The issue of "tongues" and their usage in the Modern Era of Christendom
has been the source of many of the most feverish debates between
Christians. The topic has fueled division and persecution, accusations and
misunderstandings that have long fragmented the body of Christ. What was
meant to draw men together has instead been used as a means of drawing the
proverbial "line in the sand." Pentecostals and Charismatics, along with
the "Spirit-filled" dissidents of many denominational circles stand on one
side of the debate.The Baptist, Methodists and various other "main-line"
denominational groups stand across the valley of division on the other
side of the debate.
The question must be asked: Why would something such as the usage of
"tongues" be such a catalyst for division among God's people? I believe
that this is no new phenomenon. That the "battle over the gifts" has been
a war waged since the day of the Spirit's outpouring on the Day of
Penetecost- take for example the text of Acts 2:12 & 13.
And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another,What
meaneth this? Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.(KJV)
On the very day that "The Promise" was given, The Holy Ghost, the battle
started! The Bible says that those that heard it "were...amazed", "were in
doubt", They "mocked" and even accused those that had been "filled" with
being drunk! Have things really changed that much? Are accusations such as
"that's a bunch of phoney-baloney" or "that's not of God" or "they are
just a bunch of Holy-rollers", that much different than those that were
spouted 2000 years ago?
Consider this for a moment- the word translated by King James scholars as
"amazed" in acts 2:12 is the Greek word "existemi" which literally means
"to become astounded out of reflex!"
So, what does this mean to us in today's world? Well, let me put it to you
this way. Have you ever heard of the television show Ripley's Believe It
or Not? The premise of the whole program is to show the viewer something
that is "unbelievable", much like P.T. Barnum used to draw huge crowds to
his "freak shows" before the turn of the century. When we see (or hear)
something that is not part of our normal everyday experiences (or
traditions) it literally sends a shock to our nervous system. Kinda of
like seeing a mouse run across the floor when you turn on the lights-this
still makes me jump!
Is it that the mouse is ferocious or something really that strange? No,
its that it has invaded and area of our existence unexpectedly and without
warning. This causes us to "jump" or "shriek" out of reflex. This is
precisely what tongues have become to many Christians, a mouse running
across the floor. I do not wish to trivialize such a powerful gift of the
Spirit of God with such metaphorical expressions, but hopefully this will
help you to better understand the "knee jerk" response that many
experience at the mention or hearing of someone "speak(ing) in tongues".
The next thing that those that heard them on the day of Pentecost
experienced was "doubt". This is the Greek word "diaporeo" which means: to
be at a loss, to be perplexed (or to cause one to be unclear in mind or
Many who have ever "doubted" the usage or the realism of tongues for
today, have often found themselves "at a loss" as to what it is or why
they would be necessary or utilized. Others find themselves "perplexed" by
them- because they are unclear in their mind (or their cognitive
understanding of such) and have reservations concerning their intent. In
our westernized way of seeing things, this produces "doubt and unbelief".
What if I came running to you and said, "Hey, Ed Mcmahon is on your front
porch with a 10 million dollar check from Publisher's Clearing House." You
probably would think that I was just kidding with you. Why? Because, we
see winning such a prize as an impossibility and totally unlikely to ever
happen to us. That is the "mind-set" often produced when faced with the
Did you know that the issue of tongues is not an issue at all when brought
to "uncivilized" peoples of other nations? This is because we are such a
secularized society. We cannot believe in something unless we can
intellectually prove it to ourselves. But Paul the apostle says in 1
Corinthians 1:27 "But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to
confound the wise...". God chose something that would cause the wise to
wonder and depend upon Him for understanding.
Those that witnessed the initial outpouring then finally resorted to "name
calling". They "mocked" them, this implies "making fun of them" and they