LDS Articles of Faith, Part XXXI
Article VII, Spiritual Gifts, Part I
The seventh LDS Article of Faith says, “We believe in the gifts of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues etc.” In his book The Articles of Faith LDS Apostle James Talmage said on p. 217, “All men who would officiate with propriety in the ordinances of the Gospel must be commissioned for their exalted duties by the authority (Priesthood) of heaven. When so invested, these servants of the Lord will not be lacking in proofs of their divine commission.” On the same page he said, “We may safely regard the existence of these spiritual powers as one of the essential characteristics of the Church; where they are not, the Priesthood of God does not operate.” Moroni 7:9-19 in the Book of Mormon (B. of M.) lists as gifts of the Spirit: the word of wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophesy, beholding of angels and ministering spirits, all kinds of tongues, and interpretation of tongues. Moroni then said in v. 19 “I would exhort you, my beloved brethren, that ye remember that he (Christ) is the same yesterday, today and forever, and that all these gifts of which I have spoken, which are spiritual, never will be done away, even as long as the world shall stand, only according to the unbelief of the children of men.” In the B. of M., Mormon 9:22-25 quotes Mark 16:15-18 verbatim from the King James Version of the Bible. It is interesting that those verses do not appear in the earliest original manuscripts of Mark, so scholars have questions about them. But they are often used by those who practice speaking in tongues.
The LDS History of the Church vol. I, pp. 295-297 says Joseph Smith was visited by Joseph Young, Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball around November 8, 1832 for four or five days. One day both Brigham Young and John P. Greene spoke in tongues and Smith indicated that was the first time he had heard of that happening among the LDS. Smith said others spoke and then he also received this gift. The footnotes on the bottom of p. 297 says, “The gift of tongues here spoken of was first exercised in one of the Pennsylvania (LDS) branches; next in Mendon where the Young’s and Kimball’s resided; then in the branches between Mendon and Kirtland; then in Kirtland under the circumstances above related and shortly afterwards it was a gift quite generally exercised by the Saints in Ohio.” And in John Whitmer’s History of the LDS Church, chapter X, p. 8 he wrote, “And it came to pass that in the fall of 1832 the disciples in Ohio received the gift of tongues, and in June, 1833 we received the gift of tongues in Zion (MO).’” On January 22, 1833 Joseph Smith said, “I spoke to the conference in another tongue, and was followed in the same gift by Zebedee Coltrin, and he by Brother William Smith, after which the Lord poured out His Spirit in a miraculous manner, until all the Elders spake in tongues, and several members, both male and female, exercised the same gift. Great and glorious were the divine manifestations of the Holy Spirit. Praises were sung to God and the Lamb; speaking and praying, all in tongues, occupied the conference until a late hour at night, so rejoiced were we at the return of these long absent blessings. On the 23rd of January (1833), we again assembled in conference; when after much speaking, singing, praying, and praising God all in tongues, we proceeded to the washing of feet” (History of the Church, vol. I, p. 323).
Obviously, the gift of tongues was quite prevalent among the early LDS members. But, In spite of what the seventh LDS Article of Faith says, the gift of tongues is almost never used among LDS today. One of the “Gospel Topics” on the LDS website is entitled “Gift of Tongues.” In the third paragraph it says, “Glossalalia (the gift of tongues) continued as an important part of Latter-day-Saint worship during the rest of the 19th century, though the practice gradually declined over time and all but disappeared in the early 20th century.” But LDS Apostle James Talmage said on p. 217 of the Articles of Faith, “We may safely regard the existence of these spiritual powers (tongues, etc.) as one of the essential characteristics of the Church; where they are not, the Priesthood of God does not operate.” LDS Apostle, Bruce R. McConkie also said in Mormon Doctrine, pp. 799-800, “Tongues and their interpretation are classed among the signs and miracles which always attend the faithful and which stand as evidence of the Lord’s work.” Then he said, “When the elders of (LDS) Israel often in a matter of weeks gain fluency in a foreign tongue, they have been blessed with the gift of tongues.” While anyone who learns a foreign language quickly is gifted in learning languages, that is not the Biblical gift of tongues! The Apostles in Acts 2 did not go to a language school for weeks or months before speaking on the Day of Pentecost! Their gift was instantaneous and came from God, not a language school! Religious groups who believe in speaking in tongues (including LDS), send missionary trainees to language school before sending them to a country that speaks a different language. Why do they do that IF they really have the gift of tongues? Notice that McConkie said that “tongues and their interpretation…always attend the faithful…and stand as evidence of the Lord’s work.” Then he immediately tries to re-interpret what “speaking in tongues” means. He said, “when the elders (LDS missionaries) often in a matter of weeks gain fluency in a foreign tongue…(they have) the gift of tongues.” IF that is the “gift of tongues” do atheists who learn a foreign language quickly also have the gift of tongues? It looks like McCokie’s explanation is an excuse for why LDS don’t speak, sing, pray, etc. all in tongues like Joseph Smith and the early LDS did!
Joseph Smith said, “The gift of tongues by the power of the Holy Ghost in the (LDS) Church, is for the benefit of the servants of God to preach to unbelievers, as on the day of Pentecost” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 195). He also said, “The gift of tongues…was particularly instituted for the preaching of the Gospel to other nations and languages, but was not given for the government of the Church” (History of the Church, vol. II, p. 162). But Smith also said, “If you have a matter to reveal, let it be in your own tongue; do not indulge too much in the exercise of the gift of tongues, or the devil will take advantage of the innocent and unwary. You may speak in tongues for your own comfort, but I lay this down for a rule, that if anything is taught by the gift of tongues, it is NOT to be received as doctrine” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 229). So, Smith said the gift of tongues was instituted for preaching the Gospel to unbelievers of other nations and languages as on the Day of Pentecost. Acts chapter two shows that on the Day of Pentecost the New Testament Apostles preached Jesus and the Gospel in many languages or tongues which was received as doctrine! Yet, Smith said “If anything is taught by the gift of tongues it is NOT to be received as doctrine.” But the Gospel is a doctrine! The LDS missionary program is called “Preach my Gospel,” so how can LDS missionaries preach their Gospel in tongues to unbelievers in other nations without preaching doctrine? Is it any wonder LDS often seem to be confused about the gift of tongues?
Our next blog will continue our discussion of spiritual gifts.