The great disservice…

With two meetings and a funeral today, I will not be posting my full response to the SWBTS actions and President Patterson’s comments until tomorrow. However, I will comment immediately on the great disservice that Patterson has done to Dwight McKissic.

Newspapers all over the nation are now carrying the story about the censorship of Dwight McKissic and Patterson’s statement regarding tongues. At this point, Patterson has been effective in labeling Dwight McKissic’s theology as Pentecostal/Neo-Charismatic. The only problem with this label is that it does not fit. Dwight McKissic is as Pentecostal as he is Caucasian. Yesterday on a 100.7FM, Scott Wilder’s call in show had a few people express concern that McKissic was teaching that “tongues was necessary evidence” of the Holy Spirit. But those of us who have actually heard McKissic’s sermon know that he repudiated such a view with clarity and certainty.

Paige Patterson, however, has censored McKissic’s sermon and kept the interested public from judging the man’s theology for themselves. “We must test the spirits,” Patterson said. On this point, he is correct.

But how can people “test” anything McKissic said when they are unable to hear it for themselves? I suppose we are supposed to trust Patterson’s judgment on such matters. If he “tests the spirits,” that is sufficient. Of course, we cannot “test” Patterson’s spirit on this matter, to see if his characterization of McKissic is accurate or reliable because we don’t get to hear McKissic for ourselves. And by “we,” I mean the general public who now has a burgeoning interest in this issue.

A great disservice is done to truth when censorship of religious speech occurs. Patterson has injured the Baptist doctrine of religious liberty, not advanced it. He has intentionally appropriated the epithet “Pentecostal” to describe Dwight McKissic’s view, aware of how unpalatable that word is to Southern Baptists. This, Patterson knows, will jade the public…so long as they cannot hear Dwight’s repudiation of Pentecostal theology for themselves.

This morning I will contact Dwight McKissic and urge him to release the audio/video of his chapel sermon on his own website. Surely Patterson won’t invoke copyright laws to keep McKissic from doing so? Until that time, however, I offer the following excerpts from McKissic’s sermon on August 29, 2006:

It is my belief that you cannot look to Acts for a fixed formula or a definite pattern as to how one receives the gift of the Holy Spirit. No one has the Spirit of God in a box. It is my belief that Pentecost instituted the Church, then all that remained was for Samaritans, Gentiles, Ethiopians, and Jews who were unaware of the gospel to be brought into the church representatively. This occurred in Acts 8 for Samaritans and Ethiopians; Acts 10 for Gentiles; and Acts 19 for the belated believers from John’s baptism. Once this representative baptism with the Holy Spirit had occurred the normal pattern applied. Baptism with the Spirit at the time that each person, of whatever background, believed on Jesus Christ. Baptism with the Holy Spirit is the initial experience of every believer at conversion

And again:

Now the question that many of you will have to deal with when you pastor and people join your church from various backgrounds, influenced by television ministries and what have you, is the question, “Is speaking in tongues the evidence of being baptized with the Holy Spirit?”

That’s the question that every future pastor here will have to deal with. It’s something you will have to work out in your own theological pilgrimage. And the answer to that question, based on biblical authority, as far as I’m concerned, is “no.” Speaking in tongues is not the evidence of being baptized with the Holy Spirit.

However, I believe it is not the gift of the Holy Spirit, but the Bible makes it clear that for some it is a gift that God chooses to give to believers.

One more time:

Now, I don’t believe that tongue-speaking is the evidence of the filling of the Spirit. Most of the religious scandals of our time have been led by men who practiced speaking in tongues. They certainly were not living a life that showed the evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit.

But 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. That to me is contrary to what many of our foremost Baptist thinkers and leaders think.

In case you missed it:

So, I don’t believe it’s the evidence, but I’m here to say that as the Spirit gives me utterance I pray in tongues in my private prayer life, and I’m not ashamed of that. I’m thankful for that. I don’t believe it makes me spiritual or superior or inferior to anybody. I have no prejudice or bias against tongues; however, I must stand on biblical truth and not popular opinion.

I do believe that all spiritual gifts listed in Scripture are operable today, and by the grace of God some Christians will experience the gift of tongues when filled with the Holy Spirit, although the teaching that all Christians should experience speaking in tongues as evidence of being baptized in the Holy Ghost is unscriptural. The Scripture does not preclude speaking in tongues for some when they are filled with the Holy Spirit.

As the Spirit rushes into the corners of their lives, awakening new desires for prayer and praise, speaking in tongues will naturally flow forward in some. Whatever your spiritual gift is, if you are filled with the Holy Spirit, that gift will be used to the maximum.

Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 12:13 that all believers are baptized by the Holy Spirit, but he also makes it clear 1 Corinthians 12:30 that all do not speak with tongues. Now since all Christians do not speak in tongues, it cannot be the proof of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.