"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Solid Food For Thought from Drs. Luter and Storms

I have had a very long week and a long day of travel home from Kansas City. There are several very interesting posts that I will publish next week about the time in KC. The commissioning service brings tears to my eyes every time I see all the missionaries lined up giving their testimonies, and the service Wednesday night was no different. Further reflections will be forthcoming after the first of the week. Until then, I have chosen to post two comments on yesterday's post, one from Dr. Sam Storms, and the other from Dr. Boyd Luter. Both comments are worthy of serious reflection. The issue over the adoption of the new guidelines at the IMB is over. These men's comments are posted to help you understand some of the larger issues that will be coming before the convention at large.

Dr Sam Storm's Comment

Wade and others,

I am not writing to address the denominational or political issues that are provoked by the recent decision of the IMB. My aim is simply to address what I perceive to be the theological naiveté and exegetical imprecision of the IMB statement posted on your blog.

Several points need to be made.

First, in its statement on Glossolalia the “Guideline” affirms that glossolalia “is considered to be a legitimate language.” This isn’t at all helpful, given the fact that most Continuationists acknowledge that all glossolalia is linguistic in nature. All tongues speech, whether exercised in public or private, is “language” that communicates cognitive content. The Apostle Paul makes this clear when he declares that the one who speaks in a tongue speaks “to God” (1 Cor. 14:2) and in doing so prays (1 Cor. 14:14), praises (1 Cor. 14:15), and gives thanks (1 Cor. 14:16). Praying, praising, and giving thanks are all meaningful, substantive communication between the believer and God. So yes, of course tongues is a “legitimate language.” But what this statement fails to address is whether the language is human, such as Russian or Chinese or English, or a language of heaven or an angelic dialect or a uniquely spiritual language constructed by God to constitute this particular spiritual gift.

Second, the Board refers to “ecstatic utterances” in spite of the fact that nowhere in the New Testament is this vocabulary used of tongues speech. Why is it so difficult for the IMB Board or Christians in general to recognize that tongues speech is not ecstatic? It never has been. It never will be. Nowhere in the NT portrayal of tongues speech, whether public or private, is it ever described as entailing the loss of control, loss of consciousness, loss of awareness of one’s surroundings, or loss of will on the part of the one speaking. Tongues speech in the NT never entails the individual experiencing some sort of altered state of consciousness or disengagement with his/her surroundings. May I ask that we all, once and for all, drop the adjective “ecstatic” from our descriptions of the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues. I make this appeal to Continuationists and Cessationists alike.

Third, the Board stated that according to the New Testament “prayer is to be made with understanding.” This also is ambiguous and misleading, and in one particular case, patently false. My first response is to ask, “Whose understanding?” Is the Board saying that the person praying must have understanding of what he is saying? In all instances of prayer, except for the gift of tongues, the biblical answer to that question is Yes! But the very nature of tongues as a spiritual gift is that one is enabled to pray and praise in a “language” (whether human, heavenly, or angelic) that one does NOT understand. That is why God graciously and appropriately provides the spiritual gift of interpretation. If the person praying always and automatically understands what he/she is praying via tongues, what would be the point or need for the gift of interpretation? What would be the point of Paul exhorting those who pray in tongues to pray also that they may interpret (1 Cor. 14:13)? If they necessarily always understand what they are praying, interpretation would be superfluous.

On the other hand, perhaps the Board was referring to the understanding of others, those who hear someone pray. If that is what they meant, then I agree. So does Paul, which is why he always insisted on interpretation if tongues is used in public. Without interpretation, no one understands, neither the speaker nor the listener. And without understanding there can be no edification (1 Cor. 14:2,5,27-28) for others in the body of Christ (although the person praying in tongues is still edified; see 1 Cor. 14:4). This is the reason for Paul’s meticulous regulation of the use of tongues in public. It is wonderful for tongues to be used in public IF and ONLY IF there is interpretation. In the absence of interpretation, it must be restricted to one’s private “prayer closet” (so to speak).

Look carefully at 1 Cor. 14:14-15. Paul says that when he prays in a tongue his s/Spirit prays but his mind is unfruitful. That is to say, he is praying well enough but neither he nor anyone who might be listening understands (this is what Paul means by the word “unfruitful”). What then should Paul (and we) do? According to the IMB, he should keep his mouth shut. Since there is no understanding, Paul should never again pray in tongues, either in public or private, and he should prohibit all others from the same. But that’s not what Paul concludes! Keep reading. He says: “What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit [i.e., in tongues], but I will pray with my mind also [i.e., in the vernacular, so that all can understand]; I will sing praise with my spirit [this is simply tongues speech put to music or melody], but I will sing with my mind also [as do we all when we sing hymns and psalms, etc.]” (v. 15).

The IMB is under the mistaken assumption that for any experience to be beneficial it must occur via the cerebral cortex of the brain. They seem to believe any experience that transcends the rational comprehension of the person in whom it is happening is useless. Paul disagrees! He obviously believed that it was possible for the human spirit to commune and communicate with the Divine Spirit in a way that transcends rational comprehension. However, he also believed that if no one is present to interpret such “speech” for the edification of other believers that the person with tongues should keep silent in the corporate assembly.

So, as you can see, I don’t think the IMB is going to progress very far in this matter until they come to grips with the actual language of Paul concerning tongues in 1 Corinthians 14. Blessings to all!


Dr. Boyd Luter's Comment

Wade and others,

Sam had a lot of solid exegetical insight to offer, but it is not going to change the decision of the IMB BoT. They do not appear to be willing to listen to a critique of their supposed exegetical basis at this time. Rather, they are comfortable in the fact that those who have been their behind the scenes advisors in this process are curently willing to sign off on what is now commonly called 'Semi-cessationism' (see my further explanation below), if for no other reason than they believe that they can make the same stand over Charismatic Continuationist candidates as they could with a full Cessationist position.

But, I honestly believe that there is a "the glass if half full perspective" that is worth noting here, to at least partly balance the large number of "the glass is half empty" opinions that have been expressed. Here it is: for the first time, there is an official statement that recognizes that some kind of "tongues" (i.e., glossalalia) do in fact exist.

Yes, the way things are worded in point 3 and the applicational angles are highly skeptical. But, points 1 and 2 add up to the recognition that there is, in fact, biblical reason to believe that there is a legitimate form of tongues at work in the world today.

What does that mean from a "glass is half full" perspective? Even though, in the IMB BoT's view, there is much out there that is not legit. tongues, THERE IS AlSO SOME THAT IS. In other words, the wording of their statement can be just as accurately described as "Semi-Continuationist" as it is "Semi-Cessationist" (since the prefixed 'semi-' means "having some of the characteristics of"). That is why, when I did my presentation in Arlington, even though I used the common term "Semi-Cessationist," I also put in parentheses "Skeptical Continuationist?". You see, the view reflected in the IMB BoT decision is at least as much akin to the Continuationist side of the aisle as it is to Cessationist side EXEGETICALLY, though not ATTITUDINALY. The door has been opened to some degree from an exegetical standpoint (i.e., mild Continuationism), but there is skepticism attitudinally (i.e., practical Cessationism).

Think about this and gain perspective: the Conservative Resurgence saw conservatives calling the other bunch Liberals, which they felt was MORE ACCURATE, when they wanted to be called Moderates and the broader group calling their opponents Fundamentalists, which they felt was MORE ACCURATE, when the other bunch insisted on calling themselves Evangelicals. Similarly, is it really in any way inaccurate to call the newly expressed IMB BoT position Semi-Continuationism (or Skeptical Continuationism)? After all, their statement clearly allows for the continuation of tongues, though the application quibbles about the legitimacy of its its manifestations.

What an amazing thing? To be able to construct what they fell is a safe 'fall-back position' biblically, the IMB BoT had to slide across to a view that, exegetically, is at least equally Continuationist as it is Cessationist. Their application of their exegesis is indeed inconsistent (and tragically so for certain missions candidates). But, even if unintentionally, the exegetical ground beneath the controversy within the SBC has clearly shifted in a positive direction, just not far enough (yet).

Call me an "optimist" if you like, but I'm not a "blind optimist"--I'm a "see the big picture" optimist." Something of a significant incremental nature happened right under our eyes and, because it wasn't all some people wanted to see, they missed it completely.


Good insight from two brilliant Southern Baptist theologians.

Have a Great Weekend!



Alan Cross said...

From what I understand, the view that the Trustees articulated has been their view all along, so it is difficult for me to see any movement here, although I am glad that Dr. Luter is encouraged. I will take what he said to heart and will try and find the silver lining here, although it presently escapes me. Obviously, I agree with Dr. Storms' view of the relevant passages, but the real issue remains "Why can't both views co-exist together if everyone vows to not be divisive and to focus on Christ, which was absolutely the situation pre-November 2005?" Is PPL at the level of heresy? I think that some people think that it is, which is why we are facing this situation. If so, how could it not be retroactive? Rather than seeing movement, I see an attempt to basically keep the same situation as they have had for the last year and a half under a softer name to try and curb criticism.

I hope that I am wrong, but I don't have any evidence to believe otherwise, especially when they admit that there was no problem with Charismatic behavior on the field to begin with. If the Trustees had any idea how much all of us want things to go back to how they were and how much we all want to be able to follow them and trust them, they would probably be shocked. Was it worth all of this?

Anonymous said...

Rex Ray said…
Alan Cross,
You said it well in not seeing the “silver lining” in Luter’s comment. His heart is in the right place and he put a lot of well thought out words into saying they recognized us, but it’s like a mother asking her first grader:

“Are the kids still ignoring you?”
“Oh, no, mama; today they called me a teacher’s pet and a sissy.”

If Luther was batting, the first pitch to him was a ball; whereas Storm hit a home run.

Alan, you asked why we can’t go back to 2005. We can’t go back there unless we go back to 1997 where a missionary said a letter caused:

“We had a sinking feeling this was the end of the IMB we came out with 20 + years ago.”

That letter lowered moral so low the IMB made a rule that all letters from then on would be reviewed before mailing to missionaries.
That letter exposed the new attitude of the IMB. In my opinion, that letter ASKED them to give their priesthood to the new IMB, and in 2000, they were TOLD to do so by being forced to sign a creed which Baptists have never done.

One couple was told, “Tonight I’ll pray, and tomorrow I’ll tell you what God’s will is for you.”

Do you think the powers that be that started this mess with the political motivated ‘Conservative Resurgence’ have rolled over and died?
No, they’re still leading us down a Catholic road where a few control the masses. Many churches have surrendered their democratic rule to a ‘board’ or ‘elder led’.

In Colleyville, Texas, a letter was sent by four people (kicked out of their church) to the SBC asking for an investigation where ‘Congregational Rule’ has changed to a ‘Leadership Board’ or a ‘Ruling Elders’ type church.

These “four” feel this type of governance is contrary to Baptist policy. IS IT?

It looks to me what has happened on the national level is happening on the local level

Bowden McElroy said...

It seems to me an underlying issue is that the IMB Board believes the debate over a ppl is a legitimate discussion to be having. As long as the Trustees insist on the right to articulate a "clear Baptist identity (for) our missionary candidates" when we already have one (the BF&M) there will continue to be problems.

While I understand the Board has the legal right to do so, I think it's a mistake for the Board of any of our entities to exercise that right. Just because you can doesn't mean you should.

How can we have meaningful a dialog about what it means to be Southern Baptist when entities embark on what many would consider a rouge path?

G. Alford said...


I have only one, perhaps two, members in my church of whom I am aware that have a “private” prayer language…

On the other hand, I have many members who have come to us from different denominational backgrounds (Presbyterian, Assembly of God, Independent Baptist, etc.) all of whom were Baptized by immersion following their conversion. In other words their Baptism is (according to the N.T.) “PROPER”. Yet, according to the BOT of the IMB their Baptism in “unacceptable”…

The IMB BOT writes:

A candidate who has not been baptized under the authority of a local church which meets the standards listed above is expected to request baptism in his or her Southern Bapist church.

“There is one Baptism…” only one! Putting someone who has been properly Baptized according to the Scripture through the “ritual” of re-baptizing them is in fact not Baptism. It is a “MAN MADE RITUAL”. A person may submit to, or “request” that his or her Southern Baptist church perform as many “rituals” upon them as they wish… It is not Baptism.

As a Pastor called by God, not the IMB, I will not even one time stand guilty before my God for doing such a thing to one of his children.

Grace to all,

Anonymous said...

rex ray(trex),

i would guess that you feel like things started getting bad after 1979. am i right?


John Moeller said...


Sam Storm’s comments are exactly what I would have written if I had the ability to articulate the issue. One item I would add is; what constitutes a public prayer?

Can I pray in the spirit in a room with other people present and it not be public? I say, yes. I am sure we have all breathed prayers to ourselves in public many times…. So a proper definition of public could be added to Sam’s other comments.

Bro. Robin said...

Dr. Storms

I know you and I did not discuss much of this issue at the conference. If it is feasible for you I would like to do this face to face.

I don't believe their is biblical evidence that legitimate tongues was ever outside the realm of human language unknown to the speaker. If you or anyone can show me one verse that describes this gift as a language outside of the human realm then, I would have to be forced to believe you. Subjunctive, hypothetical statements do not necessarily describe a reality. Indicative statements do. Show me one verse that is indicative of Paul's practice as being non-human language.

Anonymous said...


i try to pray in the Spirit every time i pray. i try to pray fervently from a clean heart, and not pray vain repetitions. the Holy Spirit floods my heart as i pray this way. i have never spoken in ecstatic utterances.

thus, how can you equate praying in the spirit with speaking in ecstatic utterances? and, if so, are you saying that i, and many others in the sbc, are not praying in the Spirit?


Steve Young said...

I usually appreciate the arguments of Dr. Storms, even when I do not agree. In the context of the IMB trying to clarify Biblical Baptism I read Stroms position that (baptism and the Lord's Supper) "are not a means of salvation, but are sacramental channels of God's sanctifying grace." I have also noticed in the official doctrines of other denominations this sacremental view. On one denominational website their official paper on baptism was 17 pages long and I am still not sure exactly what they mean by baptism (and most of their members who come to join us do not know either).

I am not sure that the BoT got it exactly right, but there is a need for a clear statement (and not in 17 pages).
Steve Young

Alan Cross said...


Again, no one is claiming the use of ecstatic utterances. Why do you keep using that phraseology? The only people that I have ever heard use it are cessationists who do not believe in it. Well, I don't believe in it either, so we can be agreed on that! :)


Could you please supply for us a literal translation from the Greek of 1 Cor. 14:2, 14-17, and 27-28, inserting the subjunctive and hypothetical perspective? Your take on it seems to be lost in the English translations to me, so it might aid the conversation for us to see what you mean. I've gotten lost in your arguments, so it would be helpful for me to know how exactly, word for word, you interpret those verses. If you have time, that would be very helpful. Thank you.

John Moeller said...


Using the term “ecstatic utterances” is bordering on offensive. Its definition directs me to think that you believe that anyone who prays in the Spirit, or prays in an unknown tongue is under some trance, or is performing some yoga/transcendental meditation type eastern chanting type thing. This is the furthest thing from the truth.

I will also agree with you that the Spirit moves on people who pray in any and all languages just as you gave example of. I ask though that you love blood bought Jesus followers that you may not understand and realize that God’s ways are not our ways, and even though it seems totally “ecstatic” to you, it is the way God wired me and how I communicate with Him. I pray in modern English most of the time, but when my heart is heavy and I don’t know what to pray, an unknown language that I don’t understand flows from me and I feel the Spirit of the Living God flowing through me and comforting me and somehow everything works out and I am at peace.

Please choose your words wisely and open your heart a little towards your fellow believers whom you don’t quite understand. You seem to have a passion for Christ, share the good news of Jesus to others and back off a little on the doctrine. Doctrine doesn’t save anyone.


R. L. Vaughn said...

Wade, thanks for pulling these out for a separate post. As with Sam Storms, I do not write to address the denominational politics of the IMB/SBC. But I am very interested in this theological issue re Baptists as a whole.

First, is glossolalia considered to be a legitimate language? It seems most (but perhaps not all) agree that glossolalia or the spiritual gift of tongues/languages is linguistic in nature. The difference among
these who agree on this appears to be in whether the language is human or heavenly/angelic/spiritual. A difference in our presuppositions perhaps leads us to different conclusions. Is the first gift of tongues (Acts 2) the standard by which all others are judged (and must be like)? Are there different kinds of tongues/languages? Was the miracle on Pentecost in the speaking or the hearing? If I understand Storms correctly, he believes that the Apostle Paul's declaration that the one who speaks in a tongue speaks "to God" (1 Cor. 14:2) is proof that the gift is a heavenly language. IMO, this interpretation is stronger than the language of the text will bear. It seems to me that the main point Paul is making is that the speech (in any unknown language of whatever kind) could only be directed to God "for no man understandeth him."

Sam Storms objects to the Board's reference to "ecstatic utterances" and hopes that we will drop the adjective "ecstatic" from our descriptions of the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues. I agree that the New Testament gift of languages (and other gifts) does not necessarily entail any sort of altered state of consciousness. But we must not think this word has no historical or theological reasons to be attached to the gift. Whether the IMB's use of the word is intended to be pejorative, I know not. But the idea of some altered state of consciousness has long been associated with the use of/belief in this gift even among those who advocate it. For example: "Thus, Bartleman also speaks of complete and utter abandonment, an 'absolute consciousness of helplessness,' and a 'Heaven of conscious bliss'." Also, "With this thicker description before us, what can we say that glossolalia means, specifically for Bartleman himself, but more importantly, generally for Pentecostals? On the more personal and psychological level, the experience boils down to an ecstatic encounter with a dimension of reality on the boundaries of culture that is
soul-transforming and world-defining..." And, "'Ecstatic' should be understood in its general phenomenological sense as a mystical psychological state of mental absorption or rapture accompanied by a somewhat
involuntary loss of control." [From "Tongues", Theology, and the Social Sciences: a Pentecostal-Theological Reading of Geertz's interpretive theory of religion" by Amos Yong, Cyberjournal for Pentecostal-Charismatic Research] So we also must not be so naivé as to think that though we do not believe the language gift is "ecstatic" that everyone agrees and will comply with our use of the terminology.

I also wonder about Sam Storm's conclusion "prayer is to be made with understanding" is "in one particular case, patently false." As he illustrates, some things hinge on the issue of "whose understanding?" I am not convinced of his interpretation. First, he writes "Paul says that when he prays in a tongue..." although Paul says "if I pray in an unknown tongue..." Now I'm not saying the "if" establishes that Paul did not pray in an unknown language. But some other times Paul says "if", but he does not intend that as the correct practice. Note, for example, "If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues" (14:23). Paul obviously does not intend that all speak with tongues (cf. 14:27 "If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret.") Or again, "But if all prophesy..." (14:24), he later explains with "Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace." (14:29,30) But is there an explanation by Paul of "if I pray in an unknown tongue?" I think so. I think the answer is neither Sam's interpretation of what the IMB says one must do -- he should keep his mouth shut -- nor what I assume he is advocating -- praying in languages in private. Paul writes, "What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, AND I will pray with the understanding also..." Unless this means two separate prayers, Paul concludes that the praying should be with the spirit and with understanding. I see two possible scenarios that could accomplish this -- praying with languages AND with interpretation, or a praying with the spirit that does not include languages therefore not needing interpretation. There may be other possibilities I haven't thought of. I don't suppose, even though languages is in the context of I Cor. 14:15, that anyone
believes that every prayer with the spirit must include unknown languages, or even vocalized speech (see I Sam. 1:12-13, for example).

When Sam writes, "The IMB is under the mistaken assumption that for any experience to be beneficial it must occur via the cerebral cortex of the brain," I think he assumes too much. Even if the Board believes that for the gift of languages to be beneficial it must occur via the cerebral cortex of the brain (which I believe is more than we can prove they meant), it certainly does not follow that they extend this belief to "any experience".

Just some thought's brought on by Sam's thoughts. I'm not sure I understand all I know about this!

Bro. Robin said...


I asked first for a verse, so I am waiting. You have my arguments in my paper. You have yet to show me anywhere that Paul prayed using an angelic language. I make it very clear what is meant by those verses. Maybe you can give a literal meaning to them that remains true to the context of the passage and the grammer in the Greek.

Don't mean to disrespect you. I look forward to seeing you in San Antonio so you can show me the verse that is an affirmation of reality that Paul prays in an angelic (ecstatic) language. (BTW, that means he states it in the indicative mood of the Greek)

Bro. Robin said...

r.l. Vaughan

You brought out some good points in your analysis. It has been very beneficial to me.

God Bless

The Ford Files said...

There are truly are some brilliant thinkers among Southern Baptists. If only their words and ours were always gracious.

For the past eight years my family has served as missionaries with the International Mission Board. We have had our difficulties with decisions regarding a variety of issues by those on the Board of Trustees, regional leadership and even our local administration. However, we have always been free to express our thoughts, fears, and desires. In doing so, I have never been put down, belittled, or brought to tears. While I have expressed dissent in private to those in leadership, I have always felt it was best to maintain positive public support for the goals of the IMB and not get distracted by the issues I didn't affirm. As a matter of conscious, I know that there may come a day when I cannot accept the leadership I am placed under. At that given time I must resign. This is the nature of aligning oneself with a sending organization.

I'm grateful that our system allows for each state convention of Southern Baptists to nominate representatives to the various Southern Baptist agencies. How these representatives administer, lead, and safeguard the agencies and their assets allows Southern Baptists to evaluate them and determine whether or not these same people should be allowed to continue serving in the role of Trustee. We all know and understand this. Let's return back to the goals of the International Mission Board and its charter and evaluate those who govern her. If they are lacking, nominate and elect others and charge them to fulfill their role.

While I regret that a candidate could be turned away from serving with the IMB due to new guidelines. It is with deeper regret that we must acknowledge that only a mere 1000th of a percent of Southern Baptists are answering the call to serve as missionaries through the IMB. This is not due to new guidelines, "New Directions" or anything else that has happened in since 1979. Sadly this has been true for too many years.

Is it possible to put such brilliant minds to work on mobilizing Southern Baptists? Can these same great thinkers galvanize plans for leading more Southern Baptists to greater levels of participation in carrying out the Great Commission globally? Pray that it is possible. Pray that Trustees, Bloggers, Missionaries, all Southern Baptists would catch God's vision for reaching the nations.

Stephen Pruett said...

rl vaughn, I don't know why praying in the spirit and with understanding could not refer to two separate prayers. I assume that since the context of this passage relates mostly to tongues, that this particular prayer in the spirit refers to tongues.

Of course, your analysis may be right. That is the real problem here. The interpretation hinges on an assumption. If I asssume two different prayers, one in tongues and one with unerstanding, then Paul advocated a private prayer language. If I assume one prayer in the spirit (but not in tongues) and with undertanding, he did not. I do not believe there is any definitive way to determine which of these is correct.

Even though this interpretation is based on an assumption and is clearly disputable, the BoT of the IMB is still willing to disqualify people from missionary service because of it.

Mark said...

Ford Files:

Appreciate the big picture perspective/reminder.

mark sims
FBC Perrin, TX

David Rogers said...

R.L. Vaughn & Stephen Pruett,

From what I read, the following conclusions are quite clear in 1 Cor. 14:

1. If I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful (v. 14).

2. If I praise God with my spirit (i.e. in tongues), my mind is unfruitful, and others do not understand me either (v. 16).

3. If I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, my mind is unfruitful, but, I am giving thanks well enough. Since no one else understands, though, they are not edified as a result (v. 17).

4. When I pray, praise God, or give thanks to God in a tongue, my mind is unfruitful (i.e. my prayer is not made with understanding). However, I am nonetheless actually praying, praising, and giving thanks. This is only condemned in the case I do this in church, and only because, if I do so in church, no one understands, and no one is edified.

Sam Storms said...


Yes, I would be happy to sit down face to face to discuss this. Perhaps we can get together in San Antonio. But honestly, I'm growing a bit weary of the argument. I've stated my position repeatedly and provided the argumentation for why I believe that tongues speech in the NT is both human languages and either heavenly or angelic or some form of spiritual speech. You can examine those arguments in my book, "The Beginner's Guide to Spiritual Gifts." They've also been posted on several occasions on numerous blogs.

Honestly, I couldn't make much of your paper. I found your arguments difficult to follow. Consider that my failure. I'm just too dense, I guess. My apologies for not being up to the task. Perhaps when we get together in person you can help me understand your position.

As for one single verse that says Paul spoke in a "kind" of tongue other than a human language, I would simply say three things. First, there is only one passage in which tongues are explicitly said to be human languages, and that is Acts 2. As I've said multiple times before, Paul wrote that there are various "kinds" or "species" of tongues. In combination with the arguments I've cited before to demonstrate that the tongues in 1 Corinthians are most likely something other than human languages, the one instance of Acts 2 should not, in my opinion, be read as if it were defining any and every possible kind of tongues speech in the Bible.

Second, when one combines the arguments for tongues as something other than human languages with Paul's declaration that he thanks God he speaks in tongues "more than all," it seems entirely within the realm of possibility (probability?) that he spoke in something akin to a heavenly dialect or angelic tongue.

Third, I caution against the idea that we need an explicit assertion in order to establish a biblical doctrine. I find this to be a bit hermeneutically simplistic, if not naive. I believe in justification "by faith alone" (sola fide), as I trust you do, but nowhere in the NT do we read of being "justified by faith alone." Yes, if we are justified by faith "apart from works" then it is by "faith alone," but the precise language itself isn't in the text. Roman Catholics are always happy to point this out, but neither you or I would agree with their conclusion [Just a quick aside. It's interesting that the only time in the NT that "faith alone" is found is in James 2.24 where James says "a person is justified by works and NOT by faith alone." No, I'm not Roman Catholic! Yes, I do believe in justification by faith alone]. I believe in Scripture alone (sola scriptura), as I trust you do, but nowhere in the NT do we read of "Scripture alone" as a way of excluding any other revelatory authority (although, like you, I believe that Scripture alone is our revelatory authority). I'm persuaded, as I trust you are, that Paul believed that God is "one in nature and three in person", but nowhere in the NT do we read of God described in this way or of anyone confessing belief in God as Trinity. I'm persuaded, as I trust you are, that Jesus Christ is one person with two natures, one divine and one human, but nowhere in the NT do we read of him being described in this way.

We draw these many theological conclusions by examining texts in context and then laboring to construct a coherent doctrine that is consistent with the whole of biblical teaching. That is what I do with Paul's instruction on the gift of tongues. I conclude that he must have had in view a form of language other than human language based on a variety of statements in a variety of contexts, all of which must be considered in our systematic formulation of what the gift of tongues entailed.

I'm quite sure none of this will suffice to persuade you. That is why this will be my final statement on this subject via the blogosphere. But again, I would be happy to discuss this with you in person. Blessings!

R. L. Vaughn said...

Bro. John Moeller, you wrote that using "the term 'ecstatic utterances' is bordering on offensive." I have no desire to be offensive. But please consider that your further explanation of how you pray in private does seem to quite possibly fall within some folks' definition of ecstatic. Perhaps everyone doesn't mean the same thing and those who use it should define what they mean (as for me, I'll try not to use it).

Here is what you wrote describing your private prayer, "I pray in modern English most of the time, but when my heart is heavy and I don't know what to pray, an unknown language that I don't understand flows from me and I feel the Spirit of the Living God flowing through me and comforting me and somehow everything works out and I am at peace." There does seem to be an element of rapture in which you are overtaken by something you don't consciously control -- "an unknown language that I don't understand flows from me." I took Sam Storms' non-ecstatic version to mean something that we could start and/or stop -- the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. Perhaps I am misunderstanding what you describing and, if so, would appreciate your explaining it. Thanks.

R. L. Vaughn said...

Bro. Robin, I am thankful that there was something in my rambling that was beneficial to you. I look forward to more of your posts that also will benefit me. At this point I am agreement with you that substantial evidence is lacking to prove that that Paul ever prayed using an angelic language. I also question whether anyone is qualified to judge whether a particular "language" they are hearing is angelic.

R. L. Vaughn said...

Stephen Pruett, I appreciate your comments and the thoughts they bring out. You write, "I don't know why praying in the spirit and with understanding could not refer to two separate prayers" and "If I assume two different prayers, one in tongues and one with understanding, then Paul advocated a private prayer language."

One reason I think he does not mean two separate prayers is because the context is "when we come together in the church." In verses 12 & 13, we read "Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church. Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret." The Corinthians are urged to seek to build up the church. So "the person who speaks in another language should pray that he can interpret." This seems to be one prayer because of this exhortation. Paul is not advocating two separate prayers, but one that is edifying to the spirit and the understanding.

Now what I see as a correct interpretation does not automatically rule out "private prayer language." But, IMO, it does leave PPL without one of its props. Unless a mistaken, what I am hearing from the advocates of PPL is that it needs no interpretation. Paul is talking about a situation that needs interpretation.

R. L. Vaughn said...

David Rogers, concerning your conclusions:

Your no. 1 statement appears to be plainly what Paul says. But what I hear others saying is "when" rather than "if". IOW, I feel no one has clearly established that he did. He also said "if all speak in tongues," then explicitly said that the public speaking in languages should be two or three, and those one at a time (not "all"). The word "unfruitful" is interesting here, and I must say I am somewhat pressed to understand what Paul meant, when on the one hand he said "He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself" but on the other hand said that his understanding is barren. One explanation, suggested by Storms, is that the edification is outside the realm of understanding.

I guess one thing I don't conceive is that this is used to support private prayer in an angelic language, when Paul was discussing what is done in the church. What doesn't necessarily follow, IMO, is that because Paul uses this argument to support the need for interpretation that there must indeed be an angelic private prayer language.

R. L. Vaughn said...

One more thought for now. I just read Dr. Storms' post, in which he wrote, "Paul wrote that there are various 'kinds' or 'species' of tongues." Unless I am mistaken, these "kinds" he understands as human and heavenly. I am willing to concede that it could mean that, but not that is the only thing it could mean. Is there is any reason that genos COULD NOT mean different families of human language?

Bob Cleveland said...

I think this issue is the sort of which Jim Cymbala wrote in one of his books ... Fresh Faith, I believe it was. He said that we all look at scripture from our perspective .. our preconceived ideas. When we see scripture that supports us, we "Amen" it. When we see scripture which might be at odds with what we think, we ignore it or explain it away as hypothetical, etc.

I think the opinions on tongues will rarely ever be changed by throwing scripture at them. I was on the cessationist side until it happened to me, and even then, I held one view until God showed me some scripture I could not ignore. I had to change my view, again.

Someone said this is a lot like a rocking chair. It gives us something to do, but doesn't take us anywhere. All the arguing and recitation and "defending of the faith" has gotten policies renamed to guidelines. Maybe every little bit helps, but (if tongues is a valid gift today) it sure ain't much.

Wade Burleson said...

R. L. Vaughn,

If tongues were always human language and never an angelic or heavenly language, for what purpose is the gift of 'interpretation' and why would it even be needed. Just send people to language school. But if the heavenly or angelic language is 'unknown' to man, then it would seem to me that the Spirit's gift of interpretation is needed.

Of course, the Bible makes the PUBLIC speaking in tongues a very rare thing indeed. The Apostle Himself, who said he spoke in tongues more than anyone, said it is better to publicly speak five words of understanding than 10,000 public words in an unknown tongue.

Therefore, it would seem to me that God gives the gift of tongues far more than He gives the gift of interpretation of tongues -- because He the interpretation is not needed -- the speaker in tongues is praying, praising or worshipping privately.

Therefore, it would seem to me that the greater burden of proof is upon you proving that tongues is ALWAYS a human language.

The simple, straightforward reading of the Biblical texts related to tongues give every reason to believe that it is ALWAYS linguistic, but sometimes a human language, sometimes an angelic language.

By the way, one of the most helpful things I learned from a Ph.D. Southern Baptist who has the gift of tongues is that the linguistic speaker, whether speaking a human language or a divine language, can always start and stop as He sees fit. He told me there is nothing ecstatic about speaking in tongues. Since I don't have the gift, his words helped me understand those who do, and the abuses of those who pretend to have it but don't.

Bro. Robin said...

Dr. Storms

You are right, none of your arguments make sense to me either and I have extensively read your material. We can go back and forth like Alan and I have, but I find this medium does not allow for understanding like a face to face discussion will.

Thanks and God Bless

Bro. Robin said...

Dr. Storms

I find it interesting that after giving my paper to several people that you and Alan find it confusing. Several have commented on the clarity of it. BTW, I don't think you are dense. I believe a conversation would help clarify our positions.

God Bless

Bro. Robin said...

Sorry Bro. Alan, you said "got lost in my arguments."

Alan Cross said...


I have given you verses. I do not accept your conclusions and you do not accept mine. Obviously, the New Testament scholars who have translated every English version of the Bible do not agree with your conclusions completely either, or else they would have written a more clear translation that could be understood by common people. If you are correct, I have completely lost confidence in English translations of Scripture or my ability to interpret the text. I appreciate all of your work on this and I want to be open to Truth, but I am just not able to agree with your conclusions.

I agree completely with the arguments that Wade and Dr. Storms have made here. I also see no reason to continue to go back and forth on this. As to the relevant verses, we read them differently. You say they are hypothetical and I think that they were describing actual situations based on the context. I do not think that 1 Cor. 14:2 was asserting that someone speaking in a tongue is just uttering mysteries into the air or to the gods. I do think that prayer is in view here. Is there anywhere else that Paul makes the type of argument that you are assigning to him there?

On a more personal note, it is obvious that we are not just in disagreement over this issue, but that we are worlds apart. I wouldn't care about the depth of our disagreement if you were not on a side of the discussion that was saying that I am not actually a Baptist, but I should find some other place to serve and do missions. I would give you complete freedom to believe how you liked on this issue if you would only allow the same for me. But, there is a tide in Southern Baptist life that is turning against people like me. It is turning against people like the late Dr. Gray and Dr. MacGorman from SWBTS. It is turning against people who have a continuationist belief in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, including tongues. I was active in Baptist campus ministry. I went to a Southern Baptist seminary. I was not taught cessationism, semi-cessationism, or dispensationalism. I encountered these teachings, but I was not expected to follow them. I was up front about my perspective on this, and like Jason Epps, I was accepted. I have read nothing in the BF&M against this perspective nor anywhere else officially in Baptist life, except for in the policy manuals of NAMB and the IMB. If the SBC is officially against this, how is anyone to know?

I was up front with my church concerning my beliefs when I was called and I was accepted. The pastor and majority of the church believed the same way. I have served as associate pastor and now lead pastor of that same church for over 7 years. We are in the Deep South. I have other pastor friends in our city who completely agree with me on this issue, and know people on staff with NAMB and the IMB who also agree. I received a phone call from a member of a search team of another church the other day asking if I could recommend him any candidates for pastor. He knew nothing of my involvement in the issue with the IMB or my stand on any of this. In describing his SOUTHERN BAPTIST church, one of his descriptions was that they were not charismatic by any means, but they did believe in the continuation of the gifts of the Spirit, including tongues. I have been in 6 Southern Baptist churches since I first began attending one in 1989 and all of them have had people that have held this belief, from the most traditional church in the deep South, to the West Coast. Since this whole thing has started, I have asked very prominent people in Baptist life what their view on this is, and almost every person has said that they think that the IMB Board of Trustees is wrong to limit people this way. The view that I hold is not rare or on the fringes of Southern Baptist life, but it is prevalent throughout our churches, seminaries, local associations, state conventions, and mission boards. People like me are everywhere. I have met them.

Robin, I do respect you and like you personally, but you give no room for any disagreement. The nature of this discussion because of the stance of the IMB is not just hypothetical. You are on the side of an argument that says that this view is so suspect that it has no place in Southern Baptist life, even if it is strongly regulated. Dr. Patterson called this view "harmful to the churches." I have never tried to convince you to believe the way that I do, but I have only wanted you to respect my beliefs and admit that I was as Southern Baptist as you are. I FULLY affirm your right to be a semi-cessationist, or to have any other position on this issue and participate and lead in Southern Baptist life. It is a non-essential to me. I have only wanted to demonstrate that people who believed this way are not some crazy, lunatic fringe given to ecstatic utterances and strange, unbiblical behavior. I have held out hope that, even with our differences, we could still find common ground to work together as equals within the structures of the SBC. I have clearly failed in my attempts, not to persuade you of my theolgical position, but to persuade you that I was as worthy of service in the SBC as you are. I will try no longer.

I will no longer speak to this issue on the blogs. I am weary of it beyond belief. I want to talk about Jesus. I will now take my case to the SBC in the form of a resolution asking the Convention to make a statement regarding our entities establishing doctrinal parameters on non-essential issues that go beyond the BF&M2000. I understand that I am not alone and that there are several other brothers who are also submitting similar resolutions. One way or another, we will get some type of official response from a body larger than the BoT of the IMB. If it doesn't make it out of committee, I will also have my answer. So, I appeal to the Convention and will trouble you no longer.

Please hear my heart in this. I am not saying any of this to be critical of anyone at all. I only write this way to let people know that what is happening goes far beyond some minor disagreements among brothers. We are talking about exclusion on the basis of interpretations of Scripture over non-essential items. No one should have that much power in the SBC. I am deeply grieved over this issue because I know the effect that this will have on common people if we continue to go in this direction. I am deeply grieved.

Anonymous said...

Rex Ray said…
You said, “There is only one passage in which tongues are explicitly said to be human languages, and that is Acts 2.”

In Acts 2, we figure one or more spoke in language #1, one or more spoke in language #2, and one or more spoke etc.; and everyone heard in their own language.

That makes sense to us, but man’s ways are not always God’s ways.

What if God had everyone speaking in one ‘heavenly language’, but He changed the ears so everyone heard in their own language on this ONE occasion? Can anyone PROVE this is impossible?

Likewise, everyone heard the same SOUND, but only Paul’s ears understood what was said on the Damascus Road.

R. L. Vaughn said...

Wade, to "just send people to language school" to me seems a little flippant, considering that God Himself chose to give His disciples the gift of known human languages rather than send them to language school (Acts 2, 10). Please understand that I don't mean that was your meaning or intent. But from where I'm standing it seems to question what God clearly chose to do in contrast to what you suggest He could do. But your question -- if tongues were always human language for what purpose is the gift of 'interpretation' and why would it even be needed -- is a valid one. For example, on the day of Pentecost there was no interpreter needed. When the disciples spoke in different languages, people were there who spoke those languages and understood them -- no interpreter was needed. As an aside, I think we miss the point if we think that the gift was for the purpose of communication. Those present were Jews and Jewish proselytes and were able to speak with one another in a common language -- Acts 2:7 "And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another..." But back to your point. Ultimately, I would ask whether a heavenly or angelic language unknown to man is the ONLY possible way to explain the need for the Spirit's gift of interpretation? I'm not sure that it would be.

I agree that the Bible "makes the PUBLIC speaking in tongues a very rare thing indeed," and would go further to just say that the gift of languages is rare as far as the Biblical record. In the historical account of the book of Acts, which covers a period of a little over 30 years I think, Luke records only three incidents of speaking in tongues, all of them public. I am by no means suggesting that the record is exhaustive of all the exercises of the gift of languages, but what God chose to have him record is quite interesting, nevertheless. I believe I haven't thought clearly about the Apostle's reference to himself, until you mentioned it. He spoke in tongues more than anyone, but would rather "publicly speak five words of understanding than 10,000 public words in an unknown tongue." Those words would have been interpreted words and not uninterpreted ones, according to the standards Paul sets.

You follow this up saying "Therefore, it would seem to me that God gives the gift of tongues far more than He gives the gift of interpretation of tongues -- because He the interpretation is not needed -- the speaker in tongues is praying, praising or worshipping privately." I'm not sure how you arrive at that conclusion based on Paul's statement in I Corinthians 14:18-19. Would you address this further?

Wade you also said, "it would seem to me that the greater burden of proof is upon you proving that tongues is ALWAYS a human language." If I understand the argument I have tried to make and have not misstated something, I have not undertaken to prove that tongues is always a human language. What I have noted is that I am not satisfied that anyone has proven there is any Biblical record of anyone speaking in a heavenly language (and that the clear examples are human languages). The references that I have seen used as proof are couched in argumentation. For example, wouldn't the conclusion that Paul had spoken in the language(s) of angels based on I Cor. 13 also prove that he had given his body to be burned?

I agree with you that "the simple, straightforward reading of the Biblical texts related to tongues give every reason to believe that it is ALWAYS linguistic," but await further understanding to believe that it was sometimes an angelic language.

I personally don't find the explanation of the Ph.D. Southern Baptist particularly helpful, since I don't know him and have no reason to prefer his experience over someone else that I do know. But I do agree based on what I understand the Bible to teach, e.g. Paul's comment in I Cor. 14:32. But I can understand why some people would look at Acts 2, Acts 10, Acts 19, et al. and think "ecstatic".

Thanks for providing a format for us to discuss this with a number of people with various views. I am finding it very helpful and thought-provoking.

Bob Cleveland said...

WRT the last couple of comments: would it be like God to manifest a gift which required interpretation in a public setting, without manifesting the gift of interpretation too? If that had happened, wouldn't those people have heard in their own dialect (since nobody'd told them what this was that was coming so they didn't know it was interpretation)? And wouldn't they likely have said they were hearing their own language?

Anonymous said...

David 007,
You’re wrong again. I didn’t know of any controversy in the SBC until 1997. In 1979, I was a happy go lucky Baptists, teaching SS, mission trips with kids to the Valley, church league softball and basketball, working with Volunteer Christian Builders, and completed a marathon ‘cold turkey’ trying to prove ‘nutrition.’ (Missed several days work from soreness.) In ’79, I couldn’t believe I wasn’t a ‘conservative.’ I still maintain I’m a TRUE conservative.

Anonymous said...

Rex Ray said...
Sorry, I didn't copy my name.

R. L. Vaughn said...

Bob's questions:
1. Would it be like God to manifest a gift which required interpretation in a public setting, without manifesting the gift of interpretation too?
Seems like He would give both.
2. If that had happened, wouldn't those people have heard in their own dialect (since nobody'd told them what this was that was coming so they didn't know it was interpretation)?
3. And wouldn't they likely have said they were hearing their own language?
Bob, I'm not sure I understand these last two questions. On the day of Pentecost it seems like the multitude heard the disciples speak in languages, heard and understood them in their own dialect without an interpreter. Are you saying some of the disciples were speaking in tongues and some others were interpreting them to the multitude?

Stephen Pruett said...

rl vaughn, Thanks for your comments. I suppose you could be right, but your analysis does not seem to fit verse 28 very well (If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God). Paul could have said the speaker should just keep quiet period. He did not. He said he should keep quiet in church and speak to himself and God. Presumably Paul found something of worth in this private prayer language or he would have discouraged it as he did public tongues.

David Rogers, I tend to find more to agree with in your analysis than in rl vaughn's, but I think both depend to some degree on assumptions and subtle eisegesis.

Therefore, I understand and share the feelings expressed by Alan Cross. This would be enjoyable if it was just a friendly discussion among brothers and sisters trying to reach the best possible interpretation of a difficult doctrine. But that is not what is happening. By virtue of their power (not their exegsis) the BoT of IMB have imposed their interpretation on anyone who wants to be a Southern Baptist missionary. This would include, as Alan points out, many many people who are just as Southern Baptist to the bone as any member of the BoT. These are not wild eyed neo Pentecostals.

Thus, it is very sad that the BoT has made taking their side on this issue a criterion for inclusion as a missionary. As many people have observed, now that this genie is out of the bottle, there is no logical reason to stop with baptism and private prayer language. What about eschatology? What about five points or less than five points? My guess is the only reason Calvinists have not been singled out for exclusion yet is that perhaps the most pre-eminent of them (Dr. Mohler) has been a good friend and supporter of the Resrugence and those who engineered it. I don't expect this situation to last forever. I will predict that within 10 years some action will be taken to let Calvinists know that they are not "real" Baptists. Staying on this track will produce an SBC that eventually consists of two people and a list of 500 essential doctrines upon which they must agree to continue cooperation!

Anonymous said...

Rex Ray said…
You brought up a new idea of interpreters also speaking. If there were 20 dialects that would mean at least 40 were speaking. I don’t think they were taking turns or using one microphone.

What about their manner?...flames of fire on their heads? I’ll bet they were more excited than at any ballgame. They were accused of being drunk. Once they started screaming the praises of God, they didn’t quit to take turns speaking. So how did anyone hear anything except ‘drunks’ making noise?

So, again, I’ll suggest that God changed the ears to hear the noise in their own dialect.

One other point: I’ve heard many foreign languages in many foreign countries, and not one made my hair stand on end like the first time I heard THE ‘unknown tongue.’

And another point: language experts of many nations have studied the ‘unknown tongue’ and none can find a human language like it.

The bottom line is for a lot of Baptists, they won’t believe just as Thomas. Is that right 007?

Stephen Pruett,
Well said.

Bob Cleveland said...

R.L. and Rex: I didn't mean to imply that interpreters spoke. I meant that the hearers, who heard their own languages, had in fact been given that gift. Except there wasn't scripture to tell them what that was, and all they knew was they heard and understood.

And how did the hearers know it wasn't just their own language that was being spoken? If you walk up to me and start speaking English, why would I comment that I was hearing you in my own language? And why would I believe that others were hearing their own (other) language?

Maybe what they were speaking was what Adam and Even spoke in the garden, and what everybody spoke before that Babelgate deal.

Shamgar said...

May I ask that we all, once and for all, drop the adjective “ecstatic” from our descriptions of the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues. I make this appeal to Continuationists and Cessationists alike.

There seems to be a fair amount of irritation on this point. Maybe I am just being naive about its use contextually within this dispute in the SBC. However, I can tell you there are people who believe they are ecstatic utterances, particularly of the pentacostal/charismatic persuasion. And lately I have seen in our own church people who have left that sect for reason X, but still brought many of their beliefs with them and it is starting to impact some baptist churches.

Again, maybe my lack of experience with the "political" side of the SBC/IMB is keeping me from seeing that this is an attempt to mis-represent the continuationist position - but it seems to me like people are getting defensive on this point for nothing. That it would fall in the "if the shoe fits - wear it" category. If you don't believe in it, then great its not an issue.

Bro. Robin said...


You know that I respect you also and that you are a good man. But I wonder what you are thinking when you make statements such as this,

"Obviously, the New Testament scholars who have translated every English version of the Bible do not agree with your conclusions completely either, or else they would have written a more clear translation that could be understood by common people. If you are correct, I have completely lost confidence in English translations of Scripture or my ability to interpret the text,"

Again, I am not trying to be rude, but "if" means "if" not "when." How you get Paul to assert that he speaks in a private prayer language when he makes "if" statements is confusing to me. It seems that you will not see this and I am growing weary of this internet discussion of words. I wish you a hearty Amen my friend and look forward to seeing you in San Antonio.

Then again, I could be wrong considering my MDiv from Southwestern is equivalent to having your head bashed in by a hammer. :-D

David Rogers said...

Stephen Pruett,

What I have written seems clear, from the text, to me. If you can show me where it depends on "assumptions" and "subtle eisegesis," though, I will be happy to take that into consideration.


My point in all of this is directly related to the statement in the ad hoc committee's report that "prayer is to be made with understanding." No longer holding out the argument that there are actual problems on the mission field, this point seems to be the main plank of their argument now.

However, I cannot remember any Scripture that affirms this, with the possible exception of what I consider to be a blatantly erroneous interpretation of 1 Cor. 14:15.

The context of all of ch. 14, as I understand it, is the practice of spiritual gifts during the gathering of the church.

It may be true that v. 15, taken all by itself out of context, may be interpreted two different ways:

1. Praying and/or Singing with both the spirit and the mind in the same prayer and/or song; or

2. Praying and/or singing with the spirit, but not the mind, in one context; and praying and/or singing with the spirit and the mind, or even the mind alone, in other contexts.

However, to me, the context of vv. 14-17, rules out the possibility of legitimate prayer always being both with the spirit and the mind at the same time. These verses clearly say there are times when our minds are "unfruitful," yet, we are indeed praying, praising God, and giving thanks. Nowhere are we told this is a bad thing in and of itself. We are only told that if we do so, in the gathering of the church, others will not be edified, so we should only do it when someone else interprets.

Can anyone show me how the text says something different than this?

Bob Cleveland said...

David: Paul seems to say he will do two different sorts of things. He will pray with his spirit, and he will pray with his mind. He echoes that as to singing.

They seem to be different. Does that make one of them bad?

Are those who deny a prayer language saying that having your spirit fruitful, even if the intellect is not fruitful, is a BAD thing?

Maybe we have too much intellect and not enough Spirit in the churches.

Alan Cross said...


I know that I said that I was done, but I will respond to you on this because it seems necessary. Sorry about my response to the Southwestern joke that Ben made on his site. I did think that his play on imagery was funny as a comment. I do not think that an M.Div. from SWBTS is worthless. Sorry if I gave offense from my comment.

It is obvious that we do not agree on how to interpret Scripture. From my understanding, the "hypothetical" that you claim Paul is using here is a means of instruction. He does it all throughout his writings to prove a point. Context tells you if he means it absolutely, or if he is really just being sarcastic and constructing a situation that will never happen to prove another point. I looked through 1 Corinthians JUST starting in chapter 10 to see the other places that Paul uses "if" to introduce or carry forth an argument. There are many, which I have listed below. In every situation, context tells you what is meant. Context does the same in 1 Cor. 12-14. You are making far to much out of a technicality of Greek grammar and are missing the forest for the trees, in my opinion. The context should inform the use of grammar, not the other way around. Using your method, some could question the validity of the resurrection. But, we know that it is not in question because of the context and Paul's further statements. I believe that to be the case in 1 Corinthians 14 as well.

Again, I think that we both want to be done. I just felt that I needed to answer your last assertion. Here are the other Scripture passages for your perusal. Would you think that Paul was not affirming practices based on the use of a hypothetical in these passages as well?

1 Cor. 10:12 "So, IF you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!"

1 Cor. 10:27-30 "IF some unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. But IF anyone says to you, "This has been offered in sacrifice," then do not eat it, both for the sake of the man who told you and for conscience' sake— the other man's conscience, I mean, not yours. For why should my freedom be judged by another's conscience? IF I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?"

1 Cor. 11:6 "IF a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and IF it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head."

1 Cor. 11:14-16 "Does not the very nature of things teach you that IF a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, but that IF a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. IF anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God."

1 Cor. 11:31 "But IF we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment."

1 Cor. 11:34 "IF anyone is hungry, he should eat at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment."

1 Cor. 15:1-2 "Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, IF you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain."

1 Cor. 15:12-14 "But IF it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? IF there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And IF Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

1 Cor. 15:16-20 "For IF the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And IF Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. IF only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

1 Cor. 15:29 "Now IF there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them?"

You would not dismiss those passages because of other Scriptures and presuppositions. In the same way, I think that presuppositions guide this debate as well.

Colin said...

In the context, Paul is discussing spiritual gifts from 12:1 to 14:40. Be zealous for spiritual gifts, but those that edify the church (14:12)! From 14:1 to 14:34, perhaps 40, he is focusing on a specific issue, with the central verse being 14:20

Pattern: (V5) “Now I wish…” (v6) “BUT,” (v9) “SO UNLESS…” (v13). Pray for interpretation BECAUSE praying only in the spirit renders the mind unfruitful, v14 ti, ou=n evstinÈ or “What then is the outcome- what do we do- how do we deal with this? (Luke 20:17, Acts 21:22, 1 Co 14:15, 26)Pray WITH the Spirit AND WITH the mind (v15)! Why do you say this, Paul? V16-19: “Otherwise” the church is not edified (see verse 12, 26).

Conclusion- pray with the Spirit and the mind.

And then the central verse, verse 20:

Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be babes, but in your thinking be mature.

Not only shall you use your mind, but tongues serve a clear purpose that requires understanding and hearing. How does he back it up? The Septuagint translation of Isaiah 28:11. Just as strange people of unknown tongue delivered God’s message of destruction to Ephraim, so too would judgment be pronounced against the Jews of this day for lack of faith. The unbelievers to whom the gift of tongues served as a sign were the Jews (Acts 2:4-5). OT prophecy was fulfilled – 1 Cor 14:22. Paul interprets this situation in light of Isa. 28:11, which is clearly a foreign tongue- another language of man- that is meant as a sign to the Jews of that day as it was in Isaiah.

David Rogers said...


I agree that he who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret, because praying only in the spirit renders the mind unfruitful. However, as I see it, this is not because praying in the spirit, with the mind unfruitful, is a bad thing in and of itself; but rather because if the mind is unfruitful, no communication able to be understood by others will be taking place, and the others will not be edified.

David Rogers said...


I am trying to follow your reasoning on 1 Cor. 14:20-22. Are you saying that the tongues mentioned there, that are for a sign to the unbelieving, are different than the tongues in v. 14, when the mind is unfruitful? Or are both verses referring to the same phenomenon?

Colin said...


I see no indication that Paul has changed subjects as to the type of tongues. Given the OT reference, unless you believe Paul is reinterpreting the passage, I think it is clearly other human languages. The impetus throughout the OT seems to be that other nations are those "other than" Israel: the Gentiles, or nations grafted in. It seems to me that other tongues is along exactly the same lines.

David Rogers said...


Would you say then, that when God was speaking to the Jews, as referenced in Is. 28:11, with "foreign lips and strange tongues," that the minds of those through whom God was speaking were "unfruitful," just like in 1 Cor. 14:14?

Colin said...

not unless the invaders were attempting to est. a church.

The event is important to Isaiah- fulfilled prophecy.

To us, Paul's interpretation is important. But the interpretation still is that the event is fulfilled prophecy.

David Rogers said...


In that case, according to what you are saying, there evidently is a difference between what is referenced in 1 Cor. 14:14 and what is referenced in Isaiah 28:11.

For me, 1 Cor. 14:14 is much more clear, and should be the key to what was happening in the Corinthian church: the people were praying in a tongue they did not understand, and their minds were unfruitful while they were doing it.

What was prophesied in Isaiah 28:11 may well have involved human languages. But, I do not see the necessity to transpose that to what was happening in Corinth. Is it not possible that they were just similar situations, and not exactly the same situation? And that Paul makes use of a similar (not exactly the same) situation to make a point?

R. L. Vaughn said...

It appears some people are tiring of this discussion. In light of that, I'm going to try and wind down my comments. But I'm not saying I won't post any more. Sometimes I have a real problem exercising my right to remain silent! ;-D

Stephen, I agree that there are some problems with my position re verse 28. But I see some problems with the analysis everyone has given, so the v. 28 problem won't automatically drive me away from what I think I see in I Cor. 14. But I also will continue to look at this for what might be a more consistent overall interpetation. Most of the old commentators give a relatively simple explanation with not too much other detail. For example, Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown: "privately and not in the hearing of others." Verse 28 does seem to be a license to pray in languages in private. It does not speak to whether that language would be human or heavenly.

Bob, thanks for your explanation about the hearers being given the gift. I don't agree, but I misunderstood your other post to mean something other than what you said. Sorry about that.

I used to think that the Pentecost miracle was a miracle in the hearing, but I don't anymore. Luke said it was in the tongues and not in the hearing.

David, I don't think that "prayer is to be made with understanding" can be called "a blatantly erroneous interpretation of 1 Cor. 14:15." But it could be definitely argued that this statement is only meant of the church gathering. Re that gathering of the church, Paul says I will pray with the Spirit and with understanding. I don't see how we can take his intent to be anything else than praying BOTH with the spirit AND with understanding for the church gathering, since Paul at the least restricts any "in languages only" prayer from being used in the church gathering. That in and of itself does not prove there cannot be something else outside of the church gathering.

Alan, I am at somewhat of a disadvantage since I have not seen Robin's paper and don't know his specific line of argument. But I think the main point is this. In the absence of other evidence, should a hypothetical stand alone as proof of the point? As I've already pointed out, there are two of them right in the immediate context of First Corinthians 14 that indicate that Paul was making a point but did not want the Corinthians to run to the full extent of the words being used. For example, "If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues" (14:23) compared to 14:27 "If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret." Or again, "But if all prophesy..." (14:24) compared to "Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace." (14:29,30)

Colin said...


I do not think Paul is just using the reference in passing as a similar situation. I believe a theological point is being made, irrespecive of the differences in the event (the situation and the fact that the foreigners in Isaiah knew their language, therefore no unfruitfulness). The point is that the prophecy would be fulfilled in the exile, and in Paul's day, both using foreign tongues to testify to God's plan all along as being to Israel then to the nations. There is no reason in the text to think these are anything other than foreign tongues that the speaker does not know, as opposed to angelic tongues no one knows. At least I don't see it.

Stephen Pruett said...

David Rogers, Upon re-reading your post, I do not disagree with any of your four points. However, on the overall issue of the nature of tongues and their appropriate use, I mostly find myself agreeing with the position expressed by you, Alan, and others. However, some of the arguments in opposition are difficult to refute definitely. It comes down to how one takes an "if", for example. Although I think Alan's take is more convincing, I cannot rule out robin's with complete certainty. Perhaps my scientific background is showing through. I am accustomed to being able to determine the correct position definitively by either interpreting experimental results or doing more experiments to obtain indisputable evidence. In comparison, I cannot see how is it possible to make definitive conclusions about all matters relating to tongues.

In my opinion this only provides a stronger reason that this issue should not be used as a criterion of cooperation. If we can't agree to disagree on this, I am not sure if we can about anything. If we can't, I think the SBC is a dead organization walking.

rl vaughn, Thank you for your gracious response.

Boyd Luter said...

I put this is the wrong thread earlier. My bad!

Wade and others,

Obviously, what I said got lost in the shuffle of the interaction which has been between Sam, Alan and Robin for the most part. That's perfectly fine. But, it appears that they may be failing to see the forest for the trees.

As I said in answer to a question on the panel in Arlington, the way people interpret biblical passages today is going to be significantly affected by at least the following areas:
- Cultural Leanings (Are you still a Modernist with a closet anti- supernatural suspicion, if not bias, or are you young enough to where you grew up with at least a mild Postmodernist bent, even if you didn't know what it is?)
- Colored Lenses (Did you come to the text having been taught by your highly respected pastor/ mentor/professor/"hero" [or all the above] that a certain view was true, and who are you to think otherwise?)
- Comfort Zone (Are you fearful of change or being "out of control" or even scared of the Holy Spirit?)
- Controlling Passages (They function this way: "That passage can't possibly mean that, because I've already made my decision on this doctrine from this other passage [or passages], which fit my preconceived notion.")
Bottom line here: You guys, all of whom I really like, and all of whom are passionately convinced of your positions, are not going to change the other's views... at least not much, unless something shifts significantly in one or more of the four categories above.
I wish it wasn't so, but it is.

Here's the only other thing I think is worth saying here: Alan,
I think you are wrong that a tide is turning against you. If anything, I think there are signs the opposite is happening, though slower than you would want.

Here's what I think you are reacting to: You didn't hear this argument played out at Golden Gate, and you didn't become really aware of things until the recent IMB controversy. In that regard, these "guidelines" sound ominous to you.

But, the other side of the story is that the SBC has been heavily Cessationist behind the scenes right on along, although almost no official stances were taken (either because nobody wanted to mess with the BFM for so long, or because it was not thought that anything even needed to be done).

Now, however, the issues--although I would agree with Wade that they are 3rd tier doctrinal areas--are front and center because of the IMB BoT's 2005 decisions and because evangelical Christianity in many parts of the world, which is unquestionably growing much faster than in North America, is also unquestionably Charismatic. And, what has just happened?

Was it a setback? Yes, but nothing at all like the type or number William Wilberforce et al had to absorb on the way to their final victory in the British Parliament.

You see, after the first CR generation, in which many, if not most, of the leaders and lieutenants were left-over Cessationists more or less of the Criswell variety, things have now BEEN changed, first slightly by the recognition in 2005 that there may be such a thing as legit. tongues, then this week by the elimination of the previous statement "The majority of Southern Baptist churches do not practice glossalalia." W.A. Criswell and his followers would have been scandalized even by the quasi-Semi-Cessationist wording in 2005 and completely dumbfounded by the elimination of the "majority" statement in 2007 (which adds up to Semi-Cessationist/Semi-Continuationist exegetical conclusions, even if the application of them is Dogmatic Cessationist, due to the narrower Fundamentalist desire to hold the fort.

It would appear that the IMB Trustees are smart enough to see the writing on the wall long-term.
The make-up of the SBC is clearly getting less Cessationist with every passing year and even the new BoT policy at SWBTS is unlikely to change that much, given how many other SBC educational options exist and SWBTS's trending decline in numbers and impact for some time now (Does anyone remember not that long ago when SWBTS was considered the SBC flagship and the idea of her enrollment [which did not then include the College] dropping below 4,000 seemed totally ludicrous?). Thus, the IMB trustees' ad hoc committee definitely had their job cut out for them: 1) Put their finger in the dike in the face of of an increasingly less Cessationist and more Continuationist (though not necessarily Charismatic) SBC; 2) while facing the facts that the only even partly Cessationist position they can still make a straight-faced case for exegetically is Semi-; 3) but having to "save face" with those who got them their appointments by maintaining what appears to be a hard-nosed Cessationist practical stance (and even that has moderated somewhat).

We must face this fact: Meaningful change is almost always hard and very seldom quick. But, from a "big picture" standpoint, the glass is half full if, for no other reason than, the IMB BoT, representing the SBC, a people of "the Book," have updated their exegesis reflecting a generational reality and toned down their negative implications and practical outworkings. And, for that same reason, the glass is half empty for the shrinking Cessationist ranks in SBC life. They no longer have the unquestioned large majority of the churches and they no longer have a prevailing, if unofficial, "close the door completely" exegetical stance in their favor. And, frankly, with the virtual admission that there are no real problems on this front in the missionary force on the field, they do not have a whole lot left there either. And, if the new "guidelines" were only passed by a 3/4 majority on a seemed to be a fairly well stacked board, there would appear to be reason to hope that this is not the last time these issues will be heard by this Board in the foreseeable future.

Just let the heat (it's only "righteous indignation" if short term [Eph. 4:26-27]) level die down and the light [loving wisdom] level gain its equilibrium and things may look at least a tad different, Boyd

Anonymous said...

Rex Ray said…
David, Colin, R.I. Vaughn, & whom it may concern,

Suppose you were to explain what a gun could do to someone that lived in the bow & arrow age. One way is to spend time explaining gun powder, the bullet, the rifle, etc.

Another way is to shoot a bear 200 yards away.

It seems you are explaining the Bible like the gun which only confuses the bow & arrow guy.

Why not listen to someone who has shot the bear?

Tell them Bob!

David Rogers said...


Once again, I don't see how you can use vv. 21-22 as the gauge for determining what tongues in Corinth were like, and ignore v. 14 that plainly says "If I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful." Okay, what if this is only hypothetical (which does not seem to the case to me)? We would still have two different uses of the term "tongues" in the same passage, without any hermeneutical clue given as to when Paul meant one type of tongues, and when he was talking about another, perhaps merely hypothetical type of tongues. That seems like a pretty big stretch to me.

David Rogers said...


Yes, it would appear some people are tiring of this conversation. But, for some reason, several of us keep posting on it. In my case, it is because there are some things I think I see quite clearly that for some reason other people are not able to see so clearly. I think Boyd's comment probably shines a lot of light on why this is the case: presuppositions guiding interpretation. I do not want to be so arrogant as to claim I come to the table without my own presuppositions, though.

In any case, I did not mean to communicate that "prayer is to be made with understanding" is necessarily "a blatantly erroneous interpretation of 1 Cor. 14:15." What I am saying is that "prayer is ALWAYS to be made with understanding" seems to me to be "a blatantly erroneous interpretation of the context of 1 Cor. 14:15, most specifically, vv. 14-17. To me, vv. 14, 16 & 17 (when read in context) prove there is something else outside of "in languages only prayer" that may take place outside of the church gathering.

David Rogers said...


I definitely agree with you that "this issue should not be used as a criterion of cooperation." Although I see some things in this text, according to my current perspective, quite clearly, that has not always been the case for me. Admittedly, 1 Cor. 14 is a complicated text to understand in a lot of ways. What bothers me most is using what I consider to be a highly questionable interpretation of a passage such as v. 15 as the main justification of something such as disallowing missionary candidates. If I am convinced I see this passage is saying something completely different, I don't think I should let that just pass by.

David Rogers said...

Boyd and Rex (whom I understand to be making a similar point),

I imagine you are right on the question of perspective. And Rex, I'm sure Bob does have some important things to teach us on this, and already has chimed in from time to time with some interesting points.

However, I don't think that means we should just "lay low" regarding what we understand a careful interpretation of Scripture to actually be saying. As Baptists, supposedly that is our bottom line: what does Scripture actually say?

Anonymous said...

Rex Ray said…
I agree with you 100%, but while Bob should be sleeping, let me take a shot at the bear.

“No, I don’t qualify to come to a ‘Full Gospel Business Man’s Meeting’, because I’m not a business man.”

“You don’t have to be a business man; you’d be more than welcome.”

That was the extent of my knowledge about tongues. At the meeting, the speaker told of meeting a stranger. His wife that he loved had kicked him out, and his girlfriend said she would kill him if he left her. He decided to end it by filling a half bottle of coke with poison. He brought his coke to the speaker’s table and said, “You have a friendly face, do you mind if I tell you my problems?”

At the table, the speaker led him to the Lord, and with head still bowed, the saved man held up one finger. So the speaker prayed one more prayer. A few days later the man said he told the girl he had accepted Jesus, and he was going to beg forgiveness from his wife. She told him he was crazy and never wanted to see him again. With a smile from ear to ear, he said his wife forgave him and Jesus in his life was wonderful.

In the middle of the story, my hair raised up on my neck, as I heard the weirdest words in all my life. Everyone but me bowed their heads and after a long silence they told the guy he was out of order as no one received a ‘message’ of what his words meant.

To this day, I never told anyone the ‘message’ was the Lord wanted me to know what the meeting was all about.

Later, a lawyer told me when he had a difficult case were opposing lawyers were twisting truth, he prayed to God to help him, and then he prayed in tongues as it cheered him up and cleared his mind. He said his wife didn’t believe in tongues and it hurt their marriage. I said to myself, then that’s not for me

Bro. Robin said...


I endeared myself to you when I first met you in December and you told me of the struggles your son was having. I praise God that he is on the mends.

I could respond to your last comment, but I feel that it would only show others our disagreement over this issue rather than what we have in common. We are both pastors with families, and I thank God that I have not had to endure what your family has had to with your son.

We both want the light of Christ to shine in our own personal lives and in the life of our respective churches. We both want the light of Christ to shine in our convention. Be both try our best to be faithful to the scriptures when we preach.

I look forward to seeing you again. I lift all your children up so that they grow to maturity in Christ and follow Him all the days of your life.

Thanks again for your kindness towards me.

God Bless

Colin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alan Cross said...


I agree that we have far more in common than we disagree on. I also want to begin to focus on our areas of common agreement. As I have said, if it were not for the IMB guidelines that use this issue to exclude, I never would have brought this issue up with anyone. But, then I would not have met so many wonderful, Godly pastors like yourself and others that I have disagreed with, but have learned to respect. Thank you for your kind words and spirit. May God richly bless each of us as we sincerely seek to follow Him.

Grace and Peace to you.

Colin said...


I think v21-22 is more than a passing reference. I am not persuaded by this passage that tongues is an angelic language, though I would like to read a full treatment of the OT fulfilled prophecy in this passage. I am listening here more than talking, however. I admittedly will be studying this more in depth to finalize my opinion, though I disagree with Luter's analysis of controlling presuppositions. If you want a little more insight into my way of thinking, I have not been able to reconcile fighting for PPL while denying 1 Cor 14:39- it seems you need to take them both or leave them both to be consistent.

R. L. Vaughn said...

Bro. David,

I agree. Part of the reason I keep posting is because, like you, "there are some things I think I see quite clearly that for some reason other people are not able to see so clearly." There is a certain amount of frustration in such circumstances. But if the persons such as you and I believe the Bible, there is the possibility of both of us benefitting by being called to really think about what we're saying.

You write, "What I am saying is that 'prayer is ALWAYS to be made with understanding' seems to me to be a blatantly erroneous interpretation of the context of 1 Cor. 14:15, most specifically, vv. 14-17." I agree that those statements alone do not lead to the conclusion ALWAYS. But I must conclude that in context of what Paul was discussing -- the church gathering -- that he did have in mind one prayer -- with spirit and understanding -- because he was discussing how to pray in the church gathering. When you write, "To me, vv. 14, 16 & 17 (when read in context) prove there is something else outside of 'in languages only prayer' that may take place outside of the church gathering" it makes he think my usage was confusing. I use "languages" as synonymous with "tongues". So, if I understand correctly, you do believe "in languages only" (i.e. in tongues only) prayer can take place outside the church gathering.

May I also ask -- it seems that when you have referenced the mind/understanding being "unfruitful" (v. 14) you are connecting this to praying in a heavenly or angelic language. Is this correct or am I misunderstanding? Wouldn't the understanding be just as unfruitful with a human language one does not know, as with a heavenly or angelic language?

Both you and Colin mention Boyd Luter's controlling presuppositions. I was going to pass on those, but y'all have brought my mind back to them.

I'm not so naive as to reject the fact that we come to the study of the Bible with certain presuppositions. But I think we must also be careful to not run amuck with a wrong impression of how controlling this is. Every day someone allows the Bible to overcome and control their presuppositions. I've heard a few preachers proudly proclaim how they've never changed, but as for me, I've been on a 30-year journey that includes God through His word changing my belief system from one thing to another. Mostly it is gradual, but sometimes sudden. Accordingly, I try to consistently credit that my dear brethren hold their beliefs because they believe the Bible teaches them.

A few thoughts on the four presuppositions: I find that there exists a healthy minority of Baptists whose cultural leanings (rural, backwater, Appalachian, et al.) predispose them toward the supernatural -- yet they reject the idea of speaking in tongues. My upbringing mixed a dose of cessationism re tongues, while believing, for example, that preachers received direct calls from God and preached by the "inspiration" of the Holy Spirit (not much cessation in that). When thinking of colored lenses, I note my own experience also includes preachers/pastors/mentors who preached and taught with zeal against some things I hold today (e.g. anointing with oil, feet washing). I remember preachers couldn't hardly mention feet washing without going into a diatribe against its literal practic. Now one could say that I changed in these areas because I was predisposed to Biblical literalism, but that doesn't well explain my ditching dispensational premillennialism for a sort of figurative millennialism. And comfort zone -- try and see how washing some other guys feet challenges your comfort zone! As to controlling passages -- that may be the most difficult, because there is a tension here between on the one hand allowing clear passages to interpret less clear ones and, on the other hand, allowing that our interpretation of the "clear passages" might be wrong. Realize "controlling passages" may or may not have anything to do with "preconceived notions" (as a starting point). We should be very careful to realize that we can be guided by our presuppositions, but also careful to not imply that most Christians are hidebound by them.

And as a side note, Luter's list of controlling presuppositions seem to hint that he is predisposed to think that those not holding tongues for today are more predisposed to be controlled to their predispositions! [Note his comments on Cultural leanings and Comfort zone]

David Rogers said...


I'm not sure I follow you on 1 Cor. 14:39. Could you explain yourself? And I hope I am not "fighting" for PPL. I am doing my best to try to explain what I understand Scripture to say, and why I think so.

David Rogers said...


I will concede that there is a good possibility that "in context of what Paul was discussing -- the church gathering -- that he did have in mind one prayer -- with spirit and understanding -- because he was discussing how to pray in the church gathering." However, I don't see the alternate reading of "with the spirit" on some occasions, and "with the mind" on other occasions, as being impossible.

My intention in these comments is not to address directly the question of "angelic" or "human" languages, though I have addressed that in other places. I am not hung up on the term "angelic" or "heavenly" language. I even sort of lean to the interpretation of 1 Cor. 13:1 "tongues of angels" as hypothetical. However, it seems to me that the "different kinds of tongues" in 12:10 definitely leaves open the possibility of something beyond just "human languages."

My big point here, however, is that legitimate prayer is not always to be made with understanding. I guess it is possible to be praying in a human language previously unknown to you, by the miraculous intervention of the Holy Spirit, and your mind "unfruitful" at the same time. However, the wording of the Ad Hoc Committee report seems to rule out that possibility as well.

That is my main point. The report has as its main doctrinal justification a statement that, at least as I understand it, is blatantly erroneous, when you examine Scripture closely.

Colin said...

I will affirm controlling presuppositions, like the inerrancy of Scripture, God's control in the canonical process, the supremacy of the text and the author's interpretation of events, etc.

Also, on 14:39, I do not think it is consistent to forbid the practice of tongues while affirming the practice of PPL. I am not saying you are doing this.

R. L. Vaughn said...

David, I agree that "different kinds of tongues" in I Cor. 12:10 leaves open the possibility of one kind being human languages and another kind being something else. However, I guess this is where I default back to the "controlling passages" -- that is, the Acts passages (chs. 2, 10) seem to be fairly clearly human languages. I also see no reason why different families of human language couldn't answer the "kinds" of 12:10. And, like you, I figure the "tongues of angels" as used in of 1 Cor. 13:1 is hypothetical.

When you mention "that legitimate prayer is not always to be made with understanding," I suppose we might wonder whether we actually understand all we pray in our native tongues! (Rom. 8:26)

Bob Cleveland said...

When someone raises the issue of different kinds of tongues, I think of Paul's statement that speaking in unknown tongues is speaking only to God, and I ask the obvious question: are there different kinds of talking to God?