“Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” (1 Peter 3:15)
Let me state at the outset that we will not be abusive. But inasmuch as the writer has prayerfully and impartially weighed the matter, mingled with and preached occasionally for Pentecostal people in this and foreign countries for nearly thirty years, we ought to come to a conclusion and be ready to give a “reason” for either accepting or rejecting the movement in part or as a whole.
We do not for one moment deny that there is a gift of tongues, for the Word plainly states that there is. One might as well deny the other gifts of the Spirit as to deny this one. We who claim to be thoroughly Biblical must be careful lest, in denouncing error, we become harsh and grieve the Holy Spirit. I would not dare do as many brethren, who denounce the entire Tongues movement as of the devil. I have found some of these people nearer heaven than some who oppose them.
Yes, I am a strong believer in speaking in tongues. In fact, we go further than most of those in the movement. For while they hold that only one class (those who have received their Baptism) speak in tongues, we hold that there are at least three classes:
(1) Those who have the genuine thing as they had at Pentecost; where “multitudes” of “every nation” are “confounded” because they hear and understand in their “own tongue.” We would welcome such a manifestation.
(2) A second class speak in tongues, but are evidently like those in the church at Corinth—“yet carnal,” (1 Corinthians 3:3) They have some grace with more or less carnality. I have listened reverently while they uttered something—no one knew what. But since there was no interpreter, “believers” were not “edified,” nor did unbelievers fall down on their faces and worship God (1 Corinthians 14:25). Therefore, I fear it was a cheap imitation of the real gift.
(3) A third class are those who are entirely void of grace. They are those particularly bright stars who attract attention and have great gifts; they are borne on in a gale and overwhelm by their eloquence. Like a meteor, they blaze and flare out with bold confidence and sometimes vehemence. Yet these same enthusiasts are unkind at home, unclean in private life, and unscrupulous in money matters. Hence they are without saving grace. That which appears supernatural about them is in reality demoniacal and from beneath. More will be said of this later.
In this discussion we do not have time to treat fully the doctrinal phase of the subject, but wish to quote from an “Open Letter” by one of the former leaders in the Pentecostal movement, F. F. Bosworth:
After eleven years in the work on Pentecostal lines, during which time it has been my pleasure to see thousands receive the precious Baptism in the Holy Spirit, I am absolutely certain that many do not receive the manifestation of speaking in tongues. And I am just as certain, on the other hand, that many who seemingly speak in tongues, are not, nor ever have been, baptized in the Spirit.
The day of Pentecost witnessed the grandest and most effective display of the gift of tongues that the world has ever seen. God’s purpose was that it should be “a sign,” (1 Corinthians 14:22) not to believers, but to the unbelieving Jews dwelling at Jerusalem “out of every nation under heaven.” (Acts 2:5) And God’s purpose was most wonderfully realized, for three thousand unbelieving Jews were, by the fact that these Galileans spoke in their own language, forced to believe that Jesus was actually the Messiah. Perhaps there was no other sign that God could have manifested so effectively under these circumstances as the speaking in tongues.
Eight years later Peter and the six Jewish brethren who accompanied him to the household of Cornelius were, with all other Jews, unbelievers as to the Gentiles being included in the privileges of the Gospel. So God made the gift of tongues a sign to them, thus convincing them to their astonishment, that “God also to the Gentiles [hath] granted repentance unto life.” (Acts 11:18) Later when Peter returned to Jerusalem, he rehearsed the matter from the beginning and closed his argument by saying, “As I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning.” (Acts 11:15) If all the multiplied thousands saved and baptized with the Spirit during that wonderful revival period of eight years between the second chapter and the tenth chapter of Acts; if they all spoke in tongues, why did Peter say “As on us at the beginning”? He could just as well have said, “As He has been baptizing all since the beginning.” If it was well-known that all received the gift of tongues with the baptism during those eight years, why should he point back to the time they spoke in tongues on the day of Pentecost?
The facts are that it is unscriptural to teach that they all received that one manifestation, and this is the force of all of Paul’s argument to the Corinthians. He uses the illustration of the human body and its members and asks, “If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing?” (1 Corinthians 12:17) etc. And then to make it still more emphatic, he asks, “Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?” (1 Corinthians 12:29-30) Of course the answer to each of these questions is “No!” In other words, Paul is distinctly saying that all are not teachers, and all do not speak in tongues.
Teaching that tongues is the evidence of the baptism in the Spirit makes it a sign to believers, whereas Paul distinctly says that it is not a sign to the believer, but to the unbeliever (1 Corinthians 14:22). If made a sign to the seeker for the baptism it not only leaves no place for faith, but on the other hand destroys faith already divinely given. After God has most powerfully baptized the seeker, someone will tell him that he has not yet received the Holy Ghost because he did not speak in tongues. This destroys his faith and sends him home discouraged, to continue his seeking, as some have for several years.
It is a notable fact that many of the deepest and best teachers and preachers in the Pentecostal movement have the poorest success in getting seekers through to speaking in tongues. The reason is they are too conscientious to use the “Glory-glory-say-it-a-little-faster” and other similar methods which have made some of the shallowest and most fanatical workers, apparently most successful. Proper instruction will in every instance bring the baptism in the Holy Spirit, but it will not always bring the manifestation of tongues.
[Fred F. Bosworth; Do All Speak With Tongues—An Open Letter to the Ministers and Saints of the Pentecostal Movement]
There are various factions and contradictory beliefs among these people; nevertheless, we have found many good and sincere souls in the movement. Our charge is not so much against the laity as the leaders. We charge them with misrepresentation:
(1) They disown their true name—“The Tongues Movement.” Not so with other movements. The early “Christians” were not ashamed of their epithet, for they followed the Christ-man. The early “Quakers” accepted their name, for they believed in so much power that sinners quaked and trembled. The “Methodists” were methodical in seeking and practicing religion. The “Baptists” magnified water baptism. Why, then, should the Tongues people object to a name that rightly represents their chief tenet? For, mark you, no one is fully recognized as having received the baptism with the Holy Ghost unless somewhere, somehow, he muttered at least one word in what was supposed to be another tongue.
(2) They declare loudly that they do not urge people to seek the gift of tongues, but rather “their Pentecost.” This is evasive. For, no matter how one is exercised while seeking, he is never encouraged to believe that he has received his “Baptism” until he has the “sign”—tongues. This, then, is the objective, the shibboleth, and why deny or camouflage the fact?
(3) They overestimate the actual result. They report hundreds and sometimes thousands as healed or baptized, but upon close investigation a few weeks later the “remarkable cases” dwindle to a small proportion. It seems there is an itching for publicity and, incidentally, gold coin. All of this represents carnality and misrepresents Jesus.
I do not know that any one man has ever been entrusted with all the nine gifts of the Spirit at the same time—the last and least one being that of tongues (1 Corinthians 12:7-11). But I do know that every well-saved man has all the nine graces, as recorded in Galatians 5:22-23, the first and greatest being that of love.
And now for the five reasons: Why does not the writer seek the gift of tongues?