April 21, 2014
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Southwestern trustee's sermon on tongues prompts response
Posted on Aug 30, 2006 | by Michael Foust

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FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)--A Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary board of trustee member told a chapel audience Aug. 29 he speaks in tongues "in his private prayer life" -- prompting the seminary to issue a statement saying most trustees and faculty members likely would disagree with his theology.

Dwight McKissic, a board member and pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas, delivered a sermon on "baptism and the filling of the Holy Spirit," telling those present that that some, but not all, Christians are gifted by God to speak in tongues. Distancing himself from Pentecostalism, he said he believes all Christians receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit at salvation.

"Not all Baptists believe that the gift of tongues went out with the completion of the New Testament," McKissic told the audience. "Some of the foremost thinkers and leaders and theologians among Baptist life believe tongues is a valid gift for today."

Saying he was preaching a sermon that God "laid upon my heart," McKissic said he began speaking in tongues during his prayer time in 1981 while a 21-year-old student at Southwestern Seminary. He said he "prays in tongues" in his "private prayer life" and that he believes tongues is one of many gifts that God gives believers.

Although he didn't mention the entity by name, McKissic referenced the International Mission Board, whose board of trustees adopted a policy last year prohibiting the appointment of missionaries who practice a private prayer language.

"I think it's tragic in Baptist life when we take a valid, vital gift that the Bible talks about and come up with a policy that says people who pray in tongues in their private prayer lives cannot work in certain positions," McKissic said.

Following McKissic's sermon the seminary issued a statement, saying it is "honored" to have him serve as a trustee and to visit campus as a chapel speaker. But the statement said that many on campus would disagree with him.

"[T]hough most of Rev. McKissic’s message represented a position with which most people at Southwestern would be comfortable, Rev. McKissic’s interpretation of tongues as 'ecstatic utterance' is not a position that we suspect would be advocated by most faculty or trustees," the statement read. "In keeping with Baptist convictions regarding religious liberty, we affirm Rev. McKissic’s right to believe and advocate his position. Equally in keeping with our emphasis of religious liberty we reserve the right not to disseminate openly views which we fear may be harmful to the churches."

The seminary said McKissic's sermon, unlike other sermons, won't be posted in the archives on the seminary website, although it can be purchased by calling the school's audio-visual learning center. The statement said it wouldn't be wise to post "materials online which could place us in a position of appearing to be critical of actions of the Board of Trustees of a sister agency."

"[Southwestern Seminary Paige Patterson] made the decision not to continue the video-streaming of this message lest uninformed people believe that Pastor McKissic’s view on the gift of tongues as 'ecstatic utterance' is the view of the majority of our people at Southwestern."

The seminary also guided those interested to two resources that argue the gift of tongues isn't for today: a chapel sermon Patterson preached last spring and a book, "My Search for Charismatic Reality," by Neil Babcox.
--30--
Following is Southwestern Seminary's full statement:

"Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary is honored to have Rev. W. Dwight McKissic as a trustee. We were also honored to have him in chapel this morning. All messages preached in Southwestern’s chapel are available for purchase by contacting Audio-Visual Learning Center at Roberts Library 817-923-1921 ext. 2920.

"On the other hand, while Southwestern does not instruct its chapel speakers about what they can or cannot say, neither do we feel that there is wisdom in posting materials online which could place us in a position of appearing to be critical of actions of the Board of Trustees of a sister agency. Any trustee or faculty member is free to communicate his concerns to the boards of sister agencies, but it is difficult to imagine a circumstance that would merit public criticism of the actions of a sister board.

"Furthermore, though most of Rev. McKissic’s message represented a position with which most people at Southwestern would be comfortable, Rev. McKissic’s interpretation of tongues as 'ecstatic utterance' is not a position that we suspect would be advocated by most faculty or trustees. In keeping with Baptist convictions regarding religious liberty, we affirm Rev. McKissic’s right to believe and advocate his position. Equally in keeping with our emphasis of religious liberty we reserve the right not to disseminate openly views which we fear may be harmful to the churches.

"For these two reasons stated above the President made the decision not to continue the video-streaming of this message lest uninformed people believe that Pastor McKissic’s view on the gift of tongues as 'ecstatic utterance' is the view of the majority of our people at Southwestern.

"Those who wish to read further in this area are welcome to contact Southwestern for resources on either side of the issue including the President’s message on the subject of tongues delivered last Spring and the book 'A Search for Charismatic Reality' written by a former charismatic pastor who presents a view we commend to our students."
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