December 17, 2007
First up is Ed Stetzer's brief post concerning the use of Lifeway's research in the program. Swain Miller makes the statement that "LifeWayÂ… this past summer... did a surveyÂ… and they reported that 51% of Southern Baptist pastors believe in speaking in tongues as one of the giftsÂ… The truth is that there are more than half, I believe, of Southern Baptist pastors, anonymously surveyedÂ… said they practice a private prayer language... but they were anonymous about it." If you read Lifeway's research, it doesn't make any assertion of personal practice on the part of anyone who participated. Only the beliefs of the people surveyed are mentioned. I think this is important because while someone may feel that tongues is a valid gift for today, they may or may not speak in tongues themselves. It's a distinction that is missing, I think, from the broadcast.
The second post I noted today is from Tim Rodgers at SBCToday. I think both of his illustrations are important for us to keep in mind -- especially the second, involving a fight between brothers.
Family fights can be very painful. It gets even more painful when the fight is brought out into public, and is even encouraged by people outside the family (who won't ever BE members of the family). And that's what happened on TBN last week. There has been a family squabble in the SBC over private prayer languages and tongues. We're dealing with it as a family. But now some members of the family have brought in folks from outside to try to end the fight -- and end it in their favor. The people they're bringing in aren't Southern Baptists, and don't 'have a dog in the fight.' But, to quote Richard Hogue at the very beginning of the segment, "I love a good controversy, don't you?" The purpose of the entire segment is to feed off controversy.
I have to confess, I enjoy heated debate and discussion. And as I've mentioned before, I have in the past sought out controversy for its own sake. So I can relate to Hogue's perspective on the issue. But one thing that I learned long ago is that when you seek out controversy for its own sake, or for the sake of your own enjoyment of controversy, nothing is resolved -- in fact, resolution is the exact opposite of what you want. You want the controversy, the conflict -- it's an adrenaline rush to be involved in something controversial.
That's why many people blog -- for the controversy. For the rush, the feedback, the attention (measured in trackbacks and comments, of course). But that attitude doesn't solve anything. Hogue's statement at the outset of the program set the tone, and it was clear from the beginning that the controversy would continue.
It was also clear that only one side of the debate would ever be presented. It's TBN, after all -- why would they bring on some cessationists to defend their position? Instead, the SBC is painted as a group that is trying to silence the voice of God in our generation, which is far from the truth. That kind of sentiment doesn't solve the problems that he SBC does have -- it simply sensationalizes a minor divide for others' entertainment and amusement.
It must be pleasant for the folks at TBN to have no controversies or conflicts of their own to deal with, that they have to entertain themselves by capitalizing on the disagreements of other Christians.
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