A History of Glossolalia: Origins

Image of the five pioneers of the glossolalia doctrine
*There are a few more but these ones are the best documented

How glossolalia entered the christian doctrine of tongues vernacular and became the entrenched form of interpretation.

The 1800s was the era of a major transition in the interpretation and understanding of the doctrine of tongues. This is a time when the traditional interpretation which consisted of a supernatural spontaneous utterance of a foreign language gave way to enigmatic themes such as ecstatic utterances, prophetic utterance, ecstasy, and glossolalia.

This article navigates through this journey of doctrinal change; demonstrating the names, places, and events.

Table of Contents

  • Why speaking in tongues became a popular item for scholars to publish in the 1800s
  • Ecstasy vs. Glossolalia
  • The people behind the new definition
  • The propagation of the new definition
  • August Neander and his influence on Philip Schaff in promoting tongues as an ecstatic utterance
  • The expansion of the new definition into the world of English literature
  • Conclusion

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The fifteenth to nineteenth centuries were focused on the Church tradition of miracles. The Church, which controlled the civil, and religious laws, established its authority and decision making through the works of miracles. It could not easily be questioned. As was previously written, this mysticism influenced every sphere of life; from politics, to health, taxes, and the natural sciences. It did not allow for dialogue, external accountability, or encourage scientific exploration.

The Medieval and Reformation supernaturalists had a greater propensity towards mysticism and overstated the ancient writers to propel their positions. It makes the modern reader think the Patristic writers were more deeply into the supernatural, magic, and miracles than they really were.

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