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FALKLAND, BC — The issue of speaking in “Tongues” has been the
Pandora’s Box of religious circles for most of this century.

Is it of God?

Is it scriptural?

When former Pentecostal and Word-of-Faith preacher, Ted Brooks of
Victory Life church in Westlock, Alberta, opened up the “Tongues” issue
during Wednesday’s HeartBeat column, he stirred the pot with a flood of
e-mails.

One of the most succinct was one from Leon Hernandez, who wrote: “OK,
great story so what was your conclusion to the study of tongues? I am
left waiting as in ‘Who shot JR?’”

Brooks, the author of a number of books, including “I Was a Flakey
Pastor,” was quick to settle the matter, from his viewpoint as a former
charismatic leader.

He explained that the subject of tongues had been on the top of his
church’s agenda for more than a year and is now planning to write a book
on the “hot potato” issue.

“I preached a six-message series on tongues about eight months ago,
which shook our Charismatic views of stammering lips to the core,” he
explained. “And then I just finished an eight-message series on this
topic a couple of weeks ago. The results of our year long study was
challenging to say the least.”

Brooks admitted he had the wrong idea about tongues in the past and
then went on to explain his present-day viewpoint:

 

    1. In Isaiah 28:11,12, God is the one who said He would speak in
    tongues and stammering lips to His people. He is the source of this
    language. Not men. This meant that we had misunderstood the parabolic
    meaning of these scriptures.

    2. God then said, “They would not hear.” He did not say, “They could
    not hear,” or “they could not understand.” He said they “would not
    hear.” This means that there was a choice involved. This jarred my
    Pentecostal mindset about tongues because I had always thought that
    tongues could not be understood. Choice was never a consideration when
    dealing the Pentecostal concept of tongues.

    3. Isaiah 28:11,12 is nestled between two identical statements.
    “Precept upon precept, line upon line.” This means that God’s method of
    teaching is usually line upon line. One idea upon another, each one
    connecting with the other. And this had something to do with stammering
    lips and another tongue.

    4. Stammering lips means, “to make fun of someone else’s speech or
    language.” It is a mocking attitude towards someone else’s foreign ways.
    Now if you read the entire chapter of Isaiah 28 and if you understand
    that God is speaking to His own people and their leaders throughout
    Isaiah, then you will understand that God is saying that they will mock
    His methods of teaching.

    5. The concept of “stammerers” is also mentioned in Isaiah 32:3,4 and
    Isaiah 33:19. The idea is realized only when we understand that God is
    playing with words and hinting that the proud people of God were going
    to be superseded by a barbaric people who speak a ridiculous language.

    6. That ridiculous language is not English, German, or Swedish. The
    language is the parabolic language of the Bible. In other words, God was
    not speaking in tongues, but his simple way of teaching line upon line
    would be treated as a silly foreign language.

    7. We have always said that Jesus did not speak in tongues but Jesus
    Christ fulfilled all Scripture including Isaiah 28:11,12 and not just a
    little. His whole life, ministry, and purpose was stammering lips and
    another tongue to the Pharisees, etc. Jesus was the spoken Word which
    Isaiah referred to as line upon line, precept upon precept. Jesus was
    rejected as barbaric and foreign by the religious leaders of His day.
    This is word for word fulfillment of Isaiah 28.

    8. In conclusion, our findings told us that stammering lips and
    another tongue was God’s parable language which is misunderstood at
    first but can be learned. But along the way, God’s own people can treat
    his words as meaningless and simple.

     

Even in the Church today, the Word of God is being bypassed as
preachers tell us, “Put your Bibles down, and don’t question what God is
doing.” Doctrine and theology have become dirty words in the Church
while the Drunkards of Ephraim (Isaiah 28:1) lead the people of God away
from God’s true methods of teaching and away from God’s spiritual
language (His Word).

After my own conversion in February 1983, I spoke before a roomful of
football pals and others at a charismatic church. The testimony was well
received, but the first words uttered after I had spoken was from one of
the church’s followers: “Do you speak in tongues?”

I later did speak “gibberish” that I believed was a “heavenly
language.”

It wasn’t biblical or of God.


READERS’ REACTION: The following are a random sampling of e-mails
concerning the Toronto Blessing and other religious controversies:

GARY KAMINSKI: How can Bible prophecy teachers claim to be experts on
the End Times when they keep changing the possible scenarios every few
years? Remember when Hal Lindsey kept telling us in the 1970s about all
the events coming together that could usher in the Second Coming.

Now I see him on TV still trying to tell us the same thing about the
’90s. Again I ask the question: How can you be an expert claiming God’s
word on the end times? Not just Hal Lindsey, but all the others. Why
can’t they just all give it a rest? I honestly believe they make our
expectations diminish. Is it pride? Is it money? Why can’t they admit
it’s all speculation? I don’t think they are evil. I just wish I would
hear one say on the radio, “God’s got my number, I don’t have His.”

LAUREL SPARROW: The Toronto Blessing has taken a new twist. In the
Toronto Star and over the radio it’s been reported that people’s
fillings have been turning to gold there. I thought it bizarre, but
didn’t pay much attention until I saw “Catch the Fire” (the Toronto
Airport Christian Fellowship TV show) on VisionTV Sunday night at 10:00
p.m. It showed a videotape of ecstatic people babbling about the miracle
they’d experienced, and showing wide-open mouths to the camera so that
their “godly gold” could be seen by all.

I didn’t at first know what to make of the Toronto Airport Christian
Fellowship. I liked the music, and continue to like it, but the emphasis
on feeling and experiential spirituality has me concerned.

The passages in the Bible that talk about Jesus refusing to give a
sign (except the sign of Jonah), and wanting us to walk by faith and not
by sight seem at odds with the Vineyard/TACF philosophy. I think about
Jesus’ warning about the last days, when people would be saying, “Jesus
is over here,” and “Now Jesus is over there,” and how we were not to
believe them. The TACF talking about the River flowing here and there,
and now the revival is in England, and now it’s in Brownsville, etc.
brings to mind Jesus’ words.

I also think of what Paul said in 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12: “The coming
of the lawless one by the activity of Satan will be with all power and
with pretended signs and wonders. …”

I don’t go to the TACF anymore, because I still wonder how
experiential Christianity can jibe with the Biblical injunction to walk
by faith and not by sight. They do profess that Jesus is Lord, and seem
to proclaim the same Jesus that I do. The whole thing has me confused
enough that I think the safest thing to do is stay away from it.

DAN PHILLIPS: I enjoyed your first installment about the formerly
flakey pastor. I am a former charismatic, whose Biblical studies over
the last 20 years have led me further and further from distinctively
Charismatic thought. Yet I’ve been discouraged with one particular
phenomenon. It is this: trying to reason Scripturally with charismatics
is eerily similar to trying to reason Scripturally with Jehovah’s
Witnesses. I can show them Scripture they’ve never considered, open up
the Greek and Hebrew, deal in love, ask questions for which their
position can provide no answers — and it has no impact. They don’t
care. If their position is unbiblical, they don’t want to know. They
feel happy and contented, have a nice little experience and a warm
little glow, and that’s enough.

Which is scary. And it’s depressing to me personally, as a pastor and
even more as a Christian. The Lord saved me from paganism because I
believed Christ was true, and that the Bible embodied the truth of God.
Silly me, knowing as I did that Christianity was a voluntary
association, I assumed that all Christians were similarly motivated by
that “love for the truth” which led them to salvation (cf. 2
Thessalonians 2:10). Boy, was I wrong.

PAULA CARLSON: I can almost picture the angry e-mails you are about
to receive. Maybe, you already have … I am writing to encourage you. I
witnessed the “Toronto Blessing” second hand.

I know three teenage girls that went to different meetings and
experienced “The Blessing.” Each of these girls, soon afterward, became
terribly depressed and had serious thoughts of suicide. One in
particular became so overwhelmed with her appearance that she started
into the anorexic stuff which led to losing much of her hair. It seems
that all of the parents still believe that “The Blessing” was wonderful.

I also had the opportunity to go to Birmingham, Alabama from
California to support Judge Roy Moore and his battle to keep the Ten
Commandments on his wall. While I was there, I had many people tell me
that I just had to go to Brownsville. I had a couple of men come up to
me wanting to pray for my two sons and me. Now, don’t get me wrong, I
love to be prayed for, but I sensed something terribly wrong. Only one
of the men was able to pray; the other one was shaking and convulsing –
I was told he was still experiencing “The Blessing.”

I’m not sure how the Christian Church expects to go out and woo
people to Christ if we can’t even carry on a conversation, let alone
pray with or for someone.

VOYLE A GLOVER: I’ve a lot of charismatic friends, although I’m a
Baptist, and it grieves me to see them in bondage to such erratic and
unbiblical doctrines. I’m convinced much of what we’ve seen, i.e., the
manifestations, are demonic and have little or nothing to do with the
Lord.

I recall one day a dear friend came to me with a videotape. It was of
some services in the church in Brownsville, Florida. He begged me to
view it. I did. Sigh. He was ready to bring his family down there. He
and his wife have been to the church several times and come back all
eager and excited. I inquired of him as to why he had to go there since
if all the “good” Christians go to one place, how can they effectively
minister around the nation and the world?

Anyway, in the video, one thing leaped out at me. The pastor was
“slain in the spirit” and a woman also fell. Guess where she fell? Yeah,
right on the pastor. And guess where they laid for such a long time?
Together. On the floor. Nothing I saw was of God. On one section there
was some young lady who shook all over. Supposedly, she perpetually does
this and they take it as a manifestation of the Holy Spirit. It has
caused her to be an outcast at school and a freak show at the church.

Sources: Ted Brooks, Isaiah
28: 9-13

NEXT: Unholy Laughter and other false doctrines.

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