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The Speaking in Tongues Controversy: A Narrative-Critical Response, Part 2

I conclude with some thoughts for non-Pentecostals to consider while pondering the viability of their position. Concerning the Pentecostal doctrine of initial evidence, the non-Pentecostal view would be more tenable:

  1. If only some, instead of all, of those who were specifically baptized in the Holy Spirit spoke in tongues,
  2. If Luke’s two major illustrations were not representative of both classes of peoples that made up the whole human race,
  3. If Luke had not connected glossolalia with his first and last explicit report of the baptism in the Holy Spirit,
  4. If he had not connected glossolalia with every illustration of an explicitly stated “baptism” in the Holy Spirit,
  5. If Paul had not said that he desired that all would speak in tongues,
  6. If Luke had not said that the gift of the Spirit was for all people and for all times,
  7. If Luke had not implied that observers could know immediately from external observation that someone had received the Holy Spirit,
  8. If Luke had not described the Jewish Christians as recognizing that God had accepted the Gentiles based solely on the externally perceptible, singular sign of glossolalia,
  9. If Paul’s and the Ephesian disciples’ baptisms in the Holy Spirit had been administered by one of the twelve apostles, instead of, in Paul’s case, an unknown, apparently common (normal) disciple.

Concerning the Pentecostal doctrine of subsequence/separability, the non-Pentecostal view would be more tenable

  1. If the 120 had not been Christians,
  2. If the Samaritans had not been Christians,
  3. If Paul had not been a Christian,
  4. If the twelve Ephesians had not been Christians,
  5. If Luke had not instructed disciple-believers to pray for the Spirit,
  6. If Luke had not equated filling=gift=reception=baptism and then reported subsequent fillings of disciples who had already been filled,
  7. If Luke had not associated prophetic utterances and empowerment with the baptism in the Holy Spirit,
  8. If Luke had not used pneumatological language of the Septuagint (“filling”), relating it to OT believers, to describe the NT baptism in the Holy Spirit,
  9. If throughout the OT and NT the activity of the Holy Spirit related to human functionality had not been associated with giftings (usually prophetic) for believers.




Next Issue: Conversations with readers 

Editor’s Note

I regret to inform our readers that as of the time of printing this issue, the Pneuma Review will not be printing a response from Rick Walston as the editorial committee had intended. Reader responses about the topic of initial evidence and the baptism in the Holy Spirit, as well as discussion about Rick Walston’s book, are most welcome.

Raul Mock, Executive Editor

Rick Walston in 2008

Update: As well as responses from readers to appear in the Spring 2006 issue, we will also include a link to Rick Walston’s rebuttal to Robert Graves’ review.


Notes from Part 2 of A Narrative-Critical Response

17 He can say this because he assumes he has proven that anytime someone is saved, he or she is baptized in the Holy Spirit; ergo, to be saved = to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. So, he writes, “[E]ven though Luke does not specifically mention the words ‘baptism in the Holy Spirit,’ this baptism nonetheless transpires when one becomes a Christian,” 125.

18 Paul Elbert, “Paul of the Miletus Speech and 1 Thessalonians: Critique and Considerations,” ZNW 95/3-4 (2004): 258-268: 265, footnote 34. For information about Aelius Theon of Alexandria and his potential narrative-rhetorical influence on the composition of narratives, see the “Introduction” in James R. Butts, The ‘Progymnasmata’ of Theon: A New Text with Translation and Commentary (Ph.D. Diss, Claremont Graduate School; Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilm International, 1987), 1-95.

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Category: Spirit, Winter 2006

About the Author: Robert W. Graves, M. A. (Literary Studies, Georgia State University), is the co-founder and president of The Foundation for Pentecostal Scholarship, Inc., a non-profit organization supporting Pentecostal scholarship through research grants. He is a Christian educator and a former faculty member of Southwestern Assemblies of God College in Waxahachie, Texas, and Kennesaw State University (adjunct). He edited and contributed to Strangers to Fire: When Tradition Trumps Scripture and is the author of Increasing Your Theological Vocabulary, Praying in the Spirit (1987 and Second Edition, 2017) and The Gospel According to Angels (Chosen Books, 1998).

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