Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Pentecostal Luther who 'Spoke in Tongues'

Luther allegedly spoke in tongues?

Lutheran scholar Heinrich Boehmer once made the statement, "There are as many Luthers as there are books about Luther." Indeed, the theological landscape is overgrown with Luthers. There is actually a Pentecostal Luther who ‘spoke in tongues’ floating around cyber-space. This quote has been used in many charismatic web pages:

According to the German church historian Theodor Sauer, Luther spoke in tongues: "Luther was easily the greatest evangelical man after the apostles, full of inner love to the Lord like John, hasty in deed like Peter, deep in thinking like Paul, cunning and powerful in speech like Elijah, uncompromising against God's enemies like David; PROPHET and evangelist, speaker-in-tongues and interpreter in one person, equipped with all the gifts of grace, a light and pillar of the church..." (Ibid, 1889 ed., vol. 4, p. 73 19 Translated from the German work, Geschichte der Chrislichen Kirche fur Schule und Haus (Dresden; R. Kuntzes, 1859), 3rd book, p. 400); http://www.azstarnet.com/~jsbarta/ch_hist.html 1/1/99 Whether this refers to the actual gift of tongues (I Cor 12) or the romance languages (i.e. Latin, French, etc.) is not certain. That Luther believed in miracles is certain. In 1541 when Myconius lay speechless in the final stages of consumption, Luther prayed and he was restored to health. He also prayed for Melanchthon who was near death and God healed him also. Melanchthon said: "I should have been a dead man, had I not been recalled from death itself by the coming of Luther." (A.J. Gordon, The Ministry of Healing, pp. 93-95)Luther was also involved in deliverance of a young girl, (Suppressed Evidences, --Thomas Boys p. 162, Jewish Expositor, May, 1831, pp. 145-153) and also involved in healing (Suppressed Evidence, --Boys, pp. 192-193)”

Source: Martin Luther (1483-1546); Pentecost in Church History; Controversy in the Baptism of the Holy Spirit

The actual evidence though from Luther’s writings suggests that Luther did not speak in tongues:

The Holy Spirit is sent forth in two ways. In the primitive church He was sent forth in a manifest and visible form. Thus He descended upon Christ at the Jordan in the form of a dove (Matt. 3:16), and upon the apostles and other believers in the form of fire (Acts 2:3). This was the first sending forth of the Holy Spirit; it was necessary in the primitive church, which had to be established with visible signs on account of the unbelievers, as Paul testifies. 1 Cor. 14:22: “Tongues are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers.” But later on, when the church had been gathered and confirmed by these signs, it was not necessary for this visible sending forth of the Holy Spirit to continue."

Source:LW 26:374

Luther held "speaking in tongues" means simply the public reading of Scripture:

"And note that this is the proper and fruitful way to deal with Scripture, as Paul (1 Cor. 14:6) also exalts four such points that he would treat in Scripture: “Now, brethren, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how shall I benefit you unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching?” He refers to “speaking in tongues,” which is nothing else than reading Scripture orally."

Source: LW 14:36


Churchmouse said...

Alas, poor Luther! He just can't catch a break. Even to the point of some oddballs posting some disparaging pics.

Let's see if we can get him to where they have him presently, Jim:

Luther is the tongue-speakin', Jew-hatin', Scripture breakin', dung-coverin', adulteratin', Pope-hatin', polygaminatin', inebriatin', and in many cases, "Satan."

Does that cover it all? :-)


James Swan said...


That was brilliant.

Mr. G said...

Well, it is understandable that Luther's 'understanding' of much of Scripture was perhaps somewhat tainted by his lifelong indoctrination in Catholic interpretation...seems to me that many apologetic sites admit that his opinions took years to morph and moderate.
However, I find it incomprehensible that he thought the biblical reference to 'tongues' was merely reading Scripture in the vernacular, presumably Koine Greek for the most part.
Paul kind of covered it by claiming that when HE prayed in 'tongues' HIS UNDERSTANDING WAS UNFRUITFUL, something that someone reading in a language he COULD read would not say.
[quote]Quote:"1Co 14:13 Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret.
1Co 14:14 For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.
1Co 14:15 What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.
1Co 14:16 Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?
1Co 14:17 For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified.
1Co 14:18 I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all"[/quote]

James Swan said...

I find it incomprehensible that he thought the biblical reference to 'tongues' was merely reading Scripture in the vernacular, presumably Koine Greek for the most part.

Mr. G,

I am going to direct you to my other blog entry on this subject:


There it is stated:

Luther believed that in apostolic times, people had spoken "new tongues" as a sign and "witness to the Jews." In his own day, however, Christianity no longer required the confirmation of such signs. Although they had ceased, each justified believer might expect to receive one or several other gifts of the Holy Spirit. There would always be a diversity of gifts in the true church, and these would operate in harmony, whereas among "fanatical spirits and sectarians," everyone "want[ed] to be everything."