Gift of Tongues
“The gift of tongues…even cloven tongues as of fire (T&C 123:10). This is a strange figure. To cleave means both to stick together, glue, kleben, etc., and also to split or separate. A cloven tongue is a loosened and articulate tongue. The image here employed recalls both the two-edged sword which is the word or tongue of God, which is quick and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword, to the dividing asunder of the joints and marrow, soul and spirit (T&C 16:1) and the fiery sword of the cherubim (kherev means sword). The next [sentence] confirms the use of metaphors, where ‘tongues as of fire’ is matched by the filling of the house ‘as with a rushing mighty wind.’ Was there real fire or a real wind? No, but there was something real that can best be described in those terms. We know that things really happened in the Kirtland Temple, where we read also of a sound as of rushing waters and hair as white wool.”1 The Lord can give the Gift of Tongues, which constitutes the ability to speak “foreign” or non-native languages (see Acts 1:7–8; T&C 32:5), and He is also able to endow men and women with a loosened and articulate tongue, which speaks the words of God. To speak with a new tongue is to speak worthily of sacred things. It is to correctly weigh the truth of a matter, know by the power of the spirit that what is said is true and in conformity with God’s will, and then to speak it.2See also SPEAK WITH THE TONGUE OF ANGELS.
1 Hugh Nibley, Eloquent Witness: Nibley on Himself, Others, and the Temple, 334–335.
2 “2 Nephi 31:14,” Aug. 26, 2010, blog post.