Texas Seminary: No Speaking in Tongues

New York Times/October 19, 2006

Fort Worth, Texas -- Trustees at a Baptist 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 at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary that he sometimes speaks in tongues while praying.

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."

Seminary President Paige Patterson did not allow a videotape of McKissic's sermon to be posted online or saved in the seminary's archives with the sermons of all chapel speakers.

McKissic called for the Southern Baptist Convention to weigh in on the matter.

Asked whether the convention would make a statement, SBC executive committee spokesman John Revell told The Associated Press by e-mail: "We will all find out the answer to that question in June when Southern Baptist messengers gather in San Antonio for their annual convention."

During his sermon at the school's chapel, McKissic described experiencing a "private prayer language."

Seminary leaders have said the McKissic's comment 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.

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 told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "Southern Baptists traditionally have stood against what we feel like are the excesses of the charismatic movement."

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

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