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Are Quakers Allowed to Speak in Tongues?

The first time I heard someone speak in tongues was at the World Gathering of Young Friends, an international Quaker gathering held in 2005, in Lancaster, England.

It was a minister from Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, Deborah Saunders, who spoke to us with a commanding presence and a message that struck me to the heart. She called us to know who we are, to be grounded in the life and power of God, to live without being rocked by every new voice we heard. She called us to a life of guts, grit, and courage.

I didn’t realize that she was speaking in tongues at the time. I just thought I couldn’t understand some of what she was saying. But those sessions were recorded, and I listened to the audio many times in the years following the gathering. Eventually, after listening to the same sermon a half dozen times or more, I figured out what was happening. This Quaker minister was speaking in the voice of the tradition where she had come to Christ, in the Pentecostal stream.

After that, I didn’t run into the gift of tongues again for a very long time. I wasn’t involved in charismatic/Pentecostal circles, so it didn’t come up. Not until last year, at the Northeast Christ-Centered Friends Gathering in New York State. There, I came into contact Quakers who had been impacted by the charismatic renewal. During prayer time, they spoke in tongues.

It was wild.

They didn’t make a big deal of it. They weren’t ostentatious, nor did they expect anyone else to join them in their prayer language. But for someone like me with little experience of such phenomena, it was eye opening. I didn’t know such things could happen among Friends, and I honestly didn’t know what to make of it. I was both intrigued and slightly uncomfortable.

And then tongues came even closer. At the 2014 Fall Gathering of the Friends of Jesus Fellowship, we experienced a critical mass of charismatic Friends. During one prayer time in particular, there was an outpouring of ecstatic utterance, with perhaps about a third of those gathered actively speaking in tongues.

I didn’t. In fact, I had a tough time not laughing while others were praying in unknown languages. I don’t know why I had the almost uncontainable impulse to laugh. I think I was mostly nervous. To have half a dozen of my brothers and sisters praying in tongues was simply something I had never experienced before. But there’s no doubt that the spiritual temperature in the room was off the charts. It really felt like God was moving, and who was I to stop Christ’s mouth?

Who’s Afraid of Tongues?

I recently learned that a visitor to our 2015 Spring Gathering experienced discomfort at the fact that speaking in tongues appeared to be a central part of the Friends of Jesus Fellowship. It seems that some of the folks who joined us for the weekend were unnerved by the fact that glossolalia was present in some of our prayer sessions.

I can understand why. It makes me uncomfortable, and I know this community intimately! I can only imagine how it must have felt for those who had neither a background with tongues, nor with the community where they were being unexpectedly spoken. It was probably pretty unnerving.

But what is so threatening about speaking in tongues? I have several guesses.

One is that, perhaps, speaking in tongues is seen as being exclusive. Not everyone speaks in tongues, and some brands of Pentecostalism hold that those who do not practice tongues-speaking are not actually saved. That would be pretty alienating, to say the least. I know I wouldn’t want to be part of any community that judged people’s spiritual lives based on whether or not they spoke in tongues. Especially since I never have!

Another reason that I think many folks – Quakers in particular – might have qualms with speaking in tongues, is that it is seen as being overly emotional, even irrational. 

I can understand why many would come to that conclusion – especially Quakers, who tend to shy away from strong expressions of feeling. The act of speaking in tongues is profoundly non-rational. It’s about something that goes beyond normal human understanding, delving into the realm of the unconscious and supernatural. For those who value reason above all, speaking in tongues must seem profoundly dangerous.

When Are Tongues OK?

I don’t understand this whole speaking in tongues thing. I have never spoken in unknown languages, and it’s not a gift I’m actively seeking. Yet there are some in my community who do sometimes speak in tongues. It’s a significant part of their spiritual experience and personal prayer life. Sometimes it comes out in worship.

I’m proud of my community. Friends of Jesus Fellowship isn’t obsessed with charismatic expressions. We’re not chasing after exotic gifts and wonders. At the same time, we don’t flee from them when they do occur. On the contrary, our 2014 Fall Gathering was edified by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, expressed in large part through the ecstatic prayer and non-rational utterances by several of our brothers and sisters.

I don’t have to understand speaking in tongues to know that it felt healthy when others did. I don’t have to pretend I’m comfortable with tongues to welcome these gifts into our community.

This was never about being comfortable, anyway. I learned a long time ago that it’s those times when I’m stretched beyond my comfort zone that God is doing really important work in me. If our community is stretched and challenged by the emergence of charismatic gifts among us, perhaps this an opportunity for spiritual growth on a mass scale.

I’m down for that.

What’s your experience of the charismatic gifts – tongues, healing, prophecy, and more? Do such gifts have a place among Friends? Do these expressions make you uncomfortable? Why?

Related Posts:

When We Pray, It Boils

Strive for the Greater Gifts

  • chopin

    When I first encountered christ I was in a life of constant distress, grief, loss & multiple addictions. I met someone in similar circumstances who suggested I needed to get god to help me survive. That was 40+ yrs ago! My friend and I went to pentacostal churches where everyone lifted their hands in worship and most spoke in tongues. I was baptized by water and encouraged to recieve the baptism of the holy spirit. These were only concepts I was exposed to rather than spiritual experiences. I truely did encounter the holy spirit while I was in extream emotional & mental distress. This happened to me one night at my parents house. I was either going to kill myself or go completly psychotic. God was good to me then and I felt a cool fire on the top of my head (i could even hear it crackle!) A kind of physical and psychic peace decended on me from head to toes. I recieved tongues while I was in seattle pike place market. An old man named victor had a booth down there & me and my spouce wre talking to him, he asked if we spoke in tongues. We felt the presents of the holy spirit in this meeting. My spouce had tongues but I hadn’t. So victor asked if I wanted to speak in tongues & I did so he laid hands on me and prayed and I started speaking in tongues. Now I only seem to do it if I am in a dangerous situation or if I am praying for somepne in desperate need. I would say it comes to me when I don’t know how to pray.

    • Amen. Thanks for this testimony.

    • Shasta4737

      Chopin, I’ve had a few experiences like that. Once I was in a nondenominational. charismatic church service where people were speaking in tongues (I had never spoken in tongues at that time), and I suddenly felt this wonderful, warm pressure as if my whole body was being hugged. The feeling only lasted a few minutes, but it felt so absolutely profound. I know whatever it was wasn’t my imagination. Another time I had an amazing dream concerning God and Christian healing (I won’t go into details here) and woke up speaking in tongues. I was sort of frightened by that probably partially because I grew up in the Quaker faith where my mother thinks even raising hands in prayer is overly emotional! I’ve prayed in tongues a few other times, but it’s not something I dwell on, and I feel rather self-conscious about it. I’m also concerned that I may try to force it by my own effort rather than wait for it to come through the Holy Spirit.
      Still, if you read about the early Quakers, many displayed a lot of emotion – even crying, trembling, moaning and falling to the ground. (my mom doesn’t believe that happened, of course! ).

      • chopin

        Is something is wrong with your mother? sounds toxic & shutdown.
        it seems like you have a beautiful experience with the Holy Spirit.
        jesus said who is my mother and my brothers?
        IMO you are being given an opportunity to finally be home in the kingdom of
        God. are you willing to lose your mother’s
        fearbased faith and tradition?

        • Shasta4737

          Thank you Chopin for your concern, but my mother is just very old-fashioned. The Quaker meeting she attended for most of her life discouraged outward displays of emotion. She worships God by being very quiet. I was just trying to inject a little humor (didn’t work!) by mentioning how she doesn’t like showing emotion. Also, she has been the person who has most influenced me in my Christian walk. Most of my close relatives and friends are nominal Christians or agnostics, so maybe that is why I thought of her here. She has influenced me with very good Christian values in most every way. She has a very kind and generous soul, for example.

  • Duncan Pugh

    It is a mass induced psychological condition … the ecstasy that follows it is a result of the fact that you have just let go of everything and totally released your mind, you go into a trance and you come out of it … you feel that something spiritual has happened … I did it once at a tent meeting but I was in my very early teens and I look back and think what on earth was I even doing there at that age … school took us!

    I was part of a Christian club at school … soon one girl started breaking out into speaking in tongues all the time it was almost as if she was trying to prove her superior spiritual attainment through showing off … I soon left the club. I think it is very dangerous to see this as some kind of infusion with the Holy Spirit. There is nothing Christian about it. What was it Jesus said? Oh yeah Matthew chapter 6 … there are a lot of people … public figures in particular who need to take it on board.

    5 And when thou prayest, be not as the hypocrites:
    for they love to stand and pray in the Synagogues, and
    in the corners of the streets, because they would be seen
    of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.

    6 But when thou prayest, enter into thy cham-
    ber: and when thou hast shut thy door, pray unto
    thy Father which is in secret, and thy Father which
    seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.

    • Hey Duncan –

      I can’t speak to what you experienced in other contexts, but I haven’t experienced those among the FOJ community who speak in tongues as deluded or hypocritical. I can see how that could easily become a dynamic in communities where speaking in tongues has become a status symbol or litmus test, but that’s not what’s going on here.

      • Duncan Pugh

        What is going on then? It sounds like the preacher at the beginning was half comprehensible … do you think her ‘sermon’ was particularly good?

        • chopin

          duncan i don’t know you but i have seen your posts bf. You seem to be angry abt this beyond what the actual discussion of tongues. I sense something heavey is leaking out of you thats been festering awhile. I love you & am lifting you up.

          • Duncan Pugh


          • Duncan Pugh

            No you are imagining it … I am very sceptical about this kind of thing that’s all.

        • The sermon I mention was deeply powerful, one that continues to impact me to this day. She spoke in tongues at several points during the sermon, but it was never so much that this became the focus. Like I said, I didn’t even realize she was speaking in tongues until I listened carefully, later, in a recording!

          • Duncan Pugh

            Interesting but can’t help but feel that I am going to explode in a torrent of pent up anger and resentment.

          • I’m sorry, Duncan. I don’t know what’s going on, but I’ll pray for you.

          • Duncan Pugh

            Sorry I am fine I am just being silly

          • Adria Gulizia

            Can you give us a link to the sermon?

  • People tend to fear what they don’t understand and to vilify what makes them uncomfortable. With God’s help they can push through their fear and discomfort.

  • Steven Davison

    I have been to one charismatic meeting. In that meeting, people sang in tongues; no one spoke in tongues. Those folks explained it as singing in the language the angels used to praise God in heaven. I don’t know about that. It was beautiful, though.

    However, I see three problems with speaking in tongues, things that were obviously troubling Paul’s congregation in Corinth.

    First, people exulted in it and were exalted for it. It almost inevitably gets caught up in a power game about who is the most holy, or, worse yet, who is holy at all.

    Second, you can’t understand it; you can only react to it. I studied the phenomenon a bit back then and every serious study of glossolalia has concluded that it doesn’t have enough of a structure to be a language. Even if it were a language, however, the content, the message, is lost on the hearers. Paul recommended only speaking in tongues when someone with the gift of interpreting tongues was there to translate.

    Some would argue that any deep spiritual experience transcends full understanding. True. But deep spiritual experience is transformative. So my question is, what are the fruits of speaking in tongues?

    Finally, speaking in tongues feels to me like the siddhis of yogic tradition—the psychic manifestations that spontaneously arise from practice. The classic one is quaking, involuntary movement while meditating, sometimes combined with involuntary vocalization.

    My yoga teachers emphasized that one should not seek the siddhi experience for its own sake. It was just a gratuitous signpost along the path; your practice was simply releasing energy. That’s how I treat speaking in tongues.

    Speaking in tongues seems inevitably to become an issue. It attracts attention. It is a distraction from the real work of transformation in Christ. It is not the point. But as soon as it shows up, it becomes the thing everyone wants to—or has to—pay attention to.

    It’s thrilling, though. And it’s hard to give up thrilling.

    • I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say that speaking in tongues is a “distracation” from the real work of following Jesus, though I agree with you that any charismatic expression – whether vocal ministry, quaking, tongues-speaking, or healings – have the potential to become an idol if we come to value the gift over the Giver.

    • Adria Gulizia

      You ask, what is the fruit of speaking in tongues. I’m not sure that
      there is a direct fruit, but here is what I can say. Tongues accompanied
      a prayer session in which a new and powerful type of public prayer was
      released in me. (This change was remarked on by others.) Tongues
      accompanied a prayer session in which I, personally, experienced deep
      spiritual healing of years-old wounds. I don’t know what fruits, if any
      come from speaking in tongues, but my experience of tongues among
      Friends has been that they have always accompanied a powerful
      manifestation of the Spirit. For that reason alone, I would not want to
      discourage their use.

    • Hye Sung Francis Gehring

      If we are able to interpret are own prayers in tongues, which Paul encourages us to pursue (1 Cor. 14:13), we may encouraged by what the Spirit within us is speaking (Rom. 8:26). That said, praying in tongues without interpretation is simply “speaking mysteries in the Spirit” (1 Cor 14:2) / “praying in the Spirit” (1 Cor. 14:14) and is still counted as edifying by Paul (1 Cor. 14:4). Why exactly? I don’t know. I find it centering and life-giving for my introverted, anxious self. I don’t find it to be all that thrilling but often a spiritual discipline and an aid in prayer. I go into depth in another comment on this post. Blessings.

  • I remember when studying Friends history, I discover that charismatic gifts were a dynamic experience of some early Friends. And before that, how when my wife and I were members at one Friends Yearly Meeting back in the late 1970’s which didn’t allow more than about 15 minutes of open worship for fear that someone might suddenly begin to “speak in tongues.”

    Personally, I never spoke in tongues though for a number of years I hoped to. It all began when I was in college and dating a Pentecostal girl. She wanted me to have the experience of the Holy Ghost. So to please her, and because I did want to be closer to God, I went forward and was prayed for, but nothing happened.

    Later, I sought deeper works of charismatic gifts but never experienced them. I was prayed for, and prayed for hours, but none ever came.

    It seems to me that tongues is an ecstatic expression of love for God sort of like the intimacy of a husband and wife when a physical act expresses deeply their love.
    Or in a more superficial sense, like at a sports events when some individuals become extremely moved by an action by their team on the field and break out in ecstatic cheering.

    Much later (when I was 59), when I was a member of another Friends meeting, I remember being censured by several members because I became very excited about God during one meeting. I didn’t do anything like speak in tongues, but only became spontaneously emotional. They told me I was out of order. That baffled me. How could brief deep emotional praise be contrary to worship?

    I suppose that was one of several steps which eventually led to my resigning from the membership.

    Now I look back on all this from a more academic perspective—I’m on the outer edge of Quakerism, and no longer think Christianity can be true–and wonder at how the Society of Friends has experienced such widely different paths in its history.

  • Hye Sung Francis Gehring

    How could I not comment on this post?

    First of all, thank you, Micah, for your openness and willingness to embrace and include all the gifts of our community, even if they are unfamiliar and, frankly, strange. I am so thankful that FoJ has been a space where my gifts and my whole person have been affirmed, encouraged, and embraced.

    Second of all, I thought I should say that there is a very real number of people who have witnessed the use of glossolalia being abused, or been in tongues-speaking communities that were unhealthy. That said, tongues-speakers and charismatic/Pentecostals as a whole are a diverse group, as there are about 500 million of us. American Pop-Charismaticism may have a lot of issues, like Evangelicalism as a whole, but there are many who practice these gifts wisely, lovingly, and with much discernment.

    I find N.T. Wright’s explanation of tongues as very valuable:

    “‘Tongues’ refers to the gift of speech which, though making sounds, and using apparent or even actual languages, somehow bypasses the speaker’s conscious mind. Such speech is experienced as a stream of praise in which, though the speaker may not be able to articulate what precisely is being said, a sense of love for God, of adoration and gratitude, wells up and overflows. It is like a private language of love.”

    I first spoke in tongues in May 2010. I came to faith in Christ the fall of 2009, and so this following Jesus thing was all very new. I had felt encouraged to seek the filling of the Spirit after listening and reading Reformed and Puritan preachers exhortations to be ‘sealed’, ‘baptized’, or ‘filled’ with the Holy Ghost. My parents at the time did not know I believed in Christ, so I would walk to the park nearby and pray in the snow, asking Jesus to fill me fresh with the same Spirit that empowered his ministry. I did this for over a month, with no powerful ‘manifestations’ or ‘gifts’ of any sort, but very often with an experience that felt like waves of love over my chest and sometimes my whole body. I would even begin shaking, quaking if you will, because of the intensity of these moments of communion.

    One night later that spring, I was frustrated, hurting, and felt that my prayers were dry and not expressing something stirring in me. I had been pacing in my bathroom, of all places, and some words burst out of my mouth. I thought, “what…. was what?” I had not belonged to a charismatic church at the time and only heard tongues a few times at my friend’s youth group years before that (and we both thought it was hilarious!) and did not want to fall into deception. I ran to my bedroom, got on my knees, and asked God to give me wisdom on that experience, and in the middle of this I began speaking in tongues again. It felt so natural, almost like my native language, and after ten or so minutes praying in tongues, I felt filled head to toe with peace.

    Is this a literal language from a people group I’ve never encountered
    or the tongue of angels or something even beyond language, perhaps the
    ‘sighs’ and ‘groans’ of the Spirit too deep for words (Romans 8:26)…. I
    don’t know. What I do know is that this has been an incredibly
    beneficial grace and even spiritual discipline in my own walk, and for
    millions of other Christians. It has played a huge role in my prayer
    life, aiding my intercession as the Spirit leads and I often use it in
    worship and my own prayer, finding the expressions I am longing for in
    these ‘words’. I have often found tongues to be centering.

    I have seen it provide others with cheap thrills, but I cannot say that
    this has been my experience or at all normative in the broader
    charismatic world.

    Again, Micah, thanks for sharing this, and I pray that the wider of Society would be stirred to seek the Spirit’s presence and ministry no matter what it looks like.


  • forrestcuro

    The closest I think I’ve come to this might have been when the synoptic gospels class from Pendle Hill was invited to Marsha Praeger’s Jewish Renewal synagogue; we walked in and sat down among a group of people chanting praises in Hebrew (We were given their crib sheet) and it seemed so ‘right’ that Anne & I were both weeping. Their use of the traditional service was as a sort of mantra; and many times as the two of us continued to return we would feel very heavily attuned by participating. And of course the time when a woman leading the service suggested we all ‘jam’ on the phrase ‘Halleujah!’

    On a physical level (which I see as analogous to whatever happens on other levels) there’s a chunk of cortex on the left side of the brain that generates speech. The version of this on the right side — seems to be concerned with music, another mysterious phenomenon which many of us feel to be sacred.

    Disciplined singing can certainly make a product of great beauty — but I’ve many times wondered if there might be room made for un-disciplined singing. Not necessarily random or discordant, but spontaneous, wordless (or not) singing as a means of expressing God’s work in us.


    • Shasta4737

      Forrestcuro, what you say is so interesting. I’ve thought about how abstract visual art could be analogous to speaking in tongues. Without our own consciousness firmly dictating what we’re doing, the Holy Spirit might be able to take over and lead us.

      • forrestcuro

        Non-representational visual art can end up serving as sort of a rorshack picture of a great many things… I’ve heard it described as a way of copping out from any politically-inconvenient content — and then there was the painter from Cuba who was on a good will tour for their government when Anne and I were enjoying a freebie trip to Austria (via an old friend.) Times when his kind of freeform blobs were out of political favor, he’d been sent to labor camps & like that for being unable to renounce it. The work was not just blobbish, but ugly.

        Listening to (a translation of) what he was saying, I finally gathered that the pictures on display were not the object, were not the art. The art was the struggle he went through between his original concept, the stubborness of physical materials, the actual thing on the wall that needed to be made right somehow.

        I used to go non-rep most of the time because it was a whole lot easier than the ‘really looks like something’ paintings I didn’t have the skill or the lifelong experience to produce — although I preferred these when I could do so… There are interesting possibilties between one mode and the other…

        • Shasta4737

          That is very interesting, forrestcuro. I will look at the blog when I have time. Thank you for sending it.

    • Adria Gulizia

      The Church of God sings in an “undisciplined” way, but they do NOT mess around with music. In my opinion, every line smells of the Spirit. Check out one of my favorites.

      • forrestcuro

        “Don’t mess around with music” == “don’t write down or rehearse performances”? Clearly they had a tune and words in mind. And then, I gather, they let that enTHUSiasm loose on it.

        I wouldn’t say that freeflying emotion is the Spirit — but the Spirit can certainly manifest that way.

        • Adria Gulizia

          Don’t mess around with music= remembering that you don’t need an organ, drum set and guitarist and bassist to praise the Lord, weaving together harmonies and making a joyful noise unto the Lord without a lot of fuss and persnickety arranging. I definitely agree with you on the emotion. Having started listening to some of their stuff, I daresay they would agree too! Emotion is not what is important. Letting the Lord touch your Spirit is what matters. I appreciate they sing as if they believe the words of the song. It is hard to believe in Victory in Jesus if the people singing sound defeated!

          • forrestcuro

            That Jewish group didn’t have a set of professional instruments; and everything (except the order of the service) was ad lib. They had a good Klesmer guitarist who would sometimes bring his guitar. There were often drums around for anyone so moved; a few times when we were there someone would get up and start dancing, which might involve a few people, or might lead to a long line of people dancing. The main teacher for Torah study was a man who’d lost his voice to throat surgery; and often he would whistle. The chants were simplified, summary versions of the traditional service, tending to repeat the main lines of a song — so that Jews regaining their tradition, or total newbies like us, could know basically what we were chanting and get by. Only the Cantor, I believe, was a professionally trained musician; but when he was there he was leading rather than performing for passive listening; everyone was involved. (The other person from the class I know of who was strongly moved by the experience said she’d been struck by a sense of Jesus’ presence at the time.)

            Anne occasionally would notice somebody singing out of tune — but all the same, they would fit.

  • Mike Berry

    Hey Micah, you do know that George Fox spoke in tongues right?

    • Where do you find that? Did he mention in the Journal? Page ref?

      • Adria Gulizia

        Page 13 of The Great Mystery of the Great Whore Unfolded : “[W]e received often the pouring down of the spirit upon us, and the gift of God’s holy eternal spirit as in the days of old, and our hearts were made glad, and our tongues loosed, and our mouths opens, and we spake with new tongues, as the Lord gave us utterance…”

        • Couldn’t this just be a reference to prophetic speech?

          • Adria Gulizia

            It could be. However, some quick Googling revealed the below. It is unclear whether early Friends spoke in tongues, but the current state of research suggest that tongues-speaking among early Friends is more than a fanciful or anachronistic notion. (These are the reputable sources. I didn’t include the numerous references to Friends in Pentecostal and pro-tongues sites, as I would not want to risk their pro-tongues perspective leading them to include Friends erroneously among tongues-speakers.)

            “Quakers, it seems, rarely talk any more about speaking in tongues, even though such manifestations were quite common in the early days of the movement.” A Quaker Study on Spiritual Gifts, Prof. Stephen Palmquist, D.Phil., Department of Religion and Philosophy, Hong Kong Baptist University

            “The record seems to indicate that speaking in tongues was a common occurrence, especially among the early Quakers.” Tongues: A Theological History of Christian Glossolalia, Richard Hogue, 194

            “Other ‘badges’ of the Quakers associated with their ecstatic worship, such as swelling stomachs, writhing on the ground and speaking in tongues, were propounded initially by hostile observers of the Quakers.” Print Culture and the Early Quakers, Kate Peters, 105-106

            “Gromacki …notes that speaking in tongues was ‘reported’ as occurring among the Quakers…Butler…reports that the Quaker movement experienced charismatic phenomena, and this ‘probably’ included tongues…Hinson…notes that the Quakers themselves ‘minimized glossolalia’ putting a greater emphasis on intelligible prophecy…At least that suggests an acknowledgment by the Quakers of the existence of tongues among them. However, Cutten states that the early Quakers (at least) made no claim to tongues.” Tongues: Confused by Ecstasy, David A Swincer, 425

        • Robert Hammond

          “The gift of the Holy Sprit is a gift in speaking diversities of languages, not some fabricated, meaningless speech that no one can understand. Further, 1) the Holy Spirit is given only to those who are obedient, as in obedient to the word of God in their heart that commands them, and 2) languages are given as a sign to unbelievers. Now what unbeliever is going to be impressed by what is not understood? None to few. Paul even says, unless there is someone to interpret the language being spoken, will they not say that you are mad? Yet, the tongues of the Pentecostal movement today are exactly unintelligible speakings spoken by people who don’t even believe the word is in their heart and speaks to them; and so they are not obedient, and so the Spirit has not been given to them. Look at the typical Pentecostal service; do you see anyone interpreting? Glossolalia, (speaking in unintelligible tongues), has been around for thousands of years before Christ, even used in ancient Greek pagan temple sexual rites. During the time of the Apostle Paul in Corinth, pagan temple prostitutes were among the gibberish tongue babblers.”


          • Adria Gulizia

            Robert, I saw your earlier post. Did you see my brief survey of the research in which more sources than not suggested that early Friends did have experience of glossolalia?

            I am not qualified to speak about the typical Pentecostal service, as I have never been to one. But I have testified to my own experience that, among Friends, and specifically Friends of Jesus, tongues accompany powerful manifestations of the Holy Spirit. I hope that you will take that experience for what it is – my experience of one of the ways God moves. It is not intended to be a defense of a movement or particular theological stance. I testify to what I have seen with my eyes and heard with my ears and experienced in my soul. I can read what you say and what Paul said, but what I am saying, I testify to based on my own firsthand experience of God.

          • Robert Hammond

            Thank you, Adria. Yes I did read your other posts and references. I speak from my firsthand experience as well. Much of what I saw and experienced during my years in the “speaking in tongues” movement was divisiveness, pridefulness, confusion, covetousness, factions, and other works of the flesh. God is not the author of confusion but of peace and a sound mind.

            I would consider looking more to Paul’s description of the fruits of the spirit as the true evidence of being moved by the Holy Spirit. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control.” As Paul further states the greatest gift is love.

            So I would not discount your experience or those of others who may be moved by the Holy Spirit in different ways. However, I would emphasize the gift of love and as Jesus says, “You will know them by their fruits.”

            see also:

          • Adria Gulizia

            I definitely agree with you there! In the book Primal Fire, which talks about the APEST (apostle, prophet, evangelist, shepherd, teacher) gifts, the author describes a gifted but spiritually troubled evangelist who, after falling back into drug addiction, brought his drug dealer to Christ and got the drug dealer off the streets before going elsewhere to find his next fix. The moral of the story? Spiritual gifts are one part of the picture, but they are not the most important part. The fruits of the spirit, which should be manifest in all believers, are the more important goal by far.

          • broschultz

            Just want to clarify that “tongues” is a gift of the spirit and should not be confused with the fruit of the spirit. Paul warns Timothy to be careful not to lay hands on new converts too soon as they may not be mature enough to handle the gifts they might receive. You shouldn’t judge one by the other. They are entirely different things. I am a convinced Quaker but I see a lot of the same symptoms you refer to among Quakers who don’t speak in tongues. I saw them in the Catholic church and an evangelical church as well. I don’t think we can pin the blame on a single gift. And yes I regularly see interpretation of tongues in an orderly service.

          • Great point, Jim. Thanks.

          • Robert Hammond

            Many people claim that “speaking in tongues” is evidence that they are filled with the spirit. However, if a gift has truly been given by the Holy Spirit, wouldn’t that person also manifest the fruit of the spirit? Looking at the many “tongue talking” Pentecostals, charismatics, televangelists, and others who clearly manifest covetousness, confusion, pride, factions, lust, and other works of the flesh, the question is what spirit they are really being led by. You can also watch a voodoo ceremony and see people speaking in tongues.

            Again, by their fruit you shall know them.

            Have you had a chance to read this link yet?


          • broschultz

            you are missing the point. You don’t get filled with the fruit of the spirit instantaneously. It’s fruit. It has to grow to maturity. Unfortunately there are way too many people filled with the Holy Ghost who aren’t walking in the fruit of the spirit. The Holy Ghost gives you the power to grow the fruit(Acts 1:8) but you have free will. It’s up to you to turn the other cheek and go the extra mile. Without the Holy Ghost you are stuck in an old Testament life where you don’t have the power to say no to temptation. With the Holy Ghost you do. That’s why the least in the kingdom of God can be greater than John the Baptist. In the old testament Samson had strength because of a gift from God, fruit of the spirit not so much.


            Have you considered that some of us who have received the gift do NOT indulge in such high power exercise but use it to aid the lost and lonely?

          • Robert Hammond

            How does speaking in “unknown tongues” aid the lost and lonely any more than speaking clearly with love or providing food and shelter?


            I said nothing about “unknown tongues” but given sufficient grace to be able to understand a need and respond to it understandably (when one’s knowledge of the needed language is minuscule).

          • Robert Hammond

            Sorry if I misunderstood you. I was just referring to the original topic about speaking in tongues. I thought that was what you were referring to the “gift.” Thanks for clarifying.


            And I was responding to your question, as well as recognizing that I had once attended a Pentecostal service and been visited by glossalia: NOT an experience I would urge upon anyone else.

          • Adria Gulizia

            The web page you linked to seems mainly devoted to discrediting the Pentecostal movement, though it does have some interesting things to say about tongues in general. I think it might be more relevant if Micah, myself, or other core members of the Friends of Jesus Fellowship were deeply involved in the Pentecostal movement. We aren’t. Those of us who have experience in Pentecostal have, for various reasons, left those churches. So you probably aren’t going to find too many ardent supporters of the Pentecostalism, especially as currently practiced, among us. I also want to echo, underline and highlight the distinction that Jim and I pointed out and that the Bible draws between fruits of the Spirit and spiritual gifts. All believers, no matter their lukewarmness or immaturity or backsliding, have at least one spiritual gift. However, fruits of the spirit develop as one grows into adulthood in Christ. Sometimes this is a fast process, and sometimes it takes decades and decades.

            What region do you live in? I think the best way to get a clear picture of how tongues operate in the context of the Friends of Jesus Fellowship would be to come to a Friends of Jesus gathering and worship and pray with us. You might be pleasantly surprised!

          • Robert Hammond

            Thank you Adria. I live in northern California. I have not yet attended a Friends of Jesus Fellowship. The nearest Friend’s meetings appear to be in Walnut Creek, Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco. I would be open to attend as the Lord leads.

            I have been reading George Fox and the early Quaker writings for the last several years and practicing silent waiting. I’ve found this article particularly helpful in my current stage of the journey:


          • Robert Hammond

            I looked at your website. Sounds interesting. Do you have any Friends of Jesus gatherings in Northern California?

          • Daniel King

            Here is a story I wrote about the relative importance of the fruits of the Spirit vs. the gifts of the Spirit.

      • Adria Gulizia

        Also, if you do a web search for “George Fox” and “speaking in tongues,” you’ll find that Quakers are featured in several books and articles on the topic.

  • broschultz

    I was at a house prayer meeting about 16 years ago when I heard a woman go off in tongues. I married her within the year.

    • Hye Sung Francis Gehring

      This made me smile.

      • broschultz

        That was the intent.

  • Robert Hammond

    I don’t see any evidence that George Fox or any of the early Quakers “spoke in tongues” as it is characterized here. I spent several years involved with Assembly of God, Church of God in Christ and other “Pentecostal” denominations. They are often characterized by such televangelists as Jim and Tammy Bakker, Oral Roberts, Jimmy Swaggert, Robert Tilden, and Pat Robertson. This is a far cry from the fruit of the spirit and teachings of Jesus, the apostles and early Quakers.

    From the footnotes to 1 Corinthians 14:

    1 [This chapter largely speaks about tongues or languages. The King James Version added the word “unknown” to become “unknown tongues,” in verses 2, 4, 13, 14, 19, and 27; the original Greek has no “unknown” in it, and therefore no other Bible translation included the word unknown, click to see. Even the New King James left the word “unknown” out. Further the word in Greek glossa means both the tongue of the body and a language, click to see. Most of the occurrences of this word in this chapter should have been translated as language, rather than tongue. So the word unknown has been eliminated, and the word language has been substituted for tongue where appropriate. In all cases of this chapter below (2,4,5, etc.), the Greek word for tongues or languages, (glwssai ) is the same (glwssai) as used as in Revelation 17:15: the whore sits, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and languages. Clearly the whore sits on the world of languages, not supposed heavenlytongues; clearly this chapter also speaks of the different languages of the world.

    Mark 16:17, says “they will speak in new tongues;” yet the New International states “The most reliable early manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not have Mark 16:9-20,” (see explanatory note at center of NIV chapter). So, the whole concept of “new tongues,” (along with handling snakes, and drinking poison), is without foundation.

    Now look at Pentecost, described in Acts: And they were all astonished and marveled, saying to one another, “Behold, are not all these who speak, Galileans? How is it that we hear, every man, in our own tongue in which we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.” Acts 2:7-11. Steven Crisp, an English early Quaker, writes in his Journal of the Lord giving him the ability to speak in the tongue of his Low Countries’ listeners.

    The gift of the Holy Sprit is a gift in speaking diversities of languages, not some fabricated, meaningless speech that no one can understand. Further, 1) the Holy Spirit is given only to those who areobedient, as in obedient to the word of God in their heart that commands them, and 2) languages are given as a sign to unbelievers. Now what unbeliever is going to be impressed by what is not understood? None to few. Paul even says, unless there is someone to interpret the language being spoken, will they not say that you are mad? Yet, the tongues of the Pentecostal movement today are exactly unintelligible speakings spoken by people who don’t even believe the word is in their heart and speaks to them; and so they are not obedient, and so the Spirit has not been given to them. Look at the typical Pentecostal service; do you see anyone interpreting? Glossolalia, (speaking in unintelligible tongues), has been around for thousands of years before Christ, even used in ancient Greek pagan temple sexual rites. During the time of the Apostle Paul in Corinth, pagan temple prostitutes were among the gibberish tongue babblers.

    Now ask yourself: would the Holy Spirit want to gift people with an unintelligible utterance so that they speak what no one else can understand, when Paul has told us that outsiders will think them mad? (They often dance around with rock and roll bands accompanying their speaking too!) 1 Cor 12:29-30 reveals that not all faithful Christians are to expected to speak in tongues; yet today the Pentecostals believe that speaking in tongues is the proof of all true Christians and evidence of their being Spirit-filled. If someone is Spirit-filled, their thoughts, words, and deeds are controlled by the Holy Spirit; they would be unable to commit any sin. Yet if you ask these Spirit-filled people if they are purified and without sin, they will quickly deny it. They think they have been baptized by the Holy Spirit; yet the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a baptism of burial and death that burns up the chaff, (sin), with unquenchable fire after the Lord has thoroughly purged the floor (your heart) and gathered the wheat, (the changes made in your heart, mind and spirit, from the engrafted words he has spoken to you, which are Spirit and life-giving), into the garner, (a new heart from God that has Christ formed within it). Those so deceived then never get quiet to listen to hear the Lord because they are continually speaking what they think is pleasing to God. If a man loves me, he will obey my words, my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. John 14:23. Unless they listen, hear, and obey, there is no spiritual progress. The tongues of the Pentecostal movement are not the Holy Spirit’s gift of languages that Paul references in this Chapter.

    Paul said to pray for understanding of the language your spirit prays, otherwise your understanding is unfruitful; and Paul said he would not pray or sing with his spirit unless he also understood what he said. (verse 13-15 below). He further said that to speak in words that are not easily understood was no better than speaking in the air, (verse 9 below). What good is it to mouth words that have no meaning to you? None! What good is it to speak words that have no meaning to others listening? None! Paul also said in verse 22-23 below: “Therefore tongues [languages] are for a sign, not to those who believe, but to those who do not believe, but prophesying is not for unbelievers, but for those who believe. Therefore the whole church comes together into one place and all speak with tongues [languages], and those who are unlearned or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are mad?” Only tongues that could be understood by the unbeliever would be of any value. Otherwise, if you, the unbeliever, or someone else cannot interpret, the unbeliever will think you are mad.

    Some might say, “but I am worshiping God in the Spirit.” Are you sure! Might you be worshiping Satan instead? You don’t know unless you can interpret the words you are praying or singing. Further,God must be worshipped in Spirit and Truth, (read the link). To worship in truth is to worship in the truth of the life, which He produces in your heart, which life is the light, which light is the anointing, which is truth and is no lie — the inward truth; and when you have the anointing, you are guided by His light in words to speak and deeds to be performed to His glory. When you have the anointing, you know all things. In addition be sure you know what you are worshiping; a god who accepts people continuing in sin until death and then embraces them into heaven is not the Jesus I know, who insists people stop sinning, that they repent, that they lose their life to save their life, that they forsake all, that they deny themselves and take up their cross every day, that they hate their life, and that they must be perfect, holy, righteous, pure, and merciful.

    I know there is some incredible power experienced with the speaking in tongues, (to the point of being taken over), but as Paul said, unless you or others are edified by your speaking, it is as worthless as speaking to the air; and it could be harmful if coming from other than the Spirit of God. Unless you know what you are saying, don’t say it. We have many scriptures that tell us to keep our words to few, particularly in the presence of God. Speaking words without understanding on your part is extremely risky to you. There are even reports of people thinking they were praising God; but when a visitor arrived who understood the language being spoken, they were cursing God instead.

    That incredible power, (which takes people over), has recently evolved so that same Pentecostal movement has now devolved into a circus of uncontrolled laughter, screaming, shouting, animal sounds, drunkenness, collapsing and unable to get up, people twitching and jerking spasmodically — everyone displaying a lack of self-control. To be filled with the Spirit is have your thoughts, words, andactions controlled by the Spirit; not drunkenness, revelry, foolishness, or harsh uncontrolled laughter — all of which are fruits of the flesh and violate self-control, peace, and gentleness, which are fruits of the Holy Spirit. Regarding false prophets, Jesus told us: “you will know them by their fruits;” do not be misled. This movement, known as The Toronto Blessing, has services fueled by a strong delusion that fools people to think they are experiencing the power of God, but leaves them stuck in their sins. This same incredible power, (that takes people over), is seen in Hinduism, known asKundalini, (awakening the serpent power).

    The leaders of the Pentecostal movement try to excuse the Pentecostal movement’s drunkenness by saying that Peter and the disciples were all drunk on the Spirit when the Holy Spirit was poured on them in Acts 2. There is radical difference between being in uncontrolled drunkenness and a controlled elation of joy. Peter and the disciples were in perfect control, speaking in the many of the languages of the dispersed Jews who had returned to Jerusalem. Their speech in all the different languages was recognizable. Peter then preached by the Holy Spirit and convinced 3000 men to become believers in Jesus Christ. If Peter and the other disciples has been staggering around, falling down drunk, and mumbling like the Pentecostals do, they would have been totally ignored or stoned. Trying to justify their uncontrolled, Satanic behavior by claiming Peter and the disciples were drunk on the Spirit, is without reason and shameful. They have joined with the mockers of the disciples who mockingly said: “These men are full of new wine,” Acts 2:13.

    Thus the Pentecostal leaders mock Pentecost as well as Peter and the disciples; to mock is to make someone or something look stupid by laughing at them, copying them, or saying something that is not kind; that is what the mockers did at Pentecost, calling Peter and the disciples drunk with new wine. Whatever the cause, drunkenness is the complete opposite of self-control, which is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, Gal 5:22-23. Drunkenness and revelry are not fruit of the Holy Spirit; they are fruit of the flesh and “those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God,” Gal 5:19-21.


  • mikeylabelle

    Ummm… is the “casting out of demons” next?

    • Adria Gulizia

      That is an interesting question. What does casting out demons mean to you? What do you think it meant to Jesus?

    • chopin

      are friends going in the direction of being equipped by the Holy Spirit to wage
      spiritual warfare? I think yes they are and they should be
      because what we face now and in future as a culture and a race
      is not against flesh and blood but we’re up against spiritual wickedness in high places, strongholds that require every gift of the Holy Spirit in order to counter and survive.
      BTW I’ve been casting out demons for many years & I’ve been asking others to pray for me and my spouse to have the demons cast out of us.

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  • Robert Hammond

    What did Jesus say about how to pray or how to speak? What did he say about speaking in tongues?

    In Act 2: 38 didn’t the people actually speak in foreign languages that were interpreted by people of various nations? This is a far cry from the unintelligible “tongues” that modern Pentecostal and charismatics often seem to display. Why don’t we see people supernaturally speaking in Hindu or Arabic or other foreign “tongues” that could be understood by people of those nations as it actually occured during the day of Pentacost?

    For those who say it is a special prayer language for God and angels, why can’t God just understand English or look at the intentions or your heart and the results of your actions? Does this speaking in unknown tongues really give people a special hotline to God or manifest any greater fruit of the spirit? How is it different than the people in voodoo ceremonies who also speak in tongues and claim divine inspiration?

    • Hye Sung Francis Gehring

      Hey, friend. I know you have you read my blog before. I address some of these issues in different posts, namely the nature of tongues. Be blessed.

      • Robert Hammond

        Thank you friend. I have read it. As we discussed before, it is more important to seek the giver than the gifts. And of all the gifts, the greatest is love.

        • Hye Sung Francis Gehring

          I tend to agree with you on that, but I believe Paul meant it when he said to earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially to prophesy. I will long for, and even ask God for, the graces of his Spirit to power out unto my life so that I can minister in power out of love, for him and his children.

    • Daniel King

      Hearing what sounds like tongues in voodoo ceremonies should not discredit the genuine gift of tongues that Paul talks about. The fact that counterfeit dollar bills exist do not devalue real dollar bills.

      • Robert Hammond

        Thank you Daniel. I agree. The gifts of the spirit as described in the Book of Acts and I Corinthians is not the same as what is seen in most voodoo ceremonies, televangelist fund raising programs, or most Pentecostal services and modern-day revival meetings.

        This is not to say, of course, that such gifts are not still given. An example from the Azusa Street Revival in Los Angles in 1906 where many were gathered after many days and hours of silent waiting, prayer and fasting:

        Among first-hand accounts were reports of the blind having their sight restored, diseases cured instantly, and immigrants speaking in German, Yiddish, and Spanish all being spoken to in their native language by uneducated black members, who translated the languages into English by “supernatural ability.”

        Quite a contrast from most of the unintelligible “speaking in tongues” and vain repetitions seen in modern “revivals” and televised circuses one might see on so-called Christian television and elsewhere.

        Unlike the original apostles, George Fox and early Quakers, and limited examples like Azusa Street, we don’t see people speaking other languages (aka “tongues”) that are supernaturally translated by people. More often, it is someone giving out some similar sounding babbling with one or two people claiming to interpret by giving out some generality or quoting a familiar bible verse.

        As you correctly illustrate in your video about the king’s gift, it is much more important to seek and manifest the fruit of the spirit than any specific gift.

        Here is another perspective. While I don’t agree with everything the person in this video is saying, I do understand his personal experience:

  • Veritas

    I don’t understand why bilingual education is so controversial….seriously; interesting article.

  • Daniel King

    I really love this article! It is wonderful to see there are some spirit-empowered Quakers. I greet you in the name of the Lord. If you want to speak in tongues, here’s how:

  • Robert Hammond

    Here is a good example of George Fox and the early Quakers being moved by the Holy Spirt:

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  • Harry Haller

    I can’t speak for others, but it’s clear to me that the idea of speaking “in tongues” comes from Acts 2–in which there are two key points: 1) The Holy Spirit touched each one of the Twelve and gave them this gift; 2) The “tongues” were the languages of all the people from all over the region who were present in Jerusalem.

    These two points have two implications: 1) The Holy Spirit imbues the speaker with the words in “other tongues”; 2) The words belong to the languages of those who are present to hear.

    Therefore, I can only conclude that the contemporary phenomenon of “speaking in tongues” does not come from the Holy Spirit if the “language” is intelligible to no one present. God’s purpose in causing the Twelve to preach the words of Christ for all to hear and understand, I believe, is another sign that God came into the world as Jesus because He decided to forgive and love and redeem all people on Earth.

    In short, when a person babbles in a “tongue” that no one present can understand, it is not the Holy Spirit speaking. There’s nothing wrong with anyone having an ecstatic experience, from feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit, but if that person is uttering sounds that mean nothing, it is not “speaking in tongues”.

  • Bruce Murphy

    Micah, this is Bruce Murphy. I wrote you earlier about the Quaker class I am leading in Newberg. (BTW your grandmother Elenita is in the class… we celebrated her 95th birthday last week). I believe I mentioned before that following Phylliss Tickle’s lead we are examining Quaker identity by exploring the Contemplative, Evangelical, Social Justice and Charismatic dimensions of historic Quaker faith. On Nov. 30 we will be discussing the Charismatic experience of Quakers.

    Thank you for your honest reflection on tongues. The Presbyterian Church I pastored for 7 years in Seattle in the 90’s was deeply influenced by the Third Wave Charismatic movement of the 70’s. During my time at the church many folks still practiced the Charismatic gifts, including tongues often on Sunday morning, to the benefit of all.

    When I first retired, before moving to Oregon, I worked with Tierra Nueva, a ministry with hispanic farm workers north of Seattle. It was a meaningful, but not yet powerful, work of Spirit until its quite reluctant leaders were overcome by the Charismatic gifts, including tongues. Today their ministry has spread around the world.

    All of this to say, I believe being open to ALL God has for God’s people is central to faithfulness.

    P.S. I have not spoken in tongues….

  • Steven58

    I was in an AG church and there was a woman worshipping behind me during the service. She was worshipping in Italian. I asked her if she was Italian. She said no. I asked her if she knew any of the Italian language. She said she didn’t. I then told her she was saying praises to God in Italian. I knew because I know some Italian. She was surprised. To her, she was worshipping in tongues. To me I heard praise in Italian. This stuff’s real.

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