Jerry Corbaley blogs at Think the Thoughts.
I tend to agree with Dave Miller’s post on the ‘extremes’ of the Continuationist/Cessationist discussion. I am not at either extreme. I am not a cessationist. I am a continuationist though I am skeptical at times. I would like to offer the following exposition of several key Biblical passages and offer an application. I would appreciate anyone who can help me see the issues in a clearer way. Thanks in advance.
“…do not forbid speaking in tongues.” 1 Corinthians 14:39b ESV
To me, that is a very clear statement. It totally prevents me from forbidding someone from speaking in tongues. Further, it is in the immediate context of…
“If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 14:37 ESV
To me, that makes an already clear statement extremely authoritative. It is such a strong emphasis that…
“If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized.” 1 Corinthians 14:38 ESV
“If he ignores this, he himself will be ignored.” 1 Corinthians 14:38 NIV
So, my urgent counsel to everyone is that you not forbid speaking in tongues. By my reading, if you do ignore this command of the Lord, the faithful have instruction to ignore you, to refuse to recognize you. I do not see that it would matter if the authority figure who forbids speaking in tongues was a teacher, a pastor, or a board of trustees.
Now, a private prayer language is often equated with the following passage…
“But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God.” I Corinthians 14:28
I have no doubt that practitioners of private prayer language want to be faithful to God, to keep in step with the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:25), and to cooperate (and not resist) the manifestation of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:7), as it says here…
“If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” Galatians 5:25 ESV
“To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” 1 Corinthians 12:7
Therefore (correct me if I’m wrong), practitioners of private prayer language should “keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God”, after they have spoken publicly in church to see if there is an interpreter present. It seems to me, that the manifestation of tongues must (at least occasionally) be uttered vocally in church so that those who have the spiritual gift of interpretation of tongues will have an opportunity to contribute their faithfulness.
Further (I am still willing to be corrected), even if there is no interpreter present on a given Sunday, they should still express their gift vocally in church from time to time in case a new member has the gift of interpretation, or an existing member receives such gift.
It is difficult for me to understand why someone who has been given a gift for the good of the church would refuse to share that gift, with the result that someone who has been given the gift of interpretation is denied the opportunity to express their gifting.
If the previous exposition is accepted by a Christian, then they should obey God, and refuse to recognize (ignore) anyone who forbids them from speaking in tongues. I fully believe this. I have respect for anyone who puts their action where they say their faith is.
The consequences of the above proposal would cause a stir in the churches. But if that is how God has gifted you, then do what he says.
The options seem very limited. Advocate speaking in tongues. Forbid speaking in tongues. Or decide that the American expression of private prayer language is not Biblical glossolalia.