Hold Your Tongue

Friday's Fort Worth Star Telegram contains an article about Paige Patterson's (president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) reaction to a chapel sermon by an Arlington pastor who mentioned during the sermon that he sometimes speaks in tongues when he prays.


Southern Baptist leaders are sprinting to their computers to blog about whether or not tongues and other sign gifts are "for today," and whether or not Paige Patteson is acting outside his authority to delete the sermon transcript and video from online records. In fact, everything I've read centers on whether or not Paige Patterson is treating this pastor fairly. And Patterson is taking quite a bit of heat.

Patterson may very well be wrong here, but not in the way you might think. The biggest "wrong" Patterson may have committed was inviting this pastor to speak at chapel in the first place.

This pastor was knowingly and willfully diviscive in delivering this sermon, and he deserves the lion's share of the heat. This issue has been debated vigorously in Baptist circles, and it is clear where Patterson (and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary under his leadership) stands on the issue. What was this pastor hoping to prove?

If you're hopping on your computer to lambast Dr. Patterson, you might contribute a paragraph or two to the complete lack of wisdom on this pastor's part.

It's one thing to have a position contrary to the norm and speak about it in your own church circle, as Henderson Hills did recently. It's another thing to go into a place where you know you will cause conflict and division and speak out anyway. Especially on a non-essential issue.

Who of us would go to Dallas Theological Seminary and slip in a statement about how "dispensationalists are all wet?" Who would go to The Masters Seminary and make a statement about how we think "lordship salvation is silly?" Who would go to a contemporary church service and casually mention that "drums are of the devil?"

If I know my convictions on a non-essential issue are in conflict with the place where I'll be preaching, I have two choices: (1) Decline their invitation to preach, (2) Speak from one of the thousands of texts that do not force me to be diviscive. The option of being a sacrificial lamb for a splinter issue should not even cross my mind.

It seems to me that if you're going to camp out on a peripheral issue in 1 Corinthians 14, you ought to take the time to read the whole book. 1 Corinthians 8 would have been a great passage for this pastor to read before he chose to send the Southern Baptists into yet another tizzy.

How's Your Rock Collection?

If you've known Kari and I for very long, you may have heard us talk about our rock collection. No, we don't have a bucket of gravel in the garage that we gaze at from time to time. As far as I know, we don't have one single rock on display anywhere in our house. But make no mistake, we have a rock collection, and it's worth more than you could give us for it.

Allow me to explain.

In the Old Testament, when the situation was bleak, and God showed up in a big way, those who were involved had a "tradition" of setting up rocks as memorials to God's faithfulness during those times. Jacob did it after he had his famous "Jacob's ladder" dream in Genesis 28. He set up the stone pillow he had been sleeping on as a memorial so that he would always remember that God was in that place.

When God defeated the Philistine army using a thunderstorm, Samual set up a rock and called it "Ebenezer" saying "this far the Lord has helped us." (1 Samuel 7)

Joshua is another example. When the Israelite people crossed over the Jordan river on dry ground en route to the Promised Land, Joshua stacked 12 river boulders on top of each other so that when their descendants ask "What do these stones mean," the Israelites could recount the story of God's faithfulness despite difficult times (Joshua 4).

Kari and I don't own a single rock, but we've got a tremendous rock collection. You should too. There's no encouragement like the encouragement of looking back and seeing the hundreds of places God has been faithful in the past, even despite difficult circumstances.

So start your own rock collection, beginning today. Put it down on paper so that you, just like Joshua, can tell your grandkids "that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God."