A Symposium on the Tongues Movement Part I: Introduction -- By: S. Lewis Johnson, Jr.

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 120:479 (Jul 1963)
Article: A Symposium on the Tongues Movement Part I: Introduction
Author: S. Lewis Johnson, Jr.


A Symposium on the Tongues Movement
Part I:
Introduction

S. Lewis Johnson, Jr.

[Editor’s Note. The substance of this series represents the contribution of several members of the Dallas Seminary faculty to a recent discussion period on the subject of the tongues movement. The informal nature of the discussion is to some extent reflected in the series, which will appear in two installments.]

Speaking in tongues is a phenomenon that appeared sporadically in the apostolic age. There are at least three references to it in the book of the Acts of the Apostles. According to Luke the phenomenon occurred on the Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit baptized the believers into the church, the body of Christ, and inaugurated the age of the church. The details are given in Acts 2. Then again in Cornelius’ house, when he and others believed and were baptized into the body of Christ, there occurred this astonishing manifestation. The last clear reference to tongues in the Acts is found in chapter nineteen, when the disciples of John the Baptist were baptized again by Paul at Ephesus. They responded by speaking in tongues and prophesying.

The only other certain references to tongues occur in the First Epistle to the Corinthians, chapters twelve through fourteen. In these chapters the manifestation is defined as a spiritual gift, and instruction is given the Corinthians regarding the nature, the purpose, and the regulation of the gift in the local church meetings. It is evident that the gift was exercised not only in Corinth, but also by the apostle himself in his ministry.

The so-called “Tongues Movement,” which purports to represent a recovery of the historic manifestation, is a comparatively recent phenomenon. It has been associated generally with small denominations of a so-called “Pentecostal” character, among whom there are, no doubt, many genuine, if misguided, Christians.

In recent months the movement has taken a new turn. It has begun to make inroads into the larger and more influential denominations, and it now claims adherents in such denominations as the Episcopal, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Methodist, Dutch Reformed and Baptist churches. Clergy, as well as laity, are speaking of “a new dimension in life,” “a definite enrichment in spiritual life,” or “an added, and rewarding method by which to praise and pray.” It has been claimed that, when the experience of speaking in tongues comes, “people begin tithing almost automatically; they begin reading the Bible with new understanding; they have more love and charity; heavy drinkers stop drinking.”1<...

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