The Southern Baptist Convention and the Charismatic Movement
Enlarged February 12, 2019 (first published January 13, 2016)
David Cloud, Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061
The charismatic movement has been sweeping through the Southern Baptist Convention since the late 1980s and the pace of spread is increasing with each decade.

In April 1995,
Charisma magazine reported that two professors at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (William Hendricks and Tim Webber) urged the churches not to fear the charismatic movement. Hendricks, director of Southern’s doctoral studies, said, “We shouldn’t feel defensive or threatened by an alternative experience, perspective or insights about the Holy Spirit,” and warned that in fighting the charismatic movement “you could be fighting what is a legitimate experience of the Spirit.”

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

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 charismatic “revival” took the form of gibberish speakings, uncontrollable laughter, falling on the floor, rolling on the floor, barking like a dog, roaring like a lion, braying like a donkey, electric shocks, shakings, jerkings, and other bizarre experiences with no biblical support.

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 phenomenon. Another Southern Baptist pastor, Dwain Miller of Second Baptist Church in El Dorado, Arkansas, has prophesied to Phillips that God would use him “to bring renewal to the SBC’s 41,000 churches.” He is referring to a charismatic “renewal,” which is always accompanied by unscriptural ecumenical fervor and downplaying of Bible doctrine. In 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, 2006). 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. In 2008 Phillips counted 500 churches in his charismatic network (“Charismatic Southern Baptist Churches,” Baptist Standard, Oct. 30, 2008).

Gary Folds is the former pastor of 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 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.”

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, said that he has spoken in a “private prayer language” for 30 years. What confusion!

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).

Missionary David Rogers, son of the late Adrian Rogers, SAID HE WORKS WITH MANY MISSIONARIES WHO PRACTICE PRIVATE TONGUES.

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).

In May 2015, the Southern Baptist International Mission Board reversed its former policy, approving a new one accepting missionaries who speak in “tongues” so long as they don’t become “disruptive” by placing “persistent emphasis on any specific gift of the Spirit as normative for all” (“FAQs on Missionary Appointment Qualifications,” IMB Policy 200-1,

Thus, this is not a small issue. 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, the tongues of Acts are the tongues of 1 Corinthians 14. Biblical tongues were real languages that a believer was enabled to speak supernaturally. Biblical tongues 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, quoting Isaiah 28:11-13). Each time tongues were spoken in the book of Acts (Acts 2, 10, 19) Jews were present. As the prophet Isaiah foretold, the Jews rejected the sign and were judged by God. The purpose of tongues speaking 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 language; 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 that the devil will fill them. Being “sober and vigilant” is the opposite of emptying one’s mind, of “moving outside of the box,” of “letting go and letting God.”

The depth of which the SBC has drunk of the charismatic spirit was evident in December 2015 when SBC President Ronnie Floyd spoke at International House of Prayer’s OneThing 2015 ( IHOP was founded in 1999 by Mike Bickle (b. 1955). He was joined by men such as Bob Jones, John Paul Jackson, Paul Cain, David Parker, and Francis Frangipane, who were promoted as prophets of a latter-day miracle revival movement. Bickle’s emphasis is a Latter Rain signs and wonders ministry in preparation for Christ’s return. IHOP hosts 24/7 prayer meetings which are mystical contemporary worship “encounters” powered by rock music. They are weird charismatic free-for-alls. IHOP’s 24/7 prayer sessions have been described as “frenetic ... euphoric worship ... mesmeric, musical worship, repeating the same phrases over and over” (“Love and Death in the House of Prayer”). I can confirm this from my visit in October 2014 to an IHOP conference. IHOP’s 24/7 “prayer” is not about thoughtful, biblical prayer or quiet, thoughtful meditation on Scripture. It is about charismatic mysticism whereby God is allegedly “encountered” in and beyond prayer and Scripture. It is about “experiencing” God. It is about bringing in the kingdom of God through signs and wonders. This is why IHOP is attracted to Roman Catholic contemplative prayer, as evidenced by the fact that their bookstore features dozens of contemplative titles. Contemplative prayer has the same mystical objective as IHOP’s 24/7 prayer: an
experience with God and direct revelation from God beyond Scripture. But when you go beyond Scripture, you go beyond the God of Scripture, and you open yourself to angels of darkness masquerading as angels of light. This is why charismatic worship and contemplative prayer lead to association with Rome, the heart and soul of apostasy, and ultimately to universalism, pantheism, panentheism, and idolatry, as we have documented in our book Contemplative Mysticism. IHOP is so deceived that it believes it will literally direct God’s judgments on earth during the Tribulation. For more on this see “The International House of Prayer” at

One of the major bridges from the charismatic movement into Southern Baptist churches and homes is contemporary worship music. The 2008 Southern Baptist Hymnal contains a great 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 songs are direct bridges to the one-world “church.” I don’t know of one prominent contemporary worship artist who is opposed in any practical sense to the charismatic movement and ecumenism, and that includes the Gettys.

David Ruis was a worship leader at the Toronto Airport Church where people rolled on the floor, barked like dogs, roared like lions, laughed hysterically, and got “drunk in the spirit” during their “revivals.” Ruis’s song “Break Dividing Walls” calls for unscriptural ecumenical unity between all denominations.

Paul Baloche was 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 denomination 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 and expressed concern 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 can be learned; it is a 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 Second Vatican 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. This is evidence of spiritual blindness of the highest degree.

Darlene Zschech and her Hillsong worship band 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 this error consistently, the leaven will continue to 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).

In a few years, someone will probably be writing about “tongues speaking” and other charismatic phenomena among Independent Baptists.

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

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