Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Lifeway Research Study Update

I can't believe I never posted the results from the poll I participated in. Originally, I blogged about my phone interview, Here, on the day it happened. The results were announced a few weeks later before the SBC Convention in San Antonio, causing quite a stir.

Here are Lifeway's results for the speaking in tongues survey.

Here are some excerpts:

"The survey asked Protestant pastors, SBC pastors, and laity their beliefs about private prayer language using this question wording: "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.’"

Fifty percent of Southern Baptist pastors answered "Yes," 43 percent said "No," and 7 percent responded "Don’t know.""

"Southern Baptist pastors are more likely than non-SBC pastors to believe the gift of tongues has ceased. Forty-one percent responded "this gift was only given in the days of the Apostles," vs. 29 percent of non-SBC pastors."

ME again:
These numbers were surprising across the convention. First that so many believed charismatic tongues was still possible. Second and related that a total cessationist position was not stronger.

When this study came out there were many questions as to its methodology and timing. I believe there may be some follow up research in the works on this topic.

In any respect, this should cause pause for those who want to enforce a cessationist position convention wide and upon all our missionary candidates. Clearly, many will be coming from churches and pastors that, even if they don't practice tongues themselves or corporately, are still open to the possibility that it can happen and can still be legitimate.

I'd probably call myself a skeptical continualist. I don't think tongues is as prevalent as some are making it. I don't think tongues is a mandatory gift in order to be saved. I have never seen tongues practiced in a corporate setting that has followed Paul's guidelines and restrictions. With that said, I won't totally rule it out either. The arguments for cessationism are not compelling and are based often upon ideas imposed on texts rather than explicitly from the texts themselves.

I did notice that the report on "Perspectives of Pastors and Laity on Alcohol" will be released in mid-September. That should be an interesting one.

Any thoughts?

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