Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Speaking in Tongues...Privately

In his article "A Biblical Basis for Speaking in Tongues Privately" dated July 9, 2013, Mr. McKissic calls for the SBC to drop its anti-tongues policy in favor of a more neutral policy.  He states that he does "not believe that it is God's will based on His word for all believers to speak in tongues", but he argues that (1) Jesus affirmed speaking in tongues, (2) the apostles spoke in tongues at Pentecost, and (3) Paul affirmed speaking in tongues as a private devotion.  In summary, his "point is that private prayers often take on a different style and nature then [sic] public prayers"; therefore, his unstated conclusion (which I had to guess at based on his title) is that  instead of continuing their cessationist stance, the SBC should allow its members to speak in tongues privately.

I agree that Jesus told his apostles that speaking with new tongues would be a sign in Mark 16:17, although, I do find it ironic that this verse is used as support because this portion of the Book of Mark is omitted or placed in a footnote in the more 'literal and accurate' modern Bible versions.  I also agree that the apostles spoke in tongues at Pentecost (Acts 2:4).  However, I disagree with his non-cessasionist stance and with his argument that Paul affirmed tongues for private devotion.

First, the idea of cessationism is biblical.  1 Corinthians 13:8-10 states  "Charity never faileth; but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part.  But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away."  

Tongues will cease when the perfect comes.  What is the perfect thing to come?  Since the word 'perfect' in the Greek is a neuter substantive, then it cannot refer to Jesus (which would be masculine) or His coming (which would be feminine); therefore, it's referring to the inscripurated Revelation or the finished work of the Old and New Testament, the Holy Bible.  Therefore, the giftings were gone once God's Word was complete, and we now abide in faith, hope, and charity (verse 13).  Charity (sacrificial love) is the greatest because it will continue forever, while faith will turn to sight (2 Cor. 5:6-7), and hope will be fulfilled (Rom. 8:22-25) when Jesus returns.

Second, Mr. McKissic states that Paul affirmed speaking in tongues as a private devotion and uses 1 Corinthians 14:2 as his support:  "For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto me, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries."

However, the setting of Chapter 14 is a public worship service, not a private prayer closet.  Paul's primary goal is to edify the church officers.  He shows the necessity of understanding in verses 6 through 14.  He directs the officers to to come prepared in verse 26.  In verse 33, he reminds them that God is not the author of confusion.  Finally, he commands that all things be done decently and in order in verse 40.  God's word is not rightly divided when you pull one verse out of context to support your position.

Finally, Mr. McKissic states that our "prayers are often prayed with words understood, words not understood and even without words."  Romans 8:26 states "...but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered."  The Bible clearly states that it is the Spirit who prays with groanings that cannot be uttered, not the believer.  In addition, I Corinthians 14:27 specifically indicates that an unknown tongue must be interpreted by another, which cannot be done alone in a prayer closet.

Mr. McKissic's lack of logical flow and sloppy hermeneutics do not encourage cohesiveness in the SBC, and his article continues to promote factions based on personal preference.  According to Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (from his volume on 2 Peter), true preaching is "preaching which is concerned to expound the Word of God and not merely to express the ideas of the preacher, preaching which is not merely topical and intended to suit the popular palate and condition prevailing at the moment."