The Christian Broadcasting Network

Dr. J. Rodman Williams

Why Should We Speak in Tongues?

By Dr. J. Rodman Williams
Professor of Renewal Theology Emeritus

Why should one want to speak in tongues? What need is there for it, what worth to it?

Dr. J. Rodman Williams answers theological questions, exclusively on

Why should I speak in tongues?

Not too long after my first experience of speaking in tongues, I recall a friend saying something like this: "I don't deny that such a phenomenon exists, but actually I see no reason for it, no value in it." In other words, why should one want to speak in tongues? What need is there for it, what worth to it?

The basic reason for such questioning, I am convinced, is the failure to comprehend the essential nature of speaking in tongues, which is transcendent praise of God. Speaking in tongues -- glossolalia -- is an expression of that praise of God wherein there is the breakthrough of usual speech limitations of one's native tongue into a higher and fuller realm of praise, blessing, adoration, and thanksgiving. It is to go beyond the most elevated of earthly expressions -- even "Hallelujahs: or "Hosannas" -- into spiritual utterance. To put it directly: it is the praise of God in language given by the Holy Spirit.

If such transcendent praise is possible, would one not want to share in it? Would one not want to speak in tongues, yes to sing in tongues, that is, to speak and sing by the Holy Spirit's inspiration? Would one not want to transcend the limits of earthly language in the high praises of God? Why speak in tongues? The answer is not far off: because it is the vehicle of praise par excellence for glorifying and extolling God. If there is little desire to praise God, then tongues are of little significance; but if the worship, the praise, the adoration of Almighty God is the chief concern of one's life, then tongues have unlimited value as a supernatural avenue of that transcendent praise.

More Theology Q & A from Dr. Williams.

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