Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Let's Focus on the Issues Through Good Dialogue

The following is a letter, reprinted with permission, that was sent two weeks ago to select leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention. It is an open letter, thus, the author intended a wider circulation. The writer of this letter is David Shibley, president of Global Advance, a Dallas-based missions ministry that has provided training and resources for church and business leaders in 73 nations. He is the author of several books including A Force in the Earth. The letter is self-explanatory and well written. I post it today as a reminder for us all that we should be discussing the issues in the Southern Baptist Convention.

An Open Letter to Southern Baptist Leaders
David Shibley
January 18, 2007

The recent actions by the SBC International Mission Board and the trustees of my alma mater in issuing statements against the practice of a private prayer language do not bode well for the influence of this great denomination in coming years.

In the late 1970s, when I could not have afforded an education at other evangelical seminaries, the generosity of Southern Baptists through their Cooperative Program made it possible for me to sit under the teaching of some of the finest, most gifted men of God I have ever known. I remain deeply grateful for the magnanimity of Southern Baptists, both in allowing a Pentecostal to attend one of their seminaries and in making that education financially feasible.

Embracing and Restricting

When I was a young pastor the great preachers were Southern Baptists – John Bisagno, W. A. Criswell and, of course, Billy Graham. Wishing to leave what appeared to me the cloistered little world of my early Pentecostalism (but not leaving my charismatic encounter with the Holy Spirit) I wanted to realign with those who were serious about evangelism and missions. In the 1970s, that led me straight to Southern Baptists. Yet in comparison to the recent phobic edicts of the International Mission Board and the trustees of Southwestern my early Pentecostalism doesn’t seem so cloistered, after all.

Apparently we have come full circle. Just as it is now, thirty years ago the charismatic movement was causing convulsions among Southern Baptists. But at Southwestern in the seventies, there was a higher agenda. The focus was on reaching people for Christ. Roy Fish was imparting evangelistic passion that helped inspire students like Rick Warren to impact millions with the gospel. My missions professor, Cal Guy, was espousing innovative missions methodologies and assigning us to read missiologists ranging from Assemblies of God to Anglican. The atmosphere at Southwestern exuded a warm, broad evangelicalism.

But thirty miles away from the Fort Worth campus, Beverly Hills Baptist Church and Shady Grove Baptist Church were being “disfellowshipped” from the Dallas Baptist Association for charismatic practices that were deemed unscriptural by the association and not in keeping with standard Baptist practice. Little by little, the outward-looking, evangelistic giant – the Southern Baptist Convention – began to be inverted and, at times, petty.

With a few encouraging exceptions – like the highly effective Prestonwood Baptist Church – a legion of Southern Baptist churches in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex have declined in numbers and influence since that unfortunate earlier posture against charismatic phenomena. Is there a correlation? It may at least be worth considering by those who have taken recent similar positions.

When G. Campbell Morgan was asked if he was a fundamentalist he replied, “In doctrine, yes, but I abominate their spirit.” If he were still alive, might even the venerable English expositor “abominate the spirit” of the recent statements by two Southern Baptist boards against charismatic practices?

The statement by the International Mission Board was an evident slap at its current president, Jerry Rankin, who has acknowledged a private prayer language. This hints at deep fault lines within the denomination on this issue. Yet, following the lead of the IMB in rejecting practice of a private prayer language by Southern Baptist missionaries and missionary candidates, the trustees of Southwestern Seminary issued a similar resolution:

“Southwestern will not knowingly endorse in any way, advertise, or commend the conclusions of the contemporary charismatic movement including ‘private prayer language.’ Neither will Southwestern knowingly employ professors or administrators who promote such practices.”

This edict harkens back to the days of a threatened fundamentalism. Yes, trustees have the right and responsibility to set policies within their purview. But it’s a bit of a reach for them to monitor personal encounters with God and pronounce what is kosher and what isn’t. Such a statement, especially by a graduate school, seems unnecessary and out of place. It is not, as the Southwestern trustees purport, a defense of historic Baptist practice. Rather, it is a departure from it. Historic Baptist practice endorsed tolerance of differing views regarding non-essential doctrines.

Historically Broad Baptists

These two recent resolutions are completely out of sync with a long-standing record of Baptist altruism. Roger Williams, renowned Baptist leader in early America, championed the priesthood of all believers and freedom to worship according to the dictates of one’s conscience. Based on his wide yet firmly evangelical faith, Williams helped Baptists become known as “people of the Book.” They had “no creed but Christ.” The deeply cherished priesthood of all believers protected and welcomed individual interpretation of Scripture.

Eventually, with the encroachments of liberalism, Southern Baptists understandably felt the need of an agreed-upon statement of faith. The Baptist Faith and Message became a general framework that held unequivocally to evangelical tenets but allowed for breadth of interpretation on secondary matters. The Baptist Faith and Message 2000, while more stringent than the original document, is still wisely silent on the issue of charismatic practices and a private prayer language. But a few current board members evidently feel compelled to interpret what is acceptable Baptist practice regarding glossolalia for the rest of the sixteen million Southern Baptists. These recent statements by the IMB and Southwestern trustees smack of being very “creedal” for a denomination that prides itself in being non-creedal.

Shrinking Parameters

This irony was not lost on Joyce Rogers, widow of Adrian Rogers, former SBC president and long-time pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis. In a tribute to her late husband last June 12 at the Southern Baptist Convention she expressed concern at the shrinking parameters of Southern Baptist life. To sustained applause she noted that her husband “would not have been a part of what is going on in some parts of our convention today, getting narrower and narrower about very highly interpretive issues.”

In a trenchant statement clearly targeting the IMB resolution she continued, “He would try to convince you of his view, but not to exclude you from service and fellowship, or to prevent you from going around the world with Southern Baptists to share the gospel if you disagreed on these controversial issues.”

Most Pentecostals and charismatics rejoiced when biblical conservatives repelled a widening liberalism and returned Southern Baptist institutions and agencies to the standard of the Bible as God’s infallible Word. But now, in some parts of Southern Baptist life we are witnessing conservatism gone amuck.

Hoping to follow in Roger Williams’ train, I readily acknowledge the right of cessationists to believe as they do. At the same time, they have thrown down the gauntlet on this issue and these recent resolutions beg a response.
It seems an anomaly that some of those who most vociferously support inerrancy (which I too endorse) are also cessationists. When it comes to a rationale for cessationism, these otherwise conservative scholars can sound quite liberal. After all, the essence of liberal biblical interpretation is to either downplay or disregard the obvious intent of Scripture. This is what cessationism does.
Most cessationists will always consider both charismatic doctrine and experience somehow “sub-biblical.” But it is cessationism that has constructed a convoluted hermeneutic. At Southwestern I was often reminded that we show honor to the Bible by careful exegesis. Yet to interpret Paul’s 1 Corinthians 13 phrase “when the perfect has come” to mean “when the Canon is closed,” as many cessationists do, is to rely on weak, even embarrassing eisegesis.

It is unfair and untrue to caricature Pentecostals and charismatics as biblically illiterate. We disagree with Baptist cessationists (and they may not now be even the majority of Baptists) regarding the practice of a private prayer language. But this is an issue of interpretation, not authority. With conservative Baptists we affirm that the Bible is completely true, without any mixture of error, and the final arbiter in all matters of faith and practice.

A Plea to Southern Baptist Leaders

So, where do we go from here?

First, I would urge my Baptist brothers and sisters to return to their greatest strength as their greatest priority – evangelism and missions. Paige Patterson, Southwestern’s current president, has expressed his hope that this will indeed be Southwestern’s emphasis and ongoing legacy. I fully concur with him in this hope. However, I do not believe the future of evangelism and missions among Southern Baptists is in any way helped by denouncing charismatic practices.

Second, where the Baptist Faith and Message is silent trustees should be silent. Baptists do not necessarily have to embrace charismatic practices, but officially opposing these invites a continued decline in their evangelistic effectiveness. Some trustees need to wake up to twenty-first century realities. Baptist seminary students today almost certainly represent the last generation of denominational loyalists. Pentecostal and charismatic churches continue to burgeon worldwide while many Baptist churches are flat-lined. Trustees of Southern Baptist institutions do not have to like these realities, but they do have to deal with them.

One would think that directors of agencies or institutions of a denomination that has nosedived in numbers of baptisms over the last decade would be doubly concerned not to grieve or quench the Spirit. Evidently, however, protecting what they perceive as standard denominational practice trumps any concern that they just might be grieving the one called along side to help, fill and empower us.

Third, I encourage Baptist leaders in large numbers to boldly speak out and call for reconsideration and even rescinding of these damaging resolutions. Let’s take a cue from the ancient church motto: “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”


Steve said...

It is almost as it every time men try to discount or downplay the effects of the Holy Spirit, mankind suffers for it.

Great Post!

jasonk said...

I believe that this controversy is a distraction. The more people fight with one another, the less we focus on winning the lost.

Max Lucado told a story once that stood out to me. It was about a fishing trip he and his dad went on. The weather turned bad, and they were stuck in their camper the entire week, and by the time they gave up, they could not stand one another. His conclusion: "When people who are called to fish don't fish, they fight. When energy that is meant to be expended outside is expended inside, the results are explosive."
That is the problem in the SBC. I hope things turnaround, and soon.

docjoc said...

In my long Christian life I have come to see that all persons, all churches, and all denominations not fully open to the work of God's Spirit are dead.

God is not a doctrine, a church building, a book, a denomination or a tradition. He is a Spirit and he asks us to worship him accordingly.

Anonymous said...

Praise the Lord! Great letter.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this incisive letter with us. The essential issue for this Christian has never been whether either cessationists or non-cessationists are correct. Rather, does either party have the right to exclude the other from service in the SBC for not agreeing on this non-essential doctrine. "When will we ever learn?" (Credits to Pete Seeger ;^)

In His Grace and Peace,
T. D. Webb

Todd Nelson said...

I'm so glad this message is going to SBC leaders. Thanks for posting it, Wade. (And thanks for writing it, David!) I wish every agency head and trustee, every Exec. Committee member, and every pastor and local church leader would read it and heed it. That's how enthusiastic I am about the message.

Alan Cross's most recent post has a similar spirit calling for a "missional resurgence". Amen!

sherrill said...

My question is still the same, How do I know if its private? It sounds to me like the school and the IMB just don't want their/our people teaching/promoting something that should be personal given by God not trained.

The author is pentecostal even though trained by SBC would he not have a competeing view from the SBC on the charismatic movement. From the start, is that like having a democrat speak at the republican convention. I thank mr. Shibley for his insight and help in giving us a different veiw of this subject. It is helpful to see from another perspective.

I understand that what I say here is of no value and I will be chewed up and spit out but if we are discussing this then help me understand. Its private, between me and God a gift from God(no training needed) so what is the issue.

Alycelee said...

The last quote says it all.
It's what you and others have been saying now for some time now.
Let's continue to pray that God will allow it to fall on ears that are open to hear.

Bob Cleveland said...

It's ironic that a Pentecostal lays down such a clear statement on what it means to be a Baptist. In fact, in doing so, he expresses no condemnation or condescension toward Baptists, whatsoever.

Now if we can just get SBC leadership to see that clearly.

Anonymous said...


Unfortunately, IMB trustees have reached their heads into our prayer closets and are asking missionaries point blank, "Do you have a private prayer language?" As a potential missionary who does have a ppl, you then face a decision: do I lie to appease the trustees or do I confess and risk being appointed?

The IMB's policy used to state that they would appoint someone who had a ppl as long as the missionary agreed to keep their ppl private and not teach about it to others. Now, though, trustees want to know at the beginning of the appointment process whether a candidate has a ppl. Thus, they made something private a public matter.

Gary Snowden said...


My wife and I had the wonderful privilege of being next-door neighbors to David and Naomi Shibley during a portion of our sojourn at SWBTS. They were outstanding neighbors who consistently modeled a Christ-like walk in their words and actions.

I was very impressed when David wrote and Thomas Nelson published what I believe was his first book in 1978, entitled "A Charismatic Truce." It was a reasoned appeal for balance on the question of charismatic practices.

I still remember the book's opening illustration. David told of a Civil War soldier who in an effort to seek unity and peace between the opposing sides opted to wear a portion of the uniform of each army--the pants of the Union and the coat of the South (or vice versa, I can't recall which combination for sure). The only result was that he was shot at by both sides.

I think there is a sense in which those who seek to introduce a voice of reason and balance into the ongoing debate over the narrowing of parameters for cooperation in SBC life due indeed find themselves with a bulls-eye painted on them and each opposing side feels free to take potshots at them. Those voices of reason still need to be heard though, even at the risk of becoming a casualty of "friendly fire."

Tom Bryant said...

I realize that this is going to sound intolerant but what's the point in letting a Charismatic/Pentecostal brother in Christ lecture and tell us what it is Southern Baptists ought to believe and what practices we ought to follow.

Anonymous said...

The problem with your pirvate/public rationale is that private prayer languages don't stay "private" (and I am not insinuating that everyone who has a private prayer language eventually begins publicly speaking in tongues). If you are a missionary, charged with the task of planting churches or teaching in a seminary - you are also charged by God to preach the whole counsel of God. Thus, by necessity you will eventually be forced to deal with texts that affect this issue as you fulfill your responsibility as a minister of the gospel (you cannot go through life avoiding difficult texts and claim to have fulfilled the calling to preach the word).

You are better served by just focusing on the fact that by making an issue of tongues, the IMB has gone beyond the BFM 2000. For a pastor/missionary, there really are no "private interpretations" of Scripture. Eventually, your private interpretation becomes pblic when you teach. That is why individuals concerned with this issue keep asking those questions.

Just trying to provide a bit of insight.

C in IND

davidinflorida said...

Pastor Wade,

All I can say to this letter is AMEN and AMEN.

For some reason, some SB`s believe that charismatic is liberal. I believe that charismatic is conservative as you follow the scripture through the Holy Spirit.

Again, the main thing here is for us to come together and reach the lost.

Anonymous said...

Wade -
I read this letter last week, and it reminded me of the importance of learning from people of other denominations, and sometimes other religions.

Our view of the SBC is tainted as we are in the SBC. An outsider's view is panoramic and often needed.

Tim Rogers said...

Brother Wade,

I value the opinion of others and as a result of Dr. Shibley's open plea for the SBC to be more open with all who desire to come into our tent, I would like to take a time to say something. I have been wrong over all of the things I have said or even thought in the past. You certainly do not appear to desire to enlarge the tent to include anyone and everyone that bows down to your way of doing things. Your and Ben Cole's intentions and motives are pure and neither of you have a personal vandetta against anyone. You are merely trying to get everyone to--in Rodney King's words--"Can't we all just get along?"



Dr. Shibley's analysis has a major flaw in his thesis. He says; "Wishing to leave what appeared to me the cloistered little world of my early Pentecostalism (but not leaving my charismatic encounter with the Holy Spirit) I wanted to realign with those who were serious about evangelism and missions. In the 1970s, that led me straight to Southern Baptists." It seems to me that a leader in our convention openly and publicly stated something to the effect that SB do not center around missions and evangelism it is doctrine that hold SB together. Without correct doctrine you build social programs and call them evangelism and missions. That was the entire basis that Dr. Al Mohler used when he closed down the School of Social Work at SBTS. That SBC leader was the late Dr. Adrian Rogers. While I am certain Dr. Shibley has illustrious credentials, I would rather hang my hat on Dr. Rogers' thesis for what makes us SB than Dr. Shibley.

Have a Nice Day,

Anonymous said...

That is an interesting letter. I think the main point is what some folks have been saying all along which is that if we are to work together in united beliefs as defined in the BFM2K then let's not go beyond it. Let's not exclude people beyond what's been agreed upon. And if someone desires modifying the uniting doctrine then they should do it "through the proper channels" rather than as they go which may or has excluded some in place who had already agree with the BFM2K.

There is always going to be a doctrinal standard though. Or I could be wrong and some might start asking that as long as you hold to believers baptism and missions then that's all it takes to unite. So far, I haven't seen anyone wanting to dwindle the BFM2K down to that though. I don't think we will. :-)

An aside: Do any of the current staff at SWBTS hold to PPl or "conclusions of the contemporary charismatic movement"? If so, shouldn't they, given the example of Dr. Klouda, be dismissed from their teaching positions? Seems consistent to me.


David Rogers said...


I don't think you mean to pit being "serious about evangelism and missions" against being "centered" on the authority and sound interpretation of the Word of God. But it sounds that way in your last comment.

I do not think that was Shibley's intention, nor was it my Dad's.

WTJeff said...


First of all, Dr. Shibley never stated that SBs were centered around evangelism and missions, only that they were serious about it. It would stand to reason that anyone who is centered on biblical doctrine would indeed be serious about missions. So I see no basis for your argument with Dr. Shibley's statement.

Second, I tend to agree with missional thinkers like Ed Stetzer, that if missions doesn't become the essence of who we are as believers, we will tend to become pew sitters, not fulfilling the calling God has placed in each believer to make disciples.

Finally, at the heart of the matter is that efforts toward doctrinal conformity only exclude those who would otherwise serve through our convention.

As I've said before, the kingdom of God marches on. It's the SBC that will ultimately suffer if we continue to tighten the noose of conformity.

Jeff Parsons
Amarillo, TX

Anonymous said...

Is it true that during the nomination process that IMB appointees are asked point blank, "Do you have a Private Prayer Language?"

Tim Rogers said...

Brother David,

I am not sure I understand your take on "pitting" doctrine against evangelism and missions.

According to the number of times I heard you Dad speak about the issue he certainly indicated that if the doctrine was not right then the evangelism and missions would be wrong. He was the first person I remember hearing call the CP a "sacred cow". His argument was based on everyone calling for CP giving but in his conscious as long as the doctrine was wrong the evangelism and missions were merely social works.

Brother, I do not mean for it to appear that I am saying I know more than you do about your Dad's belief system. However, the only thing I know about your Dad is what he said. I am not mistaken when I say I heard him repeatedly state the doctrine is what united SB not missions and evangelism.


John Fariss said...

Anyone who thinks that doctrine is what defines or identifies us as Southern Baptists needs to study Baptist history more deeply. Historically, there are Baptists who ephasized specific issues of "doctrinal purity," yes, but they never all agreed on what those issues were while other Baptists who emphasized various practices and organization as paramount, and decried not only creeds but even confessions. And some of those issues of doctrinal purity are very embarassing--such as those in the 1830-60 period who championed that chattel slavery was a positive good, and necessary for our "civilization." Read source material from the Liberty Baptist Association in N.C., contrast that with material from the Sandy Creek Association, and the Charleston Association as examples of different organizing principles at work. Many different strains of thought AND identity contributed to the SBC. When we did come together it was around believer's baptism (and early Baptists emphasized the conscious decision to follow Jesus, even after they quit baptizing by effusion and began baptizing by immersion), the priesthood of the believer (historically, "the believer," not "of all believers"), and soul competency. And I fear that saying, "THIS IS WHAT SOUTHERN BAPTISTS BELIEVE, IT IS WHO WE ARE, AND ANYONE WHO DOES NOT SIGN OFF CAN LEAVE" will do nothing more than end our alliance. In fact, it is already happening, although gradually. Polarizing movements inevitably do that.

What is happening and could continue in the SBC is like a sign I am told was once posted in the Pacific northwest (Seattle? Portland?) after massive aircraft industry lay-offs, "Will the last person to leave the city please shut off the lights?"

I pray we will all pay attention to Dr. Shibley's letter. Maybe he is far enough from the trees to see the whole forest.

Pastor John said...

Mr. Anonymous #1,

This is somewhat off topic & I apologize for that.

You said;
As a potential missionary who does have a ppl, you then face a decision: do I lie to appease the trustees or do I confess and risk being appointed?

When I was in seminary, I had friends who thought that they were in a similar position because of their own particular theological leanings.
Here is what I told them:
People who lie to get a job are called politicians, not pastors (or missionaries). If lying is even an option, you should probably reconsider your calling. Be honest (its the best policy), if you are not appointed because of that you can at least be happy with maintaining your integrity. Then go to the field through an organization that is more in line with you. There are more than a few.
I know from first hand experience that this can be a hard road to tread, but God blesses those who follow his ways.


Anonymous said...

Tim Rogers, did the Priest and the Levite have their doctrine of the Torah right in the story of the Good Samaritan?

But who did Jesus commend?

I agree with David that your comment took a statement out of the letter and tried to make it say something that it didn't say. As a result you basically said what you wanted to say which is that evangelism and missions are social programs and that you want to make doctrine preeminent. I think most missionaries want to live in the reality that Jesus is preeminent (Colossians 1). And, by so living they will also tell others and show others the truth of that fact.

Doctrine is all too often manmade. The Spirit and His work is God's. Let's be living sacrifices to that.

Paul/Mary Burleson said...


I'm sorry I wasn't aware of your presence when I spoke at wherever you heard me. I usually do have to clarify much of what I say for reasons of ineptness in delivering it and, if you would be so kind as to verify my statements with the place where I spoke them or printing or linking to them, I will gladly do my duty to clarify which I often must do.

Paul B.

Anonymous said...

Sorry this is coming across like this but I can't log in on my blog for some reason right now...

Tom Bryant said...

"I realize that this is going to sound intolerant but what's the point in letting a Charismatic/Pentecostal brother in Christ lecture and tell us what it is Southern Baptists ought to believe and what practices we ought to follow."

The point is sometimes we can't see the forest for the trees. We become so entrenched in "our side" of the debate that we miss the objective. Our objective as Southern Baptists is/has been/should forever be to worship God, bring glory to Him and teach others about Him to so as to "present every man complete".

Someone who attended an SBC seminary was most certainly inundated with SBC doctrine while there. He has the background information (i.e. what he was taught at SWBTS) on what SB's believe. As an "outsider" he has the value of a different perspective, one not filtered through the same denominational lens. He comes from the outside with insider information which may
help him see things we would miss. It does not guarantee it but at least provides the potential for it.

He also comes humbly, not trying to dictate what we must believe. He did not call for us to abandon our core beliefs but to stick by what we as SB's have decided were our core values as delineated in the BF&M 2000. He calls us to account for the discrepancy between what we say we believe and how we (or at least some of us) treat those who seemingly disagree on narrow points of doctrine not included in our statement of faith. He shows that there is room for more than one interpretation of non-essential issues even among people who are conservative, evangelical and (dare I say it) sometimes fundamentalist.

I am grateful to David Shibley for caring enough about his brothers and sisters in Christ to address these issues. We all belong to Christ and we are strengthened when we carry our burdens together.


OC Hands said...

John Fariss,
Thanks for your comments. I certainly agree with you that missions and evangelism have been the defining characteristic of Southern Baptists since as long as I can remember. Of course, everyone knew that we believed in believer's baptism by immersion, and placed great emphasis on the priesthood of the believer. Perhaps these "doctrines" were what held us together, but the driving force behind the growth of SB has been evangelism and missions. In fact, both are vital to who we are and what we do.
However, when we focus exclusively on doctrine, there is a danger of neglecting the responsibility of evangelism and missions. Examples abound of those who used "correct" doctrine as a means of purifying their groups, resulting in persecution, and even death to those who did not meet their qualifications.
I also agree with Jasonk that these disagreements (call them controversies if you will) are a distraction, and can cause us to lose our focus on winning the lost as well as becoming more like Christ in our actions and attitudes.
Recently our Sunday School class had a lesson on the Law and its implications for today. When the Law of Love was mentioned, one member scoffed at that concept, calling it "fluff."
Well, do you see a lot of love being displayed on these blogs? Isn't that how Jesus said the world would know we are his disciples?
If correct doctrine unites us, then why are we having such a difficult time getting along?

Anonymous said...

Paul Burleson,

I think Tim's comment was regarding "David's Dad" not "Wade's Dad" as it was a dialogue between David and Tim.


Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, this is a quote from the preamble and first two articles from the "Preamble and Constitution of the Southern Baptist Convention," duly enacted in 1845.

"We the delegates from Missionary Societies, Churches, and other religious bodies of the Baptist Denomination, in various parts of the United States, met in Convention, in the city of Augusta, Georgia, for the purpose of carrying into effect the benevolent intentions of our constituents, by organizing a plan for eliciting, combining and directing the energies of the whole denomination in one sacred effort, for the propogation of the Gospel, agree to the following rules, or fundamental principles:

"ARTICLE I: This body shall be styled the Southern Baptist Convention.

"ARTICLE II: It shall be the design of the Convention to promote Foreign and Domestic Missions, and other important objects connected with the Redeemer's kingdom, and to combine for this purpose, such portions of the Baptist denomination in the United States, as may desire a general organization for Christian benevolence, which shall fully respect the independence and equal rights of the Churches." (taken from Robert A. Baker, A Baptist Source Book [Nashville: Broadman Press, 1966], pp. 116-17).

It seems that the SBC founders were quite focused in their purpose in forming a denomination. At this point it also does not seem that doctrine was their rallying point, other than the doctrine of the urgency "for the propogation of the Gospel."

Kevin Peacock

Anonymous said...

Anonymous (id# 52ri4832n#74n^o0)asked: Is it true that during the nomination process that IMB appointees are asked point blank, "Do you have a Private Prayer Language?"

The answer is yes.

May His face shine upon you,
from the Middle East

Paul/Mary Burleson said...


Thank you. I'm obviously not only often inept in my speaking but my reading also.

Tim, pardon my intrusion into your conversation.

Anonymous said...

John, thank you for speaking to my question. The reason I asked the question was this. Earlier in the comment string, it was brought that PPL became an issue when the candidate wa asked to reveal publically that they had a PPL between them and the Lord. Does anyone know if that question is actually asked of every candidate?

John Fariss said...


Thanks. Probably I was too wordy and not sufficiently suscinct. I am not saying doctrine, doctrinal purity, or any such thing has ever united us, as you state, and as Kevi Peacock also points out. I only meant that these three distinctives were important, were historically emphasized more than the issues defined in the modernist-fundamentalist controversy of the 1920s, and were commonly held, or perhaps were the justification for our unity; and that polarization jeopardizes this unity, regardless of its basis.

Kevin: I referred to the same book in my clumsy attempt to speak.

Paul/Mary Burleson said...

David Rogers,

It was fun being confused with being your Dad, if only in my own mind, as he was a great friend and I enjoyed my two times ministering with him in that great church he pastored. :)

Anonymous said...

Wade, I'll be finishing up my masters at Columbia Biblical Seminary and School of Missions this year. The school has just recently been esteemed as the top missionary training institution in the country (finally surpassing the increasingly liberal Fuller).

The strength of the school is two fold; first, the faculty is made up of Southern Baptists, PCA, Non-Denominational, Northern Baptists, EV Free, Conservative Baptists, and even a Free Will Baptist in the church history dept. And second, the entire curriculum is infused with a vision for mission. This happens because at Columbia the main thing IS the main thing.

As this letter points out the upside of denominational affiliation is a huge cost advantage (Columbia is consistently one of the most expensive schools in the country), but cost advantages come at the expense of denomination politics and putting up with the antics of those whose "main thing" is not the main thing.

Anyway, I say all that to say if you know of people who are burdened for missions and desire the proper training for the field send them to Columbia, and protect them from what appears to be a circus at SWBTS.

Jay R.

wadeburleson.org said...

Paul Burleson and Adrian Rogers
Wade Burleson and David Rogers

Dad, you and I are in serious trouble when our names are mentioned in the same breath as these two great men, or when either of us are confused with them, or when we think people are talking about us but in reality, they are referring to them.


Anonymous said...

Anyone that says doctrine was not a rallying point for the founding of the Southern Baptist Convention is not paying close enough attention. While they were wrong in their conclusions - the idea that slavery was an acceptable practice - they were none the less doctrinal conclusions that led to the formation of the SBC.
We can't just say - let's rally around the gospel, or evangelism, or missions - those are all theological statements and endeavors. Can you define the gospel without making doctrinal statements? Of course not - unless you think issues such as the deity of Christ and nature of the atonement are not doctrinal statements.

I refer you to my earlier words - you are better off pressing the IMB and other agency's on whether or not they have the right/authorization to impose guidelines that exceed the parameters outlined in the BF&M 2000.

As for Columbia Seminary, it seems odd that you would refer to the increasingly liberal Fuller when you have open theists and classic protestant liberals in your OT department.

C in IND

Kevin Bussey said...

Call me an idealist if you want--but why can't we have differences?

I'm not talking "UNIVERSALIST" or "MORMON" stuff like I will be accused and have been. I'm talking why can't those of us who agree that the Bible is "inerrant" and that Jesus is the only way to heaven have differences on non-essentials. Why can't we just get along. I really don't get it.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous (id# 13do4%87san?+d7) asked: Does anyone know if that question is actually asked of every candidate?

The answer is that all career candidates are asked this question in the first interview with a candidate consultant.

May His face shine upon you,
from the Middle East

David Rogers said...


I still think you are not reading clearly what David Shibley was saying. He, is I understand it, was not meaning to minimize the importance of correct doctrine.

I agree with my Dad, when he made the point that, without correct doctrine, our evangelistic and missionary efforts can get de-railed, and end up becoming efforts to win people to a "false gospel" (not a direct quote, just my paraphrase). However, I think my Dad, if he were here with us, would agree on the distinction on first, second, and third-tier doctrinal issues. It is true, if we compromise on first-tier doctrine, our evangelism and missions are seriously flawed as well. But, what joins us together as Baptists is not, and should not be, third-tier issues.

Granted, a lot of the debate is deciding what issues belong in what tier, especially between second and third tier.

In any case, my main point was I felt you were being a bit unfair with David Shibley, reading into his intentions a lack of commitment to essential biblical doctrine. And, using my Dad out of context in order to do so.

David Rogers said...


Flattery will get you nowhere. :)

Bob Cleveland said...

OK, let's say it IS doctrine that unites us. If we're to be united by doctrine, it is necessarily true that there would be a statement of what that doctrine IS.

Oh, right, we have that. The BF&M. And if the authorities said it's doctrine, baby, it's likely they were referring to the 1963 BF&M.

Hey. That sounds good to me. So ... am I right that the main thrust of the Cooperative Program is thus purity of doctrine? We could do that with Monasteries and Convents. We don't need no missionaries to do THAT.

David Rogers said...

Jay R.,

I love Columbia's "Core Values":

1. Authority of Scripture: We concentrate on mastering God's Word, learning to understand its meaning and apply its teaching.

2. Victorious Christian Living: We emphasize not only academic excellence but also personal growth, the dynamic of the Holy Spirit to make us like Christ in daily living.

3. World Evangelization: We are committed to reaching our generation with the gospel, preparing each student to have an impact as part of the "missions team," whether in a "sending church" or as one sent.

4. Prayer and Faith: Columbia seeks to be a community marked by joyful reliance upon God for material provision, victory over sin, growth in Christlikeness, and fruitfulness in ministry.

5. Evangelical Unity: Unity is a condition which should prevail even when distinct viewpoints coexist within one organization. Evangelical unity is the attitude and practice of accepting other Christians of evangelical conviction, regardless of denominational or theological affinity, for purposes of fellowship, encouragement, edification, and ministry. By "evangelical unity" at CIU we mean that we intend to include in our circle of fellowship as many Christians of evangelical faith as possible, and to exclude as few as possible.

I also have a deep admiration for their current president, George Murray, (who was the Director of Bible Christian Union, the mission I originally went to Spain with before transferring over to the IMB), and for their former president, Robertson McQuilken (who was our keynote speaker for our region-wide meeting for IMB workers in Western Europe this past Spring).

Anonymous said...

Maybe a 2003 article by Ed Stetzer would give some helpful insights on doctrine and missions.

_Can We Do Missions Without Doing Doctrine?_

I think the article is fair and balanced and makes some good points given its short length.


Monte Erwin said...

Is this the same Kevin Peacock I knew from my journeyman/seminary years? Would enjoy hearing from you and reconnecting.

Bryan Laramore said...

jay r.,

SWBTS isn't a circus, things are fine here. The administration may be in a bit of a ""circus-like" situation...but "SWBTS: the seminary" and "SWBTS: the students" are fine...it isn't a circus. Just for clarity, not offense.


knnuki said...

Are those the same Monte Irwin and Kevin Peacock I remember from MY Jman years?? Is this the Baptists Reunited website or what?? KNN

Anonymous said...


Sorry for detracting from your stimulating discussion. God seems to be using your blog seems to reunite a few dear old friends.

Monte and "Knnuki" (I'm not sure from your handle who you are),

Yes, it is the same Kevin Peacock from '84-86 J-man days. Drop me an e-mail, and I'd love to catch up more with you.


Anonymous said...

C in Ind,

Wrong Columbia...the Columbia in Decatur, Ga might fit your description, the one In South Carolina does not.

Jay R.

Tim Batchelor said...

Jay R,

As a CBC alumni I agree that CIU is indeed a great interdenominational school. While I was there there was indeed a diversity of denominations represented both in the student body and in administrative and faculty positions. Even with all that diversity as late as the mid 1980s when I was there it was clear that charismatic doctrine and tongues in particular were not a part of that diversity. Is that still true?

Tim Batchelor

Anonymous said...

Who said "If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything?" or something like that. Are we ready to take a stand or are we going to be willy-nilly about emergent, contemplative spirituality, charismatics, T.D. Jakes, and what's next??

docjoc said...

God's Spirit does not come to the high, the mighty, the proud, the know it all, those prideful of their church and their denominations.

He comes on those who are broken of heart, the humble, the meek, the lowly, who hunger and thrist after really knowing Him.

John Moeller said...

I’ve seen T.D. Jakes bashed several times here…..What’s up with that? Better to bash someone than to admit that the SBC isn’t perfect….

I applaud David for his fine open letter and it’s contents. I have found that non-denominational/charismatic Christians are much more accepting of Baptist than Baptist are of them. Baptists get so hung up on the things of the Spirit and that they don’t have a PPL, so it must not exist and those Charismatic’s have it all wrong. How about, just for once, maybe saying, I accept them, love them, but don’t quite understand them….And I further pray that I will somehow come to understand them. Baptists like vanilla ice cream, charismatic’s like rocky road. It’s all ice cream though….. can’t you see that?

To the missionary candidate; PPL is none of their business, that’s why its PRIVATE. Express to them that you stand firm on every Baptist doctrine and the Bf&M 2000 and will gladly sign it. That the Bible is truth and you will preach every word of it!

Again, Can’t we all get along? Jesus died for all of us, we are all saved by the blood, thru grace.... T.D. Jakes, Kenneth Copeland, Paige Patterson, and even Wade Burleson…..

I’d rather have T.D. Jakes address the convention than all those politicians that seem to show up……..

Anonymous said...

Yes Tim, I would agree that the diversity at CIU has its limits. You will find no faculty espousing or agreeing with charasmatic doctrine at Columbia, but that is not to say there aren't some students of a charasmatic flavor.

Jay R.

truth, not religion said...

I really love the letter by David Shibley. It is only concerned with reaching a lost world.

I have been thinkin'. Maybe I will start a couple of churches and put them right across the street from each other. I think the title of one would be "Ya'll Come Baptist Church" and the public statement of operation would be "Preachin' Jesus and Luvin' People.We do the preachin' and luvin' and Jesus does the savin'"

The other one might be "Baptist Church of the Holy Exclusion" and the public statement of operation would be, "you believe exactly how we do and you can come, (parameters subject to change at any time)"

Wonder how them 2 would fare


Anonymous said...


People are not objecting to TD Jakes because of any charasmatic leanings, but because of modalism.

There are several articles out there about this subject. One such article is from Jonathan Moore's 2002 thesis from The Master's Seminary.

There are several resources here:
They include some statements by Jakes about this controversy.

Not to derail this post...

Todd Nelson said...

Speaking of Columbia International University in SC (where we used to live) ...

Mike Barnett is a missions prof there, formerly of the IMB and SWBTS. And David Finnell used to be there, also a former IMBer, in SE Asia. (David's wife, Linda, was third grade teacher to our daughter Abby in public school the year we left SC for Malaysia.)

And Abby Nelson has just received a letter of acceptance to start at CIU this August. :-)

Her dad finds this school statement from their web site encouraging:

"Students find exposure to persons from various ecclesiastical traditions, who are united in their commitment to evangelical orthodoxy, an enriching and beneficial experience." (www.ciu.edu/about/denomination.php)

If they can enjoy faculty and student body unity having a variety of denominations represented, surely we could do better at unity and cooperation as Baptists!

Anonymous said...

david r. mills,
excuse the tone of my response but I really don't understand your post. If I admit that I am a continualist does that put me in the camp of emergents, T.D. Jakes, etc?
Not all of us have been allowed the luxury of an MDiv but that does not make one theologically retarded. Some of us have come to a position that might get us labeled "charismatic" after years of thoughtful, prayerful study.

John Moeller said...


While the trinity/oneness item may be something you could debate with T.D. Jake’s I don’t see what difference it really makes in salvation, good works, godliness, etc…. To MDiv’s it makes a difference, but to lost souls, who cares. God is one God, split into a trinity or manifestations of the one God, …. I have eternity to debate that after all the lost souls are found….. OK, I believe in the trinity….. T.D believes in oneness….. we both are saved by the same blood, and are called to light our world, and we both do that…..

It’s the very same debate that started this blog in the first place. There is room for all of us and NONE of us have it all correct; NONE of us!

Anonymous said...


No offense, but I think this is exactly what those who fear a widening of doctrine in the SBC fear. Broadly, that is, people who are not considered Christians being associated with the SBC. I am making a sweeping statement here from a slippery slope point of view.

As Al Mohler said in his BP "triage" article in relation to a denial of the Trinity.

"Those who deny these revealed truths are, by definition, not Christians."

"These first-order doctrines represent the most fundamental truths of the Christian faith, and a denial of these doctrines represents nothing less than an eventual denial of Christianity itself."

So far, besides yourself, I don't know who commenting on this blog would not agree with Dr. Mohler.


truth, not religion said...

hi there

just a thought. I very much believe in the trinity but the Bible says "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved." It does not say that we have to believe in anything else or have perfect doctrine or agree with this years crop of leaders or trustees.
What the point of most of the post here is about is those who would add to the Holy Scripture. Either the Scripture is sufficient or it is not.

"there is only one name under the sun by which a man must be saved"

Just believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved


Anonymous said...

country baptist preacher,

Man, it's been a long time since high school. I was just telling my wife about you and how you used to cheat on all of your tests, but you've changed now. Remember me?

I bet you don't and you would say that I must be thinking of another "country baptist preacher" which is my point.

Which Jesus saves? Who is He? Or is Jesus simply an undefinable name or something which is attached to what saves people?


truth, not religion said...

I realize that as we communicate on these blogs it is sometimes easy for our writings to be taken out of context. I certainly hope you didn't mean to sound like you did in your last post.

It had 2 negative connotations that I sure hope you didn't mean.

(1) your answer sure sounded like a far left liberal who didn't have a good BIBLICAL answer, but just an opinion.


(2) If you don't have a one on one relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and if you don't know Him personally enought to "KNOW" HIM, Then you will probably need more than I can give on this blog.

for scripture says "even the devils know....and tremble"

In HIS Service


truth, not religion said...

To His Glory,

I can remember preaching to hundreds of inmates and have seen murdereres etc who have never heard a sermon, never read a Bible, come to claim Christ as their Saviour.

I remember preaching in the Czech Republic to war refugees who had NO BIBLES, could not read or write, and had never heard the gospel. With just the presentation of the Gospel, they came to know Jesus. Some actually went back to the war zone to tell others of the Christ they had met.

I remember preaching at a biker rally and seeing grown men cry and come to Christ as the gospel of Christ was being preached.

All were SAVED BY THE GOSPEL FOR "it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes:

I preached from Matthew and John and never past that. Only the verses of/about the gospel, nothing else.

I remember mentioning "justification" to a life long Christian lady who was about the strongest Christian I had know and she had an incredible for the Lord and her Bible. She asked me "what is justification?"

I have seen hundreds and hundreds come to KNOW JESUS without one word of DOCTRINAL TEACHING.

I stand on the Bible, not opinion of men. Isn't that inerrancy?


Anonymous said...

I am most thankful for Mr. Shibley loving his Baptist Brothers and Sisters enough to do an intervention!