Answering a Pyromaniac on Tongues
There is an interesting discussion going on mainly between Adrian Warnock and Dan Phillips (one of the Pyromaniacs) about the gift of tongues. Dan argues against Adrian from the cessationist position which I have mentioned in other recent postings, that this gift and all other gifts of the Holy Spirit are no longer in operation today.
I made the following comment on part 3 of Dan's series - I could have demolished more of his arguments, but chose what seemed to be his weakest points:
Dan, a couple of points to clarify some of your very dodgy exegesis.
First, on Acts 2:17-18, you seem to imply that you understand this to refer to the authoring of Scripture. Thus you seem to restrict "all flesh ... your sons and daughters ... my male servants and female servants" to the Apostles, and the very few others who wrote Scripture. Was the audience restricted to the apostles' parents? Were any of the Scripture authors anyone's daughters? Is "all flesh" to be understood as referring to something like a dozen people at most? No, surely the clear intention of Peter, as reported by Luke, is to say that in these last days (or is today a period after the last days?) this prophecy can be applied to everyone, that all can expect to prophesy. This is of course precisely in agreement with what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 14:1, that all should aspire to prophesy.
And then, referring to 1 Corinthians 14:21-22 and Isaiah 28:11-12, you wrote "The "tongues" Paul writes of are the "tongues" Isaiah wrote of, and those "tongues" are human, foreign languages." I don't think so. Look at the context in Isaiah 28. In verses 10 and 13 we have the very words which God uses to speak to his people: צַו לָצָו צַו לָצָו קַו לָקָו קַו לָקָו tsaw latsaw tsaw latsaw qaw laqaw qaw laqaw. These are NOT words in any foreign language, at least as far as I know. Most Bible translations do a disservice by trying to translate the words as if they were Hebrew, although really they are not, they are nonsense syllables (in fact I wouldn't blame you for suggesting that they are something like some modern charismatic "tongues"!). The point is that they are supposed to be some kind of nonsense baby talk - and (in v.13) they are not supposed to be a comprehensible message, because God's purpose is that it should not be understood.
This is of course a rather complex issue, but it certainly does not support your contention that biblical tongues are always real human languages. In fact it is probably a counter-example, to go along with other counter-examples such as 1 Corinthians 14:4. And (apart from your suggestion that Paul is saying that speaking in tongues is something one should not do, refuted by v.18) the only argument you have to dismiss the counter-examples is that they contradict Paul's "own flat-out and in-so-many-words statement that tongues are human languages" - which is in fact not at all "flat-out and in so many words" referring to ALL tongues but a quotation from a rather complex and obscure passage in Isaiah which does not necessarily refer to all tongues or to human languages at all. So, it seems to me, you are using the unclear to explain the clear, the opposite of how you should do exegesis in such circumstances.
In part 2 you wrote, "An ironclad case can be (and has been) made from Scripture that tongues were always supernaturally acquired human languages." Is this your ironclad case? (Where by the way is there any indication that the tongues of Isaiah 28 were supernaturally acquired?) It seems that your iron cladding is in fact very thin and rusty, and can very easily be demolished by the sword of the Spirit, the word of God, which has supernatural power to destroy strongholds. And since all of what you wrote in part 2 depends on this "ironclad case", now that that case has collapsed the whole of part 2 has been invalidated. In fact I don't think much is left of any of your arguments.
And then I wrote the following as a comment on part 4 of the series:
Dan, I won't make a long comment here like I just made on part 3 (which in fact managed to refute part 2 as well). But I do want to object to your caricature of charismatic services. You wrote:If you've been to many Charismatic services, you don't need me to go on. You could fill in gaps yourself—how the music is geared and chanted to excite the emotions directly, the preaching aimed at working directly on the emotions, the bodily choreography devised to create a mood and a feeling. It's sheer psychological manipulation, though in many cases no doubt with the best of intentions.This is probably an accurate description of some charismatic services. It is certainly not an accurate description of all of them. In particular, your description of charismatic preaching is so wide of the mark as to be libellous. You can for example download and listen to the sermons from my charismatic Anglican church (I recommend the recent series on Acts by Mones Farah), or Adrian Warnock's sermons (which I admit I haven't listened to myself). Listen and then tell us if these are really "aimed at working directly on the emotions ... sheer psychological manipulation".
I am sure that Adrian and I, as well as very many other charismatics, would agree on teaching that Christians need a proper balance between the Spirit and the Word, avoiding both the over-emphasis on the Spirit of your caricature charismatics and the over-emphasis on the Word of many cessationists. This is the main point I was trying to make in my own recent posting on Bible deists, especially the final passage quoted from the former cessationist Jack Deere who, it seems to me, has now found something like the right balance.
I am repeating these comments here for a clearer record, in other words so that Dan cannot just delete them if he can't answer them, and also to bring others into this discussion.