In reading latter day light devotionals on a daily basis, I have seen several references in the church history part of it that refers to early church meetings having speaking in tongues and things of a nature that I once participated in as a Pentecostal Christian. I understand tongues are unknown only in the sense that they are not known to the speaker when the spirit comes upon them, such as missionaries, and they begin to teach the things of God in another tongue. These experiences of the early saints, however; seem to be describing a meeting like that of the Pentecostals. What is going on here at these times?
James, from Asheville, North Carolina
As you have indicated, there are different manifestations of the gift of tongues. Missionaries in the Mormon Church by and large learn the new language of their field of labor by the gift of tongues. This is a marvelous gift, confirming the truthfulness of the gospel and allowing it to be taught by the Holy Spirit through young missionaries who, by themselves, would neither be able to teach the truths of the gospel or speak the languages that the investigators speak, in order to teach them. That manifestation of the gift of tongues is perhaps the most prevalent spiritual gift in the Lord’s Church today, other than the gift of testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel. A less prominent manifestation of the gift of tongues is to have someone speak in an unknown tongue, and another person interpret what was said.. This unusual manifestation of the gift of tongues is always accompanied by some purpose of the Lord to instill faith or testimony in the hearts of those whom the Lord would so bless. The prophet Joseph Smith taught—
“We believe that the Holy Ghost is imparted by the laying on of hands of those in authority, and that the gift of tongues, and also the gift of prophecy are gifts of the Spirit, and are obtained through that medium; but then to say that men always prophesied and spoke in tongues when they had the imposition of hands, would be to state that which is untrue, contrary to the practice of the Apostles, and at variance with holy writ” (HC 5:26-28.).
Some religious organizations of today focus their theology on that unusual manifestation of the gift of tongues, as was reported in Acts 19, where it was a manifestation that Paul’s rebaptism of those who had been baptized without authority, was indeed a valid baptism.