24 July 2006

Red herrings: tongues of angels

by Dan Phillips

This will be the first in an open-ended and occasional series of reflections on cases where traditionalistic misreadings of passages have given birth to a lot of wasted time and (at best) fruitless effort.

My target this morning is the misuse of "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal" (1 Corinthians 13:1).

Anyone who tries to smuggle tongues into the current day has a huge and well-known problem. It's the whale in the TV room: the fact that modern "tongues" in no way resemble the Biblical phenomenon, excepting only that some folks put the same label to it.

Given the gap between Biblical phenomena of tongues, prophecy, and other related sign-gifts on the one hand, and modern wanna-be phenomena on the other, two major choices present themselves. One can frankly admit that what is happening today is at total disconnect with what the Bible says, and deal honestly with that fact; or one can in effect try in some way to redefine and scale down the Biblical phenomena to fit the anemic displays of our time.

A way to do the latter is to make the phenomena untestable, and therefore non-falsifiable. I speak a prophecy in the name of the Lord: "The Lord says that momentous events will happen in 2006!" Well... yeah. It would have to be a pretty tepid year for that "prophecy" to be falsified. In fact, "there will be no momentous events in 2006" might be a bit riskier.

Thus with tongues. Anyone who admits that Biblical tongues were always unlearned, supernaturally-acquired human languages puts himself in the arena of testability. "Tongues" can be (and have been) recorded, and evaluated by linguists. If they're known languages, as in the Bible, they can be identified.

So how is it explained that the widespread "gift" does not live up to the Biblical description of tongues as supernaturally-acquired human languages (Acts 2)? One dodge is, "Well, you see, it's an angelic language! Yeah... that's the ticket. That's why linguists discern none of the characteristics of human language in tongues, because they're... they're angelic, and nobody knows angelic speech!"

It's clever, it's creative, and it does have going for it that it at least does cite a verse in the Bible: 1 Corinthians 13:1. However, this fragile little coracle breaks up right at launch, shattered on two pretty large reefs:

First: Paul doesn't say he does speak in angelic languages. The syntax is hypothetical: "Suppose I should speak in the languages of men and of angels, but do not have love." A hypothetical constitutes a pretty poor platform for a major edifice.

Second: suppose tongues are angelic languages. What of it? Name one instance when an angel appeared and said,"Hoogada bagalalla boola, lalapnanda horishi-como! Badooya-bip sh-bop ba da bing! Ohhhhh hondala shondala palallamandaaaaaaa!" Never happened -- at least not in Scripture. And that's supposed to matter to us Biblical Christians, right?

No, very clearly, every time an angel appears, the issue is that he's terrifying, not incomprehensible or silly. Each canonically described angel speaks in perfectly understandable Hebrew or Greek.

This is why the common response to angelic appearances is terror, not head-scratching bafflement. The angels' way of saying "Hello" is "Do not fear." Never is an angel forced to slap his forehead and exclaim, "Oh, sorry! Silly me -- I slipped back into my native non-corporeal tongue again. So... Hebrew, is it? Is this better?"

So, Dear Reader, if your agenda is faithfulness to the Word above all, there's a Bridge Out sign on the road to explaining modern "tongues" as "angelic speech." It's a red herring. We'll have to look elsewhere.

If that isn't your agenda -- sorry. Can't help you.

Dan Phillips's signature

87 comments:

thebluefish said...

Surely the tongues are different?

Acts 2 is evangelistic and didn't require translation... vs. 1 Corinthians 12-14 is for edifying the individual believer... but can be interpretted if God gives an interpretation for the benefit of the church.

Acts 2 tongues brought conviction of sin... vs. 1 Cor Tongues only serves to judge unbelievers.

Acts 2 preaches the gospel vs. 1 Cor 14 is in prayer or a message to build up the church.

Not that I speak in tongues of either form... except a little poor quality french.

DJP said...

No, they're not different.

But can we try to take one thing at a time? This post isn't primarily about what tongues are, it is about one thing they aren't.

Steven Dresen said...

In my Bible the angels speek in Greek and Hebrew...

REV ME HORN said...

Dan
I enjoy all the 'Pyros',in fact this next week I'll be (LORD Willing) at the Expositors Institute at TMS and will be able to sit in Phil's class at GCC this Sunday.However, I find myself in agreement with your blogs, and they are an encouragement to me. Today's was no different. Keep up the "good fight for the faith". Michael

4given said...

I got the "ideer" even though I'm typically s-l-o-w and am usually the one caught in the reef.

Good post.

Young Fundamentalist said...

Well, it isn't it nice to see you actually take a position on something! I'll sound the alarm because you might be confused with a IFBx or something.

Just Kidding!!!!!

LeeC said...

Nice post, is that incoming fire I hear?

I've never gotten a clear explanation of the whole "tongues of angels" thing.

What on earth caused you to use a picture of a couple of Welshmen in coracles?

My old living history group became quite well known for making those, quite fun, like riding a barrel on the water.

Steve said...

Dan wrote, "Hoogada bagalalla boola, lalapnanda horishi-como! Badooya-bip sh-bop ba da bing! Ohhhhh hondala shondala palallamandaaaaaaa!"

You must've had a lot of fun coming up with that. :)

Great post, with some superb wordsmithing. Thanks!

Libbie said...

Dan, you do like starting them fires.. I sense in my spirit you might have a comment count of note here...

Daniel said...

I only bring up tongues during ratings week. ;-)

Daniel said...

DJP - next, I suppose, you're going to tell me that Paul didn't offer up his body to be burned either!

;-)

C. T. Lillies said...

All this seriousness and all I can think about is Gabriel trying to blow his horn with a fish in his mouth.

ahman uuuuuthrew offm'gruv!

Josh

Jonathan Moorhead said...

So, if angels have tongues, does that mean they have belly buttons too?

donsands said...

This angelic language is also used to pray to God, so that the devil doesn't know what you're saying.
This was taught to me at an Assembly of God, way back when I was first converted. It never did sound kosher to me, but most would simply accept teachings like these, for many reasons.

We surely need to hear about the Red herrings. Good post. Appreciate it.

DJP said...

So, Don, angelic language so the Devil couldn't understand it. And, before his fall, Satan was a...? What, did they change the decoder ring after Satan fell, or what?

goodnightsafehome said...

* Name one instance when an angel appeared and said,"Hoogada bagalalla boola, lalapnanda horishi-como! Badooya-bip sh-bop ba da bing! Ohhhhh hondala shondala palallamandaaaaaaa!"*

Brutal Dan...brutal
:-)

Libbie said...

I can't believe you haven't had any proper broadsides from our charismatic brethren yet. That must mean the first anti-comment will come in the form of

'Well, while you're all being so smug, I thought I'd point out...'

or

'I hate to break up the party, but...'

thebluefish said...

"This post isn't primarily about what tongues are, it is about one thing they aren't."

No argument that Acts 2 is not some sort of apparently wierd drivel... because it was clearly lots of different human languages.

I'm just not sure the case is so clear on the 1 Corinthians 14 type. Maybe that also isn't in the ,"Hoogada bagalalla boola, lalapnanda horishi-como! Badooya-bip sh-bop ba da bing! Ohhhhh hondala shondala palallamandaaaaaaa!"* category... but I'm just not sure how far that gets us...

Scott Hill said...

Dan,I was very impressed by your example of modern angelic languages and to it I say "shundidyhata whostolemyhonda"

Scott Hill said...

Donsands, I guess whoever taught you that forgot Satan is an angel.

Catez said...

,"Hoogada bagalalla boola, lalapnanda horishi-como! Badooya-bip sh-bop ba da bing! Ohhhhh hondala shondala palallamandaaaaaaa!"*

Oh terrific. So you're saying all those girl groups from the 60s weren't angels. Not even the Vandelles? Well I still like the Supremes. Next you'll be knocking Aretha.

donsands said...

Good point Dan, and Scott.

It was quite an experience to be under this kind of bad teaching for a couple years.
I thank the Lord He brought me out from under these false teachings.

Taliesin said...

I find myself unable to buy the full cessastionist position, but, for the reasons you mention, also don't see most of the modern expressions of tongues as fitting the Biblical model. That leaves me in the horribly labeled "open but cautious" camp.

There are those in the continuist camp for whom I have a great deal of respect, including Sam Storms, CJ Mahaney, et. al. But the expressions of these gifts today is hard to fit into a biblical pattern.

Steven Dresen said...

You guys might want to see what's going on in the mission field, there is real Acts 2 type stuff going on, I've have a friend who has done missions and has been able to communicate the gospel in Russian, which they didn't know, to Russian speakers. I think it's pretty sad that we Calvinists are the first to jump up and say God can't do something...thought there was something in the Calvinist guide book about God being sovereign and omnipotent.Hope this helps libbie.

DJP said...

Yes, someone always heard someone who knows someone who once heard a speaker tell a story about a missionary who....

If this actually happened, ever, in the last nineteen hundred years, it wouldn't invariably be undocumented and/or hearsay. And if it were anything like Acts 2, it wouldn't be rarer than August snow in Death Valley.

I'm pretty sure there's something in the Calvinist guidebook about God being consistent with His Word.

Jonathan Moorhead said...

Steven, A. G. Garr and his wife traveled to India under the guidance of Charles Parham, believing they would be able to speak in tongues. Unfortunately, the venture was a disaster, so they traveled to Hong Kong for their ministry where they studied the Chinese language.

I would say that God is able to do such things as you mention. However, we must say that it is not normative throughout the church age.

C.H.H. said...

I spent several years in charismatic circles and even "spoke in tongues" once- which is why Dan's transcription of a tongues streak is one of the funniest things I've read in a while.

On the other hand, it also probably counts as the sin against the Holy Spirit to a lot of charismatics (I'm being serious here), and the gravity of that might explain why we haven't heard the hoof beats of the Charismatic cavalry charging up and over the hill yet.

Pastor Rod said...

yDan,

I like your rigorous reply to thebluefish, "No, they're not different."

I grew up in circles where that same argument was made, with a little more reasoned support. The problem is that it just doesn't fit the biblical evidence.

I do not practice ecstatic speech, nor do I encourage others to. But it seems pretty clear that this is what Paul is talking about in 1 Corinthians.

Paul says, "For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit" (1 Corinthians 14:2).

It is true that 1 Corinthians 13:1 does not say that Paul speaks in tongues. But if you read a little further, chapter 14 and verses 8 & 9 say, "I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue."

This not only establishes that Paul does in fact speak in tongues, but it also establishes that these "tongues" are unintelligible.

In your external link you say that tongues are, "Not ecstatic (i.e. gibberish, or 'exalted non-language'; Greek glossa never once means gibberish, which the dictionary defines as 'rapid and incoherent talk; unintelligible chatter'; it consistently has the well-attested and common meaning of language. Gibberish is not a language.)"

This is a sloppy argument. The dictionary does not determine what a word means in a particular context. Actually, this is worse than a sloppy argument, it is a circular argument. If it is translated as ecstatic speech in this passage, then your statement is false.

There are several other circular arguments in your linked article.

I don't often agree with you, but I've come to expect better arguments than this.

Rod

donsands said...

One of my most beloved brothers in Christ has been serving the Lord in Nepal for the past 10 years. He learned the Nepali tongue in such an incredible way, and he even learned how to read the script. And, it involved some hard work as well. And the Lord gets all the glory. Haven't heard of any Acts chapter 2 incidents, although I believe the Lord certainly can do this if He so desires.

Triston and his wife Jaya have been sharing the gospel of grace to people who have never heard the name of Jesus Christ. The kingdom of God is growing.

Young Fundamentalist said...

Scott Hill:

Don't you know that Satan is a "cherub"? He can transform himself into an angel of light, but he is a cherub.

You might want to actually read that Bible sometime.

Just Kidding!!!!!

donsands said...

"it also establishes that these tongues are unintelligible"

Amen. And that's a bad thing indeed. It would be like "speaking into the air". Totally unfruitful. Every language in the world has significance.
If I speak or pray I will do so with my understanding. For this is what Paul did.
1 Cor. 14 is quite a deep chapter though. Seems as though there's a couple missing pieces. Even when we corrolate it with Acts 2.
The big problem for me is what is the gift of interpretation?

Sorry about the rabbit trail.

DJP said...

Rod -- I like your rigorous reply to thebluefish, "No, they're not different."

That's great.

Now, perhaps, when your mind isn't so full of what you want to say, you can read the other 26 words of my response to him.

DJP said...

c.h.h. and others -- despite the lack of a T-shirt, I have both been there, and done that. The "transcript" is both parody and recollection.

I had a Charismatic friend who joked about naming his kids "Hondala" and "Shondala."

Pastor Rod said...

Dan,

I gave you the benefit of the doubt, that your remaining words were just an embellishment of the statement I quoted.

If you meant that as a serious statement, I'm disappointed.

You indicated that the tongues of Acts and 1 Corinthians were the same thing. He said they were different. You said they were the same and that he was out of line to say that they were same because that is talking about what they are and not about what they are not.

So you have now dismissed my comments with another one of your snarky retorts. And you wonder why I am reluctant to engage in a serious discussion with you.

Rod

Steve said...

Pastor Rod said: "You said they [the tongues speaking] were the same and that [bluefish] was out of line to say that they were same [sic]."

Pastor Rod, Dan never said Bluefish was out of line. Note Dan's actual words: "But can we try to take one thing at a time? This post isn't primarily about what tongues are, it is about one thing they aren't."

Dan was simply trying to keep the discussion on one point. Bluefish happened to bring up an emphasis Dan wasn't dealing with.

That's the significance of Dan's other 26 words.

Unfortunately, when Dan pointed that out to you, you interpreted it as him merely dismissing you. That doesn't seem to be the case. Rather, it appears you're taking the discussion beyond the scope of the point Dan was making.

Mike Y said...

Dan,

Great post! I really got nothing else to say, except: yes they did change the decoder ring. That is covered in the manual.

Keith said...

Wooeiser,

haatenplatz eff deritzenshult, ottentbaltz defesier. Pooringted? Myrgeshen kiptrendel frogivensh.

Ellfdender.

Composed with Microsoft Word of Faith v. 5.01

Bunyan said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bunyan said...

Your post is good. You and your readers/commenters might find the three articles by Robert Zerhusen on the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals web page of articles a refreshing point of view on this subject:
"A New Look at Tongues"
"The Problem of Tongues in 1 Corinthians 14"
"Detective Columbo as Theologian"

Adrian said...

Dan
You must have known I couldnt keep quiet on this one?

I have responded at some length over at my place

I would love to hear your view of my reply!

Rob murphy said...

Well whos of paul or of apolos !Do we have to be in one camp or the other. Iam for Christ
i find myself some times praying in tounges( iam not big on it)with divine inspirings and enjoying it.
Also i read the word and have had overwhelling response in my heart to the truth.
Maybe i am a reformed evangelical pentecostal
God knows!!

DJP said...

Dan
You must have known I couldnt keep quiet on this one?


Yes, Adrian -- but you could have tried! (c;

I read it, and appreciate both your tone and yourself. Now, you've been awake a lot longer than I. My most frustrating initial response, doubtless, is that I actually have answered all your questions -- in a book! However, as I'm a nobody, it's unlikely ever to be published.

Yours is fairly long, but hey, it's your place! For me to respond fully here would take a post of the length at which the other Pyro's start looking at me in a way that makes me uncomfortable. However, dear Libbie has made a fine start towards some responses.

Let's start with the same sort of response I gave to TheBluefish, above. What about the subject of this post? Will you agree that the "angelic speech" line is dead, fruitless, bridge out? Can we at least stand side by side at its funeral, dabbing at our eyes and preparing to move on?

Carrie said...

Yes, someone always heard someone who knows someone who once heard a speaker tell a story about a missionary who....

Good point Dan. I too have heard these stories and wondered if they were indeed true. Perhaps my faith is too weak to have such experiences.

But yet, those stories are always second-hand from a source I don’t really know so I can’t trust. I’m glad you made that point.

Castusfumus said...

What'd he say?

Steve Sensenig said...

DJP,

The only thing I wasn't totally sure I understood in this post is whether or not you are saying that "tongues of angels" are themselves non-existent, or just that they don't apply to the modern interpretation of tongues.

When Paul states the hypothetical in 1 Cor 13:1 is he also using hyperbole, in your opinion?

steve :)

DJP said...

All I really know about angelic languages is that, every time we see real angels speaking, they're speaking a known human language, perfectly clearly. My belief in the sufficiency of Scripture leads me to deduce that it isn't important to know anything else about it at the moment, and warns me off from making any deductions based on speculations based on facts not in evidence.

I take Paul's point to be "Even if I could speak in the most eloquent or elevated manner, if I'm without love, it's just noise." Whether he could speak in such a manner is beyond his point.

Kim said...

Yesterday, after arriving home from my weekend, and having been up since 4:00 a.m., I read this:

"Hoogada bagalalla boola, lalapnanda horishi-como! Badooya-bip sh-bop ba da bing! Ohhhhh hondala shondala palallamandaaaaaaa!"

I was definitely punchy, because all I could think about when I read this is what is sounds like when you try and say it out loud. Since then, I haven't had a coherent thought.

And that word "Badooya-bip" sounded far too much like "Booya" to keep a straight face.

Pastor Steve said...

The argument that I find so bothersome is the argument that tongues probably doesn't exist today, but I don't want to put God in a box, so perhaps it does happen in places. That is totally flawed, in that God says He has put an end to them. He has limited the use of them by His own Word.

It's like saying that I am pretty sure I am going to heaven because of Christ's death, but I don't want to put God in a box, so there is the possibility that God will nullify the work done on the cross and send me to hell anyways. That's my rant for the day.

Pastor Steve said...

P.S. - I think Stewart Scott on ESPN speaks in the angelic language occassionally. "Booyah!"

donsands said...

"God says He has put an end to them"

Scripture, chapter and verse please.

BTW, there are differing views on certain things in the Holy Scriptures that are not totally known to us. Good scholars differ on some non-essential doctrines.

DJP said...

It was a very good rant, Steve. From one angle, every time God makes a promise or a categorical statement, He puts Himself in a box. He cannot lie, He can't not be holy, He can't not be righteous.

The issue for a Christian should not be what God can or might do, but what He has done, what He has promised to do, what He has told us to do, and the like.

Pastor Steve said...

Since my last rant received approval, I'll give a follow up thought (or rant: you decide) on what Don just wrote (and I really don't mean this to be disrespectful or a personal attack) regarding the "good men disagree argument." That argument may hold water at times, but is used far too often as an excuse for relativistic thinking and a backing away from what might be controversial, yet absolute God given truth.

Also, I would not call tongues a "non-essential doctrine". If you believe tongues are for today, you are basically saying that the cannon of Scripture is still open, and that God can speak through people via tongues and offer up new revelation. It's a "slippery slope".

C. T. Lillies said...

Dan

I don't suppose you want to go into the difference between denominations who use tongues in their worship services and "private prayer languages" do you?

Josh

thebluefish said...

Thinking on this... I'm prepared to say that Acts 2 is not your "angelic tongues" - in fact I said that at first. I can't see how anyone can actually argue that Acts 2 is anything other than human languages that were proclaiming the gospel. As for the appearance of drunkenness it would have been a bit crazy to hear a crowd preaching lots of languages.

I'm prepared to say that 1 Cor 14 doesn't *have* to be that mentioned in 1 Cor 13:1 But, I still don't think that goes as far as to tell us what the tongues of 1 Cor 14 are - I'm just not convinced it works for them to be a foreign human language to the congregation.

Apart from the fact that tongues could be used publically to affect judgement (as seen in 1 Cor 14) the whole thing kinda confuses me to be honest!

Steve Sensenig said...

From one steve to another:

First of all, donsands is probably one of the least "relativistic" guys I know of online. But that's beside the point.

Also, I would not call tongues a "non-essential doctrine". If you believe tongues are for today, you are basically saying that the cannon [sic] of Scripture is still open, and that God can speak through people via tongues and offer up new revelation. It's a "slippery slope".

Since this post is about red herrings, I would like to point out again that the "open canon" argument appears, itself, to be a red herring to me. I have seen it used against both tongues and prophecy, and once responded to the topic myself. Bottom line, if tongues = canonical Scripture, than it makes no sense whatsoever for Paul to write to the Corinthians about tongues. I know of absolutely no canonical Scripture that was written by anyone in Corinth.

There are quite a few mentions in Scripture about believers speaking in tongues, and yet what they spoke was not recorded in writing as part of Scripture. So, the equation of tongues (or prophecy) to "canon" is not justified.

I think Don's point still stands that you should back up your "God says He has put an end to [tongues]" claim. It's one thing to say that you can derive that position from various passages, but you'd be hard-pressed to find an absolute statement in Scripture saying that God clearly put an end to tongues. The only reference in my memory that even comes close to what you have said here is 1 Corinthians 13 which is written in the future tense ("they will cease"). Many believe that has been fulfilled, but that is different from claiming God said it in the past tense.

steve :)

DJP said...

BlueFish -- Well, if you're saying that my post didn't make a convincing case for identifying tongues in Acts and 1 Corinthians, I'd certainly agree. As I said in my first response to you, it wasn't about that. Maybe someday I'll write on that issue, and we'll have some more fun.

But the point of this post stands, it seems to me, whether you do or don't think that Paul and his travelling companion/semi-biographer Luke, working together and writing within a decade or so of each other, used the same words to describe two totally different phenomena without a whisper of acknowledgment or explanation. My post wasn't about that.

Pastor Steve said...

Thanks for the interaction and thoughts. First, we are getting deeply off topic, and that is probably my fault. I would lay hold of that 1 Cor. 13:8 passage as one of the cessationist texts. He does say they will cease, and without doing a grammar study, let's say it is future tense. That just means that at that moment they hadn't ceased. That doesn't mean they couldn't have ceased the very next day.

In reference to Corinthian tongues not being canonized, not every word spoken by God to mankind was saved and canonized, but that didn't make it any less binding on the hearers, that just meant that God didn't see fit to save it for future generations. If I say I receive a word from God today, and do it via tongues, that word, having come from God is binding and carries biblical authority whether canonized or not. That is a pandora's box.

Steven Dresen said...

steve,

What is your view of the role of interpretation in Scripture. If you see it as being what applies the Scripture to you then in a sense you believe in a continued revelation because the application of the prinicipal for you is not in the Scripture itself. Or does the Holy Spirit convict you of sin? If so then for all intents and purposes, according to your view of a closed Scripture, the Holy Spirit is reopening the canon because that conviction is from God and should hold canonical authority with you.

DJP said...

Phil -- do we have a SPP (Steve's Per Post) limit?

sparrowhawk said...

"Ohhhhh hondala shondala palallamandaaaaaaa"

Isn't that a lyric from an old Police album?

Pastor Rod said...

Dan,

I'm afraid that the point of this post does not stand.

Your point seems to be that the modern phenomenon of tongues is not the same thing as what is described in the Bible.

As part of your argument you say that "Biblical tongues were always unlearned, supernaturally-acquired human languages."

But you have been presented with evidence that this is not the case. Your response, "That is not what this post is about."

You also argue from silence saying that the Bible does not record an angel speaking in estatic speech.

But even the silence is not as absolute as you imply.

Why does Paul use the phrase "tongues of men and angels"? He clearly intends that it has some relationship with the phenomenon that he is addressing in chapters 12 & 14. It's not just a throw-away line.

You pride yourself on your use of solid logic. Yet that seems to be lacking here.

Gordon Cloud said...

I take Paul's point to be "Even if I could speak in the most eloquent or elevated manner, if I'm without love, it's just noise." Whether he could speak in such a manner is beyond his point.

This is a really good statement Dan. I enjoyed your post.

The thing that so often gets lost in discussions on I Cor. 13 is not whether or not the gift of tongues is still applicable today, but whether or not we have agape.

I am learning that being right with the wrong spirit is just about as bad as being wrong, period.

DJP said...

So, Rod, just wondering... how many strikes are you going to take, before you sit down?

Aaron said...

DJP,

You did not mention what I believe is the most glaring problem with using 1 Corinthians 13:1 in defense of the "angelic tongues" idea: The immediate context. Read verse 2:

And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

Now, if this verse does not show that people are capable of understanding all mysteries and all knowledge, then it seems that verse 1 does not give any help to the charismatic. After all, the claim is most often, "See, right here in 1 Corinthians 13, Paul talks about speaking in the tongues of angels." Yes, but in the very next verse, he also talks about having all knowledge and understanding all mysteries. Most of the charismatics I have discussed the matter with have admitted that verse 2 does not establish that a human can actually do what Paul is hypothesizing about, and they are then forced to admit that verse 1 cannot establish anything regarding the ability of men to speak in the "tongues of angels."

Steve Sensenig said...

I don't know if Steven is addressing me or the other Steve.

Aaron said...

taliesin,

Do you know that there are several cessationist models out there? For example, there are some who believe that all miracles have ceased. No tongues, no healing, no sirree.

Then, there are those who believe that the revelatory gifts (tongues and prophecy) have ceased, but that gifts of healing continue.

Then, there are those who believe that the revelatory gifts have ceased, and that no individuals today have the ability to act as "healers," like when Jesus and the apostles laid hands on the sick, but that miraculous healings do continue to occur, within the context of the faith community. So, your pastor can't claim to have the gift of healing, but the elders of the Church are called to lay hands on the sick and pray for them, in hopes that God will provide for them in the form of healing (either natural or miraculous).

The most important aspect of cessationism, as far as I can tell, is that the revelatory gifts have ceased.

Steven Dresen said...

Steve Sensenig,

it was directed toward the other steve.Here's a little Steve humor from Multiplicity:

Doug Kinney #4: I like pizza. I *like* it!
Doug Kinney: We're gonna need a cage.
Doug Kinney #4: Bye, Steve! I like Steve.

Pastor Rod said...

Dan,

I'm just amusing myself by seeing how many times you can avoid addressing the issues by making snide comments about me.

Pastor Steve said...

In an attempt to hit the "Steve" post limit, I think we have really spun past the intent of the initial post. Books have been written on the subject of tongues that address the issue far better than I can in limited blogging.

To answer the last post pointed my way, the Holy Spirit does continue to work in the life of the believer, and does convict of sin, but that isn't new revelation. That is simply conviction of sin based on God's already revealed standard.

In an attempt to keep things on track, this is the last post from me on this topic. Thanks for your thoughts. I wholeheartedly agree that red herrings are a great way for Satan to distract us from God's purpose for us.

Jeremy Weaver said...

This was a masterful post.

Tongues are always known languages in Scripture. Always. Even a continuationist like me can see that.

Taliesin said...

Pastor Steve,

Regarding your initial post - I think God has clearly established what was accomplished by Jesus during His life and by His death, burial, and resurrection. I do not, 1 Corinthians 13:8 not withstanding, see anywhere near that clarity with regard to cessationism. Therefore I found your post a tad condescending.

For someone who can argue this point far better than I, I would recommend "Signs and Wonders: Then and Now"

Adrian said...

Dan,
If you want the space to answer my questions, the comment box at my blog is open to you at all times! You are welcome to post as much in there as you want, and if you want to post material here or elsewhere, just drop me an email and I will endeavor to interact with it and comment on it.
God bless us all in our search for the biblical truth on these matters!

Young Fundamentalist said...

Why you bunch of legalistic Pharisees.

Show me where God ever said that I couldn't talk in tongues of angels if I want to.

Don't you know that we have liberty to drink beer, smoke a joint, speak in angelic tongues, etc.

I can't believe how uptight teampyro has become. This used to be a good blog.

What a narrow-minded mess it is now.

There should be plenty of room for disagreement over something that is not essential.

Just Kidding!!!!!

DJP said...

Adrian, I plan to do even better than that. We can just continue our friendly volleys across the Atlantic.

In the meanwhile, could you answer my question? To wit:

What about the subject of this post? Will you agree that the "angelic speech" line is dead, fruitless, bridge out? Can we at least stand side by side at its funeral, dabbing at our eyes and preparing to move on?

Saabinmike said...

So are you saying that when I was prompted to use words like Honda and Toyota over and over again to 'get it flowing', that was wrong?

It never did start flowing and I was looked on with the pity you would give an abused puppy.

Ah, Assemblies of God. No, no, I'm not bitter.

With all the 'Hondalalas and Shondalalas' I have heard, I thought it was a real language. The more 'lalas' the better.

In all seriousness, thanks for the post, it gave me some scriptures to pray over.

DJP said...

Well, Mike, the movement has to tell you things like that. Because the Bible doesn't give that information.

Because what they do is totally different.

Pastor Steve said...

I would recommend MacArthur's "Charismatic Chaos" for a good cessationalist view. Although if you disagree with it, you will find it condescending.

Taliesin said...

[The preview looked good, but the post messed up my link to the Together for the Gospel blog; here's the post sans links.]

I've read Charismatic Chaos and didn't have a problem with the presentation. I was a cessationist at the time and my response might be different now.

So what's my point?
1) I agree with Dan that 1 Corinthians 13:1 cannot be used to establish that tongues can be angelic languages.
2) That doesn't mean I hold to a cessationist position, for which I just don't see a Biblical warrant.
3) The flip side is I don't see a strong case for the modern continuist position either (see my response to Adrian's points at his blog).
4) I'd like to think that along with the T4G group we can view cessationism/continualism as a secondary matter.
5) This doesn't mean we should not discuss it or even try to convince others of our opinions. It does mean that we don't treat those of other opinions as if they are apostate.

If you have what you think is a Biblical agrument for cessationism, I would love to discuss it. This isn't the proper forum for that, but my email address or blog are accessible through my profile.

~Mark said...

I'm way late here, but...great post!

Dave Samples said...

"Let us make it clear that we retreat not one inch from the position that the whole Bible is the Word of God and everything taught in the Bible can be believed. Let us go even further and say that we believe the promises of the New Testament are for us and the blessings of New Testament times are for Christians in these modern days. I believe that the gifts of the Spirit may still be given as it pleases God. I believe there was a gift of tongues in Bible times, and there may be gifts of tongues today."

"Is there such a thing as the gift of tongues in the world today? I do not deny it. I say with Dr. W.B. Riley and many other saints, that God may see fit to give any of these gifts to His people today"

"I believe that the gifts of the Spirit are to be given at the discretion of the Holy Spirit as He sees fit. And I for one will not rule them out in any generation until Jesus comes."

Dr. John R. Rice, The Power of Pentecost, 1949, Sword of the Lord Publishers.

Jeremy said...

I love your stuff, good, informative and edifying for a Christian seeking knowledge and discernment (Philippians 1:6). I have a question (if you read this). My good friend is a charismatic believing in many things unbiblical (but they sound really awesome for the younger, less informed Christian) like binding Satan and tongues as a prayer language and he sites 1 Corinthians 14; 2+14, 4+18, 15-17, Romans 8:27, and Jude 20. How does one reason with someone who is so firmly situated on sinking sand? Its like im reaching an arm out to help someone believing in heresy, and they say, "no i'm ok." It tears me apart!

DJP said...

Jeremy, the short answer is that I've never found an effective way to open a closed mind. It's that "A man convinced against his will / Is of the same opinion still" thing.

The best I see is a two-pronged approach: pray, and keep loving Scriptural pressure on. Let love keep the door of communication open, but ask Biblically-oriented questions. If the Holy Spirit starts creating dissatisfaction with the false teaching, your friend may be open to reconsidering what he's done to Scripture.

Stephen said...

Good post, and I agree wholeheartedly with your view (indeed i wrote a similar article on my blog here: http://safle.org/wordpress/2006/08/06/tongues-of-angels-corinthians-and-st-paul.html.

However, is it actually the case that lingusits detect none of the characteristics of modern language in tongues speaking? To what extent has this been tested?

If we are simply talking about limited numbers of phonemes, would that not be explained by the limited vocabulary in use in the tongue?

winebibber said...

It sounds disingenuous to say it - but those of us who believe in the fullness of gifts of the Spirit sometime act disrespectfully toward those of a Secessionist persuasion, but always with a feeling of grief for those who adamantly claim such realities are hogwash. For those of you who place yourself outside the richness of God's desire for your life I hope that despite your professed knowledge, God makes His truth real over your misapprehensions of it. My parents grew up in a time when they were openly described as demonic and desperately deceived. Today, more and more leaders from cessationist backgrounds - such as John Piper, for instance, are walking in wisdom; as to not abuse or create disorder, and the fullness of God's intended richness - despite the ongoing muzzlement of the Spirit by those who 'profess wisdom' on the issue.

There is only one New Covenant, there is not a New "non-relevantal" Covenant that was only for the early church and some kind of other Covenant for the Modern World. There is an Old Testament and a New Testament. Please stop trying to divide the New Testament into what was for the Old and what is for the New. There are not three Testaments, only two.

The radical BB Warfieldian pheumatalogical dispensationalism - by virtue of the Cessationist knife - functionally divides the New Testament itself. However radical or dangerous the New Testament is you create more danger and deception for yourself when you subdivide the Word into what is for “today” and what is for “yesterday” in vain attempts to make the Gospel safe and digestible for the masses. The Gospel is radical and dangerous, you cannot make is safe or conform it to the limits of denominational 'safety concerns.' I understand how dangerous the Pentecostal/Charismatic experience is. I know how much more danger it places a congregation in when it takes hold and spreads. It is all the more dangerous because of the generational repression of knowledge and wisdom - that when it hits, leaders and lay persons alike are equally ignorant of the concerns; as laid out by Piper in his lectures on the issue.

It is two-faced for us to tell the world that the bible is the sole authority for authentic spiritual reality - when we continually make exceptions: Well they drank wine back then, but we don't now, and they spoke in tongues back then but we don't now. There are cultural issues - for sure - but how can we reach a lost world with the Gospel when we riddle it with exclusions. Continually offering "exceptions" of 'that then' and 'this now' deflate arguments that we take with homosexuality - the advocates of which likewise state 'different time, different culture, different dispensation (in regards to Levitical Law). No - it is not different. It is the same Word, yesterday, today, and forever.

Your mockery of tongues and saying "well, it's always from second sources" may make you feel better about your position, but just because you grew up in a factory that printed monopoly money does not mean that the green stuff in the Suntrust bank down the street is equally worthless.

I have an aunt, who has a 5th grade education; shall I tell her that the testimony of the little old korean lady who told her she sang Amazing Grace in flawless Korean was just bunk? Or the lady who had been blind for life and received her sight at an AG women's convention - should I tell her that she is still blind?

Tongues & Healing do occur in this present age. I'm 35 and I've been in Pentecostal/Charismatic circles all my life - and seen all sorts of deceptions, false-toungues, bogus healing claims, then I care to talk about. But I have also seen authentic manifestations. And you can tell me that my sky is not blue all day long; but I've been looking at it for a long, long time, and it sure is.

In Christ,

-matthew
myspace.com/winebibber

(p.s. John Piper's Men The World Was Not Worthy Of, Lloyd Jones Lecture: Piper's concerns and affirmations regarding the Work of the Spirit; very balanced and on target)

Barrett, M said...

Looks like I am late to the discussion. As usual. Regardless, here is a point I did not see mentioned in all 84 comments.

To argue either extreme makes God pretty small. The cessasionist says God "never" does something (dangerous thing to claim) and the signs and wonders crowd says that God "always" does something (equally dangerous). So in the area of saying what God does or doesn't do today, definatively speaking, I think it is always best to say "He can if He wants to".

sis said...

It`s so much easier to get involved with an intellectual arguement than to follow the thrust of 1 Corinthians 13.

Can`t see the wood for the trees?

Wether you speak 20 languages, Angelic Hebrew or modern day gobbledy gook and have not LOVE you are NOTHING!!!!

new5pointer said...

donsands
"This angelic language is also used to pray to God, so that the devil doesn't know what you're saying.
This was taught to me at an Assembly of God, way back when I was first converted. It never did sound kosher to me, but most would simply accept teachings like these, for many reasons."

I have heard that one as well. : )