Is there any scripture evidence for the way that Apostolic/Pentecostal churches operate in tongues today? Is it biblical for people to gather and have many different people in the congregation speaking in tongues at the same time?


Let me be honest with you.  This is a debatable matter.  I have a rather strong opinion on this question, but sincere, honest people who are devoted to good interpretation of the Scripture will disagree, so you might want to seek the opinion of someone who disagrees.  Nevertheless, I will give my response, and a biblical argument for this response.
I believe that modern-day glossolalia (speaking in tongues) is not a genuine manifestation of miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit.  I am not in a position to say exactly what God might do or could do. Perhaps God still gives some sort of temporary miraculous ability to speak in unknown (by that person) languages today, but the kinds of things which are done today in Pentecostal churches is not validated as fitting the pattern of tongues in the New Testament.  I believe this for a few reasons.
1. First of all, as I see it, every bona fide example of speaking in tongues in the New Testament involved speaking in an actual human language.  I know of no example today of people claiming to speak in tongues wherein what they are doing is speaking in an actual language unknown to the speaker.  What is done in these Pentecostal/Charismatic churches is, essentially, gibberish.  Supposed speaking in tongues has been recorded and analyzed, and in every case I am aware of, the phenomenon did not involve an actual human language.  Like I said, it is gibberish—babbling.  In essence, what happens in these charismatic churches today is not an actual human language, and, therefore, it is not the kind of speaking in tongues which occurred in the New Testament.  We know for sure that the tongues in Acts 2 were actual languages, and Paul demanded that those who speak in tongues in public have an interpreter, which means that someone actually spoke that language.  There may be an exception.  I do not know about every example.  Perhaps in some time and place in the past 117 years since the Pentecostal movement began, someone actually miraculously spoke in an actual language.  If so, then I will have to apologize for over-generalizing.  But, unless someone can show me differently, I will claim that there is zero evidence for modern examples of people in Pentecostal churches speaking in an actual tongue unknown to the speaker.
2. Second, the biblical example is consistent, as far as we can see.  The miraculous gifts, including glossolalia, were imparted through the laying on of hands of an apostle.  Now, there may have been an exception, but none is given in the New Testament. In fact, when Philip worked miracles in Samaria in Acts 9, he was unable to pass on the miraculous gifts. For this reason, they sent to Jerusalem for apostles to come to Samaria so that the miraculous gifts could be passed along to the recent converts there.  Paul remined Timothy to fan into flame the miraculous gift which he had received when Paul (an apostle) laid his hands on him.  This is not an absolutely 100% ironclad proof that only apostles could pass on the miraculous gifts, but it is strong evidence that this was the case.  Obviously, there are no living apostles today, which means that any supposed miraculous gifts are almost certainly not genuine.
3. Third, the New Testament makes it clear, or at least it leaves a strong case, that it was intended all along for the miraculous gifts to be a temporary ministry.  This is demonstrated in 1 Corinthians 13:8 and Hebrews 2:4, both of which imply that they were for a definite purpose, which was to testify to the validity of the apostolic message, presumably until the completion and general distribution of the completed New Testament.  To add to this, the unanimous testimony of the second century Christian church is that by this time the miraculous gifts had ceased. Presumably, this was both because there were no longer any living apostles to hand on the gifts, and because the original purpose of them had ceased.  Let me be completely honest with you.  These are strong and, to me, convincing arguments, but it would be too strong to call argument #2 and #3 here “proof.”  To me, argument #1 comes very close to proof that tongues have ceased, but I would describe arguments #2 and #3 to be strong and even fairly convincing, but not solid proof of the conclusion.
A couple more arguments bear mention.  First of all, as you imply, what is done in so many churches today violates clear biblical mandate, especially from Paul in 1 Corinthians.  Paul demands that the chaotic situation in many Pentecostal churches, in which multiple people supposedly speak in tongues at the same time not be done in the churches.  Also, he demanded that, if anyone speaks in a tongue in the public assembly, an interpreter must be present, otherwise the tongue-speaker must not speak.  This mandate is violated on the vast majority of tongue-speaking in churches today.  Besides, in the very rare case where an interpreter is provided, the evidence is that this “interpretation” is not miraculous at all.  It is pretend interpretation.  How do I know?  I 100% absolutely guarantee that if there were two supposed miraculous interpreters, they would have completely different “interpretations.”  These supposed interpreters today are simply saying what comes to their mind.  Now, I might be wrong.  Maybe there is an exception out there.  If anyone can provide evidence to the contrary, I will happily not only apologize, but I will do so publicly and publish it at my web site. But I highly doubt I will need to do so.
So, I honestly hope I am wrong.  I hope that some of these tongue-speakers are not deceived, and that perhaps God really does do such miracles today.  But, unless I am given scriptural or other evidence which disproves what I have said above, I concluded that the supposed glossolalia in churches today is not genuine miraculous speaking in tongues.
John Oakes

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