Posted by: Robin Foster | December 5, 2007

What If?

What if the Southern Baptist Convention boards and agencies began to treat the Baptist Faith and Message as a maximal statement? This means that any doctrinal parameters the agencies could set would have to be tied only to the BF&M. Again, any issues that may arise that are not addressed in the BF&M would be considered moot. What would this mean?

The logical outworking would force the IMB and NAMB in changing some of their policies that were on the books long before the IMB dealt with personal prayer language and baptism. Frankly, the policy on personal prayer language was on the NAMB guidelines over ten years before the IMB dealt with the issue. One of those policies that would have to be removed is on the modern practice of tongues. This policy, that has been on the books for 30+ years, would have to be revoked. Remember according to the interpretation of some, the Garner motion states that all issues outside of the BF&M cannot be considered for policy decisions. Therefore, if the IMB would follow that interpretation then the tongues policy would be revoked and those who publicly practice the modern use of tongues openly would be allowed service in our missionary agencies.

Now, I have debated this issue before and the response has been, “No, we are not talking about changing that(current tongues policy), only the policies that were enacted in November of 2005 and preventing other policies that would exclude some from service.” Of course they would like a reversal of the NAMB PPL policy also. The problem with that response, while well meaning by those who propose it, is that it is hogwash. The logical outworking of making the BF&M a maximal statement is to reject any policy whether proposed or existing that is outside of the BF&M. This means the rejecting of the current policy on tongues that have been on the books for 30+ years.

So what is the solution to all this? First, this fear about “narrowing of parameters” (NoPs) must be stopped. What I ask for is specifics. Does the NoPs mean the full acceptance of modern charismatic practices? If it doesn’t, then the interpretation of the Garner motion that makes the BF&M a maximal statement must be rejected. Does the NoPs mean a rejection of the authority of the local body of Christ in the administering of the ordinance of baptism? If it does then you stand against the BF&M herself.

Second, the old maxim, if you make misleading statements enough, people will believe it’s true, is occurring. Read the Garner motion. Show where it specifically says that the BF&M is a maximal or complete statement expressing finality in guiding our agencies. If it does then it goes against what the BF&M states, “(2) That we do not regard them as complete statements of our faith, having any quality of finality or infallibility.” The Garner motion itself needs to be rejected since it addresses an issue if not contrary to the BF&M, but possibly outside of its parameters.

Third, the talk about Calvinists being next must stop. Again, a fear tactic used to garner (sorry about the pun) support. Have you not heard of what happened at Ridgecrest? Have you not read Dr. Patterson’s paper at SBC Today? Have you missed Southern Seminary and the “Abstract of Principles?” Again, if you make misleading statements enough, people will believe it’s true. Baptist Calvinists are not next on the list of those we will exclude from participating in the convention. Listen to what Dr. Akin had to say about his working relationships with Dr. Patterson and Dr. Mohler. Those who promote fear by misleading Southern Baptists must stop!

The mantra of NoPs is a device to spread fear among Southern Baptists. We will all do well by opening the channels of communication and getting specific about what areas of Ecclesiology should be open to disagree, yet cooperate? What areas of charismatic practices should we be open to disagree, yet cooperate?

Let’s get specific about what parameters are being narrowed and what parameters are open for debate.

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Responses

  1. Robin,

    Can you describe further what you mean by the “modern practice of tongues”.

    Blessings,
    Chris

  2. Sure Chris. I believe the modern practice of ecstatic syllabolic gibberish that stemmed from Asuza Street in the early 20th century is the modern practice of tongues. The biblical witness speaks of tongues as a known human language that is foreign to the speaker. According to 1 Cor. 14, an interpreter must be present and the speaker must remain silent. In other words, not producing a sound.

    If you like, I can send you the paper I prepared for the conference on the Holy Spirit that explains my position better. I need your email.

    I just looked and yes, I do have that one. 🙂

  3. Sure Chris. I believe the modern practice of ecstatic syllabolic gibberish that stemmed from Asuza Street in the early 20th century is the modern practice of tongues. The biblical witness speaks of tongues as a known human language that is foreign to the speaker. According to 1 Cor. 14, an interpreter must be present and the speaker must remain silent. In other words, not producing a sound.

    If you like, I can send you the paper I prepared for the conference on the Holy Spirit that explains my position better. I need your email.

    I just looked and yes, I do have that one. 🙂

  4. Robin,
    With all the disagreements you and I might have, I applaud your last line:

    “Let’s get specific about what parameters are being narrowed and what parameters are open for debate.”

    I am in 100% agreement. The issue is difference of opinion over what exactly is open for debate. In some parts of the country, Calvinism is “narrowed out” in spite of “Building Bridges” conferences. In other areas, Calvinism is open for debate but landmarkism rules the day, meaning any baptism not performed in a Baptist church is considered “alien.”

    The problem is that with so many autonomous entities seeking to work together, all of which combine to form a variety of things that each “cares about,” it is difficult to get more narrow on the national level than the 2000BFM2K.

    In our association, for example, the BFM2K is the confessional requirement for current church planters. If additional doctrinal requirements are placed on the church planter, it is the local sponsoring church that does it. So, for example, if a guy is a Calvinist, and the local sponsoring church doesn’t want a Calvinist, then he would be excluded, but it is because the local church made the call. The Association doesn’t speak to those finer issues. The same is true in regards to Baptism, private prayer language, etc. Those issues are beyond the BFM2K and as such, we leave them to be decided by our respective member churches.

  5. for clarification,

    I did not mean to insinuate above the Baptism in general is beyond the BFM2K. What I meant to communicate in that sentence was whether one had been immersed in a Baptist/Baptistic church, etc.

    Certainly one who has not been immersed would not be appointed to plant a church here, nor would one who believed other modes of baptism were equally as valid. But again, this is because the BFM2K speaks clearly to these issues.

    Hope that clears up my original, very muddy thoughts.

  6. Where are they? Where are they?

    I want to talk to someone who seriously is a Calvinist headhunter.

    Robin, have you ever encountered someone of that nature?

    Sola Gratia!

  7. Guys,

    Joel has spoken truth here.

    Scott,

    There are DOMs who have worked very hard against Calvinists pastors in the Associations they serve.

    cb


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