Francisco Suárez and His Sources on the Gift of Tongues

Franciscus Suarez

Abstract

This paper considers the grace of the gift of tongues both as it is currently practiced among many members of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) and how it has traditionally been understood in medieval and post-medieval theology. The paper especially considers the perspective of Francisco Suárez on the subject insofar as he, as in most matters, is able to frame the status quaestionis of the topic and presents a uniform view of the Catholic theological tradition’s understanding of the gift. Ultimately, I point out that there are significant points of divergence between the nature of this gift as the CCR understands and practices it and as it has traditionally been understood historically.

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St. Ephrem on Speaking in Tongues

The Ordination of Ephrem by Basil

The fourth-century Syrian St. Ephrem and the christian rite of speaking in tongues.

The legend attached to St. Ephrem asserts the Pentecostal rite was the supernatural ability to speak in a foreign language. The Corinthian reference by the real St. Ephrem was a liturgical one relating to everyday language.

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Origen on Speaking and Interpreting

Origen's head plugged into a smart phone and a note saying retrieving data

A journey that delves deeply into Greek grammar, etymology, and the politics behind the translation of Origen’s comments of I Corinthians 14:13–14.

This article covers the great third century Church Father, theologian and writer, Origen, regarding his commentary on the above passage in Greek. The coverage here is technical and produces by a step-by-step process in producing an English version. By doing so, the system reveals problems that plague the translation of ancient Christian texts.

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An earlier church etymology of χάρισμα

An etymological exploration of the word χάρισμα from select writings of the Church Fathers.

Χάρισμα has a much wider semantic range than most realize and assists in a better understanding of St. Paul’s usage.

By going through a select set of writers from the third to fourth centuries, Athanasius*1, Eusebius, and Gregory of Nazianzus, a clearer picture is developing on how the ancients understood the word.

In a traditional English translation, one is forced to use gift in every instance of χάρισμα. In my translations below, I am breaking this tradition because the Church Fathers indicate a wider semantic range. Really, I am not sure if there is a one word equivalent in English for this word. The sense from these authors is that χάρισμα means this: the giving of your talents and service as an expression of thanks for what He has done in your life and reflecting God’s image in all that you do. I think endowment, expression or manifestation may be better English choices depending on the circumstance. These words do not completely match the Greek either and appear too simplistic, but comes closer in many instances.

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The Pentecostal Rewrite of the History of Speaking in Tongues

Two Pentecostal Missionaries listening to Philip Schaff Cartoon

How Pentecostals built their historical framework for their doctrine of tongues from Higher Criticism literature–a necessary but unlikely relationship.

This merging of two opposed systems, one dependent on the supernatural, and the other focused on the rational and logical with no reference to any divine entity, makes for one of the most major shifts in the history of the christian doctrine of tongues.

As shown throughout the Gift of Tongues Project, tongues as an ecstatic utterance was a new addition to the doctrine of tongues in the 19th century. There is no historical antecedent for ecstatic utterance, glossolalia and their variances before this era. Nor is there a connection with the majority of ecclesiastical writings over 1800 years which had a different trajectory.

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The Testament of Job and Angelic tongues

A picture of a page of the Testament of Job with a magnifying glass in front
Testament of Job Greek Minuscule. Source gallica.bnf.fr / Bibliothèque nationale de France

An analysis of the Testament of Job, its controversial state on speaking in angelic tongues, and its place in the christian doctrine of tongues.

The Testament of Job’s narration of Job’s three daughters speaking in the dialect of angels piques curiosity, especially those who hold an interest in the christian doctrine of tongues. Were they speaking a supernatural language of angels that purportedly the early Christian church of Corinth produced and later the Montanists? Alternatively, were they speaking in highly exalted poetic language as the Delphic prophetesses practiced?

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The Seven Pillars of the Charismatic Movement

image of people worshiping in a church

Seven pillars that any researcher on the Charismatic Movement must take into consideration.

The accelerated growth of the Charismatic movement throughout the world along with its political impact has brought them under more scrutiny within the general public.

Renewalists, that is Charismatics, Pentecostals, and Third Wavers (traditional churches influenced by Pentecostal mysticism) are now the most common expression found in most churches. Renewalism is the fastest growing segment of Christianity in the world. The focus on this article is specifically on the Charismatic movement whose growth is exploding faster than the contemporary Pentecostal one.

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The Church, Synagogue, and St. Paul

Paul with hand on head with Church on right Synagogue on left
Why Paul never used the word synagogue to describe the movement he inspired and chose ecclesia instead—the Greek word we translate as church.
The short answer is that he couldn’t use the word synagogue for a variety of legal and administrative reasons. Ecclesia was a better fit for their role as a para-synagogue organization within the Jewish umbrella.
There is a second option but not so strong as the first one. Paul thought of ecclesia as  defining his concept of Messianic Judaism a restorative movement claiming back to the time of Ezra.

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