Spiritual: December 2005 Archives

Adrian Warnock has a post about the Southern Baptist Convention's recent decision not to hire any missionaries who practice speaking in tongues and to require current missionaries to refrain from doing so in public. This decision seems to be getting a lot of bad press, and I think the reasons for criticism are almost all faulty. I don't agree with the details of their decision, but I think the charges of hypocrisy, inconsistency, and disobedience to the scriptures are false charges.

First is the charge of disobedience to a direct command in I Corinthians 14:40. "Do not forbid speaking in tongues" (ESV). If the SBC has told their missionaries not to speak in tongues, doesn't that amount to forbidding speaking in tongues? It does seem as if it violates a direct scriptural mandate. However, if cessationists have the correct hermeneutic, then not following the command not to forbid tongues is like most evangelicals' not following the command that women wear head coverings and like everyone's not following Paul's command to Timothy to bring him his cloak. Given cessationism, it's simply wrong to expect this command to apply today, and thus what the SBC did is not a deliberate violation of scripture. I'm no cessationist, but the SBC is. Challenge their cessationist view, but don't pretend they're deliberately violating scripture unless you can show that they see this command as applicable today. As far as I've ever known, their hermeneutic doesn't take it to apply today. Maybe theiur hermeneutic is wrong, but charging them with disobeying a direct command doesn't, in their interpretive system, making any more sense than complaining that you're not sacrificing goats or calves, which violates numerous direct commands in Leviticus.

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