The principles of 1 Corinthians 12-14 address three issues regarding spiritual gifts: (1) gifts should be used to edify the body, not oneself; the more important gifts are the ones that help the body grow; (2) the pinnacle of growth is love (relationships), not experience nor knowledge—thus, both charismatics and cessationists can gain more balance in these matters; (3) all things must be done in order, and tongues are especially regulated. All of these instructions take the pizazz out of tongues. Let’s suppose the speaking in tongues is genuine. If that’s the case, I wouldn’t worry about it. Paul’s view on tongues is that it is one of the least important gifts. Yet many in the charismatic/pentecostal church make it THE sign of salvation. Unfortunately, those who speak in tongues often (not always!) view themselves as more spiritual than others. 1 Corinthians 13 kills that approach decisively.
The early church used discernment over unusual spiritual activities. Tongues-speaking was one of them, prophecy was another. The church today, however, is either entirely skeptical or totally gullible. Neither attitude is the best. All things must be measured against scripture. And tongues-speaking, as far as I can tell from scripture, is always a human language. Thus, if one claims to speak in tongues, it can be verified with a tape recorder and a couple of decent linguists. Who is willing to subject himself that way? This is the challenge for charismatics.