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Speaking in Tongues Is Alive and Well -- In Some Surprising Places

Speaking%20in%20Tongues.jpgThis news would come as no surprise if this post was speaking about Pentecostal churches.  But tongue-speaking is alive and well in some very surprising places.

How about among Southern Baptists?

"A new study from LifeWay Research shows that two-thirds of Protestant pastors -- and half of Southern Baptist pastors -- believe the Holy Spirit gives some people a special prayer language from the Lord.  The phone study surveyed 1,004 Protestant laity, 405 pastors in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), and 600 non-SBC senior pastors. Pastors were asked if they believed the Holy Spirit gave some people the gift of a special language to pray privately to God. Fifty percent of SBC pastors said the Holy Spirit still gave some people the gift of tongues, 43 percent said no, and seven percent didn't know."  Click here: Survey says ... half of So. Baptist pastors believe private prayer language is valid (

Or how about in the Christian Reformed Church?

"Third Wave Pentecostalism

It might seem odd for a synod of a Reformed church to be discussing a Pentecostal movement, but as Rev. Peter Hoytema pointed out in his article `Riding The Third Wave' (May 2007 Banner), this movement has had a greater influence within the CRC than many people realize. Synod 2004 appointed a committee to study it. That committee is reporting to Synod 2007 with two reports, one from the majority of the committee and one from the minority.  The two groups could not agree on the biblical basis or the place in the CRC of practices such as prophesying, healing ministries, spiritual warfare and deliverance ministries.  The majority of the committee, while cautioning against spiritual elitism, found that the Third Wave movement has much to offer the CRC. However, the minority group said that some of the dangers cautioned against by the majority are so serious that they could not agree with the positive assessment. Synod 2007 will have to make its own judgment."  (Click here: | CRC NEWS: What to Watch for at Synod 2007).

I have only one thing to say, but unless you have the gift of interpretation, you wouldn't understand it.    

Reader Comments (40)

"Bobola Shhhambah!"

June 4, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRobin
I'm a non-charismatic, non-cessationist, so take this with a grain of salt.

Weren't tongues supposed to be used for the proclamation of the Gospel? I can understand (to a point, as long as someone can understand and interpret so that the Gospel is clearly preached) the public speaking of tongues, but when did it become a private language?
June 4, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJeremy
Robin said, "Shush Rev. Shambach!"

See? I can interpret.
June 4, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJeremy
I'm not sure when someone decided to invent the idea of a private prayer language, but it comes from Romans 8:26. Now I don't understand how groanings without utterance becomes a private prayer language, but then again I'm a spirit-quenching full cessationist.
June 4, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterScott
Romans 8 definitely speaks of prayer--but has nothing to do with a private prayer language--check out the context.

It's talking about the Holy Spirit in relation to prayer, but not about tongues.
June 4, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterpilgrim
Of course, with Romans 8:26, note who it is that is doing the groaning...not us.

Besides, those groanings are deep for words - not utterable...
Watch the recent film "Jesus Camp" for an eyeopening look at little kids speaking in tongues. That was enough to scare me off from the idea of speaking in some unintelligible language that somehow brings me closer to God.
Why the need when we have the complete Word of God? I guess when preaching and sacraments aren't enough, we have to look for something more.
Matt Holst
June 4, 2007 | Unregistered Commentermatt holst
I too am not a cessationist or charismatic like Jeremy. I grew up in Pentecostalism, but I ended up rejecting its doctrine (but not its people) when I found their case for their distinctive views weak. But, that in no way means that I think the Scriptures clearly teach cessationism. I also have to agree that this notion of a private language for prayer is unbiblical. I don't see any example of it in the Scriptures, just like with infant baptism. Don't even bother reponding on infant baptism, perhaps I will go to Christ Reformed Church this Friday to hear the presentation on infant baptism.
June 4, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAlberto
I forgot to mention something else. Not all charismatics teach that people get a private prayer language. I look forward to studying this issue more.
June 4, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAlberto
I can't resist relating this...

Way back in my old (circa '79) Calvary Chapel days, Chuck Smith led a class to "learn how to speak in tongues."

He made a brief speech about how God "recently" showed him the values of the practice, Etc., (which at the time, Calvary was definitely not open to, hence the classes.)

After assuring the class that speaking in tongues was not "emotional or fleshly" he led us in actual speaking samples. Ex: First, meditate on the greatness of God (giving no Scripture references) then "trust God,let yourself receive" .... a prompter-leader began to sample syllables: "la sham ba la bo ah la..." (you get the idea.) The presentation was reserved, orderly, like any language class. Instead of Spanish this was special prayer language class. (Like an Infommercial the audience cooperated.)

Soon after, Chuck Smith allowed the late Lonnie Frisbee and the late John Wimber to lead Calvaryites into deeper, spiritual levels of worship...

The rest is history.

June 5, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRobin
Robin and Jeremy, To funny!! Myself coming out from the bunch down at Rhema in Tulsa years ago, I find this just another one of satans gimmicks. Can you imagine Jesus doing the floppy chicken rolling on a hill babbeling while Peter tells the folks, 'oh don't worry, he's alright, the spirits just got him'. What a joke! And people really buy in to this junk. Hard to believe. I even saw it was junk when I was at Rhema! Maybe thats because His sheep really do hear His voice? SBC, slowly becoming charismatic? They say catholic on Slice, but after reading this, I'll say good ol charz-matic!
June 5, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterplw
"This news would come as no surprise if this post was speaking about Pentecostal churches. But tongue-speaking is alive and well in some very surprising places."

can anyone tell me why pentecostal quarters are so excruciatingly predictable and so many confessional circles are not? shouldn't it be the other way around? how can those who have something like the RPW in their tradition also be the ones you have to do your homework on before visiting while out of town one sunday, while you can bet your last dollar that you will be unfazed and unsurprised after walking out of a pentecostal church? isn't it the penties who lean so hard on novelty and sponteneity? if that were really so, shouldn't we find more genevan liturgies happening there alongside third-wavism? now, THAT would be surprising and spontaneous!

i am in the CRC and am familiar with this horror. if it's surprise one wants, we might start with that there are even majority and minority reports. notch another one up for RSC's diagnoses for the CRC's "trajectory toward broad evangelicalism and away from the confessional tradition." much as it saddens me, he's right on.

June 5, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterzrim

that is because a site like Slice is latently sympathetic to frontier revivalism. if they don't like something they go for the RC jugular out of a leftover evangelical prejudice.

full of classic american fundamentalism that looks for devil's under every doily and scares up a lot of fear-mongering, i'd be careful about what one might lap up at that horrid site. there's a big difference between setting oneself up as the God-police and good, confessional orthodoxy; it's the difference bewteen five-and-dime activistism and well-stoked religion.

June 5, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterzrim

"I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue."

"For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit.But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church."

Paul spoke in tongues more than anybody else. It edified him.

To speak the word of God in the known language in the gathering is God's will. But for personal prayer, well, if it was good for Paul I should think it would be good for us.

I thank God that early in my Christian walk I was given the gift of tongues and able to pray in tongues privately. (I was never involved in any public utterance with interpretation, but I have seen them happen and the interpretations were scriptural).

Not all on cessationists are crazy. Piper, Grudem, and some of the Sovereign Grace guys are not. Plenty of non cessationists are 5 (plus) calvinists and amil ( or at least anti dispy historic premil).

Cessationists are people who ignore the command to "earnestly desire spiritual gifts" because it isn't their kid with an inoperable tumor on the brain stem. I've seen cessationists get real interested in praying for healing miracles when they get hit with something doctors can't treat. And if He still does miracles, well, he can still give the gift of tongues too.

June 5, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMarkus
Markus I would encourage you to read BB Warfield's Counterfeit Miracles. You are right that cessationists should not expect healing miracles. I certainly don't. Miracles were for the purpose of authenticating the authority of the apostles.

Paul never spoke in nonsense languages but rather foreign languages. So-called prayer languages are nowhere commanded in scripture, nor are they a good and necessary consequence. They are therefore will-worship and not pleasing to God.
June 5, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterScott
"am in the CRC and am familiar with this horror. if it's surprise one wants, we might start with that there are even majority and minority reports. notch another one up for RSC's diagnoses for the CRC's "trajectory toward broad evangelicalism and away from the confessional tradition." much as it saddens me, he's right on."

I'm having trouble posting, let's see if this goes up.

Ditto. Circumstances sent us away from the CRC in the early 1990s. Life goes on. This is not the CRC I remember.

That link is a direct quote from the current issue of The Banner. There's other "interesting" stuff there. Children's communion. The curious Baptist rite of "baby dedication" (one thing that makes me grit my teeth in our "mutt evangelical" EFCA church). And some CRC somewhere making and using a "prayer labyrinth". God have mercy.

Ain't the CRC I remember.
June 5, 2007 | Unregistered Commenter"lee n. field"
I am not a charismatic, but i am a continuationist although I dont believe tongues are meant to be a prayer language. When the Spirit works he works for the edification of the church. So, private prayer languages wouldn't be much aid to the church. However, Paul tells us when the gift end. He says it is when the perfect comes (1 Cor 13:10). The idea of the perfect being the completed cannon is so extraneous to the context. It is clearly the second advent of our Lord because we will "see face to face" and "know even as we are known." Now, I honestly have no idea how tongues ought to work, but I do know that there must be an interpreter if it happens. Experientially it does seem that tongues are misused, abused and even contrived. However, I am biblically persuaded that this gift must continue to today, although I share in all the frustrations of the cessationists above.
June 5, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJohn
So what are we praying for when we pray for the sick if we're not to expect healing?
June 5, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew
Some of you guys are totally misunderstanding the "cessationist" view.

We don't hold to the idea of no miracles or no gifts. "..for God's gifts and his call are irrevocable." (Rom. 11:29) Rather, it's better to ask: what was the use of the gifts in the NT - or in the OT for that matter? Are all those miracle/gift moments random or do they have meaning?

Jesus didn't heal everybody; he didn't heal baldness (as our beloved blog host has quipped.) When Jesus heals a blind man -- why is it blindness and not someone with one arm or hiccups?

With so much emphasis on tongues, wasn't Paul's point that it can too easily incite our natural conceit and individualism and become: "look at ME; see what I can do"-- when gifts are meant for corporate edifications?

How come no one ever boasts of having the gift of helps/service or hospitality?

Then there's the point that Jesus made about an "evil generation looking for signs."

The gifts will always have purpose in Redemptive history. Not all gifts appear miraculous....Where's someone with the gift of administration? Come over and heal the clutter in my office!

June 5, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRobin
Sometimes Jesus did miracles because he felt compassion on people. He felt compassion for the 5,000 with no food.He felt compassion for the sick.

If you never needed the gift of tongues, and He never gave it, well, thank God. I never needed food when I was starving or healing of blindness or deafness. I thank God I am healthy.

I pray in tongues, perhaps I need to more than other people. Perhaps I need to be edified more than others in this way. (God knows I sure fall short). If you have never known the mercy of the gift of tongues, well, thank God you didn't need it. I did, and I do, and I am thankful.

People think those who speak in tongues consider themselves on a higher level. Not at all.Like the blind and deaf and hungry who needed a miracle, perhaps we were the most messed up.

June 6, 2007 | Unregistered Commentercarolyn

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