August 19, 2004

Spiritual Gifts?

Are the spiritual gifts for today? Were they only meant for the prophets in Acts? Many people that do not believe in the practicing of spritual gifts believe that they were only meant for the times that Acts was written about. Many believe that they were meant as a source of comfort from 'The Comforter' for all times.

This is something that I have personally struggled with. My early years were spent in the Church Of God and now that I have gone back to church nearly twenty years later, my atheist husband challenges everything that I have ever been taught. Even this, he says, if you are going to believe.....you have to believe that it was for then and had a purpose. He bases this on the fact that there were many people around that spoke different languages and that they spoke in different tongues so that all that was there could understand what was being said. Of course, if that was the case, why did they need an interpreter then? What would be the difference in the Spirit causing one to prophesy then and now? Do we not still believe in the other gifts of the Spirit with the greatest being love? And if we believe that God wants us to have part of the gifts, then why not all? If he only wanted us to have part of them, why wouldn't he specify that part were for the prophets and part for everyone? Also, if speaking in tongues, casting out of demons, prophesying, etc....were just for those times, then why does Matthew 7:22 say this? "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?" And for those that oppose speaking in tongues, why does the Bible say this in 1 Chorinthians 14:39 "Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues"?

Of course, I am the type of believer that doesn't think that one denomination has it all figured out and knows all of the answers. I think that all of the denominations have some good ideas. I don't think that just one denomination is going to go to heaven and the rest will be left behind in hell to burn forever. I believe that each individual person has to work out their own salvation. That is between them and God. My salvation is between me and God.

Posted by Barbara at August 19, 2004 06:22 AM
Comments

I perhaps didn't do a good job explaining myself. I meant to say that the NT authors understood the gift of tongues to be xenoglossy for the purpose of communicating with foreign audiences (which is why Paul stated that he used the practice more than all of the Corinthians, despite chastising them for their practice of it).

It is true that Glossolallia was known among the Corinthians from the practice at Delphi, so Paul could have been discussing that practice, but it does not appear to be so from my view. I think it is presumptious that modern people who make odd sounds today presume themselves to be "speaking in tongues" in the manner that was discussed in Acts and the epistles.

For a theological discussion of why the "gifts" including healing at a touch, etc... do not continue to today, try Charismatic Chaos by John MacArthur. He gives the theological reasons, though I suspect that the real reasons are that there never were such gifts.

Posted by: smijer at August 19, 2004 08:00 AM

P.S. A couple of other things from your lovin' atheist husband:

Even this, he says, if you are going to believe.....you have to believe that it was for then and had a purpose.

Pardon me. I was trying to argue from your perspective about the Bible at the point you are referring to. I have since realized that I mistook your theological perspective.

According to the conservative theological perspective, experience is to be interpreted in light of scripture. According to the charismatic theological perspective, scripture is to be interpreted according to experience. I did not understand the distinction at the time.

Nevertheless, I did grow up in the conservative perspective myself, and to answer your other question:

And for those that oppose speaking in tongues, why does the Bible say this in 1 Chorinthians 14:39 "Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues"?

The conservative perspective would be that all missionary ministries need languages to function (the word Paul used here was "Glossa", meaning "language". Even now, glossa are needed for missionary efforts.

The conservative perspective takes the experience of speaking non-sense sounds and finds no support for it in scripture. It finds that there are warnings against the misuse of glossa and warnings that the gift of glossa will end. Unable to validate the experience from scripture, and finding only warnings about possibly related practices, the conservative discourages the practice now. Remember, from the conservative perspective, just because you call the non-sense sounds "speaking in tongues" doesn't necessarily mean that this is what they are.

My problem was that I did not understand the charismatic perspective, which takes the experience of non-sense sounds, and interprets the scripture in light of that. From that perspective, the non-sense sounds are "speaking in tongues", and they result from the activity of the Holy Spirit. As a matter of fact, the modern practice was invented in a Bible study about a hundred years ago specifically for giving believers an experience that would set them apart as touched by the holy spirit. From that perspective, I have no complaint against "Speaking in Tongues".

Of course, I prefer the scientific non-theological perspective on the phenomenon over both of the other viewpoints. That's really where I should be making my stand instead of getting involved in internal disputes over the conservative versus the charismatic viewpoint.

Posted by: smijer at August 19, 2004 09:13 AM

You said, "As a matter of fact, the modern practice was invented in a Bible study about a hundred years ago specifically for giving believers an experience that would set them apart as touched by the holy spirit. From that perspective, I have no complaint against "Speaking in Tongues"."

When you say 'the modern practice was invented' I'm not sure what you mean, but I'm pretyy sure I disagree. If you are saying that a group of people started practicing what the Bible tells us about one hundered years ago, I will buy it, but not that it was 'invented.' We did not invent the Holy Spirit. I know that you are convinced that it isn't the Holy Spirit, but I think that you are wrong.

You said, "For a theological discussion of why the "gifts" including healing at a touch, etc... do not continue to today, try Charismatic Chaos by John MacArthur. He gives the theological reasons, though I suspect that the real reasons are that there never were such gifts."

Of course you believe there never were such gifts! :o) You are an atheist! You believe that speaking in tongues is gibberish, that prophesying is good acting, that the Bible is just literature, Jesus probably never existed, there is no God, and no one is ever healed! There are tons of people who would disagree with you. I know many people that say that they have been healed, but you won't believe because it wasn't scientifically documented well enough for you or you are always convinced that there is some natural reason to explain the change and we just don't know what it is...or we have just fooled ourselves into believing it because we are brainwashed. :o) I really do care what you think even though I disagree with you. cs

Posted by: Barbara at August 19, 2004 02:04 PM
If you are saying that a group of people started practicing what the Bible tells us about one hundered years ago, I will buy it, but not that it was 'invented.'

I'm just saying that the thing that pentecostals and charismatics do that they call "speaking in tongues" was introduced to the church about 100 years ago by a holiness church's bible study group who were looking for a way to separate those "touched by the Holy Spirit" from the "unwashed masses".

I say "invented" because Christians weren't doing it before, but it did already exist as a pagan practice. I suppose if you assume that speaking non-sense sounds were the "languages" or "prophecy" of Paul, then you could say it is the Holy Spirit that did it. But it is worthwhile to remember that the claim that it is the Holy Spirit is based on the assumption that Paul's "languages" were the same thing as the Holiness groups non-sense sounds, and that is an extra leap of faith. If you are wrong about what the Holiness groups sounds are, then you would also be wrong about them coming from the Holy Spirit.

But there I go, overstepping my bounds. From my experience, the "Holy Spirit" is a subset of your own mental faculties, particularly those centered on the temporal lobe. And because "It" is part of "you", "It" is good at "healing" symptoms and helping to fight infection, but not good at repairing damaged organs.

Posted by: smijer at August 19, 2004 10:48 PM

Maybe you should read some about Smith Wigglesworth. He lived in the 1800's. They practiced 'glossolallia' as you want to call it and have healings recorded such as limbs growing back. Also, Stonewall Jackson was recorded having been caught several times before battle praying in the field with his hands in the air and speaking in tongues. Try looking up Charles Spurgeon, and Andrew Murray. As a matter of fact, I will try to get you some books on it myself if you like. :o)
You are right, you are overstepping your boundaries. You can't judge what the Holy Spirit is if you have never experienced it yourself. I'm so glad that you have your psychiatric degree now. We ought to have a better income when you open your practice. ;o) cs!!

Posted by: Barbara at August 20, 2004 09:35 AM

Smith Wigglesworth died in 1947, 46 years after glossollalia was introduced to the church. Do you have a clear reference to him engaging in that practice prior to 1901?

Murray also lived several years past 1901, to die in 1917, however I cannot tell that he practiced Glossolallia.

The best I can tell, Spurgeon never engaged in the practice. If he did, then this fellow (the person who wrote the red text on that page) is wrong to say:

For instance, God used C.H. Spurgeon to bring tens of thousands to Himself during Spurgeon's lifetime and his sermons continue to bless people over a century after his death. Now that is my definition of a Spirit-filled Christian!

But Spurgeon did not speak in tongues, nor did he believe in "Second Blessing" theology. So according to your theology, you would have to say Spurgeon, and the many, many more like him, were not filled with the Spirit.

Spurgeon is also quoted as saying of the apostolic office, "...an office which necessarily dies out, and properly so, because the miraculous power also is withdrawn..." indicating that he subscribed to the same theological view as MacArthur concerning the cessation of tongues. Every indication is that Spurgeon would feel more at home with a conservative theology than a charismatic one.

I am convinced that your Stonewall Jackson reference is apocryphal. However, if you can provide a book and page number, or a link, I will try to research it. Likewise with the anecdotes of limb regrowth.

If you are interested in the history of the glossolallia movement and charismatic theology , this timeline is a nice summary.

You are right. I can't know the Holy Spirit from a hole in the ground unless "It" decides to become apparent to my sensory apparatus - if it is in fact something that exists apart from our own psychology. I do, however, have a good reason for associating religious experiences with psychology.

However, people who, according to your theory, have "experienced the holy spirit" are split between those who interpret scripture to fit their ideas about the experience of glossolallia, and those who interpret the experience of glossolallia in light of the scripture. In other words, many of those who have "experienced the holy spirit" do not believe glossolallia to be a manifestation of it - including some who formerly engaged in the practice.

Posted by: smijer at August 20, 2004 09:19 PM

'The Wigglesworth Standard' states in prologue that a curator was missing both legs. Both were regrown and the man was healed.
Charles Finney was spirit filled and he was born in 1792 and began preaching in 1823. See http://www.charlesgfinney.com/1868Lect_on_Rev_of_Rel/68revlec07.htm which is from his sermons and clearly shows his practice of the infilling of the Holy Spirit. Look for it in the next couple of posts. His perspective is very interesting and I will be posting on it. Give me some more time to research and I will give you more examples. But please don't think that glossolallia just appeared around 1900 and that it was the first time that it surfaced since the time of Paul. People have been practicing 'speaking in tongues' and attributing to the Holy Spirit for many years....not just since 1900.
I will also get the book to you documenting the accounts of Stonewall Jackson. It is owned by a family member that will be happy to loan it for the cause. :o) cs

Posted by: Barbara at August 20, 2004 11:07 PM

RE: the Wigglesworth Standard: Is that the book from 1993? Is there not a single contemporary doctor that witnessed the regrowth of this curators' legs? Are we just accepting the same kind of anecdotal evidence as we have of Elvis shopping at the local Piggly Wiggly in 1985?

RE: Finney: Isn't it amazing that such a lengthy sermon about the Spirit prior to 1901 doesn't have the slightest mention of tongues?

RE: Jackson: I'll be interested to see what you have. I fully expect it to be a recounting of an apocryphal story, but I'll look at it with an open mind.

RE: Tongues prior to 1901: There are isolated reports of this or that Christian or quasi-Christian group doing something that resembled Glossolallia as a part of either a Christian or "Gnostic" practice before 1900. The practice was never very common outside pagan circles until 1901, when it was introduced as a method of discriminating between the "touched" and the "untouched". Only since 1901 has it become a mark of the "spirit filled" life.

Posted by: smijer at August 20, 2004 11:27 PM

I will get back to you on evidence to the contrary on Spurgeon.
No one told me that the rules were that masses of people had to be practicing glossolallia and it being reported in the media for it to count as evidence good enough for you to realize that it was being practiced by Christans everywhere before 1901. However, I will get written documentation that it did and get back with the references.
Also, you never answered the question in the post "Also, if speaking in tongues, casting out of demons, prophesying, etc....were just for those times, then why does Matthew 7:22 say this? "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?"" Afterall, prophesying and the casting out of devils is a power that comes from the same Holy Spirit that allows us to speak in tongues, right?

Posted by: Barbara at August 21, 2004 09:30 AM
Also, you never answered the question in the post

I hate to be the one here defending conservative theology or cessationist doctrine in general, since I believe none of it. But, since you asked, I will put on my priestly robes and give it a fair shot.

[conservative preacher]
The key to understanding this passage is in the very next verse. It says,

And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

These lost people came before the Lord believing they were saved because they believed they had prophesied and cast out demons. You ask, "doesn't prophesying and casting out demons come from the Holy Spirit". Yes, when it is authentic it does come from the Holy Spirit, as it did when the apostolic office was in place.

I believe that many of today's charismatics who practice glossolallia and hold "deliverance" services will one day have to face the Lord and admit that they put their trust in these earthly practices instead of in Christ. Oh, don't get me wrong. There are sincere and zealous men and women in charismatic congregations, saved through their faith in Christ, and on fire for the Lord. But there are also some who are deceived by these earthly practices, and it is them for whom I have the greatest pangs of sadness when I think of their fate on Judgment Day. After spending their whole life so close to the body of Christ, going before the Lord with false confidence in their salvation, only to be told "depart from me ye workers of iniquity." It is my prayer that every one them will come to know the full grace and Mercy of Christ through faith.
[/conservative preacher]

Now I feel dirty. ;-) Anyway the obvious answer is that the people saying those things on judgment day were deceived.. If it had really been the Holy Spirit, and they really had prophesied and cast out demons, then they would have been told, "well done, my good and faithful servant" - not for having done those things, but for being saved, I guess.

I will look forward to hearing any evidence you can bring to bear on the status of Spurgeon or Stonewall Jackson as glossolallists. In the meantime, you might study up on Charles Parham and the origin of the pentecostal/charismatic movement. There were rare and isolated cases of something called tongue-speaking prior to that time, but there is no continuity between them and Parham's famous Topeka Bible study that introduced the practice into doctrinally orthodox churches. This article's section 1A has more.

Posted by: smijer at August 21, 2004 09:58 AM

'The Gospel Truth' by Charles Finney Chapter 2 'Power From On High' reads....The apostles and brethren, on the Day of Pentecost, received it. What did they receive? What power did they exercise after that event?
They received a powerful baptism of the Holy Ghost, a vast increase of divine illumination. This baptism imparted a great diversity of gifts that were used for the accomplishment of their work. It manifestly included the following things: The power of a holy life. The power of a self-sacrificing life. (The manifestation of these must have had great influence with those to whom they proclaimed the gospel.) The power of a cross-bearing life. The power of great meekness, which this baptism enabled them everywhere to exhibit. The power of a loving enthusiasm in proclaiming the gospel. The power of teaching. The power of a loving and living faith. The gift of tongues. An increase of power to work miracles. The gift of inspiration, or the revelation of many truths before unrecognized by them. The power of moral courage to proclaim the gospel and do the bidding of Christ, whatever it cost them.

To be cont'd.....

Posted by: Barbara at August 21, 2004 11:02 AM

Visit http://www.charlesgfinney.com/1944power_from_on_high/power01.htm Chapter 1 too see the questions he was answering with this statement.

Posted by: Barbara at August 21, 2004 11:31 AM

Isn't it amazing, then, that Finney himself never professed to speak in tongues, even though he believed himself to be filled with that same power?

Posted by: smijer at August 21, 2004 11:39 AM

In answer to your conservative remarks, I am sure that we both can see that the scripture means that some that say that will be able to enter in but some will not. Of course you twist the scripture with the ease of a pro to fit your beliefs while accusing the Christians of doing it. It's kind of scary.

Posted by: Barbara at August 21, 2004 06:51 PM
In answer to your conservative remarks, I am sure that we both can see that the scripture means that some that say that will be able to enter in but some will not.

[conservative]
True enough. Paul and the apostles certainly had the gifts in full measure, and they are secure because they put their trust in the Lord.
[/conservative]

Of course you twist the scripture with the ease of a pro to fit your beliefs while accusing the Christians of doing it. It's kind of scary.

Conservatives are the ones with the truer claim to honoring the scriptures above all else. If that is your attitude, then you might find their hermeneutic of interpreting experience in light of scripture more satisfying than the charismatic hermeneutic of validating experience through appeals to scripture.

Yes, I was faking a conservative view to answer your questions and support their position even if it isn't my own. I guess that's what you call "twisting" the scripture. My question is, why is it only scary when I do it? Why are you and other charismatics able to go fishing in scripture for validation for your view by whatever means necessary, and that's all fair and good? Why is there a double standard there?

Posted by: smijer at August 21, 2004 07:46 PM

AT last, the proof you require. See...http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/pentecostal/New-Ch11.htm...
This covers 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th centuries as well as the Medieval Age, and the Reformation Era through the Twentieth Century, complete with references.

Posted by: Barbara at August 21, 2004 10:06 PM

For the answer to your supposed fishing answer, see my next post and you will see why I think that you don't understand scripture while we do. It will be up in a bit.

Posted by: Barbara at August 21, 2004 10:10 PM

I understand your belief that I cannot understand scripture, and it's source. I was relaying the conservative understanding of scripture to you in a way that you would have to admit was a fair representation of the views of the people who, by doctrine, are most committed to putting scripture first. I could probably find an authentic one and get them to come post here, and you would see that my representation of their views was fair. Or, you could read that blue book on the bottom rack next to the bathroom sink, and find out how the conservatives read scripture.

I am familiar with many of the isolated instances and reports of "tongue speaking" from prior to 1901 (if you read this thread, you will see that I have already mentioned them!). If the author of the document to which you referred had in mind to, he or she could have continued to produce such reports to well before the first century CE (provided he was willing to include the pagan manifestations of the practice). I had already mentioned such isolated and discontinuous uses of something called "tongues" (we cannot be sure that all of them were glossolallia).

My point was quite simply that the modern practice of glossolallia traces back to Parham and Ozram in 1901 and stops there. They are the ones who introduced it to the modern church, and it is their tradition that overflowed denominational boundaries later on to create the modern Pentecostal/Charismatic movement.

It remains a point of hubristic presumption that you portray the noises you make now as being angelic tongues and the subject of Biblical discussions of a gift of langugages. It remains a point of historical fact that they were an innovation (not the continuation of previous tradition) when Parham and Ozram introduced them to the church in 1901.

Posted by: smijer at August 22, 2004 09:42 AM

P.S... I kind of lost focus on my whole point in showing that the practice was an innovation in 1901. It was to suggest that people like Spurgeon, Finney, and Edwards, who fit every criterion for "spirit-filled" and who were certainly aware of the "gifts" including "tongues" in the Bible, never presumed to engage in glossolallia and call it "tongues". Perhaps some of those on the list you cited were doing something similar to glossolallia, and perhaps some of them weren't. However, it is safe to say that the majority of "spirit filled" Christians at any time of history up to 1901 were not speaking unintelligible sounds and calling it Biblical tongues.

Posted by: smijer at August 22, 2004 10:00 AM

You are still totally disregarding the facts and you don't know what you are talking about when you call them unintelligible sounds AND....I will still be glad when you are smacked off of your donkey!!

Posted by: Barbara at August 22, 2004 01:49 PM