If you live in Texas, you have probably already heard the news coming out of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, TX. Unless you’ve been living in a hole, it’s been rather hard to miss the coverage both on television (CBS 11) and in major state newspapers (Houston Chronicle, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Morning News) and denominational press (BP, ABP).
Yesterday, the trustees of Southwestern Seminary voted 36-1 to adopt a statement containing the following lines: “Southwestern will not knowingly endorse in any way, advertise, or commend the conclusions of the contemporary charismatic movement including ‘private prayer language.’ Neither will Southwestern knowingly employ professors or administrators who promote such practices.”
This statement was drafted by seminary President Dr. Paige Patterson and is a response to the Rev. Dwight McKissic’s controversial advocacy of tongues-speaking in a recent Southwestern chapel service (read about it here, here, and here). Rev. McKissic is himself a trustee at Southwestern and was the lone dissenter voting against the statement adopted by the other trustees.
McKissic has posted on his church’s website a response the the trustee’s statement. In McKissic’s response he advocates the practice of a “private prayer language” and he argues for a more “inclusive role of women in public worship,” including the practice of allowing women to teach Christian doctrine to men. McKissic also states that he will not resign his trustee position, but will continue to serve out his term (See McKissic’s full response to Patterson’s proposal).
So what do I think about all these developments? I think all of this controversy boils down to a dispute over no less that three important ecclesiological questions:
(1) Definition and Function of the Charismatic Gifts of the Spirit
(2) The Bible’s Teaching about the Roles of Women in Ministry
(3) Baptist Identity and the Proper Basis for Cooperation among Baptist Churches
I intend to write about all three of these issues over the next several days. In the meantime, go review some of the stories I’ve linked in this post, and come back ready to talk theology.