Speaking in Tongues in ACNA

At the recent consecration of Keith Andrews, Archbishop Foley Beach briefly spoke in tongues while laying hands on Andrews. I am not claiming that what he did was the Biblical gift of tongues, only that this is what passes for it in our day. Nevertheless, this spurred me to look at what the ACNA Catechism says about the practice.

Question 87 of the Catechism says, “What are the gifts of the Holy Spirit?” The answer is:

The manifold gifts of the Holy Spirit include faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment of spirits, other languages, the interpretation of other languages, administration, service, encouragement, giving, leadership, mercy and others. The Spirit gives these to individuals as he wills. (Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12:7-11; 27-31; Ephesians 4:7-10)

The Biblical proof texts for the answer include I Corinthians 12:10, which says in part “to another different kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues…” The catechism is rendering “tongues” or “γλωσσῶν” as “languages” which is formally correct.

So it seems that the catechism is making a place for glossolalia, but is using the more sober term “language” to perhaps deflect attention away from a “three streams” reality. It is certainly not saying that the “sign gifts” are not active today. It does not seem to be coming from the position of many Reformed theologians such as John Frame, who says, “I Corinthians 14 would tell us that we should not practice the use of tongues in public worship services” (Systematic Theology, 930).

What Archbishop Beach was engaged in was glossolalia, as outlined in William Samarin’s book, “Tongues of Men and Angels,” available here.

Whether you like it or not, if you sign up for ACNA, you are signing up for a “three streams” reality. Archbishop Beach has endorsed this view:

Currently—and this is something I think that’s very distinctive about who we are— we are a group that is Anglo-Catholic, Evangelical, and Charismatic. Some call that the ‘Three Streams,’ and that’s a simple way of explaining it. But, even some of our most Anglo-Catholic folks would be more charismatic than I am. All of us tend to have those three streams somewhere in our mix.
I think that’s very unique for American Christianity today. All of us have our core; my core would be evangelical. Although I have the other two pieces, my core or default is evangelical. But, these streams enable us to bring the richness of the breadth of Christianity, and it’s truly powerful when these streams are together.

The Catechism seems to be allowing for glossolalia as it has come to Anglicanism from Pentecostalism. This is another area where some people sign on to ACNA and hope to change things.

“There might be charismatics out there, but I’m not one of them.” You might hear someone say. Well, when the official Catechism of your denomination seems to endorse glossolalia, you cannot really deny it to people in your congregation, can you?

The reality of ACNA on the ground right now in its formative days is that there is a live and let live reality. However, the Catechism codifies a view of things that I imagine will become more ingrained over time. So like it or hate it, ACNA is a “three streams” denomination.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.