Pentecost Miracles (with D. D. Home)
A modern revival movement within free church Protestantism
characterized by the appearance of the biblical gifts of the
spirit as outlined in the Apostle Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians
12. These gifts include the working of miracles, healing,
prophecy, and speaking in tongues. Of the several gifts, the
speaking in tongues has been the most controversial.
The Pentecostal movement began in 1901 in a Bible school
in Topeka, Kansas. The school’s teacher, Charles Parham, assigned
his students the project of researching the sign of the
baptism of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the first Christian
apostles. Upon questioning, the students agreed that the baptism
of the spirit was always accompanied by the individual
‘‘speaking in tongues.’’ Thus the group began to pray for the
baptism, and on January 1, 1901, Agnes Oznam was the first
to receive an answer to her prayer and began to speak in
tongues. The other students also soon spoke in tongues, and
over the next few years news of the experience was spread
through Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas. In 1906, a
student from Parham’s school in Houston carried the experience
to Los Angeles. William J. Seymour, an African American
led a small black congregation that became the center from
which the movement spread to the world. It eventually took organizational
form in a number of denominational bodies such
as the Assemblies of God and the Church of God (Cleveland,
It is a doctrine of Pentecostals that every person who receives
the baptism of the Holy Spirit will initially speak in
tongues, and then subsequently manifest one or more of the
other gifts of the spirit. Within Pentecostal congregations,
members look for manifestations of all of the gifts.
The early Pentcostals believed that they were living in the
last days prior to the return of Jesus. Therefore they interpreted
the sounds which they heard as people were speaking in
tongues as a foreign language, a supernatural tool to assist
them in converting the nations of the world. Numerous accounts
appear in the early Pentecostal literature of someone
recognizing a specific foreign language being spoken despite
the ignorance of the person speaking of that language. The
speaking of a foreign language while in an altered state of consciousness
is termed xenoglossia. Documented cases of
xenoglossia are quite rare.
However, most people who speak in tongues speak sounds
not translatable into any known language. In the Bible, the
words spoken are described as the ‘‘words of men and of angels,’’
and many have suggested that the unintelligible sounds
were really angelic. These unintelligible vocalizations are referred
to as glossolalia.
With the popularization of Pentecostalism in the last half of
the twentieth century, research on the nature of glossolalia has
been done. Among the most useful was the work of linguist William
Samarin who studied a number of people who spoke in
tongues and discovered that their vocalizations constituted a
proto-language. The sounds were related to the language they
spoke every day, but had only a limited number of vowels and
consonants. Their speech did not have enough different
sounds from which to construct a language, but was quite distinct
from the gibberish spoken by someone trying to imitate
someone speaking in tongues.
Pentecostal Happenings in Spiritualism
Within Spiritualism, the full range of phenomena generally
referred to as the gifts of the spirit by Pentecostals also manifest.
Among notable examples is the ‘‘Martian’’ language spoken
by French medium Helene Smith and reported by Theodore
Flournoy. Smith claimed that she had astrally visited Mars
and while in trance spoke ‘‘Martian.’’ Her claim was thus that
she exhibited an instance of xenoglossia. Flournoy demonstrated
that the language was related to her everyday French, that
is, she was demonstrating glossolalia.
Viscount Adare, in his book Experiences in Spiritualism with
Mr. D. D. Home (1870), claimed to have witnessed a broad modern
duplication of the Pentecostal experience in the mediumship
of D. D. Home
‘‘We now had a series of very curious manifestations. Lindsay
and Charlie [Charles Wynne] saw tongues or jets of flame
proceeding from Home’s head. We then all distinctly heard, as
it were, a bird flying round the room whistling and chirping,
but saw nothing, except Lindsay, who perceived an indistinct
form resembling a bird. Then came a sound as of a great wind
Penelhum, Terence Michael Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed.
rushing through the room, we also felt the wind strongly; the
moaning rushing sound was the most weird thing I ever heard.
Home then got up, being in trance, and spoke something in a
language that none of us understood; it may have been nonsense,
but it sounded like a sentence in a foreign tongue. Lindsay
thought he recognized some words of Russian. He then
quoted the text about the different gifts of the spirit, and gave
us a translation in English of what he had said in the unknown
tongue. He told us that Charlie had that day been discussing
the miracles that took place at Pentecost, and that the spirit
made the sound of the wind; of the bird descending; of the unknown
tongue, and interpretation thereof, and the tongues of
fire to show that the same phenomenon could occur again.’’
(See also Daniel Dunglas Home; Luminous Phenomena;
Sounds; Winds; Xenoglossis)
Dunraven, Windham Thomas Wyndham-Quin. Experiences
in Spiritualism with Mr. D. D. Home. Glasgow R. Maclehose &
Co. Ltd., 1924.
Flournoy, Theodore. From India to the Planet Mars. New
York Harper, 1901.
Goodman, Felicitas D. Speaking in Tongues A Cross Cultural
Study of Glossolalia. Chicago University of Chicago Press, 1972.
Kydd, Ronald A. N. Charismatic Gifts in the Early Church. Peabody,
Mass. Hendrickson Publishers, 1984.
Samarin, William J. Tongues of Men and Angels. New York
Macmillan, 1972.
Synan, Vincent, ed. Aspects of Pentecostal-Charismatic Origins.
Plainfield, N.J. Losgos International, 1975.