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Southern Baptist Seminary Bars Speaking in Tongues

Trustees at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary have put it in writing: They will not tolerate any promotion of speaking in tongues on their campus.
( [email protected] ) Oct 18, 2006 08:09 PM EDT

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) – Trustees at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary have put it in writing: They will not tolerate any promotion of speaking in tongues on their campus.

The 36-1 vote Tuesday came nearly two months after the Rev. Dwight McKissic of Arlington said during a chapel service that he sometimes speaks in tongues while praying. University President Paige Patterson responded by not allowing the video of McKissic's sermon to be posted online or saved in the seminary's archives.

McKissic, a new trustee at the Fort Worth school, passed the lone dissenting vote on the resolution.

It states: "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."

McKissic called for the Southern Baptist Convention to weigh in on the matter. John Revell, spokesman for the SBC's executive committee, did not immediately return a phone call from The Associated Press on Wednesday.

In McKissic's sermon at the school's chapel, he describes experiencing a "private prayer language."

Leaders at the seminary have said the statement conflicts with the SBC's International Mission Board, which voted in November to ban missionaries from speaking in tongues in private. Previously, missionaries were discouraged from speaking in tongues publicly, but private prayer was not monitored.

The controversy has erupted as some Baptist churches become more accepting of charismatic forms of worship.

Speaking in tongues is common among Pentecostals, whose more exuberant brand of Christianity is spreading in the United States and in foreign countries where Southern Baptist missionaries work.

"I have opposed (speaking in tongues) for all of these years because I think it's an erroneous interpretation of the Bible," Patterson said. "Southern Baptists traditionally have stood against what we feel like are the excesses of the charismatic movement. All we're doing is restating where we've always been."

Patterson said he defends the right of other Christians to believe in speaking in tongues.

"But don't wear a Yankee uniform when you play for the Mets," he said.

The Rev. Eric Redmond of Temple Hills, Md., a board member, said trustees made the right decision.

"We interpret the scriptures in such a way that we do not see room for a private prayer language and we're saying we will not waver on that," Redmond said.

Although it has been a painful experience, McKissic said he has no plans to resign as a trustee of the seminary. He said he has received many supportive e-mails and phone calls from like-minded Baptists.

"My flesh wants to quit, but the spirit of God tells me that I've been called to this hour to do this," he said.

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