October 2013

One Size Does Not Fit All


Materialistic; Immoral; Egotistical; Prosperity Preachers; Pulpit Pimps, Soft on Homosexuality; and Celebrity Seekers; are among some of the nicer descriptions tossed about relative to the “Preachers of LA.”

The debut telecast had one million viewers—the second highest ranked cable TV show that aired on that Wednesday evening—which is historically a church mid-week worship night. With an audience of that magnitude, church goers and non-churchgoers were watching.

Many are asking the question: “Will this show be a boom or bust for the Church?” It is generally believed that this show will do a lot more harm than good for the Church universally and locally. But God has been known to flip the script (Gen. 50:20).

The family life, financial life, and spiritual fitness readiness of pastors at mega-churches are under the scope in this TV reality show. The mere fact that this show exists says something about the influence of the Black Church in the Black Community. The Black Church has often been called the most important social institution in the Black Community. Because the plethora of Black mega churches that exists today is unprecedented and is a phenomenon of modern history (the past 30-40 years)—this show is a wake-up call to the fact that today’s church is not our grandfather’s church. The state of the Black Church is a matter of concern for many of us who love it. This show is simply revealing some of our challenges, weaknesses, failures, and strengths. Hopefully, as this show forces us to evaluate today’s church, it will also lead to reform and renewal in today’s church.

There are six preachers featured in this “reality” show that primarily centers around Black preachers and the Black Church. I’ve never met Noel Jones, Ron Gibson, Deitrick Haddon, and Jay Haizlip —the only Anglo preacher featured. I briefly met Clarence McClendon twenty plus years ago. We simply exchanged names, greetings, and well wishes. There has been no follow-up communication between the two of us.

There is one of the six LA Preachers that I know quite well and consider him a close friend. He gets the least attention among the six—which is good. God is keeping him covered, so that really soon, he will be discovered.

Although, Pastor Wayne Chaney is getting the least amount of attention at the moment, he will emerge from the pack as a leader of monumental significance that will impact our nation and this world for God’s Kingdom in a mighty way. He will also constructively and redemptively address the pathos in the Black community and will be a major force in the revitalization and renewal of the African American Church.

My purpose for writing this post is not to condone or condemn the other five preachers. As I’ve already stated, I don’t know them. But I am here to write in support and defense of Pastor Wayne Chaney of the Antioch Church—a Southern Baptist Convention affiliated church in Long Beach, California. I know for certain, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Pastor Chaney does not fit any of the adjectives that introduced this Post. Thankfully, thus far, he has not been portrayed or depicted in the trailers or first episode as being materialistic, immoral, egotistical, or in any compromising manner. Pastor Chaney simply does not fit the negative and ungodly descriptions that many are labeling the “LA6” with—ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL.

Here is what I know for certain about Pastor Chaney. I met him on the campus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2006, in a meeting with fellow Black Southern Baptist Pastors. Black SBC denominational employees had spoken highly of Pastor Chaney as a young man with great moral character and pastoring a fast growing dynamic SBC Church in the LA area. Upon meeting him I discovered that he was the grandson of two well-known highly regarded Black Pastors. His paternal and maternal grandfathers are highly acclaimed figures in the Black Baptist preaching community. I had recently been involved in a theological controversy on the campus of SWBTS and consequently I anticipated some level of aloofness from some of the pastors in attendance; but not Pastor Chaney. He affirmed and embraced me and expressed a heartfelt identification with my controversial theological viewpoint; at that moment, a friendship was born.

At the time I met Pastor Chaney, I was praying about whom to invite to preach a revival meeting on the subject of tabernacle worship at our church. Specifically, that was to be the focus of the revival preaching at this meeting. Very few preachers are equipped to address that subject. As I sat at lunch visiting with Pastor Chaney, I felt prompted to ask him if he’d ever studied and preached on Tabernacle Worship. Not only did he respond with a “Yes”! I could tell from the ensuing conversation that he was well versed on that subject. Therefore, I invited him to preach our New Year’s Revival in 2007. His preaching on tabernacle worship was classic. He has become one of the favorite guest preachers at Cornerstone. He has preached at our church approximately 12-15 times. Every message has been solid, scriptural and relevant. Not once have I heard him preach a “prosperity gospel message.”

Pastor Chaney and twelve other Black preachers spent a week with twelve White preachers in a week-long meeting on a mountain resort in Asheville, North Carolina, with the well-known SBC preacher and best-selling Broadman Press author—Jack Taylor. We were mentored by Jack Taylor concerning the Kingdom of God. I had five days of uninterrupted fellowship with Pastor Chaney. I can truly testify that he is a genuine man who is hungry for God and one who leads a life of integrity.

Pastor Chaney’s doctrine is sound. His life is unspotted. His family is intact; He is madly in love with his talented, gifted, and precious wife who has also ministered in song at our church; his church is exploding with growth—qualitatively and quantitatively. His spiritual maturity is evident in his preaching and living.

Given the magnitude of his ministry, visitors to his home have been impressed with the modesty of his house. It is not uncommon for pastors, who pastor much larger than average churches, to live in much larger than average homes; but not Pastor Chaney—at least not at this point. Therefore, it is shameful that Pastor Chaney is being judged because of the portrayal and descriptions that are being pinned on others. Regarding Pastor Chaney—One Size Does Not Fit All.

Pastor Chaney is the only Baptist pastor among these six pastors. He needs to be celebrated, not condemned, because thus far, and I believe it will continue—he is being depicted in a positive light. Wayne Chaney probably pastors the second largest SBC California church behind Rick Warren’s Saddleback.

Finally, I don’t bemoan or begrudge the kind of house, car, clothes, or any other material item that any believer or pastor has acquired through honest means. I have been privileged to be the guest for lunch at the President’s home at SEBTS and SWBTS while Dr. Patterson was/is President. I have watched Dr. Patterson being chauffeured in a luxury car that he owns. I’m told that Dr. Mohler’s current house was once the Music Building at Southern that was retrofitted/renovated to be the President’s home. Seminary Presidents and SBC pastors of large churches generally receive generous salaries and I know for certain SBC seminary presidents live in large palatial homes. I really don’t understand why Hollywood is placing the spotlight on the material attainments of those pastors of LA. This could as easily be said or shown of prominent SBC personalities. I celebrate the huge, palatial home and the luxury vehicle driven by Dr. Patterson; but none of that qualifies him to be a prosperity preacher. Neither does that make Pastor Wayne Chaney a prosperity preacher because he may drive a nice car and wear nice clothes.

If I had a regret, it would be that the pastors are allowing themselves to be exploited by the focus being placed on their material attainments. But, thank God, this has not been shown to be the case with Pastor Chaney. He simply does not fit the labels that the critics of this show have hurled.

Pastor Wayne Chaney is not materialistic, immoral, egotistical, a prosperity preacher, a celebrity seeker, or soft on homosexuality. One must be careful about generalizing regarding either one of those six preachers. That tactic is called guilt by association. Christians should avoid engaging in that activity. These scandalous accusations should not be hurled against Pastor Chaney unless you know for certain that they are true.

Pastor Chaney expressed a passion to take the gospel outside of the four walls of the church when I first met him seven years ago. God has answered his prayer and has created an opportunity for him to impact Hollywood and the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Let the critics—criticize. But I believe that this will truly be a case when all things working together for the good of them that love the Lord, because Wayne Chaney really, really, loves the Lord!!!!

I believe God is using and will continue to use Wayne Chaney inside and outside of Hollywood to impact His Kingdom for the Glory of God! And, therefore, I appreciatively applaud Pastor Wayne Chaney’s presence among the LA preachers. He will be a voice of righteousness, reason and Kingdom influence.



SBC Voices published a post in early September authored by Bart Barber entitled, “The Nature of the Biblical Gift of Tongues:  Consideration of Relevant Narrative New Testament Passages.”  In the comment section of Barber’s post he addressed the following remark to yours truly:


I appreciate the thoughtful work that you’ve put toward an exegesis of 1 Corinthians 12-14 from your theological vantage-point. If you would like to offer your understanding of the narrative passages in Acts, to refute the points that I have tried to make, then I would be interested in reading that, whether it should come by comment here or by separate post.

It seems to me that the most difficult work to be done is to coordinate Corinthians and Acts. I will freely confess that, when I come to 1 Corinthians, I do so with Acts in the back of my mind, and vice-versa. I think it amounts to a responsible way of reading the Bible to have, at least to some degree, a full canonical context in mind as we approach difficult passages. Acts and 1 Corinthians do not contradict one another—I take that not only as a cardinal doctrine of the faith but also as a personal observation that not all understandings of these passages lead to conflict. And yet the two passages do exhibit noteworthy differences.

Perhaps some of our differences arise out of those differences in the canon, taking them further than we ought? Certainly it might be more charitable to think so than to conclude that some spirit-less rationalism lies at the root.

– See more at: http://sbcvoices.com/the-nature-of-the-biblical-gift-of-tongues-consideration-of-relevant-narrative-new-testament-passages/#sthash.v7m0jUj8.dpuf

I responded to Barber’s request by offering a reprint/posting of my sermon, “The Baptism and Filling of The Holy Spirit.”  It was my hope that my sermon would adequately answer Barber’s concerns.

As evidenced by Barber’s response to my reprint/posting of my sermon (printed below), I fell woefully short of providing Barber with a satisfactory response to his early September post.


Thank you for reprinting your sermon—one in which we could find and discuss many points of commonality between us.

The focus of my series has been upon discovering the nature of “speaking in tongues” in the New Testament. Is the gift of speaking in tongues in the New Testament a gift generally designed for the hearing of men or for private use and self-edification? Is it a gift generally associated more with a function more like prayer or a function more like prophecy? Is it a gift generally associated with an outcome in human language or an outcome in other-than-human language?

This sermon—interesting as it is (and it is interesting), historically significant as it is (and you have pointed out the historical significance of it), and important as it is (certainly the subject of the reception of the Holy Spirit is of paramount importance)—seems to focus on subject matters other than the questions that I have been exploring in my posts. I appreciate your work on this subject matter and your passion for it, but I do not walk away from this post with a sense that I understand entirely the reasons why you have concluded that the Corinthian material, saying as little as it says about the nature of glossolalia, completely overturns the much fuller descriptions of the gift of tongues in the Book of Acts.

– See more at: http://sbcvoices.com/the-baptism-and-filling-of-the-holy-spirit-by-wm-dwight-mckissic-sr/#sthash.497KMI0r.dpuf

Therefore, I will attempt in this post to clearly and specifically address the pointed and fair questions that Barber raised in the above quoted comments.

I.    A Brief Summary of Barber’s Position As I Understand It

Barber views the tongues in Acts and the tongues in Corinthians as analogous. Both refer to “the act of miraculously speaking in human languages that one has not studied.” His final answers regarding the tongues in Acts and Corinthians:


Considering the relevant narrative passages in the New Testament, we conclude the following:

  1. None of them was private.
  2. None of them was identified as being in the form of prayer.
  3. None of them was identified as having employed other-than-human languages.
  4. None of them involved the expression of personal burdens or matters difficult to articulate in human language.
  5. None of them states that the tongues-speaking was not understood by those who heard it.
  6. Some of them plainly state that the tongues involved were human languages theretofore unknown to the speaker.
  7. Most of them connect tongues-speaking with prophecy.
  8. Most of them connect tongues-speaking with the exaltation of God.
  9. All of them tie tongues-speaking with the initial reception of the Holy Spirit.
  10. All of them regard tongues-speaking as a miraculous action of the Holy Spirit.
  11. All of them consider tongues-speaking to be ipso facto evidence of conversion. That is, all of them plainly regard tongues-speaking as something that no unbeliever could possibly accomplish.

– See more at: http://sbcvoices.com/the-nature-of-the-biblical-gift-of-tongues-consideration-of-relevant-narrative-new-testament-passages/#sthash.v7m0jUj8.dpuf

Barber sees no distinction between the tongues in Acts and the tongues in Corinthians. Barber does not believe that tongues was spoken in private as an act of prayer in Acts or Corinthians. Barber believes that whenever tongues was spoken in Acts and I Corinthians in both cases they were speaking a language that was known and would have been understood by someone present who was familiar with that language.

Barber believes that one cannot interpret and apply the Pauline teaching on tongues in I Corinthians without relating or viewing the Corinthians text through the lenses of the Acts text. He explains it, thusly.

“I will freely confess that, when I come to 1 Corinthians, I do so with Acts in the back of my mind, and vice-versa. I think it amounts to a responsible way of reading the Bible to have, at least to some degree, a full canonical context in mind as we approach difficult passages. Acts and 1 Corinthians do not contradict one another—I take that not only as a cardinal doctrine of the faith but also as a personal observation that not all understandings of these passages lead to conflict. And yet the two passages do exhibit noteworthy differences.” (Comment section under Barber’s post)

In explaining the differences between how Barber and I view the Acts narrative and the I Corinthians passage differently, he concludes:

“Perhaps some of our differences arise out of those differences in the canon, taking them further than we ought? Certainly it might be more charitable to think so than to conclude that some spirit-less rationalism lies at the root.” (Comment section under Barber’s post)

II.   Points of Agreement With Barber

  1. Barber prefaced his comments with this statement that I wholeheartedly agree with:  “It seems that the most difficult work to be done is to coordinate Corinthians and Acts.” To that I render a hearty, AMEN!!!
  2. Bart Barber is a scholar and a gentleman in the truest and fullest sense of the term. I have the utmost respect and appreciation for him as a person, pastor, professor, pensman, pulpiteer, Vice-President of the SBC and co-laborer in the gospel ministry. He also has a genuine heart for racial healing and reconciliation that I also greatly respect. As genuinely humble as Barber is, deep down—he agrees with everything I just stated in this point :-).
  3. Barber and I would wholeheartedly agree that Acts and I Corinthians do not contradict one another. (See Comment Section in Barber’s post).
  4. Barber and I would agree that Acts and I Corinthians “exhibit noteworthy differences” specifically with regard to what they reveal about the gift of tongues. (See Comment Section in Barber’s post).
  5. Barber is also right that the fundamental difference between his belief system and mine on this issue lies in “differences [that] arise out of those differences in the canon.” (See Comment Section in Barber’s post).
  6. Barber and I would agree that a simple reading of the New Testament, with no additional information, would lead one to believe that the biblical gift of tongues still exists today. (A paraphrase of what Barber said in the comment thread of my post on, “The Baptism and Filling of the Holy Spirit”.)
  7. Barber and I would agree that the baptism of the Holy Spirit occurs simultaneously with salvation (I Cor. 12:13).
  8. Barber and I would agree that tongues is not the evidence of the baptism or filling of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18-21).
  9. Barber and I would agree that all believers are not gifted to speak in tongues (I Cor. 12:28-30).

III.   Points of Disagreement with Barber

  1. Barber relies heavily on Acts for his understanding and application of the biblical gift of tongues. I rely heavily on I Corinthians 12-14 for my understanding and application/practice of this gift. Therein, is probably where the base and root of our disagreement lies.
  2. I believe that when the Bible speaks of the sovereign Holy Spirit distributing gifts of the Holy spirit as “He wills” (I Cor. 12:7, 11); and included in those gifts are “different kinds of tongues” (12:10) that simply means that tongues manifest themselves at the unction and gifting of the Holy Spirit in more than one “manifestation” (12:7) and with “different kinds of tongues” (12:10). Barber only sees one manifestation of the gift of tongues!
  3. I am not sure how Barber would explain “different kinds of tongues” (12:10), but he certainly does not believe that one of the ways that the Holy Spirit manifest Himself is by gifting some believers to pray, praise and give thanks in tongues at the Spirit’s prompting (I Cor. 14:2, 4 14, 15, 16).

Barber in his summary statement regarding tongues in Acts and Corinthians makes the bold, declarative, and startling statement that “None of them was identified as being in the form of prayer.” I beg to differ. Paul is very clear in declaring:

“For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries.” (I Cor. 14:2)

I find it quite amazing that persons, who argue passionately for biblical authority, reject the most basic reading and common sense understanding of this verse; and that is:  One manifestation of the gift of tongues is, “not speaking to men but to God.” Speaking to God is a basic definition of prayer biblically-based and universally recognized; yet Barber and the IMB argues that tongues speaking referenced here is not a “form of prayer.” Paul went a step further and specifically confirmed this manifestation of the gift of “different kinds of tongues” as prayer:

“For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful.” (I Cor. 14:14)

For believers exercising this gift, Paul taught that while the gifted believer is praying in tongues they are “blessing” [praising] (14:16), “giving thanks” (14:17) and even “singing” (14:15) in tongues—as gifted by the Holy Spirit (14:14).

4.  Barber believes that speaking to men in tongues, is the only legitimate form of speaking in tongues. I believe that speaking to God in tongues is also a biblically valid, legitimate gift of tongues represented in Scripture.

5.  I agree with Barber that we don’t see a private prayer manifestation of tongues in Acts, but we do see that in I Corinthians 14:2, 4, 18, and 19. Paul clearly affirmed praying, praising, giving thanks and singing in tongues in private and personally within in the following verses:

“ I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all; yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue” (I Cor. 12:18, 19).”

In this verse Paul acknowledges that he “speak with tongues,” “Yet in the church” he speaks with understanding. Where then does Paul “speak with tongues”? The clear implication is that this is done in private; having already declared, “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays” (I Cor. 14:14). This verse clearly affirms praying in tongues in private as one is gifted and prompted by the Holy Spirit.

Furthermore, Barber argues that speaking in tongues in I Corinthians was not an act of prayer or done privately. Nothing could be further from the truth. Not only did Paul testify that he prayed in tongues in private, but he also taught that believers who are gifted to pray in tongues could do so personally within, even during a public worship setting:

“If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret. But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God (I Cor. 14:27-28, emphasis mine).

When one reads these verses (I Cor. 14:2, 4, 14-19, 27, 28) it baffles me as to how they could reach the conclusion that “considering relevant passages, in the New Testament” with regard to speaking in tongues, “None of them was private” and “none of them was identified as being in the form of prayer.” Those statements directly contradict the testimony and teaching of the Apostle Paul.

6.  The late Dr. Jack Gray of SWBTS taught his class to learn history from Acts and doctrine from Corinthians. Dr. Gray was certainly not saying that Acts’ only value was historical, and Corinthians’ only value was doctrinal. But he was saying as it relates to the gift of tongues, Paul was giving instructions as to how the Holy Spirit manifest Himself in the life of believers so gifted with tongues. Dr. Gray primarily viewed the tongues in Acts as prophecy fulfilled. Just as we would not expect the literal mighty rushing wind, and the cloven tongues of fire, to appear again, we don’t necessarily look for tongues being manifest among people groups as it was in the book of Acts. God is sovereign. And certainly, He can repeat everything in the book of Acts as He so chooses, but this is not the norm today. Tongues as explained and exemplified in Corinthians based on Paul’s guidelines, I believe, is the norm for today. This has also occurred throughout church history as it is in I Corinthians.

7.  Jimmy Draper delineated the distinctions between the tongues in Acts and the tongues in I Corinthians far better than I ever could in his book, The Church Christ Approves, Pages 50-52:

“There is, however, a great difference in the tongues on the day of Pentecost, in Acts 10 and 19, and those at Corinth. At Pentecost all the believers spoke in tongues (Acts 2:4). Not everyone spoke in tongues at Corinth (1 Cor. 12:30). The languages spoken at Pentecost were understood by all (Acts 2:11). At Corinth they were understood by none (1 Cor. 14:2). At Pentecost they spoke to men (Acts 2:11). At Corinth they spoke to God (1 Cor. 14:2). No interpreter was needed at Pentecost (Acts 2:7-8). Tongues were forbidden at Corinth if no interpreter was present (! Cor. 14:28). Pentecostal tongues filled strangers with awe and amazement (Acts 2:7). At Corinth, Paul warned them that strangers would say they were mad (! Cor. 14:23). There was perfect harmony at Pentecost (Acts 2:1, 42-46). Corinth was filled with contention, division, and confusion (1 Cor. 1:10-11). At Pentecost the disciples went out into the streets preaching in tongues (Acts 2:6-8). At Corinth, it was done within the church group (1 Cor. 14).

Because of the tremendous difference in these two “languages,” it would be false interpretation to build a doctrine on the assumption that they were the same. The tongues in Acts 2 were used to proclaim the gospel in another language, and as a fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel and Isaiah concerning the day of the Messiah. In Acts 10 the gift of languages was made necessary because the Jews refused to include the Gentiles in the new movement. In order to show Peter and the other Jews that the Gentiles were included in God’s grace, he repeated the miracle of tongues. This taught the bigoted Jews that God had poured out his spirit on all men who would accept him. This was a Gentile Pentecost as shown by Peter’s words, “The Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning” (Acts 11:15). It was identical to Pentecost.

In Acts 19 we see Ephesian Jews who were disciples of John who had not heard of the great things which took place in Jerusalem or the pouring out of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. They had not been saved for they had not been told about the need of committing themselves to Jesus Christ. This case is unique because here is a group of people who were alive when Christ was ministering and sacrificing himself for our sins. They accepted John’s preaching about his coming, and now they accepted Christ upon hearing the whole gospel and were baptized as believers. Tongues in both Acts 2 and 10 meant languages understood by men. It is not likely that such a precise grammarian as Dr. Luke would use the same word to mean something else here. Apparently these people spoke in unlearned languages as at Pentecost. There is no evidence that this miracle was ever repeated with the same group twice. This experience in Acts 19 with Ephesian believers must have been an extension of the witness of Pentecost.

When we come to Corinth, we are faced with a vastly different expression on tongues. Here it is not a language others could understand. It was basically an ecstatic utterance directed to God and not man. It was of no value to the congregation unless there was an interpreter. Paul said that speaking in public in a tongue is useless without an interpreter, “for ye shall speak into the air” (I Cor. 14:9). Here at Corinth the gift of tongues was a private and personal gift which edified the individual. Paul declared, “Seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church” (! Cor. 14:12). The uncontrolled use of tongues did not then and does not now edify the church. The restrictions upon the use of this gift will be discussed later. The point here is the difference between the “languages” of Acts and Corinth. Do not build a system of theology that equates the two.” (Emphasis Mine)

Barber has done what Draper advised not to do; and that is to build a system of theology that equates the “languages” of Acts and Corinth. Barber is probably not driven by Spirit-less rationalism in his approach, but rather by a sincere belief that the Corinthians text must be interpreted and applied/practiced based on the Acts text. The problem that I find with Barber’s approach is that there is no biblical, exegetical, or theological basis that requires one to take such approach. As Draper points out that approach leads to a gross misunderstanding of I Corinthians. Again, perhaps not in Barber’s case, but generally speaking, this is a Western rationalistic isogetical approach to interpretation. An exegetical approach would allow the Corinthian text to speak for itself.

Acts and I Corinthians do not contradict each other. They simply address “different kinds of tongues” that are both biblically sanctioned. Just as Romans and James highlight a different emphasis and focus on the doctrine of salvation without contradicting each other; Acts and Corinthians shed light on different aspects of the gift of tongues without contradicting each other. Barber finds it necessary to coordinate the gift of tongues as recorded in Acts with the gift of tongues as recorded in Corinthians. Not only do I find that unnecessary, apparently Paul didn’t find it necessary either; inasmuch as he made no attempt to do so.

IV.  Specific Answers to Barber’s Specific Questions

“Is the gift of speaking in tongues in the New Testament a gift generally designed for the hearing of men or for private use and self-edification? Is it a gift generally associated more with a function more like prayer or a function more like prophecy? Is it a gift generally associated with an outcome in human language or an outcome in other-than-human language?”

Great questions…I want to answer brief and to the point with the addition of a few scholarly opinions that I partially embrace their viewpoints.

Again, there are “different kinds of tongues” so it is not a matter of either/or but both/and. It is designed for the “hearing of men” and for “private use and self-edification.” It is a gift clearly associated with a “function more like prayer,” but it also encompasses “a function more like prophecy.” The human language vs. other-than-human language question is a question that has proponents who would argue on either side. I will simply share my belief and give you a couple of interesting scholarly opinions.

The word “glossa” not only means “language,” it also can mean “utterance.” “Utterance” leaves room for unintelligible speech being spoken. As it relates to prayer, praise and thanksgiving in tongues, I believe that what is being spoken is cognitive content understood by God, because He is the one being spoken to. I find it unnecessary to take a strong position on whether or not what is being spoken is “human language” or “other-than-human language” because it makes no practical or functional difference, as long as God understands and the believer is being edified (I Cor. 14:4).

For Barber and the IMB this is a sticking point and a must know answer—whether or not the person speaking in tongues is speaking a “human language” or an “other-than-human language.” For me, it is a moot question that has no practical or relevant meaning. When Jerry Rankin and other IMB missionaries were/are praying in tongues in private—why would it matter to anyone if it was a “human language” or “other-than-human language”? Who is actually going to listen to their private prayers and make such a determination? Why should anyone inspect and evaluate one’s private prayers? Inasmuch as I don’t see much significance associated with the language question, I will close by simply showing the views of Dr. J.W. MacGorman and Dr. Jack Gray on the language question

In his book, The Gifts of the Spirit; An Exposition of 1 Corinthians 12-14, Dr. MacGorman states:

“Because of the extreme value placed upon this charismatic gift in Corinth and its increased prevalence in our own day, we need to understand it well. The following references in chapter 14 will help us:

(1)    It is addressed to God rather than to men. Those listening to the glossolalist cannot understand him, because “he utters mysteries in the Spirit” (v. 2).

(2)    The glossolalist himself does not understand what he is saying; thus he is urged to “pray for the power to interpret” (v. 13).

(3)    While speaking in tongues, one’s mind and utterance are not coordinated as in ordinary speech: “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful” (V. 14; cf. NEB: “If I use such language in my prayer, the Spirit in me prays, but my intellect lies fallow.”) Evidently in glossolalia there is a disengagement between rational processes and utterance.

(4)    Glossolalia is a medium through which one may express praise or thanksgiving to God (vv. 16-17).

(5)    The glossolalist is able to control the exercise of his gift. Otherwise Paul would not have commanded him to remain silent in church in the absence of an interpreter (v. 28). The exercise of this gift is not a seizure.

Upon the basis of these evidences we may conclude that glossolalia is Holy Spirit-inspired utterance that is unintelligible apart from interpretation, which itself is an attendant gift. It is a form of ecstatic utterance, a valid charismatic gift. (NEB: “ecstatic utterance;” TEV: “speak in strange tongues;” KJV: “he that speaketh in an unknown tongue.” Note that the translators put the word “unknown” in italics, indicating that it is not present in the Greek text. It tends to be misleading.)

Glossolalia is not speaking in foreign languages that one has never learned. The phenomenon of which Paul spoke had no vocabulary, recognizable grammar, and syntax through which thoughts were being communicated elsewhere in the world. In 1 Corinthians 14:2 the reason why no one understood what the glossolalist was saying was because he uttered “mysteries in the Spirit,” not because no Tibetan was present!” (Pages 42-43)

On page 90, Dr. MacGorman states:

“Glossolalia is good for praise, but not for proclamation. Such speaking goes unheard by human hearers; its content remains a mystery.”

Page 91:

“In ordinary speech there is a coordination between mental process and utterance. Because it is the product and articulate expression of one mind, its signals can be picked up and understood by another. However, in glossolalia the spirit alone is active; the mind is not. There is a disengagement of the gears of rational process and verbalization. The clutch of the mind, so to speak, has been thrown in.

“This is why no one else can make any sense out of the utterance. It is irrational; that is, it is mindless. While speaking in tongues, the intellect lies fallow, like land that is not under cultivation and so will produce no crop.”

Pages 118-120:

“There is a value to glossolalia, as one rightly expects of any gift bestowed by the Holy Spirit. Men do violence to the plain teaching of 1 Corinthians 12-14 when they deny either its validity or worth. They may do this severely, even blasphemously, by alleging: “It’s of the devil!” They may do it smugly, by relegating it to the neurotic fringe of Christian discipleship. Yet Paul spoke in tongues, and he was not rationally irresponsible or emotionally unstable. Or they may do it summarily by decreeing that though glossolalia was a legitimate gift in the Corinthian church of the first century, the Holy Spirit has not bestowed it since the apostolic age. One wonders what chapter and verse in the New Testament provide the basis for assigning so specific a locus and terminus. This seems to be a presumptuous encroachment upon the sovereignty of the Holy Spirit (12:11). He alone determines the whom, what, when, and where of all the spiritual gifts.

Many of us whose cultural rootage is in the West are uncomfortable in the presence of religious ecstasy. Not being at home For instance, I was guest in a home in Texas one time when the phone rang announcing the discovery of oil. Now there was a form of ecstasy that could be trusted! Nobody in the local chamber of commerce or Rotary Club was agitating for the removal of these enthusiasts from their rolls.

Nor do we feel out of place in a football stadium when the home crowd goes wild as a desperation pass in the final seconds wins the conference championship against a traditional rival. Ecstasy—because of one’s alma mater is safe; it’s ecstasy because of our heavenly Father that is suspect!

Would that we were as impatient with excessive death as we are with excessive life! No matter how dead a church is—how devoid of the presence of the Holy spirit or how long since anyone in its services experienced the life-transforming power of God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ as Lord—it is thoroughly respectable. Death is exceedingly well-behaved. Yet many of us will agree with Baird’s verdict: ‘Although it is bad when an outsider comes in and says you are mad, it is worse when a visitor comes in and says you are dead.’”

Interestingly, ecstasy was the word that the Baptist historian Morgan Edwards used to describe worship sounds emanating from Sandy Creek.

MacGorman comments underscore what I have argued before and that is:  The rejection of speaking in tongues is based on emotional prejudice as opposed to exegetical precision and it is driven by Spirit-less Western rationalism and not the Word of God. To insist that the tongues of Corinthians must mirror the tongues of Acts is not a text driven conclusion, but rather an imposition on the Corinthians text to attempt to fit comfortably with a Western mindset.

Dr. Jack Gray offers the following relevant comments on our subject matter:

“Learn the STORY of the Holy Spirit for from the Gospels and Acts; learn doctrines of the Holy Spirit from the Epistles.” (Studies of the Holy Spirit, By: L Jack Gray, Page 6)

This statement points out a key distinction between Barber’s understanding of tongues and mine.

On Page 16 of Studies of the Holy Spirit, Dr. Gray defines Tongues:

“TONGUES—(I Cor. 12:10, 14:2, 13-16) This is the Spirit’s gift to speak to God in ecstatic languages, other than human language. It is the gift of a special language for communication with God. It is a special instrument for praise, singing and praying. It is not for communica­tion with people. There is no biblical record of God sending a message to be delivered by people in ecstatic utterances. It seems also to be the liberation of the spirit of a believer for praise and adoration of God, commun­ion with Him, and exalted worship of Him.”

From Dr. Gray’s Book, Pages 20-21:

“The gift of tongues used in the Corinthian Church was the gift of speaking in ecstatic utterances. I believe this because:

(1)  Careful reading of I Cor. 12 and 14 convinces me of this. (Read I Cor. 14 and substitute the word “language” where the word “tongue” is used. See how illogical it appears.)

(2)  Reputable recent translations of the New Testament translate the gift to be ecstatic utterances. (This does not settle the question but it does give logical support to the idea that this gift is ecstatic speech.)

(3)  Some New Testament professors at Southwestern Seminary are of the conviction that the Corinthian gift is ecstatic utterances. (See Dr. J.W. MacGorman’s book, The Gifts of the Spirit, pp. 42-44). Again, this does not settle the question, but it does give strong support to my interpretation.

(4)  That a Spirit-endowed interpreter was required leads one to the conclusion that the Corinthians with this gift spoke other than languages. A listening native could translate a statement made in a mother tongue. Moreover, Paul speaks of interpretations of tongues, not translations of languages.

(5)  That the use of this gift caused trouble in the church implies it was other than languages. The use of mul­tiple languages in one congregation has never been a source of trouble—to my knowledge. At least it is not a doctrinal issue.

Illustration: Gambrell Street Church sometimes has a worship service in which four languages are used: English, Spanish, Chinese, and Japanese. No confusion or question has resulted. Numerous languages are used at the Baptist World Alliance without conflict or objection.

(6)  That Satan continues successfully to counterfeit this gift with a spurious gift of tongues implies that it was ecstatic utterances. A counterfeit implies a genuine. No counterfeiter counterfeits a three dollar bill, he copies the genuine.”

I hope that I have provided complete, conclusive, and satisfactory answers here. I have reached the conclusion that debating this matter has only limited value. Practicing praying in the Spirit—whether done with words understood, words not understood, or even without words is what is most important. The recent prayer gathering in Southlake appears to have been a Spirit-empowered gathering. And at the end of the day, that’s what’s desperately needed. I commend Barber for his leadership and participation in that gathering. May we all build ourselves up in the most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost (Jude 20)!

V.   Settled Convictions Regarding the Biblical Gift of Tongues

  • Speaking in tongues is a valid, vital gift of the Holy Spirit to the body of Christ.
  • Speaking in tongues is the least of all gifts.
  • Speaking in tongues as recorded in the book of Acts was primarily given in the presence of specific people groups as a fulfillment of prophecy. Its value today is more historical than doctrinal.
  • God is sovereign and at His discretion, He can and sometime does move upon one person to communicate Divine truth to another person or persons through the biblical gift of tongues. This can and has/does happen in church settings. In church settings an interpretation is required when tongues are spoken publically.
  • When the Bible refers to “diversities of tongues (I Cor. 12:10), I believe it includes the type of tongue speaking recorded in the book of Acts and the type(s) of tongue speaking recorded in the Corinthian Church.
  • Speaking in tongues as recorded in I Corinthians primarily addressed tongues as a private act of devotion in the form of prayer, praise, thanksgiving and singing.
  • Speaking in tongues in public worship is restricted without interpretation to “speaking to himself and to God” (I Cor. 14:28).
  • Speaking in tongues in I Corinthians is primarily for private devotions and not public display.
  • Speaking in tongues in I Corinthians was for the edification of the believer so that he/she could in turn edify the body and advance the kingdom (I Cor. 14:4).
  • Speaking in tongues in I Corinthians was a language understood by God—cognitive content—and it is of no relevance as to whether or not man would understand what is being said (I Cor. 14:2).
  • The vast majority of evangelical world Christendom embraces tongues as a valid gift because it comports with the plain reading of Scripture. This gift is viewed as an act of private worship and as a gift to convey a Divine message to others as the Spirit gives utterance.
  • Evangelical believers who are cessationist of whatever stripe—must conclude that the millions of evangelical believers who believe in and practice speaking in tongues are delusional, deceived, or demonically inspired.
  • Because of the intellectual bent of the Western rational mind, tongues is rejected based on superfluous and rationalistic reasons, and sincere faulty exegesis.
  • The cessationist believer and the continuationist believer must love and cooperate with each other for the kingdom‘s sake and the advancement