Monday, November 28, 2005

Tradition or Theology?

I read some disturbing news today. The International Mission Board trustees have approved some new policies for the selection of missionaries. The policies can be found at this link: http://www.imb.org/core/story.asp?storyID=3487&Language%20ID=1709 The policies pertain to speaking in tongues and baptism.

The first policy states that "In terms of worship practices, the majority of Southern Baptist churches do not practice glossolalia (speaking in tongues)." And "In terms of general practice, the majority of Southern Baptists do not accept what is referred to as ‘private prayer language," "Therefore, if ‘private prayer language’ is an ongoing part of his or her conviction and practice, the candidate has eliminated himself or herself from being a representative of the IMB of the SBC." The problem I have with this policy is that church practice is now determining the policies of SBC institutions. In this news article there is no Scripture cited. The evidence given for this policy is that it is the practice in the majority of SBC churches. This seems backward to me. Should Scripture determine the policies of SBC institutions? I think so. I can only think that the IMB has declared that the "perfect" has already come, since tongues have now "passed away." (1 Corinthians 13:8-10)

The second policy on baptism "establishes that candidates must have been baptized in a Southern Baptist church or in a church of another denomination that practices believer’s baptism by immersion alone. Also, the baptism must not be viewed as sacramental or regenerative, and the church must embrace the doctrine of the security of the believer." Now everything in this statement sounds good up until the last phrase. Sure, believers should be baptized by immersion. Baptism should not be viewed as sacramental or regenerative. But, when does the doctrine of the security of the believer, or lack thereof, become a factor in whether a believer's baptism is valid or not. There is no evidence in Scripture for this statement. I think that the statement arises from the idea that there must be a "proper administrator" to baptize someone, an idea also foreign from Scripture. Who can administer baptism to someone else? I believe the Scripture says that any believer can. Matthew 28:19-20 was not addressed to pastors or staff members, but to all believers. Therefore, the qualification to baptize someone is to be a believer. Can someone be a believer and not understand that they are secure in their salvation? Absolutely. My wife is a perfect example. She did not come to understand the security of her salvation until several months after she was saved. Can the members of a church teach that believers are not secure in their salvation and still be saved? Absolutely. Therefore, the baptism being administered is still valid, regardless of the poor teaching on the security of the believer. Now don't misunderstand me, I do believe that believers are secure in their salvation by the power of God. But, I do not think that it is essential to hold to this doctrine to be saved.

So why the change in the IMB? I do not understand why policies are being approved that have no grounding in Scripture. May God help us to always make His Word the foundation of everything we practice.

2 comments:

M.D. said...

It is my opinion that the reasoning behind the IMB policy is not a matter of administrator since they open it to other denominations and they do not specify anything about the person actually performing the baptism. I think the policy targets whether the applicant was saved at the time of his/her baptism. This is supported by their other qualifications: “Also, the baptism must not be viewed as sacramental or regenerative.” The implication of the policy is that the applicant was not saved at the time of his/her baptism because of their lack of understanding of the gospel. The question then is: how much does one have to understand of the gospel before on is saved?

A.K. said...

The link is not active any longer. I went to the IMB web site, but could not find the article. What concerns me is the reasoning for some of the decisions. Apparently the new procedures were put in place because of the normal practice of SBC churches. I would like to see the scriptural basis for these decisions.