I had the following discussion with a friend some years ago. I don’t know if he holds the same views any longer, but I certainly do. We originally replied back and forth to various statements the other made, which ended up in an argument that was a jumbled mess. I’ve tried to clean it up and put it in a form where it is understandable at one reading. The arguments may seem to “jump” sometimes, however, and in cases like that I’ve inserted phrases like “Let’s return to the topic of such and such” to give you an idea of where the jump went to. Also, my friend made the final arguments in written form, and then we continued the discussion in person. Therefore, since I never replied to some of his comments over e-mail, he’ll seem to get the last word in…one of the few times I’ll allow that in a message!  Please read the article on Speaking In Tongues so you know the context of the conversation.

I’ve labeled our comments by “Friend” and “Nathan.” Enjoy!

Nathan
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Friend: Imagine a scientist that was working on a theory for demographic prediction in the early 80’s. Around 1982 he develops this theory that predicts the demographics of America, including specifics such as ages and genders. To make this theory he used demographic data from 1924 to his present 1982. He submits the theory in the form of an article in an important scientific trade magazine. Of course no one knows if it’s any good until it is tested. Over the next several years it is compared with the collected demographic data and fortunately for him it works. He rises to prominence within the scientific circles.

His theory remains very accurate up until the year 1994. After ’94 the theory is..well..off. It doesn’t seem to be working. This is a terrible blow to the scientist. Here he could have saved so much of the effort of taking demographic data, by just using the theory. But alas it wasn’t working. He began to reason and speculate. Could it be that the people in charge of taking demographics (not wanting to lose their jobs to a pencil-neck), took bad data. The scientist began to charge the demographic people with changing their technique and even altering the numbers. This of course is a lofty accusation. In your opinion, does this scientist have a case or is it that his theory is no longer correct?
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Nathan: His accusations seem very unlikely given the data that you have presented me. However, the demographics takers could indeed have had reasons for altering their data that may not be surficially apparent. If there were underlying political reasons for making the demographics come out differently, for example. It seems unlikely that they would alter their data, however, just to spite one little scientist. Or that a formula, no matter how accurate, to measure demographics would seriously make those whose job it was to do such things fear for their livelihood so much that they would start altering the data. I would say that, unless the scientist can provide a better argument as to why the data was tampered with, or else produce some proof of such a thing, I would have to conclude that his accusations were just so much hot air, and designed to cover up the bitterness of his failure.
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Friend: Please do not take this as a slash against you, as the following is just an observation. But I see you as this scientist, and your theory is that “all speaking in tongues is fake”. I do not think that all speaking in tongues is real, but that doesn’t mean that it all is fake. Understand this, a dispensation is how God relates to people. We do not know a dispensation other than by what God does (read collected data). When God changes what He does we cannot say that the present dispensation remains and that the new works of God are being faked, just as the scientist couldn’t say that the population data was faked unless he had real evidence. There are cases were churches use “traveling salesmen” tricks to fake it, but there are also cases where there are people that fluently speak a language they never learned and that when its translated it provides real insight. By using a “man-deciphered” dispensation to describe what God is doing now you are in effect telling God what his business should be. I try to recognize that falsehood whenever I can, as there are many churches that do that.
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Nathan: I don’t know what to say about your statements here other than the fact that I simply do not believe that what you say is true. The fact of the matter is that our current tongues movement in the church was begun by a Christian group that got together in 1900 to try to resurrect the gift in order to help missionaries have an easier time going to foreign countries. After all, can you imagine how much easier it would be for a missionary if he never had to spend a day or even an hour learning the native language of the country to which he was traveling? If suddenly, through a powerful gift of God, he was able to speak fluently the native language of that country, as fluently as if he himself had grown up speaking it? This would be an immeasurable help to missionary efforts to further the gospel! But what that group in 1900 got was NOT what they intended. Rather, they started speaking in an ecstatic, senseless babble. Never was the “gift” which they “resurrected” used for the purpose for which they set about to achieve it! For babble does no missionary any good whatsoever. You cannot honestly expect me to believe that any missionary since 1900 and the formation of the modern tongues movement has EVER been able to go to a foreign country and instantly speak the language of the people to whom he is going as a missionary. YOU know that that is not the case. I know that that is not the case. And every missionary who has ever gone out on the field knows that that is not the case. The fact is that the most any tongues speaker can claim (and there are few that can even claim this) is that they spoke a few words in a language they never learned. These words might be something they heard once coming back to them, or they may be demonically induced, for speaking in a foreign tongue that they never learned is something which some witch doctors practice. But the fact is that these people (if they are not faking it) never even know what they are saying. They have not learned the language, and these few words that they may utter do them no good whatsoever. The very purpose for which God gave the gift of tongues is erased, and it is turned into nothing but confusion. And God is not a God of confusion, but of order.
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Friend: I did say that there are many who use “fake” tongues. But that does not mean that real tongues are not being performed as an act of God today. It likely is not seen on TV but is used to assist a believing flock. It acts as just one way for God to communicate.
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Nathan: I do not think you make this statement because you know of such a flock, but rather because it makes sense to you that such a thing could be. This flock would have to be a multi-lingual one, however, as the gift of tongues would not “assist” them at all otherwise.
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Friend: The bible clearly states that the technique of using someone with the gift of tongues and another with the gift of translation should be used, that is of course unless the gift of translation is not needed.
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Nathan: That is in the case of an UNKNOWN tongue. I believe I talked about that in another message. If someone prophesies in a language unknown to some of his hearers, then they do not benefit from God’s words spoken through him. However, if a person is there who has the gift of being able to make a divinely inspired translation of the prophecy just spoken, then those to whom the tongue is unknown can benefit from it as well. But there is no such gift today. The Bible “clearly states” that that technique should be used BY THE CORINTHIANS, and that was in the year 45 AD or so.
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Friend:
Nathan I think you are over reading this. The letter told the Corinthians that they should do this. It does not say that this should be done in Corinth exclusively. It’s like if a guidance counselor told a couple to take each other out on a date and romance each other. A different couple would be making no sense if they said they couldn’t do the same because the counselor said for the first couple to do it, but not for them to.
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Nathan: Returning to your previous argument, I contend that there is no such flock as you described above. If one can be found, then I am proven wrong. But I believe that God has removed the power by which the gift of tongues was given. Therefore, none of His people are given this gift today.
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Friend: You draw this conclusion based on belief alone, but there is very little proof to show that God has ended (for all time) this practice of using tongues. We know that God will not destroy the world with a flood as He has promised it. But as far as not using tongues, He has made not such promise.
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Nathan: I did not say that I draw this conclusion based upon belief alone. I made the statement based upon my belief, but in this case I did not choose to make an argument based on Scripture to back up my belief. Also, I do not believe that God has ended for all time the practice of using tongues. I just believe that he does not give us the power to use this gift TODAY. God has indeed never promised that he will not use tongues anymore. He has promised that where there are tongues, they shall cease, however.
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Friend: To say that where there are tongues they shall cease can mean many things.
1) That churches that have the gift of tongues will in time lose that, but that appears to be true as Greek churches do not see speaking in tongues.

2) It could mean that the world of many tongues, where we each speak in different languages will at some time end. This would then be a prophetic verse.

3) Or it could be a self contradictory statement, in that places that have speaking in tongues will not have speaking in tongues.

But as you can see from the conditional part of the sentence, this does not say that speaking in tongues will cease altogether.

Returning to your argument about knowing of no such flock, last Monday I heard of a story where a missionary went to a country, but did not know the language there. Yes, I agree this is not the wisest of things to do. But when he started to preach to them, he talked in their language, one he never knew.
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Nathan: An interesting story. But I was hoping for more than a story. If half the things that some enthusiastic believers claim to be true are true, then I think the entire world would be practically worshiping them. The first step is the story, the next is proving it. I would like to speak to this missionary.
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Friend: I know, I do not have proof, but the burden of proof is not mine. The bible clearly shows that speaking in tongues is a form of working with God. That establishes precedence. Which means to demonstrate that God no longer uses tongues of the spirit, is your responsibility. I admit it is hard, because you would have to show that all accounts are false (and that they are false either by known truth or by biblical teaching).
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Nathan: No, I’m afraid that you are the one who has made a theory and then tried to claim that the data was changed when you found that it did not work. But if you can produce for me a missionary, or, for that matter, anyone who has gone to a foreign country that speaks a different language from his own and automatically known the language there without ever having to learn it, then I will admit that I am wrong. But if you cannot produce such a person, then I will still insist that what you say is “tongues” is not tongues at all but rather babbling and confusion.
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Friend: ME?!?!? I made not supposition that missionaries would “suddenly acquire” such a skill. It is those who try to gain gifts than never receive them, as God gives gifts only at the right time to the right people.
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Nathan: In that case, then I must form one of two conclusions:

1.) The many missionaries who go out to the field and have to spend years learning the language of the country to which they are going are not “the right people”
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Friend: That is a non-sensible conclusion. To come to that conclusion you would be asking these people to demand a gift. You know that is not the thing to do.
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Nathan: I did not say anything about demanding. The fact is that, whether the missionary asks for it or not, they are NOT receiving it. This gift should FOLLOW them, and they should not even have to DESIRE it in order for it to come upon them. As soon as it becomes necessary for them to know another language, they should then receive the gift. God is being untrue to His promise that He would bear witness to the message that would be given by the signs that should follow it. (Mark 16: 13-20) Therefore, I must either conclude that God has proven false and a liar, or that something has changed.
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Friend: Okay you are putting words into God’s mouth here. He is not necessarily talking about speaking in tongues as a sign. The signs that follow His message are the signs of the Spirit. Like I say again and again, if people ask for a gift they are not likely to get it. There is only one incidence where someone asked for a gift and got it, and that would be Solomon. Look at when leaders were chosen, none of them choose themselves, they were largely chosen by God. These people that try to speak in tongues will FAIL.
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Nathan: Returning to the second of my two conclusions:

2.) Their decision to go out to the mission field was not made at the “right time.”
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Friend: Again. God gives some gifts to some people. That does not mean that we cannot do such things under our own power.
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Nathan: This is true. But God gives NO miraculous gifts to ANYONE such as are listed in Mark 16. This should be apparent to anyone who has honestly investigated the matter. The passage is quite explicit…if these gifts are in effect, then they must follow ALL who believe. Either all believers must have them, or no believers can have them and none of us are under this commission. You can either choose to believe the latter or the former. I choose to believe the latter.
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Friend: That’s odd, for there are other verses that talk about how some churches (who were not bad or anything) were not getting the same gifts as others (like tongues). Do you remember the verses talking about what if everyone was a hand (then no one could see), or what if everyone was an eye (then no one could walk) etc. But we should all have the fruits of the Spirit.

As far as Mark 16. It was a direct command to the believers there. It is clear that it is a temporal command. We do not have the ability to do as Jesus commanded. But to say that since he doesn’t give gift A, B, and D that somehow he can’t give out gift C, that is simply not true. There is no requirement made there.

It is critical that we do not put God in a box. Making a statement which says that an action cannot be of God because it doesn’t follow you way of thinking is putting God in a box.
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Nathan: I’m not saying that an action cannot be of God because it doesn’t follow my way of thinking. I’m saying that it cannot be of God because it does not conform to the Biblical definition of tongues, and because it ignores what the Bible has clearly stated about useless talking.
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Friend: There are many different forms of tongues seen in the bible. Many of which are seen from time to time. Also it is possible that some forms of tongues seen today to legit (i.e. from God), but are not shown in the bible. The bible is not the complete story of God’s church, or God’s dispensations.
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Nathan: But a tongue is ALWAYS a language. Certainly there are many different types of languages, and many different ways of speaking in that language. I am learning in my Greek class just how different such literary forms as poetry, oratory, and regular prose can be. But a language is always a language, and a tongue is always a tongue. The “many different kinds of tongues” idea comes from those who have already decided that their senseless babbling is speaking in tongues, and who then try to justify it by the Word of God. But these ignore the basic definition of a tongue, which is a language.
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Friend: I agree that for a tongue to be a tongue it must be a language, but not necessarily a language ever seen on earth before. It is entirely possible that God has a handful of his own languages. Satan may have some as well.

It it is just babble, then yes it is of no use. But is it possible that this “babble” actually means something? Maybe, maybe not.
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Nathan: I have heard some of it. It is the same patternless words and phrases repeated over and over. Language experts have studied the phenomenon and have come to the conclusion that there is no way it can be a language, even an unknown one. And again, a tongue does no one any good if no one, not even the speaker, can understand it. This should be clear to everyone, but some try to make out that it is otherwise.
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Friend: I agree. These are the babblers. The bible has little good to say about babble (like Babylon). But my main concern is that Satan is using these babblers as a way to make fun of when real tongue speaking is done. The majority of stuff you see on TV is fake. What about the ones you don’t see? What about the ones where God has something important to say to a small church out in Africa, and decides to use legitimate tongue speaking to tell them. He could even speak to them in English and have it translated for them by someone else. Either way, we need to have an open but knowledgeable mind about this. I have seen this “babble-talk” on TV. I see what these experts mean. Like some one saying “Wha wha la la wha wha la la”. Clearly there is not enough bandwidth of info to convey any real message. But I would like to know what is going on. I mean what is causing them to do this? Some faker preachers fill the air will drug-like gases and see who starts to act funny first.
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Nathan: Returning to what the Bible defines tongues as being. First of all, the Biblical definition of tongues can be inferred from Acts 2:6-8, where it is said, “And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, ‘Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born?'” This tells us that the gift of tongues is one of languages, not senseless babbling.
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Friend: There are many accounts where tongues was done in a known language. But there are other bible verses that hint that tongues may also be in an unknown language.
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Nathan: I have talked about that above.

Moreover, babbling is specifically commanded against in II Timothy 2:16, where it is written, “But shun profane and idle babble, for they will increase to more ungodliness.” The words for “idle babble” here mean “empty speaking.” Empty speaking is speaking without meaning, which is exactly what modern tongues speakers do.
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Friend: If this “babbling” you refer to is indeed a language no one (at least no one within earshot) knows, it would sound like babble. But that does not make it idle, just untranslated.
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Nathan: The babbling I’ve heard insults my intelligence. You cannot translate a baby’s gibberish, and you cannot translate what these “tongues speakers” are spouting.
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Friend: Obviously you have not watched enough of the Simpsons, for there was an episode where a baby translator was invented. hehehehehe There is fake and not fake tongue speaking.
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Nathan: They appear to be speaking, but their words mean nothing, for they do not speak in a language but merely in babble. By doing so they are “profane,” and disobey the commandment of God.
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Friend: I thought that there were NO ordinances, Nathan. What’s this about COMMANDMENT?
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Nathan: Is there no difference between an ordinance and a commandment? I certainly thought that there was!
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Friend: Okay lets hear the difference.

I heard this one where someone was alone and began to speak in tongues. Then a few minutes latter, the meaning of it became evident. The one person had the gift of tongues and translation. But not all at once. Before you bash a group of people it is important to get all the facts, and not base your judgment on a few video clips.
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Nathan: Who said anything about video clips?

If a person received a tongues message like this, this message would come straight from God and would be of equal importance with the Bible. If this person claims to receive a message from God and God has not spoken, then this person has committed a crime punishable by death in the Old Testament, putting it on a par with adultery, murder, Sabbath-breaking, idol worship, and other abominable sins. If God has spoken through this person, however, then all who hear it are under a serious and extremely important obligation to obey everything it says. This is a serious claim.
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Friend: Actually the Old Covenant holds no power over anyone who is not purely Jewish.
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Nathan: Again, I believe that the gift of tongues is the gift of the knowledge of a language. I have trouble believing that the people who were given this gift did not know what they were saying while using it. If I suddenly knew French, this would be the gift of tongues. If I started talking in French and did not know what I was saying, then I would be doing what modern tongues speakers believe tongues was.
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Friend: Er uh, hem Nathan if what you say is true then the ENTIRE concept of having (or needing) the gift of translation would be a MOOT POINT!!!!!!

Nathan – watch yourself there.

The bible does talk about speaking in tongues (from the Spirit of God) without having anyone to translate. They are just told to shut up, not that it isn’t from God.

I know of one person that was asked if they could speak in tongues, by a church group. They said that they had in the past, but didn’t want to do it for them, but did. The church group asked her while she was speaking in tongues to proclaim that Jesus was sent to earth and died for our sins. They did this following the example from Acts as to the discerning of spirits. She did not give a reply. The church groups conclusion was that she was not legit (or was getting her tongues from a bad spirit). To me this is a good idea.
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Nathan: But the discerning of spirits was a gift, not a clever trick. They were advised to test the spirits, to see if they were of God. I would say these people showed an unusual insight, however, and I would congratulate them.
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Friend: Nathan you need to give more credit to these people. Not all groups are these whacked out groups you see. If you all of a sudden had the ability to translate every strange language you heard, you would want to use this gift for good (as it would be from God). You would not want to use it to further some church’s romp with foolishness. But how would you do it? I mean there needs to be a serious place where tongues are not for show, but instead uncommon, but genuine.

There is a large array of paranormal stuff to weigh. Things like:

angels
casting out demons
visions of Mary
speaking in tongues
being drunk in the spirit
casting the spirit through people
and don’t forget the ever popular leg lengthening

I’m sure there are more that I missed.

The question is how can we expose the true from the false? as Satan uses the false to cast doubt on the true.
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Nathan: This marks the end of our written discussion. I had started feeling at this point like we were going around in circles, and I could best face the issues by talking with him in person. I’d be glad to answer any questions anyone has for me now on the issue, however.

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