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McKissic resigns as seminary trustee

GRAPEVINE, Texas (BP)–Dwight McKissic has resigned from the trustee board of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, citing “too much mental, physical, emotional and even spiritual energy” spent on his role in a conflict over speaking in tongues and private prayer language at the seminary in the past year.

McKissic, pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas, emphasized his love for the seminary and its president, Paige Patterson, in a lengthy conciliatory letter June 20 to trustee chairman Van McClain and copied to Patterson, SBC President Frank Page, SBC Executive Committee President Morris H. Chapman and three trustees.

“Furthermore, I don’t want any possible future relationships or involvements with other missions or ministry opportunities to in anywise be misconstrued as a conflict of interest with my role as a trustee at SWBTS. I do not want my exercise of freedom of speech or freedom of associations in any way to create conflicts of interest or violations of SWBTS policies. Therefore, I must resign,” McKissic wrote.

Patterson issued a statement in response: “My personal relationship with Pastor McKissic has been a long one and overwhelming a happy one. I anticipate that relationship will continue and that Brother McKissic will continue as a faithful supporter of the seminary. It is well known that we have not always agreed but we are brothers in Christ and I love this pastor.”

McKissic caused a stir in a Southwestern chapel sermon last August when he said he speaks in a private prayer language and criticized the International Mission Board’s then-policy on refusing prospective missionaries who speak in tongues.

Subsequently, the seminary refused to post audio of McKissic’s sermon on its website and later the trustees, with McKissic’s sole dissent, voted that Southwestern staff would not advocate private prayer language or charismatic practices nor hire faculty who did.

McKissic said in his resignation letter he was encouraged by the IMB’s changing the tongues policy to a more flexible “guideline,” by the SBC’s decision June 12 to adopt a statement on the Baptist Faith and Message confessional statement as a “sufficient” policy guide for SBC entities, and by a LifeWay Research poll indicating about half of SBC pastors believe private prayer language is a possible spiritual gift.

McKissic said he plans to remain a Southern Baptist “as long as I see hope that the convention is moving in what I consider to be the right direction.”

Although McKissic and McClain’s relationship “got off to a rough and rocky start,” McKissic said he was thankful for “genuine healing and reconciliation.”

“Know that I genuinely and deeply respect, value and appreciate you for who you are and the work that you do,” McKissic wrote to McClain. “I regret whatever pain and frustration that I caused Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary from the very beginning of my tenure as a trustee until today.”

McKissic wrote that he and Patterson “have also discussed our mutual misunderstanding(s) and pain related to my actions, and his response, and we also experienced a time of genuine healing and reconciliation. Although as with you, he and I still view some issues quite differently. My love, respect and appreciation for Dr. Patterson remain strong in spite of these differences.

“Know that my love for SWBTS will also remain. I am in part who I am because of the training I received at SWBTS. I shall forever be grateful for the training I received there. Our church has made an annual or biannual contribution to SWBTS for the past ten years and we will continue to do so.”

McKissic said his prayer is that “IMB, NAMB and SWBTS will soon reflect the biblical viewpoint that Dr. Patterson so eloquently articulated in his SWBTS report in San Antonio and that is, restrictions and Pauline regulations with regard to public tongues and freedom and privacy with regard to private tongues.”

McKissic wrote that he believes the IMB’s initial anti-tongues policy prompted much of the past year’s conflict, and that the LifeWay study presents “a truer picture of Southern Baptists as a whole.”

“I shall always be grateful and honored for the opportunity to have served the SBC and SWBTS this past year. As stated above,” McKissic reiterated, “my love and support will remain.”

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  • Jerry Pierce