Deeper Doctrine

Speaking In Tongues

By: Colonel Richard Munn

The spiritual gift of speaking in tongues (1 Corinthians 12:10) is given a unique place in The Salvation Army Handbook of Doctrine. It is the only spiritual gift given a warning.

‘We must beware of the elevation of certain gifts as proof of spiritual superiority […] Speaking in tongues is the clearest example … This gift is overvalued when it is regarded as the definitive evidence of the baptism in the Spirit […] It is undervalued when it fails to be acknowledged as a true gift of God’s Holy Spirit.’

No other gift has such attention.

‘The gift of tongues is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to speak to God in a language they have never learned, and/or to receive and communicate an immediate message from God to His people through a divinely anointed utterance in a language they have never learned,’ writes Peter Wagner.

The gift is expressed in 2 ways:

  • Private Tongues – praying when words alone fail to express adoration.
  • Public Tongues – such praying as part of corporate worship, and sometimes recognized as an understandable language. (Acts 2)

There is mystery here.

Speaking in tongues caused division in Corinth, as it sometimes has in other congregations since then, and yet St. Paul still says, ‘I wish you all spoke with tongues.’ (1 Corinthians 14:5)

Across our world there are many Salvationists who speak in tongues, most it seems, do so privately.