Monday, November 28, 2011

Speaking in Tongues: instantly learning a new language?

I like the idea of testing theories by tentatively accepting them and seeing if they fit the evidence. So, I want to suppose that biblical tongues is the supernatural learning of a known language for the purpose of proclamation and to test that supposition by the evidence available to me.






Expected:

The person who speaks in a tongue is speaking (or praying) in the language God has given him for the purpose proclamation.

Instead:

The person who prays in a tongue is not speaking to men at all. In fact, no man understands him. (1 Cor 14:2)

Expected:

If there is no interpreter then only the person who speaks (or prays) in a tongue will understand this speech, since God has given him this new language.

Instead:

The person who prays, speaks, or sings in a tongue does not understand what he is saying. Nevertheless, he gives thanks well and builds himself up. His duty is to pray that he will be enabled to interpret. (1 Cor 14:4, 13-15)

Expected:

The natural limits of tongue speaker's knowledge are not changed by the reception of this new tongue.

Instead:

The person who speaks in a tongue speaks mysteries in the Spirit. (1 Cor 14:2)

Expected:

If a person comes into a multi-lingual congregation such as Corinth it might be a good time to speak in tongues.

Instead:

Speaking in tongues would not profit them. They need to hear revelation, knowledge, doctrine, or prophecy. (1 Cor 14:6)

Expected:

Tongues is a means of instruction. Those who have received the gift should rejoice because they have been enabled to teach those who they could not otherwise teach.

Instead:

Paul rejoiced that he spoke in tongues more than any of the Corinthian believers. Yet, he contrasted his tongue speech with the teaching work that goes on in the church (1 Cor 14:18-19)

Expected:

Tongues is used to communicate whatever the recipient wants to communicate. The woman who has received the gift of English can now share a Psalm or a doctrine in the American church.

Instead:

A tongue is not a Psalm or a doctrine. (1 Cor 14:26)






Expected:

Tongues should be manifested in order to communicate the Gospel.

Instead:

Tongues are used in private prayer with thanksgiving and public praise. (Acts 2:11; 10:46; 1 Cor 14:2, 14, 17)

Expected:

There is probably historical evidence that the 120 disciples who spoke in tongues on the day of Pentecost continued to minister in their newly received languages.

Instead:

Though the 120 did speak in tongues (Acts 2), I have never seen any evidence that they retained the ability to speak in those languages. Please share any you come across.

Expected:

Tongues, as a sign of God's work, should be seen in church history. There should be many cases when people instantly received and subsequently retained the ability to speak in a new language for the purpose of Gospel proclamation.

Instead:

Though there is evidence of xenolalia, documented cases are rare. More importantly, the retention of these new languages must be exceedingly rare. Please correct me if I'm wrong.



It troubles me that so many disregard the commands to "desire earnestly the best gifts", to "desire earnestly to prophesy", and to "not forbid to speak with tongues". Though other places may feel the pressing need to bring public meetings into greater order, my burden is for the lukewarm churches in America who have "quenched the spirit" and "despised prophecy". We need to rightly understand and welcome the gifts of the Spirit. The Spirit comes bearing gifts. We need to welcome him, gifts included. We need revival.