“Tongues” on the Cover of the New York Times

Dear Church Family,

If you woke up and glanced at the front page of the New York Times on June 25, 1927, you would have seen articles about Harvard beating Yale in a boat race, significant political events in China and even an article about the famed aviator Colonel Charles Lindbergh. You also would have read this headline: “Son Inspired by God, Straton Declares,” and this subtitle: “Pastor Tells of ‘Visitation’ as Youth Prayed and Sang in Unknown Tongue.”

Here’s what happened. During a Monday night meeting of the “Young People’s Class,” a nineteen-year-old named Warren was praying with others when he fell to the ground, “uttered unintelligible sounds and sang…beautifully…” His face shown with joy and he sang with “rhythm…in an unknown language.” His parents concluded that Warren experienced a divine visitation. Warren thrived afterwards, becoming more committed to Bible reading and his studies as an aspiring artist.

However, all was not well for Warren’s father who was the pastor, Rev. John Straton. Five deacons resigned after accusing Rev. Straton of introducing “pentecostalism” into the church. Rev. Straton vigorously denied that he coached his son to feign this “baptism” of the Holy Spirit. Under fire (of a decidedly different sort than his son), Rev. Straton retreated to Greenwood Lake to write a sermon addressing the question of tongues.

Calvary Baptist Church in New York City wasn’t the last church divided by spiritual gift controversies. Anyway, we’ll take a fresh look at what the Bible says about tongues and prophecy when we gather to worship on Sunday.

Your brother in Christ,