Various Kinds of Tongues
The following study will contain considerable negative information on the subject of speaking in tongues. At the latter part of the study I'll provide suggestions on how to live a true spiritual life as it is set forth in the Scriptures.
I also want to give a qualifier to this study. I believe that all true spiritual giftings are ever present in the church, that they are brought into place for whatever purpose as is determined by God alone. To seek for the best gifts would be to ask the Lord to manifest whatever gifting would meet His purpose for the moment. However, I think we err when seeking gifts takes the place of seeking the Savior.
That being said, the reason we need to single out speaking in tongues is because this gifting is the most likely to be mistaught, misunderstood, and/or imitated in one form or another. (Prophecy must also be considered as speculative since where you find one you generally find the other. This is why Paul said that prophecy has to be judged.)
A great many studies have been made on speaking in tongues. A noted linguist and anthropologist, William J. Samarin, states: "[modern glossolalia] is meaningless but phonetically structured human utterance believed by the speaker to be a real language but bearing no systematic resemblance to any natural language, living or dead." [Samarin is professor of anthropology and linguistics at the University of Toronto.]
Further statements: "Recent studies have indicated that glossolalia is not a uniquely Christian practice. Glossolalia is practiced by a large number of native non-Christian living religions around the world. Glossolalia is found amoung the 'Inuit (Eskimos), The Saami (Lapps), in Japanese seances in Hokkaido, in a small cult led by Genji Yanagide of Moji City, the shamans in Ethiopia in the zar cult and various spirits in Haitian Voodoo. L. Carlyle May shows that glossolalia in non-Christian religions is present in Malaysia, Indonesia, Siberia, Arctic regions, China, Japan, Korea, Arabia, and Burma, among other places. It is also present extensively in African tribal religions."
As a case in view I'll seek to show how the Mormon religion preceded the Pentecostal movement in speaking in tongues, and how that the practice is generally indistinguishable between the two movements.
This is Bible Study DU009 - Various Kinds of Tongues.
To begin this part of the study I will provide quotes and accompanying statements taken from one of the best sources on early Mormonism, a book entitled, 'The Sacred Loneliness - The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith' by Todd Compton (Signature Books - Salt Lake City.)
Note: If anyone wishes to study the heart and soul of Mormonism, this is the book to purchase. It consists of nearly 800 pages. It is very well documented. Quotes are for the most part from diaries of Joseph Smith's and Brigham Young's many wives. (These women were much deceived. Some left Mormonism. Others remained until death. They suffered greatly under the guise of polygamy.)
The quotes are without grammatical correction. In addition I am only referencing a few quotes whereas the book itself has many other things to say about the esoteric experiences of these peoples. As for Joseph Smith, he is at best categorized as a sorcerer under the pretense of being a Christian prophet. (It happens today, so don't be surprised.)
[Diary of Zina Diantha Huntington]
"I saw the book of Mormon, that strange, new book, lying on the window sill of our sitting room. I went up to the window, picked it up, and the sweet influence of the Holy Spirit accompanied it to such an extent that I pressed it to my bosom in a rapture of delight, murmuring as I did so, 'This is the truth, truth, truth!'" "The gifts of the gospel were manifest the first time I ever sang in tongs after baptized into the church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints ... around me was as light as the blaze of a candle ... I was surrounded a heavenly influence and no unpleasent sensation from that day the gift has remained with me."
Next we have a letter to Zina from her husband Henry Huntington, after Zina had been sealed to Joseph Smith as one of his celestial wives. Actually Zina had resisted Smith until the [false] prophet told her that an angel with a drawn sword had stood over him and said that if he did not establish polygamy, he would lose his position and his life. Now we read part of a letter from her true husband making his appeal. (Joseph Smith had sent him on a mission work.)
"When I was at home with you and the children ... we could say our prayers together and speak together in tongues and bless each other in the name of the Lord."
Another letter to Zina from Henry. Again he is off on a mission trip.
"I think of you often very often Zina ar you happy do you enjoy your life as pleasant as your did with me when I was at home with you and the Children when we could say our prayers together and speak together in toungs and Bless each other in the name of the Lord..."
Various diary entries (various wives):
"Went to a meeting to Eliza Beamans with many of the sisters [wives] ... went home with Loisa & Z. in the mud rejoicing." --- The next day Louisa, with others, spoke in tongues --- "We had a glorious time."
Also wrote that the gift of tongues rested on her with such "overwhelming force" that she became "alarmed" and "checked its utterance." Said the gift left her and she later prayed for its return.
(Page 79) In the summer of 1840, according to family tradition, the spirit of Zina Baker returned to the world of the living to deliver a message to Zina [a daughter] ..."She left a short message for Zina and a word for each [child]." However, Fanny was terrified, and her mother-in-law departed suddenly.
(Page 97) These [Mormon] parties often included sacred dancing and singing in tongues; "Musick dansing rejoicing prayer preaching & I sung a song of Zion & Br. Huvy dansed the time. Wm H. and Wm Hide ... went to Presendes & there we had the interpretation."
Bits and pieces of quotes:
"She was also endowed with a large, inspired mind, the gifts of prophecy, speaking in tongues..."
"Like Zina, Presendia sang and spoke prophetically, practicing weird ululations of ecstatic tongue- speech..."
"While Caroline was with us we had 2 joyful seasons of speaking in tonuges, and much was said to our joy and comfort."
Page 128 - Early Mormons often had a strong sense of the presence of dark otherworldly forces. On one occasion Zina was sleeping overnight with Presendia when, Presendia remembers, "we both felt the presence of the destroyer at the door, the feeling was beyond expression."
From Presendia: "...the evil power was again perceived so strong was the influence that the spirits were seen and heard, and they tried to destroy those in the room by choking them. Sister Laura Kimball and I laid our hands upon five of those so affected, and rebuked the destroyer in the name of Jesus."
Page 133 - Presendia's experience. --- My feet were cold, my tongue was stiff in my mouth, I could not speak, yet I was perfectly conscious; a candle in the room looked like the most distant star. It was a log house, and the walls had sunk so that the door could never be opened or closed tight without effort, yet the door opened by invisible hands in the middle of the night, and my father and Joseph Smith walked into the room." (They were both dead.)
Page 136 - "We ... offered up our prayers to God and thanks that He had raised up a prophet in these last days and the Gospel had been restored to the earth, and that we had been of the few that had received the truth. We sang and blest each other." As they prayed and sang in tongues, they felt Smith's presence. To these early Mormons, the spirits of departed loved ones were never far off.
Again keep in mind that the quotes are as they were written. (No misspelling on my part.) What I want everyone to see is how the experiences are described as 'heavenly', etc. In this case I see little to no difference in what is happening with these Mormons, to what often happens to Pentecostals in their own 'spirituality.'
On a more personal note, while reading the stories of these stalwart women I felt both a sense of admiration for them, but also a deep sense of sorrow. Who could but admire their courage and their willingness to suffer for a cause, though the cause was demented from the start. But the sorrow I felt for them is more an 'Eve' sorrow, in how the enemy of their soul could so bring them under his power. Joseph Smith was charismatic to the nth degree. (As was Hitler who mesmerized an entire nation.)
The 'The New International Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements' has an excellent article on glossolalia. Here is one of their evaluations at the ending of the article:
"The impulse for glossolalia, not readily accessible to scientific determination, may rise from the speakers themselves, from a demonic spirit, or from the Holy Spirit. Even if glossolalia occurs in a balanced Pentecostal environment, any one of the three sources may apply. The discernment of the community is essential. On the other hand, glossolalia of simply human origin is probably more frequent than recognized. That explains, for example, the humanities scholar who 'taught himself' to speak in tongues and can do so at will."
Again my conclusion is that speaking in tongues today is largely learned behavior. This comes from my past experience in the UPC, from my exposure to the Charismatic movement, and from my years of personal study.
I also believe that James pegged much of what goes on in Pentecostalism, when he said, "Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing." (Jm 3:13-15)
In Pentecostalism the emphasis is on a praying through to a tongues talking experience. Thus a strong push on the emotions is evident. But with Charismatics, the emphasis is more on 'we'll teach you how to speak in tongues. Just refuse to speak in English.' Here the emotional pressure is lessened while the psychological pressure is equally strong.
Wherein is the rightness in all this? The rightness comes when speaking in tongues no longer has an emphasis placed on it. The rightness comes when God's people refuse to get carried along by every driving wind of false doctrine. Living a Spirit-filled life has never been an issue of speaking in tongues. This element is pure Azusa Street Pentecostalism.
We have seen the darker side of speaking in tongues. I was speaking with an UPC minister just yesterday. He shared with me how he attempted to witness to a witch. Her response was, 'We speak in tongues.' So, is it fair to say that UPC speaking in tongues is the true gift of tongues, whereas everyone else speaks in a demonic tongue? How can this be? The UPC salvation message that centers upon the necessity of speaking in tongues to be saved is in itself a false gospel. How can truth come out of a lie?
If the gospel being preached is a false gospel, what do you have to work with? The truth is that a Biblical Spirit filled life centers on one factor alone. It comes from a deep love for Jesus. Peter said it as well as it can be said; "And though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory." (1Pe 2:8)
What then is my suggestion? My suggestion is 'to the Word!' Peter said, "[The believer] must turn away from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, and His ears attend to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil." (1Pe 3:12) --- Peace and truth are only found in Jesus ---
Paul went on to say that believers must take pains in searching out that which pertains to the gospel and the kingdom of God. Yes, it can be painful at times. But the result will be a stable spiritual walk with the Lord. True stability comes with true knowledge, and true knowledge is the crown of a believer's life.
The apostle John said, "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God..." (1Jn 4:1)
So, don't be like the Corinthians of which Paul wrote, "But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness [Cf. Joseph Smith], your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ."
And finally listen to the Lord Himself; "And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him." (Mt 6:7,8)
Jesus went to tell the disciples to pray simply Davidic-type prayers, such as, "Our Father who is in heaven..."
"Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission."
This study was originally shared on June 1, 2006. It was written by Pastor Buddy Martin, a former United Pentecostal Church minister, who founded and pastors Christian Challenge International. Writings are the copyright of Buddy Martin and reprinted on this site by permission.
Page added June 1, 2006
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August 23, 1997
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