The middle-road approach to the use or non-use of the gift of tongues, as seen in C Peter Wagner’s otherwise very helpful book How to Have a Healing Ministry Without Making Your Church Sick. Wagner does not have a problem with the reality or usefulness of the gift of tongues, But even so, in his 120 Fellowship adult Sunday School class he “dealt with public tongues by categorically forbidding their use.” (p28) The reason he gives is “My desire for unity in the Body supersedes my desire to see all the gifts manifested.” (p29) I wonder if this is still the approach Peter takes? It seems a pity that, especially in a training class, people aren’t given the opportunity to work out why their behaviour (not the gift) might be divisive, and learn to live with what is a great blessing of God!
To use Wagner’s own terminology, a church, with or without a healing ministry, which forbids the use of tongues, is already somewhat sick!
Instead of dealing with the root of the issue – people’s sinful reactions to the unknown or unfamiliar – those who follow this median approach, and even more so those who deny the gift completely, cut people off from one of the important resources that God has provided to help them live and grow. Then we wonder why so many Christians are lukewarm in their relationship to Jesus! This action of the leaders is itself often based on fear, either of the gift, or of the giver, or of the effect its use might have. Fear is hardly a godly response from which to make a decision, now is it a very good qualification for leadership.
Jack Hayford’s book, The Beauty Of Spiritual Language, is a delight with it’s emphasis on the glorious nature of this God given way for a believer to participate directly in the worship of heaven around the throne of the Lamb. Speaking in tongues is a small foretaste of things to come in the next age!