Tag Archives: tongues


"Speaking in tongues" is not only a Christian  phenomenon.  Regardless of whether or not the "gift" is for today, one still cannot point at speaking in tongues as "proof" that they are baptized in the Holy Spirit.


History of the Church 1:295-297, November 1832: "About the 8th of November I received a visit from Elders Joseph Young, Brigham Young, and Heber C. Kimball of Mendon, Monroe county, New York. They spent four or five days at Kirtland, during which we had many interesting moments. At one of our interviews, Brother Brigham Young and John P. Greene spoke in tongues, which was the first time I had heard this gift among the brethren; others also spoke, and I [Joseph Smith] received the gift myself."

While Mormons share our Scriptures (while translating and interpreting them differently) and are (in their own sense) followers of Christ (although not a Christ who is in full equality and deity with the Father), are not "saved", in the way we are.

The Oracle at Delphi needed interpreters to pass along her "wisdom".  There is speculation as to whether or not the wisdom was "tongues" or "riddles" that needed interpreting.  There does also seem to be some indication that the trance of the Oracle was due to some intoxicating substances that seeped out of the lower regions of the cave that she prophesied from.

This is not a wonderful example, but it does indicate that "ecstatic speech" was an indicator of the prophetic in religions other than Christianity - and before Christ walked on earth.


in 1956 Carlyle May wrote an article in "American Anthropologist", "A Survey of Glossolalia and Related Phenomena in Non-Christian Religion."  I cannot get to the entire article, but the first page is here.

"Ecstatic vocalization in the form of incoherent sounds and foreign words has long been on interest to students of religion.  (...)This paper will show that glossolalia and similar speech-phenomena occur in various forms during shamanistic rites of the New and especially of the Old World. (...)

Herodotus (Lombard 1910:90) speaks of an inspired priest in Greece who suddenly spoke in a barbarian language, and Virgil in the Aeneid (1953: vi. 44-49, 97-99) tells of a Cumaean sibyl who spoke strangely while possessed.  The Old Testament (Lombard 1910:89) alludes to a form of ecstatic behavior similar to glossolalia.   Guillaume (1938:144-45) states that in 853 B.C. four hundren prophets raved in ecstasy before the gate of Samaria, and in ancient Egypt (Erman 1894:352-55) necromancers uttered formulas, believed to be revelations from the gods, made up of foreign words and senseless noises.  The more mysterious and incomprehensible these formulas were, the greater their power was thought to be.


What about xenoglossia?

  • Swarnlatta Mishra:[1] A girl in India who lived entirely among Hindi-speaking people but was able to sing songs in Bengali, as identified by Professor P. Pal of Itachuna College in West Bengal, who studied the case after Professor Stevenson and transcribed some of the songs.
  • Uttara Huddar:[2] Uttara was a woman in India who normally spoke Marathi but, after participating in a meditation during a hospitalization, began speaking in Bengali, much to the bewilderment of her parents.
  • Two hypnotic regression cases: Professor Stevenson is quite skeptical of most hypnotic regression work but he did have two cases that included responsive xenoglossy; that is, hypnotic subjects who could converse with people speaking the foreign language, instead of merely being able to recite foreign words. One is that of Jensen[3], an American woman who, while under hypnosis conducted by her physician husband, described being a Swedish peasant farmer and was able to converse in Swedish. The other is Gretchen[4], an American woman who was hypnotized by her Methodist minister husband and began spontaneously speaking in German. She described the life of a teenaged girl in Germany, and Professor Stevenson, who is able to speak German, was able to converse with her. (from wiki...hopefully the links to the citations are there, the link to the page is here.


It seems clear that (whatever "tongues" is) and whether or not "tongues" is for today, that the phonomena is not limited to Christianity, or even to religion.

In "testing the spirits", we need to look at all the evidence and not blindly follow.  It may very well be real (in some cases and in some cases not), but we need to look realistically.


I still don't have the capability to post youtube videos on the blog...but PLEASE go watch this.

Lisa Gerrard is best known for her deep, haunting contralto voice. She has received a Golden Globe award and an Acadamy Award nomination for the score for the film "Gladiator" (which she collaborated on).

Gerrard has achieved her greatest fame by never saying a word. Rather, she sings in tongues, a habit formed and nurtured in the early days of Dead Can Dance, continuing through to her present-day solo and soundtrack work. It’s a technique that allows her voice to join the chorus of synths, organs, strings, and (why not) dulcimer, basically, any instrument that can play a note for a very long time, without the words that could potentially distract from that chorus (...)

While these tracks are pretty, however, Gerrard shows in other places that she can lend this technique a lyrical quality that just about doubles the intensity of whatever song it appears on. “Swans” is a solo standout, on which Dimitry Kyryakou provides an incredible, almost dance-like bouzouki backdrop that sets the song far apart from the Dead Can Dance material and the soundtrack contributions. Gerrard reciprocates with a vocal line that sounds like a narrative except for the fact that there are no words. Even without the words, however, we can hear her story slowly increase in intensity, lull, climax, and slowly fade, mindful of the repercussions of the events that precede that fade. It’s an all-encompassing sort of story arc, allowing us the opportunity to provide our own words to the music

There is some indication that Gerrard claims Christianity...but what is important about this story is that

1)  singing in tongues is a habit

2) it is formed

3) it is nurtured

4) in Gerrard's case it has nothing to do with the religious experience.


I'm posting this tonight, before getting my "stuff" around for tomorrow - and tomorrow will be a long day, I'm driving Manda halfway to Chicago to spend the week with my husband's sisters (they're still a big part of our life). They'll be heading up to the Wisconsin Dells so I'll be missing my girl.

I'm going to start with what I believe to be true, starting with the "Five Solas".

I am pretty new to Reformed Theology, but once I got my mind wrapped around the idea that what I grew up with had more problems than what I wanted to deal with, I embraced this. I also chose one of the more liberal Reformed demoninations (on purpose).

Anyway...my belief about Sola Scriptura is that the Holy Scriptures are our final authority. It is not that we don't recognize any other authority - we recognize our spiritual mentors, pastors, etc. But all of the other authorities are measured against Scripture.

Paul praised the Bereans for examining what he said against Scripture; we do the same. We don't have our Scripture interpreted for us through man - the man is judged against Scripture. If they don't agree - Scripture wins.

If a person tells me that something is permissible, but the Bible says that it is not - the Bible wins (example: homosexuality).

If a person tells me that something is not permissible, it is up to him to show me in the Bible where the law comes from (example: having a drink with dinner).

If a person is teaching a doctrine that is not in the Bible, that doctrine is rejected (Tongues as the sign of the New Covenant).

I'm not such a big fan of Martin Luther, but this is what he said, "Unless I am overcome with testimonies from Scripture or with evident reasons -- for I believe neither the Pope nor the Councils, since they have often erred and contradicted one another -- I am overcome by the Scripture texts which I have adduced, and my conscience is bound by God's Word."

I also have problems with parts of the Reformed confessions (as does my church) and the confessions are not my authority, the Bible is. However, when they put things in a better way than I can come up with, I'll quote them. The Belgic Confession says, "We believe that [the] holy Scriptures fully contain the will of God, and that whatsoever man ought to believe unto salvation is sufficiently taught therein...Neither may we consider any writings of men, however holy these men may have been, of equal value with those divine Scriptures nor ought we to consider custom or the great multitude, or antiquity, or succession of times and persons, or councils, decrees or statutes, as of equal value with the truth of God... Therefore, we reject with all our hearts whatsoever does not agree with this infallible rule"

In short, every authority, every standard and every message must be examined against the Scriptures. There is no man, no tradition that has more authority than the Word of God.

I should have noted right off the bat that I do not agree with Mr. Courson!

The internal debate I have on the gift of tongues is (at this moment) triggered by a dillema that my dad is facing. My mom and dad attend a small, rural Missionary church in the thumb of Michigan and their pastor is "going all Pentacostal" on them.

I have so much respect for my dad, who is a great man of God, with a very quiet, rock hard faith. He doesn't always speak up, but when he does, you have better be listening because you know this is something that he has pondered long and hard.

And he is preparing to speak up in his church on this issue.

The sermon that I posted about (I believe) takes the Pentacostal stance on the gift of tongues to its logical conclusion (the sign of the New Covenant is the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the initial evidence of which is speaking in tongues). I believe this is wrong.

I'm not sure where I stand on the gift of tongues. Some will say that it disappeared with the closing of the Canon. Others will say that it disappeared before that - the only places the mention of tongues appears is very early on, chronologically. Others will say that it *is* for today, as used by Pentacostals. Still others will say that the gift of tongues is for today, but as Paul wrote, can be abused - and the typical Pentacostal church abuses the gift; Paul gave us guidelines and we should use them.

Every side will have back up, either logical or Scriptural (or both). What I know is that tongues is not the determining factor in whether or not we are "sealed", or whether or not we have the Holy Spirit (or are baptized in the Holy Spirit).



Searchlight Radios, "A Survey Through Scripture", by Pastor Jon Courson

I just listened to the first part of a two-part sermon on-line - My goodness! This man took a series from Genesis and Abraham and spent the better portion of his time teaching about the gift of tongues....

He starts out in Genesis 17, where God is giving Abraham a "sign" or "token" of the promise. Mr. Courson noted, God does that which is unexpected and unconventional. God promises to give Abraham a token of the covenant, an emblem. This token would be an item that would remind Abraham of the covenant that God was making with him.

So far, he's ok.

But then, he starts thinking...

"Token" of the covenant...Outward sign, seal...Token of the covenant God made with Abraham. Circumcision is the sign and the seal.

Courson says, in the New Testament, "sign" and "seal" are almost always connected with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the seal that was given to the believer, according to Eph 1:13 (In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit...)

So, the correlation made - in the OT, the sign is circumcision, in the NT, the sign is the "Internal work of the Spirit within" (quoted from Mr. Courson)

Note: in this next section, Mr. Courson makes the subtle statement that "praying in the Spirit" = "speaking in tongues"

Courson asks, "What is the sign? The sign is connected with the work of the Holy Spirit in a most particular way." 1 Cor 14:22(a) says, "Tongues, then, are a sign" - now, Courson is beginning to see something...(right). He's asking if seal of the Holy Spirit and the sign of praying in the Spirit (tongues) are connected with the idea of circumcision in some way,

Next, Mr. Courson makes the "solid" connection between circumcision and speaking in tongues

He asks, "Is there really a connection that we can make with integrity?" He quotes Phillipians 3:3 "For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God" Paul uses the idea of circumcision to give a NT application. The sign, the seal - are now words connected to the working of the Holy Spirit in the life of believers - not just correlated with the cutting away of the flesh (physical or spiritual), but with the sign and seal of speaking in tongues.

According to Courson, people get uneasy when talking about speaking about speaking in tongues - like when you talk about circumcision - because they're related. He says that there's a tendency to be embarrassed about tongues-speaking "perhaps because of the abuses of radical Pentecostal." People tend to say "oh, this tongues area is a little -" just like circumcision.

Here, Courson makes a statement that will enable his followers to make the statement that if one Biblically and theologically rejects speaking in tongues as the sign of the Holy Spirit - that one is speaking in the flesh.

According to Courson, just as Abraham may have sat back when learning about the sign of his covenant, so believers today rebel against the "sign" of the New Covenant. He quotes 1 Corinthians 14:14 (For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful) to explain why our "flesh" reacts against speaking in tongues. Our minds like to engage in things that we understand and comprehend intellectually. Courson says that Paul writes, "although the mind is unfruitful, but the spirit is edified." (I couldn't find that part in this chapter).

Courson preaches, your mind (flesh) may rebel against the sign or seal of speaking in tongues. The flesh doesn't like circumcision and it doesn't like "praying in the Spirit" because the flesh and the Spirit are at enmity one with the other.

Courson adds that Paul says that when it comes to speaking in tongues, our mind (flesh) doesn't get it, because we don't understand what's happening. The Spirit is praying through us. Edification is happening within us, but we don't have a clue intellectually - we do it (speaking in tongues) in faith, according to what the Scriptures tell us - but t doesn't please the flesh.

Further (I think he's getting even farther awry here...) even as the flesh rebels against circumcision, so the flesh rebels against praying in tongues - the sign that we are the circumcision which worships God in the Spirit...He says: both tongues and circumcision deal with reproductive organs.

Courson states: there are only two reproductive organs in your body, one is physical, the other is spiritual. Proverbs 18 says that the power of life and death is in the tongue...

Here is where Courson introduces Word-Faith

He says that Christ taught us that when you want to see things happen in the spirit, say to the mountain be removed, don't wish it, think it - go on record - say it - faith is released through the words that we speak. The tongue has the power of death and life - your words will either 18:44 be reproductive or they will be murderous and detrimental.

Next, the implication that tongues-speakers are persecuted, just like the Jews, for their sign.

Further correlation between circumcision and tongues...Both are called sign and both are embarrassing. From that point forward (until fairly recently), Jews would be persecuted over circumcision. So also, today, people make fun of those who speak in tongues. "if they think I'm one of "those guys"...So there can be embarrassment for both the Jew and the believer who is doing the sign and seal in the NT of the tongue being expressed.

The, the "reason" that speaking in tongues disappeared from the face of the earth, after the closing of the canon.

The Jewish went for centuries ignoring circumcision...Let's not even do it, it's causing too much trouble...And in their history, both Biblically and historically - just like Christians, who say why even bother with this controversy. Christian community ignores speaking in tongues because of the repercussions

We are a marked people - we are different from the other folks - it was a continual reminder that we are different than other people - but it was a difference that was noted in either privacy or intimacy - like tongues.

1 Corinthians 14 - Paul said "I would" - not wish you could... (Check out the Greek - or the ESV)
Mark 16 - and these signs shall follow them...(note from my Bible: ((The most reliable early manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not have Mark 16:9-20.))

Paul told us "Follow me, as I follow Christ"
Point - I don't believe Christ ever mentioned Himself speaking in tongues, so if we limit ourselves to following Paul as he followed Christ, tongues is not on that list.

Paul also said, "But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.
(Which is the beginning of Mr. Courson's next sermon...)