Speaking in tongues is probably in the top 3 issues that Christians disagree on. Speaking in tongues, I hope to show you, is not what many Christians think it is and not what is happening in many churches today. The Bible, not our experience, must always be our highest authority in doctrine and practice.
This is article is for Christians, dealing with an in-house issue. If you are not a Christian, you may not know what I’m talking about! Please do read the article if the subject interests you.
According to “charismatic” Christians, tongues is a heavenly or angelic prayer language and is a sign that you are filled with the Holy Spirit. You use this ecstatic prayer language (that you don’t understand) to pray to and praise God (in a language that apparently devil doesn’t understand either). “Charismatic” and Pentecostal Christians view use 1 Corinthians 12-14 as justification for this practice. Here are six simple points I hope will help clarify this thorny issue1:
Have you had a prophecy over your life that you’re not too sure about? Did a prophet say you should take a certain course that you don’t really want to? Are you in a church where prophecies are common, but create anxiety not peace because of the added pressure on believers?
What does the Bible say about the gift of prophecy and other “miraculous” spiritual gifts?
I argued in myprevious post that the speaking tongues in Acts was not the norm for all Christians, but the very specific and unique plan of God to demonstrate that there was to be only one church. Not a separate Gentile Church. Not a separate Samaritan church. One church made up of converted Jews, Samaritans and Gentiles. The pouring out of the Holy Spirit on all these groups demonstrated by the speaking of foreign languages (like at Pentecost, Acts 2) was evidence of this.
1 Corinthians 12-14 is the only other place in the New Testament that mentions speaking in tongues. (If speaking in tongues was and is the distinctive evidence of being filled by the Spirit, as is alleged by some, one would have thought it would be mentioned more?)
For those who hold the position that every Christian should speak in tongues as evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit, here is some food for thought:
Many Pentecostal traditions teach that speaking in tongues is the definitive sign of being baptized with the Holy Spirit. This baptism or filling of the Spirit happens sometime after your conversion and is known as the “Second Blessing”. Every Spirit-filled believer, they would argue, should therefore speak in tongues.