Yep, you heard (or read) the question correctly – Did John Calvin speak in tongues?
In a somewhat recent post at a continuationst blog (not unlike my co-authored blog at To Be Continued), the author, Jeff Doles, makes the reader aware of a student publication of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary known as The Paper. On page 6 of the March 24, 1975, issue, there is a short piece by Quent Warford and it is entitled, “Calvin Speaks Unknown Tongue.”
The Paper reports:
The volume which allegedly contains the account of Calvin’s ecstatic utterances is in the library at the Episcopal Divinity School. It is his biography by his friend and confidant, Theodore Beza, entitled De Vitam Iohannes Cauvin. It is contained in The Vault, the Rare Book Room at E.D.S. Entering The Vault involves a great deal of red tape, and the invocation of the higher powers of the B.T.I. Prof. Hiles’ dining-hall pass also came in handy.
De Vitam Ihohannes Cauvin was published posthumously by Beza. All it contains concerning glossolalia is a small entry, confided to Beza by Calvin, shortly before the latter’s death. On several occasions, Calvin, in his devotions, found himself uttering a lingua non nota et cognota mini. That is, the language was not known or understood by him.
Himself a skilled linguist, Calvin set about to discover the orthography of the utterance. Unable to trace it, he confided to Beza that although the language was Hebraic in character, he yet feared that he had spoken a lingua barbarorum. That is, he feared having spoken in an accursed tongue, such as what was spoken by the Canaanites.
The matter was only a minor one to Beza, who allots it only a few sentences in De Vitam Iohannes Cauvin. Calvin’s concern was only a matter of linguistics. Therefore, there is not enough primary source material to build a case one way or the other.
An interesting read, nonetheless. And, no, it’s not tabloid. You can read the full report here.
By the way, I hope to finish out my series on the gift of tongues very soon. I probably have a couple of more posts to put up. My hope is to post the next article later this week. For now, you can see the first 5 articles below:
- Article 1 – An Introduction to Spirit-inspired speech
- Article 2 – Some intro thoughts specifically on tongues
- Article 3 – Some more in depth thoughts on ‘tongues of angels’ in 1 Corinthians 13
- Article 4 – The 3 purposes of tongues: praise, prayer and proclamation
- Article 5 – The 2 uses of tongues: personal and public
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I did a similar piece back in ’09 here.
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Very interesting. Did you gather from the articles that Calvin may have understood it as speaking in tongues? It seems to have unnerved him a bit.
I only read the article at the continuationist blog. I have not yet read the link to The Paper at Gordon-Conwell. But, yes, it seemed to unnerve Calvin a bit.