This article is not going be concerned as to whether the gift of tongues exists for today or not. Some of the Fathers of the Church spoke of the Gift as something that had its time; others seemed to have had the gift. This article will assume the gift is for today, although, personally, I am suspicious of people that do claim to speak in tongues.
In my experience on Paltalk in a predominately Protestant chat room (much of which were Pentecostal or had leanings) I have experienced some things said over the microphone that have caused me to suspect the authenticity of the persons “speaking in tongues.” Now, this does not necessarily prove they do not speak in tongues, but it does show that they violate the Holy Scriptures rules on Speaking in Tongues and prayer.
One Protestant minister, who claims a doctorate in theology, said on the microphone he had whole congregations speaking in tongues! Sounds impressive. However, the Bible explicitly forbids this from being done! St Paul in 1Corinthians explicitly states that no more than three are permitted to speak in tongues at a time, and those tongues are to be interpreted.
“When you assemble, one has a psalm, another an instruction, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Everything should be done for building up. If anyone speaks in a tongue, let it be two or at most three, and each in turn, and one should interpret. But if there is no interpreter, the person should keep silent in the church and speak to himself and to God.”—1Corinthians 14:26-27
Now unless this Pentecostal minister’s congregation had only about 4 people, then what was being done was against the Scriptures. Then again, how can one interpret if the whole congregation ‘speaks in tongues’?
The same minister on several other occasions (as well as others in the room) has ‘spoke in tongues’ on the microphone with several dozen people in the middle of his prayers. (I have recorded this “tongue speaking” being done on 2 occasions.) Now there is nothing wrong with his prayer besides this ‘tongues’ incident. He spoke in tongues, yet there was no interpretation given that I am aware of. (When I compared it to previous instances of his “tongues” they were very similar to his previous instances of ‘tongues’) Now another explanation I have been given as to why people ‘spoke in tongues’ on the microphone was that it was a personal praying where the person speaking was getting edification for himself by his tongues. If this is the case, according to Jesus Christ in Matthew 6, this should not happen. Christ said:
"When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words.—Matthew 6:4-7
So, if people do pray in tongues in their own personal prayers, then it should be done in private, not outloud so as to draw attention to oneself. I included verse 7 in my citation because I believe if these tongues are being faked, or done as a result of some purely emotional reaction, then these “tongues” many modern day Pentecostal leaning believers are merely “babble” or gibberish. Some older bibles translate this verse as “vain repetition,” however, Greek Lexicons and more modern translations say it refers to ‘babbling’ or ‘stammering.’
Also, some Pentecostals have the habit of tarring and feather people who suspect THEIR tongues as being non genuine by labeling these skeptics as ‘mockers,’ “scoffers,” or people that "blaspheme the Spirit". People that are skeptical of the ‘tongues’ of the modern Pentecostal movement do not do so because they are mockers, but because they observe there is no interpreter, and the persons speaking tongues seem to be speaking out of emotional reaction. I tend to believe speaking in tongues has not completely ceased as a gift, I just believe the majority of these individuals claiming to speak in tongues are not really. In fact, I have been told by some ex-Pentecostals that they simply faked tongues, one told me he was coached to do so (say ‘aaahhh’), and another woman told me she was pressured to do so by several people surrounding her until she did so. I have been told that there are videos of people with the devious intent of infiltrating a Pentecostal group with the intent to fake tongues and upon doing, so people within the congregation were able to “interpret” this intentional gibberish, nonetheless.
Some others, sometimes Pentecostal, tell me something to the effect: “You cannot control when you speak in tongues.” This too is wrong. St Paul says,
“Indeed, the spirits of prophets are under the prophets' control” (1 Corinthian 14:32)
after addressing people speaking in tongues and making prophesy. So why should not these ‘speakers of tongues’ be likewise able to control when they do so? One man, who I know personally, claimed that, for instance, when he drops a can in the supermarket he starts to speak in tongues Of course, this is likely an emotional response. But, this person I know is less to blame because of the particular condition he is in.
Furthermore, some Pentecostals have told me that every Christian is supposed to have tongues, or the ability to speak in it, however, this too is wrong. According to St Paul, tongues are only for SOME people, not all.
“Now you are Christ's body, and individually parts of it. Some people God has designated in the church to be, first, apostles; second, prophets; third, teachers; then, mighty deeds; then, gifts of healing, assistance, administration, and varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work mighty deeds? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts. But I shall show you a still more excellent way.”—1 Corinthians 12:27-31
The answer to St Paul’s question is clear: NO. Not all are prophets, not all are apostles, nor teachers, etc.. And neither do ALL speak in tongues.
Finally, I give you the same warning my father (who's been a Protestant his whole life) was given: “Be weary of charismatics.”