One of the arguments made by those who believe that the gift of speaking in tongues has ceased (cessationists) is that the "tongues" spoken of in both Acts and 1 Corinthians 12–14 are "real" human languages. For example, C. Norman Sellers, in Biblical Tongues, writes:
The New Testament references to tongues require that we understand them as referring to real languages [...] There is sufficient scriptural evidence to prove that the tongues in 1 Corinthians are the same as those in Acts chapter 2 and refer to real languages.
Charismatics will generally reject this analysis; J. Rodman Williams, for example, argues that "it would have been pointless to speak foreign languages" at Caesarea (Acts 10:45–46) and Ephesus (Acts 19:6) in Renewal Theology (II, p214).
In light of this disagreement, I wonder – did any church fathers clearly and specifically indicate that the "speaking in tongues" of either Acts or 1 Corinthians was not a "real" human language? Here are some clarifying parameters:
- I'm interested in church fathers as typically defined – those who followed the apostles up to John of Damascus. I'm fine with including Tertullian and Origen in this group.
- From my reading I don't think any pre-Augustine authors clearly make this connection, so I'm asking about church fathers more broadly. But writings of the early fathers would be particularly interesting.
- By "clearly and specifically," I mean that the writer goes beyond the biblical text and indicates that the "tongues" were not human languages.
- Charismatics might argue that the biblical text itself is clear on this point, and that therefore if a church father merely quotes the biblical text, it indicates that he believes that "tongues" were not exclusively human language. I want more than that.