The Loudmouth Protestant

August 2, 2008

The Trouble with Tongues

Filed under: christianity,christians,God,life,spirit — nickisym @ 11:58 am
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I have gone for a very long time without being conflicted about the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues. It has long been my understanding that it is a gift bestowed upon believers by the Holy Spirit so that communication between the believer and the Spirt may take place. I know speaking in tongues to be a gift that is to be desired but not held high above all things because it is not edifying to the body inasmuch as prophecy is. I’ve understood that it’s okay if you don’t speak in tongues and you are not any less of a Christian if you don’t. But all of my certainty about what I knew of tongues was smashed when I attended a Bible Study on Thursday night. 

It was another guest facilitator–I don’t know if therein lies the problem–but said teacher kept on mentioning tongues and the importance of speaking in tongues and most in the room–except for me–was in agreeance. Occasionally she would say “If you have never spoken in tongues, come and see me after study and we will take care of that.” This was a scary statement for me because all I could think of was the moments of tarrying Baptist-style until your mouth was able to form the unintelligible words. I bristled at her words because they smacked up against what I understood. At this point, another young lady got up and shared her story of not speaking in tongues and how much it hurt her. She mentioned that  years earlier she didn’t accept an alter call because she was scared and it was at that very altar call that she believes she was to recieve the gift of speaking in tongues. Since then, she has never spoken in tongues and it hurts her badly. 

At the hearing of this I was shocked. It seemed all of a sudden that people were focusing more on the ability of doing something spiritual than resting in the God of those spiritual things and believing that He has given them everything they need. Why should you be hurt because you don’t speak in tongues? Will you take credit away from all the great things that God has done in your life because you think you lack in not being able to speak in tongues. As a response to the young woman, the teacher told her to see her after study and they would take care of her not being able to speak in tongues. Here we go again.

So I walked out of Bible Study after we finished praying and I was a tad bewildered and freaked out by what seemed like people power-tripping over the ability to speak in tongues. I didn’t want to hang around and talk to anyone lest someone find me out, lay hands on me and force me to speak in tongues. 

And here we are this morning. I’ve been reading I Corinthians and trying to re-wrap my mind around speaking in tongues. 1 Conrinthians 12:11 says “It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.” This is a verse I didn’t once hear the teacher mention in study. It is here where I most protest.

In a room full of impressionable people, it is never kosher to give only your natural side of the story, particuarly when we are talking about God’s word and God’s gifts. We do not preach to sound self-righteous or cause divisiveness. 

As the body of Christ,  we need to be more clear and intentional about what we preach and how so as to never sound self-righteous or self-aggrandizing. It is debates like “To Speak in Tongues or Not” that tear us apart and my only desire is that the teacher spent more time giving more scriptural background instead of pumping her fist to get everyone in the room speaking tongues–which in actuality is not a gift she can give anyways.

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1 Comment »

  1. How you feel isn’t wrong it seems like she was making this into a contest and that is not what religion is about. You don’t get closer to god on how much you know, but what you do with it in your life.
    Virginia.

    Comment by starkisses — August 2, 2008 @ 12:38 pm | Reply


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