When measuring the success of the Charismatic movement, many times it is said that since many people are speaking in tongues, this is proof that the Charismatic movement is true. That if you go to these meetings, and see hundreds of people all speaking in tongues, this must be true. (Indeed as I have witnessed such.) As was discussed in my previous musing, the idea that the entire congregation speaks in tongues together was foreign to the idea of St. Paul. There was also another reason why he did not want the faithful to eagerly desire this gift. The gift was not a sign of renewal, but of judgment. This holds true for any type of tongue speaking.
The idea that speaking in tongues is connected to judgment is normally something that is overlooked. Yet the thought permeates the Scripture verses which speak about tongues. First, let us deal with the day of Pentecost, in Acts 2. Peter gives the following sermon during the event where the Apostles spoke in one language, and were understood by all:
Rather than a sign of coming renewal, Peter directly quotes from the Prophet Joel's discourse on the "great and awesome day of the Lord", the Day of Judgment. There are those who escape God's judgment of the world (the elect) but the rest of the world does not. This judgment is ushered in by the young speaking in prophesy, and the visions of those older. These are not signs of improvement, but signs of things getting worse. In better days, such extraordinary signs would not be necessary. By speaking in tongues, St. Peter was passing in judgment. His speaking of tongues ushered in the New Covenant, judging the ways before, but also judging the ominous future ahead.
Even more clear is St. Paul's warning in 1st Corinthians 14:21, which quotes Isaias 28:11:
Now to modern minds, which know almost nothing about the Old Testament, such a passage seems oddly placed. As Paul is stressing the primacy of prophecy over the gift of tongues, he brings up a reference to the Prophets about the occupation of Israel. Yet when we dig a little bit deeper, the meaning becomes all the more clear, and the conclusion about tongues becomes all the more evident.
First, let us quote what Isias 28 has to say:
First we notice that the picture painted of Ephraim (the 10 tribes of Israel) is not going to be positive. Here the Prophet outlines all the good that was given to them, and how they have wasted such through their pride.
The Kingdoms of Judah are condemned here as childish. Their Pride makes them as children, unable to learn the wisdom of God. The unbelief of these people had become so extreme, they had become so childish, God was done speaking to them, at least in ways they understand. The phraseology "order on order" also has certain significance. Traditional Catholic Apologist Robert Sungenis mentions the following:
While some might view this exegesis rather comical, the point becomes clearer when we notice that God is calling them childish in the preceding verses. Since in their childish unbelief they have refused to listen to God, God will not speak to them as if they had knowledge, but speak to them as ignorant children. After this we are then told that God will speak to the people of Israel with a foreign lip and tongue, something they would not understand.
Now let's fast forward to the Church of Corinth. As was said before in the beginning of that Epistle, that Church was deeply divided. There was nothing but problems in that Church. They stopped listening to the word of God and sound principles. Almost every paragraph of Paul's Epistle is an indictment of that Church. It is in this context the eruption of what is viewed as the gift of tongues emerges.
St. Paul clearly outlines such a wild usage as proof they are not listening to the commandments of God. Indeed, it's placement over the clear words of prophecy indicates that just like the Jews of old, they threw away the clear teachings of the law and prophets. The sign that they threw away the solid teaching was that of tongues, and those tongues were a sign of judgment for rebellion against God's laws. As has been demonstrated by the Spiritual Master of the Church St. John of the Cross, the Charismatic movement has promoted a spirituality that throws away the clarity of St. John of the Cross and the rest of the great Catholic mystics.
When viewing tongues from that context, one could say it becomes all clearer why the wide proliferation of tongues in modern times started in Protestantism. Biblical principles tell us that those who are in rebellion to God's laws or those who are not strong in the clear teachings of prophecy receive tongues in judgment. Likewise this is so with Protestantism. Their mass promotion of tongues as evidence of them possessing the Holy Spirit actually became evidence that the work of the Spirit was absent from them. It is this absence the Catholic Charismatics sought. It is this sign of judgment that is widely promoted as a positive sign in the Church today. Truly they are still childish rather than child-like in understanding how the Holy Ghost works in us.
vol 16, no. 26
Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi