Speaking in Tongues
There are a lot of religious people today who claim to be divinely inspired to speak in a mode of expression (they do not necessarily call them tongues) foreign to their native language. They claim to speak in this irregular way because of some manifestation of the Spirit (they assume you think it to be God’s Spirit called the Holy Spirit in the New Testament). It is my intention in this discussion to deal with some of the issues not often covered by some others who have written on this subject. Despite all that is written on this subject, there will be those who will still be confused. One reason for this will be they never intended to “study to show themselves approved”, they want this bubbly, over-flowing of the presence of God (or so they call it) as proof they are one of God’s special people!! The worst deceived is the self-deceived.
Various phenomena which appear to have a supra-human source are daily being reported within the context of what is loosely called Christianity. Speaking in tongues, predictions about the future, casting out demons, pronouncing cures, miraculous happenings are being considered by some to be validating the power of the God of Christianity, today. I do not deny the existence of these experiences, something is happening!! However, the question is “WHAT?” Some even wonder in the New Testament Church if this is a restoration of primitive Christianity. On the surface, it might appear to be, but, before we qualify any claim let us first take a closer look!!
Several questions need to be asked to satisfy the minds of those of us who study the Word of God. Were these kinds of ‘wonders’ ever a part of Christianity? The answer is obviously, yes. Are these kinds of phenomena a continuous part of the New Testament Church? The answer is NO? Why did these extra-ordinary “supernaturals” ever occur in the New Testament AND are those conditions, needs, or reasons which made them apart of the early New Testament Church, still present? Are these phenomena to be a continuous part of Christianity? Finally, are these phenomena experienced outside Christianity? The answer, YES!!
Christians must be cautious about “jumping to conclusions” about a reported healing, miracle, or wonder qualified by a story told us? I am not saying to doubt the sincerity of those who tell this monstrous nightmare, what I am saying is when you hear something that contradicts the Holy Word of God, look very cautiously!! Propositon: If one man’s experience validates God, and not all experiences are alike, HOW DO YOU FIGURE OUT WHICH ONE IS REAL? Are we not left with a multiplicity of gods? If there are other Gods which have produced “other” religions, the Christian’s Bible cannot stand as unique monotheism will have to go; and the Jesus of history lied when He claimed that only by Him can humans know the one and true God and come to Him!! Another question one must ask themselves is; are miracles the ONLY way of the validation of religion, can we leave out prophesy, wisdom, and history?
One thing quite clear by all who look at this subject is that supernatural experiences being reported within so-called Christianity, today, have their parallels within pagan religions!! In a book called Possession: Demoniacal; and Other Among Primitive Races, in Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and Modern Times, T. K. Oesterreich has given us a classic study of case histories of religious phenomena. This work was first published in 1921, and apparently was not written with the current “tongue speaking” movement in mind! T. K records case studies which show pagans speaking in ecstatic utterances and in foreign languages, making predictions, casting out demons, and pronouncing curses.