Speaking in tongues & demonic possession


I recently learned that speaking languages that someone has never learned is a mark of demonic possession. When I learned this, I was really confused, because didn’t the Apostles in the New Testament speak in languages they hadn’t previously known in order to spread the Gospel, and that was the work of the Holy Spirit? What is the difference between these two instances? Is there a reason for their eerie similarity?

It’s true that this is believed to be a mark of possession. The 1614 Rituale Romanum says “Signs of possession may be the following: ability to speak with some facility in a strange tongue or to understand it when spoken by another; the faculty of divulging future and hidden events; display of powers which are beyond the subject’s age and natural condition; and various other indications which, when taken together as a whole, build up the evidence.” (Part 8, Chapter 1, #3). The Roman exorcist, Fr. Gabriel Amorth also collaborates this.

So, in addition to the questions above, how are we supposed to discern which is demonic and which is not?

Pax Tecum,


But was it not in this particular case…where they did not “babble” in some strange unintelligible “tongue”…but instead they were given the gift at that moment to speak…or translate into the many actual languages of the people in attendance?

From The Acts of the Apostles Chapter 2:

1 And when the days of the Pentecost were accomplished, they were all together in one place: 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a mighty wind coming, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared to them parted tongues as it were of fire, and it sat upon every one of them:* 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they began to speak with divers tongues, according as the Holy Ghost gave them to speak. 5 Now there were dwelling at Jerusalem, Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.

6 And when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded in mind, because that every man heard them speak in his own tongue. 7 And they were all amazed, and wondered, saying: Behold, are not all these, that speak, Galileans? 8 And how have we heard, every man our own tongue wherein we were born? 9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, Egypt, and the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome,

11 Jews also, and proselytes, Cretes, and Arabians: we have heard them speak in our own tongues** the wonderful works of God. 12 And they were all astonished, and wondered, saying one to another: What meaneth this? …*

I don’t think this is the same as what is currently considered “speaking in tongues”…


Right, the ‘speaking in tongues’ as recorded in Acts is a gift that I don’t believe has been given to the Church for many centuries. It was the ability to speak and be understood by many, and was necessary to evangelize, but is no longer necessary.

This was already evident in the 6th century:
‘Therefore if somebody should say to one of us, “You have received the Holy Spirit, why do you not speak in tongues?” his reply should be, “I do indeed speak in the tongues of all men, because I belong to the body of Christ, that is, the Church, and she speaks all languages. What else did the presence of the Holy Spirit indicate at Pentecost, except that God’s Church was to speak in the language of every people?”’

However, the question centers more along the lines of the claims of Pentecostal and Charismatic groups: the ability to speak in specific languages that specific people have no training in, which is exactly the phenomenon associated with demonic possession.


Agreed! :smiley:


Demons do not confess that Jesus is Lord.

"Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit. " (1 Cor 12:3)

So if they confess that Jesus is Lord, then they’re genuine, otherwise they’re not.


Communication with people of a foreign language is only **one aspect **of the gift of tongues. We read in 1 Cor 12:10 that there are various kinds of tongues.

The gift of tongues is also used to build up oneself.

“For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. On the other hand, he who prophesies speaks to men for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.” (1 Cor 14:2-4)

It is this aspect of the gift of tongues, the building up of oneself, which is important.

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.” (Romans 8:26)


The question to me is.
how does one know that this language is a true gift or not?
how do we know that the language these people come up with is not just an invention of man to attract people?

how do we know that the sounds they make are the same as at the time of the apostles?

i find very strange the suddenly appearance of this and how it grew and given so much importance to it. when St Paul even rebuked the corinthians for that.

:byzsoc: :highprayer:


By using the gift of the **discernment of spirits **(1 Cor 12:10). If you have this gift, you will know what spirit is speaking, whether it is the Holy Spirit, the human spirit or an evil spirit.

Pray to the Holy Spirit to give you this gift, if you don’t have it already.


We don’t know what they are saying. Many who have these ‘gifts’ state that they themselves do not know what they are saying.


why do you think Jesus said this. not everyone who says Lord, Lord will enter the Kingdom. on that day many will say Lord did not i do this and that in your name. Jesus says, depart from for i dont know you.

you see, it is not as easy as you think it is to discern.

Plus Jesus warn His Church that many would come in His name and would deceive many.


Speaking in tongues among Christians was not common until the beginning of the 20th Century. However, it has always been common among pagans. During the Salem witch trials, what is now called speaking in tongues was a clear sign of demonic possession. The first two girls murdered during the Salem witch trials were identified as witches because they spoke in tongues and had wild convulsions.

Although there have been a few references to Christians “speaking in tongues” in Church history, most held a view similar to Thomas Aquinas who felt the Scriptures refered to people that could suddenly speak and understand every language, or at least a previously unknown one.

Throughout most of the last 2,000 years, “speaking in tongues” was closely associated with paganism and witchcraft. This probably prevented Christians from adopting the practice for fear of being mistaken for a witch.


When the apostles spoke in tongues, the hearers heard them in their own language. If I spoke in english to a German, a Chinese, and a Zimbabwean person they’d all hear it in the language they know. It was a miracle that demonstrated their gift from God as a sign of proof, and it helped spread the Church simultaneously.

What’s happening today seems a bit…suspicious. People babbling with nobody to translate it. It seems everybody can babble these days, but nobody is given the gift to understand the babbling :rolleyes:


That babbling is exactly the same thing that pagans have always done. It used to be that people that spoke in tongues were considered to be possessed by demons, but now, people that speak in tongues usually think everyone else is possessed by demons.


and it surprises me that some CC has adopted this idea. i see many Catholics believing the teachings of the protestants religions. for example: i saw a cathesis teacher teaching the children about the left behind. i had to correct this idea. it seems to me instead of following the teachings of the Church they are being thought on protestants theology. what is going with the CC?

God bless all of us.


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