While searching for something completely different, I found this article on ‘speaking in tongues‘ by Philip Mauro (1859-1952). The opening section provides a useful summary for how ‘tongues’ is best understood in the early portions of Acts. He raises a few points worth pondering in a serious fashion.
The second section is a bit brief, and I wish Mauro would have developed a couple of ideas further, but it is still worth considering. For me, the key point to recognise is the closing statement for that section, which becomes a segue for the third.
While I would contend that Paul’s argument includes chapter 13 (which Mauro does not [seem to] contend), Mauro’s comments here are rather instructive. My only question would be: is Mauro assigning the benefit of the miracle only to unbelieving Jews at Pentecost, thus making Paul’s Corinthian audience predominantly Jewish; or is Mauro using the state of unbelieving Jews at Pentecost as a specific example of the wider application of Paul’s argument (i.e. miracle of tongues is for the benefit of unbelieving Gentiles, too)?
The fourth section is about as simple as one could make it, while at the same time saying what needed to be said. Some could assert that the final paragraph is a bit forced, and in some ways I would agree with that. However, I think Mauro’s overall point is valid (especially the last sentence).
The fifth section comes across rather abruptly and concludes in a similar fashion. I agree with the general substance of his argument (mainly because [I think] I know where he’s going with it), but I think he should have developed his case a bit more. My big concern in this section is the use of Mark 16.14-20, which might not originate from Jesus but most likely stems from an amalgamation of teachings, historical events and traditions inserted by a well-meaning scribe.* My only other concern is that his argument also takes on a kind of ad hominem tone; but then again, I may have misread how he stated things.
The final section is what leads me to read Mauro’s argument as a bit ad hominem. I do not agree with the idea that the teaching of which Mauro speaks ‘is one of the most dangerous of these last days’ (either Mauro’s or ours); there are teachings that are far more problematic and dangerous than tongues. However, I am sympathetic to the comparison of certain manifestations of the charismatic experience to various types of experiences found in spiritualism/mysticism outside of Christianity. (Go here for a video clip on this comparison, and go here for a brief take on some ‘charismatic’ experiences and hypnosis). I would only add that this potential point of overlap requires faithful and humble discernment on the part of Christians; not exercising this discernment has the potential of leading one into dangerous ideas/teachings.
What are your thoughts (on either Mauro’s argument or my response)?
* I realise in saying this without much more ado I am guilty of the previous criticism–i.e. stating a point and not developing it. My sincerest apologies.