Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 8, 1964
NUMBER 22, PAGE 4,11a



"Glossolalia" is a high-sounding word and looks mighty impressive in print. But don't let it alarm you. It is only the "theological" term for an old, old practice that rural communities and "Pentecostal" religions have known and experienced for generations. It means "tongue-speaking," and is simply theological jargon for a well known phenomenon.

In recent years "tongue-speaking" has moved up out of the piney woods of East Texas and other rural areas and has found welcome (of all places!) in the Lutheran and Episcopal churches. This is a new and unearthly experience to these hitherto reserved and formal religions, and they don't know exactly what to do with it. Not long ago an enthusiastic evangelist of the American Lutheran Church was released from his pastorate because he defended and practiced "tongue speaking" as an evidence that he "had the Spirit of God." The staid and dignified Lutherans felt uncomfortable about this. They did not know exactly what to do. But now they have decided to take hold of the bulls horns and really get at the bottom of this mystery! And the federal government is going to help them do it. The Lutheran Medical Center of Brooklyn, New York, recently announced that a federal grant had been received to enable them to do "research in tongue speaking." The project will be subjected to the most rigid and sophisticated scientific formulae; graphs and charts and analyses by the score will be prepared and applied. Dr. Eugene Nide, distinguished linguist of the American Bible Society will assist psychologists and physiologists in seeking to determine exactly what is happening psychologically and physiologically (and spiritually?) when these "seizures" come upon their willing victims. No doubt his eminence as a "linguist" will qualify Dr. Nida in the eyes of some, to participate meaningfully in this research Maybe he can "interpret" some of the utterances recorded in these ecstatic frenzies.

But we doubt that much useful information will come from this venture. Why does not the federal government give somebody a grant to study (scientifically, of course!) the probable changes to be anticipated at the second coming of the Lord? That would make about as much sense as a federal grant to study glossolalia.

What was "tongue-speaking?"

What tongue-speaking was and what it is are two different things altogether. When Christ sent forth his disciples to preach the gospel to all the world his message was urgent and pressing. There would come a time, long centuries in the future, when his word would have been written down, transcribed, and eventually translated into more than a thousand dialects and tongues of men. But the glorious message of salvation could not await such a long distant day; men needed it immediately. So, on that very first day of the new era in the very hour of the church's birth, the apostles "were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Now there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound was heard, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speaking in his own language. And they were all amazed and marveled, saying, Behold, are not all these that speak Galilean? And now hear we, every man in our own language, wherein we were born? we hear them speaking in our tongues the mighty works of God." (Acts 2:4-11)

That is what tongue-speaking WAS. It was intelligible language; it was the ability of a man (miraculously bestowed upon him) to speak the word of God in a tongue "other" than the one of his nativity; indeed, a tongue other than any he had ever learned.

Modern "Tongue-Speaking"

The Modern Practice Of "Tongue - Speaking" Is As Foreign To This Simple Biblical Practice As A Thing Might Well Be. The Modern Practitioner Of Tongue Speaking Does Not Speak An Intelligible Language; He Neither Understands Himself Nor Does Anyone Else! What He Is Uttering. The "Tongue" He Speaks Is Actually Only A Series Of Disjointed, Disconnected, And Discordant Syllables, Having Neither Rhyme Nor Reason — And Certainly Not Conveying One Single Idea Or Intelligible Thought To Anybody Anywhere. A Knowledgeable Observer, Trained In The Art And Practice Of Hypnosis, Would Be Quick To Recognize The Modern Tongue Speaking As A Very Simple And Obvious Hypnotic Phenomenon. The Person "Speaking" Is Truly And Completely Sincere; He Is Convinced Beyond All Peradventure Of Doubt That He Has Had A Visitation From The Spirit Of God. He Is So Utterly Convinced Himself That His Faith Is Contagious; He Convinces Others. But It Is A Deception. A Competent Psychiatrist, Or Psychologist Capable In Including Hypnosis Could Produce An Absolutely Identical Experience In The Behaviour Of His Subject As That Seen When Such A Subject Was "Under The Power" And Giving Forth With His Tongue Speaking. Furthermore, Being Awakened From His Hypnotic State, The Subject Would Be As Firmly Convinced As He Had Been The First Time That He Had Been Under The Direct Power And Control Of The Holy Spirit!

The apostle Paul clearly stated that "whether there be tongues, they shall cease." (1 Cor. 13:8). These miraculous tongues have served their purpose; they were a temporary manifestation of the power of God, given for time and for a season, and have long since served their purpose and have "ceased.'

It will be interesting to read the finding of the Lutheran Medical Center when finally they conclude their investigation (financed by the federal grant!) into "glossolalia." We will try to pass it on to our readers when and if the report is ever made public.

— F. Y. T.