Re: 1Cor. 14:14

From: David Moore (
Date: Tue Oct 10 1995 - 00:13:52 EDT

"Carl W. Conrad" <> wrote:

>He seems to me to be less than keen
>on glossolalia but recognizes it as an admissible component of worship;
>what bothers him about it is that it's not rational and it doesn't
>communicate anything to other worshippers. So he urges that if the
>Corinthians are determined to indulge in it, they ought to make sure that
>someone is able to make sense of the ecstatic babbling for the sake of the
>rest of the congregation. And if there are outsiders there, they would be
>wiser not to indulge in it. I think Paul is also relativizing the same
>phenomenon and again associating it with ecstatic, irrational utterance in
>1 Cor 13:1, "If I speak in languages of human beings and of angels but have
>no AGAPH, then I've become clanging bronze or jingling cymbals."

        To elaborate on a previous, quickly-done, one-sentence response to
Carl's post: it is easy to fall into criticism of the spiritual gifts as
such because of abuses of them within the Corinthian congregation. But
relative to this, it is good to keep in mind that, in many cases,
especially in the epistles, we know about certain doctrines and practices
precisely because there were problems relating to them. The Judaizing
controversy, for example, brought out detailed explanation of the
doctrines relating to salvation by grace through faith. Abuses of the
concept of grace gave rise to substantial parts of the epistles of James,
Jude and 1 and 2 Peter, among others. Misunderstandings and false
teaching about the parousia of Christ were the counterpoint for the
teaching we have on this theme in the Thessalonian, and other

        If we were mistrustful of putting these doctrines into practice
and of integrating them into our theology because they were the focus of
problems in the New Testament church, we would be the poorer for it. So,
in a similar vein, that we learn of the function of the charismatic gifts
of the Holy Spirit in the context of a discussion of their abuses should
not scare us away from welcoming their orderly operation in our

        It is probable - and is suggested by some of the other epistles -
that charismatic gifts also functioned in the other congregations of the
NT era. We read about them in considerable detail in the first Corinthian
letter because of the problems there: not problems inherent in the gifts
themselves, but problems relating to the carnal attitude of those who were
employing the gifts.

        A look at Paul's attitude toward the gifts as such bears this out.
One can see this attitude in his congratulation of the Corinthians, "For
in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of
every kind - just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among
you - so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for
the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1C. 1:5-7). His teaching on the
body of Christ in the context of chapters 12-14 is a strong argument for
the operation of the spiritual gifts in concert and implies that Paul
envisions a church in which the multiple gifts may all function in harmony
for the good of the body as a whole (12:12-31). This interpretation is
also borne out in 14:26 in non-metaphorical language.

        Notwithstanding Paul's open attitude toward the functioning of the
gifts, his admonitions in this passage call his readers to a balanced
attitude. Tongues are not to be employed in a disorderly or scandalous
manner, but neither are they to be forbidden. All the gifts are to
function for the edification of the body and not the agrandizement of the
one who exercises the gift. And above all the love of Christ is to reign
in every action and in every heart.

        This seems to me a vision worth pursuing.

David L. Moore Southeastern Spanish District
Miami, Florida of the Assemblies of God Department of Education

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