The recent ban on speaking in tongues at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has not discouraged the one trustee who voted against it. Instead, the Rev. Dwight McKissic said, "Praise God!"
"Praise God," McKissic told The Christian Post on Friday. "The seminary is being clear, forthright, honest; and this could lead to the Southern Baptist Convention ... clarifying where we stand on this issue."
The seminary's trustees voted 36-1 on Tuesday not to endorse charismatic practices including "private prayer language" and neither to employ those who promote such practices.
The Southern Baptist Convention has yet to adopt a formal position on spiritual gifts, however, and McKissic had requested for its adoption when the Executive Committee met in September. His request was not addressed at the meeting and the committee spokesman had pointed to at least another two years before a formal adoption could be made.
Although many Southern Baptist leaders have expressed their disapproval of speaking in tongues, McKissic is convinced that the people in the pews would approve of it.
"I'm absolutely convinced if this (speaking in tongues) could be voted on by the Southern Baptist people in the pews on Sunday morning, it would win hands down," he highlighted.
He added, however, that most of the lay people do not attend the annual SBC convention and it is mainly attended by "the elite."
Following the decision on the ban, McKissic received four e-mails from students who said they are considering leaving the seminary because "they disagree with the position that the trustees took."
"It's upsetting to them," he commented, adding that he hopes they don't leave the school over this situation.
Further commenting on the vote, McKissic called it "charisphobia."
The controversy over charismatic practices began when McKissic had spoke of experiencing private prayer language nearly two months ago at the seminary's chapel service. The sermon sparked debate among Southern Baptist leaders saying it conflicts with the SBC's International Mission Board, which banned missionaries from speaking private prayer language.
Although McKissic was aware of the "liberal" stance many Southern Baptist leaders had on speaking in tongues, he said he believed that God put that specific message in his heart to preach that day.
"I did not expect it to get this level of response," he commented, "but I believe God wanted this dialogue in Southern Baptist life and He used this message to help this dialogue to go forward."
While the ban stated that the seminary will not employ those who promote charismatic practices, there has been no informal discussion or dialogue for the dismissal of McKissic, according to Eric Redmond, the first African-American trustee at the seminary.
"His trusteeship is larger than this one issue," said Redmond, according to the Baptist Press.
Although the seminary trustee disagrees with some of McKissic's statements on charismatic practices, he said: "We’re here to help make the best school for training men and women to preach the Gospel throughout the earth and make disciples strong and healthy in their churches. Private prayer language may only be one small part of that and so if Rev. McKissic can agree to disagree, yet be agreeable in the practice with all other issues pertaining to the seminary, then there is still a great place for him at the table."