Are We Reading the Same Bible?

04 Jun

Sometimes I wonder if I am reading the same Bible as my Southern Baptist brethren (that phrase just sounds so “holy”). Dr. Yarnell, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology at SWBTS, posted a comment on J.D. Grear’s blog about the recent statement of some former IMB trustees to reverse the guidelines about baptism and private prayer. You can go to J.D.’s blog to get the whole context, but I will quote a small section. Dr. Yarnell wrote,

“Scripture does not consider private prayer language to be a spiritual gift, so the issue should not really matter one way or another. Yet, unfortunately, PPL has become a problem, hasn’t it? The only reason that PPL has become a matter of controversy is that some want to push what is a non-biblical practice (and therefore a matter of no consequence) on others as somehow biblical or even necessary (therefore making it a matter of consequence). There are some who assert that PPL is a biblically-defined spiritual gift, but most Baptists (correctly) do not.”

With all due respect to Dr. Yarnell who has much more education than I will ever attain to and who writes with more depth, eloquence, and understanding than I ever will, I can’t help but wonder if we are reading the same Bible. As I read 1 Corinthians 14, where Paul gives the most significant treatment of the issue of tongues and prayer, he makes the following points:

  1. Tongues is communication from persons to God, not from persons to other people (14.2)
  2. Tongues is not understood by those who hear unless there is an interpretation (14.2,5)
  3. Those who speak in tongues edify themselves, not the whole church (14.4)
  4. Prophesy is more beneficial for the church because the whole church can be edified (14.5)
  5. When we pray in a tongue, our spirit prays but our mind is unfruitful (14.14)
  6. Paul will continue to pray (and sing) with both his mind and with his spirit (14.15)
  7. But, in the church, it is more edifying to prophesy than to pray in tongues (14.19)
  8. However, it is OK to practice the gift of tongues in the church if an interpreter is present (14.27)
  9. If there is not an interpreter present, than the one who speaks in a tongue should do so privately, to himself and to God (14.28 )
  10. The church should not forbid the speaking in tongues (14.39)

So, Paul appears to be saying that tongues should be practiced in the church only if there is one with the gift of interpretation present (12.27). Otherwise, it should be practiced in ones private (to himself) prayer (to God) life. That is where the phrase “private prayer language” comes from. It is not a “non-biblical practice” and it is a “spiritual gift.”

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Posted by on June 4, 2008 in Uncategorized



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