A conciliatory approach to speaking in tongues

A scriptural and historical conciliatory approach to the Pentecostal doctrine of speaking in tongues as initial evidence of Holy Spirit baptism

Is the doctrine that the manifestation of speaking in tongues (glossolalia) is invariably the initial evidence the baptism of the Holy Spirit sufficiently supported by scripture to justify the division it causes?

I will begin this web site with a disclaimer: I am a member of a Pentecostal church and I do pray in tongues, although my personal experience is far from the "average" Pentecostal experience (this is discussed on another page in this site). Thus, I do not intend this site as an attack on the practice of speaking in tongues, which I believe to be valid.

Rather, because of my ministry to call the Body of Christ to live in conformity with the oneness it already possesses in Jesus , and because the Pentecostal insistence that anyone who is Spirit-baptized will speak in tongues has created such division in the Church, I believe I must ask two questions of my Pentecostal brethren:

1. Do the scriptures really teach that speaking in tongues (glossolalia) is the invariable "initial evidence" of the baptism of the Holy Spirit; that is, that everyone who is truly spiritual will have spoken in tongues at least once?

2. If the Scriptures do teach this, is it sufficiently well-supported that it may properly be insisted upon as a test of fellowship and is it an important enough doctrine to justify the division that insistence upon it has caused in the Church?

In the process, I will examine the generalization from experience which underlies the insistence on tongues as evidence of Spirit baptism, the meaning of the "baptism," "filling," and "sealing" of the Holy Spirit in the Scriptures, the nature of the promised "gift" of the Holy Spirit, the early history of the Pentecostal doctrine, the purpose for which God gives spiritual gifts and whether every instance of Spirit baptism in in the Bible was accompanied by a manifestation of speaking in tongues. I will then present my conclusions.

Pages on this site dealing with generalizations from experience

Individual experience versus universal rule

My experience

Pages on this site defining "baptism" in the Spirit and related terms

What is baptism in the Holy Spirit?

Being filled with the Holy Spirit

The sealing of the Holy Spirit

The promised gift of the Holy Spirit

Pages on this site dealing with the history of the Pentecostal doctrine of tongues

Early Pentecostals, Spirit baptism, racism and the Wesleyan second blessing

Pages on this site regarding whether tongues accompany Spirit baptism in Acts

Is tongues present every time someone is baptized in the Spirit in Acts?

Acts 8, about the Samaritans.

Acts 9, about Saul of Tarsus (the Apostle Paul).

Have some gifts of the Spirit "passed away?"

Pages on this site regarding the purpose for the spiritual gifts

The purpose of the spiritual gifts

The purpose of tongues

May specific gifts be requested of God?



Relevant pages on other sites

Is speaking with tongues the initial evidence of the Spirit baptism, by Mark A. McNeil.

Search in the Light Ministries, has links to many outside resources.

Christian-oneness.org, discusses the unity we already possess in Christ.

misplaced focus fallacy, discusses the error of insisting on nonessential teachings or practices to the point of division.

Charles Sheldon and Charles Parham: why the revivals didn't start here, how Topeka, Kansas, missed out on the Pentecostal revival that almost started there.

Personal Notes

I have now had a book published: Ian Johnson and Lauston Stephens, Our Oneness in Christ (Baltimore: PublishAmerica 2006).

I am also actively seeking joint authors for several projects.

to Christian-oneness.org.

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