Let me state at the outset that what I am about to write is not intended as a put-down, or meant to be offensive. I have been a member of a charismatic church for over ten years, and my ordination to the pastoral ministry was by that church. I cannot speak concerning reports of Christians witnessing to people of different language groups. I have heard many Christians tell of such experiences while attempting to spread the Gospel, but one would have to wonder why there are no video recordings of such occurrences, or why the phenomena does not take place as the norm rather than being relatively rare.
If "that which is perfect" is the Bible in its perfect, completed form, what is happening in many of the churches today? There are differing views as to their source, from it being a psychological, mass hallucination, to it being the result of demonic activity. If it were a mass hallucination, why would be so limited even within charismatic churches? In most churches where tongues are encouraged, there might be more than one explanation. In those churches which teach the false doctrine that says a person is not saved until he has spoken in tongues, there is obvious pressure to conform. In churches that merely encourage the expression of the gift, suggesting that the ability indicates a higher level of spirituality, those wanting to look spiritual have the incentive to fake tongues. Before you take up stones to silence me, look at how the gift of healing has been faked by many famous "healers." Reading Paul's letter to the Corinthians, it is obvious that the abuses today are not new. The speaking in tongues was meant to be a sign, as I stated in an earlier post, and it is clear to me that demons would not facilitate someone spreading the Gospel.
A possible explanation for tongues today is that there is more than one kind of "tongues." There are the angelic language mentioned once but without description (1 Cor. 13:1), and a prayer "language" which might be explained as that of the Spirit (Rom. 8:26; 1 Cor. 14:14-15). There is apparently the ability to sing in tongues as well (1 Cor. 14:15). Since these examples are not actually considered by Paul as part of the Corinthian problem, he makes no comment on them except to say that he would rather pray in his own language so that he would understand what needs to be prayed (1 Cor. 14:13-15). He also said he would rather speak five words in his own language than speak ten thousand in an unknown tongue in the church (1 Cor. 14:19).
With regard to the Apostle's direction on the use of tongues in the assembly of believers, he said they were specifically designed to reach unbelievers, and not intended for those who were Christians (1 Cor. 14:22). In the verse before, he refers to an Old Testament prophecy concerning the future expression of tongues, saying that it would be to "this people." Since it was Isaiah who was a prophet to Israel, and because the Jews require a sign, and because the Gospel is now being directed to the Gentiles, speaking in an unknown tongue should be less prevalent today (Isa. 28:11-12; 1 Cor. 1:22; Rom. 11:7-25; Acts 1:8). To be continued.