Speaking in Languages (i.e. Tongues)

Pagan examples of speaking in false tongues:

Early church history on speaking in languages (i.e. tongues):

Available for download: Speaking in languages

About Jonathan Lankford

Originally from Nashville, Tennessee, Jonathan has provided education and training services to organizations and individuals in Vietnam since 2007.
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9 Responses to Speaking in Languages (i.e. Tongues)

  1. tben says:

    Hi Jon

    Good morning to you. I was reading the docs posted by you when I was waiting for Nana plane at the Brunei Airport. I have read it again this morning when I was more fresh. As I shared with you before I have no expertise of Greek langauge and what I can share is only based on what I have learnt so far, since I was a boy and also my studies of the bible all these years.

    Just to raise a few points for interest

    A Personal view about the term Glossa Laleo

    Speaking in tongues (glossa -laleo) is not speaking in languages (dialektos). Bakers Theological Dictionary of the Bible states, “Glossa in Greek can refer to virtually any kind of vocal utterance, with or without discernable linguistic structure. The gift of tongues then refers to a divinely given utterance, unintelligible to its speaker or to most in that speaker’s audience, but which will be translated into an understandable language, either by the original speaker or by another with the gift of interpretation. Glossalalia may be practiced as a a private prayer language (I Cor. 14:18-19).

    A Personal view about story in the upper room.
    On Acts 2 the disciples were gathered in the upper room and they were praying together. That is when the Holy spirit came and it make them utter a strange tongue (Glossa Katheos). It was really loud and since it was the day of the pentacost there were many Jews from different places gathered within the city of Jerusalem. They gathered at the upper room and saw the sight of them speaking that strange tongue.

    “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? 9we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” (Acts 2:7,8,11)

    We all know that there are many languages spoken there and the bible recorded around 15-16 langauges. Now in this mordern day, that will be like a group of people gathering to hear a group of people speaking. in an unknown language. Yet they distinctly can hear multiple various langauges spoken, like thai, Vietnamese, Cantonese, Mandarin, Teochew, Tagalog, Malay, Arabic, French, German, English, Mexican, Portuguese, Swahili , Hindi, Punjabi all together simultaneously. Interestingly there are some who heard it like this and some who could not. That is why they mocked and said “They are full of new wine.”(Acts 2:13).

    If tongues is just any other language (Glossa) then this would not have been physically achievable. now imagine if we have a same message written in all those langauges above, writing them out on paper, and asking them to read simultaneously. Would the crowd be able to hear it in their distinctive language? and much less to understand that they are “declaring the marvelous works of God” . (Acts 2:6

    The incident in Acts 2 is a miracle. In fact 2 things are being demonstrated.
    1. The disciples spoke in unknown tongues when they first receive the Holy Spirit.
    2. During that prayer, the Holy Spirit allowed the onlooker the ability to interpret the tongues. Hence they heard it in the language where they are born.
    It is important to note that not all managed to interpret the tongues, hence a number mocked that these men were drunk.

    Acts 2:37 records that the people heard this and were cut in the heart. That was the result of Peters sermon from Acts 2:14-36. Personally I believe it is the moving of the Holy Spirit to convict them of sin as they heard the preaching of Peter

    1 Cor 14 : The speaking of Tongues and the Interpreting of tongues

    I hope that by now you would understand that there are tongues speaking as well as an interpreting of tongues. In an event of a personal prayer towards God. It is not necessary for the tongues to be interpreted. (1 Cor 14:28) . In the entire chapter of 1 Cor 14 the church in Corinth had a slight problem. During their service there are people who spoke in tongues as if they were speaking a sermon. The worst situation is when there are multiple people doing that within their congregation. that lead to disorder and made unbeliever mock God as a God of disorder (1Cor 14:22-24) .

    That is why Paul propose that it is more important to speak (prophesy) in intelligible words rather than in tongues. (1 Cor 14:19). So he insist that if anyone wants to speak in tongues as a prophesy, let them come up 1 after the other, and only allow 2 or at the most 3 to do this. And the requirement is that they were to have an interpreter. If a man had no interpreter, let him speak himself to God alone and not to others (1 Cor 14:25-29) in fact the congregation must judge what is spoken to discern if it is genuiniely from god (1 Cor 14:29-33)

    In fact, Paul is not forbidden the speaking of tongues in prayer (1 Cor 14:39). In fact he spoke in tongues more than the others(1 Cor 14:18). Personally in my church there are such cases where someone prophesy and spoke a sermon in tongues. And God would indeed raise someone who can interprete it change it into the langauge that we can understand. But such incidents are pretty rare indeed, even in my church.

    A Personal Understanding Regarding the Filling Of The Holy Spirit

    Actually I think your point about being filled by the Holy Spirit is very good. In my church we believe that one who receives the Holy Spirit speaks in tongues automatically (no interpretation of tongues is needed as it is a personal prayer between us and God) . But being filled with the Holy Spirit is not about speaking in tongues loudly or with much vibration. But rather a person who is filled with the Holy Spirit is one who would keep the commandments of God and he will discipline himself to follow as much of the words of God as possible. He will learn to try to live his life in accordance to God word.

    It is possible for one to hold the virtues of the fruit of the spirit. But it does not necessary mean that he had recieved the Holy Spirit. Likewise there are many who spoke in tongues who are not necessarily filled with the Holy Spirit. I like to compare this filling of the Holy Spirit to the vision of Ezekiel in Eze 47:1-6 : Where the water that came from the throne fill the man to the ankle, then to the waist and finally all over him. Until he is unable to go the way he wanted to go but to follow the moving of the spirit.

    At the same time IT is also dangerous to just believe base on miracles . Those who desire only to see miracles are at risk of being deceive by the false Christ and false prophets.

    Just sharing some of my thoughts with you , take care Jon


    • Ben,

      The purpose of the document was not to summarize the instructed use of the spiritual gift, but to identify what it is supposed to be and its importance against other gifts and Scripture itself. While we may both agree on its level of importance, we may not agree on what it actually is.

      The entry in Bakers Theological Dictionary of the Bible is, to put it in no other way, erroneous. While I haven’t been able to find his religious affiliation, he may be writing from a bias or from an anachronistic view – imposing current theology onto a 2,000 year old language. In every instance in the Greek Bible, glossa is used to refer to either language or the instrument of language (the tongue). While it is possible to list all of the instances here, it may be easier just to go to a concordance like Strong’s and see how the KJV translated it in general. It is always translated language, tongue (as the body part), and once “nation” I believe (http://biblehub.com/greek/1100.htm). The Greek approximation for sound, voice, or utterance is phone, which is never used for human language or, coincidentally, for the spiritual gift. Luke seems to use a lot of ink to describe how the spiritual gift was human language.

      The final link in the document opens to a web page that attempts to give an historical context to Paul’s letter. In brief, one religious sect of the god Dionysius, which was current at Corinth during that time, used ecstatic speech and interpretations of such, the speech typically being uttered by women. The hypothesis that this pagan influence is what Corinth was dealing with can be somewhat supported by Paul’s inclusion of the instructions to not allow women to speak – which immediately follows the instruction on the use of the spiritual gift of tongues.

      Of all the verses in the Bible, I cannot find anyone using a private prayer language, or instructions on using a private prayer language. I do see that Paul instructed those with the gift of tongues to speak to God only if there is no interpreter. Does this mean it is a private prayer language that is composed on sounds rather than human language? Surely not, since Acts 2 is clear as to what speaking in tongues is – a human language. I only see an allusion to a hypothetical private prayer language when Paul says, “Though I speak with the language of men or angels.” Yet, he is probably being figurative since just before this, he is speaking of faith to move mountains.

      In the end, I am not questioning the fact that the gift of languages actually happened, does happen, and will happen again. I am questioning the fact that it happens in mass in assemblies around the world today on a weekly basis. In the springtime, there is great rain. In the summer, there is little rain, and in the fall, there is great rain. On the Biblical calendar, Yeshua’s death and resurrection happened at the beginning of spring at Unleavened Bread. Yehovah sent His Spirit in mass to Yeshua’s disciples at the end of spring on Pentecost. There is no holy day in summer, and there is little rain as well. In the fall, Yehovah will again pour out His Spirit in total fulfillment of Joel 2 (also referenced in Acts 2). This will happen at some point around the Day of Trumpets to the Day of Atonement, and even to the holy days of Tabernacles, when God dwells with man. This spring rain and fall rain is something I haven’t studied in depth yet, but then again, I am getting off topic. In short, I do believe in the movement of the Spirit. But I have doubts it is happening weekly and charismatic denominations worldwide as the utterances are sounds, not languages.


      • tben says:

        Hi Jon

        Yes I understand that the purpose of the article is to identify what tongues speaking actually is. Indeed our views over the matter is very different. For if i am understanding it correctly. You are saying that tongues is a glossa, a type of known language used in the human world. Like English, Spanish , Greek, Etc. For me tongues is the rolling of tongues an unknown language that man could not understand.

        As shared previously, I believe that tongues is a natural gift given to all who received the Holy Spirit. It is manifested mainly during personal prayers. During that time, there is not necessary to interpret tongues as it is our prayers to God. (In fact it is the Holy Spirit making intercession for us to God on our behalf). There are occasional instances where someone is moved to speak to the congregation in tongues but that is the time where God would move someone to interpret the tongues so that man can listen and judge to see if it is indeed a message from God. For in my experience, all Christian who received the Holy Spirit will be able to speak in tongues during prayer and it is the evidence of receiving the Holy Spirit.

        Personally the Bakers Theological Dictionary is just a reference for me and I was sharing it because I know that you have an interest in Greek. We do use other concordance like strong’s and other sources. But as I am not an expert in the language and I do not have the same level of expertise as you. Hence I do not want to be “teaching school”.

        Actually you will never be able to find an instances where Paul instruct one on how to use tongues as a prayer language to God. For it is not a language that we can use like English , Mandarin. For us, when we kneel down to pray, we do pray like normal people and our minds are still speaking to God.

        Paul explains how that works in 1 Cor 14:14-15
        “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays,
        but my understanding is unfruitful.
        What is the conclusion then? I will pray
        with the spirit, and I will also pray with
        the understanding. I will sing with the
        spirit, and I will also sing with the

        Whenever I pray, I speak in tongues, indeed I do not know what it was speaking. But at the same time I make the same supplication to God in my mind speaking to God just as the same as any human being would speak to God. But I believe that the tongues which was spoken by the Holy Spirit himself. He was making intercession for me . Just as Paul describes

        “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our
        weaknesses. For we do not know
        what we should pray for as we ought,
        but the Spirit Himself makes intercession
        for us with groanings which cannot be
        uttered. Now He who searches the hearts
        knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because
        He makes intercession for the saints according
        to the will of God.” (Rom 8:26-27)

        Perhaps it is true that there is a cult of Dionsys that is active in Corinth. I would think that at the preaching of Paul there should be able to differentiate between ecstatic speech and interpretations and the tongues from the Holy spirit. I would believe that they will not lead a life like the unbelievers. Or else Pauls work 1 year 6 month (Acts 18:11) would have been in vain. The church in corinth is made up of Both Jews and Gentiles as well.

        When Paul wrote 1 Cor 14 he was not really worried that the church is behaving like the gentiles. In fact he is concern that their method of worship leads to no edification (1 Cor 14:26) and that people who come in cannot see God among them (1 Cor 14:23-25). Even though I am sure that the church will have to face up the influence of the cult of Dionysus, but Paul did not mentioned that their speaking in tongues is behaving like the unbelievers. In fact throughout first Corinthians he accused them of behaving worst than unbelievers at time (1 Cor 5:1-2) but his concern in 1 Cor 14 is somewhat different from that.

        Hope that it clarifies a bit :)


    • Normally, I would not speak of an issue like this; however, I keep getting people telling me that this is a salvation issue so I see it as something unavoidable.

      In 1 Corinthians 14:14-15, the word for spirit is pneuma – a neuter/genderless noun. He is obviously speaking of his own spirit since he refers to it in the possessive “my,” hence the translation does not capitalize the word. In Romans 8:26, pneuma is assumed to be referring to the Spirit of Yehovah (the Holy Spirit) and is capitalized. This assumption is the result of a theological presupposition that this verse refers to private prayer language where the Holy Spirit helps us speak in tongues. There is no prior evidence in Scripture to lead anyone to objectively believe that Romans 8:26 refers to the Holy Spirit and not to Paul’s own spirit or our own spirits. Notice also that the spirit in Romans 8 does not only pray but also sings; is this really speaking of praying in tongues and how does singing enter into this? Rather, we see the exact opposite. We see in 1 Corinthians that it is Paul’s spirit praying – not the Holy Spirit. Therefore, it should be that also in Romans 14, it is his own spirit as well.

      If the spirit we are referring to here is one’s own, then this leads to the possibility of having a private prayer language, because the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues that is given from Yehovah is plainly human language for the purpose of communicating a message for others and not for self. The precedent in clearly in Acts 2. There is no precedent before 1 Corinthians that it is rolling tongues and sounds. If so, the Greek word phone would undoubtedly be used instead of glossa at some point.

      Therefore, if this private prayer language is from self and not from Yehovah, then it is not necessary for receiving the Holy Spirit because itself is not the Spirit. This is seen in the verse list I already created that shows individuals can be baptized in the Spirit and filled with the Spirit before ever having spoken in tongues. Which leaves one to question if baptizing in the Spirit and filling with Spirit does not constitute “receiving” the Spirit, then what does? Speaking in tongues as the sign of the Spirit seems to be a theological imposition.

      We see the connection between spirit and breath Hebrew as it is from the same root. From the Old to the New, the Scriptures are referred to as the sword of the spirit and and the God-breathed words, and the spirit of prophecy. The superiority of obedience over any miraculous signs or wonders is clearly defined by the Law in Deuteronomy 12 and the Messiah in Matthew 7. Does everyone who speaks in tongues keep the commandments? I don’t mean the traditions of the elders as the Pharisees tried to impose on Yeshua, but I mean the real commandments of Scripture? I see many people violating Scripture but still speaking in sounds (tongues?) with no interpretation. 3rd commandment, not making a false promise in the name of Yehovah, 4th, keeping the Sabbath set-apart, other commandments too like making promises truthfully in the name of Yehovah, other laws on how to treat people (encapsulated in treat others as you would want to be treated). What of nice people who speak in tongues but have not learned to love Father Yehovah’s name as the Scriptures record? Or those who do not set-apart the Sabbath? What about the other religions that can speak the same kinds of sounds? For me, this is the crux of the issue.


  2. tben says:

    Hi Jon

    Out of curiosity. I decided to make a search for Pneuma in both the Bakers Theological Dictionary (Which you said are Erroneous ) as well as Strongs Lexicon (which you seem to prefer)

    Here are the search result

    From G4154;
    a. a current of air, that is, breath (blast) or a breeze;
    b. by analogy or figuratively a spirit, that is, (human) the rational soul,
    c. (by implication) vital principle, mental disposition, etc.,
    d. or (superhuman) an angel, daemon, or (divine) God,
    Christ’s spirit, the Holy spirit: – ghost, life, spirit (-ual, -ually), mind.

    a. Spirit, (Ruah)
    b. Soul (Nepes)
    c. Magic
    d. Demon
    e. Holy Spirit
    f,. Jesus

    Interestingly, their explanation are not too far away from each other. You tend to use the word Pneuma for spirit and I tend to use it as Holy Spirit. Both Bakers and Strong had those definition within their dictionary. But I am not exactly an expert so I better leave it as that. But I think I tend to prefer strongs as well. But dictionaries only records definition. It does not tell you which meaning to use at any one encounter with the words. The dictionary leaves the actual work of deciding the meaning to the readers who need to judge it by context.

    Just because it is commonly used as definition A doesn’t necessary dictate that the same definition will be used throughout the bible. It would also not be fair to impose the same definition whenever we encounter the same word in every verse that it appear. For we all uses our language (be it English, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Teochew) and we know that human languages do not work like that.

    I do not know that the English bible makes use of Capitalization to insert theological assumption. All along it was not a big issue for me as I did not really know much about theological assumption from the great theological teacher of the past. As you have shared earlier, some theological assumption need not be correct. So I guess it really didn’t matter.

    Reading all our points so far, I can see the following.

    1. In 1 Cor 14:14-15
    a. In your view Paul is being using the term “My Spirit” meaning the his own spirit
    b. In my view Paul also use the term “pray in the spirit”. Which “the spirit ” is the Holy Spirit
    (even though there is no capitalization)

    2. In Romans 8:26
    a. In your view its wrongly assumed to be “the Holy Spirit” due to a lack of prior evidence
    moreover the Holy Spirit doesn’t sing
    b. in my view it is none other than the Holy Spirit

    I remembered from a conversation with Nana that you also once said that Apollo had received the “Holy Spirit” prior to meeting Aquila and Priscilla. During that discussion , the greek word quoted is “Pneuma” and you said it was the Holy Spirit. But during that time I explained to Nana that the word “spirit” seen in Apollo when presenting the scripture is more about the “vital principle, mental disposition”. It tells us that Apollo spoke in a a very principle manner with a strong mental disposition. In my view Apollo does not receive the Holy spirit before believing in Christ

    Actually, we both used the word Pneuma and define them using their different definition from the dictionary. Sometimes we used the word as the Holy Spirit and sometimes we used it as a personal spirit. You based your explanation on your understanding and your theological assumption. while I based it on my personal experience with the Holy Spirit.

    So allow me to share my experience about it.

    I think i need to clarify what I meant by a “private prayer language”. It is the Holy Spirit within us that allowed us to speak in tongues. Whoever who receives the Holy Spirit will speak like this. When that happen, we believe that the Holy Spirit makes intercession for us to God. At the same time, some of us believe that it is at that time when Jesus interceded for us before the father. At that time the Holy Spirit works within us. But then we are suppose to make our own prayers at the same time. I believe you already know the verses i would quote (I have quoted them already) so I wont repeat them here.

    As I said about Acts 2, i still feel that it is impossible for a 16 different glossa to be spoken simultaneously to a group of onlookers and yet the listeners could hear and understand what is spoken. Bearing in mind that the disciples were praying in the upper room (Acts 1:14, Acts 2:1) when it happen and the onlookers gathered upon hearing the din (Acts 2:6) . It would have been physically impossible for the disciple to break up the group and address them separately using their individual glossa at the same time.

    Moreover It is actually physically possible to determine and even count those who receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:5-7). They were identified by their tongues speaking. Assuming they speak in other glossa , how would Paul be able to count them easily? If it is a known language what language will that be? How would one know if he had receive the Holy Spirit or not.

    You are right to say that not all who spoke in tongues can keep the commandments of God. Even though one may speak in tongues and God had granted him the Holy Spirit. He is still imperfect and he still need to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit to follow the commandments of God. For God once prophesy in the Old Testament about the Holy Spirit.

    ” I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you;
    I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you
    a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause
    you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments
    and do them” (Eze 36:26-27)

    If a man choose to ignore the moving of the Holy Spirit. And refuse to change to a new man if he refuse to put off his former conduct (Eph 4:20-24) he will grieve the spirit (Eph 4:30) and the Holy Spirit will depart from him one day. In my church i have seen people who stop speaking in tongues. That is when we know that the Holy Spirit is no longer dwelling with him. If he repents and come back to God. God will still heal him and abide with him once again. As I have shared with you, I do believe in the judgments of the law of God, and I believe that the NT require the believers to go deeper into keeping the judgments of God.

    Regarding if there are any other religions that can produce the same sound. there is one point i would like to share. Actually in my church we believe that speaking in tongues is the evidence of receiving the Holy Spirit. But we too know that the Holy Spirit is the spirit of truth. So even though one may come to us with tongues that sounded similar, we do differentiate by looking at what he believes in. As I once shared with you, it is impossible for the Holy Spirit to go to church A and say something then go to church B and said something else. Not all spirit is the same. We discern by using the word of God to see what is being taught. But many a time we refrain from being too quick to comment if they are having the Holy Spirit or not. Because it is serious sin to blaspheme the Holy Spirit (Lk 12:10)

    Finally… with regards to your point about the Holy Spirit singing. In my life I have witness one incident where indeed the tongues in prayer broke out into a song. It was a tune that is not the tune we know . So even though it may seem impossible that the Holy Spirit can sing. I do believe it for i have experience it in my life before.

    I hope that it will clarify my point to you.

    On a lighter note ;) :
    I know that even if i were to come in with 1001 Greek professors and thousands of lexicons and greek dictionaries. It will never be sufficient to convince you. Even if I were to ask Mr Peabody to take you in a time machine and allow you to interview the apostles direct in greek, hebrew and Aramaic you will still feel that I am wrong. I hope that one day you would have the chance to experience the Holy Spirit and see for yourself.

    Nathaniel could not believe Phillip when he said “I have found the messiah” .. all I can say is “Come and see” :)

    Thank you for taking all these time to explain your points to me. I hope to be able to do this with you once again.


    • I have updated this web page with new links. As far as I can see from history, speaking in tongues from the early church has always been in human language for the purpose of prophecy/evangelism, with no reference to self-edification or a secret prayer language in church history.


  3. tben says:

    Hi Jon

    Apologies for only responding 18 days later.

    I needed sometime to digest and go through all the words of the two links and to consider how those findings will affect what i have always believed.

    Here are my thoughts regarding this

    Regarding http://www.seeking4truth.com/tongues_corinth.html

    When i first read this article. I really applauded Mr H. Wayne House for admitting that it is actually very difficult to explain ancient mystery religions of that time. As quoted

    “And yet we are still on the outside, and have only the records, descriptive or interpretative, literary or archeological, which a few men here and there in that ancient world left behind them. How shall we ever get really inside that ancient faith, or complex of faiths, and see the world as men saw it then?”

    He admitted that all the points about these ancient mystery religion were a result of “conscious effort of the imagination, by reading and thinking and in a sense dreaming our way back into it.”

    He did them base on what he read about the cults of that tme, and comparing the writing of Paul with them.

    I once shared that indeed, I believe there are cults of Dionsys and other mystery cult who uses ecstatic speech and Corinth being a greek city, probably had his fair share of such cults operating within them. Perhaps it is true that some of the cultic belief had made the Corinthians value the gift of tongue speaking more than any other spiritual gift.

    But perhaps the question we should be considering is this
    1. Does this mean that the speaking in tongues is a common phenomenon that happens in the apostalic church?

    But before I share my train of thoughts. I hope that you will for a time just follow my initial thinking that speaking in tongues is ecstatic while reading. For if you do not then you wont be able to understand what I am saying.

    This question is important, because if only the church in corinth speaks in tongues, while the others dont it will give direct link between the Cybele-Attis cult, the Dionysian cult, and the religion of Apollos to the ecstatic phenomenon in corinth.

    But according to the scrptures, We have the apostles who first spoke in tongues on pentacost in Jerusalem. Later on they sent Peter and John to Samaria to lay hands on the christians. We have the household of Cornlinous who spoke in tongues that prompt Peter to baptise them as Christians. We have Johns disciples in Ephesus who also spoke in tongues.

    The ecstatic phenomenon is happening in more than one places. In both Jewish and Samaritians cities as well as the greek cities. If this is so, then Pauls purpose of writing Corinthians is to mean that it is wrong to speak in tongues? Or did he write it to correct their attitude with regards to it. Perhaps the people in corinth liked to prophesy in tongues often and perhaps that was because of their greek background where priestess spoke using ecstatic speech. Paul on the other hand corrected them saying that he spoke in tongues more than they do. But when it comes to teaching and prophesying he would rather be doing it in words

    “I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all; yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue.” (1 Cor 14:18)

    Here Paul obviusly made a differentiation between tongues and normal speech.

    Paul was indeed speaking against the Corinthian practice of addressing the chruch in tongues. and he indicate that if one really want to do it. They will need a interpreter. if not let him speak to himself and to God (in prayers)

    “If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or
    at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret.
    But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in
    church, and let him speak to himself and to God.” (1 Cor 14:27-28)

    Even if there are a interpreter to the tongue. Paul cautioned the beleivers to discern what is being spoken

    “Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge” (1 Cor 14:29)

    This tells us not to believe in just what is spoken, but to compare them and make a conclusion by themselves to see if it is indeed the Holy Spirit talking or not.

    In fact in his conclusion, he gave this instruction to the church
    “Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy,
    and do not forbid to speak with tongues.
    Let all things be done decently and in order.” (1 Cor 14:39)

    In simple words. Mr H. Wayne House point would have been 100% acceptable if tongues speaking is only a ecstatic phenomenon happening within the city of Corinth. Even though having ecstatic speech is not unique to Christianity. It does not change the fact of what happen to the apostles, to all the churches in Judea and Samaria that, to the Jews and Samaritians who do not subscribe to the greek mystery religions.

    I think he made pretty much sense about how the Cybele-Attis cult, the Dionysian cult, and the religion of Apollos could have affected the thinking of the Corinthian Church. But that is all it mean to me so far.

    Regarding http://www.tms.edu/m/17e.pdf

    The Author Nathan Busenitiz is comparing what the church fathers belief to what the pentacostal belief. Even though I believe in the speaking of tongues but my church view of the matter do not 100% conform to what the pentacostals thinks. Therefore I stopped reading at Page 69 “Comparing Patristics with Contemporary Pentecostalism. For my interest lies in what the church fathers think and not his compaision with Pentacostalism.

    I beleive I have once shared with you about my thoughts of the era of the church fathers. They live in a Era where the teachings of the apostles are eroding away. John wrote many letters to the churches in revelation warning them that if they continue to be like this, God will eventually come and not recognise them as his church (removing the lampstand). For me, I would like to return to the faith of the apostles and not the church fathers.

    Nathan noted that there is a “a relative de-emphasis placed on tongues-speaking by the church fathers (who speak of prophecy much more than they do of tongues)” Perhaps this is a very deep indication that the believers no longer recieves the Holy Spriit anymore. (as the old generation of tongue speaking christians joined the church in heaven)

    This scene reminds me of the vision Prophet Ezekiel once saw the glory of God departing from the temple In Eze 9 . The reason for God departing form them is because they have disobeyed him. As the glory of GOd departs, he marks the remaining that crys over the abomination, and he executed judgement on those who disobeyed GOd.

    In fact, Nathan continues to say

    “The patristic writings further evidence that all Christians did not speak in tongues. Not only did none of the church fathers claim to speak in tongues personally, they consistently expressed their belief that not every Christian receives that gift (or any one gift, for that matter). ”

    Yet ironically in their words they said

    “Irenaeus makes it clear that those who “speak in all languages” (Ben: their version of speaking in tongues) do so only “through the Spirit of God.” True signs are done in “the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” rather than “by means of angelic invocations, incantations, or any other wicked curious art.

    It is interestingly that if “speaking in tongues” is a mere speaking of human langauges, it can only be done through the spirit of God and not learning the langague by themslves (I am trying very hard to learn Vietnamese at the moment)

    What I am seeing is a group of chruch fathers who cannot speak in tongues like the apostles do claiming

    “the gift of tongues was a solitary and supernaturally endowed aility, given by the Holy Spirit to selected Christians, enabling those believers to speak in previously unlearned,rational foreign languages. The intended use of the gift involved either the translation of the message (by an interpreter) for the general edification of fellow believers, or the translation of the message (by the hearer who heard it in his own tongue) for the evangelism of unbelievers.

    These church fathers were up against the words the Apostles whom Jesus breathed onto them and say recieve the “Holy Spirit” (Jn20:22). They followed the instruction of Jesu who told them to remain in Jerususalem, and pray for the promised Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5). When they receive it, they spoke in tongues (Acts 2:3-4). When the crowds gathered beacuse of the din. They could distinctly hear 16 spoken langauge simulaneously when others thinks that the were drunk. For they heard nothing but Gibberish.

    As far as the Church fathers are concern, they heard it just like those who said “They are full of new wine.” For they make reference to Isaiah 28:11 where God rebuke the drunkards of Ephraim (Is 29:1).

    But Peter stood up and said

    “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem,
    let this be known to you, and heed my words.
    For these are not drunk, as you suppose,
    since it is only the third hour of the day.” (Acts 2:14-15)

    It is your choice to choose whether to believe the words of the church fathers who had never experinced tongues speaking r the words of the apostles who said they were not drunk.

    Just some concluding thoughts
    Perhaps you may wonder why am I so stubborn to insist that tongues speaking is an unknown langauge. Why am I so stubborn to disregard the words of the church fathers or even the great theologians that you have quoted. The reason is simple (there is no theology behind it). I have been speaking in tongues since the age of 12. It has been a common experince for me and my entire church. Almost every member of my church spoke in tongues. We experinced it exactly like what the apostles felt in Acts 2. That is why when we read the words of Paul in Corintians it means something different to us.

    As far as why Nathan Busenitiz, H. Wayne House were concern. They have never had that experince speaking in tongues. Hence the words of the chruch fathers claiming that speaking in tongues is a “supernatural accquission of a known language” is more appealing to them.

    Actually you do not need a supernatural phenominal in order to speak in a known human langauge. I could use English, Chinese, Teochew and Malay simulaneously. For me, turning the gift of the Holy Spirit to that is almost the same as the Israelites calling the golden calf “This is the Lord Who Brought You Out Of Egypt”

    The reason for this link is because Paul describe tha acts as
    “Professing to be wise, they became fools,
    and changed the glory of the incorruptible
    God into an image made like corruptible
    man—and birds and four-footed animals and
    creeping things.” – Rom 1:22-23

    Likewise these people had turn the Evidence of Recieving Holy Spirit into something that can be achievable by human means. For it is humanly possible to learn a language wihout any supernatural intervention. Therefore I find it hard to agree with the church fathers who had never experinced it for themselves.


    • Rather than reply to the topic of the validity of today’s speaking in tongues, I would like to shift to one of the issues I have with it. One of reasons I have looked into this is the way speaking in tongues is used in general assemblies. Granted, I am looking at this as one who has never done it. But when I have seen it in Pentecostal settings, it is not productive or beneficial for the understanding of others because it is quite chaotic. When it is done In other non-Pentecostal settings, while orderly, I still receive nothing from it because it is not understood by anyone as there is no interpreter. I know that the reason given for not needing an interpreter is that it is one’s prayer time; however, it is still prayer time in general assembly.

      I have been in general assemblies that spend 30 minutes to 1 hour in prayer and laying hands, and it was mostly done in my known language. The meeting was not a habitual action of exactly, “Time for 2 minutes of tongues speaking now – start then stop”. Neither was the meeting a chaotic time of tongues speaking where everyone seemed to be self-serving and self-benefiting. It was a genuine time of self-less prayer for the benefit and understanding of others with no time limit or habitual constraints. It is because of these meetings that I feel I have experienced encouragement in the Spirit, to the extent and degree perhaps as speaking in tongues encourages someone in the Spirit, though I cannot say for sure because I have not done that myself.

      These kinds of meetings that I used to experience in the US are typically rare in organized general assemblies because the set time allotted in the agenda prevents it. I’ll give examples from my past. I remember in my Baptist church, everyone had to leave by 12pm to make it for lunch or make it home for the football game. I also remember other churches that most of the time of listening to a preacher, which in itself is can become a self-serving mentality. One of the best meetings I have been to apart from the one mentioned above was the Charismatic Episcopalian Church of American. Putting aside the fundamental flaws in doctrine, they were more concerned that everyone gave and received prayer than following a set timed agenda.


      • tben says:

        Hi Jon

        Actually I am glad to shift the topic to a different focus. (I believe I have exhausted all the possible point I can ever raise without repeating myself like a broken record)

        I remember we saw those videos of tongues done by the Pentecostals together when I was with you in Vietnam. I agree that in a Pentecostal setting. It is indeed chaotic. We both agreed that it is odd and it is in fact appearing to be more demonic than calming.

        Personally I have ever been invited to Charismatic Mega churches in Singapore by my Christian friends. Even though they are much more controlled (Asians tend to restraint their feelings more often than westerners), I cant help noticing that when the preacher spoke in tongues and suddenly address a particular “James, Mr Tan, Mr Lim or Jimmy” in specific direction of the auditorium. We have 5-10 people will be running down to respond to the altar call (which I am assuming their names must have match) It created a chaotic scene that looks like a typical scene in a refugee camp.

        In my church, as mentioned by you. We spoke in tongues only during our prayers. And you have rightly identified that since it is a personal prayer there is no need for an interpreter. But our experiences when praying in tongues are much different from the Pentecostals. Most of the time you will see us praying around 2-3 minutes before beginning the sermon proper. During that prayer, most of us will be saying more or less then same thing. We will ask God to guide us as we study the scriptures. We will pray for the speaker and interpreter so that they will do the work of God effectively. We will ask God to open our minds and to give us focus as we try to understand his words.

        Most of my brethren would give answers similar to it. Sometimes as service leader. I will also remind the congregation to pray for that before we begin.

        In fact we also have long prayers in our church. That is usually done on special occasions.

        It is usually done on spiritual convocations and church camps such as bible camps and theological seminars. We do pray in tongues from 30 – 45 min. Every time before a major event such as evangelistic meeting or a spiritual convocation. (which we sometimes called it “Like the feast of the tabernacles) … We will come together to pray in tongues as a group for 20-30 minutes. In those event, there is no need for us to understand what we are speaking to God about, for we already know why we gathered in the first place to pray.

        Besides this there are times we pray in tongues alone. Between us and God. That is when we bring up our own matters, our own concern, and the things we want to tell God personally.

        Throughout all these prayers, indeed we do not know what the spirits prayed on our behalf. But those are not self serving as far as we do it. We gathered to pray for events, for church matters. And I think I have shared this before, as we speak in tongues, our minds are not in a blank, we speak to God just as the way one would have normally prayed in words. I hope you remembered that conversation we had about 1 Cor 14:15.

        Therefore whenever we gathered to pray in tongues. We know that we are in communication with God. We also edifies our self. Whenever we gather to pray for events, it is for the benefits of the church. Even though everything is done in tongues. We know why we are there, and we know what we are praying about. It is a quiet understanding that does not require us to “hear” what the others had to say. I hope that is not by your definition a “Self serving mentality”

        I hope I am allowed to share a testimony that is from my church. I heard it from a taiwanese preacher when I was studying Theological course as a youth. As it was many years ago, I am a bit worried that my memory of it may be fuzzy. But I think that this illustrates what I am saying in a practical sense.

        There was once a very zealous Taiwanese brother who served the church faithfully. One day, he was stricken with a terminal illness. And the church gathered together to pray for him often. (in tongues in the typical TJC standard). But eventually, the brother passed away from the illness. The church was pretty sad about the passing of the brother. And it reach the staged that some of members are starting to doubt if God listens to their prayer.

        To comfort the church. God allowed one of the members to see a vision in his prayers. In that prayer. God allowed him to see the congregation in prayer. God allowed the member to hear what was spoken in words (the prayers of the believers) .. He heard how they pleaded with God individually for God to heal that brother. And God said “Who wouldn’t be moved by such prayers?” But yet in a instant, God allowed the brethren to hear what was spoken in the spirit. (in tongues)

        The Holy Spirit was telling God how this brother had served God faithfully all the days of his life. And it is time for him to enter that eternal rest with God. The Holy Spirit also said that it is necessary for God to take the brother home, for by so doing, it will raise others to serve God like him. It is something that far more beneficial for the church.

        When the Brethren heard the Spirit speaking, it was in unison, not like what the members prayers were like.

        To us this is a very clear description of Rom 8:26-27

        ” Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses.
        For we do not know what we should pray for as
        we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession
        for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
        Now He who searches the hearts knows what the
        mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession
        for the saints according to the will of God.”

        What I would like you to understand is, just having everyone to pray togetehr in tongues is not something that is terrible or against the will of God. What really matters is how it was done. If everyone had the understanding what they are praying about. It need not be a self serving event.

        During my period of serving, I have come across church meetings where people spend a long time arguing and making their own point. It changed when the leader decide to tell every meeting attending to pray together about the agenda of the meeting before proceeding. When they all entrust that to God in prayer (in tongues by themselves) … they found that the conclusion they draw over the matter is pretty much similar.

        I hope that this sharing will give you a better understanding of how we pray in tongues and how it works for us. I am not sure if it is similar to what the pentacostals said. But as I have shared earlier. Even though we quote the same verses as the baptist or the pentacostals. but our understanding of that same verse need not be the same.


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