The son of Adrian Rogers, a 16-year missionary with the Southern Baptist International Mission Board, says in an open letter to IMB trustees he does not believe his father would agree with new policies regarding baptism and disqualifying candidates who practice a “private prayer language.”
David Rogers, a missionary in Spain, said it is impossible to know for sure how his father, who died in November, would feel, but he believes “he would be in general agreement” with his son’s view that the recent policy changes are not “a move in the right direction.”
“It would seem to me that much of the ground gained for the glory of God and the advance of His kingdom through the ‘conservative resurgence’ in the SBC, in which my father played such an integral role, is in danger of being commandeered in a new, more extreme direction,” Rogers wrote in a letter, which he also posted in a blog.
Rogers said he supports IMB President Jerry Rankin’s emphasis that the Kingdom of God is larger than Southern Baptists and that God’s work involves using “the entire Body of Christ around the world.”
While agreeing that Southern Baptists should not compromise on essential doctrines, Rogers added he is concerned “that there appears to be a drive on the part of some to ‘rein in’ the progress we have made in these areas, giving an undue emphasis on certain points of doctrine, which, in my opinion, are not clearly spelled out in Scripture, and seeking to narrow the parameters of biblical cooperation a few steps beyond the healthy adjustments we had already made.”
While he does not practice a “private prayer language” himself, Rogers said, he has in the course of his ministry encountered many fellow Christians who do, and recognizes that sincere interpreters of the Bible come to different conclusions whether spiritual gifts mentioned in the Bible have ceased.
He also said requiring baptism in a church that practices only believer’s baptism by immersion and “embraces the doctrine of security of the believer” goes beyond the teaching of Scripture. He pointed to the baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts, which did not appear to be under “sponsorship” or “supervision” of any church.
While he said he does not know how controversial IMB trustee Wade Burelson has behaved in trustee meetings, Rogers he believes from reading his blog that he is acting in good faith.
“Before the ‘conservative resurgence,’ it was frequently argued that many of the various boards and committees of the SBC were out of step with what the majority of Southern Baptists believed, and thus, it was necessary to make Southern Baptists aware of what was going on,” he wrote. “In my concise but humble opinion: ‘what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.'”
In a separate blog entry, Rogers offered to “come clean” about his views on private prayer language and alleged “charismatic tendencies” within the IMB. He said he has been interested in the charismatic movement since he was in college and after studying the Bible concluded “the so-called ‘sign gifts,’ including those of tongues and interpretation of tongues, continue to be valid for today.”
While “well aware of many of the aberrant doctrines and practices frequently associated” with the charismatic movement, Rogers said, “it has been my observation, that many brothers and sisters in Christ who profess to ‘speak in tongues’ do not at the same time advocate either the classical Pentecostal position that those who have not ‘spoken in tongues’ have not received the ‘baptism of the Holy Spirit’ or various extreme practices frequently associated with the ‘charismatic movement.'”
“In the country of Spain, in which I minister, many of the warmest-hearted Christians I know, with the greatest evangelistic and missionary vision, profess to ‘speak in tongues,'” he said. “Many of these happen to also be Spanish Baptists.”
“In openly stating my personal views on these issues, I am motivated by more than merely arguing the legitimacy of my perspective,” Rogers said. “I am convinced that beside myself, both in the IMB, as well as in many other areas of Southern Baptist life, there are quite a few others who hold either the same views or at least views similar to those I have expressed above. If such is indeed the case, I do not believe it is a healthy dynamic to feel the need to remain secretive about such views, for fear of reprisal.”
“Just as I have ‘come clean’ about what I believe, I believe we as Southern Baptists, through the due processes which have been established, need to ‘come clean’ related to what is expected of those who serve the Lord while receiving spiritual and financial covering from the Southern Baptist Convention,” he said. “I, and I believe many more like me, want to know if there is still room under the Southern Baptist umbrella for those who believe like me.
“If the answer is yes, I will rejoice. I believe that the vast wealth of spiritual, human, creative, and financial resources represented by the SBC make up an excellent platform from which to serve the Lord and work together with His Body around the world for the advance of His Kingdom. If, however, the answer is no, I, in good conscience, will need to seek another platform from which to serve.”
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.