Speaking in tongues: Faith's language barrier?

On a wave of emotion, the man at the front of the church broke into a language only he and his God could understand.
“Ah le ah ne al la ne,” said Bill Siordia, a worshiper at The Pentecostals of Pleasanton, a small congregation in the San Francisco Bay Area. With closed eyes and palms raised skyward, he continued in a whispered rush. “Ma ne ah ne ta la ah ka wa.”

Siordia, 44, a warehouse worker, was speaking in tongues, a form of verbal prayer scholars call glossolalia. For him ”” and a growing numbers of Christians worldwide ”” the experience is a direct means of communication with God that is a transcendent and crucial part of his faith.

“It is kind of a high,” Siordia said later, describing the most common form of speaking in tongues as an indecipherable expression of personal prayer and praise. “It is like being with the Lord. I feel that sense that everything is OK.”

This Sunday, Christians will celebrate Pentecost, when the Bible says God sent a “mighty wind” among Jesus’ disciples and they prayed in unknown languages. “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit,” the Book of Acts says, “and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

Though all Christians mark the day, only some speak in tongues. Those who do describe an immediate, ecstatic and personal experience of God. Those who do not have called it phony, weird and even dangerous.

Read it all.


Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

128 comments on “Speaking in tongues: Faith's language barrier?

  1. Craig Stephans says:

    I thank God for the gift of speaking/prayer in tongues. It has been a powerful and much needed gift & weapon in my life.

    If anyone is interested in reading a brief paper I wrote about my experience and the Biblical background entitled “Why I speak in tongues” click on the post of that same title on my website http://www.craigstephans.wordpress.com.

  2. DonGander says:

    There are two things that modern Christianity needs more than anything else; speaking in tongues and obedience to Holy Scripture. Ah, that is true only if the first leads to the second.

    Our divorce rate indicates that we are willing to say, “Lord, Lord!” but we are not willing to do what the Lord commands us to do.

    Is Jesus LINO (Lord in name only)?

    God is bigger than His creation. God is greater than His gifts of the Spirit. May God send every gift in great abundance and may we indeed call, and make Him, Lord of our lives.


  3. Deja Vu says:

    I am wondering if someone who has had experience with glossolalia could help me with this: Is there is any connection between the gift of “speaking in tongues” and speaking a foreign language that could be used to share the Gospel?
    Do people who have the gift of glossolalia also learn foreign languages more easily?
    In the writings of the 6th century Pope Gregory the Great, he described a young man who seemed to die, and upon returning from the dead, could then speak in another language he had never spoken before, but it was a recognized contemporary language of the time.

  4. ruidh says:

    St. Paul warns about speaking in tongues without someone present with the gift of interpreting tongues. We often hear about the first, but rarely about the second.

  5. Shirley says:

    #4 ruidh, Paul is speaking about public speaking in tongues where there should be an interpretation lest those present not understand what is being said. However, there is also the private prayer language to which #1 refers that requires no interpretation. I belong to an intercessory prayer group where the leader gives messages in tongues and then provides the interpretation, but it is an intimate setting. St. Paul also said that he would that all spoke in tongues. It is a gift…a gift…of the Holy Spirit, not something one can do on his own.

  6. Philip Snyder says:

    Tounges can be a wonderful gift – one that I have never had – and it can bring a person closer to God.

    One thing a former Spiritual Director said to me is that we should never take pride in our spiritual gifts nor be envious of the gifts of others. Tounges can be a dangerous gift. Some people seem to think that receiving the gift of tounges means that you have “arrived” spirituall or are special. Most of those I’ve met that have received this gift don’t think so, but I know some who do.

    I thank God that some have received this gift and that it brings them closer to God and gives them a special means of communicating with Him.

    There are those who fake the gift out of a desire to “fit in” or show that they are just as spiritual as the others. Luckily, I don’t have to discern which are real and fake – I’ll leave that to someone with the gift of discernment and to God.

    Paul puts Tongues as one of the lesser gifts. Rather than Toungues, I would rather that we had more faith, hope, and agape.

    Phil Snyder

  7. Wilfred says:

    “Ma ne ah ne ta la ah ka wa.”
    Hmmm. Makes more sense than anything Spong ever wrote.

  8. Shirley says:

    Phil, I agree that some place an emphasis on speaking in tongues. One of the tenets of the Assemblies of God is that tongues is evidence of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. However, those I have met do not appear prideful about this gift. I do not think that because Paul lists speaking in tongues, and then interpretation of tongues last in his list in 1 Corinthians 12, that he indicates it is the lesser of the gifts. He just places it last. In Chapter 14 he states that prophesy is the greatest of gifts, but that he is thankful to God that he speaks in tongues more than all of them. It is certainly not right to boast about any gift from God, and though Paul does not say that it is dangerous to speak in tongues, he does say it should not be done in church unless someone is present with the gift of interpretation. For all that, I am grateful for any gift He wants to bestow upon me, however small.

  9. jayanthony says:

    A second baptism: in the Holy Spirit; speaking in tongues of an unknown language … I have to confess I find so little support for it in Holy Scripture and so much to argue against each. These have been topics of interest for many years and I am very surprised to find this theology prevalent in the AC.

  10. Milton says:

    #7 Wilfred
    LOL!!! So true! But Spong and his ilk DO speak in a tongue…a FORKED tongue!

  11. Peter dH says:

    A second baptism: in the Holy Spirit; speaking in tongues of an unknown language … I have to confess I find so little support for it in Holy scripture and so much to argue against each.

    Second baptism, fair enough, and many charismatics do not hold this theology. But I am quite surprised that you failed to find scriptural evidence for speaking in an unknown language. In 1 Cor 13:1, for example, Paul speaks of the “tongues of men and angels”. In the previous chapter he spoke of interpretation as a gift alongside speaking in tongues. There’s more of it in 14, where tongues are said to edify just the speaker (14:4). In Rom 8, Paul tells us that when we don’t know what to pray the Spirit does it for us in “groans that words cannot express” (Rom 8:26).

    Now if these “tongues of angels” are distinct from the “tongues of men” – if they require interpretation, rather than translation, and cannot be understood by anyone else without it – if Paul himself is praying in these tongues and with “groans that words cannot express” – if these are not related to speaking in tongues as we know it, what are they?

    I’d say that the scriptural evidence suggests that speaking in “tongues of angels” was more common than speaking in “tongues of men” in the early church, although the latter seem to have been dominant in the outpouring of the Spirit of Acts 2. This only makes sense, because tongues are given for the needs of the church (1 Cor 12:7) and at the time of Acts 2, the need was for a bunch of mostly Aramaic and Greek speakers to reach as many people and nations as possible as quickly as possible.

  12. Peter dH says:


    St. Paul warns about speaking in tongues without someone present with the gift of interpreting tongues. We often hear about the first, but rarely about the second.

    Maybe that is because we rarely speak in tongues as an act directed at the entire congregation in public worship. From what I’ve seen (and I don’t claim expertise or wide-ranging experience) it is often treated as an individual and essentially private act, even when done in public worship, in which case no interpretation is needed because edifying yourself is precisely the idea (1 Cor 14:4).

    If someone would stand there up front, or stand up in the congregation, and hold a 10 minute monologue in tongues, I sure would appreciate an interpretation.

    By the way, reading Paul you get the impression that the Corinthian church would make our most exuberant Pentecostals look like a stiff Dutch Reformed church at a funeral…

  13. Rob Eaton+ says:

    Deja Vu (3),
    After having spent a couple of days praying for it back in 1976, I woke up from a snooze (thus not “working at it”) speaking in tongues. So I fit the first part of your request for info from someone having (personal) experience with it.
    First question, Yes, but not necessarily. The point is made on a grand scale on the Festival of Pentecost. Listen to the reading from Acts this coming Sunday and you will hear a connection. The testimonies in the 2000 years since are legion of the same connection. Look at what I ‘ve got posted at Surrounded for more links. Some of the references linked there lead to recent testimony of someone speaking in tongues that was a Chinese dialect comes from the 1970s and 80s in Hong Kong and environs. It was only when the interpreter followed that the person speaking in tongues knew what they had actually said. I would say, though, that this is not the norm.
    Second, I would say No. Certainly, there are speakers-in-tongues who are linguistically-minded or talented people. But a proficiency in learning new languages has never been a requisite, nor does speaking in tongues automatically or consequently provide the aptitude for learning earthly languages. The larger maxim is that speaking in tongues is not limited to any subset of human society.
    Something else that you didn’t ask about – like learning and speaking a foreign language, speaking in tongues is totally under and in the control of the speaker.
    Tonite for our Confirmation class, in giving short illustrations of the gifts of the Spirit as enumerated in 1 Corinthians 12, beginning at verse 7, I spoke in tongues out loud for about 15 seconds, and then talked about it from the context of Paul’s encouragement and of his concern for order in worship.

    Hope that helps.

  14. Karen B. says:

    By the way, reading Paul you get the impression that the Corinthian church would make our most exuberant Pentecostals look like a stiff Dutch Reformed church at a funeral…

    What a great line, Peter! Thanks! (There are some Dutch reformed folks working as missionaries with another team here… can’t wait to share it with them!)

    Interesting to see the comments here. I can’t remember Kendall having another post (or at least not in a long time) which has raised the whole “charismatic issue” or where folks have discussed speaking in tongues.

    I put charismatic issue in scare quotes because it DID used to be such a huge issue. There were several wonderful Evangelical missions agencies I couldn’t even consider because they didn’t accept anyone who spoke in tongues. Also, back in my college days, it was extremely painful for me to see the division on campus between the two Christian fellowship groups — one an evangelical group where dispensationalist teaching held sway (many folks had Ryrie study bibles, need I say more?! LOL), the second a charismatic/Pentecostal group with loose ties to Chi Alpha, the campus ministry of the Assemblies of God. I think it did both groups harm to be separated, frankly.

    I was involved in both. Caused quite a stir by doing so. The 2 groups initially met on separate nights. What a trauma for me when they started meeting at the same time late in my sophomore year and I had to choose “loyalties” as it were. (I mostly attended the charismatic group my junior & senior years, but had roommates from the evangelical group, and tried to continue as active in both as I could.) I needed both groups. I needed the joyful worship of the charismatic group and the focus on being built up in spiritual gifts for ministry and being challenged to being active in ministry. I needed the excellent Bible teaching and exposition of the evangelical group. I greatly benefited from being in both.

    Anyway, I sense that the division and angst the charismatic movement used to cause is largely past tense these days. (Though, now that I think about it, I do remember being shocked at the discussion about hand-raising that ensued on the Apostasy discussion list following the first Plano conference…! That may have been more a symptom of the evangelical – Anglo-Catholic split, however, than an explicitly anti-charismatic thing.)

    As I read this thread I’m also reminded of something a friend in NJ said to me while I was on my home leave in the US in March. She has been part of “renewal” prayer groups (Episcopal and Roman Catholic) tied to her churches for over 20 years. She said “the charismatic renewal is dead, nothing is happening” — which brings me back to where I started this comment… It really seems that either the charismatic movement has gone mainstream and thus doesn’t have a very separate identity anymore, or that a lot of its spark (and the related controversy about it) has died down.

    Again, speaking personally, although I wasn’t at Truro during the hey-day of the charismatic renewal, when I joined in 1988, the Friday Prayer & Praise services were still going very strong, and there would still be public prophecies or other examples of “charismatic gifts” on Sunday mornings. Not every Sunday, but with fair frequency. These days, it would be very hard to identify Truro as having once been so “charismatic” (unless you dig into the Alleluia worship books in the pew and look at some of the praise music…!) I’m not complaining. I love Truro both for what it was and what it is. But it is pretty surprising how quickly things changed in the 90s (and I don’t think it was all due to Martyn’s arrival. The change was already underway when he arrived…). Would love to hear what others think and if you’ve seen similar trends.

  15. Tikvah says:

    For those who seek a better understanding of the “tongues” issue, I suggest reading the book “They Speak With Other Tongues” by John L. Sherrill. It’s still in print. Remember, tongues is just one of the numerous gifts of the Holy Spirit. If we do not reject the need for healing, or wisdom for instance, why would we reject the other gifts He has for us? If our Lord saw fit to gift us with the Holy Spirit, doesn’t it stand to reason that we need Him? And His gifts? Who are we to be so arrogant as to reject what God would bestow upon us in our need? Tongues simply comes with the package. And please mark 1 Thessalonians 5:19 – we’re not to quench (or stifle) the Holy Spirit. It’s serious stuff, this gifts of the Spirit business.
    In His Shalom,

  16. Karen B. says:

    It is only in coming back to this thread and seeing Rob Eaton’s comment (we were writing our comments at the same time, so I didn’t see his, even though it posted a few minutes before mine…) that I remembered I wanted to respond to Deja Vu’s question in #3.

    I am wondering if someone who has had experience with glossolalia could help me with this: Is there is any connection between the gift of “speaking in tongues” and speaking a foreign language that could be used to share the Gospel?
    Do people who have the gift of glossolalia also learn foreign languages more easily?

    I have an easy 3 word answer for Deja Vu: DON’T I WISH!!!!
    LOL. Let’s just say, I’m a missionary in SPITE OF my lack of proficiency in learning foreign languages, not because of any linguistic proficiency!!!
    I have heard second-hand stories from folks I trust of public tongues being spoken in a known language that couldn’t have been known by the speaker, but I’ve never witnessed it. I have often truly wished and prayed for “Pentecost moments” when I would be able to share the Gospel totally fluently here in a foreign language… but so far, haven’t had one in 15 years of ministry here.

  17. Bill Cool says:

    Speaking in tongues certainly has not helped me with other known languages. I have spoken in tongues for private edification since 1977. Prior to that I had to learn to read in two languages for my graduate work. Learning a language was a struggle then, and attempts to pick up other languages since then have been no easier.

    The one instance of which I am aware where a known language was spoken while speaking in tongues was not for information transfer, but for a witness to God’s power. This occurred at an Ohio parish prior to our arrival there. A person in the congregation had been “encouraged” repeatedly by some including his wife to pray for the gift of tongues. To stop their “encouragement”, he knelt at the rail during a prayer and praise service and decided to start babbling. To his (and others) amazement, the person kneeling next to him who happened to be a priest who was a scholar in ancient biblical languages turned to him and informed him that he was speaking in perfect Aramaic. That got his attention. He eventually went into ordained ministry.

    It is my impression that the charisms in evidence during the period of charismatic renewal have not disappeared. At Truro, Martyn Minns has over the years occasionally encouraged those who have not experience the infilling of the Holy Spirit, possibly including speaking in tongues, to come up for prayer after the service – just as anyone might with any other need. He mentions speaking in tongues when in context it makes sense to do so. It is my impression that the various charisms are normative in the congregation. I would welcome any manifestations of the various gifts, since they are one way that God builds up his body.

  18. Fisherman says:

    Material for the following can be found at http://www.religioustolerance.org/tongues3.htm. I found it very helpful in understanding the difference between what I knew about Pentecost and the exposure to those having a prayer language when changing parishes four years ago:

    The term “speaking in tongues” has been used to describe two very different phenomena:

    Glossolalia: This is the most commonly meaning of “speaking in tongues.” This term is derived from two Greek words: glõssai, which means “tongues” or “languages,” and lalien which means “to speak.” It is observed in some tribal religions and within some Christian denominations, notably Charismatics, Mormons in past times, 1 and Pentecostals. One source claims that Atheists and Agnostics have also spoken in tongues. 2 Another source defines it as “a phenomenon of intense religious experience expressing itself in ecstatic speech.” 3 Still another source comments: “To the outsider, hearing someone speaking in ‘tongues’ is like hearing so much gibberish. Glossolalia is the common prayer speech heard at Pentecostal churches.”

    A person speaking in tongues is typically in a state of religious ecstasy and is often unable to understand the words that she/he is saying. Most Christians who speak in tongues believe that they are speaking in an existing language. However, it is not similar to any known human tongue. Many speculate that it is a heavenly tongue. i.e. a language spoken by angels or by God, and not similar to any human language. It was seen frequently in the church at Corinth in the 1st century CE. It was experienced rarely during the history of Christianity until the 20th century when it has become quite common.

    Xenoglossia: (a.k.a. Zenolalia, Xenoglossia) This is the ability to spontaneously speak a foreign language without first having learned it, or even been exposed to it. This term is also derived from two Greek words: Xenos, which means “foreign” or “foreigner”, and glõssai, which means “tongues” or “languages.” An event in which an individual who knows only English, has never been exposed to any other language, and who suddenly starts to speak in fluent Swahili would be an example of Xenoglossia. Stories of xenoglossia are well known, particularly within the Pentecostal movement and psychic research. E. D. O’Connor describes some cases. Another source claims that “no scientifically attested case of zenolalia has come to light.” 6 Still another writer states that essentially all claims of xenoglossia are hoaxes.

    Passages in the Bible describe “speaking in tongues” as two very different phenomenons:

    The author of Luke-Acts describes Pentecost as an event where the listeners each heard the Apostles talk in the listeners’ own language. This may have been an example of xenoglossia. The author describes “speaking in tongues” as occurring at three major turning points in the early Christian movement: Pentecost, the first outreach to Gentiles, and the baptism of some followers of John the Baptist.

    St. Paul, in 1 Corinthians, describes tongues as glossolalia. The congregation is generally unable to understand what is being said. The person speaking in tongues is described as communicating with God. A person with the special gift of interpretation is needed to translate the words. Paul describes speaking in tongues as the least important of the possible gifts of the Holy Spirit, and implies that they are a routine occurrence in at least the church at Corinth.

    The Bible contains 35 passages, which mention speaking in tongues. Some of the passages in the Christian Scriptures (New Testament) which discuss speaking in tongues are:

    Xenoglossia Mark 16:17: This section, verses 15 to 18 include instructions by Jesus to the 11 remaining apostles to travel throughout the world and proclaim the gospel to everyone. Jesus describes that believers will speak in new tongues (sometimes translated as “languages”). Unfortunately, the verses in Mark 16:9-20 were not written by the author of Mark; the passage is a later addition by an unknown forger. Their validity is thus questionable.

  19. Chip Johnson, cj says:

    DeJa Vu and Karen,

    As a formerly ordained Church of God minister, now Anglican priest, I have seen the excesses in stressing glossolalia in large meetings, convention settings, etc., where the emphasis was on, “I am better than you, I can speak longer and louder, etc.” I have also frequently witnessed the serenity and calm that should accompany the prayerful speaking in tongues. And NEVER have I felt that God was anywhere in it if someone just spoke Spanish or French, etc….UNLESS there was an Hispanic or Frenchman (with no English!) present.

    The ONLY time I have ever spoken, through the Lord, any earthly language was one instance, as I was on my way to University Hospital in Tampa for a chaplaincy rotation over thirty years ago and drove up on a serious accident. The driver of one car was visiting from Brazil, and had no English. Her child had been thrown from the car, not too seriously injured, but she was pinned in. As rescue worked to free her, God spoke to her, to calm her, through me. I have no knowledge of Portuguese, and very little Spanish; but her parents told me later, in the hospital, that she told them I had spoken flawless Portuguese, in her local dialect, and had helped to calm her through her ordeal.

    All that to say, God can use earthly languages, after all He is sovereign; but, He generally accepts our passionate prayers in His language…which is NOT translatable!

  20. libraryjim says:

    Yes “St. Paul also said that he would that all spoke in tongues” but he also said “But I would rather that you prophesy”. (I Cor., 14:5 Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy.) Please don’t take verses out of context to have them say something they don’t! It gives proof-texting a bad name. :cheese:

    1 Corinthians 12 makes it clear that not all persons will have all the gifts of the spirit:

    4Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 7To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. … 27Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. 29Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31But earnestly desire the higher gifts.

    IMO, it is very divisive to the Body to insist (as some do) that all believers speak in other tongues to prove that they have been filled with the Holy Spirit (I also dislike the term “Baptism of the Holy Spirit). I have known a great many Christians in the Charismatic renewal who have been filled to overflowing by the Holy Spirit and have never spoken in tongues yet it is obvious that they have received the Holy Spirit (hey, I’m one of these! And I Praise the Lord for the gifts He HAS given me!).

    So, even though for a while I envied those who received this gift (and that only because it was emphasized that it was a must, so it was a false envy), I have come to realize that God is God, and He decides which gifts are given to whom. And I’m much more content in the Lord as a result.

    Again, Praise the Lord for what He has given us!

  21. Shirley says:

    LibraryJim, I agree with you completely that no one should insist that anyone be required to speak in tongues. Of course God does not force himself, or his gifts, on anyone. Nor do I believe that the gift of tongues proves anything about someone’s spirituality, except that they have received a gift from God. I generally do not even like to get into a discussion about tongues, or any of the manifestations of the spirit, because I can only talk about what God has done for me and in my life. However, scripture talks about being “baptized with the Spirit” and all of the references to this coming of the spirit in Acts certainly indicate that something powerful happened to those people. I do not want to argue about whether or not God does this today, or the semantics of what the words mean. I know what they have meant to me. I asked for this gift and God was gracious enough to answer my prayer. I do not say now, nor have I ever, that everyone speaks in tongues, or must speak in tongues. As you say, it is God who decides. But my husband often quotes the late Methodist Evangelist, Tommy Tyson, “It’s not a have-to, it’s a get-to.” Sorry if my post appeared to be divisive and taken out of context. Peace,

  22. Sarah1 says:

    Hi KarenB, thanks for the thoughtful post re: divisions between evangelicals and charismatics.

    But I do kind of think the “divisions” still exist. While I would not consider not working with someone who speaks in tongues [as a for instance], I suspect that basically people have segmented off from each other in various churches.

    I think people have just carefully learned to “avoid” places where charismatic worship exists — and vice versa!

    For instance, I cannot imagine any circumstances under which I would enjoy or appreciate being in a parish with the sort of worship that you described at Truro at one time. Despite immense exposure to services in which people have prophesied, been slain in the spirit, etc, etc, no amount of such exposure leaves me less uncomfortable and deeply disturbed.

    In part, I think this is just deep differences in personality. Those who enjoy charismatic worship often find the kind of worship that I appreciate [a sung evensong?? ; > ) ] to be cold and formal and “dead”.

    But I do think there are some differences in theology as well. For instance, I have noticed that many of the “Federal Conservatives” [those who do not think that Canterbury should be a center for an Anglican Communion and that Anglicans should leave the AC] are in fact charismatic in worship style. And I’ve noticed that many of the Communion Conservatives are — like me — far more formal in worship style. I think there are some deep theological differences there beyond just “she likes waving her hands” or “he would prefer to kneel at a kneeler for prayer”.

    Just some thoughts here . . .

  23. Deja Vu says:

    Thank you to all who contributed to this thread. It is very rich and wonderful.

  24. Karen B. says:

    Hi Bill Cool (#17) — hope I didn’t give the impression that I thought the charisms had died out at Truro (or more widely) or that Martyn didn’t believe in or encourage them. Not at all true. It was only the character of the Sunday a.m.services I was referring to, really.

    My musing earlier this morning was just that the charismatic movement as something *distinct* — a special emphasis, etc. seems to have died out. In many places like Truro it has been woven into the fabric of the life of the parish and has borne much wonderful fruit, particularly in the emphasis on the empowering of the laity for service and ministry. And overall I’m glad it is now not a separate ministry or emphasis, but something that is incorporated into the larger whole. I think that’s a good thing and helps avoid the over-emphasis on sign gifts, etc.

  25. RickW says:

    There are still fellowships today that don’t allow people to speak in tongues and use that as a means for disqualifying them for ministry. It’s realy to bad. It happened to a friend that to accept a position of leadership he had to sign a pledge that he wouldn’t do that.

    Sandy Millar states it well, “to be a chirstian you don’t have to speak in tongues, but why would you not want to?” In our church we call it not something that you have to do, but something that you get to do. It’s a way to speak mysteries to God.

    Speaking in tongues edifies the speaker. God uses it as a means to build us up – it is a personal gift.

    Was it Watchman Nee that didn’t see the power of God in his ministry untill he started to speak in tongues every day (I am not sure).

    Over all it’s part of good christian spiritual health. We pray that all who want this gift get it, and that those who struggle with the gift are granted peace about it.

  26. libraryjim says:

    Sandy Millar states it well, “to be a chirstian you don’t have to speak in tongues, but why would you not want to?”

    Because if God has not given it to you, and you want it, then you are not listening to that which God HAS given you. Seek the gift God gives, not that which He has chosen to not give.

    There are still fellowships today that don’t allow people to speak in tongues and use that as a means for disqualifying them for ministry.

    I had a friend who was a member of the Assemblies of God denominaiton. He was disqualified for ministry because he DIDN’T speak in tongues! He eventually left that denonmination for another that was still Charismatic/Pentecostal but didn’t place an all-or-nothing emphasis on tongues.

    We pray that all who want this gift get it, and that those who struggle with the gift are granted peace about it.

    I like that. I would also pray:
    For those who have the gift, may they use it for God’s glory in humbleness and faithfulness. For those who do not have it, may they be granted peace about it and use the gifts God has given them for His kingdom.

  27. Sarah1 says:

    RE: “Sandy Millar states it well, “to be a chirstian you don’t have to speak in tongues, but why would you not want to?”

    Well here’s a question: “why would a Christian want to?”


  28. libraryjim says:

    Me, I’d rather have a gift that could do some tangible good for others — like teaching (that’s actually what He’s given me) or healing or faith or wisdom or knowledge (my wife has the gift of knowledge — has never spoken in tongues — and she feels it is a burden more than a blessing! She will often utter a word of knowledge without realizing it, and often the person receiving it is not in the mood to receive the word, and oh, boy!) than tongues. I know tongues is supposed to ‘build one up’, but I already have a problem with pride as it is. LOL

  29. Craig Stephans says:

    28. To imagine that tongues does not do “tangible” good is to admit an ignorance about one of God’s gifts, and to also imagine that in edifying the Christian, tongues would lead to pride is also indicative of a real misunderstanding of the gift.

    27. I think the best answer for your question is this: Because of spiritual warfare, all a Christian does not know and the limits of the soul.

  30. Peter dH says:

    Well here’s a question: “why would a Christian want to?”

    Because Paul says it’s a Good Thing[tm]?

    Seriously: because it enables you to pray to God when words fail. In the shadow of the valley of death, words will fail. Conversely, when God shows his face to you in a way you never thought possible, words will fail. If you have the gift of tongues, you can still pray anyway. Sometimes it seems the gift can take you where words cannot go.

    Others continue praying in totally different ways, in silence, in art, in walking the dog. I think that’s great. Paul’s lists of gifts are not exhaustive, and the Spirit blows where it will.

  31. libraryjim says:

    no, no, no. You misunderstood. I don’t mean that I don’t see the vaule in the gift of tongues, I do. If God decided (or chose) to give me that gift, I would joyfully receive it. However, that is not the case, and I have joyfully received that which He has given me (after much anguish as to why He did not give me the gift of tongues when so many I met said I had to speak in tongues!). My comment above was in reference to 1 Corinthians 14:4-5:

    The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up.

    as to Spritual warfare, God doesn’t just have one weapon (gift) in His arsenel with which to equip his soldiers. Like any army, God trains people into specialities. It would be wrong to assume that all soldiers need the ability to program a computer, or fix a truck, or read a radar screen. So it is with God’s army:

    7To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

    I’m willing to let God, my Commander-in-Chief, decide which area of training and which gifts I need to complete the assignment He as given me.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is to echo Paul:

    Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the higher gifts. (I Cor 12:28-31)
    (the obvious answer to his rhetorical questions are “NO”)


    “So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. But all things should be done decently and in order.” (I Cor 14:39-40)

    I would never think to forbid or denigrate the speaking in tongues, however, for me, that is not what I seek. Actually, I never sought any of the gifts. God chose what gift I was to have and He gave it to me. And I received it and am content with that. If He gives me another gift at another time to fit a different circumstance, I’ll be content with that, as well. The bottom line (for me) is: be content with that which the Lord sends, and be faithful stewards thereof.

    (Scripture quoted from the English Standard Version, accessed on-line at biblegateway.com )

  32. miserable sinner says:

    Ponder what is meant by those who describe it as ‘edifying’. For some, it is a touchstone activity that returns them to an alignment with God’s will for them. Think of the moments in your life where God is assuring you that you are his beloved child. It is thus appropiately described personally and in the Bible as a gift of the Spirit.

    Now, for many, back to ‘longsuffering’. 😉

  33. Craig Stephans says:

    Thanks for the comments Jim.

  34. Sarah1 says:

    RE: “Because Paul says it’s a Good Thing[tm]?”

    Then may I assume that you are unmarried by choice? ; > )

    So far I have heard that its usefulness is that it “edifies” and that it allows people to pray when they are otherwise unable to pray.

  35. libraryjim says:

    You know what I love to see? At confirmation services (all of them!), when the Bishop lays hands on each candidate, the Spirit falls and moves mightily in each of their lives from that moment on. It would be neat to have some speak in tongues, some prophesy, some just feel the love wash over them, etc.
    That’s what I’d like to see.

    (Sarah, re: the comment So far I have heard that its usefulness is that it “edifies” and that it allows people to pray when they are otherwise unable to pray, my Roman Catholic mom would say, “So does the Rosary!” LOL! — ok, a bit ‘snarky’ I know, but I couldn’t resist. Sorry in advance if anyone is offended.)

  36. Craig Stephans says:

    34. Sarah, on post #1 I attached a link to my webisite with an article on speaking in tongues that I explain some biblical accounts and my own experiences if you want to check it out.


  37. Shirley says:

    Libraryjim, That’s what I would love to see, too. We had a priest at one time years ago, during the 70’s, who said that confirmation is the “vestigial” (sp?) remains of the baptism in the Holy Spirit, and that what you described is what is supposed to happen at confirmation. Maybe this Sunday we will celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit in a new and powerful way. May he bless us all and fill us with his Spirit.

  38. miserable sinner says:

    “Come, Holy Spirit, Come.

    Come, Holy Spirit, come;
    Let Thy bright beams arise;
    Dispel the darkness from our minds,
    And open all our eyes.
    . . .
    ’Tis Thine to cleanse the heart,
    To sanctify the soul,
    To pour fresh life in every part,
    And new create the whole.

    Dwell, therefore, in our hearts;
    Our minds from bondage free;
    Then we shall know and praise and love
    The Father, Son, and Thee.”

    Heavenly Father, as we enter into the celebration of Pentecost, may your Spirit be upon us as you continue to reveal your gifts to us. May we each be blessed by your gifts and show your fruits to a world in need of your life changing power. We pray especially for those seeking individual manifestations of your gifts. May you bestow them according to your will and may they be used to the glory of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

  39. Peter dH says:

    Then may I assume that you are unmarried by choice? ; > )

    Married in my weakness, I’m afraid. Not made of whatever kind of stuff Paul was made of. Back to tongues…

  40. Bill Cool says:

    Sarah – if my praying in tongues is intended by God to build up the church, then if I were at evensong near where you were worshipping, you would not find it disruptive, since it would be very unlikely that it would be audible. If it were, it would be disruptive to you and therefore no edifying to the church. The way Paul describes every gift – whether it is the gift of teaching, giving, praying in a tongue – every gift is a gift for the church, not for the individual (even those gifts that build up only one or a few people).

    On another topic somewhere in this thread – confirmation with the laying on of the bishop’s hands and his prayer that mentions the Spirit – I witnessed one instance where it was clearly God’s Spirit and not the bishop’s ceremony. An older lady in our parish in Ohio was being confirmed by Bishop Burt, a man who neither agreed with the charismatic renewal going on in our parish nor understood anything about it. The instant he laid his hands on her head and began praying, she went down in the spirit. He thought it was the heat, of which there was no evidence, and the real reason was later confirmed by the woman.

    # 24 Karen B. – Hi No problem – concerning your comments about the gifts at Truro. In the midst of the period of intense charismatic renewal, I used to say that I hoped that charismatic renewal would disappear in one very particular sense – that its effects would become normative in the church. I think that has happened in many places. I think that there is also a much richer and broader understanding of the gifts that the Holy Spirit bestows. The long-term gift to the church of a steady, faithful teacher, for instance, is profoundly important. The gift of an evangelist to the church can be the difference between a life knowing God and his son and a life of confusion and despair. I saw that gift in action in one of our small group Bible studies. I was leading/teaching, but this one evening we did not need the gift of a teacher, but that of an evangelist. One person gently, but at just the perfect time asked someone in the group if she had ever consciously given her life to Jesus. She said, “No”, and he invited her to do it, which she did. Six months later, she died of a massive unexpected infection, but she went through that experience with assurance and peace, not the anxiety that had characterized her life before.

  41. RickW says:

    As we read the scriptures about Jesus, he rarely gave a straight answer to a question Invariably he would give and answer that meets us on at least three levels. mind, body and spirit.

    Tongues is an are that can be described with the mind, done by the body but only understood through the spirit. it is an area that if the evaluation of it is soley on the intellectual level, the concept or value cannot be grasped.

    Theologians offer words like Glossolalia, etc to describe what is going on, but truly that does not even get close to defiing the experince.

    Are charismatics too into the expereince? Often they are but not always.

    Are intellectuals too into the logic of it all? Often, but the gospel is foolishness to the wise. We are called to know the unknowable – a spiritual realm that often defies logic and as Isaiah asks”

    Who is it he is trying to teach?
    To whom is he explaining his message?
    To children weaned from their milk,
    to those just taken from the breast?

  42. RickW says:

    Sorry hit submit too soon:

    Who is it he is trying to teach?
    To whom is he explaining his message?
    To children weaned from their milk,
    to those just taken from the breast?

    Scholars said “yes” to that question, but jesus said “no”

    Matt 13:10 The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”

    11He replied, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 13This is why I speak to them in parables:
    “Though seeing, they do not see;
    though hearing, they do not hear or understand. 14In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:
    ” ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
    you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
    15For this people’s heart has become calloused;
    they hardly hear with their ears,
    and they have closed their eyes.
    Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
    hear with their ears,
    understand with their hearts
    and turn, and I would heal them.'[a] 16But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

    Tongues can be foolishness to some, and a stumbling block to others (on both sides of the fence).

    May we all be given and give more grace as we seek Gods gifts.

  43. Rob Eaton+ says:

    Answer the first question, without using a second question as a foil for avoiding the first. Then maybe you’ll have answers for the second.


  44. libraryjim says:

    I just wanted to quickly comment on one thought from Sarah before I head off to bed:

    Those who enjoy charismatic worship often find the kind of worship that I appreciate [a sung evensong?? ; > ) ] to be cold and formal and “dead”.

    This is one Charismatic whose appreciation for the liturgical style — the liturgical prayers (including the rosary and liturgy of the hours), sung evensong, celebration of the Mass/Eucharist and chant INCREASED after receiving the infilling of the Holy Spirit. In fact, now I have a hard time worshipping OUTSIDE of the liturgical service — I feel that something vital is missing!

    I have other friends (and fellow musicians) from my college years who also share this appreciation. In fact, we constantly shared new finds (new to us) of liturgical-style music with each other through our early college years — John Michael Talbot; Fisherfolk; St. Louis Jesuits; etc. And when I discovered the very Charismatic chants of Taizé at FSU’s Episcopal Center — wow!

    So, you see, these two streams do not necessarily have to be mutually exclusive. In fact, the Lord is leading me into a more contempletive direction in my prayer life. And it is fascinating! One of the recent ‘finds’ was the ‘Renovare’ movement of Richard Foster, where the different traditions of the church are looked at not as separate movements, but part of a larger whole that need not be separate. (Google it. It’s worth it.)

    Pax Christi!

  45. libraryjim says:

    I have often wondered if Gregorian Chant was not the result of singing in tongues!

  46. Sarah1 says:

    RE: “Married in my weakness, I’m afraid. Not made of whatever kind of stuff Paul was made of. Back to tongues…”

    No, no . . . you mean back to . . . “Because Paul says it’s a Good Thing[tm]” ; > )

  47. Sarah1 says:

    RE: “Sarah, Answer the first question, without using a second question as a foil for avoiding the first.  Then maybe you’ll have answers for the second.”

    Hi Rob — I was not avoiding the first question at all. I did answer the first question with my question.

    . . . But if you need me to answer it more slowly and more clearly . . .

    “Because I see no use for it, though it does seem to offer a good deal of satisfaction to its practitioners.”


    “Why would a Christian want to?”

  48. libraryjim says:

    In reading the story of the Trapp Family Singers, their first Chaplain, the one who went with them out of Austria, had an interesting gift for languages. Without any prior knowledge of a foreign language, given a newspaper he could read and understand the language in a matter of minutes. I wonder if this was a form of the gift?

  49. miserable sinner says:

    With all respect, why would a Christian want to . . .
    – accept the call that Christ has for them
    – accept the indwelling power that the Spirit provides to fulfull that call
    – seek the Lord’s will for them
    – accept the gifts God has chosen for them
    If the general says soldier you need this armor for the battle you are about to fight, accept it gladly that he who is in ultimate authority over you knows the battle plan better than you do. Some need certain armor, others different armor. Same army. Same Lord.

    Continue to seek the armor the Lord has chosen for you. I believe you are already arrayed in more than many of us are ever blessed to receive.


  50. Sarah1 says:

    Hi miserable sinner,

    I appreciate the kind words — they are greatly appreciated indeed. Although perhaps any sound gifts on my part are just more apparent, rather than more numerous, because some of them have been “out in the open” a bit.

    But your questions in answer to my question are question-begging, though admittedly not as manipulative, sophistic, assumptive, and conversation-controlling as that of Sandy Millar’s, which was specifically this one: “to be a chirstian you don’t have to speak in tongues, but why would you not want to?”

    It’s the kind of question that a person asks in the hopes that the discussion or debate will end without any of the issues being addressed; the questioner hopes to emotionally shame the protesters into shutting up about it, sort of like asking, in an inverse way “when did you stop beating your wife?”. For such a great man, it is a remarkably facile, shallow, and rhetorically bullying question to ask and I find it hard to believe that he actually asks it.

    He is counting on, of course, a brave person not raising his hand and reeling of half a dozen reasons, among them:

    — I do not think the gift of “tongues” exists
    — I think the gift of tongues as you are practicing it is not at all that gift that Paul speaks of
    — I note that the gift of tongues offers nothing at all, seemingly, to anyone else in the church other than the gift of satisfaction to the practitioner
    — I note that the gift of tongues is *publicly* practiced by emotionally overwrought extroverts who enjoy making public displays of themselves, and I wonder if that might have something to do with their wounded personalities that seek esteem and attention in all the wrong places
    — what a remarkably affected, artificial, and theatrical performance it all seems, and somehow occurs at the moment of maximum display, too
    — if tongues is only practiced as a private prayer language, then how is tongues edifying to “the whole body” any more than my going out and contemplating the glories of God’s outdoor creation is edifying to “the whole body”
    — since I think that the sign gifts are no longer offered by the Holy Spirit, the gift of tongues as it is practiced today is nothing more than human babble.

    Understand that those are not all representative of *my* reasons, but I can reel them off pretty handily from my discussion with other Christians, who actually do mention one or all of the above.

    So again, as I’ve said several times, I find the question of Millar’s to be astoundingly sad and insecure and weak.

    And when I asked for a reason *to desire* such a gift, I’m treated to something vague about edification and “private prayer language”.

    Again, this thread appears to be, yet again, about those who practice tongues implying that the spirituality is weak of those who do not wish to practice tongues at all and who question the practice. It’s almost as if this is sacrosanct ground and somehow those opposed are not supposed to bring up the challenges or mention any objections. And God forbid that any Christian simply say something like “no, I think the practice of what is today known as “tongues” is quite harmful to the church” as someone said to me last night.

    That’s a real theological divide, friends. It’s more than “you’re mean for asking that”.

    Jonathan Edwards himself was quite intrigued by some of what some Christians today are also concerned about in charismatic worship.

  51. Shirley says:

    Sarah, I know that I commented earlier that I don’t usually get into a discussion about speaking in tongues, and that is because it usually winds up like this. Our opinions about scripture are merely “our opinions”, but this is what God said:

    “1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were heathen, you were led astray to dumb idols, however you may have been moved. 3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit. 4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are inspired by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. ” 1 Cor 12:1-11

    Surely you don’t want to eliminate these verses. My opinion is that Sandy Millar was responding to someone who was feeling “less spiritual” (and certainly should not have) over this and was doing it in a kind way. But you know, why does it matter to you what God has done in my life, and my testimony of that? I rejoice that God has given you gifts of writing, adminstration, teaching and I am sure, many others. Can you not rejoice with me without saying that my prayer language is not a gift from God, but human babble? We should build one another up rather than tear down.

    May we all have wisdom and understanding in the knowledge of Him.


  52. thirdstool says:

    Anglicans are not going to make a positive impact on the world by babbling in a pseudo-language that no-one can understand. Speaking means to use comprehensible words. “Ma ne ah ne ta la ah ka wa” is what babies say BEFORE they speak their first word, or what Boy Scouts say when pretending to be native Americans around a campfire. I do concede, however, that it is preferable to verbal personal assaults on fellow Episcopaluians who happen to see things differently than one does.

  53. libraryjim says:

    My opinion is that even though
    1) I have not received this gift, and
    2) There are some who place an over-emphasis on this gift over others and
    3) Those who have it are definately edified because of it, and
    4) there are those who are definately edified with gifts other than tongues,

    we should neither elevate it to a higher place than Scripture gives it nor lower it in denigration BECAUSE Scripture does speak highly of it.

    The mistake is two-fold:
    1) Teaching that no one should have the gift
    2) Teaching that everyone should have the gift.

    We should leave it up to God to decide who, if and when the gift is given, rejoicing with those who have it, and rejoicing with those who do not but have received other gifts in their life through the indwelling of the Spirit.

    That’s how I teach it when asked about it.

    (By the way, one leader at a prayer group taught that to ‘jump-start’ the gift, one should start uttering non-sense syllables such as have been used in above posts or ba-ba-ba-ba) and God will take over from there. I think this in non-sensical and defiantely puts us in the mistaken postion of telling God we know better than He does about the giving of the Gifts.)

    Jim Elliott
    Spirit-filled since 1975
    and never spoken in tongues and neither proud of it nor ashamed of it.

  54. Tikvah says:

    You realize, of course, that we’re all arguing about accepting a gift from God. Now, does that make any sense?
    Just a quick little story … a former rector, back in the hay day of Charismatic Renewal, was open to the baptism in the Holy Spirit, but told God he didn’t want the tongues. He received the baptism, sans tongues … initially … but, a few weeks or so later, while he was singing, the tongues just came. The irony is that he can’t carry a tune in a bucket, to this very day. There’s a lesson here. Let him who has a brain …
    In His Shalom,

  55. libraryjim says:

    Who’s arguing? We’re merely having a friendly discussion. I’m enjoying hearing other’s opinions, and so far the tone has been very low key, and friendly.

    By the way, the answer to your ‘lesson’ above is: God gives to each person as He wills, not according to our wiil.

  56. Shirley says:

    Jim, I must confess I was beginning to feel argumentive, so I stopped. But I learned a line in the 4th grade and it has stuck with me all (lots) of these years: “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still”. Don’t you find that to be true? It takes something that makes us want to change, and that usually is love.

  57. Bill Cool says:

    # 53 Libraryjim,

    I agree with what you say about the particular gift that is the focus of this discussion. However, what you say could equivalently be extended to any other gift – and ought to be. Each different gift is a sovereign gift from the giver. We cannot choose to invent the presence of any gift in ourselves that the Lord has not chosen to provide.

    Nor do we always know how a particular gift will build up the church. Our first year as Christians was in a Mennonite church. The witness of the gift of mercy that so many in that congregation had still builds me up and it may even build up those with whom I continue to share my memories of that hugely outpoured gift in that congregation.

    To this day I remember with clarity one Sunday in 1976 when the pastor announced in the service that there had been a tornado in Kansas and that Mennonite Central Committee was requesting that the congregation send two strong men for six weeks. This was at the start of the haying season – every strong person was much needed. Within 24 hours, two young men were on a bus with their tickets paid by someone else, and with other farm households pitching in with labor on the farms that were short due to their departure. A non-Christian could explain all that as a combination of mere generosity and some sort of administrative support. I saw this often enough to know, even as a person with less than one year as a Christian, that I was seeing the gift of mercy poured out again and again.

    Now how did that build up the body? It strengthened that local body of believers to know God’s call ever more clearly and to work as a coordinated body. It strengthened me as a new believer, who within a year would move away and be a part of a distant Episcopal Church in the midst of charismatic renewal. And it has perhaps strengthened some who have heard me testify about it in the intervening 30 years. It certainly strengthened the witness of the church among believers and non-believers in a devastated town in Kansas.

    In a strange way it seems that the church has sometimes made too much of the gift of tongues – either in opposition to it or in insistence upon it. It is “merely” one of the gifts of the creator of the universe to his church. Without his gifts, the church could not operate. It would be only another charitable community organization with an interesting historical story. In some way that I certainly do not understand, tongues is one of the gifts to the church from the Lord.

  58. libraryjim says:

    Amen. You’ve got it!
    The world also saw the gift of forgiveness and mercy manifest in the Amish community after the school shooting there this past year. What a witness God worked through that.
    It is very true, we, with our limited perspective, cannot possibly understand the mind of God or His purposes except in a very limited way.

  59. Tikvah says:

    Kontakion (Plagal Tone Four)
    When the Most High came down and confounded tongues of men at Babel, He divided the nations. When He dispensed the tongues of fire, He called all to unity, and with one voice we glorify the Most Holy Spirit.
    Have a blessed day,

  60. DonGander says:

    “…and with one voice we glorify the Most Holy Spirit.”



  61. Tikvah says:

    libraryjim wrote – “Who’s arguing? We’re merely having a friendly discussion. I’m enjoying hearing other’s opinions, and so far the tone has been very low key, and friendly.
    By the way, the answer to your ‘lesson’ above is: God gives to each person as He wills, not according to our will.”

    We’re arguing the pros and cons; that need not be unfriendly and that was not my implication. We are “discussing” then, whether or not we should accept a gift from the Most High. And yes, the Spirit gives as He wills… but we have the choice as to whether we use that gift, or not. What is His will for us when He does bestow a gift upon us, do you you think?

    A blessed Whitsunday to you,

  62. libraryjim says:

    And yes, the Spirit gives as He wills… but we have the choice as to whether we use that gift, or not. What is His will for us when He does bestow a gift upon us, do you you think?

    Oh, yes, His will is that we use it. But I don’t think His will is that we anguish and agonize over getting a gift we haven’t been given, just because our fellow believers say we should have gotten it. 🙂
    I have joyfully accepted that I have been given a gift! And I use it with humbleness and thanksgiving and (I hope) faithfulness.

    Putting it in human terms, we can ASK a person who says “I’m going to give you a gift”: :Oh, please, give me X but not Y”, (kids do this all the time with grandma!), but while the person may consider our request (“that’s nice, dear”), they are going to give us the gift they have picked out for us that they think is going to benefit us most (“I know you wanted a i-pod, but I got you this nice sweater because it’s winter and you don’t have one to keep you warm”). We might be disappointed, but the value of the gift given will soon become apparent.
    So, why the emphaisis on ONE gift when the Epistles list at least 19 (by one count)? That’s my point.

  63. Sarah1 says:

    RE: “But you know, why does it matter to you what God has done in my life, and my testimony of that?  I rejoice that God has given you gifts of writing, adminstration, teaching and I am sure, many others.  Can you not rejoice with me without saying that my prayer language is not a gift from God, but human babble?”

    Hi Shirley, it does not matter to me what you do [except, of course, if there were some immorality or something, then it would matter]. For instance, at one time there was quite a fad about “holy laughter” and after that came the “dog barking” phase. It is not my concern that people do those things, though I disagree with it. But I responded to this very specious question that attempted to manipulate people into accepting an *assumption* about today’s current practice of tongues. The question was “to be a chirstian you don’t have to speak in tongues, but why would you not want to?”

    Believe me, if someone had asked “to be a chirstian you don’t have to [bark like a dog in moves of the Spirit], but why would you not want to?” I would have responded in the same way. I also hope that if someone were to say this — “to be a chirstian you don’t have to [write for blogs or get into trouble with fellow reasserters], but why would you not want to?” — that I would come to the aid of those who certainly do not wish anything of the sort! Do you see, now, why I responded?

  64. Sarah1 says:

    RE: “You realize, of course, that we’re all arguing about accepting a gift from God.”

    No, I’m afraid we’re not “all” doing that at all. Only the ones who presumptively accept today’s practice of tongues as that which was given to the church in Acts are doing that.

    Your statement reminds me intensely of revisionists who say “but why are you willing to divide the church over a secondary matter like gay issues?” Within their question lies the assumptions that guide *their* theology and not that of reasserters. It is an assumptive question.

  65. libraryjim says:

    I don’t get why someone will not accept the FACT that God does not give the same gift (in the case of this discussion: Tongues) to everyone. No where in Scripture, tradition, or reason is this ever asserted.

    And if it were so vitally important that every spirit-filled believer speak in tongues, why did it ever ‘die out’ and have to be revived, and apparently waned again?

    I’m perfectly content to accept that some are given the gift of tongues and some are not.

    (However, I think those who do get the gift would be well advised to re-read the scriptures about the proper use of the gift in an assembly of believers. )

  66. DonGander says:

    What interesting and perceptive comments by a very many people.

    One thing that I have noticed in my study of the Christian Church in America in the 20th Century is that many people have strong gifts or conversion experiences and others rise up around them building a whole denomination on a certain gift, or group of gifts, or experiences. The selling of the denomination is done with great vigor and love, wanting all to have what they have and saying that some are less of a christian for not having such experiences or gifts. The universal problem that I see in all these denominations or groups is that they eventually began to worship the gift above the giver.

    May we, this day, thank God for every gift that He gives and use it (or encourage it) in true love and obedience to His Holy Spirit. Remember, even if we have faith to move mountains and have not love, it is nothing (it is vanity), and God will judge us for such acts of faithlessness. Any gift is less than useful if we are not in obedience to Jesus Christ and His Word. Likewise, any gift is useless if we fail to invest it in Jesus name.

    God Bless.


  67. Shirley says:

    I agree with you, Don. I heard a wonderful sermon this morning about the Body of Christ and the different gifts and parts of the body, and each being important. It was that ALL are important for the building up the Body and that while the ear cannot see, and the eye cannot hear, we all are necessary. The scriptures were from Ephesians 4 about building up the Body, and 1 Cor 12, that all parts are necessary, and Romans 12, we do not all have the same function. But where one of may be weak, another one of us may be strong in order that we can minister to one another. So that our gifts can be used for ministry and for building up the Body of Christ, we speak the truth in love and grow up in every way into Him who is the head.

    I really don’t think there is all that much emphasis on speaking in tongues today. Had it not been for this post we would not even be discussing it. However, I know that it is a gift from God and especially helpful for those called to be intercessors. As you say, the important thing is that we invest it in Jesus name.

    As for the theology, I am no scholar, but the Rev. Terry Fullam, and Dean Zahl as well, both teach that dispensationalism is not biblical. So I guess that is where disagreements arise.

    A Blessed Pentecost to all and may the Holy Spirit fall upon this nation.

  68. Sarah1 says:

    I don’t think that dispensationalism is the division line. Some dispensationalists believe in the practice of today’s version of tongues. And PCA Presbyterians, who are covenant theologians, not dispensationalists, in general do not believe in the practice of tongues due to their cessationalist theology.

  69. DonGander says:

    I said, “The universal problem that I see in all these denominations or groups is that they eventually began to worship the gift above the giver.”

    Please don’t limit this to Dispensationalism, the litergy of the Anglican Church is a mighty gift of God but, unfortunately, many are worshiping the gift of the litergy more than they worship the giver of the litergy. None of us are immune to this common sin of worshiping God’s creation above God, Himself. That is why Scripture instructs us so minutely on how to know if we are acting in faith or faithlessly.


  70. libraryjim says:

    I agree. The concept of dispensational theology never occurred to me. As for Liturgy, any form of worship can be turned into dogma. I’ve known people who look at the Liturgy and think “How dead and cold! IF you could just worship like WE do, you’d really be blessed by God!” One rector I knew related a story of a conversation he’d had with a non-denominational pastor:

    Pastor: your people are so cold, I bet they would not even raise their hands in worship.
    Rector: You may be right, but how would your people respond if you asked them to make the sign of the cross?
    Pastor: Probably not too favorably.
    Rector: By the way, some of our people DO raise their hands during our liturgical worship. You might feel more at home than you think.

  71. Shirley says:

    With all due respect Sarah, St. Paul does not refer to the gift of tongues as a “practice”, rather a gift from God. As far as dispensationalism or cessasionism, I am not an expert on isms, but they have the same outcome as far as the ministry gifts in 1 Cor 12 are concerned…they do not teach that those gifts are for today. Believe what you want. I do find it curious though that we are so careful to point out to the revisionists that Romans 1 prohibits same-se* se*, but we can remove all of the references to speaking in tongues from 1 Cor and Acts. I am sure you are not persuaded, but it really doesn’t matter. I know what happened to me. I don’t boast about it, for it is a precious gift from God. If it were not for this post today on the Feast of Pentecost, I certainly would not be talking about it to you. If you don’t believe it, I can’t help that. But you won’t change my mind for God has already done that when he came into my heart 28 years ago. Bless you and may God fill your heart with his love and enrich your ministry with his presence.

    Shirley Sims

  72. Sarah1 says:

    RE: “With all due respect Sarah, St. Paul does not refer to the gift of tongues as a “practice”, rather a gift from God.”

    I agree. But as I have pointed out several times already now, a number of Christian believers do not believe at all that the tongues that is practiced today was the gift that Paul referred to.

    RE: “As far as dispensationalism or cessasionism, I am not an expert on isms, but they have the same outcome as far as the ministry gifts in 1 Cor 12 are concerned…they do not teach that those gifts are for today.”

    There are dispensationalists that allow for ministry gifts, although it is true that cessationism does not allow for such gifts — they think that they have died out and are no longer useful to the church. 

    RE: “I do find it curious though that we are so careful to point out to the revisionists that Romans 1 prohibits same-se* se*, but we can remove all of the references to speaking in tongues from 1 Cor and Acts.”

    I certainly did no such thing. But there is a legitimate difference of opinion on what that gift of tongues actually was. We all know about that difference of opinion — it is no surprise or shock, or hopefully isn’t.

    RE: “If it were not for this post today on the Feast of Pentecost, I certainly would not be talking about it to you. If you don’t believe it, I can’t help that.  But you won’t change my mind for God has already done that when he came into my heart 28 years ago.”

    And if it were not for that very assumptive question about why on earth Christians would not desire it, I would not be talking about it with you. I have no desire to change your mind, Shirley — I merely desired to address that question that someone asked above. I think that I have done that. Hopefully no one will make the mistake of using such an assumptive question as a “debate avoider” or jocular attempt to shame again.

    I have many friends and acquaintances who practice the type of tongues that you and others believe to be the gift to which Paul referred in scripture. And I love them very dearly as brothers and sisters in Christ. Hopefully they would not want me to avoid the issue simply because they do not wish to be disagreed with over it.

  73. thirdstool says:

    With all this talk of a gift, I must ask, what kind of gift is it? What good does it do, since nobody understands it? Might it not disturb the liturgy for someone else?

  74. RickW says:

    Much of what has been written here is troublesome, and for my part in this, I am so, so sorry.

    Many of the gifts of the spirit have been given to people in the church and have been misused. All of the spiritual gifts given to people are for the glory of the giver, Jesus. So often these gifts are used for personal gain and that is wrong. We use them to puff up our own pride, trying to make ourselves out as some sort of spiritual elite. Some of us even pride ourselves in never having been contaminated by these gifts. Often people have been wounded by people bearing these gifts, and our hearts have grown cold to the gift and the giver.

    I pray for all of us:

    Heavenly Father we thank you that you have given your gifts to the church, and that these gifts are just glimpses into the nature of heaven. So often, we have used this wealth from heaven, not as you intended, but as a means to enrich ourselves. For these missteps and misuse of your gift, we repent and are truly sorry. Lord, we pray that you will forgive us and our church for not sharing these gifts in the spirit to which they are given, nor have we been as generous with our gifts as you have been with us. Forgive us father, we pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.

  75. libraryjim says:

    The best way to answer your question would be to suggest you attend a parish where they incorporate the gifts at the liturgy. It is a beautiful experience, and in no way detracts from the liturgical solemnity.
    During my later high school abnd early college years, I attended a Charismatic Catholic Mass at St. Paul of the Cross, Singer Island (South Florida, near West Palm Beach). The primary celebrants were priests from a nearby Passionist monastary. And it was very uplifting and wonderful.

  76. Anonymous Layperson says:

    Sarah, your question still stands unanswered. I doubt I could ever find speaking in tongues “edifying”, the only times I’ve been exposed to it I found it very disturbing. At my brother’s AOG church tongues seems to be edifying in that the “interpretation” tends to be a prophetic “Word of Lord” that reinforces the pastor’s sermon topic for the day…

  77. Craig Stephans says:

    76. Have you ever seen a professional athlete come off the field and go to the sideline or into the locker room for an IV of nutrients? Then he comes back on full of energy. Praying in tongues, as one description, is like a spiritual I.V. that energizes one and help him or her get back in the game. Praying and hearing tongues is extremely “disturbing” to a person’s self because it makes no sense. It has to be done in faith that it is in fact effective and edifying as the Bible says it is. Hearing a bunch of people in a congregation may not be edifying to each other but individually they are communicating to God. I have heard this done during praise and worship otherwise as the Bible says it should precede interpretation.

    I think the fact that tongues always creates conflict in discussion and initiates such antagonism toward it creates confusion and disdain for the topic that it is clear to me Satan does not want people receiving or using the gift as God intended. I am sad to say that because I have found such ire against the topic I rarely bring it up, even though it has been of GREAT value to me and my family.

  78. Paula says:

    I do not consider myself a “Charismatic” (I do not have this gift and have not sought it specifically), but I would hate to define myself as a “Non-Charismatic,” as many seem to do. If a church were to deny the reality, or the currency, of a gift of God, it would be a deal-breaker to me, for it would be the same as limiting God’s power to perform miracles. Of course God can give this gift in any time or place: what an impotent Creator He would be if He could not. I do not agree with cessationalists at all, so limiting God. This gift should not be proscribed (“forbid not”) or required. But God is certainly able to do or not do as He will. I was happy to read your testimonies, and I rejoice in this Charismatic witness in the Church–witness to God’s power, beyond what is ordinary or explicable to the world.

  79. Bob Maxwell+ says:

    One thing we all agree on is that that Holy Spirit gives us any charism that we might use in our Lord’s ministry.

    I’ve learned that there are at least 28 Gifts of the Holy Spirit and that they are not always present in the believer while at least one is ours to exercise for the Body of Christ. Theologically, I believe that it is given at baptism and like an unopened and often forgotten baptismal present awaits our discovery, unwrapping, giving thanks to God and putting to use,

    Here’s my story. . .

    I had become a Methodist while in HS and in ‘60 was a sophomore at Asbury College that fall.

    Asbury College, a school in the Wesleyan Holiness Tradition, believes in the a Second Blessing that is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. However, having faced Pentecostalism since the Azusa Street Revival and other churches, they not only rejected “speaking in tongues’ but announced that any student caught speaking in tongues would be immediately expelled and shipped home at the schools expense.

    Fidel was busy closing the avenues into and out of Cuba, a land that I was feeling an attraction toward and wondering if I had a call as a missionary. To prepare, I had chosen Spanish to meet my language requirement.

    Right after the World Series, a young Cubano arrived at Asbury, was allowed to enroll late and I volunteered to be his roommate. A Cuban Methodist with an evangelical faith, I would often find him sound asleep in our close in a prayer position , having fallen asleep as he followed our Lord’s teaching literally while he interceeded for family and friends still in Cuba.

    We listened to the shortwave broadcasts from Swan Island and then the disastrous invasion by the brigade. We both were upset that Negroes from the USA were not accepted as applicants while missionary sponsored Negro Africans were accepted. Local “bubbas” from Jessamine County mad a ruckus driving through the circle drive in front of the main buildings. With family money tied up and the administration teed off with his vocal protests, no scholarship money was available for Leo to continue in school.

    I read my Wesley, returned to their Church in the USA, ECUSA, and as a priest in my first little parish in ‘72, I read Nine O’Clock in the Morning. I discovered that praying and singing in tongues was a gift of the Holy Spirit. The Christ the King Community, in South Bend IN at that time, helped ground me with sound teaching.

    Accepting a call to St. Peter & Paul in the Imperial Valley of CA, I became a member of an ecumenical Charismatic prayer group and was sponsored for Cursillo. It was there that I met and became friends with Francis McGuire, a Cursillo Spiritual Director and rector of a parish in a San Diego suburb–and the priest that had invited Dennis Bennett to come and see…

    I am a three streams Trinitarian Christian: High Church, Evangelical and Charismatic.

    I didn’t see Leopoldo’s name again until as a priest leading an experimental urban regional cluster in Omaha and serving as Bishop’s Deputy for Urban work, I read that two Episcopal priests from New Orleans had been arrested at the close of the Mariel Boat Lift: Joe Doss and Leopoldo Frade.

    +Leo has served his Lord faithfully. I don’t agree with his stance on Lambeth 1.10, and he knows it. I know he loves Jesus.

    We both know that Pentecost is real in the life of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and would encourage you to daily surrender control of you life and will into the care of Christ Jesus.

    I remain a Wesleyan in the Church of the Wesley’s. I hope a way is found so that I still can while I remain in communion with the GS faithful.

  80. libraryjim says:

    Wow, I’m in the church of the Wesley’s too — Anglican.
    {great big grin and ;-)}

  81. Shirley says:

    Paula, I appreciate your comments and thank you for them.

    Bob, thank you for sharing your testimony with us. I am interested in what you say “a Wesleyan in the Church of the Wesley’s”. So does that mean “in the Holiness Tradition in the Episcopal Church”? I know you are a priest but I always think about the Methodists as being the Wesleyans. And did Asbury every accept Azusa Street?


  82. Bob Maxwell+ says:

    The Wesley’s were always Anglicans and there was never a Methodist Church in England until after they died. Charles saw the inherent danger in the movement and stopped being part of prior to Joh;s sending priests to ordain new preiests in extremis..

    When one of them in their ambition preached the sermon at Asbury;s installation as a Superintendent, he added ?in the Methodist Episcopal Church.” John Wesley was furious at their action, cursed their effronteryu and turned his back on the movement in the USA.

    The Wesley’s were Anglicans. Having attended the Transfiguration in Evergreen CO as a child, when I read all of Wesley, I recognized Wesley’s church and echoes of it in Methodism. Ordained in the Methodist Church, I loved and used all they had kept of Wesley. To be ordained and be part of their church, I returned to ECUSA, was openly confirmed -no closet confirmation for me- and earned an MDiv at Seabury-Western.

    I will reman That kind of Anglican, and perhaps only the Three Streams Model describes us adequately.

    As to Asbury, do you know the old story about the farmer with a new wife and a stubborn mule that balked once, he laid the whip on him then down the road he balked again and he took a branch and whacked him between the eyes and he lurched forward. At the last stream he balked on getting out and refused to move. on into the farmyard. The farmer took out his rifle and went around and shot him between the eyes. The new wife screamed at him, “You’ll never do that again!”

    He looked at her and calmly said, “That’s once.”

    Asbury has had three spontaneous outpourings of the Holy Spirit on her campus during my liffe time: one in the late 40’s[?}, one in ’72 and one this last school year. The second happened and then they were more open to all the gifts of the Holy Spirit and before the third outpouring this last school year, “tongues” was just one of the many. They didn’t need the third attention getter as they paid attention.[BG}

    I am proud of the liberal arts education, the critical thinking skills and above all the biblical foundation and Christian community that is forever mine around the world, for there will always be an Asburian close at hand. I love Asbury College and the commitment to transformed leaders that is at the heart of their educational ministry.

    I recommend it for any Christian seeking the best education available for a life time of service in the professions, business, ordained ministry. missionary servie or government service. I thank God that another History major ten years after me followed her Lord and used all her gifts and skills, or we wouldn’t be nearly as evangelical in ECUSA today.

    Diane Knippers, we really miss you!

  83. Bob Maxwell+ says:

    Sorry about the spelling errors. I work 40 hours a week at UNM Valencia so that I can serve as a priest 24×7, right now as the interim at Hope Mission in Albuquerque until mid-September.

  84. Larry Morse says:

    Look at #17. A man starts to babble and there just happens – just happens! – to be an expert tight next to him who informs him he is speaking Aramaic – and not just hoi polloi Aramaic but perfect Aramaic.
    How can you really believe such things? I said it before about the man speaking perfect Hebrew: Doesn’t the sheer patness of this “experience” stir your skepticism? How can it not?

    And let me repeat what I said before, that it was not long ago that the ravings of the insane were regarded as divine possession and that the locked muscles and blank stare of the epileptic were treated the same way. Some Holy gift this is.

    Hasn’t it occured to any of you that the entire business of speaking in tongues is simple hysteria or a simple self-induced trance?
    Have you never noticed that these people never speak in Lettish or Yoruba or Farsi or Chinese or North Carolina-ese. Not even in Minnesotan. Once again, being a Christian should not be synonymous with being a gull. LM

  85. Paula says:

    I thought #84 was particularly and gratuitously demeaning, unlike comments by ++Rowan Williams, who upholds the Alpha program and speaks affirmatively of this gift of the Holy Spirit–as in this sermon at St. Peter’s Eastern Hill in Melbourne, Australia (Pentecost 2002). You will see the reference I mean below:
    “The coming of the Spirit in that story in Acts, is the coming of a power to speak compellingly, but sometimes we speak most compellingly when we say in wonder, love and praise, I don’t know what to say. I can’t tell you how grateful I am, we say, meaning this is how I tell you how grateful I am. I don’t know what to say of God, we say, meaning this is the most important thing I can say about God, that I don’t know what to say of God. I don’t know how to persuade you of the overpowering love of Jesus Christ, we say, and so we speak persuasively, it may be, by God’s grace and by the gift of the Spirit. . . .

    And that’s not to say that the Holy Spirit can’t be discerned in strange events, in events of speaking with tongues, or of healing, or any of the other mighty works associated with the Spirit, but it is to say that we will know these things as the work of the Spirit of Jesus only when they are understood from the perspective of the far side of Cross and Resurrection. For the Spirit to be free in us, our expectations of possession and understanding and control need to go. Our expectations of being in charge have to go . . . . ”

    The Archbishop draws a certain parallel between God’s ability to give gifts of the Spirit and his ability to enter the Sacrament of the Holy Communion: “During the Eucharist we pray that the Holy Spirit will come down upon the bread and the wine that we offer, and the lives we offer with them, so that in that material reality the life of God in Jesus Christ may be alive fully and without qualification.” If He can do the one, He can do the other. It’s a matter, really, of whether we believe that God can perform miracles as He will.


  86. Shirley says:

    Bob, Thank you so very much for the wonderful and thoughtful answer to my question. I never knew about Asbury and I am delighted to learn. I do remember somewhere years ago hearing a quote by John Wesley “If I ever forsake the Church of England, may God forsake me”, but that was the sum of my information. (And I don’t even know if that is true.) God bless you in your work, and I pray the Lord will give you the desires of your heart.

  87. Bill Cool says:

    # 84 Larry Morse,

    I have always tried to be cautious in arguing against other people’s factual testimony. Testimonies about “warm glow inside” etc., may be truthful but are not verifiable. However, factual historical testimony of events that occurred in front of many witnesses are not like that.

    Although I now live in a different state, I can put you in contact with this man and his wife almost immediately (he is currently rector of an Episcopal church), and can certainly contact others at the church where this happened who can personally corroborate the facts for you. As it says in scripture about the resurrection, many witnesses are still alive who can testify to the truth of this event.

    I have a PhD in the hard sciences and I am by nature and by training very much opposed to making unverifiable statements about historically verifiable events, but I am also by nature in favor of accepting verifiable assertions, even when the event borders on the miraculous. Without that, I could not be a Christian, since the central event in Christianity is the extremely unlikely, even unique event of the resurrection, which fortunately for all believers was attested to by numerous witnesses.

    If I were to put you in contact with some of these people, you, however, would run the risk of hearing about a number of other historically verifiable events in the realm of signs and wonders. Much was happening at this particular church during the nine years we were there and before.

    Was this event unlikely? You bet. Is our God capable of arranging it? Absolutely.

  88. Paula says:

    Since we’ve spoken of John Wesley, I will post a couple of quotations about him; perhaps you already have them. This may seem slightly off-topic, but some of us here clearly love John Wesley. First, Rowan Williams (in his sermon “John Wesley”) has called him “arguably, the greatest saint, the greatest witness to Jesus Christ, produced by the eighteenth-century Church of England–the last place you’d expect to find fools for Christ’s sake.” ++Rowan also said, “He has rightly been compared to the great monastic reformers, Bernard, Francis, Ignatius . . . .” The Archbishop acknowledges how poorly the Church of his day treated Wesley but affirms the blessing in God’s plan: “Thank God for a saint who had to live his life so embarrassingly beyond the conventions that had marked our sanctity in Christendom! Thank God even for the eighteenth-century Church of England, so clueless about how to handle a man irresponsibly devoted to God that it forced him into . . . unshakable witness to free and full grace.”

    There is also a wonderful poem about Wesley by Earl Bowman Marlatt; here is a section of it:

    The shades of Oxford–
    The gallant More
    And princely Addison–
    Beckoned him to primrose paths of glory:
    A peer, a premier, or a laureate.
    He chose the Wyclif-way
    That led to Calvary;
    “A crude ecstatic!
    A Methodist!”
    He took the world for his parish . . . .

    And finally, as you’ll know, Wesley died an Anglican, saying, “The best of all is, God is with us.”

  89. Shirley says:

    Paula, that is it! “we will know these things as the work of the Spirit of Jesus only when they are understood from the perspective of the far side of Cross and Resurrection.”

    I have read about the reverse side (far side) of the Cross, and known those who talked about this perspective. A couple of books, “Manifest Victory” and “Perfect Everything” by J. R. Moseley (Rufus) are some of them. This gives me more understanding about ++Rowan Williams as well. Thank you so much for bringing this sermon of his to our attention.

  90. Shirley says:

    More thanks, Paula, for #88.

  91. Paula says:

    I forgot to mention, in #88, that Wesley was of course an Oxonian–and perhaps we orthodox can relate to the way that many of his classmen (though Divinity students) used to laugh at his ardent prayer meetings and frequent attendance at Eucharist. In many features, he was a real “High” Churchman,” seeing the integral nature of the liturgy and the deepest experience of God. I think that many of us, in the present traditionalist movement in the Episcopal Church/Anglican Communion, do resemble Wesley.

  92. Craig Stephans says:

    #84 Larry…God bless you but with this statement “Hasn’t it occured to any of you that the entire business of speaking in tongues is simple hysteria or a simple self-induced trance? ” you are talking about one of God’s gifts and calling it hysteria and delusion. You are also revealing that you don’t know or understand what you are talking about. It is alright to say you don’t understand it, but for you to imply that those who do (and there are many more than you imagine) are deluded is unbecoming implication of yourself.

  93. The_Elves says:

    Larry Morse, your comment in #85
    is pretty offensive in its tone.

    Consider yourself warned. Such personal attacks on other commenters and their truthfulness is not acceptable. We appreciate those commenters who responded helpfully, especially Paula & Bill Cool.

    Skepticism, lively debate, questions, all fine. But your use of the following words and phrases: babble, the ravings of the insane, simple hysteria, being a gull, etc. all turn this into a sneer, not a thoughtful comment. You also make the mistake of stating something categorically that you cannot know:
    “Have you never noticed that these people never speak in Lettish or Yoruba or Farsi or Chinese”

    We elves have heard/read at least a half dozen very trustworthy testimonies of public utterances of tongues in such languages.

    We urge commenters once again to avoid sweeping categorical statements: “revisionists always say such and such” “reasserters never do such and such” Always and never are dangerous and loaded words on blog comment threads.

    Thanks for listening.

  94. Bob Maxwell+ says:

    Thank you, elves for #93.

    When I recount the many instances of people hearing their native tongue from one speaking in public with the gift of tongues or praying when we know not what to pray for, I am accused of mis-stating what occurred. An independent voice sometimes adds to the thoughts a “Saul like soul” might be ruminating over on their way to a Damascus encounter.

    I wonder what such souls think when the read Chapter 1 of Francis McNutt’s Healing.

    Come Holy Ghost, our souls inspire and lighten with celestial fire!

  95. Tikvah says:

    Shirley wrote – ” Paula, that is it! “we will know these things as the work of the Spirit of Jesus only when they are understood from the perspective of the far side of Cross and Resurrection.” – It’s just as St. Paul pointed out, “now we see through a glass darkly, but then we shall see face to face.”

  96. john scholasticus says:

    I don’t read Paul the same way as some others do here. He’s formally not dismissive of glossolalia but I think he’s uncomfortable with it and what he’s trying to do is rein it in without condemning it, because obviously it was big in the Corinthian church. ‘Glossolalia’ certainly occurred in some ecstatic forms of pagan religion, including the Dionysiac, and at least some of Paul’s Corinthian church were pagan converts. I think we should distinguish between the glossolalia of 1 Cor and Acts. Although as it happens I don’t believe in the latter as a historical event, it is at least useful in context in that it enables the Apostles to communicate with a huge range of non-Aramaic speakers. The glossolalia of 1 Cor is explicitly not useful in this sense. I don’t want to offend anyone here (least of all Rob Eaton) but that’s what I think.

  97. DaveG says:

    Question: are some predestined to speak in tongues or is that a gift any can seek and acquire?

  98. libraryjim says:

    My answer:
    It is a gift chosen by God for His glory, given to us through the Holy Spirit. We cannot choose to receive or deny it, but only to accept what He gives.

    If, on the other hand, He has not given it, why seek it? Should we not rejoice in that which He has given instead, also for His glory, and the building up of the body?

    I know too many people who have been driven to distraction “seeking tongues” because well-meaning people have told them they need to or they “have not been filled with the Holy Spirit”. Yet their lives clearly show the gifts and fruits of the Spirit in other ways.

    In Him
    Jim Elliott

  99. DaveG says:

    No offence, Jim, but my comment was made “tongues” in cheek.

  100. libraryjim says:


  101. The_Elves says:


    On Stand Firm, we’ve noted sometimes that when comment threads exceed 100 comments, the thread does not view properly in all browsers (notably Firefox, at least for this elf.) To view long threads in SF we’ve had to switch back (horrors! 😉 ) to MS Internet Explorer. We’ll keep an eye on the threads here to see how this set up handles the really long comment threads.

  102. Pb says:

    David du Plessis used to say that tongues was the least of the gifts of the spirit and therefore a good one to start with. To the surprise of many, you usually have to ask for it and be willing to try. As I see it, all may, some should and none must.

  103. Larry Morse says:

    See #93. I called no one a liar which is what the elves are suggesting. They MAY be lying but I do not guess at motive here. What I am saying clearly is that it is a genuine universal that people deceive themselves, the greater their hunger for a particular outcome, the greated the probability for self-deception. And I mean exactly this re “Hebrew” and “Aramaic” in particular, and speaking in tongues generally. I cited to the elves the practice in the American south of using poisonous snakes in “charismatic” services, the handling thereof safely being a gift of the Holy Spirit. You have at least read of these practices. Now I ask you, is this a gift of the Holy Spirit, that you should handle a poisonous snake and not get bitten? But of course, people do get bitten. What then? Does this signifiy to the participants that their practice is falsely attributed to the Holy Spirit? Not at all. They simply deceive themselves about the practice by commonplace rationalizations. Are they lying? No indeed. But why shouldn’t the handling of poisonous snakes be a gift of the Holy Spirit if speaking in tongues – that is, babbling meaningless syllables – is a gift?

    And someof you have listened to the incoherencies of schizophrenics. To me, this sometimes sounds like “speaking in tongues.” Is it possible the Holy Ghost is moving them? The fact is, I don’t know, and neither do you.

    And why should I not be extremely skeptical about those who tell me that they KNOW when the Holy Spirit is about and what it is up to? TEC maintains that the Holy Spirit is guiding them.You have read it often. Do you REALLY believe that? I don’t. But TEC isn’t lying; it is simply practicing the antique game of self-deception, rationalizations and all.

    Well, the elves have cleaned my pipes, but I have cause to be grateful to them for much, so I take my punishment, but I must say that in this case I am only moderately repentent. I can only wish that I somehow had the ability to run an objective test on those who speak an actual foreign language “perfectly” when they have no knoweldge of the language. The Curmudgeon in Maine

  104. Pat Kashtock says:

    Wow — what a surprise to find this thread! We were worship leaders in an AoG church plant for five years and took our mission church to Truro for a seminar on church planting. What fun to here the then Episcopal priests telling the group that had Assembly of God folk in it that if they did not have a prayer language they needed to get one.

    One night I was on the way home from the hospital one of the times my daughter was so ill. I felt ass though I was under attack of some kind and was in a total panic. Maybe I was simply losing my mind from all the stress, or maybe we have an enemy that is an opportunist. Regardless — I was beyond terrified and unsure I would make it home. I begged the Lord to please have somebody pray for me. I was singing and praying at the top of my lungs at one point and shaking. Suddenly a scripture came to me rather oddly, “Greater is He who is in me, than he who is in the world.” It stayed there and would not depart, and a peace came over me.

    Shortly after I walked in, my sister Jackie who had also been on her way home from Children’s Hospital, several states away, called and said, “Patty what happened?” She said she had begun to feel confused at the place in her trip home that was familiar, and all of a sudden she knew she had to pray for someone. She did not know who or why, but knew it was a matter of life or death and that she needed to pray. Now. So she began to cry out to the Lord in tongues because she did not know how to pray other wise. And she prayed and prayed. I still said nothing. Then she said she had a tape on, and the speaker said the very words I heard in my mind, “Greater is He who is in me, than he who is in the world.”

    She said she had begun to think the person who was in danger was Heidi, but knew the minute I answered the phone, it had been me.

    Make of it what you will — but in answer to someone’s question about how on earth can tongues “edify” the body, I think sometimes the Holy Spirit can pray through us, or in KJV speak “give utterance” when we simply do not know how to pray. I, for one, am glad my sister had been given that gift. I had never had an experience like that before, and in the 22 years since, I have not had another, and never want to.

  105. Brad Drell says:

    I have to agree with Bob Maxwell about being a three streams Anglican. I think I am one too.

    I have spoken in tongues on certain occasions. These have generally been times when my head could not express what I needed to say to the Lord, and the heart needed to directly communicate with God. That is the best way I can describe it.

    At other times, when others have been speaking in tongues, scripture would come to mind. I was once in a group praying for the healing of someone’s ear (major infection with some risk of hearing loss) and many were speaking in tongues, but I began to pray the scriptures of when Jesus healed the ear of a soldier in the Garden of Gethsemane. It added something big to the moment I can’t exactly describe, but it caused some folks to weep. In any event, healing did occur as a result of those prayers.

    I don’t claim to have the gift of speaking in tongues which result in prophecy as a result of the interpretation of tongues. However, I am pretty sure when I pray in tongues there are elements of Aramaic in there, but I have never had that analyzed, nor have I been one to pray in tongues in public.

    I do believe that God can allow us to both speak and hear in other languages. Once on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic while in high school, I was serving as a VBS teacher and general flunky in a parish church in a small city. The Vicar was Haitian, and spoke French and Spanish better than English. I was learning Spanish in high school, while one of my friends I was serving with was learning French. One night, the three of us had a long conversation that went on very late, talking about our relationships with God, church, and so on. Parts were in Spanish, French and English. But, it flowed seemlessly. I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit as we talked.

    Being as analytical as I am, I think that at some point in the conversation we were letting our hearts talk to each other. There comes a point in learning a foreign language that you cease translating in your head and start to think in that language. Speaking and listening to that language all of a sudden become much easier. I honestly think part of understanding those speaking in tongues is to quit trying to translate and just listen. Listen with your heart, maybe. It is hard to describe.

    I also know that there is a great deal of guilt out there on the part of some folks who do not speak in tongues and feel they have been slighted or shorted in the spiritual gift department, when this is not the case. Because speaking in tongues is so divisive, it is something we do not do on Kairos weekends while in the prison. On one weekend, there was a young man at my table, in his twenties, who had been raised in a Pentecostal holiness tradition but who had never spoken in tongues. As a result, he left the church, became involved in drugs, loose women, fast living, typical stuff that will land you in prison eventually. His biggest discovery during that weekend was that he could be (and, really, was) a Christian of great worth, tongues notwithstanding. This discovery changed this man’s life and brought him back into the faith.

    I will not cast blame on those who revel in God’s gifts to them. Gifts should be causes for joy. But, even gifts of being a good speaker, a good musician, financially able to give great gifts to the church, healing, teaching, prophecy, you name it and not just the gift of tongues, can be cause for some to feel unworthy, jealous, uncomfortable and a whole host of other unhappy emotions when they don’t have those particular gifts. I don’t know how to fix this. But I do know that all spiritual gifts must be used for two purposes – the building up of our own relationship to the Lord and the building up of the Body of Christ. Wisdom is the spiritual gift of knowing when to use or share other spiritual gifts you may have. Lord, we all need that.

  106. Robert A. says:

    Brad: Thank you for your post which put into words much of what I wanted to say.

    Sarah asks “Why would a Christian want to?”. Because most of us know how intellectually arrogant we are. As you so rightfully say, tongues gives us a way of praying with our hearts and not our minds. Of avoiding the constant temptation to listen to what we are saying (or writing) and saying “Look at me, look how clever I am and how beautifully I worship (or defend) You”

    Of course, it must seem to those of us that have not been given this gift that those who have it are doing the same thing, and I grant that doubtless some are, but I have seen too many instances to know that this is often not the case.

    Sarah asks “Why would a Christian want to?”. Because we believe in the Trinity. We understand that the problems in the church occur today because people cannot get beyond the duality of Christ. Reasserters and Reappraisers respectively focus on the Divine and Human sides of Christ as represented in the First and Second Great commandments. Yet God is Triune. We cannot begin to understand what He wants of us unless we try and understand the significance of the Holy Spirit.

    I do not believe that the gifts of the Spirit are important in the individual. That is why not all gifts are given to all people. It is only when the company of Christ assembles and the individual gifts are used together that God speaks to us all. My understanding of God’s communication with his people is that in the Old Testament he spoke to them through individual prophets. When that didn’t work, he sent His only Son. When Jesus ascended, He sent the Holy Spirit to Comfort and Guide us. So if you want to know what God is saying to us today, you’ll need the collective gifts of the Spirit to find out.

    The reason many of us are suspicious of TEC’s claims of being prophetic is because they don’t cite any examples of assemblies where these gifts were used. In other words, it appears to be intellectual arrogance again.

  107. The_Elves says:

    This has turned into a very interesting and thoughtful thread all. Thanks.

    Not wanting to cause a tangent, but, Larry, #103, thanks for your apology, follow-up and clarification. We appreciate your willingness to accept our rebuke with such grace. (And apologies on our part for the earlier public scolding, but we’re trying to lay good and clear foundation for the tone of comments on the blog, which sometimes means pointing to specifics of what Kendall & we find unhelpful.)

    This is a nice example of how a thread which was contentious and a bit difficult in spots got turned around and has provided much excellent reflection. I’ve enjoyed reading it!

  108. Tikvah says:

    #105 – Well said Brad, thank you.

  109. Larry Morse says:

    But look, #106. Having declared the existence of the Holy Spirit in the “tongues” business, suddenly you refuse to grant TEC the very same permission because no TECy no one has cited glossolalia. Do they have to cite it? Is the speaking itself the evidence that convinces? Why isn’t it just as likely that the Holy Ghost has been leading TEC and that everything they are doing is God’s will?

    See #104 above. This is a hair-raising tale of a special sort. Is there lying involved? Of course not. But look at her conclusion, “…but knew the minute she answered it had been me.” Now, her sister thought that she was praying for the sick child. This appears to be a fact. So I ask you whether the probabilites favor her translation, or the chance that this is self deception, that she has come to believe what she wants to believe? To be sure, it is impossible to ask this question without seeming to denigrate Pat, but that is not my intention at all.

    What I wish to do is stimulate some real skepticism where it needs to be generated. I listen to TEC, as you do; how can you not be skeptical? They are conning themselves because they desparately want to. If they are not, then we are doing them a grave injustice. Larry

  110. Shirley says:

    My thanks as well to Brad and the last few posts. And I agree, Elves, how this thread has turned around. God is in the midst of us.

    “A soft answer turneth away wrath” Pr 15:1

  111. Paula says:

    “TEC isn’t lying” –Larry Morse
    Are you kidding??!

  112. Craig Stephans says:

    #109 Larry, your sincerity is undermined in a discussion like this when you compare those who pray in tongues to those who are “deluded” and are “schizophrenic.” I’ve worked with schizophrenic patients and to compare severe patients’ ramblings to God’s gift is again insulting, contemptous and again not becoming to yourself.

    As someone who prays in tongues (even in the car on the way to work today) I know that I know that I know the effectiveness and reality of the gift. Perhaps you cannot be convinced…fine…enough with the downplaying and inadequate analogies.

  113. DaveG says:

    I don’t have the gift of tongues. I don’t fully understand its “value” since gifts are given for the church, but I accept that enabling/facilitating prayer among the members is valuable. I do know this: there are some very outstanding Christians who are strong believers and who speak in tongues. Lee Buck was one of them and I can assure you all, he was not delusional nor schizophrenic. So – where I come down on it is this — I am skeptical BUT I will not let my skepticism cloud my judgment that God’s Spirit can impart such a gift and that for some, the gift is real despite my skepticism. Do some pretend? Probably but so do some pretend to have a word of knowledge or prophecy. That they do does not negate the existence of the gift in others.

  114. Shirley says:

    DaveG, Lee Buck was a wonderful man and a powerful witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He was certainly a humble man and spoke the truth of God’s Word. If we could all be more like Lee Buck we would see more fruit in our ministry.

  115. Larry Morse says:

    #111. I really think they are not. Lying is too easy to uncover, and their front is too uniform, too complete. I still rgue that this is self deception. They have developed a hunger for the social novelty, the faddish, and the left-wing culturally elite. This is so strong that they have rationalized their break with Scripture by saying that the Holy Ghost is leading into a new place. Now,they MAY be lying; I cannot know specific motives. BUt I submit that self-deception is a more probable explanation. LM

  116. Shirley says:

    #115, Larry. I fear it is more a case of unbelief, but maybe that could be called self-deception.

    “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the likeness of God.” II Cor 4:4

  117. Larry Morse says:

    See #112. My argument to him was rather this: That the rambling of the schizophrenic often sounds like the la do doo ma babbling of those speaking in tongues. How can one tell the difference? Is the schizophrenic under the effect of the Holy Ghost?
    Why should he not be? He is offended because he thinks I am speaking in a derogatory tone of God’s gifts. But I am not. Rather, I want to convince some people here that what is God’s gift and what isn’t, in this context, is essentially unknowable. So I put the case to Craig again: Is TEC moved by the Holy Ghost as it says it is? How can you deny it, Craig?
    If it is so moved, then we Anglicans have made a dreadful error, haven’t we? But, Craig, how can you know?

    And have you ever been to a revival meeting, the preacher shouting and repeating over and over about how guilty we all are, and then suddenly there are people babbling and weeping and flopping around like Shakers? Is this the Holy Ghost at work, or mob hypnosis? I don’t WANT this to be the Holy Ghost at work, but you may reasonably say, “Larry maybe y ou are deceving yourself.”
    (Oh, great. No, I am not insulting the Shakers. I have admired this strange society for a long time, but their self-induced hypnosis and trances can’t be the Holy Ghost at work, now can it? I certainly don’t want it to be.) LM

    To speak personally, I do indeed hope that TEC is lying in its store teeth, and they get what they deserve, but if I’m wrong……then Katy bar the door.

  118. Craig Stephans says:

    117: Scripture, scripture, scripture…it’s all there to live, minister and lead by.

  119. Tikvah says:

    #117 Larry – How to know if it’s of God and if TEC is following the promptings of the Holy Spirit or no? That’s rather simple, really. God doesn’t contradict Himself. If what is being done contradicts Holy Writ and the faith handed down … then it’s not of God. As someone pointed out recently, God is not a God of confusion.
    Remember the church in Corinth was admonished to do everything decently and in order. Do lunatics behave decently and in order? Then their rantings are probably not of God any more than the doings of TEC. As Craig said, “Scripture, scripture, scripture.”

  120. Larry Morse says:

    But Tikvah, while I agree with your general premise, TEC is arguing that Change is both opossible and necessary and that the Holy Ghost is in fact doing to prompting. See the new blog here by Bishop Whosis – they all sound the same to me – who speaks of the prompting of the Holy Ghost several times. Are they fooling themselves? Lying? ARe you telling me that the Holy Ghost lacks the power to institute a new vision, a new order of things? The Holy Ghost spoke to Mary, and everything changed. He spoke to Paul, and a foundling faith found its voice. Will it not speak new words again?

    As to doing “everything decently and in good order,” do you want me to believe that people who are babbling nonsense syllables are doing things decently and in good order? The admonition to Corinth is an Apollonian admonition, but speaking is tongues is Dionysian, rather obviously. What then?
    No, the ramblings of schizophrenics are not orderly, but you cannot square the revival meeting with “orderly” either. What then?

    Well, I shall belabor this issue no more because I am repeating myself, and there is no profit in this. And yet, this discussion is hardly over and done with. I have been instructed, I must say. Oonve again, the byzantine networks of the human mind are ever new, ever baffling, ever mysterious, and enormously suggestive of latent power, an unknown potential. LM

  121. Bill Cool says:


    It might be helpful in our conversation about speaking in tongues if you used the words that the Apostle Paul uses to talk about it instead of “babbling”. We are certainly free to use any term we want to (unless the hammer of the Elf decides that we have crossed the line), but Paul does not call it babbling. His term is usually translated as “speaking in a tongue”, “speaking in tongues”, or merely “tongues”. It is a gift that is pretty clearly mentioned in scripture, although many in the world-wide church differ about its use today.

    Without getting us off topic, I would like to mention a slightly different approach to understanding gifts in general. There are a number of different gifts mentioned in scripture, some with almost no controversy for us as Christians. But it is always helpful to look at scripture and the guidelines we find in it from not only our own perspective but also from the perspective of the people to whom it was originally written and the world in which they lived – if only so that we can understand how they (for instance, the Corinthian Christians, and the Corinthian pagans around them) would have thought about what the scripture says. As an example, the gift of showing mercy… Today, inside not only the church but also inside our culture as it has developed around the church through the last 2000 years, the gift of showing mercy does not sound controversial. However, in the Roman pagan world, it was radical, inconceivable, counter-intuitive, and just not something many in the non-Christian majority thought was rational. However, with the Sermon on the Mount, and even prior to that with Old Testament comments about showing mercy to widows, orphans, strangers, etc., and with Paul in his list of gifts stating that some even have a special gift of showing mercy, this radical response to those in need began to take hold in the church and eventually in the way society operated. My point is this – for us the gift of mercy seems rational. It would not necessarily have seemed that rational to the culture of Corinth or most other areas in the Roman world of that day. So hard-nosed rationality is not the key to whether a gift is from God or not.

    As I said before, by training and inclination, I tend to focus on rationality and evidence. The key evidence that I see for the gifts is that they are mentioned in scripture. Not everyone may manifest one or more of the gifts wisely, but that does not mean that those gifts are not from God. That merely means that they flow through the fractured broken vessels that we, as fallen man, still are.

    So the first priority about any gift is to determine what is said about it in scripture, and then starting from that point as an anchor, try to understand how that gift may fit into the life of the parish, the small Bible study group, two Christians interacting, or even one Christian being strengthened in order to build up the whole body.

    Some on this thread have said that they are not sure that the gift of tongues (and perhaps several others such as the gifts of words of knowledge and words of wisdom) are operating in the church today. That is an important theological question about which there is not full agreement in the church world-wide. My conclusion on that question is that I see no indication that a certain set of gifts were to be turned off by God. I have seen a number of them manifested in other believers and experienced a number of them in my own 30+ years as a Christian, but all of these needed to line up well with what scripture says.

  122. Bob Maxwell+ says:

    Tikvah wrote: How to know if it’s of God and if TEC is following the promptings of the Holy Spirit or no? That’s rather simple, really. God doesn’t contradict Himself. If what is being done contradicts Holy Writ and the faith handed down … then it’s not of God. As someone pointed out recently, God is not a God of confusion.
    Remember the church in Corinth was admonished to do everything decently and in order. Do lunatics behave decently and in order? Then their rantings are probably not of God…

    This brings to the forefront the crux of the issue: does one believe that the above is a primary plumb line for orthodox teaching or is the above not authoritative?

    I believe it is. Current TEC leadership believes the plain sense doesn’t prevail.

    I also know that there are those that believe it is and have never seen or experienced the orderly use of the gift of tongues in public or overhead the prayer language of tongues. I’m not sure if I’ve ever led or been to a BOS healing service where I haven’t heard someone very quietly praying in a tongue in the past 30 years whether it was at diocesan convention, in a cathedral, a parish altar rail or a chapel or side prayer station.

    Focus on all the Holy Trinity. That person in the Trinity that causes you the most discomfort, go to your spiritual director and begin prayer and study of that person until you have both the continuous confidence in all members of the Trinity and the peace of God.

    Be expectant.

    Providentially there may be another gift of the Holy Spirit given to you or me at our baptism that is all wrapped up and hidden away, waiting for our surrender to the Holy Spirit’s guidance to find it. When we do, God will reveal where that gift is to be used in ministry.

    Come Holy Spirit, our souls inspire and lighten with celestial fire! [which reminds me of the oratorio, The Invisible Fire, in honor of John Wesley, which I was privileged to sing in it’s 2nd performance in ’59.]

    What a glorious time to be alive serving our Lord Jesus as the harvests are so white. . .

  123. Bill Cool says:

    A particular gift may be manifested in a way that we do not at the time understand and it may appear when we are not in any process of actually asking for it.

    I once witnessed to the husband of a woman in our parish. He was really off the edge in life style and not a Christian, but listened politely as I said among other things, “I don’t know how it will happen, but I do know that you will meet Jesus. I hope it is in favorable circumstances, but you need to know you will meet him.” Of course in the eternal perspective, this is simply a true statement, but as I will describe, in this instance it may have also been a word of knowledge or prophecy. However, within a couple of days, I didn’t have any positive feelings about what I had said to him. He moved out, abandoned his family, and went completely into the pretty heavy bar scene, plus other behavior of a similar nature. My statement above was probably the last he heard from anyone in the church before he left.

    The parish pitched in to help care for his wife and three girls. He was pretty much gone. His wife continued to say that the Lord would bring him back and he would come back as a Christian – without one scrap of factual evidence to support her hope. Some in the church even told her that she should file for divorce, since he had abandoned them. Eighteen months later, she got a phone call from him at 2:00 AM, in which he said, “We have to talk — now.” She asked if he was serious, he said “Yes” and so she waited up for him a half hour or so until he arrived from the city where he had been. This is the account he gave: He was in a bar, so angry at someone that he wanted to kill him. (The husband in this account was an ex-Cleveland Browns player, so he probably had the strength to do it.) To avoid taking such action, he ran out of the bar. In that instant, he said that the image of someone or something indescribably horrific appeared to him. He shouted out something like, “Jesus, save me!” (This was over 25 years ago, so I don’t remember the exact words.) He said that instantly the horrific image was replaced by one he knew was Jesus and he felt a calm peacefulness that he had never before experienced. Immediately, he called his wife.

    Shortly thereafter they renewed their vows in the church, and he is a committed believer to this day.

    A non-Christian or skeptic might say that this was all disconnected circumstances, but I think my saying the words I did helped strengthen the faith of his wife and may have been prophetic or a word of knowledge about who he was going to meet 18 months down the rocky road he was headed. My point is this – I did not speak to him because I had a gift to share. I spoke out of obedience to our Lord.

    The spiritual gifts do not arrive ultimately because we ask. They arrive because the giver, the Holy Spirit, bestows them.

    This happens to be pretty much the way I received the gift of tongues. I was praying on my way to work as I came down the off-ramp from I-77 as it terminated near the center of Cleveland. In the midst of the turn I found myself no longer praying in English, but in a tongue I did not know. I was not at that moment asking for any gift, but the Giver gave me one.

  124. Pb says:

    Thanks #123. I will be that you were not in an ecstastic trance while driving down the off-ramp on I-77.

  125. Bill Cool says:

    #124 Pb. Correct. I have never found praying in tongues to be either ecstatic or trance-like. Since I was a toddler, I have had the amazing skill of being able to start talking when I want to and stop talking when I wanted to (although some would say that I could stop sooner). It’s the same in English and in my prayer language.

  126. Larry Morse says:

    By the bye, I used “babbling” because, when one listens to someone using nonsense syllables as if they were speech, one properly calls this babbling.
    Babies babble. This is the correct use of the word. If I wanted the negative connotations, I would have said something like “babbling idiot” or some such thing. Larry

  127. Bill Cool says:

    I friend of mine in our parish often offers prayers during the Sunday service at the time of the Paryers of the People in Urdu (with which he is most comfortable) – which I do not understand, but I know that nobody considers it babbling. I only know it is Urdu because I know that is the language with which he is most comfortable. He speaks about 4-5 more languages than I do, none of which I understand except for when he speaks English, but even though I would not be able to identify any meaning in whichever language he chose to speak, none of it would be babbling. Likewise for any other unknown language that I might hear.

    When I say that someone is babbling I imply that I have been able to conclude that there is no meaning in the sounds they are uttering. When I say they are speaking in an unknown tongue or unknown language, I imply only what I do know – that I do not have knowledge about the language in which they are speaking. To call it babbling for me would be presumption. “Unknown tongue” is how the Apostle Paul describes it, not “babbling”.

  128. Pb says:

    I believe the word barbarian come from the Greek lack of ability to understand other languages which sounded to them like bar-bar-bar.