A BIBLICAL CRITIQUE OF THE MODERN TONGUES MOVEMENT
Dr Grant C. Richison
I. LIMITED TO A FEW (1 Co 12:8-11, 29, 30)
Sovereignly bestowed – 1 Co 12:8.
Select individuals – 1 Co 12:8-11, 29, 30 (Greek)
II. NOT A PERMANENT GIFT
Other temporary gifts:
Interpretation of tongues
1 Cor. 13:8 says in the Greek that tongues will come to an absolute cessation (PAUO) in and of themselves (middle voice) at one point (aorist tense).
Verses 9-13 drop “tongues” and continues “prophecy” and “knowledge” as the two gifts that will continue until the closing of the canon (or the coming of Christ). A look at history substantiates this. There is no allusion or hint of the Apostolic Fathers practicing the gift of tongues.
Purpose – sign to Israel of a change of economy.
Tongues were an authentication of God’s message in the interval between the beginning of Christianity and the writing of the New Testament.
Acts 2:22 and Hebrews 2:3-4.
(Since the canon is closed it is sufficient to simply quote it to authenticate one’s message).
History of doctrine:
Justin Martyr (A.D. 100-165) mentions seven gifts, does not include tongues.
Irenaeus, A.D. 130-195, was influenced by Montanus (A.D. 126-180), who was a heretic & claimed to speak in tongues.
The only clear statement regarding tongues in the post-Apostolic church is Eusebius‘ description of the activity of Montanus.
Chrysostom (A.D. 347-407): “the obscurity is produced by our ignorance of the facts referred to and by their cessation, being such as then used to occur, but now no longer take place.”
There was no speaking in tongues among evangelicals until approximately 1875. 1901 was when the so-called modern tongues movement began.
An argument from silence?
Fathers wrote to and from churches where the gift had been practiced. Ignatius (disciple of the Apostle John) said nothing about tongues.
Wide geographical coverage of the Apostolic Fathers made their silence significant.
They covered every major area of doctrine.
Purpose of Apostolic writings would have included tongues if they were extant.
III. NATURE OF TONGUES
Nothing more than known languages of that day.
“Tongue” means “language.”
No evidence of incoherent, incomprehensible babbling in the Bible.
Acts 2:4-11: Compare verse 6, Dia1ektos, with Rev. 5:9 and 7:9. They spoke in dialects as well as foreign languages.
Mark 16:17 – Kainos= new language to the speaker.
Acts 10:46 – not different from Acts 2.
Acts 19:6 – Ibid.
Acts and First Corinthians usage is same.
Paul and Luke were constant companions.
1 Corinthians 12:10, 28 – genos ~ family, race – families of languages.
1 Corinthians 13:1 – “tongues of angels”
“Though” (third class condition) – purely hypothetical.
“Unknown” – 1 Co 14:2, 4, 13, 14, 19, 27
Inserted by translators.
1 Corinthians 14:21, 22
Verse 21 quotes Isaiah 28:11.
It is a quotation which refers to the Assyrian invasion of Israel and speaking in Aramaic.
Verse 22 is the only statement in the entire Word of God about the purpose of tongues.
“Therefore” hoste = Preposition of ultimate purpose or result.
“For a sign” – idiom for purpose (compare 1 Co. 1:22).
Tongues are not for believers.
“But for them that believe not.“
The second “them” has an article before it (Greek)
This is a classic article of previous reference (a reference to v. 21).
So, tongues are for unbelieving Jews in the transition period before the closing of the canon.
Every occurrence of tongues in Acts Jews are present (cf. Acts 2:4, 10:26;19:6).
Reception of Holy Spirit in Acts = no two accounts are the same.
|1.||Sound of wind||x|
|2.||Tongues of fire||x|
|3.||Speaking in tongues||x||x||x|
|4.||Laying on of hands||x||x|
|5.||Spirit received after|
|6.||Spirit received at|
|moment of salvation||x|
|7.||What doing when received:|
|a)||Praying or listening|
|to the Word||x|
|c)||Listening to sermon||x|
|d)||Paul finished explaining||x|
Since no two accounts are the same, no one pattern may be drawn from the hook of Acts.
The transitional character of the book of Acts must be recognized.
Many things that happened in Acts were never intended to be permanent patterns:
e.g., we do not worship God in a Jewish Temple (2:46);
are not struck dead instantaneously for lying (5:1-11);
or converted through direct reve1ation (9:1-19).
Also, Acts is not didactic; i.e., it is not trying to teach doctrine but simply giving history.
Tongues in Acts:
Acts 2, Pentecost
Purpose: to convince non-believing Jews that the New Testament economy is in effect.
Pentecost signifies the coming of the Holy Spirit from heaven to permanently indwell believers and take up residence in the church (cf. John 14:16; 16:7,8,13; Acts 1:8).
Pentecost is an unrepated/unrepeatable event.
Pentecost is the singular advent of the Holy Spirit.
Pentecost marks the primary and historical occurance of the baptism of the Spirit (Acts 1:5; 2:4; 11:14-16; 1 Co 12:13; Eph 1:22-23).
Pentecost, therefore, represents the beginning of the new economy of the church.
Pentecost was wholly Jewish and a witness to the inaugurating of the new age of the church.
Acts 8, The Samarian Situation
Acts 8 marks the giving of the Spirit to the Saritans, not a Samaritan Pentecost for:
Petecost was unrepeatable.
The Holy Spirit cannot be given, received and deposited again.
The Samarian event represents expansion, not birth of the church.
It was their particular entrance into the blessing of the gift of the Holy Spirit.
It was their “receiving the Spirit (Acts 8:15, 17)
Samaria indicates the entering of another ethnic group into the blessing of the Holy Spirit.
No tongues in Acts 8.
Acts 10, Cornelius’ conversion represents the giving of the Spirit to the Gentiles.
No “Gentile Pentecost”
Acts 10 represents entrance into blessings of that age, not the inauguration of the age itself.
Cornelius’ conversion marks the giving of the Spirit to Gentiles; it introduces the Gentiles to New Testament economy (Acts 10:47).
Tongues at Caesarea were a witness that the new age that had been fully introduced with the admission of the Gentiles to gospel privilege.
Tongues at Caesarea were a sign to the Jews that the gift of the Spirit poured out upon Gentiles.
The Spirit poured out upon the Gentiles was in every respect equivalent to the gift poured out upon those at Pentecost.
The unclean Gentiles to the Jews were given a “like gift” (Acts 11:17).
This was a witness to Peter and the six Jewish witnesses.
Also, it was a witness to the Jewish authorities in Jerusalem to whom Peter was to be called question (Acts 11:1-18).
This need to the Jews at Caesarea was supplied by tongues (Acts 10:46).
Peter and his Jewish friends were immediately persuaded that God had granted to the Gentiles the same privileges as them (Acts 11:17–equal in every sense).
Acts 19, Conversion of the disciples of John the Baptist.
The Ephesian discples were Jews or Jewish proselytes who knew nothing of the giving of the Holy Spirit.
The 12 men represent individuals within the Jewish racial category, (Acs 19:7).
They were disciples of John the Baptist from more than 20 years before (Acts 18:25; 19:3).
They did not have the baptism of the Spirit presented to them until this point, therefore, they were not New Testament believers but only disciples of John the Baptist (Acts 18:24-19:7).
Therefore, these disciples were representatives of many Jews and Jewish proselytes in the transitional period between the Old Testament and the age of grace.
Thus, tongues at Ephesus were a sign to the Jews that the new economy of the church had begun on the basis of faith ministered by the Spirit.
Must edify – I Cor. 14:23-26
Must have an interpreter – 1 Co 14:27, 28 – only one per service.
Number and order:
– No more than three in one service;
– One at a time, 1 Co 14:27.
Women not allowed to speak in assembly – 1 Co 14:34
VI. EVALUATION OF MODERN TONGUES MOVEMEN
Stress on knowing God experimentally.
Desire to get back to the biblical concept of spirituality.
Desire to obey the Word of God fully.
Emphasis on the person and work of the Holy Spirit.
Use experience as the criterion for truth.
Too much prominence given to it.
Last in roster of gifts – 1 Co 12:20-23
Confuses baptism of the Spirit and the filling of the Spirit:
-once for all
-received at salvation
-only some are filled
Confuses receiving the Spirit and the baptism of the Spirit.
Makes Spirit baptism subsequent to salvation
Confuses sanctification with the second work of grace.
Sublimation for doctrine.
Substitutes sight for faith.
Shortcut to maturity.