The phenomenon of speaking in tongues is common among Charismatic-Pentecostal type churches. It is also controversial, even though increasingly accepted in Christianity. Some Christians see the so-called charismatic spiritual gifts like prophecy and tongue speaking as ceased, i.e. the Holy Spirit no longer bestows such gifts to us anymore in this day and age. They argue that these gifts were necessary for the establishment of the early church as recorded in the book of Acts in the Bible but no longer necessary now that the church is well established. These gifts have ceased as they have fulfilled their purpose.
But Charismatic-Pentecostal Christians beg to differ, arguing that we cannot restrict the Holy Spirit and that through their own experiences of prophecy and tongue-speaking, it is evident that God still give these spiritual gifts to his people for his glory. In these churches, it is common to have Christians break out into ecstatic utterances that are believed to be praying in a heavenly or angelic language (or tongue). Those who believe in a “baptism of the Holy Spirit” often see tongue-speaking as evidence of the Spirit’s outpouring on an individual Christian.
In this blog post, I am going to share my thoughts on this supported by my research into Scripture. I will be drawing material from my previously published article, “Speaking in Tongues: A Cross-Cultural View” (The Banner, Sept. 2003, pp. 46-48).
(This post is an update of an article originally published in The Banner, March 2004, pp. 34-36. )
“The Bible is a sexist book and oppressive to women.” That is a message Christian students often hear repeated in the classrooms of secular universities. I once had a non-Christian female student ask me why the Bible is so patriarchal and even misogynist. Almost inevitably, such accusations point to the apostle Paul’s writings in the New Testament about women’s roles in marriage and the church as evidence of the Bible’s anti-woman stance.
I often counter by suggesting that the Bible is not anti-woman but is rather affirmative of women (and of men!). The idea that Scripture is misogynist often stems from readings that fail to take into account historical contexts. For instance, there’s a big difference between claiming that the Old Testament sanctions patriarchy (male dominated society) from that it reveals God’s workings within a patriarchal society.
For this article, I will narrow my focus on the apostle Paul. Are Paul’s writings anti-women? I believe Paul’s writings affirm women as spiritual and social equals with men before God. But what about some of Paul’s statements that sound so offensive to our modern ears? We need to understand these statements in their proper historical context. Due to space limitations, we can look at only a few of Paul’s controversial statements.