Speaking in tongues, long a hallmark of Pentecostalism, is not practiced by a significant number of charismatic and Pentecostal Christians, a new 10-country survey shows.
The survey, released Thursday by the Washington-based Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, found that experiences of divine healing of physical ailments were far more prominent for those who affiliate with the vibrant and growing segment of Christianity.
Researchers found that many Pentecostals and charismatics attend worship services where speaking in tongues and other signs of the Holy Spirit are evident. But in six of the 10 countries surveyed, at least 40 percent of Pentecostals said they never pray or speak in tongues.
"I think that the classic Pentecostal belief that speaking in tongues was the real evidence of the second baptism of the Holy Spirit is, at least in practice, not widely accepted around the world," said John Green, senior fellow at the Pew Forum and a longtime observer of religion and politics.
Luis Lugo, director of the Pew Forum, suggested that the definition of the movement as a tongues-speaking segment of Christianity may need to be revisited.
"Based on these findings, we need to rethink that considerably," he said.
Speaking in tongues has been controversial among Christians, with some thinking it is not an appropriate modern-day practice despite its use in biblical times. The Southern Baptist Convention's International Mission Board adopted a policy last year forbidding the consideration of missionary candidates who use a "private prayer language." But a trustee of one of the denomination's seminaries has requested that a "lack of consensus" on the matter be addressed in the Southern Baptists' statement of faith.
The survey used the ...1