SBC’s International Mission Board no longer to disqualify candidates who speak in tongues


Many Southern Baptists will find the policy recently approved by the denomination’s International Mission Board deeply troubling, as the practice of speaking in tongues is associated with Pentecostalism. Many, but not all, Pentecostals believe that speaking in tongues is the evidence of receiving the Holy Spirit while Southern Baptists have held to the view that speaking in tongues is not something Christians should expect when they receive Jesus Christ as their Savior, nor should they strive for this gift.   Without getting too far afield, in the New Testament record of the conversion accounts, only two spoke of speaking in tongues.  Speaking in tongues was a sign gift that had a specific purpose for a specific time.  Moreover, the charismatic gifts ceased with the closing of the Canon of Scripture.  Southern Baptists have historically rejected speaking in tongues.  Now the SBC is looking for a “tone of unity” and are welcoming Charismatics who practice private prayer language into the fold.

What we must remember is that some Christians believe that the charismatic gifts are still around today while others disagree.  When an issue, such as this one, is not an essential of the faith, we are free to vigorously debate the issue, but we must not divide over it.

ChristianExaminer has the full story.

Courtesy: The Gospel Coalition

The Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board, which selects and trains missionaries for the denomination and has more than 4,700 field personnel under appointment, has changed its personnel qualifications to allow “new pathways” for service to those who previously could not be assigned to long-term overseas posts, Baptist Press, the convention’s news agency, has reported.

David Platt, elected IMB president in August 2014, told the mission board’s trustees earlier this week that the organization’s changes to its appointment policy represent a new “unified statement of qualifications” that will apply to all new applicants.

“We’re talking about limitless possibilities that God has providentially arranged for His people to go around the world with the gospel. And as the IMB, we want to send Southern Baptists through as many pathways as possible, which necessitates that we open up the pipeline for people to come through those pathways,” Platt said, according to Baptist Press.

Under the new qualifications, the IMB will no longer consider a past divorce as a prohibition to career appointment, nor will it make an issue of those who practice a “private prayer language,” or speaking in tongues while alone in prayer.

Allowing individuals with such backgrounds to serve is not “lowering the bar for potential IMB missionaries,” Platt said.

“This is a raising of the bar in all the areas that matter most. … We will continue to train our missionaries and work as missionaries in ways that faithfully represent Southern Baptist churches and Southern Baptist conviction.”

According to a statement summarizing the changes on the IMB’s website, applicants with a divorce in their background have been eligible for short-term service for some time. The new guidelines mean an applicant may now receive appointment as a career missionary in spite of a divorce.

“In all categories of missionary service, individuals who have been divorced may be able to serve. However, a person’s role on a missionary team, the circumstances surrounding his or her divorce, and the suitability of the culture where he or she will serve will all be considered by the IMB in cooperation with the person’s local church,” the statement said.

Private prayer language also will no longer disqualify a person from missionary service, the statement said, in spite of the fact Southern Baptists have historically rejected speaking in tongues, even in private.

In 2005, IMB trustees voted 50-15 to set in place a policy that prohibited people who practice a private prayer language from appointment for any type of mission service. At the time, the board made no distinction between speaking in tongues privately and glossolalia – known to most pastors and theologians as a public, ecstatic babbling that is incomprehensible to all but the speaker.

Glossolalia commonly is regarded as a “gift of the Spirit” and evidence of salvation in Pentecostal circles.

Most Southern Baptists reject the Pentecostal practice and interpret Scripture to say speaking in tongues is communicating in a “legitimate language of some people group,” according to the former IMB policy. This guideline also stated that the New Testament defined “specific uses and conditions” for speaking in tongues in public worship and cautioned that “if glossolalia is a public part of his or her conviction and practice, the candidate has eliminated himself or herself from being a representative of the IMB of the SBC.” Similar convictions were expressed about private prayer language.

Opinions on the acceptance of private prayer language began to change almost immediately following the election of Frank Page as SBC president in 2006.

According to Timothy George, dean of the Beeson Divinity School of Samford University, Page pulled together a coalition to strike a tone of unity in the SBC. Charismatics who practiced private prayer language were one group brought into the fold.

“Occasionally congregations have been ousted from Baptist associations over charismatic issues. But recent efforts to exclude from missionary appointment all who have a ‘private prayer language’ seemed to many ordinary Baptists both intrusive and unnecessary,” George wrote in First Things shortly after Page’s election to the SBC presidency.

In 2006, Dwight McKissic, a Dallas-area pastor who also served as a trustee at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, started a broader discussion when he offered a defense of private prayer language in a chapel service at the seminary. His subsequent defense of the sermon and the practice led to a larger discussion and a greater degree of acceptance of the practice, according to multiple sources.

The newest policy of the IMB is that an individual with a private prayer language is “not automatically disqualified for missionary service.”

However, according to the statement from the IMB, the organization may “still end employment for any missionary who places ‘persistent emphasis on any specific gift of the Spirit as normative for all or to the extent such emphasis becomes disruptive’ to Southern Baptist missions work.”

The change also does not mean they will appoint missionaries who openly practice tongue-speaking. The organization said its appointment, training, and supervisory process would make certain missionary appointees working to plant churches will “faithfully represent Southern Baptist theology, missiology, ecclesiology, and practice.”

In addition to the changes in policy on divorce and private prayer language, IMB trustees also voted to look more carefully in the method of baptism experienced by all future appointees. The statement said the IMB wanted to ensure, in line with the Baptist Faith & Message 2000, that all missionary appointees had been baptized by immersion, as Scripture teaches.

RELATED VIDEO: David Platt – “Are Tongues a Gift for Today?”

Source: ChristianExaminer

Related article:

Have the Charismatic Gifts Ceased?

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4 Responses to SBC’s International Mission Board no longer to disqualify candidates who speak in tongues

  1. Darrel May 19, 2015 at 11:38 am #

    And yet another door is opened to further apostasy in the SBC (Soon Becoming Comatose). It is sad and humorous. Sad, because so many people believe this nonsense just because their infallible leader has spoken. Humorous, to watch his complicit co-hearts fall all over themselves to excuse this idiocy and fail to even know how wrong all of this really is. So now a divorce in one’s past will not keep him from starting churches in your “mission” fields? Is this limited to just one divorce or maybe two? If two is ok, why not three? If three……. Never mind the Scripture that says an elder or pastor (bishop) must be the husband of ONE WIFE (Titus 1:6-9) How unheard of it is to adhere to the Word! After listening to all nine plus minutes of David’s explanation of “tongues” for today, it is easy to see he has been well-schooled in double speak, the cheery-picking of ‘proof texts’, and the inability to logically explain Scripture from an unbiased position. Must have gone to an SBC seminary for his “education”. I wonder what it’s like to preside over the demise of an organization that once (supposedly) stood for the truth of the Bible, but now has opted for the ecumenical route, the apostasy highway, and the death march into hell?

  2. Stephen May 19, 2015 at 1:39 pm #

    Beware of David Platt; we’ve warned against him years ago. . .

  3. Patty May 19, 2015 at 3:25 pm #

    1Cor 14 Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. 2 For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries. 3 But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. 4 He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. 5 I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for[b] he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification.
    18 I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all; 19 yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue.

  4. Gregg Huestis July 7, 2015 at 7:02 pm #

    What? You are getting your panties in a bunch over SBC accepting those who speak in tongues…You guys really need to get out more…Seriously!

    Speaking in other tongues is a manifestation of the infilling of the Holy Spirit…it is NOT the ONLY manifestation! I know lots of Christian who do NOT speak in other tongues but manifest more fruit of the Spirit than many who do speak in other tongues.

    This is my advice people…stick to things like Don & Wendy Francisco and their slobbering love affair with Rob Bell and his twisted teaching… Seriously…Is this all you have to concern yourselves with? If so…you had better throw in the towel…REALLY!