Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hold Your Tongues

Today's passage:  I Corinthians 14
The Apostles Baptized with the Holy Spirit
The Apostles Baptized with the Holy Spirit
Taken from the Treasures of the Bible
By Henry Davenport Northrop, D.D.
International Publishing Company, 1894
     Let me get this out up front.  I honestly have no clue how many people read this, and I surely don't know from what denominations readers herald.  But I'm guessing that there may be some who affiliate with a particular denomination who are about to become highly offended by this post.  I don't apologize for this, because I have to write what God shows me from His Word.  Here it is.  I don't see any need for the gift of tongues in our current dispensation.  It looks to me as if this particular spiritual gift was solely a sign for the early church.  As the gospels had not yet been written, how else was God supposed to get out the Good News?  He could have elected to send all of the disciples to language school.  But that might have taken too much time.  It was important to get out the word about Christ's death, burial and resurrection, especially while so many people from different nations of the Roman Empire were in Jerusalem.  So on the day of Pentecost, God chose to do something supernaturally.  He allowed the disciples to speak in a language that was not native to them, that they had not learned.  This was not just to be impressive.  In the audience were people who actually understood them.  Many of these people from these language groups were saved, and were able to return to their countries proclaiming God's salvation plan through His Son Jesus Christ.

     I can't say I know a lot about the modern-day tongues movement.  I have never been to a service or in a church where this takes place.  I've heard stories.  I've met people who claimed they have this gift.  I've never seen or heard it happen.  That being said, what is the point?  Now in inner-city Chicago, you might be able to make a case for it, since it is very possible you could actually have a person who spoke that language in a church service. But a church that does not have the diversity of people we have here, a church in a more rural area would not seem to need access to a plurality of languages.
     Even if I am completely wrong, and tongues are a gift for today, I still don't see how the churches that claim they have this gift use it properly.  Paul is very plain that if this gift is used, an interpreter should be present.  I never hear of that in these churches.  Paul says that those that have this gift, if there is nobody to interpret for them, than they ought to keep it in.  Why?  Verse 23 explains.  "If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?"  I don't know how the charismatic groups explain away this chapter, but it seems to me that there must be a lot of misinterpretation going on.  Here is my question also.  Maybe the claim is that they don't know what language they are speaking, but someone in their service might understand.  Okay.  Let's take that scenario for a second.  Perhaps I speak German.  If I heard my language in a service, wouldn't I go to the speaker and tell them I understood everything they said?  If nobody ever comes to a person with the gift of tongues and says, "Hey, I understood that!"  What is the point?  Furthermore, if those with this gift is unable to identify the tongue they are speaking, doesn't that seem a little convenient?  I mean, if you discovered you could speak Swahili, wouldn't your gift be better used in Africa, rather than an American city where the likelihood you will meet someone who speaks that language is slim?  I'm not trying to sound snarky or belittling.  Really, I am not.  I know that those who still believe this gift for today, also believe in the same plan of salvation I do, and are my brothers and sisters in Christ.  I know that we will worship in Heaven together.  And maybe then, we will actually sing and speak in different tongues.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for tackling this "issue." I'm not well versed on this matter as well but I've met & spoke with people who believe & "practice" speaking in tongues. I've had a pastor in the Philippines who wanted to "try-out" this gift in the church but for some reason it did not prosper. I hope I won't sound derogatory or critical as I say this: I've actually experienced a couple of "speaking in tongue" services & for me it was just plain chaotic. Nobody understood anybody & no one was interpreting anyone. So as verse 23 says, an outsider might think that the whole church has gone mad. But this I know --the brothers & sisters in Christ who believe in the gift of tongues are also God's children so I respect them & let them do what they think is right for them in their own churches. And I hope they respect my "preferences" as well.


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