I haven’t posted anything about the newly adopted IMB policies concerning tongues and baptism of missionary candidates. If you want some background on this issue, check out SBC Outpost, Wade Burleson’s blog, or the Associated Baptist Press.
For the record, I am against them. What’s more, I have yet to find any IMB missionary on the field who agrees with them. But you won’t be hearing any dissent from within the ranks. The current attitude out here is “If you want to keep you job, keep you mouth shut.”
No, there haven’t been any threats (that I know of). And no, the new policies do not apply to personnel already on the field. But with the Board of Trustees voting to remove trustee Wade Burleson for voicing his opinions on the new policies and the politics among trustees, everyone is being extra careful.
Last week, the R. Gordon Fort, IMB Vice President for Overseas Operations sent a memo to all personnel “clarifying” the new policies. It was this “clarification” that has prompted me to write about the issue. Because the memo is presented as “the specific wording” of the policies, I’m assuming that this was not intended to stay “in house.” I post the main text of the memo here:
The specific wording of the policy on Tongues and Prayer Language and the Baptism Guideline are as follows:
Tongues and Prayer Language
That the following policy regarding tongues and prayer language of missionary candidates be adopted:
1. The New Testament speaks of a gift of glossolalia that generally is considered to be a legitimate language of some people group.
2. The New Testament expression of glossolalia as a gift had specific uses and conditions for its exercise in public worship.
3. In term of worship practices, the majority of Southern Baptist churches do not practice glossolalia. Therefore, 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.
1. Prayer language as commonly expressed by those practitioners is not the same as the biblical use of glossolalia.
2. Paul’s clear teaching is that prayer is to be made with understanding.
3. Any spiritual experience must be tested by the Scriptures.
4. In terms of general practice, the majority of Southern Baptists do not accept what is referred to as “private prayer language.” Therefore, if “private prayer language” is an ongoing 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.
1. This policy is not retroactive.
2. Any exceptions to the above policy must be reviewed by the staff and the Process Review Committee.
That each candidate’s baptismal experience be examined, during the application process, in light of the Baptist Faith and Message statement and the points listed below:
BAPTIST FAITH AND MESSAGE: ARTICLE VII – BAPTISM
Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer’s faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Savior; the believer’s death to sin; the burial of the old life; and the resurrection to walk in the newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to his faith in the final resurrection of the dead. Being a church ordinance, it is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord’s Supper.
POINTS TO BE COVERED DURING THE APPOINTMENT PROCESS:
1. The Individual
a. Believer’s baptism by immersion
Baptism by immersion follows salvation
b. Baptism is symbolic, picturing the experience of the believer’s death to sin and resurrection to a new life in Christ.
Baptism does not regenerate.
2. The Church
a. Baptism is a church ordinance.
Baptism must take place in a church that practices believer’s baptism by immersion alone, does not view baptism as sacramental or regenerative, and a church that embraces the doctrine of the security of the believer.
b. A candidate who has not been baptized in a Southern Baptist church or in a church which meets the standards listed above is expected to request baptism in his/her Southern Baptist church as a testimony of identification with the system of belief held by Southern Baptist churches.
3. The Candidate
The candidate is responsible for meeting this doctrinal commitment to the above points.
4. The Consultant
While the candidate consultant should have a working knowledge of many denominational groups, he is not expected to investigate every church.
1. This guideline is not retroactive.
2. Any exception to the above guideline must be reviewed by the staff and the Process Review Committee.
So here’s my initial concern: No scripture to support the new guidelines. What do you think? I’ll post my thoughts soon.