Tongues is at the heart of the Charismatic movement; it is one of their distinctives. In this article I will point out its inaptness and its danger.
First of all, the biblical gift of tongues was an actual, known language—not ecstatic utterances, as we hear today (Acts 2:4, 11). Moreover, the purpose of tongues throughout the early church was a two-fold sign: 1) to the believers, that the Holy Spirit had come to begin the church; and 2) a sign of judgment to unbelieving Israel—that since they did not listen to God in a language they understood, He was now no longer speaking to them, but to the Gentiles in a language they could not understand (1 Cor. 14:21; Isa. 28:11-12); Thus God’s judgment was that He was no longer speaking to and dealing with them, but was now turning toward the Gentiles to establish His church.
Therefore, because of the above purpose, the gift was to be temporary and has ceased (along with the other sign gifts). Here, in addition, are three conformations of this ceasing: 1) the purposes are already fulfilled, as the church is fully aware of its existence in the Holy Spirit, and unbelieving Israel has been sufficiently rebuked; 2) tongues is only mentioned in Acts and in the early epistles of 1 Corinthians; none of the other epistles mention tongues; and 3) tongues is not mentioned by the early church fathers, except by the followers of Montanist, who was branded a heretic.
Now if the above is true of the biblical tongues, what are the tongues of today? Sadly, the tongues of today, which comes mainly out of the Charismatic movement (but, as we know, are present in many pagan and occult groups), is not a known human language, and so, it is not the same biblical tongues gift. They say and teach that it is a heavenly language (of the angels I guess) and it is meant to build up and edify the church in their spirituality. However, this was never the gift of tongues’ original purpose.
Now, as I have heard, tongues of today are attained (or learned) by emptying one’s mind, thus allowing this heavenly, spiritual language to bypass their mind and enter their spirit. Then, once they learn how to do it, they can turn it on and off at will. And this activity is supposed to build them up spiritually. But I see some real dangers here!
Why is this tongues practice dangerous? Here are four reasons:
- Since it is not a human language, but is gibberish, it is not biblical and therefore not appropriate or pleasing to the Lord.
- The way it is taught today is that it is for self-edification and to build up one spiritually. But this was never its purpose.
- The same tongues (or ecstatic utterances) of today has been practiced by pagan mystery religions and occult groups for years, including Muslims, Tibetan monks, and Mormons. This ought to reveal to us that it is not of God.
- The way people are taught how to speak in tongues today—by closing the mind—is an occult practice and will open them up to demonic activity.