Speaking in tongues

From Conservapedia
This is the current revision of Speaking in tongues as edited by DavidB4 (Talk | contribs) at 22:46, January 15, 2020. This URL is a permanent link to this version of this page.

(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to: navigation, search

Speaking in tongues, or glossolalia, is a gift described and explained in Acts 2:1-47 with respect to early Christians. It was first recorded to happen on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was dramatically sent to the apostles. The Spirit enabled them to speak naturally but be heard and understood by each person in their various native languages. This was a foreign concept at the time, leading the crowd to ask, "...how is it that each of us hears them in our native language?"[1] This was done so that the entire audience, composed of many different nationalities, could all hear and understand Peter's sermon. As a result of this, about 3,000 people were saved on that day.[2] There were other mentions of this happening elsewhere in the new testament, among the early church.

Additional Scriptural references can be found in Acts 19:6 and Acts 10:46. In 1 Cor 12:10 Saint Paul also mentions the experience as one of the gifts of the Spirit.

6th century

From a sermon by a sixth century anonymous African Church Father "The Church in its unity speaks in the language of every nation" [3]

...so today the Church, united by the Holy Spirit, speaks in the language of every people. Therefore if somebody should say to one of us, "You have received the Holy Spirit, why do you not speak in tongues?" his reply should be, "I do indeed speak in the tongues of all men, because I belong to the body of Christ, that is, the Church, and she speaks all languages.

Modern practice

For over a thousand years, this phenomenon was not publicly seen or recorded. However, in the in the 19th and 20th centuries, a practice referred to as speaking in tongues reappeared in many revivalistic Christian churches, especially in those associated with the Charismatic movement. In this case, the phenomenon would enable a person to speak with a series of language-like sounds or syllables that neither he nor his audience understands. A designated interpreter would then announce (in the one language used by the church gathering) what that person had meant.

In Mark 16:17, Christ states that speaking in tongues will be one of the signs marking those who believe in Him. There have been reports of people inexplicably speaking in French or Russian, for example, yet the most common instances of modern tongues-speaking do not consist of words from a foreign but actual language such as would be spoken routinely by other people in other lands. Rather, this kind of tongues-speaking is what proponents call "angelic speech," i.e. sounds uttered while in an altered state that cannot be considered a known, human language. The two sides, therefore debate at length whether the Biblical references refer to actual languages or to ecstatic utterances or both.

Christians who hold to the Biblical view of Cessationism believe that the gift of tongues was given only to the early Church, and that they ceased once the Church secured a following (generally once those who personally knew the Apostles passed away, and most certainly once the final canon of the New Testament was agreed upon); the modern revival associated with the Pentecostal and Charismatic churches is a misinterpretation of Scripture.[4] The latter groups answer that New Testament does not suggest that the gifts were to be only temporary in the life of the Church.

Further reading

  • Horton, Wade H. Glossolalia Phenomenon (Cleveland, Tenn.: Pathway Press, 1996)
  • McGee, Gary B. Initial Evidence: Historical and Biblical Perspectives on the Pentecostal Doctrine of Spirit Baptism (Peabody, Mass.: Henrickson, 1991)
  • Martin, 3rd, Ira Jay. "Glossolalia in the Apostolic Church," Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 63, No. 2 (Jun., 1944), pp. 123–130 in JSTOR
  • Mills, Watson E. Glossolalia: A Bibliography (New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 1985)
  • Sherrill, John. They Speak with Other Tongues (Old Tappan, N.J.: Chosen Books, 2004)


  1. Acts 2:8, NIV
  2. Acts 2:27-41
  3. Sermo 8, 1-3: PL 65, 743-744. Pentecost Tongues a Sign of Catholicity
  4. It should be noted that generally, despite their strong differences on the topic, Cessationalists consider Pentecostals and Charismatics to be true Christians, and vice versa.