Claiming Tongues are Satanic

toungesFundamentalists not only believe that the sign gifts of acts have ceased, they also believe that those who practice tongues, prophecy, and healing gifts in the modern church are actually empowered by dark forces of evil. To prove this point beyond a shadow of a doubt, there is a great illustration that has been floating around fundamentalist circles for about forty years now that goes something like this…

A missionary from some faraway dark place that is just lousy with demon activity comes back home from the field and goes to a church service where people are speaking in tongues. As he listens suddenly he turns white as a ghost and yells at everybody to stop because unbeknownst to them they have been blaspheming fluently in a foreign language!!!

The key here is that the language must be very obscure and known only to the missionary who tells the story. The devil is sneaky enough not to make people blaspheme in something so common as Spanish or Italian. It must be some strange  dialect that is only known to a few natives in some place like Africa,  China, or Boston.

But no matter how apocryphal the circumstances there’s no doubt in any fundamentalist mind that such a thing could happen and indeed probably did happen. Who knows? One supposes that if an infinite number of charismatics held and infinite number of services anything is possible.

19 thoughts on “Claiming Tongues are Satanic”

  1. The word ‘tongues’ in the title is spelled with an extra ‘u’.

    And is it just me, or is it strange that this untraceable, unsupported anecdotal tale will penetrate a Fundie’s bullshit filter, but evidence the Earth is over 6000 years old gets the cold shoulder?

    Their BS filters must be set on reverse or something.

  2. The sad thing is that I lived most of my young adult and early career life thinking this way. I vehemently opposed a young Pentecostal on my first ship because he claimed to have a “prayer language”. To be fair, he thought I was going to hell too!

    We learned to work together, however, and had a great ministry on the ship. We’re even still friends today! He’s still Pentecostal, and I’m still Baptist. It just works!

  3. I remember being “taught” moreso told this about how speaking tongues is something dead now a couple years back. However, it never made sense. Not surprising, seeing everything they said made no sense, and everything they tried to say to “back it up” pretty much developed NO point at all. Go fundies

  4. I’m not sure that some of the more extreme charismatic practices have much biblical basis, but saying a particular practice isn’t biblical is a far cry from saying it is demonic. But then, to many people anything that they don’t believe in is “of the devil.”

    1. And that’s the point, Jamie. There are perfectly good arguments to be made for cessationism. But we can do it without the scare tactics and spurious arguments from unsourced anecdotes.

      It’s just silly.

  5. The church I work for chooses to respect congregants’ choices to practice tongues in their own private worship time. The explanation: the doctrines surrounding speaking in tongues is divisive to the Church, and we choose to maximize the things that unite (the Gospel, Jesus Christ, love, service, social justice, music, media, arts) and minimize the things that divide.

    Check out what Dever said on unity:

    Which leads me to a rabbit trail. . . have you ever noticed how Fundies wave the flag of biblical separation as though it were the banner of God’s Kingdom itself?

  6. or Boston, I love it!!!!!!!!Born Pentecostal convert to Catholicism…….Where we do believe in the sign gifts.

  7. Greetings,
    I heard of this happening on the UFM complex in Belem, Brazil. The person who told me about was a Wycliffe missionary who later became a Word of Life Missionary here in the Amazon. A woman was praying in her “prayer language” and a gardener (who was Japonese) understood the comments (Jesus Christ being cursed in Japonese) reported it to the leadership at the mission property. Sorry about the typos. I also know about a person who saw it happen in Thomas Road Baptist Church about 15 years ago.
    For what it is worth.

    1. So person A heard this, reported it to group B, where it was learned by person C and then reported on to you, person D?

      That’s a lot of degrees of separation.

  8. Actually in the second case, I and others in my church was C. The first case, probably the same. I wonder what letter Paul was in 1 cor. 1:11? You have an intersting website. I am trying to start Brazillian churches here in Brazil.

  9. “… we choose to maximize the things that unite (the Gospel, Jesus Christ, love, service, social justice, music, media, arts) and minimize the things that divide.”

    What a beautiful statement. I’ve also heard it said as “having a shared view of heaven with people who disagree on earth.” It’s a wonderful, amazing, powerful thing when we can put aside our petty differences and go out and truly change the world and show God’s love!

  10. Another thing that has always confused me about the IFBers. They are so against tongues, saying it is unbiblical. Yet the people who “speak in tongues” will say that it is biblical. But IFBers (at least the church I attended) strongly believed in healing through the annoiting of the sick with oil and praying. They so pick and choose what they like.

  11. One thing that struck me about all the prayer tongues I’ve ever heard: many of them sound repetitive, which makes me wonder if these prayers aren’t just more vain repetition. And has anyone tried to translate a prayer tongue to English, or develop an orthography for a prayer tongue?

    I actually knew one person who would not only pray in tongues, but would interject with her prayer tongue in everyday conversation as well! (nice lady; she and her husband are now missionaries in Poland, have the obligatory full quiver, and email me once a year to let me know that God is intimately concerned about my voting record 😉 )

    The tongues in Acts refer to actual languages–a useful gift to have for a brand-new church that seeks to reach people throughout the world. Each person could be understood by others who also knew that language. I don’t see that happening with the ‘prayer tongues’ we hear today, which is why I’ve rejected the practice. It edifies no one but the speaker (and even that is dubious).

    Of course, YMMV…and I don’t see the issue as something for believers to be fighting over at the expense of actually serving Christ.

  12. And of course, in addition to Steve’s point, it was specified pretty strongly that someone could only speak in tongues if there was someone present who had the gift of interpretation so that it was edifying to all, not just the one person. Curious that you don’t see that today…

  13. I have never been Baptist, but I was Pentecostal during the last of my fundy years. I had always wanted to be able to speak in tongues. The Pentecostal church that I went to held ‘speaking in tongues’ in high regard. I remember almost every one in my youth group could speak in tongues, but I could not. I remember feeling so ashamed that I could not speak in tongues as well.
    The church I went to had a weekly summer camp, & at the camp the adults said something along the lines of “If you would like to learn how to speak in tongues please come to the altar during chapel.” I thought that was so strange because I didnt believe that speaking in tongues was something a person could learn.
    Maybe I never spoke in tongues because I doubted what the adults said about ‘learning how to speak in tongues.’ Haha I’m just kidding 😀

  14. When I lived in Charleston, I used to catch this one Christian station waaay on the end of the dial, featuring this pastor who would continually be worked into a complete rage over speaking in tongues, that it was the worst thing anyone could do, it was denying God, etc. He had a call-in program, and for some reason every other question had to do with Speaking In Tongues, and off we’d go on yet another mouth-frothing rant. Don’t remember much else, sometimes he’d get so upset I couldn’t get a word he was saying, but it was entertaining to listen to. 😆 Wonder whatever happened to that guy.

Comments are closed.