The following is a condensed chapter excerpt from my book, 9 Lies People Believe About Speaking in Tongues.
A few months ago when I first joined Google+, I was silly enough to bother participating in a dialogue with a large cross section of believers, who were responding to a public statement someone posted in the form of a question about speaking in tongues. I can’t quote it exactly, but it had to do with “why do believers add things to the Gospel?” and he listed a few things, the last of which was speaking in tongues, and of course THAT was the main point the predominantly evangelical majority latched onto and “destroyed.” A couple of us pentecostals/charismatics did ask questions and try explaining ourselves, but as usual, I got told I don’t really think he (the brother who considers himself Baptist, and doesn’t speak in tongues) is really saved.
One of the posters mentioned how an Assemblies of God church invited him to come preach, and then he visited their website, and found they believe in the Baptism in the Holy Spirit subsequent to salvation, including speaking in tongues, so he declined the invitation because, he deduced, this means they believe people aren’t saved unless they speak in tongues.
I tried showing him that HE was the one determining they believed that, but they probably didn’t if they were inviting him to come preach! He didn’t see how ridiculous and ironic his reason for rejecting a speaking invitation was on his part, and he was shutting a door God was probably opening for him to share something with that flock they wouldn’t have received through anybody else but him.
But I digress, and plan on following today’s post with a few more thoughts on the “divisiveness” of non charismatics.
Yes, you read that right.
But for now, let’s stick to the tongues issues.
Why do so many non-charismatics peddle this untrue misconception that we allegedly believe this about them?
Do We ACTUALLY Believe you’re Not Saved Unless You Speak in Tongues?
One time not long ago, I watched a video of a guy teaching about speaking in tongues going on and on (and on and on…) to his church or youth group (I couldn’t tell who) teaching them “if you’re ever around a charismatic who teaches you need to speak in tongues in order to saved, get the heck away from them”, and it made me think of different misconceptions I used to have about charismatics — such as they allegedly believe us evangelicals were not truly saved unless one speaks in tongues — that I used to be spoon-fed by various evangelicals in my life with an “us versus them” mentality towards Pentecostals.
Frankly, whenever I hear weird accusations like that I always wonder if these people have ever actually met a charismatic? In fact, recently I found myself visiting an evangelical blog and message board dedicated completely to the charismata, and you guessed it, not a single commenter or poster was actually pentecostal or charismatic, but “knew someone who was” or “used to be a part of a church like that”. It always led me to wonder where such churches were, since I keep learning just what it was I supposedly believe and practice. I would have been more than happy to be consulted about it if they really wanted an objective insight from on the inside.
You see, I grew up in an evangelical Plymouth Brethren church. Don’t ask me what that means, because when I was a part of it I didn’t know either — I just knew we were “us” (whatever that was) and not “them” (charismatic/pentecostal). This particular fellowship is a lot more open and progressive now as the years have passed, and I maintain some VERY close friendships still as a result of not burning any kind of bridges with them, but that doesn’t stop some of the things dear saints have told me over the years.
I also used to work with a lot of Pentecostal Bible college students at a drop-in center back home in my hometown in Canada, and many people from the rival Brethren Bible college in town taught me “those pentecostals believe you need to speak in tongues in order to be saved“.
So what did I do? I asked the pentecostal students myself!
I was only 17 or 18 years old, but I’ve always had a desire to get to the bottom of things. Usually the pentecostals would tell me “of course (!) you’re still saved even if you don’t speak in tongues.” And, I have never in 13 years of being a believer actually come across ANY charismatic — or someone who’d call themselves one — say or believe that I or anybody else was not saved while I was unable to speak in tongues.
So why do so many non-charismatics peddle this untrue misconception?
Tongues Are Of The Devil?
In closing for today, the tongues-being-of-the-devil thing always got me confused too, because in the Bible they didn’t seem to be getting filled with demons when they spoke in tongues. Even though it’s not specifically about tongues, Luke 11:9-13 makes it pretty clear if you’re seeking God for something, you’re not going to get something evil instead. I’ve also never once heard of some heathen rebels standing on a street corner outside a Pentecostal church while all the congregants exited and were speaking in tongues, and one of the heathen say to the other “what is that thing they’re saying?“.
The other responds, “oh, they’re speaking in tongues–it’s of the devil.” Then the other unsaved guy scratches his head, and says to him “Well, if it were of the devil, wouldn’t we be doing it, too?”
See, it doesn’t phase me so much if someone wants to reject the truth of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and the tongues they could pray in and build themselves up through edification. If they don’t want it, that’s fine. If they want to teach others against it, then that’s their problem, but please, AT LEAST represent what we charismatics actually teach and preach. Where I come from, building arguments that your opponent does not actually believe is called “straw man arguments”. For some reason that’s the majority of what I hear when I come across writings or hear sermons from people teaching against us.
Our New Book on Speaking in Tongues
Recently I was asking different friends and former guests of the Fire on Your Head podcast for endorsements for the upcoming published version of 9 Lies People Believe About Speaking in Tongues, and one of them wrote me back saying the following,
I actually learned some great stuff from the chapter on initial evidence [of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit]. I hold credentials with the Assemblies of God, so I’m trained to believe and teach that way. But until now, I was never quite satisfied with the arguments I heard for why tongues was the only good evidence for the baptism. I thought that chapter finally cleared my conscience on signing my paperwork every year stating that I agree with the AG statement of “fundamental truths” (the jury is still out on their eschatology, but the AG bylaws allow credential-holders to believe whatever they want on that so long as it doesn’t “cause a problem”…whatever that means). Anyhow, I found that chapter particularly helpful.
That kind of encouragement helped egg me on me that I’ve written a book that will be helpful to both evangelicals as well as charismatics, which is what I strived for.
I believe the Body of Christ in general will be blessed and edified by it, and many obstacles holding people back from speaking in tongues will be removed.
Available on Amazon:
Thanks for reading!
Check out other posts and podcast episodes on my blog about speaking in tongues.
Explaining the Traditional Evangelical Perspective on Tongues – a well thought out response to this article by my friend Ben Peltz