May 15

How does a Southern Baptist spell "desperate"?


Glossolalia, or "speaking in strange tongues" a/k/a "a private prayer language" has been a defining characteristic of Pentecostal and Charismatic movements, and a big no-no in Southern Baptist circles. I went through the vetting process to become a Journeyman (a short term Southern Baptist missionary) in 1998. I was asked at least 4 different times if I practiced a "private prayer language." At the time I had just completed seminary and was not even sure what they were talking about. I did not realize it was International Mission Board speak for "shibboleth" (a test to see if you belonged or not). I was not asked, at any time, my theology regarding salvation, the nature of God, or any other doctrinal questions. And I was going to teach seminary!

So, does this mean that the near adamantine ranks of the IMB are open to new theologies, new ways of worship?

No. Not really.

All the resolution means is that speaking in tongues is not an automatic disqualification. It also means that Southern Baptist are experiencing problems making in roads into the expanding Christian frontier.

In the words of Bill Leonard, now of Wake Forest but once upon a time head of the Religion Department my senior year in college at Samford :“Southern Baptists are experiencing such demographic trauma of membership and baptism they need new constituencies among nonwhite population."

But, before you get all head up to go apply you should take not of the language in the IMB FAQ page:
Q: What has changed related to speaking in tongues and private prayer languages?

A: A person who has spoken in tongues or may have a private prayer language is not automatically disqualified for missionary service. Further, IMB 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.

I wonder if that includes "evangelism"?

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