Southern Baptist head Frank Page isn't certain that the convention's stance on speaking in tongues should be put in writing in their confession of faith.
While the Rev. Dwight McKissic who raised debate over speaking in tongues, or private prayer language had praised Southern Baptists for making a clear decision on charismatic practices with Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary banning such practices, Page believes it is okay to have varying views.
"I guess I would have to say honestly that I'm not certain if it ought to be in the Baptist faith message," says Page, according to Agape Press, "because I don't know, really, where other Southern Baptists fall. I think I know."
McKissic, who spoke of experiencing private prayer language during a sermon at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, had requested Southern Baptist leaders adopt a formal position on spiritual gifts. His sermon had sparked controversy with some leaders who oppose speaking in tongues and the debate soon led to an official ban against any charismatic practice at the seminary.
In response, McKissic saw the ban as a positive step toward clarifying the denomination's stance on the issue and moving closer to a vote. However, Page does not want to make a formal stance.
"I do believe that there are varying interpretations regarding the issue of private prayer language," says Page. "And because I do believe there are varying interpretations, I believe it is okay to believe one way or the other."
SBTS President Paige Patterson defends the seminary's ban against private prayer language.
"We believe Baptists ought to be Baptists and charismatic folks ought to be charismatic," says Patterson, as reported by Agape Press. "We simply felt that at this point it was necessary to indicate the trajectory of our school."
Other leaders and students had showed their support for McKissic and disagreed with the ban. But for the most part, Page, who does not practice private prayer language, says he believes most Southern Baptists are opposed to it, saying the use of tongues has ceased.
Nevertheless, Page wants to address the issue "very carefully."
"Now, if we put something in the Baptist faith and message, it is a confession of faith that we would say is our primary means of interpreting a passage."