December 17, 2007

Dirty Laundry, Family Squables, and TBN

I weighed in on the whole TBN/SBC/tongues issue in the previous post, but today I found a couple articles that really made me thing more on this subject. Both are in my shared folder in Google Reader -- if I've got you in my contacts list through GMail, you can get it automatically. Otherwise, you can subscribe to the feed in your favorite RSS reader, or just check out this page. You can see the headlines in the graphic on the left sidebar, right under the calendar.

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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December 13, 2007

Charismatic Takeover???

For a long time now, there has been a controversy in the SBC over private prayer languages. It all started when the IMB trustees decided to not commission any missionaries who prayed in a "private prayer language," which they felt contradicted traditional Southern Baptist positions. More than a few SBC bloggers felt that the trustees had gone well beyond their role at the IMB, and it led to a LOT of blogging on the subject.

At the time, I was one of the people upset with the trustees. I really had more of a problem with the idea of "alien baptism" than with the prayer language issue -- I wasn't baptized in a Southern Baptist church (it was FAR more conservative than any SBC church I've ever been in, actually), and I really thought that the trustees were trying to pass judgment on the validity of someone's conversion. I didn't view private prayer language as a really serious issue in the SBC, and I really still don't.

I do, however, have a philosophical and theological problem with the modern charismatic movement. Their tendency to place priority on personal experience over Biblical truth concerns me greatly -- there is so much potential for drastic theological error in a system where there is no accountability. How can anyone pass judgment on the validity of someone else's experience if those experiences aren't subject to Scriptural standards? I'm not a hardcore advocate of the Regulatory Principle, but I think that Scripture has to be the norm in our worship and practice. If I'm doing something in worship that is not Scriptural, I expect that my fellow believers will rebuke me and let me know the problem. They can't do that if my experience is the ultimate point of reference for my own spiritual life. more...

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December 03, 2007

No Surprise

The Dallas News' Religion blog has a story today on an impending "preach in" (actually homiletics conference) sponsored by the New Baptist Covenant. I thought that what the ABP said was a pretty good indication of why the SBC is (to use the Dallas News' words) "wary" of this new Baptist organization.

James Forbes, pastor emeritus of the Riverside Church in New York, is among those who will preach at the event. Riverside is jointly affiliated with the American Baptist Churches USA and the United Church of Christ. It was founded in the 1920s by John Rockefeller as a monument to liberal Protestantism in New York City and has remained prominent in the nationÂ’s theological and political affairs ever since.

The SBC has finally rid itself of liberalism, though there are still some left-leaning moderate elements. Why would we want to revisit all the turmoil and controversy of the past 25 years? The NBF numbers among it's leadership notable Baptists such as former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, both of whom have made clear their position on the SBC as it currently stands. Neither are friends of the resurgence, so why should the SBC be anything but wary of a group they are leading?

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 03:47 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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