Debate over spiritual gifts is about as old as the first New Testament passage describing them. Paul’s discourse and description of the gifts in 1 Corinthians is a response to the first-century Church’s turmoil over the nature and practice of these gifts.
The Montanist heresy is evidence of continued confusion in the second and third century. From references found in Eusebius and others we learn that one of the greatest arguments between Montanists and the Church in Asia Minor was whether or not true prophecy could take place in an ecstatic state of hallucination and frenzy. Writings by Hilary and Ambrose suggest that the gifts of prophecy and speaking and interpreting in tongues were present in the Christian church well into the fourth century. Beginning with the fifth century, theologians such as John Chrysostom began to lament the waning of these gifts, though revivals continued to crop up periodically. In A.D. 1000 the Rituale Romanorum (Roman Ritual) defined glossolalia as prima facie evidence of demon possession. But in the centuries following, prophecy and tongues were found in groups such as the Waldenses in the 1100′s, the Franciscans in the 1200′s, the Anabaptists in the 1500′s, the Quakers in the 1600′s, the Methodists of England in the 1700′s, the Second Great Awakening in the 1800′s, and the Pentecostal Revival in the U.S. in the 1900′s.
Spiritual gifts, especially those of tongues and prophecy, [Read more...]