Review - Banner of Truth

The Banner of Truth Trust
3 Murrayfield Rd, 
Edinburgh, EH12 6EL, 
Tel: +44 (0)131 337 7310
Fax: +44 (0)131 346 7484

Reviewed by: Ian Childs

The biographical note about the author tells us that he is a self-employed builder. We would never have anticipated that occupation for the author of this well-argued book about biblical ‘tongues’. 

Part One presents the thesis that biblical ‘tongues’ are normal human languages, normally learnt and normally spoken (p. 19). Part Two answers the question ‘What of the Present?’. Here the author offers five options for interpreting the present phenomenon (for example, it is from God and supported by Scripture, it is a fake, etc.). The final section has two appendices, copious endnotes (pp. 221-300), and subject, writer and Scripture indices. This reviewer prefers footnotes to endnotes, especially when the latter are substantial as in this book. A glance at a footnote is less distracting to the reading process than having continually to refer to notes at a distance from the text. This is a subjective opinion, but raises the question whether interaction with other authors is best placed in the text rather than in endnotes. Again, to read endnotes, ‘independently of the text without losing much, if anything’ (p. 15), raises the question of their validity.

Maclachlan reproduces the New Testament references to ‘tongues’ in full, and in bold print. He carefully examines these, and asks what to him is the real question: ‘What are tongues?’ In reply, he emphasizes the seven references to glossa in Revelation, which most writers ignore, and offers a detailed explanation of 1 Corinthians 14. He concludes that the current phenomenon of tongues-speaking is not in the Bible (p. 69), and answers twenty-one objections to this opinion. Part One ends with an explanation of why 1 Corinthians 13 is where it is. Part Two begins with the author’s explanation of the current phenomenon, and I will not spoil your reading of this book by telling you what he says. Maclachlan is unsympathetic to the Charismatic movement, but he offers an exposition of how non-Charismatics should relate to Charismatics. Also, he presents seventeen suggestions for conduct in any theological warfare.

The fundamental idea in this book that biblical tongues are synonymous with languages is not new. However, the author has probably provided the most thorough study of it to date. The book will probably fail to persuade those already entrenched in their positions. For others who want to pursue the subject Maclachlan offers a well-reasoned argument.

Tongues Revisited: A Third Way, 
Renton Maclachlan
Clearsight (NZ), 312pp, pbk
ISBN 0 473 06918 0