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Friday, May 11, 2007

The IMB “Canonizes” its policy on Baptism and Tongues

Here is the full report…

Report of the Mission Personnel Ad Hoc CommitteeMay 2007

In March of 2006 an ad hoc committee of Mission Personnel Committee received the charge to revisit the approved board policy on tongues and prayer language and the approved board guideline on baptism, both adopted in November 2005. The ad hoc committee has met over the past year during board meetings as well as a two-day special meeting to consider the vast amount of material gathered from leaders, scholars, and pastors across our denomination. The committee solicited this material in an attempt to be faithful to its task. The committee has also spent considerable time praying, fasting, and seeking God’s heart on these issues. The committee has no desire to create further controversy. Rather, our desire is to bring this study to completion and allow the board to maintain its focus upon our world mission task.

The ad hoc committee has concluded that even though field related data and consultation with regional leaders has not indicated a systemic problem with charismatic practices among field personnel, the rapid spread of neo-pentecostalism and its pressure exacted on the new churches in various regions of the world warrants a concern for the clear Baptist identity of our missionary candidates. Furthermore, the diversity of denominational backgrounds among missionary candidates requires a clear baptism guideline to guide the work of our candidate consultants as they consider the qualifications of candidates.

Therefore, we recommend that the full board adopt the following two guidelines to replace Policy 200-15 and Guideline 200-3a. The Mission Personnel Committee approved this recommendation on March 20, 2007 by a three-fourths majority.

Guideline on Tongues and Prayer Language

GLOSSOLALIA
1. The New Testament speaks of a gift of glossolalia that generally is considered to be a legitimate language.
2. The New Testament expression of glossolalia as a gift had specific uses and conditions for its exercise in public worship.
3. In terms of worship practices, if glossolalia is a public part of the candidate’s current practice and it does not fall within the definitions of Parts 1 & 2 above, the candidate has eliminated himself or herself from being a representative of the IMB of the SBC.

PRAYER LANGUAGE
1. Any spiritual experience must be tested by Scriptures.
2. New Testament teaching is that prayer is to be made with understanding.
3. The board is not persuaded that ecstatic utterance as a prayer language is a valid expression of the New Testament teaching on prayer.
4. Therefore, if an “ecstatic utterances as a prayer language” is a part of the candidate’s current practice, the candidate has eliminated himself or herself from being a representative of the IMB of the SBC.

APPLICATION
1. This guideline is not retroactive.
2. Any exceptions to the above guideline must be reviewed by the staff and the Mission
Personnel Committee.

Proposed Guideline on Baptism

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:

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 Saviour, the believer's death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in 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. 2000 Baptist Faith and Message, Article VII

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 under the authority of a local church that practices believer’s baptism alone, embraces the doctrine of the security of a believer’s salvation and does not view baptism as sacramental, regenerative or essential to salvation.
(b.) A candidate who has not been baptized under the authority of a local church which meets the standards listed above is expected to request baptism in his or her Southern Bapist church.

3. The Candidate

The candidate is responsible for requesting their home church to assist them in 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 or she is not expected to investigate every church.

APPLICATION

1. The guideline is not retroactive. Any exception to the above guideline must be reviewed by staff and the Mission Personnel Committee.

(End of committee report)


My Commentary on this issue:

This is not a trivial matter!

The Board of Trusties of the IMB has taken it upon themselves to define for the Southern Baptist Convention what is acceptable doctrine and practice in the areas of Tongues and Baptism. Others like Wade have posted a great deal on the issue of Tongues so I will concentrate specifically on the doctrine of Baptism. I have made a few comments on Wade’s blog that I need to bring over here for discussion.

Here are my post on Wade’s blog:

I am a life long Southern Baptist Pastor who, in the past, has ALWAYS supported the various agencies of the Southern Baptist Convention. I have consistently motivated each church I have pastured to greater support of our Southern Baptist Mission efforts through increased giving.

A few years ago (due to what we felt were inappropriate actions by certain Florida Baptist Officials) the Leadership of my current church decided by unanimous consent to stop funding the C.P. and send our support directly to NAMB and IMB.

We have continued to support both NAMB and IMB as they faced controversy these last couple of years. I can honestly say that I was impressed and yes even PROUD of the way that NAMB responded to their difficult situation and because of their willingness to address each and every concern that was raised, I have even more confidence in NAMB today than I did before. I regret that I cannot say the same of IMB.

Because of NAMB’s willingness to address, and yes make the proper corrections, NAMB will continue to receive my full support. Because the IMB has refused to follow the example set by NAMB (see the comments by Micah Fries above) I can no longer recommend that my church send support to IMB until these guidelines/policies (there is no difference) are changed.

Why would any Southern Baptist Church send its missions support to any agency that would not accept its own Pastor or Members? There are options…Grace to all,

Wednesday, May 09, 2007
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Beth,

Thank you for the compliment… I do “immature” quite well don’t you think? Kind of like the IMB BOT saying to “All” Southern Baptist “if you don’t play by our rules you don’t get to play at all”… sounds a little immature on their part if you ask me.

Notice, I did not say I was no longer going to support Southern Baptist Missionaries… “There are options…”

Beth, just what would you suggest would be an appropriate response to this decision of the IMB BOT (not unanimous I am sure) to force their Neo-Landmark doctrines upon all Southern Baptist? Just what is a local church pastor to do? I am really open to other ideas as to how to respond to all of this… if someone can come up with a better solution than pulling our support for IMB I would like to hear it?

Perhaps the IMB could come up with a “Two Track” system where those who wish to serve under their new Landmark rules can apply, and those churches who wish to support Landmark missionaries can support them… And another of us who were very satisfied and happy under the old system can still serve as missionaries and send support also? I suppose that is asking too much though… for a Southern Baptist Church to be able to send a missionary through the Southern Baptist IMB that reflects its own beliefs instead of those of others.

Wade,

Thank you so much for the compliment, you are too kind… Not sure I am ready for the BOT yet; I have a long way to go before I learn to handle myself with the grace and gentleness that you show in the face of such difficult issues…

But, thanks for the encouragement and you can be sure that I will ALWAYS support Southern Baptist Missionaries… where there is a will, there is always a way.Grace to all,

Wednesday, May 09, 2007
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Katya,

I have not broken fellowship with the IMB, the IMB has broken fellowship with me.

In following the language of the International Mission Board I have drafted a new “guideline” for my church when considering International Missions Agencies.

Guideline on International Missions Agencies

If an International Missions Agency “narrows the parameters of cooperation” beyond the doctrines expressed in our Statement of Faith (BFM2000), without satisfactory scriptural support, to such a degree that the members of this Southern Baptist church are no longer qualified to serve, the International Missions Agency has eliminated itself from being a representative of this church.

I hope this clears up any misunderstanding on who has initiated this breach of fellowship… it was not I!

Grace to all,
Thursday, May 10, 2007
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Wade,

I have only one, perhaps two, members in my church of whom I am aware that have a “private” prayer language…

On the other hand, I have many members who have come to us from different denominational backgrounds (Presbyterian, Assembly of God, Independent Baptist, etc.) all of whom were Baptized by immersion following their conversion. In other words their Baptism is (according to the N.T.) “PROPER”. Yet, according to the BOT of the IMB their Baptism in “unacceptable”…

The IMB BOT writes:

A candidate who has not been baptized under the authority of a local church which meets the standards listed above is expected to request baptism in his or her Southern Bapist church.

“There is one Baptism…” only one! Putting someone who has been properly Baptized according to the Scripture through the “ritual” of re-baptizing them is in fact not Baptism. It is a “MAN MADE RITUAL”. A person may submit to, or “request” that his or her Southern Baptist church perform as many “rituals” upon them as they wish… It is not Baptism.

As a Pastor called by God, not the IMB, I will not even one time stand guilty before my God for doing such a thing to one of his children.

Grace to all,
Friday, May 11, 2007
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What do you think? Am I off base in my assessment and response to this move by the BOT of the IMB?

3 comments:

kevin said...

Good thoughts. Hopefully Alan Cross' resolution will get some momentum.

Lee said...

I don't think you are off base at all. We have two families in our congregation serving in international missions with other agencies precisely because of arbitrary IMB requirements. Both families receive direct support from the church. The question is always raised at budget time about why we continue to support the IMB when we have members serving overseas who don't get IMB support. We have a third family that has applied through the IMB and will hear in November as to whether they will be appointed or not. I'm sure our continued support of the IMB rests on their appointment. The expectation that churches will continue to "cooperate" by sending money when their members are disqualified to go on the field by arbitrary, tertiary doctrinal requirements, as voiced by Jerry Corbaley, is unrealistic. That's not cooperation.

I'm also getting pretty sick of hearing the phrase, "The majority of Southern Baptists...." Cooperation is not based on majority rule, minority gets in line and goes along. There is too much diversity of doctrine, culture and worship style (among other things) in the churches of the SBC for a simple majority to continually impose its will without considering other perspectives. And it doesn't just fall along church membership boundaries, since most churches reflect some level of diversity of views within their own congregations.

But I think the biggest issue here is that we have trustee boards going beyond the convention in terms of setting doctrinal standards for cooperation and participation. Cooperation in the SBC is based on a church's contributions to the work of the denomination and within the denomination's institutions and agencies, consistent with the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. Southern Baptists haven't addressed the issues of baptism or private prayer language nearly as specifically as the IMB trustees have done. Perhaps, in San Antonio, we will.

G. Alford said...

Kevin,

I know a lot of people who would gladly sign Alan’s Resolution…
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Lee,

But I think the biggest issue here is that we have trustee boards going beyond the convention in terms of setting doctrinal standards for cooperation and participation.

You my brother, have a very clear picture of the heart of the matter!

I fear that for many Trusties their primary concern is “CONTROL” not cooperation. What we are experiencing in the SBC today is not a spirit of cooperation at all… What we are experiencing is “The Tyranny of the Majority” where the minority view has little or no voice.

Grace to all,