The Charismatic Movement and Glossolalia

Greetings all,

I would like to ask about the charismatic movement, particularly the practice of glossolalia or “speaking in tongues.”

I understand there is a Catholic Charismatic Renewal movement as well.

What does everyone make of this?

Also, here’s an argument a Oneness Pentecostal presented:

John 3:7-8 (RSV2CE)-

7 Do not marvel that I said to you, “You must be born anew.” 8 The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit.

“wind” in Greek also means “spirit” according to the RSV2CE footnote

he claimed that you know one is born of the Spirit when you “hear” it.

He then pointed to Acts 2 where they were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues.

I had my own rebukes against him but I’m curious what other people think about all this.

A person is born of the Spirit when he receives the graces of baptism, which ordinarily occurs when he is baptized in water in the name of the Lord.

Speaking in tongues is a charismatic gift, which the Holy Spirit gives to whomever He wills. It is not given to all who are born of the Spirit, though it is given to some. (1 Cor 12:10, 30)

The Old Testament story of prophet Balaam and his talking donkey shows that charismatic gifts, such as those of prophecy and speaking in tongues, can even be given to those who are not born of the Spirit. (Num 22)

I have read estimates that about 10% of the world’s 1 billion Catholics speak in tongues.

One hundred million Catholics speak in tongues?
Where are they all?

I think the whole Charismatic Movement in general, has become a dangerous sect within Catholicism.

While I have no problem with people practicing their beliefs, there are several parts of the Charismatic Movement, mostly led by ultra-radical Neocatechumenal Way.

  1. They tend to deny Reason when dealing with God. They “feel” the presence of God rather than observing it Rationally. Clearly not the way the Church defines the Existence of the Almighty.

  2. They play down Dogmatic Declarations and Theology, and replace it with feeling an emotion. This goes with their whole “feeling” of God. They know what God wants because they “feel” him.

  3. They have a widespread amount of Liturgical Abuse:

In general you want to stay away from these extremists that have infiltrated Holy Mother Church and Rome.

As far as the speaking in tounges…I think it’s at best plausible, but I believe the Apostles were given that gift because it was required, whereas now with translators and a global world, it’s no longer necessary.

Laus Deo

The majority (61%) of Charismatic Catholics live in Latin America, source.

The problems are many.

It starts out thinking that what they are saying is tongues, or a language.

The phenomenon of ecstatic utterances happens in a lot of religions, it’s not the Holy Spirit. Rather, it seems to be something that man is capable of doing or maybe better a state he is capable of reaching.

You get a lot of things, and they seem to be restricted by the persons expectations.

You get the ecstatic utterances, the commonly experiences so called speaking in tongues. You may get other things as well. For instance you can have people barking like a dog or such.

And you get jerking movements, often turned into a type of dance. The whirling dervish is a figure of speech referring to that sort of thing. You can see the same sort of thing in some black baptist congregations.

The real danger comes from people do these utterances and they feel great. So they take the feeling as a confirmation it’s from God. And then someone stands up and “interpretes” so now you have a revelation directly from God. How could that not be authoritative? And then someday, you get someone who notices he gets these revelations without even someone babbling near him. Well he must be a prophet. And then it’s really off to the races so to speak.

You’d think after all these years of all these people claiming to get revelations directly from God that someone would notice that they don’t agree with each other. But people seem to arrive at the position that their revelation is straight infallibly from God and the other guy well his revelations aren’t and vice versa.

Of course you can’t argue with them, because you aren’t actually arguing with them, you are contradicting God himself. Therefore, it is clearly you in error.

Easier and much safer to stay away from the enthusiasts.

As dangerous as schismatic traditionalists?
It is obvious most here know diddly-squat about the charismatic Renewal.You want to take the extreme and make it seem like the everyday. It is simply not true. most Catholics do not know who the Charismatics are in the midst- they keep a low profile despite what you may think. as far as ectastic behaviorit’s always been in the Church and experienced by many saints. Ecstatics appear in both OT and NT. It can degenerate but that is true of many movements that are not under ecclesiastical control- which the Charismatic Renewal is.If you want to look for fanatics look to ultra- traditionalist who deny that the this pope and others are illigetimate.

Why do you make of the Charismatic Movement itself? By which I mean- Pentecostalism

Also, what about the Scripture I noted (John 3:7-8) that my Pentecostal friend used as “proof” for this belief.

I suppose a Catholic should act like a Catholic, whatever their personal expression of faith or prayer. So whether someone thinks they have been given the gift of tongues or that they have a gift for devotion through traditional liturgies, they should have a strong, orthodox spiritual director and put those gifts at the Church’s disposal, for the general good, rather than solely to satisfy some personal ‘need’. Charismatic or Traditional, the most dangerous groups to the life of the Church are the ones which act like a law unto themselves, and so seperate their followers from the Church.

I go to a young adults group in the UK, meets once a month in term time, and it is part of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. So, it’s got the praise & worship singing, guitars, hand waving, crying (that’s me) and yes, praying in tongues (although only a few people do so). So far, so fringey-lunatic, right? Yet that is followed by a talk on subjects like the Works of Mercy, Mary’s role in the Church, or the Real Presence by someone knowledgeable and in good standing e.g. a Fransiscan priest, a permanent Deacon or a lay Carmelite who’s just written her thesis on the Real Presence. The whole thing climaxes with an hour of Adoration with opportunity for Confession.

It’s great to have those emotional experiences, but you have to be clearheaded about it too. St. Teresa of Avila was very suspicious of her exstatic visions, concerned they were tricks of the devil because emotions can be misled. Besides, not everyone will have these experiences, but we know that everyone can really experience Him in the Sacraments. After all, that’s why He instituted them.

since this is a scripture forum I assume you want a scripture answer, and Acts and the letters of Paul, particularly Corinthians, also Ephesians and Galatians make clear the charismatic gifts were and are operative in the church, that speaking in tongues and interpreting tongues is included, that these gifts come from the Holy Spirit and are given to build up the church, and that tongues is the least of the gifts.

the Catholic Charistmatic Renewal is a legitimate spiritual movement within the Church, is discussed extensively on the spirituality forum, so issues related to their authenticity and orthodoxy will get more attention there, and so might be more helpful. they have little or not connection with non-Catholic pentecostalism particularly that in the American fundamentalist tradition of the last 100 years or so, so talking about Oneness Pentecostals is a separate topic.

still don’t understand OPs specific scripture question, except to bring up the general rule of apologetics that arguing from one isolated verse of scripture is seldom helpful. I am having trouble following a discussion that begins with a verse of scripture and moves on to “people in the Church who adopt a spirituality with which I am unfamiliar and uncomfortable are a dangerous sect”. So I would appreciate a scriptural basis for that judgement on a scripture thread. I am also having trouble following a discussion that confuses Catholic charismatic spirituality, endorsed and supported by several Popes, with pentecostalism in general outside the Church, and with other spiritual movements that are not part of this movement. Maybe I just don’t know how scripture discussions work or my brain is too old.

First you really have to read I corinthians Chapters 12-14.
John 3:7-8 is not the clearest encouragement of tongue(pneuma also means breath,in Hebrew ‘ruah’ has a similar meaning).Paul is much clearer as is Acts. the ‘tongues’ that the apostles were given was a way of speaking another language under the influence of the Spirit-so they could minister to the different ethnic groups(most of the Jews there were converts-and lived among a vast pagan population) this was a prefiguring of the conversion of Gentiles that was to come later. It also the complete opposite of the Tower of Babel. There God used His power to confuse and scatter people because of the mischief they were always doing .Christ’s Victory showed the way and tongues was used to communicate and create the ingathering- in contrast to confusion and scattering-so all might know Jesus and give the apostles a good beginning to fulfilling their great Commission.
As Paul says their is a variety iof tongues- some are a personal prayer language, some are true glossolalia (speaking another language) and some are to be interpreted.
Paul himself spoke in tongues but too many people (including Charismatics) make too much of a fuss over tongues. It is not a prerequisite for the infilling of the Holy Spirit (who goes where He will and is not limited) as some protestant pentacostals believe.All gifts are given for a purpose with Love being the highest gift. Prophecy, is considered the most important for the benefit of the Church. Tongues are considered by Paul as one of the lesser gifts and gives higher ranking to the other spiritual gifts.


Oddly enough it was a oneness pentecostal that introduced me to this world and he gave a heartwarming testimony, and it probably saved his life to join that church. They call themselves Apostolic.

He also said something similar and I seem to recall mention of a wind, but this was 14 years ago so the recollection is a little weak. I don’t know if there is any encouragement to practice the tongues in their churches.

The problem with that verse… Joh 3:7-8 NRSV Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit."

… Is that it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with pentecostalism. In the general evangelical sense of being born again it’s possible to understand that people have a dramatic life changing encounter with God as he wills it and you have no control over this, and you never know where or when this will happen, to anyone, but you may know when someone has been touched by the Spirit of God by how they become a new person, no matter how reprobate the person was. If anything it seems to support predestination.

Does it mean that you have to babble in a disoriented stammer and start convulsing and flopping around on the ground? I don’t think so. That seems like quite a stretch of the text and an attempt to force a new meaning on it.

In Acts 2, the Apostles and disciples of Jesus went from hiding out in a room to boldly proclaiming the death and resurrection of Jesus. They went out before the people and spoke publicly before people of all nationalities, who heard them in their own languages. How many examples are there in these churches where the people speak their own language and everyone, no matter what language they speak, understands it in his or her own native tongue?

If you would like to read a balanced fair Scriptural assessment of speaking in tongues, Robert Sungenis gives a great evaluation, which can be found free online here. He seems to tread the middle of the road in his evaluation but then draws more definitive answers from Scripture.

My two cents: if you study the origins of the movement, it is unquestionably protestant. The Church did not practice speaking in tongues (“languages”) throughout her two thousand year history. It was a special gift given to the early Church in order to spread the message of the gospel. The apostles spoke in tongues at Pentecost and the people could understand. The purpose was not simply to make one feel good, and the means was not merely some ecstatic and uncontrollable utterances (as Scripture demonstrates as well as various studies that have been done on the similarities of the “tongues” mimicking the leaders of the services, etc). Furthermore, the founders of the charismatic movement in the late 1800s and early and mid 1900s were adamantly anti-Catholic and were doing their best to take people away from the Catholic Church and get them to practice the “fullness of Christian practice” by speaking in tongues like they.

The Catholic Church is the fullness of grace and truth, and grace does not originate outside of her. It originates and flows from in her and then influences those who are outside. Moreover, God’s grace leads everyone to the fullness of truth, which can only be found in the Catholic Church. Hence, we would expect that those who initially claimed to be given these supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit would be not opposing the Church but would be desiring to enter her. If they were truly humble and open to the Church, there can be no doubt they would enter the Church, as Pope Pius XI clearly declared (see below).

Lastly, the gift of tongues was a stamp of approval given by the Holy Spirit to the message of the Church, and was given to the Church in order to spread the gospel message to those who otherwise would not be able to understand. The Holy Spirit could not possibly validate the message of heretics who opposed the Catholic Church in order to spread their false teachings. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth who guides all into the fullness of truth. He cannot teach error nor can He sin. That is not limiting the Holy Spirit; it is declaring Who He is based on what we know and believe to be true because it has been revealed clearly through Scripture, Tradition, and the Church.

I could continue, but I will leave you with the quote from Pius XI from his encyclical Mortalium Animos: “if these latter [those separated from the Church] humbly beg light from heaven, there is no doubt but that they will recognize the one true Church of Jesus Christ and will, at last, enter it, being united with us in perfect charity.”

There are two kinds of ‘tongues’ in the Charismatic Renewal…prayer tongues…and prophetic tongues. Prayer tongues is used when you wish to pray to God for a particular intention…“praising”…“petitioning”…“thanking”…etc. Prophetic tongues is used when a prophesy is received – and there must always be an interpretation for prophetic tongues! (otherwise you must consider it ‘not from God’).

The gift of tongues can be used as a very powerful tool with which to pray over someone for healing … or to find out the true nature and root of a person’s problem. For example, a person complains of an aching elbow, but the doctors cannot find a reason for it. You and your prayer team pray over that person and, while using the gift of tongues, Our Lord shows you the true cause of his/her elbow problems – which is really a spiritual problem, manifesting itself in a physical way.

The gift of tongues is a very mis-understood gift. Often, when people are undergoing the “Baptism of the Holy Spirit” at a Life in the Spirit Seminar (LSS), the seminar MCs will tell you to pray for the gift of tongues. They do this because they know that it is a common gift to the newly-Baptized…and it ‘shows them that something has happened’. A person of true faith does not need to be ‘shown’, but instead, accepts God’s love without proof.

Unfortunately, those advocating the reception of the gift of tongues often do not understand what this gift is capable of…how truly powerful and useful a gift it is.

What happens in the gift of tongues is this: Your spirit…is talking directly to the Spirit of God (the Holy Spirit)…and the Spirit of God is talking directly to your spirit. YOU are not involved. There is no “I” in the gift of tongues.

Here’s an example: In English I would praise God by saying “I love you, Lord! I adore you Lord! You are my Lord and Savior! You are my all!” Nice, huh?

Now, here’s how it sounds when you’re praising God with the gift of tongues: “Lord, may You be loved! Lord, may You be adored! You are the Lord and Savior of the world!”…see the difference? No “I”. No ego.

That’s why the gift of tongues is such a beautiful means of communication between you and God. And it’s power is as limitless as God chooses it to be in each circumstance.

So, don’t ever let people tell you “Pray for the gift of tongues!”. Instead, just pray that Jesus comes into your soul and takes up residence there. Why? Because, when you have Jesus…you have EVERYTHING!

God bless!

My wife and I were “born again”, and experienced the “baptism of the Holy Spirit” as evidenced by speaking in tongues, through the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in the early 1970’s. We were not Catholics, but we were seeking God. We met Him in the basement of a Catholic Church that was filled to overflowing, standing room only, every Tuesday and Thursday nights. Overflowing means 200 plus people. All praising God, singing songs, speaking in tongues,etc.our numbers were added to ,literally, daily. We saw healings; my son had been born with such flat feet that he could not run w/o falling. He was prayed over, and a few days later he complained of shoe pain. His doctor said;"why do you have him in those Thomas healed shoes?’ We said, “because you said he had the worst flat feet you ever saw” The doc looked at the record and said “you are right, I did say that. But look! that is most beautiful arch I’ve seen on feet! Thrrow away those shoes!, get him into soft shoes”
Because we all operated in expectant faith that what God said in His Word He meant, we expected,and received, many miracles. It’s a long, wonderful story

We know from scripture that Christians did use and proclaim the charisms of the Holy Spirit.It hasn’t been used thoughout it’s 2000 yr history but neither has been Eucharistic Adoration, the Rosary, Stations of the Cross etc. If Spiritual practices are judged by length of time, &the oldest ones are the only acceptable ones-then the above practices should be discontinued along with a very popular Modern one-the Divine that what we should do:confused:

Hello to all,

I was baptized in the Holy Spirit at St. Ignatius Loyola Church in New York City
on March 11, 1980, in a Life in The Spirit Seminar. I received the gift of tongues
later on in the early morning hours. One yields their tongue to that manifestation.
All pride has to go out the window. I know what I’m talking about. The gift only gets better.
One must use it in order to grow in the tongue.

More and more of the tongue develops and changes. It should. This is a spiritual matter
between God and the person yielding. It is a prayer tongue. You’ll never know what it is
unless you yield to it. It does sound like babble. It is a question of giving your tongue over to God.
If you have no desire to yield it over, that’s your business. But once you give God your OK, He’s more than willing to assist you.

Pope John Paul II prayed in tongues. How do I know this? Ralph Martin gave a
talk somewhere and I heard the tape of it. Ralph Martin and Patty Mansfield at
a University in Pittsburgh prayer group in the late 60s among other Catholics received the Baptism in The Spirit. This started everything anew.

It is not foreign to the Catholic Church. It is ours! We always had this in the Church,
same as St Theresa of Avila and so many others.

WE NEED REVIVAL. There are so many Catholics who are dead in the pew. You know
who they are.

Please don’t believe these unfair and untrue charges. Catholics involved in Charismatic Renewal tend to be faithful, orthodox (even conservative), and very involved in parish life – the very opposite of the separatists who form “sects.” They do not deny the role of reason in the spiritual life, but they do uphold the role of the supernatural, as do all orthodox Catholics. The poster who made these accusations is acting in an ignorant and un-Christian manner. There are millions of Catholics who are now or who in the past were involved in Charismatic Renewal – I’m one of them, as was Cardinal Suenens of Belgium, several U.S. bishops, and thousands of priests. I’m sure that a few of them are bad eggs, but to level these charges against charismatic renewal as a whole is truly irresponsible.

Glossolalia (speaking in tongues) is well-attested in the New Testament (especially I Corinthians) and continued to be practiced in the early church, although it became less prominent in time, perhaps as a result of the suppression of the Montanist heresy.

I think your Pentecostal friend is trying to squeeze out too much meaning from the passage from John’s gospel. There is no New Testament text that says that speaking in tongues is a necessary sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer. However, there is plenty of evidence in the New Testament (e.g., Acts) that it was considered normal for the coming of the spirit to a believe to be accompanied by discernible signs of some sort, such as tongues and prophecy. That being said, documents from Charismatic Renewal repeatedly stressed that the Holy Spirit comes in fullness to any person who believes and is baptized. So-called “baptism in the Spirit” was seen as a “release” or “activation” of the Spirit already present in the life of a baptized Christian.

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