The Controversial Gift

Published in SATS “pastor to Pastor’

I grew up in a conservative Methodist home and during my childhood years would sometimes hear disparaging comments about ’holly rollers’ who, I was told, were Pentecostals who rolled wildly on the floor talking in tongues. At the age of thirty I ‘got saved’ and my wife and I started attending an Assemblies of God church. I didn’t see anyone rolling on the floor but I did hear tongues, both spoken and sung. The singing was beautiful and inspiring and I had no idea at that stage that speaking in tongues was a contentious issue for so many Christians.

Some six months later we joined a small charismatic Methodist church near our home. By interacting with the leaders I started to understand that many folk in the traditional non-Pentecostal denominations felt that tongues-talkers saw themselves as superior Christians. Some of those I spoke to even told me that they had been told that they weren’t even saved because they didn’t speak in tongues.

I started reading into the issue many years later and discovered that there are several grouping of views concerning tongues. Among Pentecostals and some charismatics there are those who believe that all Christians need to experience ‘the baptism in the Holy Spirit’ and that this is evidenced by speaking in tongues. A minority of Pentecostals hold the view that unless you are baptised in the Spirit, and thus speak in tongues, then you are not saved; but this is a very small group. Most believe that the baptism in the Spirit is an empowering experience necessary for Christian life and ministry. Among these folk there are those who teach a one-off experience, while others contend that the initial experience needs to be followed by constant ‘infillings’.

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Christopher Peppler



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About Me

My name is Christopher Peppler and I was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1947. While working in the financial sector I achieved a number of business qualifications from the Institute of Bankers, Damelin Management School, and The University of the Witwatersrand Business School. After over 20 years as a banker, I followed God’s calling and joined the ministry full time. After becoming a pastor of what is now a quite considerable church, I  earned an undergraduate theological qualification from the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa and post-graduate degrees from two United States institutions. I was also awarded the Doctor of Theology in Systematic Theology from the University of Zululand in 2000.

Four years before that I established the South African Theological Seminary (SATS), which today is represented in over 70 countries and has more than 2 500 active students enrolled with it. I presently play an role supervising Masters and Doctoral students.

I am a passionate champion of the Christocentric or Christ-centred Principle, an approach to biblical interpretation and theological construction that emphasises the centrality of Jesus

I have been happily married to Patricia since the age of 20, have two children, Lance and Karen, a daughter-in-law Tracey, and granddaughters Jessica and Kirsten. I have now retired from both church and seminary leadership and devote my time to writing, discipling, and the classical guitar.

If you would like to read my testimony to Jesus then click HERE.