Dear South Carolina Baptists,
I take very seriously the task and the responsibility of serving as one of three South Carolina Baptist trustees with the International Mission Board. I am in my second year, with still much to learn.
In my first year of serving, the recommendations concerning a new candidate’s baptismal experience and the practice of what is referred to as a “private prayer language” were presented. At that time, the subjects were still in review. From the beginning, I was opposed to the guidelines. In fact, I told the trustees that if they continued and made these guideline changes, they would “open a can of worms” in Baptist life. My prediction seems to have come true.
As a Southern Baptist, I do not believe the gift of speaking in tongues is a gift to be used today. We as Southern Baptists have taken a stand over the years and must continue to do so concerning the tongues issue. However, I feel there is scriptural support for “a private prayer language” based on Romans 8:26.
I do not agree with the guideline concerning baptism, which states in part that a candidate’s baptism must take place in a church that practices believer’s baptism by immersion alone and that the church must embrace the doctrine of the security of the believer. Again, as a Baptist, I believe the New Testament teaches only one mode of baptism, and that is by immersion. I believe in the eternal security of the believer. I agree our Southern Baptist missionaries must also.
Neither we as a denomination nor our missionaries are “on an island by ourselves.” We work very closely with other Christian denominations, and together we are seeing tremendous numbers of people turning to Christ. My personal conviction is that we be very careful and not do anything to hinder our cooperating efforts to reach a lost world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.