Friday, March 13, 2009

Why Do We All Speak In Tongues?

Are tongues the only initial evidence of being baptized in the Spirit? Beyond doubt, tongues are one of the possible evidences found in the Bible, but what about the fruit of the Spirit and or even prophecy and visions? Why all this fixation with tongues among the Pentecostals?

Except for the experience of Christ (as noted in an earlier post), tongues is either directly associated or can be inferred in every incidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit recorded in scripture. In Acts 2, 10, and 19, tongues are specifically referenced. In Acts 8, it is clear that the baptism in the Holy Spirit was anticipated to have some physical, visible sign. Given the facts of what they accepted as evidence in chapter 10, what would you guess that sign might be?

Even though not mentioned in Acts 9, we know Saul/Paul could speak in tongues after his baptism (again, as noted in an earlier post). Minimally, it was widespread, if not universal (as I believe) in Corinth. That other signs come in conjunction with tongues should not seem incredible, specifically prophesying, but that tongues is there everywhere cannot be reasonably disavowed.

The earliest church had an experience that then became precedental. They used the first occurrence as a rough template for that which followed. For the vast stretch of time that the historical church did not follow suit, there was no tongues and precious little other miraculous manifestations. In 1901, when that which became the Pentecostal Reformation rediscovered this pattern and embraced it as normative, tongues and miracles resurfaced with vigor.

I think we can know the tree by its fruit in respect to this doctrine. Those who believe it experience what is in the scriptures, those who don't scramble around clumsily trying to explain why they don't practice what's in the Word. Why, oh why, would anyone attempting to follow the Bible for an example of godly living, not want to speak in tongues?

There is, however, a big difference between the evidence for birth by and the evidence of baptism in the Holy Spirit. The fact of conversion is evidenced initially by the Holy Spirit inwardly inspiring an awareness of God as Father and Jesus as Lord. Over time, it expresses itself outwardly by a lifestyle of holiness and the fruit of the Spirit. The initial evidence of baptism in the Spirit is speaking in tongues. Ideally, a Christian will evidence both.


  1. who cares! I have no problem with people speaking in tongues, but I do not see why it is such a central issue for pentecostals to push. The two greatest things a church can do is love people and see them become followers of Jesus. It seems the churches that are doing that the most successfully these days are NOT pentecostal churches, b/c they seem to be talking about / blogging about / preaching about speaking in tongues, when they should be putting more emphasis on loving people and bringing them to a place of commitment to Jesus.

  2. Anonymous:
    I think if you looked worldwide would find just the opposite: that Pentecostal/Charismatic churches are doing the best job of bringing people to Christ. Tongues shouldn't be the central issue for Christians, obeying the commands of Christ should be. He did say love one another, and he did say preach the gospel to every creature, but he also said,"Tarry until you are endued with power from on high." Setting up false dichotomies does no one any good if their aim is to fully obey Christ.

  3. I appreciate you bringing up holiness.

    There is a prevailing theme in the modern churches of "come as you are," but never a call to start living a holy life after "crossing the line of faith." I've never heard accepting Jesus referred to in that terminology before, but I suppose it's the times we live in. The behavior by what are supposed to be church leaders (small group leaders) at church/church related functions has been downright appalling.

    If we truly loved everyone, we'd be teaching people to live right rather than having a very shallow once or twice a week philosophical discussion/pray the sinner's prayer and that's all you need relationship with Jesus. Otherwise, what's the point? They might as well be attending a Junior League meeting.

  4. Anonymous:
    Historically, the Reformed and Evangelical churches have had a much clearer divide marking conversion that what seems to be shaping up today. That may well be the source of the holiness problem. Today we drift into Jesus, in every generation of true believers that came before a leap of faith was necessary. Thanks for the input.


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