Did William Carey Have The Charismatic Holy Spirit Gifts Of Unknown Tongues And Interpretations?
Posted by Job on September 19, 2008
Ever since the rise of the modern Pentecostal/charismatic movement, there has been debate on whether such sign gifts as speaking in and interpreting unknown tongues are for today, or whether they were given only in apostolic times for the purposes of founding the church and spreading the gospel. People who take the latter view in particular often advance the view that tongues and interpretations (along with other sign gifts) were primarily used to spread the gospel to new areas.
Well let us consider the case of William Carey. In Carey’s day, the turn of the 19th century, it was commonly – and quite strongly – believed in Protestant Christianity that it was not the duty of Christians to spread the gospel outside of “Christendom”, or areas with a large Christian presence directly ruled by a Christian state. How this belief actually played out seemed inconsistent and unusual, as it appears that a large self – sustaining colonial presence in North America made it acceptable to proselytize the natives (the so – called Indians), but other areas where there was certainly a western presence was considered to be off – limits. It is fashionable to blame Calvinism for this mindset, but the truth is that Arminians generally followed this practice too: those such as the Wesleys were willing to preach to native Americans, but were no more motivated to offer people in areas lacking a strong western political and military presence or self – sustaining colonial populations a chance to make a decision for Jesus Christ than were the Calvinists in seeking God’s elect. In any case, the prevailing excuses appeared to be that Christians had more than sufficient work tending to the lost (and discipleship of the found) among their own countrymen to worry about seeking other sheep elsewhere, and that the great commission was a command given only to the apostles, not to the modern church. It also appears that at least some Protestants downplayed the importance of missionary work precisely because the Roman Catholics were so involved in it: anything that Rome was doing was to them by definition suspect!
Other Protestants, including the Moravians (Lutherans) had challenged those notions in the past, but Carey, a Baptist of Calvinistic extraction, is considered the father of modern missions because the missionary movement that he began, against vehement opposition of the religious establishment of his day, was one that has been sustained, imitated, and replicated until this day. As an odd curiosity, however, the man who started the movement that resulted in such a rapid spread of Christianity and countless saved souls around the world only himself successfully baptized and evangelized a few converts.
However, one area where Carey was far more successful at was in translating the Bible! It is said that Carey had an obvious talent, a rare proficiency and inclination, for learning languages and doing translation work. You can even call it A GIFT. (For an idea of the source of this gift according to my estimation, read passages related to Exodus 28:3, Exodus 31:3, Exodus 35:31, Numbers 24:2, Judges 3:10 and similar.) It is said that he translated the Bible, either completely or in part, in 35 different languages! That does not even include his attempt to make a book of translation of Sanskrit literature and a polyglot dictionary of Sanskrit and related languages, which would have been a huge contribution to the field of linguistics that would have been a great help to scholars in translation work to this day had the irreplaceable manuscripts not been destroyed in a fire. (As a side note, it is also said that the day that Carey finally baptized his first convert on the mission field, Krishna Pal, his wife was confined to her room as a result of having lost her mind!. Spiritual warfare is real people!)
So, this William Carey, a minister of the Particular Baptist movement of the Reformed Christian faith, in my estimation possessed a gift given by the Holy Spirit that was used to found the church in a place that it did exist by transferring the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Word of God from a tongue (language) unknown to the people in this area to a tongue that was known to them. It was an apostolic gift given to a man who filled an apostolic task. Perhaps the best evidence of this was Carey’s commitment to justice for the poor by opposing the caste system, especially by way of his daring decision to have his converts not obey the caste system (part of the Hindu religion), in particular by allowing two Christian converts from separate castes, a Sudra and a Brahmin, marry. To this day Christianity is growing fastest among the greatly oppressed and impoverished untouchable caste of India, a group called the Christian Dalits. (It is also interesting that Carey made the decision to model his missionary community somewhat after the Bible’s description of the communal living of the early Jerusalem church in Acts.)
So did William Carey exhibit the Holy Spirit sign gift in the area of tongues, especially their interpretation? Feel free to come to your own conclusion about the matter. But when you look at the videos below, you might be able to guess the direction that I am leaning in and why this is so.