Tongue talking demon smashing Baptists
The other night I preached at a church that reminded me of an inner-city Black gospel church in America. The difference was that they were Baptists, not Pentecostals. But, then again, in Brazil, as in many other parts of the world, the difference is in name only. Many of the Baptists here speak in tongues, cast out devils, and heal the sick, just like the Apostles did in the New Testament and just like 500 million Christians around the world are either doing or believe it should be done as well. Of course, there are traditional Baptists in Brazil as well that believe in none of those things, but, unlike America, they are in the minority when it comes to the religious life of the average Brazilian evangelical Christian. Here in Brazil, it would seem that even the non-Pentecostals and Charismatics would think it rather strange if I didn’t pray for the sick at an evangelistic crusade.
I remember when I attended Christ for the Nations Institute, I had a roomate from South Korea who told me that the Baptists in Korea were more Pentecostal than the Pentecostals. I have heard this from many others as well. This shows me that the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement that was one time on the fringe of Christianity is now mainstream. In light of this, the recent decision of the Southern Baptist denomination to forbid future missionaries from speaking in tongues seems rather silly, especially in the light of the admonition of the Apostle Paul, “Do not forbid to speak in tongues.” In light of this, I would say that the current bias against tongues, healings, and exorcisms in American evangelicalism bears more resemblance to the philosophy of Aristotle than to the teachings of Jesus Christ.
But, to be fair, let me give a clear warning to the world’s Pentecostals and Charismatics as well. Do not get stuck in tradition! Because just as the early Pentecostals were rejected by mainstream Christianity in their day, it would be very easy to miss the move of God’s Spirit in our day just because it doesn’t have official approval from an established Pentecostal denomination (or should I say “apostolic network?”). It appears that even the world’s Pentecostals and Charismatics may need new wineskins from time to time.