Could I hear your take (biblically) on speaking in tongues and why this is not practiced in the churches where I worship today? My other question is on the offices of leadership in the church and why there are no more apostles/prophets? -- R. Cortez

In the New Testament, "tongues" (languages) are actual human languages, as demonstrated in Acts 2:6-11. In the churches with which you are connected, people today speak in a multitude of languages -- many hundreds, in fact! Of course I am referring to normal foreign languages (tongues -- the word is the same in the Greek).

I personally have heard "charismatics" who claim to have the ability to speak in "tongues," yet every time I have listened to them I have remained unimpressed. In fact, when I try to duplicate their "tongues," they readily admit that mine are more convincing than theirs!

At any rate, I think you may enjoy my book The Spirit, especially chapter 22, which deals exclusively with your question about tongues.

As for the apostles, apart from the broad sense of apostle as missionary -- let me call it "apostle with a small a" -- there are no Apostles today ("capital A"). That is because the Apostles were:
* Eyewitnesses of the Resurrection (Acts 1:22, 1 Corinthians 9:1).
* Reminded by the Spirit of Jesus of the things he'd said to them (John 14:26, 16:13).
* Inspired regarding their doctrine (Acts 2:42).

There are no church leaders today who are inspired to give us doctrine straight from God, nor were any of them alive twenty centuries ago, at the time of the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

As for New Testament prophets (see Ephesians 2:20, 3:5, 4:11 -- all these passages discuss New Testament, not Old Testament, prophets), they are long gone, too. The Bible in Ephesians 2:20 (be sure to look up all these passages!) explains that the apostles and prophets laid the foundation of the church in the first century. The foundation has been laid, hence it does not need to be laid again. As we follow their inspired words (the New Testament), we continue to build on that foundation.

For more on this issue, and in particular the unique roles of apostles and prophets, see my book The Spirit.

This article is copyrighted and is for private use and study only. © 2003. Reprints or public distribution is prohibited without the express consent of Douglas Jacoby.