Is Speaking in Tongues THE evidence of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit?

It has become increasingly common for Christians to suppose that the full gospel includes the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. Thus the question: Is speaking in tongues the evidence of being baptized by the Holy Spirit?

First, as the apostle Paul makes plain, believers are “all baptized by one Spirit into one body” (1 Corinthians 12:13), yet not all who believe speak in tongues (vv. 10, 30). Thus tongues may be a manifestation of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but tongues cannot be the manifestation.

Furthermore, even if one does speak in tongues it is not a guarantee that they have been baptized in the Holy Spirit. For as Paul puts it,

“If I speak in the tongues of men and angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1).

Indeed, says Paul, without love,

“I am nothing!” (v. 2).

Moreover, socio–psychological manipulation tactics such as peer pressure or the subtle power of suggestion can induce ecstatic utterances wholly apart from the Spirit. The normative sign of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is not speaking in tongues but the confession of Jesus Christ as Lord, repentance from sin, and obedience to God.

Finally, as Scripture makes clear, the normative sign of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is not speaking in tongues but the confession of Jesus Christ as Lord, repentance from sin, and obedience to God (Romans 8:1–17; 1 John 4:12–16; cf. Ephesians 1:13–15).

“Those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6).

As such, the fruit of the Spirit is not merely speaking in tongues, but

“love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self–control” (Galatians 5:22–23).

In sum, righteousness, not tongues, is the core of Christianity compressed in a single word.

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About Fr. John A. Peck

Director of the Preachers Institute, priest in the Orthodox Church in America, award-winning graphic designer and media consultant, and non-profit administrator.
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