THE CONCEPT OF SPEAKING IN TONGUES IN THE PENTECOSTAL CHURCHES IN NIGERIA

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THE CONCEPT OF SPEAKING IN TONGUES IN THE PENTECOSTAL CHURCHES IN NIGERIA (A CASE STUDY OF SELECTED PENTECOSTAL CHURCHES IN LAGOS STATE)

CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
1.2. BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
One of the most dramatic features of the story of twentieth century global Christianity has been the rise and expansion of the Pentecostal
movement. Wherever the Pentecostal movement or church is found the subject of speaking in tongues comes to the fore. Pentecostals
dier, however, as to what role speaking in tongues play in worship and in the church as a whole. Sundkler postulates that “Pentecostal
churches whether they are lead by Europeans or Africans are definite on the gi of speaking with tongues. The baptism of believers in the
Holy Ghost is indicated by the initial physical sign of speaking with tongues, as the Spirit of God gives them utterance. Horton (2011)
supports this when he also writes “it is inconceivable that a supernatural experience like the baptism should exist without distinctive
supernatural evidence. A tongue is that necessary evidence and these statements clearly support the idea that tongues must accompany
baptism in the Spirit. Pentecostals consider the events on the Day of Pentecost (Act 2) as repeatable in terms of the promise that the gi of
the Spirit was for the attendees and their ospring (Act2:39) as part of their hermeneutics that reads Acts as a model for the church today
(Menzies 2016). They argue that speaking in tongues serves as precedent and archetype of Spirit baptism (Mittelstadt 2010) but also as
repeatable evidence of the Holy Spirit’s continued presence (Synan 2011). Speaking in tongues do play an important role in the Pentecostal
Movement in order to sensitise the believer to the promptings of the Spirit, to give confidence to witness, and provide power to live a holy
life (in the language of pioneers like Taylor [2010] and Haywood [2011] ). However, it is argued here that the claim that the events during the Day of Pentecost should be repeated and replicated in the modern church is only valid if the tongues of Acts 2 can be proved to be identical with the tongues in 1 Corinthians 12–14 and contemporary experience. Larry Christianson, a Lutheran pastor, stressed strongly the significance of speaking with tongues for personal prayer life and found in it a source of spiritual refreshment but he refused accepting that speaking in tongues is the only sign of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Speaking in tongues, singing praises to God, dancing for the Lord and declaring the mighty acts of God are distinctive in Pentecostal churches around the world. Pentecostalism is the fastest expanding stream of Christianity to an extent that in this paper it is viewed as shaping Christianity in the 21st Century. Asamoa-Gyadu (2010) observes that Pentecostal churches emphasize salvation as a transformative experience brought about by the Holy Spirit. The anticipated proclamation in dierent tongues, however, soon disappointed the earliest missionaries on mission fields when nobody understood their ‘Spirit tongues’,
and early Pentecostals had to look again at what the New Testament teaches. They found this time that these tongues serve as a useful way
to praise and worship God, as a prayer language (Anderson 2015; Busenitz 2014; McGee 2007). Little is recorded about this failure, leading the well-known British Pentecostal leader, Donald Gee (2013), to deduce that it represents a chapter in the history of the early Pentecostal church that they would like to forget. Lawless (2007) describes Pentecostalism as a fundamentalist charismatic religion which draws on holiness tradition from the early Methodism. In early Methodism, religious injunctions concerning Christian behavior stressed the importance of spirit-led and spirit-filled religious dogma. In this sort of Christianity, personal service encounters with the Holy Spirit
expressed in public exhibitions of speaking in tongues as endorsed of possession of the Spirit. The key focus in charismatic Pentecostalism
is the working of Holy Spirit who has a powerful force among believers. Acts 2-4 forms the core reference to Christian experiences termed as„baptism of the spirit‟ upon the first Christians in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost. In the primitive Christianity, shouting in tongues
unknown to the believer and speech in unknown language were common in worship places and to them, this served as the evidence of the
presence of the Holy Spirit. It was believed that those baptized by the spirit would receive other supernatural gis that were in the early
church such as prophesy, healing and glossolalia (speaking in tongues). But which of these two opinions is most in harmony with New
Testament evidence; does the New Testament show that reception of the Holy Spirit is evidenced by speaking in tongues?

1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEMS
From its beginning to the present, the church has been divided over various issues and theological topics. One of such topic is speaking In
Tongues. It is amazing how something that, by definition, has its source in God’s grace can divide Christendom. Based on the same Bible,
some Christians connect speaking In Tongues with the initial evidence of the baptism in the Spirit, while others reject such an idea. Some
regard it as “a thing of the past,” arguing that speaking In Tongues, like some other miraculous gis, ceased to exist aer the Bible was
completed. Consequently, it is easy to get lost among the variety of opinions and interpretations. The main concern of this study is not
speaking In Tongues in general, but one specific issue in connection to it: Can Christians in church speak simultaneously in dierent
tongues, or must they speak one by one? Namely, believers in Pentecostal churches in the context of worship and prayer oen practice
simultaneous praying or singing together in dierent tongues. Critics then point to Acts and 1 Corinthians 14 claiming that, yes, believers in
Acts 2 were speaking simultaneously in tongues, but their speech was understood by others, and in 1 Corinthians 14, Paul specifically says
that those who have a gi of tongues must speak “one by one.” Does this mean that there are two dierent and opposite teachings
regarding speaking In Tongues?

1.3. AIMS OF THE STUDY
The major purpose of this study is to examine the concept of speaking in tongues in the Pentecostal churches in Nigeria. Other general
objectives of the study are:
1. To examine the nature of speaking in tongues in Pentecostal churches in Nigeria.
2. To examine speaking in tongues as a major source of conflict in the Pentecostal churches in Nigeria.
3. To examine the impact of speaking in tongues on the spiritual life of the members of Pentecostal churches in Nigeria.
4. To examine the roles of speaking in tongues in Pentecostal churches in Nigeria.
5. To examine speaking in tongues as a spiritual gi in Pentecostal churches in Nigeria
6. To suggest ways to address the extremes of this phenomenon in Pentecostal churches in Nigeria.

1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS

  1. How is the nature of speaking in tongues in Pentecostal churches in Nigeria?
  2. Is speaking in tongues a major source of conflict in the Pentecostal churches in Nigeria?
  3. What are the impacts of speaking in tongues on the spiritual life of the members of Pentecostal churches in Nigeria?
  4. What are the roles of speaking in tongues in Pentecostal churches in Nigeria?
  5. Speaking in tongues are spiritual gis in Pentecostal churches in Nigeria?
  6. What are the ways to address the extremes of this phenomenon in Pentecostal churches in Nigeria?

1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
H0: There is no impact of speaking in tongues on spiritual life of members of Pentecostal churches in Nigeria.
H1: There is a significant impact of speaking in tongues on spiritual life of members of Pentecostal churches in Nigeria

1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The research work is both imperative and significant in the following ways:
1. This will serve as a reference point for the Pentecostal churches in Lagos state and the society at large.
2. The impact speaking in tongues have on the lives of members of Pentecostal churches in particular and other peoples in general are
enormous and cannot be wished away. The study is significant because of the claims that Pentecostals share the same experience of
the disciples on the day of Pentecost.
3. An appropriate understanding and appreciation of Pentecostalism as a branch of Christianity in Nigeria is of utmost importance and
this understanding and appreciation provide a window into the activities of these Pentecostal churches.
4. This research will also serve as a resource base to other scholars and researchers interested in carrying out further research in this field
subsequently, if applied will go to an extent to provide new explanation to the topic.

1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study is based on the concept of speaking in tongues in the Pentecostal churches in Nigeria, a case study of selected Pentecostal
churches in Lagos State.

1.8 LIMITATION OF STUDY
Financial constraint- Insuicient fund tends to impede the eiciency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or
information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on
the time devoted for the research work.

1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Pentecostalism: The term Pentecostalism when used to describe a Church or a group of Churches according to Livingstone, (1977) refers to: “A religious movement whose members or adherents share a common belief in the possibility of receiving the same experience and gis as did the first Christians on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2: 1 – 4). They emphasise the corporate element in worship oen marked by great
spontaneity and lay special stress on speaking in tongues, prophesy, healing and exorcism.”
Church: The Church has had a dynamic image. In Latin, the early Fathers of the Church referred to it as the Ecclesia ‘the called out ones’.
From this perspective it is understood why the Church is spoken of as ‘the elect’, ‘the saints ‘and that is why Jesus asked Peter to ‘build my
Church’ (Mt 16:18). In the early Church, they were referred to as ‘the people of God’ or ‘the Church of God’. St Paul speaks of the Church as the fullness of Christ and of fellowship (Ephesians 3:19). He also speaks of the Church as a mystery and sacrament of salvation (Eph 3:4). The Church therefore is understood here as the whole body of Christian believers or any division of this body in professing the same creed and acknowledging the same ecclesiastical authority.
Speaking in Tongues: Glossolalia or speaking in tongues is a phenomenon in which people speak in languages unknown to them. … The
term derives from glōssais lalein, a Greek phrase used in the New Testament meaning “to speak in or with tongues [i.e., other languages] ”
(Acts 2:4, 1 Corinthians 14:18)

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