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Way of Life Literature

Publisher of Bible Study Materials

Way of Life Bible College
Charismatic Southern Baptists
Enlarged January 12, 2009 (first published April 3, 1999)
David Cloud, Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061
The charismatic movement is a part of the Southern Baptist religious melting pot. Though a few churches and individual missionaries have been put out of the Convention for charismatic doctrine and practice, many others remain, and the number appears to be increasing.

In Christianity Today, May 16, 1986, Pastor Don LeMaster of the West Lauderdale Baptist Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, estimated that five percent of SBC congregations were openly charismatic at that time. That number has probably increased during the past years.

Charisma magazine, March 1999, contained a report entitled “Shaking Southern Baptist Tradition,” which gave many examples of charismatic Southern Baptist congregations.

A 2008 report in the Associated Baptist Press estimated that 500 SBC churches are charismatic (“Charismatic Southern Baptists See Themselves Open to Spiritual Gifts,” ABP, Nov. 20, 2008).

In 1995, two professors at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, told Baptist Press that Southern Baptists shouldn’t fear the charismatic movement. “We shouldn’t feel defensive or threatened by an alternative experience, perspective or insights about the Holy Spirit,” said William Hendricks, director of Southern’s doctoral studies program. Churches should not be making a big issue of the movement, he added, because “you could be fighting what is a legitimate experience of the Spirit.” Tim Weber, professor of church history, agreed: “Most charismatics take the Bible as seriously as Southern Baptists, although they read it differently,” he said. The professors also said Southern Baptists shouldn’t divide charismatics into a separate “camp,” since their influence has touched the 15 million-member Southern Baptist Convention. ... The professors believe the time has arrived for a more reasoned approach to charismatics and dialogue with them (Charisma, April 1995, p. 79).

Three of the men that are associated with the charismatic move within the SBC are Jack Taylor, Ron Phillips, and Gary Folds, all of whom accepted the unscriptural nonsense that occurred at the Toronto Airport Church in Ontario and/or at Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola, Florida. This “revival” takes the form of uncontrollable laughter, falling on the floor, barking like a dog and roaring like a lion, spiritual drunkenness, electric shocks, weird shaking, and other bizarre experiences.

Jack Taylor is a former vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Taylor was converted to the “Toronto Blessing” when he visited there in 1994. Since then he has spoken frequently on the radical Trinity Broadcasting Network and similar Charismatic forums. He founded Dimension Ministries and is busy influencing Southern Baptists and others with his unscriptural doctrines.

Ron Phillips is pastor of Central Baptist Church of Hixson, Tennessee. His annual Fresh Oil & New Wine Conference, which features speakers such as Rodney Howard-Browne, the “Holy Ghost Bartender,” draws hundreds of Southern Baptist pastors and church members. The church uses the charismatic rock-style music and is experiencing charismatic phenomena. Southern Baptist Pastor Dwain Miller of Second Baptist Church in El Dorado, Arkansas, prophesied to Phillips that God would use him “to bring renewal to the SBC’s 41,000 churches.” He was referring to a charismatic “renewal,” which is always accompanied by unscriptural ecumenical fervor and downplaying of Bible doctrine. In March 2006, Phillips told the Tennessean newspaper that he first experienced speaking in tongues when he was sleeping. He said his wife woke him up and said, “What in the world are you saying?” He concluded that it was a gift from God to encourage him (“Some Baptists Believe Gift of Tongues Remain,” The Tennessean, March 26). He says that he continues to speak in tongues in his “private prayers.” Of course, there is not a hint of something like this in the New Testament Scriptures.

The Fresh Oil & New Wine Conference for 2007 featured radical charismatic speakers such as John Kilpatrick, who led the “Brownsville Outpouring” in the 1990s as the pastor of the Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola, Florida. When the “outpouring” began in June 1995 Kilpatrick fell to the floor and lay there almost four hours. He said, “When I hit that floor, it felt like I weighed 10,000 pounds. I knew something supernatural was happening” (Charisma, June 1996). Supernatural, yes; Holy Spirit, no!!! Kilpatrick got so “drunk in the spirit” at times that men in the church had to haul him out of the church auditorium in a wheelchair, carry him home, and help inside the house. He told of trying to drive in this drunken condition and running into garbage cans and backing into another automobile. On one occasion Kilpatrick fell onto the platform and a woman from the “worship team” fell into his arms and they lay on the platform in a drunken stupor together. He laughingly tells this story on an audio cassette that I have. It is definitely not the Holy Spirit who causes that kind of moral temptation and confusion. “Spiritual jerking” was also a feature of the “Brownsville Outpouring.”

Gary Folds is pastor of the First Baptist Church in Belle Glade, Florida. He has written a book promoting the Toronto “Blessing” entitled “Bull in a China Shop: A Baptist Pastor Runs into God at Toronto.” He describes being “slain” in the Spirit and other such things. Following is how he described the meetings he attended: “Some people would simply lay on the floor as though they were sleeping … Others would writhe in what appeared to be anguish, pain, or possibly agony. Some would twitch, while others shook, and some would even have convulsive-type jerking. Many would cry, while an even greater number would laugh … Many of them would laugh for an hour or longer. One night I saw people laugh for almost two and a half hours.”

James Robison is another example of SBC charismatics. The once fiery evangelist used to lift his voice against sin and apostasy, but those days are over. In 1979, he had some sort of charismatic experience. That same year he spoke at an Assembly of God church. By 1981, he had completely gone over to the ecumenical charismatic-Roman Catholic line. That was the year he first invited a Roman Catholic to speak at his Bible conference. Robison was so comfortable with the ecumenical program by 1987 that he joined hands with 20,000 Roman Catholics, including hundreds of priests and nuns, at New Orleans ‘87. At this meeting, Robison made the following amazing statement: “I tell you what, one of the finest representatives of morality in this earth right now is the Pope. People who know it really believe he is a born again man.” I was at this meeting with press credentials and personally recorded the message from which this excerpt is taken. Robison remains affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention and has influenced many Southern Baptists in the charismatic direction.

Another example is the Missouri-based evangelist Bill Sharples. He resigned a Southern Baptist pastorate after accepting the tongues-speaking movement, but 25% of his meetings are in SBC churches. He claims that 15 to 20 percent of Southern Baptists that he meets are open to the Charismatic movement.

Billy Graham is another Southern Baptist who has recommended tongues and charismatic signs and wonders. In his 1978 book, The Holy Spirit, he “endorsed laying on of hands, divine healing and tongues.” He said: “As we approach the end of the age I believe we will see a dramatic recurrence of signs and wonders, which will demonstrate the power of God to a skeptical world.” Graham even promoted the false charismatic prophet Oral Roberts. Graham spoke at the dedication ceremony of Oral Roberts University in 1962. Later that year Graham joined Oral Roberts as a speaker at the July 1962 convention of the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International in Seattle, Washington. Graham invited Roberts to the World Congress on Evangelism in 1966 and recommended him to influential Evangelical leaders.

Pat Robertson is another example. In the late 1950s he became involved in the Pentecostal movement and began “speaking in tongues.” He established the Christian Broadcasting Network in 1960, and that same year was ordained by the Freemason Street Baptist Church in Norfolk, Virginia, a Southern Baptist congregation. A few years later he formed the “700 Club,” which spread ecumenical and charismatic doctrine far and wide. He still claims to be affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. Speaking at Celebration 2000 in St. Louis, Missouri, Robertson testified that though he is a Baptist, he sees the need for Roman Catholic charismatics to visit Baptist churches in order to teach the Baptists how to dance and worship God.

Another charismatic Southern Baptist is Pastor Wallace Henley, Crossroads Baptist Church, Houston, Texas. His church practices tongues speaking, and he supports the “revival” at the Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola, Florida, where the pastor gets so “drunk in the spirit” that he cannot lead the congregation. Henley claims that those who are opposed to the charismatic movement are “pharisaical” and “mean-spirited.”

Another charismatic Southern Baptist church is Riverside Church of Shreveport, Louisiana. Pastor Lee Jenkins received a Pentecostal experience in 1998 and led the church into full blown Pentecostalism, losing a large percentage of the congregation in the process. The church dropped the name “Baptist” but remained a part of the SBC. In 2000 the church supported Rodney Howard-Browne’s Good News Shreveport-Bossier conference (“Southern Baptist Pastor in Louisiana Opens Door for Charismatic Renewal,” Charisma, July 2000).

In November 2005 the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board voted to forbid missionaries to speak in tongues, but Jerry Rankin, the head of the board, says that he has spoken in a “private prayer language” for 30 years!

Speaking at a chapel service on August 29, 2006, Dwight McKissic, a trustee of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, told the students that he speaks in tongues in his “private prayer life” (“Southwestern Trustee’s Sermon on Tongues Prompts Response,” Baptist Press, Aug. 30, 2006). McKissic, who is the pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church, an SBC congregation in Arlington, Texas, said he has prayed in tongues since 1981. The first time, he says, was when he was a seminary student. He recalls, “Strange sounds begin to come out of my mouth” (“Southern Baptists Debate Tongues,”, October 07, 2006).

In support of the doctrine of a “private prayer language” McKissic sited the teaching of New Testament professor Siegfried Schatzmann of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (“Texas Pastor Calls for BF&M Statement on Tongues,” Baptist Press, Sept. 19, 2006).

Missionary David Rogers, son of the late Adrian Rogers, SAID HE WORKS WITH MANY MISSIONARIES WHO PRACTICE PRIVATE TONGUES (“Baptists Are Caught up in Controversy Again,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, March 11, 2006).

Charles Carroll, SBC missionary to Singapore who was dismissed by the Southern Baptist International Mission Board in 1995 because of his charismatic activities, testified that many
Southern Baptists living overseas are charismatic, but most remain “in the closet” for fear of being fired (“Baptist Missionaries in the Closet,” Charisma, March 1999, p. 72).

A 2007 study by LifeWay Research indicates that half of Southern Baptist pastors believe that the Holy Spirit gives some people a “special prayer language” today. More than 400 Southern Baptist pastors were contacted by phone and asked, “Do you believe that the Holy Spirit gives some people the gift of a special language to pray to God privately? Some people refer to this as a Private Prayer Language or the ‘private use of tongues.’” The replies were 50% “Yes”; 43% “No”; and 7% “Don’t know” (“LifeWay Released Prayer Language Study,” Baptist Press, June 1, 2007).

Thus, it appears that this is not a small issue or one that will go away any time soon. Rankin and those supporting his position are trying to distinguish between public tongues and private, saying that while they are opposed to public tongues they believe there is a private form of tongues that one can use to edify oneself. In fact, biblical tongues are biblical tongues. The tongues of Acts are the tongues of 1 Corinthians 14. They were real languages that a believer could speak supernaturally. They were a sign to the nation Israel that God was going to send the gospel to every nation and create a new spiritual body composed of both Jews and Gentiles (1 Cor. 14:20-22, quoted Isaiah 28:11-13). Each time tongues were spoken in Acts (Acts 2, 8, 10, 19) Jews were present. As the prophet Isaiah foretold, the Jews rejected the sign and were judged. Its purpose ceased even before the events recorded in the book of Acts were completed. The last mention of tongues is in Acts 19. The sign, having been fulfilled, ceased. When John Chrysostom wrote in the 4th century about the sign gifts of 1 Corinthians 12-14, he said: “This whole place is very obscure: but the obscurity is produced by our ignorance of the facts referred to, and BY THEIR CESSATION, being such as then used to occur but now no longer take place” (“Homilies on 1 Corinthians,” Vol. XII, The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Hom. 29:2). There is no “private prayer language” in the New Testament. It is the recent invention of Pentecostals and Charismatics who, having realized that they cannot speak in real tongues that can be interpreted (one of the absolute biblical requirements), were forced either to renounce their experience or to create some sort of cockeyed defense for it. There is not one example of a prayer in the Bible that is uttered in unintelligible mutterings that “bypass the intellect.” Jesus Christ did not pray that way and neither did the apostles. I have heard Charismatics speak in their “private prayer language” in churches and conferences in many parts of the world. Larry Lea’s “private prayer language” at Indianapolis ’90 went something like this: “Bubblyida bubblyida hallelujah bubblyida hallabubbly shallabubblyida kolabubblyida glooooory hallelujah bubblyida.” I wrote that down as he was saying it and later checked it against the tape. Nancy Kellar, a Roman Catholic nun who was on the executive committee of St. Louis 2000, spoke in “tongues” that went like this: “Shananaa leea, shananaa higha, shananaa nanaa, shananaa leea…” repeated over and over.

Friends, this is not any sort of biblical prayer; it is childish nonsense, but it is neither innocent nor lacking in spiritual danger. The Bible warns repeatedly and forcefully about the danger of spiritual deception, and those who empty their minds through the practice of a “private prayer language” are in danger of the devil filling them.

The Southern Baptist Convention would do well to cleanse itself of all charismatic practices, but this does not appear to be in the cards. How ridiculous is it to forbid missionaries to do something that the head of their agency does!

The 2008 Southern Baptist Hymnal contains many songs written by charismatics and published by charismatic music companies such as Integrity, Maranatha, and Hillsong. About 75 of the top 100 contemporary worship songs are included. For example, songs by David Ruis, Paul Baloche, Jack Hayford and Darlene Zschech are included. These popular worship leaders are extreme charismatic ecumenists and contemporary Christian rockers.

David Ruis is a worship leader at the Toronto Airport Church where people roll on the floor, bark like dogs, roar like lions, laugh hysterically, and get “drunk in the spirit” during their “revivals.” Ruis’s song “Break Dividing Walls” calls for unscriptural ecumenical unity between all denominations.

Paul Baloche is worship leader at the charismatic Community Christian Fellowship of Lindale, Texas. Their 2002 Leadership Summit featured Ricky Paris of Vision Ministries International, who calls himself an apostle and is said to give “apostolic covering” to Vision Church of Austin, Texas. Baloche’s Offering of Worship album was recorded at Regent University in Virginia Beach, which was founded by the radical charismatic ecumenist Pat Robertson. As far back as 1985, Robertson said that he “worked for harmony and reconciliation between Protestants and Catholics” (Christian News, July 22, 1985). Some of the Regent professors are Roman Catholic and Regent’s Center for Law and Justice has a Roman Catholic executive director. According to Frontline magazine, May-June 2000, a Catholic mass is held on Regent’s campus every week.

Jack Hayford, author of the song “Majesty” (which teaches the Pentecostal kingdom-now theology) and many other very popular worship songs, is pastor of Church-on-the-Way Foursquare Church, a Pentecostal denominational founded by the female pastor Aimee Semple McPherson. Paul and Jan Crouch, of the Trinity Broadcasting Network are members of Hayford’s church. Speaking at the St. Louis 2000 conference, Hayford told how his daughter approached him one day concerned that her “tongues speaking” was mere gibberish. He encouraged her that the believer must first learn to speak in baby tongues before he speaks in adult tongues. (I attended this conference with press credentials and heard Hayford say this.) To the contrary, biblical tongues-speaking is not something that be learned; it is supernatural gift and there is not one example in the New Testament of someone learning how to speak in tongues. Hayford claims that in 1969, as he approached a large Catholic church in Southern California, God spoke to him and instructed him not to judge Roman Catholicism. He says he heard a message from God saying, “Why would I not be happy with a place where every morning the testimony of the blood of my Son is raised from the altar?” (“The Pentecostal Gold Standard,” Christianity Today, July 2005). Based upon this “personal revelation,” Hayford adopted a neutral approach to Catholicism, yet the atonement of Jesus Christ is NOT glorified on Roman Catholic altars. The Catholic mass is an open denial of the doctrine of the once-for-all atonement that we find in the book of Hebrews. Note what the Vatican II Council said about the mass: “For in it Christ perpetuates in an unbloody manner the sacrifice offered on the cross, offering himself to the Father for the world’s salvation through the ministry of priests” (The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, “Instruction on the Worship of the Eucharistic Mystery,” Intro., C 1, 2, p. 108). This is only a small part of Rome’s wicked heresies, and it is impossible that God would encourage Jack Hayford to look upon the Roman Catholic Church in any sort of positive, non-judgmental manner. Hayford has acted on this “personal revelation” by yoking up with Roman Catholic leaders in conferences throughout the world. For example, he joined hands with thousands of Roman Catholics, including hundreds of Catholic priests and nuns, at the North American Congress on the Holy Spirit & World Evangelization in St. Louis in 2000.

Darlene Zschech and her Hillsong worship band recently performed for the Catholic Youth Day in Sydney, with the Pope present. The lyrics to Zschech’s “Holy Spirit Rain Down” (which is included in the new Baptist Hymnal) begin: “Holy Spirit, rain down, rain down/ Oh, Comforter and Friend/ How we need Your touch again/ Holy Spirit, rain down, rain down.” Where in Scripture are we instructed to pray to the Holy Spirit? To the contrary, the Lord Jesus Christ taught us to pray to the Father (Mat. 6:9). The charismatic movement is not in submission to the Word of God and does not care one way or the other that there is no Scriptural support for this type of prayer, but shame on Baptists who follow in these presumptuous and disobedient footsteps.

Zschech’s song “I Believe the Presence” from her Shout to the Lord album preaches false Pentecostal latter rain theology. The lyrics say: “I believe the promise about the visions and the dreams/ That the Holy Spirit will be poured out/ And His power will be seen/ Well the time is now/ The place is here/ And His people have come in faith/ There’s a mighty sound/ And a touch of fire/ When we’ve gathered in one place” (“I Believe the Presence” from Shout to the Lord).

Shame on Lifeway for giving charismatics a powerful forum to influence Baptist churches, and shame on the Southern Baptist Convention for allowing Lifeway to do these things.

Because the SBC refuses to deal with error consistently, the leaven will spread. The Bible warns that “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” This is true for sin (1 Cor. 5:6) as well as for false doctrine (Gal. 5:9).

For more about the charismatic movement see The Pentecostal-Charismatic Movements: History and Doctrine, which is available from Way of Life Literature.

copyright 2013, Way of Life Literature

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