February 18, 2014

Are Tongues Real Languages?

by Nathan Busenitz

We begin today’s post with a question: In New Testament times, did the gift of tongues produce authentic foreign languages only, or did it also result in non-cognitive speech (like the private prayer languages of modern charismatics)? The answer is of critical importance to the contemporary continuationist/cessationist debate regarding the gift of tongues.

Agnes_Ozman_Tongues

From the outset, it is important to note that the gift of tongues was, in reality, the gift of languages. I agree with continuationist author Wayne Grudem when he writes:

It should be said at the outset that the Greek word glossa, translated “tongue,” is not used only to mean the physical tongue in a person’s mouth, but also to mean “language.” In the New Testament passages where speaking in tongues is discussed, the meaning “languages” is certainly in view. It is unfortunate, therefore, that English translations have continued to use the phrase “speaking in tongues,” which is an expression not otherwise used in ordinary English and which gives the impression of a strange experience, something completely foreign to ordinary human life. But if English translations were to use the expression “speaking in languages,” it would not seem nearly as strange, and would give the reader a sense much closer to what first century Greek speaking readers would have heard in the phrase when they read it in Acts or 1 Corinthians. (Systematic Theology, 1069).

But what are we to think about the gift of languages?

If we consider the history of the church, we find that the gift of languages was universally considered to be the supernatural ability to speak authentic foreign languages that the speaker had not learned.

In the early church, the writings of Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Hegemonius, Gregory of Nazianzen, Ambrosiaster, Chrysostom, Augustine, Leo the Great, and others all support this claim. Here are just a few examples:

Gregory of Nazianzus (c. 329–390): “They spoke with foreign tongues, and not those of their native land; and the wonder was great, a language spoken by those who had not learned it. And the sign is to them that believe not, and not to them that believe, that it may be an accusation of the unbelievers, as it is written, ‘“With other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people, and not even so will they listen to Me” says the Lord’” (The Oration on Pentecost, 15–17).

John Chrysostom (c. 344–407), commenting on 1 Cor. 14:1–2: “And as in the time of building the tower [of Babel] the one tongue was divided into many; so then the many tongues frequently met in one man, and the same person used to discourse both in the Persian, and the Roman, and the Indian, and many other tongues, the Spirit sounding within him: and the gift was called the gift of tongues because he could all at once speak divers languages” (Homilies on First Corinthians, 35.1).

Augustine (354–430): “In the earliest times, ‘the Holy Ghost fell upon them that believed: and they spoke with tongues,” which they had not learned, “as the Spirit gave them utterance.’ These were signs adapted to the time. For it was necessary for there to be that sign of the Holy Spirit in all tongues, to show that the Gospel of God was to run through all tongues over the whole earth” (Homilies on the First Epistle of John, 6.10).

In reaching this conclusion, the church fathers equated the tongues of Acts 2 with the tongues of 1 Corinthians 12–14, insisting that in both places the gift consisted of the ability to speak genuine languages.

The Reformers, similarly, regarded the gift of tongues as the supernatural ability to speak real foreign languages. By way of example, here is John Calvin’s treatment of 1 Corinthians 12:10:

John Calvin: “There was a difference between the knowledge of tongues, and the interpretation of them, for those who were endowed with the former [i.e. the gift of tongues] were, in many cases, not acquainted with the language of the nation with which they had to deal. The interpreters rendered foreign tongues into the native language. These endowments they did not at that time acquire by labor or study, but were put in possession of them by a wonderful revelation of the Spirit.” (Commentary on 1 Cor. 12:10)

To the names of the Reformers, we could add the names of the Puritans, and the names of theologians like Jonathan Edwards, Charles Hodge, Charles Spurgeon, and B.B. Warfield among many others.

Even Charles Fox Parham, the founder of modern Pentecostalism, was absolutely convinced that the biblical gift of tongues consisted of the supernatural ability to speak in human foreign languages that the speaker had never learned. When he and his students initially experienced the modern gift of tongues, they thought it consisted of real human languages. Parham stated his position clearly in a number of newspapers at the time. (These quotes come from chapter 2 of John MacArthur’s Strange Fire.)

Charles Parham cited in the Topeka State Journal, January 7, 1901:  “The Lord will give us the power of speech to talk to the people of the various nations without having to study them in schools.”

Charles Parham cited in the Kansas City Times, January 27, 1901: “A part of our labor will be to teach the church the uselessness of spending years of time preparing missionaries for work in foreign lands when all they have to do is ask God for power.”

Charles Parham cited in the Hawaiian Gazette, May 31, 1901: “There is no doubt that at this time they will have conferred on them the ‘gift of tongues,’ if they are worthy and seek it in faith, believing they will thus be made able to talk to the people whom they choose to work among in their own language, which will, of course, be an inestimable advantage. The students of Bethel College do not need to study in the old way to learn the languages. They have them conferred on them miraculously    . . . [being] able to converse with Spaniards, Italians, Bohemians, Hungarians, Germans, and French in their own language. I have no doubt various dialects of the people of India and even the language of the savages of Africa will be received during our meeting in the same way. I expect this gathering to be the greatest since the days of Pentecost.”

Parham, and his students, were convinced by their study of the New Testament that the gift of tongues consisted of the miraculous ability to speak in human foreign languages that the speaker had not learned. But there was one major problem. The tongues-speech of Parham and his students quickly proved to be something other than human foreign languages. In the words of charismatic authors Jack Hayford and David Moore:

Sadly, the idea of xenoglossalalic tongues [i.e. foreign languages] would later prove an embarrassing failure as Pentecostal workers went off to mission fields with their gift of tongues and found their hearers did not understand them. (The Charismatic Century, 42).

Other historians report the disappointment faced by early Pentecostals when it became clear that their tongues did not consist of authentic foreign languages:

S. C. Todd of the Bible Missionary Society investigated eighteen Pentecostals who went to Japan, China, and India “expecting to preach to the natives in those countries in their own tongue,” and found that by their own admission “in no single instance have [they] been able to do so.” As these and other missionaries returned in disappointment and failure, Pentecostals were compelled to rethink their original view of speaking in tongues. (Robert M. Anderson, Vision of the Disinherited, 90–91)

It might be worth noting that these early Pentecostals not only spoke in tongues, they also wrote in tongues. And some of these early tongues writings were published by local newspapers. Agnes Ozman, one of Parham’s students, was the first to speak in tongues on January 1, 1901. She reportedly spoke in the Chinese language, thereby launching the Pentecostal Movement. Ozman also claimed to write in Chinese. The picture at the top of this article showcases her work.

When it became apparent that the Pentecostal understanding of tongues did not consist of human languages, the entire movement was faced with an interesting dilemma. They could uphold their exegetical understanding of tongues and deny their experience. Or, they could hold on to their experiential understanding of tongues and radically change their exegesis. They chose the latter. And thus, a new understanding of the nature of the gift of tongues emerged out of twentieth-century Pentecostal experience.

To be fair, modern charismatics acknowledge the possibility that tongues can sometimes be foreign languages. They point to anecdotal evidence in an effort to claim that on rare occasions foreign languages might be spoken by a modern tongues-speaker. But those anecdotes do not hold up under scrutiny. As D. A. Carson rightly observes:

“Modern tongues are lexically uncommunicative and the few instances of reported modern xenoglossia [speaking foreign languages] are so poorly attested that no weight can be laid on them” (Showing the Spirit, 84).

When professional linguists study modern glossolalia (tongues-speech), they come away convinced that contemporary tongues bear no resemblance to true human language. After years of extensive research, University of Toronto linguistics professor William Samarin concluded:

Glossolalia consists of strings of meaningless syllables made up of sounds taken from those familiar to the speaker and put together more or less haphazardly. The speaker controls the rhythm, volume, speed and inflection of his speech so that the sounds emerge as pseudolanguage—in the form of words and sentences. Glossolalia is language-like because the speaker unconsciously wants it to be language-like. Yet in spite of superficial similarities, glossolalia fundamentally is not language. (cited from Joe Nickell, Looking for a Miracle, 108)

This brings us back to the question we asked at the beginning. Has the church, historically, been right to conclude that the gift of tongues in the New Testament consists of the supernatural ability to speak in foreign languages previously unknown to the speaker? Or is the modern charismatic movement right to conclude that the gift of tongues encompasses something other than cognitive foreign languages?

Over the next few weeks, I hope to address this issue by specifically considering the arguments made by continuationist author Sam Storms, in his 2012 book, The Beginner’s Guide to Spiritual Gifts. There Storms argues for the validity of modern charismatic glossolalia. In so doing, he provides nine reasons why he believes tongues need not be human languages.

We will interact with each of his reasons in the posts to follow.

Nathan Busenitz

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Nathan serves on the pastoral staff of Grace Church and teaches theology at The Master's Seminary in Los Angeles.
  • Nehemiah Ryan

    Just FYI, the church at Corinth came out of pagan Greek mystery religions (1 Cor. 12:2) in which ecstatic speech was a form of worship. So the charismatic version of ecstatic “tongues” is certainly not new but was common in the Corinthian culture.
    I’m of the opinion that the Corinthian believers who did not have the true gift were vainly jealous of those who did and so brought into the church their former pagan mystery practice. That’s why Paul says one who speaks in a tongue (gibberish) speaks to “a god” (not “God”) and “in his spirit he speaks mysteries” (14:2). That’s exactly what the pagans did, and Jesus said not to pray that way (Matt. 6:7).
    Histo-cultural context clears everything up.

    • Scott Kiddle

      Ryan – thank you for your observation. Still today, whole churches adopt elements of pagan religion and worldly culture out of discontentment with what God has given (or not given) and ordained for His worship and our Christian living.

    • Christ follower

      That would make sense to say it is a pagan ritual, except it is quite clear in the Corinthians passage that it is not about worshiping another god, just that our spirit worships in a way our mind does not understand (14:14): “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful.” It goes on to say praying in tongues doesn’t make sense for others and is not “edifying” without an interpreter: “You are giving thanks well enough, but no one else is edified.” So the worst you could say, I believe, is that praying in tongues is selfish in a group setting and does not build up the church–not about praying to pagan gods.

    • NCHammer

      KJV actually doesn’t use “god”, but “God”. It’s pretty far fetched that Paul would give any nod to praying to a “god” without completely dismantling the practice. He clearly does not.

      • Nehemiah Ryan
        • NCHammer

          Thanks for your responses. I mean this differently than it will sound, but I stopped reading, for the most part, at “a god is a valid interpretation”. I’m going to read the KJV as more valid.

          Secondly, if the tongues Paul was addressing in 1 Corinthians was pagan, he would not say those doing it “edifieth himself” v. 4. Pagan worship does not edify and Paul would be inconsistent to word a pagan practice or something he felt was purely fleshly as in any way edifying.

          Finally,

          v. 13-14 Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.

          Why would you pray to interpret a pagan prayer? And, if the unknown tongue was a language known to humans, why would you pray to interpret it, someone there would speak that language. Otherwise, why would the Spirit be prompting a believer to speak in Japanese, for example, if no Japanese non-believers were there who needed to be convinced of the faith?

          These gatherings were different than the DofP. The DofP was a gathering within a crowd. Believers were gathered, but then outside of that a large diverse crowd was there, not for “church”. But the Corinthians were gathered as a church body, and it’s not in the text that there would have been a lot of outsiders, from a language perspective, present. Yet Paul did not fobid them from speaking in tongues, v. 18 and v 39 and he did not draw any distinction in those two verses from the types of tongues he addressed earlier in the chapter. .

          • Nehemiah Ryan

            When we consider the history of Corinth and Hellenistic culture we must reject your statements as not factual. Furthermore, the grammatical hermentuetics of those statements are horrendous.
            As for the KJV thing, there is no point in arguing since KJV only people are not rational in their reasoning. KJV onlyism is demonstrably false yet people continue to adhere to the blatant error even when decisively proven wrong.

          • NCHammer

            So, now the only people who can understand the Bible are those who can “consider the history of Corinth and Hellenistic culture”? Sounds like you have to have a higher education to read the Bible?

            I’m not KJV only. However, when the KJV directly contradicts your point, I’m going with the KJV. There are certainly other translations that are viable, but the price paid to bring the KJV to fruition leads me to lean towards it as my go to.

            And forgive me, frankly I’m not even sure what this means, “Furthermore, the grammatical hermentuetics of those statements are horrendous.” Again, I’m not a theologian, historian, or even consider myself to be in anyway learned, when it comes to the Bible. I have what understanding God has illuminated to me, that’s really it. And, I’m trying to learn more, thus this discussion.

            But, in my layman’s reading, Chapter 14 is clearly about a body of believers, gathered to worship, using the gift of tongues. Paul does not tell them to stop, he doesn’t tell them to only use tongues if unbelievers of different languages are present, and he doesn’t tell them to make sure they are using a language someone somewhere can hear and know. Whatever “practices” there were involved in just were not rebuked as some prayer to some “god” as you assert. He gives them guidelines to continue whatever they were doing. That’s not how you present the chapter in your original comment.

            Good discussion. Thanks for engaging and forgive my argumentative style. I have some questions about modern tongues and how Pentecostals have taught certain things. However, I am not, as you clearly are, ready or able to denounce all current forms of tongues as fake or pagan or a hoax, etc. After ready the original post and the replys, I’m even more sure of that, even though I personally have never spoken in tongues.

          • Nehemiah Ryan

            FYI I love the KJV, and actually, of all the translations out there, it does the best job of translating 1 Corinthians from the original Greek.
            We have to remember that Paul did not write to us in the 21st century. He wrote to a specific church with specific problems at a specific time in a specific culture in a specific language.
            Our job as interpreters is not to look at it from our own viewpoint in the 21st century, but to seek to understand it from the viewpoint of the original recipients of Paul’s letter. That’s historical-cultural study is so important. One does not have to go to school to have access to historical information. We have the internet and libraries. I’ve actually made a test for those who like to argue that historical-grammatical study is not important. Here are a few of the questions:

            -Why was Pilate afraid of the Jews and why did he give in to their demands?
            -How does the water supply of Colossae and Heirapolis relate to Revelation 3?
            -Who were the Scythians (Col. 3:11)?
            -Why Saul choose to rename himself Paul instead of a different name?
            -How did shepherds use rods and staffs and how does that affect the meaning of Psalm 23?

            These are all questions we cannot answer from the biblical text alone. We need extra-biblical information in order to understand the intended meaning of the Bible. This fact does not however mean that we cannot grow spiritually from the Bible unless we understand the history and grammar. Obviously God’s Word is more than just history and grammar :)

          • Gregory Petersen

            I’m just a simple man but it seems to me that praying to the Holy Spirit in the language of the Holy Spirit (as I have heard it explained to me) seems foolish in that God is omnilinguistic and understands your prayers even before they are uttered.

        • petroniabern

          I know this is diving into the middle of y’all’s conversation, but I just wanted to say that, as a Classicist, I do find it a bit misleading when, in your blog, you say that ecstatic experiences were ‘common’ among the pagans. My reaction to that is ‘sort of’. The ‘babbling of pagans’ in the book of Matthew is not necessarily synonymous with the practices of members of mystery cults. Certainly the mystery cults rocketed in popularity under the Roman empire, but not every devout pagan in the Hellenistic world had an experience of being, as we Christians would term it, possessed (like the priests or priestesses [who would be 'a' Pythia, which isn't a personal name] who manned the various Oracles), and probably most of them didn’t have such ecstatic experiences. The average person who prayed and made his offerings at the temple was not a part of a mystery cult; those were very special groups, and you had to be a special someone to be initiated. Also, not all such experiences were even considered acceptable or
          desirable by the general populace; Euripides’ Bacchae offers just one
          example of what was quite common–people looking askance at mystery
          cults or even persecuting them. Greek religion is a bit complicated. I’m just saying, while people would have heard about such experiences, many if not most people would not have had them, especially just going through temple rites. I know this is tangential to the topic at hand, but you linked to your research, so I thought I’d put in my 2 cents’ worth.

          • Nehemiah Ryan

            Oh I agree! Certainly there were other Hellenistic groups that were not into ecstatic worship, e.g. Athenian cults. My point was that ecstatic experiences were far more common than what we in 21st cent. may realize. Just read Plato’s dialogue Ion as an example.
            BTW I have done some major rewriting in the last few hours to correct some historical errors I had made.

  • Philip

    Thanks for an informative post. I used one of your journal articles in a seminary paper on tongues a couple of years ago. Once I realized that modern “tongues” were nothing at all like the tongues of Pentecost or Corinth I could not, and still don’t, understand why we’re arguing about whether or not the gifts continue. It seems obvious to me that if what is happening today is not what was happening in Scripture then the debate is settled.

    • george canady

      Because scholarly men of great Christian character, in love, disagree with each other over what is the “tongues of angels”.

      • Philip

        In the history of the Christian church did anyone argue that the languages at Pentecost or the languages in Corinth included the language of angels prior to 20th century Pentecostals discovering that they were not in fact speaking real languages? Or was that theory developed in an attempt to explain away the fact that they were not speaking real human languages?

        • george canady

          To be honest, I don’t know more than what I read in scripture and the reformed teaching I have been exposed to in the last six years. I am glad for the debate and I am glad to see that some Christians can carry a loving tone even when they disagree. I tend to take a cessationist view myself because I believe that scripture and church history mostly supports it. However, I find that most of the cessationist that I know or hear take a seemly prideful (I know for sure) approach that would discount another’s understanding of historically debated passages. It is the humble man who impresses me, they are smashing my own pride. I want to be humble. Even still, the debate provokes us to thought and study; does it not?

          • Philip

            I’ve come across a lot of pride on both sides of the gifts debate. I do want to point out that whole idea behind Nathan’s post is that historically Acts 2 and 1 Corinthians 12-14 were not debated. The debate around these passages only arose 100 years ago. That fact alone should actually end the debate in my mind. More importantly, the Biblical evidence, supported by church history and modern linguistics, leaves little doubt that what is happening today is something entirely different than what was happening in the first century.

          • george canady

            Thanks Philip for that reminder and it sounds like you know much more about it that I. At the end of the day for me, I guess I can’t be to dogmatic about certain text when I am somewhat dependent on the broader scholarship of all capable church historians that are not in agreement with one another on those debated scripture passages. I can be convinced, and I tend to be convinced to agree with your position, but I just think that men who have lead a life of hard study, are a gifted historians and have an obvious fruit filled calling to lead us who are of the reformed persuasion can not be easily discounted as in error thus responsible for those who use the debate for profit. I think to take a hard line in rude tones actually turns the hearts of some of the weak to agree with those who seem strong out of fear. I did this 5 years ago when I was new to Calvinism. I was afraid to disagree. I have sense learned that debate is good and it is not going to end. I am glad I get to say what I am apprehending here and I am even glad there are the hard liners. I hope our leaders never completely agree. I think we are in trouble if they do. Its kind of a paradox for me.

          • Nehemiah Ryan

            Just FYI, the pagan mystery religions of the NT era had what they called “the tongues of daemons.” In Greek mythology Daemons were benevolent spirit messengers (angels). Of course the NT uses the word “”

          • george canady

            Thank you

          • NCHammer

            Seems very rational to me that a communicator like Paul would not beat around the bush and use a phrase made up by pagans and then not clearly denounce the activity as pagan. He clearly does not do so in 1 Cor 14.

        • NCHammer

          1 Cor 13:1. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

          This can easily be read to indicate Paul attributes a tongue to angels that is different than a human language. There are other possible interpretations, as obviously being made here, but you’re probably more dismissive than is warranted.

      • Fred Butler

        A guy who may be of excellent Christian character is hardly a scholarly man if he concludes that the unintelligible gibberish that is passed off as biblical tongues by Pentecostals is the “tongues of angels.” Am I to conclude angels communicate in unintelligible gibberish? That they don’t communicate with noun-verb-adverb-adjectives and the rules of grammar like any normal intelligent speech has done since the creation of man? Additionally, Mormons, Hindus, and Roman Catholics claim to speak in tongues which is an exact mirror of what is done by charismatics and Pentecostals, yet their tongues are declared “satanic” and “counterfeit.” But why? Just because they aren’t “Christian” in their theology?

        • george canady

          Thank you.

        • CPS

          Good points, Fred–particularly since every time we DO see angels speaking in Scripture, human beings actually *UNDERSTAND* them! They wouldn’t be able to do so if the angelic languages were entirely different from human ones. Indeed, no one who heard an angel speaking in Scripture would even realize that the angel WAS speaking, since they wouldn’t recognize anything like a language at all.

        • NCHammer

          Well, you can read “tongues of angles” as a descriptive term not intended to be read quite as literally as you read. For example, if Paul did believe the tongues being demonstrated were of the Spirit, but did not sound like any human language he had encountered, this description would make sense. I’ll ask you the reverse of the question, if angles speak “human” why would Paul even use the phrase “tongues of angles”? Why not say, “other human languages not understood by anyone in the audience”?

          • Fred Butler

            NC writes,
            I’ll ask you the reverse of the question, if angles speak “human” why
            would Paul even use the phrase “tongues of angles”? Why not say, “other
            human languages not understood by anyone in the audience”?

            You are missing the larger point. The tongues allegedly claimed by charismatics to be “angel talk” is, according to human standards, gibberish nonsense. There is absolutely no intelligibility to them. There are no noun-verb-direct object sentences. There exists no rules of grammar or syntax. None of the components that make any language human or otherwise a language that communicates are present in the presentation of so-called charismatic tongues. Even made up languages like Klingon and Elvish, for those into Sci-fi and fantasy literature, have the basics of what makes a language. To suggest that when angels speak their language is repetitive gibberish is not only a mockery to angels, but to those of us who know better.

            Paul is rebuking the Corinthian church for their abuse of gifts. More than likely the same sort of stuff happening now with tongues. His point is that who cares if I speak with many languages, even angel language, if my words I express are unintelligible and not understood by the hearers.

            Some additional questions I pose. Do you believe like the vast majority of Pentecostal and charismatic churches who state on their doctrinal statements that tongues are a proof of the baptism of the Spirit? Hence, if none of us have spoken in tongues (I have never) then I am not baptized in the Spirit? Why is it necessary to speak Angelise to God when my own human language is sufficient to communicate my prayers and worship? Does speaking angel make me a more spiritual Christian? Have a deeper connection with God?

            Theology and doctrine matter. Those are some major areas of thinking that totally shape the way I think about my sanctification.

          • NCHammer

            1 Cor 13, v. 13-14 Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.

            Why would you pray to interpret a pagan prayer? And, if the unknown tongue was a language known to humans, why would you pray to interpret it, someone
            there would speak that language. Otherwise, why would the Spirit be prompting a believer to speak in Japanese, for example, if no Japanese non-believers were there who needed to be convinced of the faith?

            These gatherings were different than the DofP. The DofP was a gathering within a crowd. Believers were gathered, but then outside of that a large diverse crowd was there, not for “church”. But the Corinthians
            were gathered as a church body, having church, and it’s not in the text that there would have been a lot of outsiders, from a language perspective, present. Yet Paul did not fobid them from speaking in tongues, v. 18
            and v 39 and he did not draw any distinction in those two verses from the types of tongues he addressed earlier in the chapter. .

            As to some of your questions…I have heard “tongues” that certainly had no intelligible characteristics. Yet, I have heard those very same “messages” then interpreted by 1 and sometimes 2 others in the crowd after the initial “tongues” message went forth. I have seen personally, situations where someone speaks in tongues, then a different person provides interpretation. Then the original person give more out in tongues, then a 3rd individual provides interpretation. Back and forth, with random sequencing that would seem difficult to pre-coordinate or even riff off of like an improvisation scene.

            You also ask, “Do you believe like the vast majority of Pentecostal and charismatic churches who state on their doctrinal statements that tongues are a
            proof of the baptism of the Spirit? Hence, if none of us have spoken in tongues (I have never) then I am not baptized in the Spirit?” I’m working through this question and have been for some time. I was taught that, yes would be the answer. However, my own reading of 1 Cor 12 leads me to hesitate.

            ” To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.”

            It would seem you can have 1 or more of the gifts Paul lists here, including tongues, but not all. And it doesn’t appear that he indicated everyone who “has the Holy Spirit” has to demonstrate it with diverse tongues. I will say, if you speak in tongues (granting that it is of the Spirit for the sake of my point) that would definitely be a sign of the indwelling of the Spirit.

            For the record, I have not spoken in tongues, and I grant there are false tongues. I’m not ready, as you are, however, to declare all the tongues spoken in legit Pentecostal churches as fake, hoax, or otherwise. And I draw great distinction between charismatics and Pentecostals. Good discussion.

          • Nehemiah Ryan

            The issue you raise at the end of this comment is precisely where the debate lies. It’s a matter of definition.
            First Corinthians 12-14 is the only place in the Bible that deals with an ecstatic form of tongues.

            So how do we define the true manifestation of tongues?

            (A) If the definition includes both known human languages and ecstatic non-human languages then continuationists are justified in their beliefs.

            One problem with this view that I see is that we do not see human languages as being part of the gift of tongues today. It is completely gone from regular use. All that remains is the form of ecstatic non-human language. Two questions need to be answered:

            1. Why is the known language part of the gift missing from today’s version?

            2. Where in the Bible do we find God saying that He would stop one part of the gift but not the other part?

            (B) If we define tongues as known human languages only, and the false pagan form had invaded the Corinthian church, then we do not see the true gift of human languages in operation today and cessationists are justified in their beliefs.

            A question needs to be addressed here as well:

            - When Paul says the Spirit gives “various kinds of tongues” (1 Cor. 12:10) why can this not include the ecstatic version?

            The heart of the debate is this: What is the definition of the gift?

          • Scott Reed

            Well, maybe we need to ask what did the angels say?
            If we look in scripture we see they always delivered a new message or a confirming of what was already happening as God’s will. So maybe Paul meant that if he could speak to all men AND speak with the knowledge of angles and not do it in love, he would have nothing.

      • Marcus, not Aurelius

        I am not a “speaker in tongues”, but with the advent of the
        “Strange Fire” attack, not a homily, not a discourse, but attack
        on the charismatics, I was dismayed at the tongue lashing that was spit with shaded venom. If the charismatics are speaking in strange fire, then, like the Old Testament reference that titled the conference to indicate false prophets, then the charismatics are false prophets. Follow that line of logic, if they are false prophets, than they are following the spirit of anti-Christ. To couch such an attack by slathering comments like “well, we really do love our
        brother charismatics” or some other syrupy words to take the sting (and personal responsibility) out of the anti-Christ accusation, is intellectual and physical cowardice. To give your accusations like a Papal Bull thrown at Luther, then hide by saying you are doing it in love is deplorable.

        So which is it – are those charismatic churches the false church or in the fellowship of the true church? It cannot be both. I believe they are part of the true church. This is not to excuse nor endorse the prosperity gospel/name-it-an-claim-it false preachers, nor those who sell modern day spiritual indulgences such as “blessed prayer cloths” and other such scams. Rather, to reemphasize my point: If speaking in tongues is false, then those that practice such things are following a false teacher, therefore, they are not Christians, rather, they are heretics with no place in the kingdom of
        Heaven.

        For those who will disagree my “either or” logic, read the book, watch what’s on the website that was for the “Strange Fire” conference and peruse the numerous articles on the web that support that view.

        So which is it? It is one or the other.

        • george canady

          Hey Marcus, it sounds like you keep up with the discussion. I am so grateful for men like John MacArthur who are willing to take the heat from us. I have family members caught up in the worst of the false teachers that need to hear this truth. But I also have some questions that I am working out about what seems like a decision made that someone can know if another is finally and completely condemned. I am hoping to hear public prayer of salvation for the deceived and the deceivers along with the warnings to and about them. So far this is not anything I have seen or heard. I am trying to work on my own harsh rude words as I know they are not pleasing to our Lord.

          • Marcus, not Aurelius

            Thanks George. It was difficult for me to understand his purpose in the “Strange Fire” conference and book. If it was to root out false teachers, i.e., “name it and claim – prayer cloth” charlatans, then it would have been fine. However, to start off a dialogue by drawing the prima-facie argument that tongues are strange fire, hence false doctrine is an attack, not discourse. I also approach this from a scholarly perspective, my minor in college was Biblical Languages; concentration in Koine Greek. That is not said out of pride, rather, to establish that I have taken a careful and measured approach to the issue, followed by prayer and observation of many who have the gift of tongues.

            And, admonishment taken, harsh and rude words are not
            acceptable! For that I apologize.

          • george canady

            Thanks, we will pray, think and talk through this together. I pray for those who’s job it is to protect us and protect some from us.

        • elainebitt

          Some people are saved in pentecostals churches in spite of what’s taught there. They are not less saved than anyone saved in reformed churches. The fact that some people are saved while under bad (or terrible, depends) teaching doesn’t justify the continuing teaching of error (and in some cases plain false teaching). People need to keep growing, and growing in knowledge of truth, not error.

          A church that teaches false teaching is a false church. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a few believers there; that means those believers need to be warned of that false teaching and come under the light of Truth. Many do actually, and they end up leaving those churches.

          Yes, I disagree with your “either or”. It’s not logical at all. You are raising a fallacy because there isn’t only one answer to that issue. I am not sure why you want to draw such a harsh line like that.

          • Marcus, not Aurelius

            I understand your
            response. However, the line was drawn by the title of the conference. Strange
            fire was related to the false prophets in the OT, not my comparison, but MacArthur’s.
            It is not a fallacy, but a call for honesty in what they are saying: charismatics,
            because of tongues, follow a false teaching. You need to read MacArthur’s book.

  • http://suzlt.blogspot.com/ Suzanne T

    So thankful for your work on this, Nathan.

    The one thing I don’t get and would like to better understand, is how to address with some brothers & sisters what the *it* is (“tongues”) that they seem to have experience..? That can be a touchy issue if you know what I mean. Of course biblical arguments can’t be made from experience but indeed, some people have had what to them is a legitimate experience of “speaking in tongues”, if even just once. That is the one thing that keeps them from coming to (what I believe) is a biblical understanding of “tongues” such as has been painstakingly presented by people such as yourself. It’s a hard sell if you’ve never “spoken in tongues”. How does one get around such a delicate matter? I don’t mean to take the thread in another direction..just looking for a bit of wisdom :-)

  • http://www.plasmaproductions.net Matthew Elton

    1 Corinthians 14 is so critically important to understanding this issue. Paul writes that “The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church” (v. 4) and “if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider say ‘Amen’ to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying? For you may be giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not being built up” (v. 16-17) and “If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds?” (v. 23).

    It’s clear from 1 Corinthians 14 that speaking in tongues without interpretation is for personal edification and not for evangelism – for the simple reason that anyone who hears does not understand! Paul writes that when they hear you speaking in tongues, they won’t understand and will think you are “out of your mind!” He writes in verse 19, “in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue.”

    Speaking in tongues without interpretation (translation) is a method of private prayer for one’s personal edification. The tongues are real languages, but may not be recognized as known languages because they include the languages of both humans and angels (1 Corinthians 13:1). Speaking in tongues is NOT a gift for communicating with other people in foreign languages. It is for praising God in your spirit. It is for your personal spiritual edification, not for preaching the gospel to others. If you try to preach the gospel by speaking in tongues, they won’t understand and they’ll think you are crazy! This is not a new problem – Paul addressed the same problem in 1 Corinthians 14. Tongues were no different back then than they are today!

    I’m not surprised at all by the Pentecostals who went to other countries and failed to communicate with foreigners by speaking in tongues. 1 Corinthians 14 is clear that the gift of tongues was never intended to be used in this way! Paul is clear that speaking in tongues without interpretation is for personal edification only and should NOT be done in public.

    Paul writes in verses 27-28: “If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret. But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God.”

    These two verses completely destroy the way tongues are used in many Pentecostal churches. I’ve been to Pentecostal churches where everyone starts speaking in tongues at the same time with no interpretation. This is a violation of Paul’s commands in 1 Corinthians 14. Paul’s instruction is very clear that speaking in tongues should only be done in church IF done in an orderly manner, one person at a time, and with interpretation given.

    That is very different from today’s Pentecostalism!

    The gift of tongues is available to every believer today, and the tongues are literally real languages of humans or angels. But speaking in tongues is for a believer’s personal edification and worship of God in the spirit, it was never intended as a method of evangelism or reaching the lost, and it was never intended to be used publicly in church unless there is interpretation given.

    Rather than abandoning the gift of tongues altogether, as cessationists do, we need to get back to a BIBLICAL use of speaking in tongues.

    When practiced biblically according to 1 Corinthians 14, the gift of tongues looks quite different from what you see going on in the Pentecostal/charismatic movement today.

    • Philip

      Question 1: Were the tongues in Corinth different than the tongues at Pentecost? Luke clearly tells us that unbelievers from different areas heard the Jews speaking in real languages that they had not known previously known.

      Question 2: Is there any evidence that anyone in the first 1900+ years of the Christian church argued for the interpretation of of 1 Corinthians 12-14 that you are arguing? Or was this understanding developed in response to the realization that modern tongues are not real languages?

      Question 3: Did Jesus give clear instructions on how to and how not to pray? If so, how does Jesus’ instruction fit into your interpretation of 1 Corinthians 12-14?

      Question 4: What is your basis for the belief that all believers can speak in tongues? Do you have information that the Apostle Paul did not have when he wrote 1 Corinthians 12:27-31?

      Question 5: What do you do with the fact that repeated studies have shown that non-believers can “speak in tongues” after listening to believers? Can non-believers receive a gift of the Spirit?

      • James

        Question 5: people can repeat, copy even fake speaking in tongues….clan clang. Cults would also copy these gifts also but that does not take anything away from the original
        Question 4; John MaCarthur says all beleivers are given gifts, whether they choose to stir them up, ignore, teach against them, repudiate them, seems to be more the question
        Question 3. Yes. But Paul also expanded on teaching predestination also when Christ spoke of “his people”
        Question 2; You are thinking in terms of one type of tongues whereas the writer is thinking in terms of two.
        Question 1: Yes one was a sign and the other a gift the same but different functions as led by the Spirit

  • Jeff Degner

    This may seem to coming out of left field, but something struck me about the timeframe of Parham’s quotes.

    A couple of years ago, I had the privilege of reading “The Imperial Cruise” by James Bradley. In short, it detailed the vision of American Imperialists and so-called progressives (or regressisves as I like to call them) who saw it as the “White Man’s Burden” to civilize and christianize the whole of the Pacific and Asia. After all, this same brand of American had successfully ‘civilized’ the Native Americans right?! The only logical step was to act with the same all-wise benevolence towards our ‘little brown brothers’ (per President McKinley), namely the Hawaiians and Filipinos.

    I was struck by the fact that for one, Parham was quoted in the Hawaiian Gazette, and for another that the 18 Pentecostals were attempting missionary endeavors in Eastern Asia.

    My question is simply this:

    Could the Pentecostals of the early 1900s been driven by an imperialist vision as much as they were by missionary zeal to obtain the so-called ‘higher gifts’???

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  • Greg Gibson

    Charles Fox Parham is often called “the Father of Pentecostalism.”
    He was likely a Freemason, KKK member, annihiliationist, and homosexual(?).
    https://www.google.com/#q=charles+parham+freemason
    https://www.google.com/#q=charles+parham+homosexual
    https://www.google.com/#q=charles+parham+sodomy
    https://www.google.com/search?q=charles+parham+ku+klux+klan
    https://www.google.com/search?q=charles+parham+annihilationism

    Just for fun, see an atheist speaking in tongues:

    • James

      You should expect false demonstrations of not only tongues, but churches, pastors, other gifts….this should not surprise us.

    • NCHammer

      Greg, lots of “preachers” mangle the Scripture and use it for their own ends…doesn’t mean the Bible, as intended, is any less true. Your argument seems to flow as, “False tongues exist, therefore all tongues are false.” That’s not a sound logical conclusion. You may be correct, but this evidence doesn’t make your case.

  • Sonshine
  • Jon Bush

    So why the two ‘languages’ in 1 Cor 13:1: the languages of men AND of angels. Why would we need an interpreter to interpret the languages of men when the Biblical languages of men in Acts ‘each heard it in their own language’ that is inconsistency with the gift of the languages of men. The instructions for interpreting someone speaking with their gift of languages would have to deal with another type of language. Because if it was of men their would be no need we already heard it in our own language. Why are we so afraid of the angelic tongue, probably because it is so often imitated by the devil and gladly bestowed upon anyone seeking apart from the will of God

    • Mark Hanson

      What if the tongues spoken on Pentecost – when each foreign believer heard the mighty works of God in his own language – were spoken in a Greek-speaking congregation? Would they understand them without an interpreter of that particular language?
      And how do we know what “tongues of angels” are? There’s only the passing mention in 1 Cor 13:1 – and in that passage they are considered worthless without love. Those that assume “tongues of angels” are modern glossolalia are making a leap beyond what Scripture teaches. Remember, the only time we hear the angels speak in Scripture, they are speaking in human languages.

    • Fred Butler

      What is the purpose of speaking in so-called angel tongues? Supposed to give you the spiritual goose bumps or something? Are my prayers in my normal human language not good enough for God? OR maybe God is quicker to answer angel tongue prayers than my bland, normal human tongue prayers? You seriously need to rethink why you believe this.

      • NCHammer

        Romans 8:26 would seem to answer part of your “question”.

        1 Cor 14 also indicates there is a benefit to speaking in an unknown tongue in prayer.

        • Fred Butler

          NC writes,
          Romans 8:26 would seem to answer part of your “question”

          No it doesn’t. In point of fact the “groanings” cannot be uttered. Means they are not audible. The caterwauling that takes place in Pentecostal churches is certainly audible.

          1 Cor 14 also indicates there is a benefit to speaking in an unknown tongue in prayer.

          Which verse? Nothing there suggests that speaking in unknown, uninterpreted languages, is beneficial. That would then mean there are countless Christians who are missing out on some benefit from God, that he intended all Christians to have, even though Ephesians 3 tells me I have all that I need for my spiritual growth and walk with Christ.

          • NCHammer

            1 Cor 14 v 4. How could a pagan prayer edify, even the prayer? Paul would never designate pagan practices as edifying. And, in that same thought, he says the v 5 “I would that ye all spake
            with tongues but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that
            prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret,
            that the church may receive edifying.”

            Why would Paul encourage them to speak in tongues if he just called it pagan? He makes no distinction between any “good” or “bad” tongues in this set of verses. He doesn’t say break his tought. He does encourage those involved to pray for an interpretation. Why seek an interpretation for a pagan prayer?

    • Philip

      I’ll ask you the same question I’ve asked two other commenters. In the first did 1900+ year history of the church did anyone argue that speakers of languages at Pentecost or Corinth were speaking the tongues of angels? Or, did modern Pentecostals adapt that interpretation in the 20th century when it became obvious to everyone inside and outside the church that those who claim to have the gift of languages were not in fact speaking real languages?

      • NCHammer

        1 Cor 13:1, Paul delineates angel and human tongues, which could be read to as a different form of language, answering your question with a “yes”. And, if it is so clear cut, as you submit, why did Paul not clearly and succinctly call out those speaking “gibberish” as false tongues?

        • Philip

          The most natural reading of 1 Corinthians 13 is that Paul is using figurative language to make a point. My question was not did Paul making a passing reference to speaking in the language of angels. My question is did anyone in church history prior to the mid 1900s argue that the gift of languages described in 1 Corinthians 12-14 mean that certain Christians could speak in the language of angels?

          • NCHammer

            This is a good question and I am not a church history expert. I will say this…many Pentecostals point to the 325 AD Council of Nicaea, as the point that the true Church went silent or dark, not rising again in fullness until the late 1800s with the revival in the NC mountains that actually birthed many of the American Pentecostal organizations in existence today. It seems a coincidence to me that these writing in the OP were around that same time. Not sure of any correlation, but the timeline did strike me.

    • Jerod

      Jon,
      One of the helpful issues in 1 Corinthians 13:1 that seems to end the discussion is the fact that the Greek word “if” denotes a specific class of probability, namely, the theoretical kind. Paul is not actually saying that it is possible to speak in angelic languages, nor to have prophecy or know all mysteries nor all knowledge, etc. The point is that even IF he had these things, but not love, then all these things would be for naught. In the end, a theology of “angelic speech” cannot in any way be derived from this text, because Paul is only speaking about hypothetical scenarios for the sake of an illustration about love. In addition to this, the abundance of explicit Scriptural evidence indicates that what is commonly known as “tongues” can only be actual, known languages used by actual people groups.

      • NCHammer

        Jerod, “if” Paul wanted to denounce such a false practice, this is certainly a very round about way to do so. He has no issue in direct verbal confrontation elsewhere in his writings. It would seem if they were doing something completely and obviously false or pagan, Paul would have called them out in a very direct way.

        • Jerod

          I think you misunderstood what I meant. His purpose in 1 Corinthians was not to denounce the false or pagan per se, but to promote love as the all-surpassing principle which drives and directs life in the body of Christ. You are mistaken, however, when you assume that Paul did not “call them out”, for he did this very thing in chapter 14. In addition, your view of tongues totally bypasses the clear intention of the gift as outline in Acts 2, namely, as a sign to unbelieving Jews that the New Covenant had arrived and that it was available for all nations. Here (as in chapter 10 and 19) the gift was clearly actual, known languages. Dr. Busenitz did an earlier article which demonstrates beyond a doubt that the gift in Acts and in 1 Corinthians is the exact same gift.
          You also failed to deal with the actual explicit grammatical detail that I cited (i.e., the conditional conjunction “if”). Do you have grammatical or contextual evidence which disproves that this is what Paul is doing in 1 Corinthians 13? You cited no evidence for your view other than an argument from silence.
          Remember NCHammer, our theology must be driven by the explicit grammatical and syntactical aspects of the text in its context, not one that is superimposed upon the text.

          • NCHammer

            In 1 Cor 14 v. 5, ” I
            would that ye all spake with tongues but rather that ye prophesied: for
            greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues,
            except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.”

            This reads as the same tongues he discusses in v. 2-4. He then encourages those who do so to pray to interpret. v. 13 “Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret.”

            Again, the same unknown tongues from the beginning of chapter 14. Why seek to interpret something that isn’t real or is pagan? He’s not calling them out for the tongues, but because they seem to do so with no interest in an actual interpretation that will be edified.

            Throughout chapter 14 Paul makes no distinction between good tongues and bad, which would seem necessary for a “rebuke”.

            Finally, v. 27-28 “If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret. But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.”
            If the only purpose of tongues was to show outsiders (those who spoke other languages) that Christianity was real, why would messages go out in a foreign language when no one was there to understand it and be convinced by it?

          • Jerod

            NCHammer, you said:

            “If the only purpose of tongues was to show outsiders (those who spoke other languages) that Christianity was real, why would messages go out in a foreign language when no one was there to understand it and be convinced by it?”
            Now I think you’re beginning to see why chapter 14 is, in fact, a rebuke and a correction. You see, the gift of miraculous languages-that is, of actual, known, spoken languages (which cannot be disputed that this is what it was) was being grossly abused by the Corinthian congregation.
            The gift IS designed as a sign for unbelievers. How do we know that? Because 14:21-22 say so. But the problem with the Corinthians is that many were using the gift for purposes other than that (pride, as a sign of their superior spirituality, etc.). Yes, granted, when an interpretation was given, all could be edified, and should be–but ONLY when someone could interpret. But they were also speaking in miraculous languages when no one was there to interpret.
            Again, you are bypassing the clear use and purpose of the gift clearly displayed in Acts 2, 10, 19 and in 1 Corinthians 14:21-22, namely that it was a sign to unbelieving Jews.
            Fun talking with you NCHammer. Take care.
            That is based on an assumption that you’re forcing into the text. You’re assuming that there was no one there to understand it

  • Bob R

    This book by Glenn Brown – a former AoG pastor – proved very helpful to me:
    http://pentecostrevisited.com/

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  • Acts238toBsaved

    There are many errors found here, it is plain to see you do not understand the gift of tongues.
    1. In answer to “are tongues a real language. The answer is YES, just because we do not understand what we or others are praying in tongues does not mean it is not a real language.
    2. There are thousands of languages and should we begin to understand our own gift, God will change it, it is not for us to understand. Tongues are given to intercede between us and God, the Holy Ghost asks for things that we have need of that we do not know or understand, there it will intercede with groaning’s and crying out to God in other tongues.
    3. PROOF TODAY? YES! There have been many incidents in where we hear the tongues that people are praying that are interpreted by those that know the language.
    In our own church we have had several incidents.
    *One when sister viola was praying a gentleman came in and asked her did she know Chinese, of course she did not. He told us she, not only was praying in Chinese, but Perfect Chinese, so rare that even the Chinese had lost some of the quality that she had been praying in.
    * Another sister was heard by a French gentleman to be praying in Perfect French, sister Vicky was only a very young teen and had never learned it or been to France.
    *Another incident took place when our Missionaries went to Mexico and when the alter service was called many received the Holy Ghost speaking in English, none could speak English in that remote area of Mexico, they were praising God and giving thanks in Perfect English.
    4. When the Apostles and those they ministered to received the Holy Ghost, they spoke with the languages of the people standing around about them. We will do the same.
    5. Tongues was NOT given for preaching to others, it was given as a comfort to whomever God gives it. The Holy Ghost is the Comforter, to help us and bring all things to our remembrance.
    6. There are 2 types of tongues, some confuse the issue. The initial gift of tongues is for the repented believer, a first step into the spiritual realm of Jesus. Then there is the Gift of tongues with interpretation, this is for a more seasoned believer and must follow the Biblical guidelines God gave us. The message to be given in tongues (and this is quite fantastic in church I will tell you!) Then it will be interpreted by 2 or at the most 3. Here we receive messages from God Himself in the congregation. God is ALIVE AND WELL. He lives among His people today.
    7. Some say tongues has ceased, but the Bible is clear on this. Tongues will only cease when “That which is perfect has come” and He has not come yet.
    8. Do we need the Holy Ghost gift today. YES. The Holy Ghost is Gods Spirit coming into our bodies to dwell with us. God said “if you have not my Spirit, you are none of mine”! and that is serious. Yes it is necessary for our Salvation today.

  • James

    The baptism of believers in the Holy Ghost is witnessed by the initial physical sign of speaking with other tongues as the Spirit of God gives them utterance (Acts 2:4). The speaking in tongues in this instance is the same in essence as the gift of tongues (1 Cor. 12:4–10, 28), but different in purpose and use.

    On the Day of Pentecost two signs preceded the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, They heard “a sound like the blowing of a violent wind” and they “saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them” (Acts 2:2–3). These particular signs were not repeated on later occasions when people were baptized in the Spirit. One sign, however, was actually a part of the Pentecostal baptism. All who were filled with the Holy Spirit “began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” (Acts 2:4). These “tongues” were languages they had never learned, given apart from the individual’s understanding.

    Some present who understood the languages recognized that they were “declaring the wonders [the mighty, magnificent sublime deeds] of God” (Acts 2:11). This remarkable sign was the most spectacular phenomenon evident on the Day of Pentecost. But it was repeated again at various times, two of which are recorded in the Book of Acts (Acts 10:46; 19:6).

    It may be asked if speaking in tongues is only for the evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. The answer is no, the phenomenon of tongues has at least two other important functions. Personal tongues, that is, the gift of utterance in unknown languages in private devotions, has the very worthwhile value of edifying the one engaged in prayer. To pray in an unknown tongue is to engage in a lofty form of worship (1 Cor 14:4). Praying in tongues is a useful practice; it should be cultivated in the believer’s daily life, for by it one is built up in faith and in spiritual life. Paul seems to take for granted in his epistles that believers normally went on to the baptism in the Holy Spirit and that tongues was a common part of their daily experience. He himself spoke in tongues more than the Corinthian believers, but in private (1 Cor 14:18–19).

    • BENDERS

      Dr. MacArthurs next book should be “Exegetical Chaos”. How do you have a intelligent discussion with someone who is not rational?

      • http://suzlt.blogspot.com/ Suzanne T

        “Dr. MacArthurs next book should be “Exegetical Chaos”.

        Uhhhhhh HUH!

      • Steve

        Exegetical Chaos….genius! lol that was good.

  • Kitty

    I had heard someone pray in “tongues” once when I was a child. I thought that she was nuts and don’t remember what it sounded like. 20 years later I was on my knees praying for someone when I started to speak what some of you call gibberish. I have continued to pray for people that way for 30 years. Reading many of your comments and the discussions about the Strange Fire conference has saddened my heart. Were the healings and the grace and the ministries that I have prayed for all for naught? Were the people who thanked me for my prayer support just fools? I will follow my Lord and make hard corrections when convicted… But as I seek the Lord’s counsel I pray (in English) that you all tread lightly in the chance that you may rob someone of their joy or slow down an answer to a prayer.

    • Philip

      Is there a clear passage in Scripture where Jesus teaches his disciples how to and how to pray? If so, is what you have described in line with or in conflict with what Jesus clearly taught?

      • Kitty

        Jesus taught that the Spirit would come and that the disciples should wait. He did not tell them what would happen at Pentecost. We have to rely on the explanations in the letters. Many here are theologians and pastors. I cannot compete with linguistics, theology or doctrine. As I have prayed through all the natural parts of life, death of family, personal cancer, cancer of others, job loss, rejection by a family member, family moves across state lines 4 times, multiple surgeries, and prayers for 100′s of people with all the same type of life events – I ocassionly slide into other speech. I have a hard time thinking that I have spent all that time alone in my prayer closet speaking the tongues of demons. Why would God let me live in the tongues of demons for over 30 years? Why did He honor my prayers? Why did He bring peace to my raging heart? My pastor is working his way through the 7 churches that Jesus spoke to in Revelation. Next is Sardis. I will continue to listen to what Jesus teaches.

        • http://suzlt.blogspot.com/ Suzanne T

          Hi Kitty, I appreciate your responses in here, you ( and Thomas Lentz) basically represent what I was talking about in my first comment. Hopefully I did not contribute to your being saddened in any way. (an earlier comment along with my “reply” was understandably deleted as it demeaned & detracted unnecessarily to the dialog. I should have been clearer on my part- that *I myself* would greatly benefit from a book on how things can get so exegetically ‘mixed up’ !)

          I did wish to respond to a couple things you said: “Were the healings and the grace and the ministries that I have prayed for all for naught?…Were the people who thanked me for my prayer support just fools?

          No, and No! I know those are meant to be rhetorical questions but understand (and I believe you do) that if you are in Christ, indeed He heard your prayers for the saints, and those people to whom you minister with who showed appreciation and thanked you are anything but foolish in their doing!

          Speaking for myself, although I have never “spoken in tongues”, (I did try once though) and for reasons I don’t even fully grasp, (I could have gone either side as I had no dog in any race, so to speak) I am in total agreement with the teaching that when Paul spoke of “tongues” he did so pre-supposing that it was/is a language known to men; a known language; the “gift” of which was used in the 1st century Apostolic church to confirm the Apostles, the Gospel..Spiritual truths to a Spiritual people (per Lyndon’s post on what is and isn’t “Spiritual”) .
          Cessationists believe that the *Sign Gifts* were given to men as the foundations of the very first church in this darkened world were being laid. Tongues was one of those foundational sign gift-just as were healings and miracles.

          We simply do not see these sign gifts genuinely happening today as they were recorded in scripture, for the purpose they served in the Apostolic, pre-canonical age.

          Lord bless you as you continue to grow and serve, stay fervant sister! Bless us all as we seek to understand these things and minister to eachother as brothers and sisters, help us to shed more light and love, not heat.

  • http://thomasalenz.com Thomas A. Lenz

    As a speaker in tongues myself, I would say that we understand “other tongues” to be other languages.
    We also understand that, as with other gifts of the spirit, there are various operations of tongues. One operation is in prayer, where tongues are used to speak mysteries to God, no one understanding the meaning but God. This is to help pray the will of God (Romans 8:26) I wouldn’t assume these to be a tongues of angels.
    Another operation allows one to speak in another human language, as in Acts 2. I read a lot of affirmations that this no longer happens, but that’s not true. I have friends that have spoken in Navajo and Spanish this way. I know another person, who could not speak English at the time, give his entire message in English. Recently I heard of a Finnish preacher who was preaching in Russia. After a while his interpreter sat down. The preacher seemed to be getting a good response so he kept on. Later, when he inquired as to why his interpreter deserted him, it was explained to him that he was speaking in Russian. I know of numerous other examples.
    Another operation is meant to be interpreted by another spiritual gift.
    John Sherrill is a journalist who set out to disprove the gift of tongues. He documented his quest in the book “They Speak with Other Tongues.” One thing he did was to have some linguists listen to a recording of several people speaking in tongues, plus a recording of someone faking it. The linguists identified the fake and verified that the others were real languages, though they could not identify which languages.
    In John 9, the Pharisees tried to tell the formerly blind man that their theory, they knew that Jesus was a sinner. He would have none of it, because he was once blind, but Jesus caused him to see. Here we have an example showing that a man with an experience is never at the mercy of a man with a theory. Those of us who pray in tongues know first hand of all the good God works in the earth through this wonderful gift. There’s refreshing (Isaiah 28:12), revelation (1 Cor 14:2) and edification (Jude 20).

    • BENDERS

      What are we supposed to do with your stories? Second and
      third hand stories by someone we don’t know mean nothing. I can explain away
      all your experiences. I’m not going to do that because I would be making
      assumptions and debating irrational charismatics is pointless in my experience.
      While most of us will attempt to understand what God’s word says, you people
      are telling us unverifiable, unbelievable, and unbiblical stories. I am
      supposed to buy this from people who refuse to look at scripture in an intellectually
      honest way? Herma what? Exegesis is not some kind of skin disease. So what does John 9
      have to do with this? Nothing is the answer in case you’re wondering. It
      certainly doesn’t help you defend your position. If you read Mr. Unger’s piece
      on taking the bible literally it may help you understand and would certainly be more productive than speaking Navajo to a bunch of people who aren’t unbelieving Navaho.

      • http://thomasalenz.com Thomas A. Lenz

        I take your point. These stories are verifiable in that I could give you the names of those involved and you could contact them and get the information more directly. In that sense, it’s more verifiable that they do happen than it is verifiable that they don’t happen. But I tell people that Jesus has risen, that He’s alive, a fact that also isn’t verifiable. All I can do is testify. They can chose to believe or not.

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  • Greg Gibson

    Jesus said, “You will know them by their fruit.” And what is the fruit of most Pentecostal leaders? Heresies and hypocrisy.

    MOST Pentecostal LEADERS have been exposed as hypocrites:

    http://www.bible.ca/tongues-pentecostal-preachers-immoral.htm

    (Add to that list Paul Crouch: homosexual, and Finis Dake: adulterer and felon. http://learntheology.com/dake_bible/). Has any other movement produced more hypocrites?

    The astonishing thing to me is that Reformed Charismatics would borrow any doctrine (like non-language tongues) from Pentecostal hypocrites and heretics? My Reformed brothers, open your eyes!

    • Kitty

      Wow… Thyatria was told to get the false doctrine out of the church. I assume that your fervor is meant to clear the church of heresy. Besides the slash and burn approach, how has Christ led you to restore the hypocrites around you? I do believe that the gifts are in use. But because of the abuses that have occurred and because of the vitriol as you have shared above, I serve quietly in a non-Pentecostal church. Jesus chose different paths for each of his disciples. Likewise our paths of obedience are different. I pray that each of us can serve The Lord in mercy and grace.

  • Lyndon Unger

    Great Article Nathan. You definitely know how to start an Authentic Firefight!

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  • Greg Gibson

    GLOSSOLALIA DOCTRINE INVENTED ~1830

    “…It is clear that the Church had always understood the miraculous use of tongues at Pentecost as foreign languages for at least 1800 years…” http://charlesasullivan.com/1896/introduction-to-the-history-of-glossolalia/

    “…The first known to publish a critical work on tongues as an ecstatic utterance were Freidrich Bleek, and FC Bauer around 1830, just before the Irvingite movement’s break-out.[4]

    “Bleek believes that glôssai is a poetic, inspired mode of speech, whereas Baur believes it to be “a speaking in a strange, unusual phrases which deviate from the prevailing use of language.” – partly borrowed from foreign languages.[5]

    The Exegetical Handbook authored by Heinrich Meyer believed that most commentators followed the old definitions before Bleek and Baur came out. The old definition was either a spontaneous speaking in a foreign language or the ability to easily learn a new language through study.[6]

    David Schulz wrote a dissertation on tongues in 1836 entitled, Die Geistesgaben der ersten Christen: insbesondre die sogenannte Gage der Sprachen, and concluded that the greatest thinkers on the subject were Bleek, Baur and Augustus Neander.[7] Neander came a little later than the first two, but his contribution had more of a universal impact .

    These three are so important that almost all of the modern scholarly and clinical Biblical interpretation trends on the gift of tongues can be traced to them…

    Neander also knew that the new definition clashed with the traditional one and readily admitted a sharp departure, “If, then, we examine more closely the description of what transpired on the day of Pentecost, we shall find several things which favour a different interpretation from the ancient one…” http://charlesasullivan.com/1897/the-history-of-tongues-as-an-ecstatic-utterance-the-origins

    “…It is clear that the word ecstasy or related synonym did not exist at all in any Greek dictionary published before 1879…

    It was found that before the 1800s commentaries do not have a single correlation
    between tongues, ecstasy or with the Greek prophets…

    The notion of the tongues of Pentecost being ecstatic, or glossolalic was not
    present in literature older than 1820..” http://charlesasullivan.com/1904/the-history-of-tongues-as-an-ecstatic-utterance-examining-the-source-books/

  • Greg Gibson

    GLOSSOLALIA DOCTRINE INVENTED ~1830

    “…It is clear that the Church had always understood the miraculous use of tongues at Pentecost as foreign languages for at least 1800 years…” http://charlesasullivan.com/1896/introduction-to-the-history-of-glossolalia/

    “…The first known to publish a critical work on tongues as an ecstatic utterance were Freidrich Bleek, and FC Bauer around 1830, just before the Irvingite movement’s break-out.[4]

    “Bleek believes that glôssai is a poetic, inspired mode of speech, whereas Baur believes it to be “a speaking in a strange, unusual phrases which deviate from the prevailing use of language.” – partly borrowed from foreign languages.[5]

    The Exegetical Handbook authored by Heinrich Meyer believed that most commentators followed the old definitions before Bleek and Baur came out. The old definition was either a spontaneous speaking in a foreign language or the ability to easily learn a new language through study.[6]

    David Schulz wrote a dissertation on tongues in 1836 entitled, Die Geistesgaben der ersten Christen: insbesondre die sogenannte Gage der Sprachen, and concluded that the greatest thinkers on the subject were Bleek, Baur and Augustus Neander.[7] Neander came a little later than the first two, but his contribution had more of a universal impact .

    These three are so important that almost all of the modern scholarly and clinical Biblical interpretation trends on the gift of tongues can be traced to them…

    Neander also knew that the new definition clashed with the traditional one and readily admitted a sharp departure, “If, then, we examine more closely the description of what transpired on the day of Pentecost, we shall find several things which favour a different interpretation from the ancient one…” http://charlesasullivan.com/1897/the-history-of-tongues-as-an-ecstatic-utterance-the-origins

    “…It is clear that the word ecstasy or related synonym did not exist at all in any Greek dictionary published before 1879…

    It was found that before the 1800s commentaries do not have a single correlation
    between tongues, ecstasy or with the Greek prophets…

    The notion of the tongues of Pentecost being ecstatic, or glossolalic was not
    present in literature older than 1820..” http://charlesasullivan.com/1904/the-history-of-tongues-as-an-ecstatic-utterance-examining-the-source-books/

    • Lyndon Unger

      Oh man! What a relief! I saw the words “invented” and “1830″ and thought we were going to start fighting about Dispensationalism!

  • deandeguara

    Great one sided research. You mention Jack Hayford and carefully pick a quote from him that supports your conspiracy theory. His book The Beauty of Spiritual Language is a classic on the subject. I love to be challenged with doctrine, but you clearly have an agenda to show evangelical pentecostal believers to be uneducated idiots. I will read your follow up posts to see if I’m wrong.

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