with an interpreter, and 'I would rather speak five words in a known tongue than 10,000 in an unknown tongue, etc . . ). However, the Bible also says, "Do not forbid the speaking in tongues" (I Cor. 14:39) and Paul said he spoke in tongues more than anybody.

The solution in the SBC is to make the speaking in tongues in public as restrictive as the Bible makes it, which means what is being done in "Charismatic" church today is not appropriate, but DON'T ask forbid someone from speaking in tongues in their private prayer life (of course, you can't ultimately forbid anyone, you just disqualify them from service and say they aren't a 'real' Southern Baptists).

As far as baptism is concerned, when you can show me that the authority or credentials of the person who baptizes a convert must be of the 'ordained,' variety according to Scripture, I will change my view on the authority of the baptizer.

But Jesus himself said that the person who has the privilege to share the gospel and lead a person to saving faith in Christ is the same person who has the privilege to baptize that convert, and I will trust in the sufficiency of Scripture regarding the credentials of those who can baptize and not Southern Baptist tradition.

In other words, Wes, we should follow Scripture, not tradition.

Todd said...

I have mulled this post over most of the day. My sense is it represents something of an unnecessary polarization. For example, to call oneself Reformed and Calvinist could be argued of necessity one understand covenant language to include infant baptism. And, since some argue well that the practice indeed has roots in Jewish practice it would be all the more tenuous to immediately dismiss those who hold this particular view of baptism as heretics. It is nice to see Al Mohler, Mark Dever and others not summarily dismiss Lig Duncan.

Since I am well aware of the Baptist Reformed Tradition I would in no wise suggest one cannot be "Calvinist" unless they baptize infants.

Can we truly ingore "Tradition." We understand some of the background for the Hebrew Scriptures based in large measure on sources opening to us something of Jewish practice and tradition. This carries us into the Greek Scriptures which cannot be properly exegeted without some context from sources outside the Scriptures. We often refer to the Didache for an understanding of the practical expressions of church practice post-Acts. Scholarship continues to improve our grasp on the "eastern mind" we "westerners" find difficult to understand.

Have I now been marked outside the fold, deemed a heretic for suggesting we need amplification for our understanding? I certainly hope not or all of us who "handle" the word of God must put away our resources - Hebrew Texts, Greek Texts, Commentaries and Textual Critics tools. Instead, we can uphold the trustworthiness of Scripture and at the same time show a proper understanding of Tradition.

I have in no way elevated Tradition. But, to discard it is to do so at our own peril. Standing on a "Reformed" tradition means one has opted for a system of understanding developed along certain lines that do not of necessity derive from the Scriptures. Proof texts need not be put forth. (As we could be talking about any system developed from the writings and teaching of any group, it just happens that i chose this particular analogy.)

All that to say, and apologies for the long response, we now seem to suggest a return to the very same place your critics have launched their replies from. In the case of McKissic for instance, your position could be undermined were someone to quote another author and note, "he shows quite clearly that infant baptism (in this case glossolalia) cannot be supported by the Word of God."

You appear to have trapped yourself by this post, a place I am certain you did not intend to find yoruself. Talk of irenic conservatives and a broader tent will of necessity require a broader center than what this post seems to indicate.

Just a few thoughts from a fellow Okie - who by the way has been proud to be lumped into a "moderate" category with you by those outside of our state.:)

Debbie Kaufman said...

The tradition that Paul spoke of in scripture and that I personally think is meant must be found in scripture. It must agree with scripture,otherwise it means nothing and should be done away with.

The Bible says: Mat 15:1 Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said,
Mat 15:2 "Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat."
Mat 15:3 He answered them, "And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?
Mat 15:4 For God commanded, 'Honor your father and your mother,' and, 'Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.'
Mat 15:5 But you say, 'If anyone tells his father or his mother, What you would have gained from me is given to God,
Mat 15:6 he need not honor his father.' So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God.

There is nothing wrong with tradition that can be found in the Bible or does not contradict the Bible but when it contradicts or goes further than scripture does I think we can say there is a problem.

wadeburleson.org said...


Thanks for mulling over the post.

I don't feel I have trapped myself at all. :)

Show me in Scripture infant baptism and I'll practice it.

Nobody has to this point. They've shown me logic. They've shown me church tradition. They've shown me their personal convictions.

I respect them all --- but I do not believe that Southern Baptists should recogize infant baptism precisely because it is not found in the Scriptures which is "a perfect rule for faith and practice."

But yet, we Southern Baptist push our traditions onto other people --- and when confronted about the lack of Biblical basis get really upset.

All I'm doing is saying the SBC has long been no for saying 'no creed but the Bible.'

I'm afraid we are losing that identity.

jasonk said...

A genuine, honest question (not one designed to trip you up like some folks tend to do).
I left the SBC a year ago, and joined a conservative United Methodist Church in Tulsa. I gritted my teeth the first time I witnessed an infant baptism. As I thought through our church's methodology, some things came to my mind.
First, everyone knows that the practice of recognizing infants in church, whether it be a baptism service or a baby dedication service as practiced in the SBC, is a concession to Roman Catholicism. We dress it up, change the name, do away with the water, but its basically the same thing.
Two, in the same way I always witnessed it done in the SBC, at our church the pastor always points out clearly that this practice is merely a symbol, and carries no saving power whatsoever. As he prays for the child, he specifically asks God to bless and keep the child until such a time as he or she can surrender his or her life to Christ. The only difference between Baptists and our church is that a small amount of water is involved, as a symbol.
So my question is, what is wrong with this practice? As I understand Catholic theology, infant baptism is a sacrament which conveys salvation on the baby. As long as it is clear that this is not what we believe, isn't it okay? Finally, how is what my church practices any different that what most SBC churches practice, other than the presence of water in the service?
Thank you Wade. I really do appreciate your kindness and willingness to help us rightly divide the Word of Truth.

Wes Kenney said...


Todd has most eloquently communicated where I apparently failed.

It seems to me that the persuasive arguments we would make against infant baptism could be made against "private prayer language." At best, scriptural support for this practice is scant, and Dr. McKissic's assertion, that when Paul said he spoke in tongues more than anyone he meant "privately", could be quite kindly characterized as a stretch.

At the very least, this practice is not "there clearly taught," which was Dr. Howell's standard for heartily and fully receiving a practice. In my opinion, this practice falls in the "otherwise" category, and is not what Paul enjoined us to "forbid not."

Unknown said...

"Standing on a "Reformed" tradition means one has opted for a system of understanding developed along certain lines that do not of necessity derive from the Scriptures.

This is a classic response to those who call themselves Calvinists: "You're a calvinist, I'm a biblicist!" This is an oversimplistic statement that is highly arrogant, for those who are studied and call themselves Calvinists do so because they believe that is what Scriputre teaches, and do not follow Calvin where he would err from Scripture.

Wade, there is a point here I can't quite get around. The Scriptures teach infant baptism just as well as PPL. Both are inferred positions. Why in the world would we not accept paedobaptists? Scripture does not at all say, "Don't baptize infants." OR using past logic, are paedobaptists less christian because of their interpretation, and therby the spread of the gospel is hindered because of that one point?

wadeburleson.org said...


The Scriptures teach the gift of tongues. PPL is praying in tongues privately --- just a another name for speaking in tongues alone.

The restrictions for speaking in tongues publicly are enormous, as if to make it almost impossible (only with an interpreter, decently and in order, 'I would rather speak in public with five words of understanding than 10,000 in an unknown tongue, etc . . .).

I have no clue how you say infant baptism is comparable.

wadeburleson.org said...

Wes and Collin,

Read Baptist theologian Sam Storms regarding Tongues and the Southern Baptist Convention.

You will be hard pressed to ask your questions again if you read it carefully. He shows quite clearly that tongues can be prayed privately for personal edification as gifted by the Spirit. I've never done it, don't desire it, but scratch my head at people when people I think should know better say the Bible doesn't teach it.

wadeburleson.org said...


I would never condemn you for your practice of baptizing infants. I would disagree with RBC Howell and not call it an "evil" practice.

I don't believe the Scripture teaches it, and support you and your Methodist friends, your Presbyterian friends in your service for the kingdom. However, that's one of the reasons I'm not a Presbyterian. It, to me, is a second tier issue that makes us Baptist Christians.

Bob Cleveland said...

Wade (and others)

I have never seen any indication in scripture that unbelievers should be baptized.

Make disciples .. teaching them .. baptizing them...

Repent and be baptized ...

All the examples in Acts of salvation and then baptism...

Whatsoever is not of faith is sin. Would that apply to baptism of someone who does not trust in Jesus for salvation?

Calvinism: I can point anyone who is interested, to the scriptural bases for common doctrines of Calvinism. All they'd have to do is email me and I'd provide the link. I won't argue the points, as they are simply scripture and folks are free to conclude as they wish.

But Calvinism is definitely not "a system of understanding developed along certain lines that do not of necessity derive from the Scriptures.

davidinflorida said...

Pastor Wade, This question may be too personal to answer, and Ill understand if it is, but with regards to 1Cor 14:5, Paul says "I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied": Why do you not want the gift?.... GIFT......

wadeburleson.org said...


The Bible says, "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart." I take my delight in the Lord. I do not have the desire to speak in tongues. I would assume that if he gave to me the desire, he would also give me the gift.

It's not too personal a question. I hope you understand my response.

davidinflorida said...

Pastor Wade, I understand, thanks for the response... Good Night...

Stephen Pruett said...

Wes and Colin

I Corinthians 4:28 But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.”

What is speaking to yourself and God, if not a private prayer language? Earlier in the passage Paul states that he wants to pray both in the spirit (in tongues) and with understanding. Thus, in the context of the whole passage, we are told that prophesy is a better gift than tongues, but it can be personally edifying to speak in tongues privately. Thus, the Bible not only mentions private prayer language, but actively supports it for those who are given that gift.

wadeburleson.org said...


I will continue to look for an answer to your question from Wes and Colin at this site.

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


Again, how do you figure Sam Storms is a baptist theologian- no baptist schooling, he pastored a presbyterian church, etc. (1)When did he become Baptist?

On tongues- I think the evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of tongues being a type of angelic or spiritual language in 1 Cor. I do agree Paul instructed the hearer to use the gift between himself and God. I have prayed for the gift. I want to meet one person who has it who has never heard it before. And, I am still rattled by the insistance of one Hagee church member who all but drug me into his "How to Speak in Tongues" class for new church members..."Come on, its easy, just start saying this real fast..."

Sam Storms I think makes some bad leaps in logic. Where he actually deals with the text he is good. BUT, the Bible DOES NOT definitively teach that tongues has a legitimate role as a private prayer language (see Robeck Jr., Tongues, Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, IVP). (2)If so, then why doesn't Sam Storms make headlines as having The Definitive Work on glossalalia? OBVIOUSLY, the church is split on this issue. Further, I think Paul, speaking in context of being in the midst of the congregation, clearly is speaking in 14:28 as praying silently in tongues, not aloud by himself- and behold, another valid interpretation. PPL is a valid interpretation, but so are the ones denying it.

Tongues is a charismatic gift given for believers but must be used judiciously, and when no interpreter is present, must be done silently or, we assume, alone. It is not a PPL per se, but a gift of tongues that is used judiciously. (3)The question in my mind is, why does one have a PPL but does not exercise his gift in the congregation? For all that supposedly possess this gift and do not share it with their church, is their no interpreter among the obviously vast number of believers in all their churches?

But on point, PPL is a debated issue, and is not cut and dry. (4)IS cessationism a valid theological position? If so, and a pastor who is one forbids tongues in the congregation, is he sinning? (5)If a denomination is cessationist by majority and/or heritage and/or conviction, and they forbid tongues, are they sinning?

You say paedobaptism is a non-issue here. (6)But is it a legitimate interpretation by serious, Spirit-filled Christians, even tongue speaking ones? We believe so, yet acknowledge they be in sin practicing it. (7)What if some in the SBC view baptism as second tier, and tongues as second tier, what then? Do your tiers triumph? (8)Will not a convention-wide statement on tier assignments divide the SBC more? (9)And why shouldn't we acknowledge paedobaptists as valid IMB missionaries if their position is one they can hold and still be gospel-bearing Christians?

Steve said...

I enjoyed the writings of R.B.C. Howell, and I imagine Satan cringed every time Howell preached.

Remember, I'm an untrained layman:

The back-&-forth on the Spirit and the Scriptures was interesting, but it did make me recall the sales job dreamed up for the not-just-a-confession-anymore BF&M 2000. I still feel the Spirit directs the human heart to open to scripture, just as The Word pierces the heart ala Hebrews 4's sword imagery.

The idea that "The Word" infers John Ch.1's Christ and maybe not at all scripture is a new one I'm gonna have to chew on.

Moo! Steve Austin

Todd said...

Does your church accept members by "letter?" What chapter and verse does that practice stem from?

It is too easy to paint oneself in a corner with just as fastidious a statement as Patterson's.


wadeburleson.org said...


We accept members the same way at all times.

Personal conversation with a person who petititions.

An examination of their faith.

An examination of their baptism.

Period. We do write their former church but 'don't' accept people based on letters. We examine ourselves.


wadeburleson.org said...


Educated at Dallas Theological.

ORDAINED Southern Baptist pastor.

Grew up a member of First Baptist Church, Duncan, Oklahoma, and would still tell you emphatically . . .

I am a Baptist. (Would not participate in infant baptisms).

That's why I say he is a Baptist.

Just one that cooperates more than evangelicals than would you.

wadeburleson.org said...


By the way, one of the most profound sentences you have written is this . . .

"Obviously the church is split on this issue."


Can a convention be a group of churches who cooperate together they they are split on this issue.

I say yes.

wadeburleson.org said...

By the way WES AND COLIN,

You have STILL NOT answered
Stephen Pruett's question.

(fingers tapping on the desk).

We're waiting.



Todd said...

Great way to deal with membership. Do you grant letters when requested from other churches?

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


Tapping fingers...I know that feeling, having asked numerous questions here. (rhetorical): Do I come across as an arrogant brother? Do my comments breed scorn? Are they divisive? Do they not cause iron to be sharpened? Do they truly reveal my position on the matter? Do they sharpen your arguments, as well as those of whom you disagree? I hope so. If my most profound statement is "Obviously the church is split on this issue.", then I must be incredibly more simple-minded than I imagined or there is a hint of annoyance at my thoughts.

I did answer Stephen's question, you quoted my answer, and I even provided a reference. The church is split on the issue of whether or not Paul is speaking of a private prayer language, and that it is a valid use of the gift! Immediately in context, Paul is speaking of muttering or silently praying to yourself while in the midst of the congregation. There are further splits, like the nature of the tongue and the cessation of the gift, but the fact remains that it is not definitive in the text that Paul is speaking of a private prayer language- one in which the common practice is outside the church or in your prayer closet. Like I said, if Sam Storms, ordained Baptist (read Hegg's Appointed to Preach to get the ramifications of this fact), nailed it succinctly, why isn't it the definitive work on tongues? Either position is valid.

But, to my overall point, you said this:

"As I said, the old IMB policy on tongues forbad the public speaking of it on the field (a policy I endorse and support), but the new policy now moves into a person's private prayer closet. "

(1)If it is not right to forbid PPL because of Paul's admonition (1 Cor 14:39), how is it right to forbid them publicly?

And, the finger tapping begins again, (2) if paedobaptism is another issue pious orthodox Christians are divided on, why can't we be irenic and serve with them as well?

wadeburleson.org said...


Paedobaptism has no Scriptural support as is evidence by these two quotes of paedobaptists themselves

“Infant baptism cannot be proved by the scriptures” Martin Luther.

“It is nowhere mentioned by the evangelists that any child was by the apostles baptized” John Calvin.

Speaking in tongues privately has a Scriptural support.

Stephen Pruett asked you:

I Corinthians 4:28 says, "But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.”

What is speaking to yourself and God, if not a private prayer language? Earlier in the passage Paul states that he wants to pray both in the spirit (in tongues) and with understanding. Thus, in the context of the whole passage, we are told that prophesy is a better gift than tongues, but it can be personally edifying to speak in tongues privately. Thus, the Bible not only mentions private prayer language, but actively supports it for those who are given that gift.

Colin, Stephen is not asking if the church is split over praying in tongues (which you profoundly point out that it is), but he is asking YOU what that text is saying.

I still have not heard an answer, but I stopped tapping my fingers :).

You ask me a queston:

(1)If it is not right to forbid PPL because of Paul's admonition (1 Cor 14:39), how is it right to forbid them publicly?

My answer: The Bible puts so many conditions on the practice of speaking in tongues that the Bible itself forbids it publicly except in rare, specific occasions. In our church, we have never had anyone speak in tongues publicly. I do not have the gift privately. Some of our members do.

If someone ever tried to speak in tongues publicly during a worship service, I would stop them and ask if there is an interpretor. I would then ask that it be done 'decently and in order' (in other words, anthing out of control is not of the Spirit, according to the Paul's teaching on this). I would then make sure that the interpretation never crossed the boundaries of the Word of God, and I would conclude by telling people Paul himself said he would rather speak five words in a known language than 10,000 in an unknown tongue.

Tongues will NOT be spoken publicly when you practice the Bible --- it just doesn't happen. BUT it doesn not rule out the praying in tongues in private for personal edification.

So, to answer your question --- why forbid it publicly and not privately?

Because the Bible does so.

Colin, I believe you to be a very intelligent person who loves Christ and articulates your views very well. I believe you may be surprised how close we are in our interpretation of these matters.

I was only having a little fun with my tapping fingers statement and sure hope you take no offense.

I appreciate all your comments and the spirit in which they are given.

Unknown said...


I can handle ribbing, and no offense taken- just don't want to annoy without producing fruit- not looking for reassurance, just to make sure I am not being quarrelsome. But, indeed likewise, very keen discussion here as always.

I thought I answer succintly both times. Semantically, you can say it is a private prayer language, I acknowledge that. But as a practice outside the church, as a legitimate use of it in your home by yourself, that is a matter of interpretation, and those who say it is not valid are every bit as conservative and biblical as those who say it is- the only problem is one group is wrong. Who is it? we won't know. It is private in that it is between yourself and God- but that says nothing of the location, the fact that it may not even be audible (silent), not to mention the other objections raised with glossalalia in general. In short, tongues privately has merit, but a PPL alone in a prayer closet is clearly inferred from the text, not explicitly supported.

I think it is very hard to argue there would be no instance where a tongue could be spoken in church. I disagree that the Bible forbids it- it does indeed place heavy demands that render all but impossible, but to forbid has to be the same logically as forbidding PPL. Further, if it was forbidden, your response from the pulpit should be to cease it immediately instead of asking for an interpreter- for if there was an interpreter, you would have to let the tongues continue so long as it was in order.

Paedobaptism is a stretch, I know, but if it is embraced by gospel-bearing, conservative Christians who do indeed have a possible, though not probable, hermeneutic despite Luther and Calvin, a purely irenic Spirit would dictate they be included in the tent, imho.

Todd said...

Thanks for taking my call today. I thought I might bring my line of questioning in the open so it does not appear we disagree on the matter.

To those reading,
Wade and I shared a brief conversation this afternoon in which we agreed Tradition should be owned by those who possess one but should not be coerced upon another who differs. When the issue is really the Scriptures then we may share a conversation around said documents. But, when the discussion is on Tradition disguised as Scripture we must also own that part of the conversation. When those in the seat of power move to enforce their particular tradition on others, we have moved out of bounds of Scripture and so the call to see the Scriptures as trustworthy and true finds real value moving forward. In the case of McKissic, while he may be pressing a particular tradition, he is open to understanding it is an interpretive issue and one that requires latitude. Patterson sees things differently. This issue must be a matter of fellowship and there is little room under the Baptist tent because of "his" interpretation. Now when he appeals to Baptist Tradition with regard to the interpretaion of these passages we cannot follow the obfuscation. It is indeed just that, selected source data used by some to support a preferential Baptist Tradition. entity president. Whose selected source data trumps - those in power. Decentering power offers us the privilege to ask questions, disagree gerously and cooperate. May we follow the pattern McKissic illustrates when dealing with the seat of power.

Todd said...

apologies - striek "entity president" from my previous comment. i thought i had deleted a few sentences. alas i did not.

wadeburleson.org said...

Well said Todd.


wadeburleson.org said...


I probably have not read a better statement on the private prayer language from a Biblical perspective than what you just wrote.

Imagine that!

There is just one thing I would tweak.

Why does one group have to be 'wrong' and the other 'right.'

You just admitted the text inferred a PPL.

Some have it. Some don't.

It's not a matter of right or wrong, it's a matter of being DIFFERENT.

WRONG is when people say the gift of tongues should be normative in the Christian life, or that it is evidence of the indwelling Spirit, or that it should be spoken out loud in a confusing fashion with multiple people speaking at the same time --- all these things violate the sacred texts boundaries --- and Dr. McKissic doesn't believe or practice any of these Pentecostal distortions

So, again, I say 'Well done.'

I would just not fall into the trap of saying right or wrong --- just recognize some that we cooperate with in missions are differnt.

wadeburleson.org said...


We must be irenic while upholding "The Word of God as the perfect rule for faith and practice." The Bible is our sole and sufficient authority.

Infant baptism is TRADITION and CANNOT be supported by the Word of God --- period.

But I agree with your desire to be irenic toward our brothers in Christ who baptize infants.

They are truly brothers.

But they are not Baptists.

Unknown said...

Nor is PPL supported explicitly. It is inferred like infant baptism.

Nor is forbidding public tongues justified when PPL allowed.

Nor are Pentecostals Baptists, but brothers nonetheless.

I'll take this as a win. ;)

wadeburleson.org said...

Sorry Colin,

You lose.

I Cor. 4:28 explicitly teaches speaking in tongues privately.

Don't get scared Colin. You can trust the Bible.

Nowhere is infant baptism taught --- period.

And of course, Pentecostals teach tongues should be normative, is evidence of the indwelling of the Spirit, etc . . --- NONE of which can be supported by the Bible.

Therefore, they are Pentecostals and not Baptists.

Infant baptizers are Presbyterians (and other denominations), but not Baptists.

You are a Baptist, and as a result, you should not reject a fellow Southern Baptist who says he has a private prayer language.

If you do, you deny the clear teaching of Scripture.

You and I don't have the gift, nor do we want the gift, but shame on any of us for trying to boot out Southern Baptists who do.

This isn't like infant baptism.

This isn't Pentecostalism.

This is "Do we trust the sufficiency of the Word of God."

Unknown said...

Your not understanding me. I am not for booting them out. I am for not disparaging those who think PPL is NOT taught in the Bible as McKissic explains the practice. I clearly demonstrated that, and I am not alone. The IVP dictionary I refenced (IVP!) concurs! It is not cut and dry like you claim.

That practice AS IT IS BEING ESPOUSED is inferred, like infant baptism. My point is there is also room for those who deny PPL, and they shouldn't be painted as disobeying "clear" Scripture.

Rex Ray said...

Wade, Colin, or anyone,
I’ve gotten behind on reading, but Wade’s words caught my eye when he said, “Nowhere is infant baptism taught—period.”
I agree, but with certain interpretation, some not only believe it is taught but is a command of Jesus.
In 251 AD, a small group withdrew from the majority when the majority started baptizing babies for salvation. 62 years later this majority were named Catholic. The small group was called a despised name of Anabaptist—(much like the despised name of moderate.)

The majority probably believed you must be baptized to be saved like many do today. Therefore being baptized must save a person. Jesus wants all to come to him. Come to me, all you who are heaven burdened… He also said, suffer not the little children to come unto me… There’s not much difference in a little child and a baby—bingo…infant baptism.
These people will tell us that ‘once saved—always saved’ is not taught in the Bible period.

So you see, how it goes. Disagree—disagree.

When Wade first started this series, I asked which translation was to be used, but no one answered. I want to illustrate why I asked with on verse of Scripture from different Bibles.

1 Corinthians 7:14:

1. Old Living Bible—“For perhaps the husband who isn’t a Christian may become a Christian with the help of his Christian wife…Otherwise, if the family separates, the children might never come to know the Lord; whereas a united family may, in God’s plan, result in the children’s salvation.”
2. King James—“For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife…else were you children unclean; but now they are holy.”
3. Holman—“For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife…Otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy.”
4. New Living Translation copyright 1997—“For the Christian wife brings holiness to her marriage…Otherwise your children would not have a godly influence, but now they are set apart for him.”
5. New Living Translation copyright 1996, 2004—“For the Christian wife brings holiness to her marriage…Otherwise your children would not be holy, but now they are holy.”

Wow! What happened to the lost husband in the New Living Translations? The notes explaining this Scripture in the Criswell Study Bible (King James) say, “Thus ‘sanctification’ does not refer to the personal standing of the unbelieving partner but to the sanctity of the marriage.”

Looks like inerrant scripture can be changed by the opinions of a few men. Patterson wrote the forward to Criswell Study Bible. Wonder if he had any influence on the New Living Translations?
Rex Ray

Rex Ray said...

To finger tapping,
I notice over and over the attitude, “My mind’s made up. Don’t confuse me with the facts.”
If I ever bring up anything that might put a dent in “inerrancy”, it is ignored.

So the best way to solve ‘finger tapping’ is get use to it—I have.

Rex Ray 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