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  • FAQ: Baptists and speaking in tongues

    Q: What is the position of NAMB on the gifts of tongues?

    The Baptist Faith and Message states that the Holy Spirit "cultivates Christian character, comforts believers, and bestows the spiritual gifts by which they serve God through His church." It also states: "A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the two ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth."

    As you can see, the Baptist Faith and Message affirms that Christians receive "spiritual gifts" from God that are exercised in the context of the church. However, it does not list these or dictate what gifts may have passed away. NAMB takes no official position on spiritual gifts beyond the above statement. My sense is that most Baptists would regard most of the gifts mentioned in Romans 12 as applicable today, but there would be significant differences of opinion on prophecy and on most of the gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12.

    According to Morris H. Chapman, president of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, "for all practical purposes, one cannot make a strong case for or against tongues speaking using the Baptist Faith and Message as the sole interpretative source. Nevertheless, it is common knowledge that the vast majority of Southern Baptists believe the Scriptures do not teach that speaking in ecstatic utterances in a public worship service continued past the days of the apostles. Thus Southern Baptists, by and large, do not preach, teach, or publicly practice speaking in tongues. This is an instance where the consensus of Southern Baptists is well known although it is not 'codified' in the BF&M."

    Although Southern Baptists generally do not practice speaking of tongues in public worship, many apparently practice speaking of tongues in private. A recent LifeWay study reported that half of SBC pastors believe that God gives some Christians a private prayer language. According to the same report, 41% of SBC pastors think that the gift of tongues passed away with the death of the apostles. NAMB takes no position on this question.