I got wrapped up in charismania for a while. After my “experience” (which is really what the whole movement is about – experiences), I chose to stop practicing these ecstatic utterances based on the Bible verses I read.
Several years ago, I heard about receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit with evidence of speaking in tongues. A sister close to me could do this, and I kept hearing pastors talk about how necessary this was. A sister prayed for me when I visited her, and I waited to start making these strange sounds. Nothing happened. I thought, “Maybe I’m too tense or don’t want it enough.” I do know I was embarrassed by being the only one of us that couldn’t do this and was afraid someone walking by would hear me. So, I spent the next few months studying this. Actually, I didn’t so much study what it was as I searched for people that could teach me how to do it.
I first started looking for this when I heard about it on an 18-disc prayer teaching (not recommending because I’ve since thrown out everything I ever purchased from him). Somewhere around disc 3, he talked about this prayer language that allows God to let us pray for our present and future (hard to write down, but it sounded interesting). He said he’d pray for everyone that hadn’t received this gift at the end of the service. I put my hand on the radio (I guess I was touching and agreeing while hoping something would jump through the disc to me). I went back and forth between the discs and realized I had to be there because the prayer was omitted (“How could they edit this most important prayer?” I thought.) After hearing about how I needed my own “personal prayer language” and that the gift of tongues was not the same as an individual tongue, I tried everything others did to acquire this much needed ability that would prove I was saved and assure me God had gifted me with His Spirit.
1. I was told one woman received the baptism taking a shower.
– Well, that makes sense. She was under water! I took a long shower, prayed and spoke until the water got cold, and…nothing happened.
2. I read that we were to just be still and wait for God’s Spirit to overtake us.
– Umm…okay. I laid myself on the bed, folded my hands and waited to be hit by God’s Spirit. (I had to concentrate on not falling asleep because I might miss the experience.) I don’t know if I was impatient or uncomfortable because I was getting hot and uncomfortable laying under the lights, but I didn’t “feel” anything except that I was doing it wrong. Since I was doing it wrong, I would not get baptized that day. So, I went back to watching tv.
3. My hairdresser told me she had been singing all day, and it just happened.
– I waited until the house was empty, blasted Christian music through the house, went about my day cleaning, singing, praising and waiting for God to fill me with this warm, bubbling, roller-coaster-riding feeling I was told I’d get. After a few hours of waiting, I was still “unbaptized”.
4. I read some suggestions others posted about how to obtain this gift that I was to earnestly desire. There was a suggestion to relax, make some sounds repeatedly like “la la la ba ba ba” and wait for the words to start flowing. We had to remember each person’s language was unique and that new words would be added as we practiced and grew in God. Some people only had a couple words.
– Apparently, I was doing something wrong because I wasn’t even given a syllable.
5. The last suggestion I tried (that I remember) was to go into my prayer closet.
– I must have been a pitiful Christian because I didn’t have a “prayer closet”, so I did the next best thing. I set my radio to the Christian station, sat in the closet with the doors closed, prayed and waited for God to visit me in my closet. About 20 minutes later, I sat back on the bed and watched tv.
After reading, listening to people and wanting so badly to do what these “saved, sanctified and filled with the Holy Ghost” Christians were doing, I attended a couple conferences. I was determined that I was not going to leave the church without this language. After sitting through 3 ½ hours of praise, worship and teaching (not including that morning’s service), I was ready for the impartation. I lined up at the altar with about 20 other people, and we were told to close our eyes, pray and raise our hands. He touched and prayed over everybody, and everyone got something. All I could think was it would be so sad and embarrassing to be the only one without this (every time people tried to pray me into this, I walked away the same). By the time he got to me, my eyes had been closed about 10 minutes (except when I peeked to see how much closer he was to me), and my arms were tired from being raised in the air as instructed.
When he got to me, he told me to relax and clear my mind (not easy – such pressure!). When he prayed for us, we weren’t allowed to pray. We were instructed to be quiet. He spoke over me, put his hands on my head and waited. I opened my eyes and looked at him like, “Is that it?” He said, “Speak.” Again, I just looked at him like he was crazy. He said, “The ‘anointing’s’ all over you, Girl!” Really? All I felt was hot because I was standing with 20 other people, and my arms were tingling from being in the air for so long. God still hadn’t “attacked” me yet like the description everyone else had. He told me I couldn’t talk with my mouth shut, I had it, and then he said, “SPEAK!” Well, that just scared the crap outta me. I opened my mouth and had a full-blown language! (It was a really pretty one – nothing I’d ever heard. It actually sounds Middle Eastern.) He went through the others, and I was just excited to feel my mouth do something weird. Later, he offered to lay hands on us and pass on the anointing he received from the hands of Hinn, Parsley (who got it from Sumrall), Copeland, Hagin and a couple others. (I didn’t realize they were false teachers until later since my pastor invited and encouraged this guy to come. Maybe that’s why I had more nightmares than I’d ever had that year.) Again, I didn’t want to be the only one not receiving this special thing, so I “fell out under the power” when he laid hands on me. (Remember, it was late, I’d heard him twice that day, my arms were tired, my legs were tired from standing so long, everyone before me had fallen out, and it seemed only people that fell back had received His touch. I think I just kind of sat down while he made me dizzy when he touched my head. I was up a few seconds later. The power of suggestion and peer pressure.)
Maybe by now you’ve had a nice chuckle at my expense (I laugh when I think back on this), but it wasn’t until a couple years ago that I stopped practicing this regularly. (Yes, I was told to practice.) I did this periodically for a couple years, particularly when I was experiencing something highly emotional. There were several things that led to my questioning and then stopping altogether.
1. I noticed that “tongues-speaking” Christians seemed to place themselves in a different category of Believers as if they were “more saved” than the next person. Actually, we were basically saying that if you didn’t “experience” this baptism with evidence of speaking in tongues, you weren’t fully saved and were bound for hell.
– My first problem with that was that those that were saved without anyone laying hands on them were actually saved and didn’t need to have this extra piece. The thief on the cross is not recorded as being saved and speaking in tongues.
– Secondly, we tended to have an elitist, better-than-you attitude. That’s certainly not a fruit of the Spirit. We actually acted like Gnostics because we had a “secret language” and believed only certain people (those who really, really, really wanted it) were able to attain this level of God. I think one of the main reasons we wanted this was the power people said would accompany it (Acts 2:8).
2. They classified “tongues” as being a gift of the Spirit used to speak to foreigners, but “tongue” was classified as our personal, heavenly language.
– Tongues – 1100 (Strong’s Concordance) glossa referred to a part of the body; dialect, language (Acts 2:4,11; 10:46; 19:6, 1 Cor 12, 13, 14) reference
- Tongue – 1100 (Strong’s Concordance) glossa means the EXACT SAME THING! (1 Cor 14:2, 14, 19, 26 reference
- Tongue – 1258 – dialektos – refers to language also reference
- We’re taught that tongue and tongues are completely different, so we are to desire this baptism and speak with our personal language because Paul spoke more than others in his tongue and was blessed. According to the Bible interpretation, there is NO difference whatsoever.
3. This speaking in tongues movement picked up after Azusa Street. This is basically to be confirmation of God’s Spirit being poured out as in Joel 2 because it’s a Pentecost revival.
– It seems a lot of big movements have started in the late 1800s – Mormonism, JW, Adventism, and this. So the question becomes: what happened to the 1800 years between Pentecost and now? If this baptism with evidence of speaking in tongues was necessary, and it didn’t pick up until this past century, then what does that mean for the early Christians, those who followed and the martyrs that died not doing this?
4. Your own personal “tongue” is between you and God because it’s a heavenly language.
– If this is given by the Holy Spirit, why would we need people to help us acquire this gift and coach us how to make these sounds? We’re grown. We’ve been making sounds and talking all our lives.
– Why do so many people, especially televangelists, sound the same? Shouldn’t it be unique to each of them?
– Between the two of us speaking, why is God the only One that understands what I’m saying?
– I know I don’t understand what I’m saying, but one of the purposes is to pray so satan doesn’t understand and intercept or put doubt in my head that my prayers won’t get answered. Umm…wasn’t satan in Heaven? Wouldn’t he understand any heavenly language?
5. Matt 6:7 “7But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.”
– If I was only given one syllable (which is sometimes taught will mean so much more) for my language, wouldn’t I just be repeating myself and doing exactly what Jesus said not to do?
– If I don’t know what I’m saying, isn’t it possible I’m repeating myself or asking God for the same exact thing each time I speak?
6. 1 Cor 14:22 “Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.”
– If tongues are for a sign (to the unbelieving Jew), then why are we insisting we speak only in church? The Believers don’t need a sign; they need to hear someone speak God’s Word. 1 Cor 14:18-19 “18I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all: 19Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.”
7. Mark 16:17 “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”
– So the proof of being a Believer is speaking in tongues, but it seems that casting out devils (which is listed first), taking up serpents, laying hands on the sick so that they recover aren’t. Which of these would be most beneficial in advancing the Kingdom of God – casting demons out of people so they can live in the freedom Jesus gave us or praying to God and having no idea what we’re saying which means we really can’t have faith for our request?
8. 1 Cor 14:23-28 “23If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad? 24But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: 25And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth. 26How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. 27If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret. 28But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.”
– Apparently, there is an instruction in place for how tongues should be spoken within the assembly. If, at most, three are to speak, and there MUST be an interpreter, why are we encouraged to all pray in tongues, speak out, run around, and slap three people all at the same time?
– If what you’re speaking isn’t an earthly language (no human speaks it), how can I be sure the person interpreting isn’t making up something?
9. Speaking in this incomprehensible language is supposed to only be available to those filled with God’s Spirit.
– Why is it that so many false teachers and people following false religions can do the same thing?
– People casting spells and invoking demons can more easily do so in this permissive, unregulated atmosphere.
– I also found it disturbing that a person that has the spirit of wrath almost giggled when I started praying in my language. It was like he understood what was going on before I did.
10. How could you print your personal language?
– Not only have people managed to convince millions of us that a personal tongue is real and necessary, some have managed to convince people they can pray and type in tongues, too! Ummm…yeah – You gotta see this to believe it.
11. What in the Bible gives us any indication that we’ll get a personal language?
– We are told what to expect throughout the Bible (a promised Redeemer, exile, end time prophecies), told what gifts and people God gives (judges, the Holy Spirit, gifts of the Spirit, pastors/elders/teachers/prophets), and a completed Word of God. Why would we be expected to figure this one out? If this was absolutely imperative to our salvation, wouldn’t it be important enough for Jesus and the apostles to address it clearly? I mean, they took the time to talk about hair and clothing, so it would follow that this would rank up there as being more important.
12. How impressed would Jews (or any unbeliever) be to hear this? Why would speaking in this strange string of sounds move anyone to believe God had moved on them? I can understand you having a conversation with me and explaining the Gospel. I can’t understand you making these strange sounds, moving strangely and then telling me God wants you to do this – except maybe to throw me off.
13. 1 Cor 13:8 “8Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.”
– What language to angels speak? Angels always spoke so we could understand. We were made in God’s image after His likeness. Is there any indication that God or any other angelic being speaks a non-human language?
– Why would a heavenly language disappear? If what we have is the language of Heaven, why would God abolish it? It would make sense that once we acquire this, we would continue to have it because our earthly language would cease.
14. Romans 8:26 “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”
– This is supposed to prove that the sounds we make are God’s Spirit praying for us when we don’t know what to say. My problem with that is that groaning is a sighing or moaning, but if they “cannot be uttered”, then I can’t verbalize it in a human or angelic voice. Why? This phrase (alalētos) translates to “not to be uttered, not expressed in words”. Whether I’m not permitted or just unable, I’m not entirely sure since I haven’t done a straight study in Romans, but I’m pretty sure that I couldn’t say whatever it is in any manner (“cannot”).
15. Acts 2:4 “4And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
– Utterance is apophtheggomai meaning “to speak out, speak forth, pronounce; not a word of everyday speech but one “belonging to dignified and elevated discourse””. Teachers will tell us that we can control the Spirit within us to speak and not speak at will (and we could), but if the Spirit is giving the utterance and timing, then how could we control God?
– This ability was given to be used to give and present a proper, intelligent/reasoned explanation/presentation of the Gospel. What benefit is it to us to have a reasoned conversation with God when we can’t understand what’s being said?
The purpose of tongues was to spread the Gospel to people of all nations because God’s covenant was now available to Gentiles. The only way to do that would be to preach in a language the people hearing would understand. The fact that unlearned men (particularly those who had never studied the language they were speaking) could now miraculously preach in a foreign dialect proved God’s Spirit was moving and that this was truly a work of God. That glorifies God. “Edifying” ourselves saying something we don’t understand doesn’t bring glory to God and doesn’t build us up in our faith because we still have nothing to hold.
1 Cor 12:30 “28And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. 29Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? 30Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues [glossa – another language/dialect]? do all interpret? 31But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.”
We’re required to test the spirits (don’t be intimidated into not questioning church practices because someone accuses your comparing their activities to the Scripture as judging/blaspheming/not understanding the “new move of God”), and I can’t do that if I can’t verify what you’re saying. We can’t use our feelings to confirm whether or not what you did was of God. The early church is our model, and there is no record of private, personal languages given for prayer. As my brother in Christ pointed out, Jesus said to tell everything He said openly. God has a problem with secrecy. Based on what I see, the Bible instructions and explanations, and even my own experience, I have to conclude the modern tongues movement we see in operation is not Biblical tongues.
However, if you are interested in seeing someone get coached, how they’re being used today or what people think when they hear this, feel free to check out these videos.
Tongues for Dummies – video
Roobin’s reaction to happy birthday – video
Kenneth Copeland & Rodney Howard Browne – Copeland is one of the biggest leaders of this movement with an enormous following. What about this interaction follows Biblical instruction. If this is a sacred, personal prayer language, why are they acting like they understand and are amused by what the other is saying?
Tongues of Angels – A Heavenly Language? – article
Can Men Speak in a Heavenly Language? – article
Speaking in Tongues – Is Glossolalia a Heavenly Language? – article
Heavenly Language – article
Tongues – to Speak or Not to Speak – audio
Rev John Greer – A Biblical Understanding of Tongues-Speaking – audio
Toronto Blessing Unmasked