Tongue in cheek…Lifeland/AG

January 28, 2006

If you are just joining this discussion, it is imperative that you read the following posts before proceeding here:

Tongue in cheek…or not?

Tongue in cheek…IMB

Tongue in cheek…CMA

To summarize, I am addressing the issue of tongues (the spiritual gift) and its use in modern Christianity. As I understand Scripture, tongues were not intended to remain beyond the apostolic age and the completion (perfection) of the canon of Scripture. I do not, however, attempt dogmatism (at this point in time) in reference to these issues; the last thing I want to do is entirely discredit something that God might be the cause of. Let’s continue.

If you have followed the blog, you will know that my family visited with Lifeland Community Church this past Sunday. Lifeland is somewhat associated (I don’t know exactly how closely) with the Assemblies of God (USA). I am not intending to be polemical against my friends, but I do have some concern with the positions of the AGs.

The AGs are very pro-tongues. They see them as valid for congregational worship and private prayer. Thankfully, they do not say that one must speak in tongues to be saved. However, everyone who is “filled with the Spirit” will evidence speaking in tongues:

There are those who give testimony to a dynamic and life-changing encounter with the Holy Spirit who have never spoken in tongues. Nevertheless it cannot be said that they are filled with the Spirit in the New Testament sense of the term. (link)

I suppose I must take this personally. You see, I have never spoken in tongues. I am certainly not the most spiritual person I know, but I would like to think I have reached a greater spiritual maturity than the one who has only come to knowledge of salvation for a few days or hours or minutes. Furthermore, there are farther-reaching ramifications of this statement. If it is true that tongues is a definite evidence of Spirit filling, then Billy Graham, Rick Warren, John Piper [I have since discovered that Piper is a Continuationist], Jonathan Edwards, Martin Luther, and certainly many others have never been filled with the Spirit (I cannot attest that every one of these individuals have not had or did not have such an experience, but to the best of my knowledge, they would have likely chronicled it to some extent).

The AGs do have their own little disclaimer that might explain why the aforementioned (including myself) have never experienced tongues:

The believer must (1) have a clear understanding of the biblical base for promised gifts; (2) be touched in his heart with a desire for the gifts to flow; (3) be willing to submit to the inner sense that the Spirit is seeking expression; and (4) offer to the Holy Spirit his heart, emotions, will, and voice by which those gifts may operate. The key is obedient availability coupled with a sincere desire to please God. (link)

However, does this mean that having a “clear understanding of the gifts” is foundational for being “filled with the Spirit”? I am quite sure that tongues is not mentioned nor implied in the Ephesians 5 reference to being filled with the Spirit. For a reminder:

…be filled with the Spirit. 19Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Eph. 5:18b-20, NIV)

There is a list of other questions that might be asked by the curious on the AG’s website. You can find those here: Other question

Finally, I will still say that tongues are a non-essential; especially if you do not require their practice as evidence of salvation. I can gladly fellowship with my AG brothers and sisters in Christ. I will not appreciate that they might judge me as never having been “filled with the Spirit,” but I would think that many AG believers would recognize the error in being dogmatic in that theology.

I have a few more posts I would like to make on this subject, although I am not sure where I would like to go next.

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One Response to “Tongue in cheek…Lifeland/AG”

  1. […] Today, I am on the fence. I am certainly not convinced by the arguments of cessationism; however, I am not thoroughly convinced by the argument of continationists (although I do recognize now that they have an argument). You know what would be the clencher? I would be overwhelmingly convinced if I just broke out into some tongue-speak right now. Is that possible? (please forgive any irreverancy) The Assemblies of God website shares this insight: The believer must (1) have a clear understanding of the biblical base for promised gifts; (2) be touched in his heart with a desire for the gifts to flow; (3) be willing to submit to the inner sense that the Spirit is seeking expression; and (4) offer to the Holy Spirit his heart, emotions, will, and voice by which those gifts may operate. The key is obedient availability coupled with a sincere desire to please God. (link) (previously referenced here) […]

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