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The Speaking In Tongues Controversy [Hardcover]

By Rick Walston (Author)
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Item description for The Speaking In Tongues Controversy by Rick Walston...

What others are saying. . . As an AG minister, I was especially interested in Dr. Walston's discussion of this topic. I found his arguments lucid, biblical, exegetical, and convincing. -Rev. Kevin Potts, Ph.D. Candidate, Chaplain Dr. Walston has thrown a "big wrench" into my tongues-as-evidence doctrinal gears. I am now working through what I thought was a foundational doctrine that I also thought was settled long ago. This book should be required reading for people on both sides of this issue. -Dr. Denny Nissley, AG minister, Director of Christ in Action Ministries Many books and articles have been written in defense of speaking in tongues as the unmistakable, physical evidence of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. Through his careful and thorough analysis of the Pentecostal texts in the Book of Acts, Dr. Walston is challenging this view. This book is beyond doubt one of the most thought-provoking analyses on this theme I have ever read. -Nils-Olov Nilsson, Th.D., Swedish Missionary and Theologian with the Swedish Pentecostal Movement

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Xulon Press
Pages   236
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.34" Width: 6.38" Height: 0.8"
Weight:   1.17 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Oct 1, 2003
Publisher   Xulon Press
ISBN  1591607639  
ISBN13  9781591607632  

Availability  147 units.
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1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Bible > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Pneumatology

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Reviews - What do customers think about The Speaking In Tongues Controversy?

A Wrench for Walston's Spirit-Baptism-Is-Conversion Doctrinal Gears  Jan 30, 2007
Dr. Denny Nissley, Assemblies of God (AG) minister and Director of Christ in Action Ministries, stated: "Dr. Walston has thrown a 'big wrench' into my tongues-as-evidence doctrinal gears." Well, consider this review a wrench for Walston's Spirit-baptism-is-conversion doctrinal gears. I attend the same AG home church as Nissley, and recommend that not only he but all other AG ministers consider the following.

For many Christians, Walston has made a persuasive case that Christian conversion is synonymous with Spirit baptism and that speaking in other tongues is not the initial evidence of it. But here is the problem for both him AND classical Pentecostals (CPs): the assumption that Spirit baptism is a single event, either occurring at conversion (which Walston now believes) or some time after it. It is true that scripture uses the definite article "the" in reference to "the gift my Father promised" (Jesus in reference to the Spirit, Acts 1:4 [NIV]) and "the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38). However, scripture NEVER speaks of "the baptism with [or in] the Holy Spirit," using the definite article. It only speaks of being "baptized with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 1:5) which is later called being "filled with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:4). Why is this significant? Because scripture equates the two phrases whereas Walston and CPs do not. True, they believe that Spirit baptism is a Spirit filling, but they do not believe that every Spirit filling is a Spirit baptism. Walston cannot accept the notion that a Christian may experience multiple "Spirit baptisms" because he equates the term "Spirit baptism" with conversion and he doesn't consider Spirit fillings after salvation as re-conversions. CPs cannot accept the notion that a Christian may experience multiple "Spirit baptisms" because they equate "Spirit baptism" with the first time one speaks in tongues which, they admit, does not occur for most Christians at conversion and for many Christians never occurs.

Walston agrees with Gordon Fee that "to be saved is to be filled with the Spirit". He accepts this position based not only on his interpretation of Acts 2:38 - 41 (in conjunction with Acts 2:4 which uses the phrase) but also the writings of Paul which assert that all Christians have the Spirit living in them (1 Cor. 3:16; Rom. 8:9). Personally, I have no problem with asserting that all Christians are "filled with the Spirit" if, by this term, we mean that all Christians are indwelt by the Spirit. However, Walston is seriously wrong when he asserts: "The New Testament never makes the distinction between (1) getting saved and (2) being filled with the Holy Spirit as though they are two entirely different experiences" (Ch. 7, pg. 139). Luke, the author of Acts, in his Gospel used the phrase "filled with the Holy Spirit" several times for certain faithful Jews: Luke 1:15 (John), 1:41 (Elizabeth), and 1:67 (Zacharias), the last two resulting in prophetic words (NOT other tongues). He also used it in reference to the 120 Christians who spoke in other tongues on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:4). Regarding the last reference, it is interesting that Walston admits that the 120 disciples were already saved before they were filled with the Spirit, although he doesn't seem to realize that he contradicts himself. Here I must refer readers to a book that Walston quotes from but obviously misunderstands: The Charismatic Theology of St. Luke (1984) by Roger Stronstad. On page 53, Stronstad references the above scriptures in relation to the phrase "filled with the Holy Spirit" and makes these surprising statements: "...the gift of the Spirit to the disciples on the day of Pentecost is not an isolated and unique event. It is but one of several occasions, both prior to and following Pentecost, when people are filled with the Spirit. The experience is the same whether it is Zacharias or Peter who is filled with the Spirit." At the end of Chapter 14 of Walston's book, he admits that "on four occasions Luke says that people who were already saved were 'filled with the Spirit'" (pgs. 198 - 199) and then discusses them. First, he doesn't seem to realize that like the references discussed above, these too contradict his statement in Chapter 7 that the New Testament never makes the distinction between getting saved and being filled with the Spirit. Second, he fails to see that these Spirit fillings can also be called "Spirit baptisms" because he erroneously, and contradictorily, equates Spirit baptism (a.k.a. being "filled with the Spirit") with conversion. If Walston was merely arguing that speaking in other tongues is not the initial, physical evidence of Spirit baptism, he could have used some points I've made here and developed a better case. But, unfortunately, he argues that Spirit baptism is synonymous with conversion which seriously weakens his case, making it implode by contradiction.

Robert W. Graves, the current president of The Foundation for Pentecostal Scholarship (TFFPS), is a classical Pentecostal who wrote a "narrative-critical" response to Walston's book which was first published in the Pneuma Review back in the Fall of 2005 and the Winter of 2006 in two parts. This review (or a slightly modified version of it, if I'm to rely on Walston's quotes from it) is now available through the TFFPS website. Walston's response to this review is available through the website of the Columbia Evangelical Seminary where he currently resides as president. Those who recommend Walston's book should read both responses. I read them after posting my initial this site review of Walston's book in 2007 which is now replaced with this one (March 2008). Graves confirmed some of my own observations, and Walston's response to Graves did not challenge them.

Walston's response accuses Graves of numerous logical fallacies and misrepresentation of his book. What he does NOT do is meaningfully dialog with the most important part of Graves's review: the biblical passages in question, especially the interpretation of Acts 2:38 - 41 which Walston considers the paradigmatic passage of Acts when it comes to interpreting Spirit baptism as conversion. Instead, he dismisses the need to do so by appealing to an illustration of "two people with two different colored glasses" and asserting: "The crux of the way that Graves and I see the passages in Acts is based upon the premise from which we both proceed. He as a tongues-as-evidence proponent, and I as a tongues-as-evidence opponent. It is not that I am herein unwilling or unable to address the various passages in question; however, to address the passages tit for tat would be simply an exercise in showing how we differ in our conclusions based upon our guiding principle of interpretation." What are we to make of this evasive response? The implication is that there is no way to challenge the premise or guiding principle from which someone proceeds (the glasses one wears), so why try? He fails to see how this reasoning undermines the authority of his own position. He treats the core of Graves's review as he does the biblical analysis of other scholars, including Stronstad mentioned earlier, who have challenged his position: by failing to meaningfully interact with it.

Without defending Graves's review against all of Walston's accusations, I must affirm that Graves had a valid point when he stated that Walston fails to interact with key authors (both Pentecostal and non-Pentecostal) who have addressed the subject years before Walston's book was published. Walston's accusation that this commits the fallacy of Argument from Authority (a.k.a. Celebrity Endorsement) is ridiculous. Yes, truth is not determined by who one quotes, but one expects an author of a book on a "controversy" and/or "debate" (terms Walston uses in his book's title and subtitle) to meaningfully dialog with some of the earlier publications of key influential authors, especially those who have given arguments against his position and biblical interpretations. The failure to do so shows that one has NOT significantly and meaningfully contributed to the debate, even at the "popular" level. Writing at the "popular" level does not excuse one from such interaction. When I read Walston's book, I kept thinking of other classical Pentecostal scholars such as Robert Menzies (see, for example, his book Spirit and Power [2000], co-authored with his father) who years ago already addressed many of Walston's key points by addressing the critiques of other authors who reflect them (including Gordon Fee, Walston's primary supporting reference).
Theological, Logical, Persuasive and Convincing  Jun 8, 2006
I bought "The Speaking in Tongues Controversy" because so many of my colleagues (Classical Pentecostals, Assemblies of God) were discussing it. Some said that the book made a lot of sense while others disagreed. Personally, I found Walston's arguments to be theologically astute, logically argued, persuasive, and, finally, utterly convincing. I must admit, I came into this study with my mind already made up the other way, and I was amazed at the fact of my transformation. I think Dr. Denny Nissley (on the back cover of the book) said it very well for me (and some of my colleagues): "Dr. Walston has thrown a 'big wrench' into my tongues-as-evidence doctrinal gears. I am now working through what I thought was a foundational doctrine that I also thought was settled long ago." Kudos to Walston for taking this biblical stand in spite of the flap (and grief) that he has gotten from his Pentecostal brethren.
Biblical and Theological Study of Tongues  Jan 19, 2006
Dr. Rick Walston writes his book THE SPEAKING IN TONGUES CONTROVERSY not as one on the outside looking in (Unger, MacArthur) but as one who comes from a Pentecostal background having pastored in Pentecostal churches for many years. His new position is best described as "open but cautious" concerning speaking in tongues and other charismatic gifts. His heart is simply to be biblical.

I found his book to be enlightening. Having been raised as a Pentecostal myself, became a disciple of Jesus while attending a Pentecostal church, and then having served in Pentecostal churches first as a youth pastor and then as a senior pastor, I know the arguments for "the initial, physical evidence" of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. For Pentecostals, Acts 2:4 is one the first verses you memorize. I also know that there is a wave of new Pentecostal pastors and teachers who want to move away from the initial, physical evidence and become more mainline in their views on the baptism in the Spirit.

In Dr. Walston's book, he first builds a Pentecostal case for the baptism in the Spirit with the initial, physical evidence of speaking in tongues. He takes the reader through the biblical defense of the teaching. I greatly enjoyed how Dr. Walston seeks to show the reader that Pentecostals often are first attacked as being experience based theology but most Pentecostals I know (and knew including myself from the past) were seeking to be biblical. As Walston points out, most Pentecostals and Pentecostal churches would cringe at someone attacking the Bible or saying that they don't love the Scriptures. While I do dissagree with much of the Pentecostal movement today, I know that they do desire to be biblical.

The book quickly moves to Walston's heart and that is to show the reader that the Pentecostal teaching is wrong. He does this by showing that Luke in Acts is not trying to present a theology of the Holy Spirit but an application of the gospel (Acts 1:8). Luke is building a case for salvation and not for the work of the Spirit in the believers life. When put this way you will see that the initial, physical evidence is lacking support from Acts. Acts is not a book for building charismatic experiences but salvation (Acts 2:38).

Overall I greatly enjoyed this book. Walston certainly will bring debate to Pentecostal churches and Bible colleges over the issue. One Pentecostal pastor told me personally that the single greatest threat to the Pentecostal movement is the challenge to the initial, physical evidence. Destroy that doctrine and the Pentecostal movement loses its core doctrine that separates it from other movements. I also appreciated Dr. Walston's kindness toward Pentecostals. He does not bash them but simply takes their teachings to the Word of God (1 John 4:1-2). May we be like the Bereans (Acts 17:11) and test everything (1 Thess. 5:19).
Gabe's review  Jan 26, 2005
This book was fast-paced, informative, and enjoyable. Which ever stand you take on tongues this book is a great reed.

Gabe at
Tongues Controversy  Dec 21, 2004
I received Dr. Walston's Book about Tongues Controversy. I have read it once and am going through it again. He did an excellent job explaining inductive
versus deductive reasoning, narrative/historical accounts versus didactic
passages. The fact that he shows 26 accounts of conversions opposed to 3 out of 5 is superb! Every Pentecostal should read this book especially those who are so dogmatic about "tongues being the necessary credential" for being
Spirit-baptized/Filled. Thanks for sharing your knowledge/revelation on this matter. Be blessed.

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