Thursday, December 13, 2012

Southern Baptist Can't Pray in Tongues RePosted

I notice that at a recent convention, Southern Baptists are still fighting over speaking in tongues. Originally, I was ordained a Baptist minister. Though I am now a liturgical/sacramental priest, I do like to look in on my Baptist friends from time to time.

Two Christian writers can help shed light on Southern Baptists’ problem
with tongues–the Spanish mystic, St. John of the Cross, and St. Paul. Both of these men recognized that we possess two mental systems. Discerning his two minds, Paul declares “I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also...I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also”(1 Cor 14:15).


St. John of the Cross describes one of the mental systems like this: (Bk. 1 IX 4) “....The sensual part of a man has no capacity for that which is pure spirit. He uses the words sensual” and“soul” indicating “understanding, will, and memory

He describes the other mental system like this.(Ch. 4-2 Bk.1) “The spirit (on the other hand) is moved to pleasure and delight in God,”

St. Paul describes one system like this: 1Co 2:14 “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him.” St. Paul also liked to use the word “understanding” which in Greek is “the intellect.”

He describes the other mental system like this: 1 Co. 2:12 “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.” (Both writers use the Greek word “wind” for spirit, a good analogy for a power whose effects can be seen, but whose substance cannot.)

The two writers are aware that the two minds get in each other’s way.

For St John, (Bk. 1 IX) “For anything that the soul (read intellect) can do of its own accord at this time, serves only, to hinder inward peace and the work which God is accomplishing in the spirit.”

For St. John, Bk. (1 IX 4) God communicates directly with the spirit mind, outside the intellect’s ability. He “binds (the intellect's) inner faculties and allows it not to cling to the understanding, nor to have delight in the will, nor to reason with the memory. When once the soul (intellect) begins to enter therein, its inability to reflect with the faculties grows ever greater.” At this point, the soul can go dark (flat lines). Thus, the title of St John’s book is: "Dark Night of the Soul”

The intellect’s flat lineing is a good thing spiritually, but painful to the intellect.

Each man, St. John and St. Paul has his own way of working with this contest between the two minds. For St. John, As God infuses Himself into the spirit, (Bk. 1 IX 8) ...”the soul (mind) can no longer meditate (think discursively) or reflect in the imaginative sphere of sense as it was wont, however much it may of itself endeavor to do so....For God now begins to communicate Himself ... no longer thorough sense, but by pure spirit.”.. The intellect is temporarily sidelined by God Himself.

St Paul recognizes the struggle for dominance between the two minds like this: (Rom. 8:7) “...the carnal mind is enmity against God.”

The contest between the two minds is resolved in the following manner for St. Paul (1Co 14:4) “He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself (Greek: “is a house builder,”, i.e. a beautiful metaphor–“building up his house”). Further, (1Co 14:14) “For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding (intellect) is unfruitful (Greek: “barren,” not producing intellectual fruit”, the state of consciousness he is trying to produce). (For the record, he adds: 1 Co 14:5 “would that ye all spake with tongues” and, 1Co 14:18) I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all)

In our present age of reason, most intellects refuse to go dark and will fight furiously to keep domination over our consciousness. The word hegemony is useful. Hegemony is used to describe the dominance of one state over another. It is mostly used about political states, but it can be used with states of consciousness. The intellect demands hegemony in the modern mind.

Which brings us back to the Southern Baptists. The intellects of Baptists just don’t like to give in. Two historical forces are at work. Fundamentalists among the Baptists get their title as the guardians of the fundamentals of the faith. Guarding the fundamentals is a cerebral activity.

Secondly, Baptists got their name for their insistence upon reaching an age of accountability before being baptized --i.e.believers baptism. Again a cerebral activity. Psychologists attribute this age of accountability which occurs around puberty, as resulting from the interconnections of the brain’s neurons reaching a level of maturity which makes rational thought possible. In other words, a core Baptist belief is the demand that you must be capable of understanding what you are doing.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Fr Don has demonstrated something I have observed about the evangelical mind. Movie and TV often portrays evangelicals as emotional or simple-minded. In fact, behind some of the emotions of conversion is a tremendous rationality. Rather than conversion being a matter of emotion, Baptist theology tends to cast it as an act of the mind or will - the opposite of many of the images that are used to slam evangelicals like Southern Baptists.

I am wondering about the origins of this intellectual view of faith. The Baptist opposition to speaking in tongues seems rooted in their public embracing of dispensationalism. Rather than asking how to do the works of Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit, their rational theology reasons that the absence of those works today is proof that they were temporary gifts given to establish the Church until the canon of scripture was set. This position leads them to misinterpret Paul's state about spiritual gifts ceasing when that which is perfect is come (1 Corinthians 13). Clearly Paul is envisioning the coming of Christ and the life of the kingdom of God when partial revelation will give way to the fullness of God's presence and relationship with us.

In his books, "Surprised by the Power of God" and "Surprised by the Voice of God", former Baptist theologian Jack Deere shares a compelling account of his shift from dispensationalism to embracing the power and gifts and the Holy Spirit as described in the bible. I have come to a place where I cannot preach about a Jesus who cannot, or will not, do today all that the bible says he will do. This has not been a rational change and much as a change of heart. Speaking in tongues has become a wonderful means of prayer that helps me go beyond the limitations of my intellect. The child-like faith I exercise in praying from my born-again spirit through the power of the Holy Spirit helps me open up to God's ability to do beyond my wildest dreams. Like others, I constantly fall short of the fullness that is truly available - and is what I believe to be God's highest will for us. But I can't rationalize that reality away based on my short-fall because I have tasted enough of the real to know that there is gold in those hills that is worth the effort to mine it.

Anonymous said...

I like Katheryn Kulman who deeply understands that the Lord Jesus Christ lives in me by the power of the Holy Spirit. As far as I am concerned He can manifest Himself anyway He wants to. Holy Spirit you are welcome in me.

Chance said...

Don,
Thank you for visiting my blog and for linking me here. This is definitely an interesting and insightful post. I think you point out how the attention paid to the mind can be a good thing or bad thing. The mind is an important aspect of Christianity, but so is the spirit.

On another note, I knew a counselor that was Anglican. It's funny that the two Anglicans I have met (in real life or in cyberspace) are counselors.

Father Don said...

UPDATE
http://donclarks.blogspot.com/2007/05/now-southern-baptist-can-speak-in.html

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