Beach Boys Glossolalia

“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16: 11)

The Basket Case Chronicles #143

“For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will” (1 Cor. 12:8-11).

Paul’s point here in this passage is to point out the fact that multiple workings are all proceeding from one source, which means that these multiple gifts are all meant to work toward one unified purpose or end. He does this by saying the Spirit does x, the same Spirit does y, and the same Spirit does z.

The first gift is the word of wisdom (v. 8), and the second mentioned gift is the word of knowledge (v. 8). A third gift is that of faith (v. 9), and a fourth is the gift of healing (v. 9). Another man can work miracles (v. 10), yet another can prophesy (v. 10), and another can discern spirits (v. 10). Someone else has the gift of various languages (v. 10), and someone else can interpret (v. 10). But the one source of the diverse gifts is the one Spirit, who exercises His sovereignty by dispensing these gifts as He sees fit.

We do not know precisely what the gifts of wisdom and knowledge were, but judging from the face value of the words, it would be something like a timely statement of what the people should do (wisdom) and what the people should know (knowledge). The gift of faith appears to be the gift of remarkable faith, out of the ordinary faith—because every Christian has faith. It would be the gift of believing for particular things, as George Mueller had.

The gift of healing is possessed by someone who can heal someone else, with power draining from him as it happens—as when the woman with the hemorrhaging touched the Lord and was healed. The gift of healing should be distinguished from answered prayer healing. The gift of healing is not possessed by anyone today, and neither is the gift of miracles (2 Cor. 12:12). Prophecy proper is not possessed by anyone either, although elements of the prophetic office are still present in preaching. We do not have anyone today who can write new Scripture. But we do have men who can speak in the name of the Lord.

A person who can discern spirits would be necessary in a service when people were speaking prophetically in a service under the influence of a spirit—Paul himself gave guidance on discerning spirits at the beginning of this chapter (v. 3). My understanding is that the gift of languages and interpretation together should be considered the equivalent to prophecy, which means that this gift is no longer extant.

Now some will no doubt object to all the “cessationism,” and say that they themselves have spoken in tongues or have been in services where that has happened. What about that? It reminds me of Mark Twain’s response when asked if he believed in infant baptism. “Believe in it? I have seen it done!” My understanding of the gift of tongues is that it is the gift of languages—with a vocabulary, grammar, syntax, meaning, the whole deal. We are too easily impressed with or persuaded by what could be called Beach Boys glossolalia—ba ba ba ba ba ran.

Having offended one half of the church, let me proceed to offend the other. But I mean well.

The fact that I believe that this kind of gifted authority was vested in, or was resident in, particular saints prior to the close of the canon, and is not operative today in the same way, does not mean that I believe the Holy Spirit died, or that God does not answer prayers, or that He is not actively at work in the world in visible and remarkable ways. I believe that the gift of miracle-working has ceased, not that miracles have ceased. I believe that the gift of healing has ceased, not that healing has ceased. And so on. What I believe has been taken out of the picture is any genuine spiritual gift that would provide anyone with a cogent scriptural argument that would require us to believe that person to be an apostle.

There will be more on this subject as we proceed through this portion of this epistle.

Theology That Bites Back



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  • Jacob S.

    Doug, if I understand you right, you’re saying that the charismatic gifts (tongues, prophecy, etc.) were given as a proof of the apostleship of the one practicing them. I’ll acknowledge that 2 Cor. 12:12 seems to imply that apostles have some unique gifts, but are these identical to the gifts mentioned here? I’m not convinced that he’s talking about the apostles’ gifts here, to the exclusion of those of the rest of the body. I’m curious how you would square such a position with 1 Cor. 12:28-30, where apostleship and tongues are listed in the same breath as separate gifts to different people. Whether cessationist or not, it seems like we have to admit that not all who truly received these gifts were apostles. If that’s the case, why could it not be so today?
    I ask all this as one who is not too impressed with much of what passes for gifts these days. I’ve heard enough ba ba rans to be plenty skeptical of “gifts.” But I am interested to hear your thoughts on the questions above.

  • David Mullin

    Doug, About 20-30 years after I first heard that song, at a concert by the then elderly, but perhaps more articulate Beach Boys, I finally understood they were saying “Barbara Ann.”  So I have a very slow gift of interpretation.

  • David Douglas

    In my universe, the world of misheard lyrics, there is one more “ba”.  And shouldn’t it be capitalized. And perhaps the basis for schism.

  • timothy

    I was at a wedding once where 3 or 4 Bob’s where introduced to the other Bob’s by the first Bob.You know how you can replace “David.  meet Joe” with “David. Joe”. Well replace, “Bob, meet Bob” with “Bob. Bob” Then put 3 or 4 Bob’s and it sounded like the song;  like such: “Bob, Bob, Bob, Bob, Bob, Bob…” Unfortunately, there was no Ann at the wedding during the introductions so that “Bob Bob Bob Bob Bob…Ann” never happened. But, we where “this” close (:.

  • timothy

    Back on topic, that George Muller is an interesting guy. I have his wikipedia entry bookmarked.

  • Eric Stampher

    “Prophecy proper” begs exploration.  Was any apostle a Prophet (capital P)?  Was the gift used to validate apostolic standing?  Or might it always now show, not for an hour on Sunday by preacher man, but in our homes, where we take the Truth and feed?

  • Dave Wagner

    So the text given to support the statement that no one has the gift of miracles or healing today is 2Cor 12.12; in other words, no one has these gifts still because no one is any longer an Apostle. And I couldn’t agree more. When I hear they’re having a visit from an apostle at the church down the street, you know, Saturday night at 8:00, I check my schedule and the clip for my 9 millimeter.
    But here’s the thing. When Paul talks about various people having gifts for miracles and healing, are we to suppose that these various people in Corinth are all resident Apostles? Me don’t think so. Someone might counter that such things as miracles and healings were happening then because it was a unique time. But, of course, such a statement isn’t covered by 2Cor 12.12, which only gives help to the cessationist position by limiting sign gifts to Apostles. So what am I to think? It seems far more natural, though admittedly far more uncomfortable to us reformed folks, to simply understand Paul as saying that a bunch of non-Apostolic people in Corinth were known for working an unusual amount of miracles or healing, while not on demand, certainly enough for others to get the idea that God was pleased to work through them that way. And by the way, Pastor Wilson, I am not offended by your cessationist position. You happen to be about the only humble cessationist I’ve ever bumped into. When my blood pressure starts reaching dangerously low levels, I just surf on over to Grace To You, turn red in the face, and start foaming at the mouth. It’s possible that some tongues come out at the same time, but that’s one “tongues” experience I have to admit is inspired by the devil :)

  • Seth B.

    Dave: It wasn’t just apostles who could do miracles, but miracles only occurred under *the ministry* of an apostle. The Corinthians had been commissioned by an apostle (see Stephen, Acts 6:5-8), so some of the were able to perform miracles. But no one today has directly commissioned by an actual apostle, which is one reason that I believe miracles and hearings of the kind Paul talks about no longer occur.

  • Seth B.

    I flubbed that. The Acts text was supposed to go at the end of the sentence. “The Corinthians had been commissioned by an apostle, so some of the were able to perform miracles.(e. g. Stephen, Acts 6:5-8)” 

  • Mark B. Hanson

    @David Douglas – I noticed the missing “Ba” too. But it should be capitalized, since it is a proper name. Improperly spelled, but still…

  • Nat Carswell

    Thus proving once more that all the questions and conundra of life are addressed in the music of the ’60’s.
    Additionally, be careful. “He means well” is Southern for “he is a scoundrel of unimaginable proportions.”

  • Dave Wagner

    Seth, While I agree that some people who did miracles had been some way commissioned by an apostle (i.e. Stephen), this doesn’t prove that every person in every 1st century church who preformed a miracle/healing was thus commissioned; that’s something you can’t prove by Stephen’s case, or any other, and which is never stated in the NT. In the absence of any statement to that effect in the NT, it is more reasonable to believe that run of the mill Christians in Corinth (though not all, of course) were performing miracles and healings with a frequency that warranted them being labeled as gifted (though, again, this doesn’t require that they could do it on demand). The other problem with your position is that it requires us to claim that every miracle/healing claim from 100AD until now is spurious (but I may misunderstand you here. Maybe you are allowing for a category of miracle/healing that is lesser than the Apostolic activity?). But brother, can we really make this claim with a straight face? It reminds me of the seminary professor I had (I went to a conservative presbyterian seminary; not exactly a bastion of charismatic activity :) ) who taught on missions. He has been a missionary to the Philippines for many years. As a good presbyterian, he went there as someone who probably didn’t give much credence to claims of supernatural occurrence. By the point that I met him, after he had returned to the states permanently, he would only say that many of his stories couldn’t be shared in his presbyterian circles, due to their supernatural/creepy feel! And he was a kind, faithful, helpful, reformed Christian man, not some charismatic loony from Redding, CA.  Of course, I wouldn’t be surprised if even the majority of miracle stories we hear today are hogwash; considering the source is enough to tell us that. But I think the NT describes a more supernatural experience in these “last days” than many of us are comfortable admitting.

  • Robert

    Too many stories come out places of poverty and persecution where a godly person is believed to have the gifts of healing for me to believe that it is all bogus. It seems that God does still give that gift. Just remember, even when the apostles had it, the gift wasn’t available all of the time.

  • RMH

    Per the Bible:  God is not a god of changes.  Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.  The Holy Spirit is unchanging.  Both in substance and means God is and operates the same way.  Salvation under the Old Covenant was based on the promised work of the shed blood of Jesus.  Salvation under the New Covenant is based on the fulfill promised work of the shed blood of Jesus.   In the same way, every single gift of the Holy Spirit is seen in operation or mentioned via prophecy (c.f. Joel) under both the Old Covenant and New Covenant.   As we are still operating under the New Covenant and not some third “post-apostolic” convenant, we have to logically conclude that every aspect of the Godhead, to include the gifts of God the Father (Romans), Jesus Christ the Son (Ephesians) and the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians) are in operation today.     Scripture fully supports the continual operation of all the Gifts of all three members of the Godhead.  
    When on starts to deny these facts of Scripture, one begins to teach a Godhead that is different than Scriptures proclaim.   Most Christians reject Mormonism, Russelism, Islam, 7th Day Adventism as false religions or cults due to their teaching a Jesus different than revealed in Scripture.  The cessationist also teaches a Jesus different than revealed in Scripture.  Should they similarly be rejected?

  • Jacob S.

    RMH, “should they simlarly be rejected?” Heavens no. I don’t think Doug made a great case for cessationism here, but you don’t make a good case for continuationism either. It’s far too simplistic to say “God never changes; therefore, continuationism!” Of course, God never has/will change, and yet, “as for prophecies, they will pass away.” So the gifts do pass away sometime. And whenever that sometime is, God will still be the same. I appreciate your concern for the truth, but don’t be hasty to divide brothers, brother.

  • Jacob S.

    *(or sister, as the case may be).

  • Seth B.

    “While I agree that some people who did miracles had been some way commissioned by an apostle (i.e. Stephen), this doesn’t prove that every person in every 1st century church who preformed a miracle/healing was thus commissioned; that’s something you can’t prove by Stephen’s case, or any other, and which is never stated in the NT.”
    That’s actually an argument from silence. “The NT doesn’t say that every miracle worker was commissioned by an apostle; therefore they need not be.” *I’m* arguing that the Scriptural data we have is: 1. No one in the Bible is specifically recorded as performing a miracle unless they are an apostle, prophet, the son of a prophet, or are commissioned by an apostle. 2. All we know from the Corinthians text is that Paul mentioned that people do miracles and hearings; he doesn’t say *who* was doing them. So in the absence of further evidence to the contrary I think we must assume it was apostles and prophets or commissioned by apostles that Paul was talking about, because those are the only groups of people that we can *prove from the text* that were capable of performing miracles.. There were people in the Corinthian congregation who recognized as prophets anyway (see. I Cor. 12-14).
    “The other problem with your position is that it requires us to claim that every miracle/healing claim from 100AD until now is spurious (but I may misunderstand you here.” I think many are. I’m willing to say that there are no miracle-working *people* anymore; I wouldn’t go so far as to say miracles no longer occur at all. In principle I have no problem with missionaries coming back to the states with some crazy occurrence.
    “God is not a god of changes.  Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. ” So Jesus is still dead then? He doesn’t change after all!
    Your statement needs to be contextualized. It’s from the book of Hebrews and I gather from the context that the author is saying that doctrinal statements concerning Christ never change. So I say “The only people who can write or speak infallibly in the NT are apostles and prophets. The only people who could do miracles were apostles and prophets and people commissioned by apostles.” That’s a doctrinal statement that I would maintain is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

  • Dave Wagner

    RMH: That’s too far, friend. You ask the question whether the cessationist should be rejected like the heretics you mentioned. Allow me to answer: No. The fact that the question is even asked is one more indication that we’re having a hard time remembering who our friends are. But no matter; before long our real enemies will be at our doorstep, demanding we sign a document in support of gay-mirage (thanks to Pastor Doug for the excellent term; wish I’d thought of it!). At that point you’ll be running into the arms of your cessationist brothers like they were your mama. And you’ll find me already there, die-hard continuationist that I am. Seth: What seems obvious to you in your position feels like a plain-old presupposition  to me. But maybe what I said feels the same to you. 1Cor 12.28-29 looks to me to be delineating those who heal and work miracles from both prophets and apostles. But if this is so, then where does that leave your argument? It seems like your argument would need miracles and healing to be specially associated with the apostle, or certainly at least the prophet, to retain the idea that the only people doing miracles and healing are either apostle, prophet, or one commissioned by such. You could say that some were specially commissioned by the apostles specifically for the working of miracles, but that seems unlikely. But I appreciate your clarification that miracles do occur today, whether miracle-workers do or not. Blessings, brother.

  • Seth B.

    Dave: Paul says, “first, apostles, then prophets, then miracles, then hearings…” Right, so Stephen was able to perform miracles and was not an apostle. So he goes into that third category. What I’m saying is my position *fits* the text and doesn’t add any unnecessary assumptions to it. Also, God gifts multiple gifts to people. He’s clearly *distinguishing* apostles from miracle-[workers]. But nothing is plainer that apostles could do miracles. He’s not severing the two.
    “You could say that some were specially commissioned by the apostles specifically for the working of miracles, but that seems unlikely.” Why? Isn’t that what we see in Acts 6?

  • Dave Wagner

    Seth: I don’t think that is an argument from silence. I understood you to say that Stephen, a miracle-worker was commissioned by an apostle, therefore everyone who works a miracle was commissioned by an apostle. My response is that one case of this sort doesn’t demand that every case be exactly alike. It would be like saying Stephen, who preached the gospel, was commissioned by an apostle, therefore everyone who preached the gospel must have been likewise commissioned. But we can readily think of examples where this doesn’t hold, and it simply doesn’t require that every case be the same.

  • Dave Wagner

    Seth: So you think that Stephen was commissioned specifically for the purpose of working miracles? Wasn’t he commissioned for the purpose of handling the table-waiting stuff the apostles didn’t want to do?

  • Jacob S.

    Seth, has the gift of waiting tables also ceased?  Sorry, couldn’t resist.  ;)

  • Andrew Lohr

    Along with babbling “tongues” (a natural human capacity which may be used for good or ill–Gene Edwards has encouraged ‘many a dry, dead Baptist’ to go down to a Pentecostal church and cut loose in tongues), there are SOME modern reports of language miracles, e.g. in “Bruchko” by Bruce Olson and, I think, “Megashift” by Jim Rutz.  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  If preaching is subapostolic prophecy, do you submit to interruption  by the 2nd prophet? 

  • RMH

    Don’t worry.  I did not say that we SHOULD reject a cessationist in the same manner one rejects a Mormon, JW, SDA, Muslim etc…  I do think that a LOT of other factors come into play.      
    However the point is that the Godhead taught by the cessationist is not in line with the Biblical record.    Prophecies will pass when the perfect comes.  If one believes that the perfect is the New Testament canon, then one could make the claim that they have passed.     I find no scriptural support for this concept.   If one believes that the perfect is the returning Christ Jesus, then the prophecies have not yet ceased.   Following the return of Christ, along with the re-creation (new heaven, new earth), there WILL be a different covenant based on the blood.   At that time, due to the position of the enemy in the world, the afflictions and curses will not affect the world and the purposes of the gifts will be in operation in a very different manner.    
    I agree with my cessationist friends and brothers on a LOT of issues.       
    The real enemy has been at our door since creation.   We need to be in unity and fight the good fight of faith with the encouragement and support and fellowship of each other.   

  • Jacob S.

    RMH, I’m still not clear on how (in your view) the cessationists and continuists are teaching different Godheads. It seems to me that we are both teaching and worshiping the same God – Father, Son, and Spirit – but we disagree as to the exact way the Spirit is working at the present time. We don’t even disagree on what the Spirit can do, just what we think he is doing. And many of us are doing so (hopefully) with a fair bit of humility, acknowledging that we are fallible.  ///  Frankly, to teach a different Godhead (as do the LDS, JW, etc.) is to worship a different god altogether. It is heresy, and should be treated as such. There’s no room in orthodoxy for different Godheads. If that is what is happening in the discussion of the charismatic gifts, then let’s separate like so many sheep and goats, to the right and to the left, respectively. If that is not what is happening, lets choose our words more carefully.