Sunday, March 15, 2015

We're Marching to Zion

What's kind of funny about these anecdotes is that, to my knowledge, Southern Baptists are typically cessationists, but here's a classic example of–admittedly unsolicited–"charismatic" guidance:

3. In 1979 in Houston, messengers at the convention elected Adrian Rogers as the first conservative in a series of conservatives. Why did the organizers of the movement choose Rogers to nominate? 
We were ideologically bent, not candidate-bent. And so we went around and told people we could change by electing the right president. Then the night before the [1979 annual meeting in Houston] … we talked, we prayed, we fellowshipped and then we discussed for an hour or so who the best candidate would be. And three names came to the surface: Adrian Rogers, Bailey Smith and Jerry Vines. … Adrian was the overwhelming choice. When I told him, he said, “That’s good, but I’m not going to be nominated.” … So I went to bed Monday night thinking we didn’t have a candidate. What happened after that is that Adrian Rogers ran into Mrs. Bertha Smith. … She said, “Adrian, God’s changing my mind: he’s telling me you’re to be elected as president of the convention tomorrow.” Then Adrian went up to his hotel room and [his wife] Joyce was up there — and Joyce had been very opposed to his running. And she said, “Adrian, God’s changing my mind. I think you’re supposed to be nominated tomorrow.” Well, that really shook him, because the two women he was closest to in the world — and the two who had been telling him not to run — had changed their minds. So he took the elevator down to walk around, and when he got to the first floor, coming from one direction was Paige Patterson coming from the other direction was Jerry Vines. And he said, “Men, we gotta talk.” So they got back on the elevator and went in with Joyce. They prayed the matter through, and Adrian decided to run. So I found out who I was voting for when I came down the morning of the election.

4. Can you describe the 1979 election of Adrian Rogers? 
My son, when he was 10 years old, developed a seizure condition. And he was having a particularly hard time [the morning of the election]. …  So I was completely preoccupied during the vote. 
I need to tell you another story: about four times before the convention, I had this dream of God’s people marching along Main St. in Houston with that white line in the center. We were marching to the convention hall, and we’re singing “We’re Marching to Zion.” I told my wife Nancy about it; I had it at least four times. We had no idea it would have any significance. Then the day of the election, I heard the nominations. … And there was confusion on the stage [because the registration secretary could not be found]. And then [presiding president Jimmy Allen] said, “Well, we have to do something until we find [the recorder]. Song leader, come lead us in a song.” The song leader came and said, “Let’s all stand and sing, ‘We’re Marching to Zion.’” And I burst out crying and dropped into my seat. I told Paige Patterson, who was next to me, “Adrian’s won without a run-off. I’ve had a sign.” And in five minutes, Adrian had won without a run-off. 
It is unbelievable. … But, I think sometimes when you’re in a great deal of conflict, God gives you a sign that this is his and not yours.


  1. Speaking of charismatic guidance, this is slightly off-topic, but I would appreciate some feedback. The church I attend (C&MA) has recently begun to become more charismatic than in recent past years. A newer pastor feels that God wants the church to be a healing church—where people come for physical healing. Last week he started saying stuff from the pulpit like, “There may be somebody here with a child suffering from night tremors, there may be somebody here who has a pain in the back of their leg...” Stuff like that. Stuff you see on television. I believe it may be what is sometimes referred to as a “word of knowledge.”

    Anyway, my question is, Should I be concerned about this? Is this acceptable practice?

    1. An obvious problem is that he's using the deliberately vague, guarded language of psychics. It doesn't take any divine insight or foresight to catch a fish in a dragnet. Cast a wide enough net and you're bound to catch something. That's just playing the odds, when the dice are loaded.

      Moreover, it's easy to "heal" subjective ailments. The acid test is something that's truly miraculous.