Gallery

ARE TONGUES FOR TODAY: CESSATIONISM VS CONTINUATIONISM

tongues
Introduction

Even at Pentecost, speaking in tongues divided the crowd. Since then, glossolalia has been a phenomenon that has been singled out as either the supreme criterion for the direct action of the Holy Spirit in Christian lives or the supreme example of how enthusiasm is a bad thing for Christian piety. Opinions vary concerning the authenticity of tongues as a religious experience or as the expression of religious experience, but no one denies that for some Christians, it is the experience most highly prized, the palapble sign that their life has been taken over by the power of God. What is more, such Christians claim that this experience is precisely the same as that reported in the New Testament of the first believers. If present-day Christians have exactly the same experiences of God, it is patent that their Christianity above all must be regarded as authentically continuous with that of earliest Christianity. The present-day prevalence of this practice and the claims that contine to be made for it make the study of glossolalia of particular pertinence for any examination of religious experience in earliest Christianity.[1] It is with this thought that we enter into the study of glossolalia (gift of tongues) and review opposing thoughts. The idea through proper analyzation we may determine what has the most cogent argument and how we may continue to live our lives in light of Christianities broad views. 

Glossolalia

            It helps to begin with a definition of glossolalia and hopefully deminish from the start the ways in which the writer views this term and help the reader understand were this term leads us. Glossolalia or speaking in tongues is one of nine charisma or “grace-gifts”, of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11. It has two functions: in the Acts of the Apostles, it is an initation or authentication gift meant as a divine affirmation of a new group entering the church; and in 1 Corinthians 12-14 or Romans 12 it is a “spiritual gift” bestowed upon sovereignly chosen individuals within the church.[2] In the light of Rom. 8.26 Macchia has suggested a number of ways in which tongues have value as Spirit-inspired ‘groaning’:

  1. Glossolalia as Language Coram Deo (Before God)[3]

In glossolalia is a hidden protest against any attempt to define, manipulate or oppress humanity. Glossolalia is unclassifiable, free speech in response to an unclassifable, free God. It is the language of the imago Dei Tongues has been compared to an art form, to other creative means of symbolizing the inadequcay of conventional forms of expression in relation to the inexpressible, such as abstract art or scat music.[4]

  1. Glossolalia and Sanctorum Communio[5]

Whenever glossolia is experienced in Acts barriers are broken down between people… Glossolalia in this context is to be seen as an unclassifiable language that points to the hidden mystery of human freedom before God, a mystery that cuts through differences of gender, class and culture to reveal a solidarity that is essential to our very being and that is revealed to us in God’s own self-disclosure.[6]

  1. Glossolalia and Theologia Crucis[7]

When we groan we share in the sufferings of Christ for the liberation and redemption of the world.[8]

  1. Glossolalia and the New Creation[9]

Glossolia is not only a yearning for the liberation and redemption to come, it is an ‘evidence’ that such has already begun and is now active.[10]

Contemporary experiences of glossolalia are thought to represent the same gift of tongues mentioned in 1 Cor 12:10. J. Massyingberde Ford argued that studies on glossolalia that do not take into account contemporary phenomena “appear to speak from the standpoint of persons who have no empirical experience of the phenomenon which they wish to evaluate. Many linguists who have recorded and analyzed contemporary glossolalia conclude that modern examples of tongues are not a known human languague and are lexically uncommunicative. James R. Jacquith concludes that the contents of contemporary glossolalia are not cognitive language but “verbalizations which superfically resemble language in certain of its structural aspects.” Poythress has suggested that contemporary glossolalia is a coded language that the interpreter of tongues deciphers by means of a supernatural “key.” Patterns emerge in the vocalizations of modern glossolalia and the discerned structers are what amounts to language patterning. [11] Glossolalia continues to mistify some and even anger others. For some the language is a gift from God for contemporary believers and this view is called continuationism.

Continuationism

            Continuationism is a Christian theological belief that the gifts of the Holy Spirit have continued to this present age, specifically the sign gifts such as tongues and prophecy. Those who support this view are called Continuationists or Noncessationists. Those who do not support the Continuationist view are known as Cessationists. While the conflict between Continuationism and Cessationism is not an issue that affects salvation, it has drawn a dividing line between Christian denominations across the United States.[12] The first objection that often arises with regard to Pentecostal theology is the emphasis it places on the empowering work of the Spirit in the life of the believer subsequent to salvation. This emphasis is often wrongly characterized by opponents as “second blessing” theology, without any qualification. Those raise this concern are defending the biblical teaching that the believer receives the Spirit at salvation, and they are rejecting what they perceive to be a misguided view of the efficacy of salvation. Indeed, it is a common misunderstanding of Pentacostalism to charge that it denies the Spirit to non-Pentecostal believers. No classical Pentecostal holds the view that the Spirit is not received at salvation (which would clearly contradict Scripture). Those who believe in Christ also have the Spirit living within; if anyone does not have the Spirit, he or she is not of Christ at all. Moreover, this is not a partial reception of the person of the Spirit; it is unqualified and complete (cf. Rom. 8:14, 9-17,; Gal. 3:1-5; 4:6; Eph. 1:13-14).[13]

     An individual who speaks in the glossolilia or tongues is one who has the Spirit of God, but those who do not also have the Spirit of God. For Ambrose’s “On the Holy Spirit” in his book 2.150 writes as follows:[14]

Behold, God established apostles, established prophets and teachers, gave (dedit) the grace of healings,…gave divers kinds of tongues (dedit genera linguarum). But yet not all are apostles, not all prophets, not all teachers. Not all, he says, have the grace of healings, and not all speak with tongues. For not all divine gifts can be in each man individually; each one recieves according to his capacity that which he either desires or deserves. But the power of the Trinity which is bountiful with all graces is not like this weakness.

Finally, God established (posuit) apostles. Those whom God established in the Church, Christ chose and ordained as apostles, and he ordered them into the world…Behold, the Father gives (dat) the grace of healings, so the Son also (dat) it; just as the Father gives the gift of tongues, so the Son also has bestowed it (sicut Pater dat dona linguarum, ita largitus est et Filius).[15]

The Lord establishes the gift and the giver, but notice this has nothing to do with salvation.The term charismatics has sometimes been associated with doctrinal error, unsubstantiated claims of healing, financial impropriety, outlandish and unfufilled predictions and an overemphasis on the speech gifts, however it’s not unusual for the term charismatic to be connected primarly with the gifts of tongues, prophecy, and miraculous healings along with certain worship styles. But the Spirit’s work isn’t limited to particular manifestations. Scripture associates the Spirit’s work with all aspects of the Christian life.[16]

            The manifestation of tongues as we have seen is a separate action from salvation and is given by God for the edification, evangelism, and restoration of the believer. Having said that, the gift of tongues is one which all should desire. As Wayne Grudem has said,[17]

There is nothing in Scripture that says only a few will receive the gift of speaking in tongues, and since it is a gift which Paul views as edifying and useful in prayer and worship (on a personal level even if not in church), it would not be surprising if the Holy Spirit gave a very wide distribution of this gift and many Christians in fact received it.

We do not find Paul limited the gift to any particular people are to any particular gender.

            One further and decisive case is that of Cornelius and his household, as related in Acts 10. Peter and the other believing Jews went to the house of Cornelius with reluctance, against their own inclinations, only because God had explicitly directed them to go. After Peter had preached a short while, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard his word. Peter and the other Jews were amazed because they heard these Gentiles speaking with tongues. Up to this very moment Peter, like other Jewish believers, had not conceived that it was possible for Gentiles such as Cornelius to be saved and become Christians. Yet this one manifestation of speaking with tongues immediately convinced Peter and the other Jews that these Gentiles were now just as much Christians as the Jews themselves. Peter never suggested that it would be necessary to subject these Gentiles to any further tests or to wait for spiritual fruit or look for any other kind of evidence. On the contrary, he immediately commanded that they be baptized, by which act they were openly accepted and attested as full Christians.[18]

            We close this session with the long lasting doctrine of tongues-speaking as the initial evidence of Holy Spirit baptism, ideally signifying that an intensity of the holy rite has been attained, was known in Sabellian, Noetian, Modalistic Monarchian, and Patripassian organizations between AD 175 and 550. Pious glossolalic Montanists, AD 157, made theological history. Most Manichaeans, Donatists, Samosatenes, Malabar Apostolics, North African Apostolics, Marcionites, and the famed Desposyni were glossolalic practitioners. NOTE: These were doctrinally all about the same. Among those slandered as Gnostics—those who wanted religious knowledge—glossolalia of the type requiring interpretation was common. There are existing several transcribed Gnostic prayers in the Coptic tongue and several lines of ejaculated flossolalic syllables or single vowels and consonants. (M. Hamilton, The Charismatic Movement, Eerdmans, 1975, p.64). There was abundant glossolalia in Christian antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. Apostolic Albigensians and many of those slandered as Anabaptist engaged in tongues-speaking. Tongues-speakers were all around Luther. (M. Luther, Lectures on Isaiah, ed. Jaroslov Pelikan, XVI, 302; Hamilton, p. 71).[19] Continuationist do not always involve those who speak in tongues Baptist ministers like John Piper are continuationist and though are aware of the excesses still holds to the scriptural view as Paul mentions in 1 Corithians 14:5 “I would like every one of you to speak in tongues;”

Cessasationism

            The charismatic gifts spoken of in the New Testament were given to the church for three reasons: (1) They provided supernatural attestaion to the apostolic authority of the early church; (2) they helped lay the foundation for the church; and (3) they provided divine guidance to early believers at a time when the New Tesatament, the final revelation of God, was not completed. The authority of the early church has now been attested; the New Testament is now complete therfore Christians do not need supernatural gifts to guide them in their faith walk. This temporary role of the charismatic gifts is expressed by the author of Hebrews. The author writes:

For if the message declared through angles was valid, and every transgression or disobedience received a just penalty, how can we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? It was declared at first through the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard him, while God added his testimony by signs and wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit, distributed according to his will. (2:2-4)

The author is drawing a parraellel between the attestation of the revelation given in the Old Testament and the attestation of the revelation given in the early church. The message in the Old Testament was “declared through angels,” which is why people should have believed it was true and were punished if they disobeyed it. How much more should people in and after the first century accept the message given by Jesus and the apostles as true. Jesus’ ministry was “attested to us by those who heard him” while God further confirmed his message by providing “signs and wonders and various miracles” and even by “gifts of the Holy Spirit.”[20]

            The “tongues movement” has won considerable following thourghout Christendom. As presently conceived, the movement embraces many Roman Catholics who preserve their traditional church association, and many members of mainline churches with a “renovationist” stance, as well as those identified with Pentecostal churches. Harold Lindsell, former editor of Christianity Today, contends that glossolalia is also “ worldwide phenomenon among pagans, Hindu holy men, Mormons, and countless others” and that “some converts from drug culture say tongues was part of their pshchedlic experience.”[21] Because it involves Pentecostals, Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Roman Catholics, anybody and everybody. So it resists, and has resisted any kind of doctrinal definition that is too rigid. What they all hold in common is an experience which they will call the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. And they wrongly define the Baptism of the Holy Spirit as a post salvation experience that adds something to your Christian life that you previously didn’t have, and is usually is accompanied by signs and wonders, most particularly speaking in tongues. But once you have had that experience, you have sort of jumped into this new level of spiritual awareness, and you have reached the level of the Charismatic. Without this experience, a Christian is second class. So, you have the “spiritual haves” and the “spiritual have nots.” [22]

A story told by John McArthur defines the quandary at what those of who glossolilia hold. A sample of some Charismatic Sunday School literature which is designed specifically to teach Kindergarten children how to speak in tongues. It’s titled, “I’ve Been Filled with the Holy Spirit,” and it is an eight paged coloring book. One page has a caricature of a smiling weight lifter with a T-shirt and it says, “Spiritman”, and under him is printed 1 Corinthians 14:4, “He that speaks in an unknown tongue builds himself up.” Another page features a little boy who looks something like (some of you will remember) Howdy Doody, something like that, with his hands lifted up, and a dotted outline pictures where his lungs would be. This evidently represents his spirit. Inside the lung shaped diagram is printed this, “Bal Li Ode Da Ma Ta Las Si Ta No Ma,” (sp.). A cartoon styled balloon then comes out his mouth and repeats the words, “Bal Li Ode Da Ma Ta Las Si Ta No Ma,” (sp.). A brain-shaped cloud is drawn in his head with a large

question mark in the cloud.Do you understand the picture? These gibberish words are in the Spirit and they come out of his mouth, but a question mark is in his brain. This is how they plant in a Kindergarten child the idea that tongues goes from the Spirit to the mouth, without ever going through the brain, that it is some kind of mystical, noncognative experience that somehow bypasses the brain. And under that picture is 1 Corinthians 14:14, “If I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful.” In both cases they have misrepresented the intention of those verses. The first verse they assume “speaking in an unknown tongue” builds someone up, when in fact, Paul was saying it in a negative sense. It puffs your ego, or it, at best (if you do it in private) would benefit you, which would be selfish and contrary to any proper use of spiritual gifts. And the second one, “If I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prays, and my understanding is unfruitful,” is a way to say, “Don’t do that, because what’s the point in having an unfruitful understanding?” And yet, as early as Kindergarten, people are learning these things which are in error. This is the typical Charismatic perspective, by the way. The gift of tongues is viewed as a holy, mystical ability that somehow operates in a person’s spirit and comes out the mouth and bypasses the mind. And many Charismatics are even told they have to purposefully switch off their mind to enable the gift to function.[23] As has been mentioned the previous words concerning the thoughts and mind of those who view that the tongues represented in the Bible is not the same represented today have used the underpinnings of Pentacostalism.

            Arminian Protestant Christian groups, although the movement divided over the doctrine of the Trinit early in its history. Some Pentecostals rejected orthodox Trinitarianism in favor of a “Oneness” message that reduced the person of the Trinity to manifestations of one person. This branch of Pentecostalism, was rejected by the majority and never played any significant role in Evangelicalism. Above and beyond basic Protestant orthodoxy, however, Pentecostals embraced the higher-life message of A.B. Simpson and/ or the Holiness message of Phoebe Palmer and the National Holiness Assocation. Some Pentacostals believe in entire sancification and some do not; all believe in the experience of second blessing of Spirit baptism or Spirit infilling for Christians with the accompanying, verifying sing of speaking in tongues.[24]

            In a scant view spokesmen contend that while the Bible does not explicitly say so, tongues were divinely intended only for a transition period in the church’s life when the gospel was scarecly known. Paul looks upon tongues as gift not given to all; “Do all speak with tongues?” he ask, and his negative reply is based on principle that the Spirit divides “to every man severally as he wills” (1 Cor. 12:11, 29-30, KJV). Furthermore, he does not discuss tongues among the “greater gifts” to be universally desired (1 Cor. 12:31). In the interest of edication of the saints, he restricts the use of tongues, moreover, to but three persons in any given service, and requires and that they speak in order and only with an interpreter present (1 Cor. 14:13). Since women had Pauline permission to pray and to prophesy in public (1 Cor. 12:10), some interpreters have thought that the injuction that women keep silence in church (1 Cor. 11:13; 14:26-36) refers to tongues-speaking. In any case, Paul attaches but limited postive value to speaking in tongues (1 Cor. 14:5, 14-17, 22, 28). Some observers say this downplay was influenced by the fact that he was writing to the church at Corinth, where ecstatic utterances by Greek priests in pagan temples might be confused to immature believers; but the Bible does not explicitly say so.[25]

            Notice another thing. There is not a single command in the Bible to talk in tongues. Over in I Corinthians 14 Paul said, “I would that ye all spake with tongues. I would you all could talk in several languages like I do.” But Paul did not talk there about a miracle, nor talk about the gift of tongues but ordinary languages used in services where people did not understand them. There is not one command in the Bible to talk in tongues. Not only that; there is not even a promise in the Bible that certain people will talk in tongues.[26]

Conclusion

            In conclusion, speaking in tongues is a form of prayer. In 1 Corinthians 14:2 Paul says that speaking in tongues is speaking”to God” (see also v.28). Again, in verses 14-15 he explicitly refers to “praying” in tongues or “praying” with (by) his spirit. Therefore, speaking in tongues is a means of communicating with God in supplication, petition, and intercession. According to 1 Corinthians 14:16, prayer in tongues is a perfectly legitimate way in which to express heartfelt gratitude to God. There is nothing in Scripture to indicate that people who speak in tongues lose self-control, become unaware of their surroundings, or lapse into a frenzied condition in which self-consciousness and the power for rational thinking are eclisped. The person speaking tongues can start and stop at will (1 Cor. 14:15-19 27-28; cf.14:32). There is a vast difference between an experience being “ecstatic” and being “emotional.” Speaking in tongues is often (but not always) highly emotional, bringing peace joy, but that does not mean it is ecstatic. Speaking in tongues edifies oneself (1 Cor. 14:4) contrary to what some say, is not a bad thing.[27]

Bibliography

Bob Kauflin, and Paul Baloche, Worship Matters: Leading Others to Encounter the Greatness of God, (Good News Publishers, 2008) , 86.

Derek Prince, The Spirit Filled Believer’s Handbook, (Charisma House, 1993) .

Carl Ferdinand and Howard Henry, God, Revelation, and Authority, (Good News Publishers, 1999).

Clint Tibbs, Religious Experience of the Pneuma, (Mohr Siebeck, 2007).

Luke Timothy Johnson, Religious Experience in Earliest Christianity, (Augsburg Fortress, 1998), 105-106.

Gerald Hovenden, Speaking in Tongues: the New Testament evidence in context: Macchia, ‘Sighs’ p. 68-70, (Sheffield Academic Press, 2002), 139.

Frederic Miller, Agnes Vandome, and John McBrewster, Continuationism, (VDM Publishing House Ltd., 2009).

Christopher Forbes, Prophecy and Inspired Speech in Early Christianity and its Hellenistic Environment, (J.C.B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck), 1995) 82-83.

  1. MacArthur, Jr., Charismatic Chaos, (Zondervan Publishing Co., 1992) also available from http://www.biblebb.com/files/MAC/CHAOS1.HTM

Great Events of Pentecostalism before Azusa, available from http://www.upcbaypoint.com/Articles/azusa4.html

Gregory A Boyd, Paul R. Eddy, Across the spectrum: understanding issues in evangelical theology, (Baker Publishing Group, 2009), 21.

Carl Ferdinand and Howard Henry, God, Revelation, and Authority, (Good News Publishers, 1999), 285.

John F. MacArthur, Jr., Charismatic Chaos, (Zondervan Publishing Co., 1992) also available from http://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http://lwelliott.com/2005/SundaySchool/Charismatic+Chaos.doc&chrome=true

Roger E. Olson, Pocket History Evangelical Theology,(InterVarsity Press, 2007), 79-80.

Mark Stibbe, Know Your Spiritual Gifts: How to Minister in the Power of the Spirit, (Zondervan, 2000), 169.

  1. Hamilton, The Charismatic Movement, Eerdmans, 1975, p.64
  2. Luther, Lectures on Isaiah, ed. Jaroslov Pelikan, XVI, 302; Hamilton, p. 71

John R. Rice, Speaking in Tongues, (Sword of Lord Publishers, 1971).

John Cassian, The Conferences of John Cassian, (Newman Press, 1997).

Walter A. Elwell, Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, (Baker Publishing Group, 2001), 1206.

Wayne A Grudem, Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., Robert L. Saucy, Samuel Storms, and Douglas A. Oss, Are Miraculous Gifts for Today?: 4 Views, (Zondervan, 1996), 214-242.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Luke Timothy Johnson, Religious Experience in Earliest Christianity, (Augsburg Fortress, 1998), 105-106.

[2]     Walter A. Elwell, Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, (Baker Publishing Group, 2001), 1206.

[3]    Gerald Hovenden, Speaking in Tongues: the New Testament evidence in context: Macchia, ‘Sighs’ p. 68-70, (Sheffield Academic Press, 2002), 139.

[4]     Ibid., 139.

[5]     Ibid., 139.

[6]     Ibid., 139.

[7]     Ibid., 140.

[8]     Ibid., 140.

[9]     Ibid., 140.

[10]   Ibid., 140.

[11]   Clint Tibbs, Religious Experience of the Pneuma, (Mohr Siebeck, 2007) 38-39.

[12]   Frederic Miller, Agnes Vandome, and John McBrewster, Continuationism, (VDM Publishing House Ltd., 2009).

[13]   Wayne A Grudem, Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., Robert L. Saucy, Samuel Storms, and Douglas A. Oss, Are Miraculous Gifts for Today?: 4 Views, (Zondervan, 1996), 214-242.

[14]     Christopher Forbes, Prophecy and Inspired Speech in Early Christianity and its Hellenistic Environment, (J.C.B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck), 1995) 82-83.

[15]     Ibid., 82-83.

[16]     Bob Kauflin, and Paul Baloche, Worship Matters: Leading Others to Encounter the Greatness of God, (Good News Publishers, 2008) , 86.

[17]     Mark Stibbe, Know Your Spiritual Gifts: How to Minister in the Power of the Spirit, (Zondervan, 2000), 169.

[18]   Derek Prince, The Spirit Filled Believer’s Handbook, (Charisma House, 1993) ,234.

[19] Great Events of Pentecostalism before Azusa, available from http://www.upcbaypoint.com/Articles/azusa4.html

[20]   Gregory A Boyd, Paul R. Eddy, Across the spectrum: understanding issues in evangelical theology, (Baker Publishing Group, 2009), 21.

[21] Carl Ferdinand and Howard Henry, God, Revelation, and Authority, (Good News Publishers, 1999), 285.

[22]   John F. MacArthur, Jr., Charismatic Chaos, (Zondervan Publishing Co., 1992) also available from http://www.biblebb.com/files/MAC/CHAOS1.HTM

[23]   John F. MacArthur, Jr., Charismatic Chaos, (Zondervan Publishing Co., 1992) also available from http://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http://lwelliott.com/2005/SundaySchool/Charismatic+Chaos.doc&chrome=true

[24]     Roger E. Olson, Pocket History Evangelical Theology,(InterVarsity Press, 2007), 79-80.

[25]    Carl Ferdinand and Howard Henry, God, Revelation, and Authority, (Good News Publishers, 1999), 286.

[26]   John R. Rice, Speaking in Tongues, (Sword of Lord Publishers, 1971), 9.

[27]   Habid., Are Miraculous gifts for Today?, 215.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s