Glossolalia or speaking in tongues

Hello everyone, I would like everyone to embrace this post as it is very out of the ordinary. Its ok to criticize or say mean things, I was a soldier in the army for ten years, I don’t get offended easily…

I was baptized Catholic as a newborn but raised in a church called the Apostolic Pentecostal Church. They strongly practiced the spirit of speaking in tongues.

Even thou we left the Catholic Church as I was a child, the pastor of the Catholic Church never turned his back on us or condemned us, we still stayed in touch.

However, once when I was driving the city bus a JW told me that the church that I had been going to was full of fools, that the speaking of tongues was just wrong.

I just really want to know what is your view of the speaking of tongues? I know there are Satanic groups and some Pagans that practice this as well, but the Church I was going to claimed to be of Jesus Christ, not Satan…

What are your views? Mark 16:17, Acts chapter 2, Acts 10:46, Acts 19:6, Romans 8:27, Jude 20, Old testament Isaiah 28:11

I’m Missouri Synod Lutheran - from our synod

Q. What is the Missouri Synod’s view on speaking in tongues, prophecy, and faith healing?

A. The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod readily grants that at times in the past God has certainly bestowed upon his church certain “extraordinary gifts” of the Spirit (such as those mentioned in this question), and that it is certainly possible for God to grant those gifts still today. At the same time, the LCMS emphasizes that we have no promise in Scripture that God will grant all of the gifts of the Spirit to his church in all times and places, and it has expressed serious concerns about the unbiblical teachings and activities which have often accompanied claims regarding these gifts in the charismatic movement today.

As a youngster, I remember being taught that speaking in tongues means nothing if there is no one able to interpret/understand what is being said. In the account of the Apostles speaking in tongues, there were people who understood what they said, in recognizable languages. Otherwise, it is simply babble.


I’m Pentecostal–Trinitarian though. I believe speaking tongues is a physical response to the baptism in the Holy Spirit, but I do not believe that speaking in tongues is a “requirement” to be saved.

It’s also a spiritual gift, and like all spiritual gifts (healing, miracles, prophecy, etc.) there is a satanic counterfeit. This is one reason why spiritual gifts are not evidence of a person’s spirituality or holiness. We are to judge people by their fruit, and the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Acts can be a good book to learn about how the Holy Spirit moved in the early church, but I’m curious why you didn’t cite 1 Corinthians 14 as well, which in my mind presents the case for glossolalia (“babbling” as some call it) rather than xenoglossia (speaking unknown foreign languages) and shows how both the gift of tongues and the prophetic are to work in the public assembly.

There is a relatively strong Charismatic movement in the Catholic Church in the US. These also practice speaking in tongues. It’s not for everyone…and definitely not mandatory for all believers…but it is a valid aspect of the faith.

Speaking in tongues is one of the gifts of The Holy Spirit. At times in prayer the soul wishes to say what our minds cannot comprehend and the soul speaks through the power of the Holy Spirit! It is a gift, a grace, a blessing. Amen

I didn’t use the book of 1 Corinthians 12, 13, 14 because this is where people like to get twisted, I was just trying to keep it simple.

My mother was born and raised Catholic, she has all of her communions and she left the Catholic church to be in the Apostolic Pentecostal but now she is looking for a Charismatic Catholic Church. If you know how to find them, please let me know…

This is what I have been taught as a Catholic as well. :thumbsup:

There are some sufi groups that do it. Some sufis do these rituals where music is played and everyone bobs their head until they get into a trance, then they convulse on the ground, dance uncontrollably and occasionally speak random jibberish (also known as ‘glossolalia’). They think that, somehow, this brings them in union with God. Of course, I would argue that this kind of nonsense is false Sufism, but, be that as it may.

It’s a beacon of delusions. They think that their imagination is the same thing as enlightenment. Rumi [may Allah be pleased with him] was known to have done this whirling dance when he felt spiritual ecstasy, but as far as I know, he never went to the extreme of thinking that this had any answers to life’s problems. He would recite poetry as he whirled, which indicates that he was sober minded the whole time. I admire Rumi greatly, but I think his whirling was wrong to do (it’s what we muslims call a bid’ah). I think this just was a blind spot of his.

I highly agree on this! This is something that I truly believe.

I learned about the different kinds of Islamic beliefs before I went to Iraq as a soldier. I watched videos of the Sufism. The church I went to was very much the same but they didn’t practice spinning in circles however they did play loud music and dance.

In their defense of jibberish, the pastor would monitor the church and sometimes tell people to shut up or sit down if they appeared out of line. A person could easily argue that the language being used was a unknown language that was spoken before the tower of babel and that a translator was not needed because the speaking of tongues was a sign of the presence of God.

If she is also in Houston, this is the main location.

My experience has not been that there are entire parishes that are Charismatic…rather, there are prayer groups within parishes or retreat centers. I used to belong to a group in the Diocese of Belleville. We had prayer meetings weekly, and mass about once a month.

This link should help you find something within your diocese. By my count there are some 30 groups in the Houston area.

Charismatic Prayer Groups in the US

Oh, cool. Thank you for your service.

I don’t see the behaviour in the story of the Tower or Babel as an acceptable explanation (from an Islamic perspective). The tower of Babel is a Jewish and Christian concept; I’m not aware of any place in the Qur’an or in the oral traditions [also known as ‘hadith’] where that story is mentioned. However, even if this story were found in our sciptures or hadiths, that still wouldn’t negate the fact that, from the beginning, Allah has called people to sober-mindedness. That’s why He rebuked Jonah [peace be upon him] for showing resentment to the people of Nineveh.

Christians and Jews share a belief, we believe that there was a time when all men spoke the same language but God became a angry with the people because a certain group was building a large Tower that was going to reach the heavens so, God was so angry that he confused the people and gave them different languages and destroyed the Tower of Babel. The Tower Of Babel…

I didn’t know if you knew the story, I just thought I would share it…

A lot depends on the personality of the individual and the culture of the particular local church. A lot of what people say is the Holy Spirit is really just that individual’s own personality. Some people are more emotional and others aren’t.

There is nothing inherently wrong with being emotional, but I think some people try to justify everything that happens in a service by saying they were just obeying the Holy Spirit. That may be true. For example, someone might run or shout because they truly are caught up in the Spirit. But they also may just be shouting because they are personally happy and joyous in God’s presence. Neither are wrong, but in the latter case the person needs to distinguish between their own emotions and the work of the Holy Spirit.

We also need to distinguish between demonic activity. Many times when people are experiencing physical manifestations it isn’t the Holy Spirit but demonic forces are being challenged by the Holy Spirit’s presence and the preaching of the Word.

During the First Great Awakening, Jonathan Edwards wrote a wonderful Christian classic on how to tell the signs of the Spirit from simple human emotions, Religious Affections.

As a Linguist, I briefly took a look into the phenomenon of glossolalia. I can only offer a more linguistic (rather than religious) view of the phenomenon.

All the sounds produced by “speakers” are sounds that exist in the speaker’s native language or any other language the speaker is familiar with; i.e. it contains only those sounds already known to the speaker, thus the glossolalia of someone from say, India, is not going to sound anything like the glossolalia of someone from America. Pitch, accent, rhythm, and intonation is also used and typically represents the patterns of speech of the speaker’s own native language. These streams of speech are not internally organized and there does not appear to be any relationship between units of speech and the concepts they supposedly represent. Many syllables are repeated in various patterns. I don’t know if studies have gone so far as to try and determine if there is any substitution or changing of particular sounds or syllables with the given meaning the speech stream is said to mean (i.e. sort of like a very advanced “pig Latin” or so called “twin language”).

That aside, it is interesting how the speaker does not always seem to be able to “interpret” what s/he is saying. From a linguistic point of view, it’s interesting but essentially meaningless streams of speech which appear to be phonologically structured.

The Tower of Babel story is also quite interesting, particularly again from a linguistic viewpoint.

One must keep in mind that to a person living in what we know call the Middle East several thousand years ago, the “whole world” (being of one tongue) would have been just that; a small part of what we now call the Middle East.

Virtually all people in that neck of the woods spoke what we today call Semitic languages. Indeed, all of these languages were related and came from one source; a parent language called Proto-Semitic. Proto Semitic was, in turn, one of a few languages that split off from what is called Proto-Afro-asiatic.

The general consensus seems to be that Proto-Semitic had its ultimate origins in either Arabia, Mesopotamia or Africa.

Proto-Semitic subsequently splintered off (due to several factors, the main one being the migration of peoples to other areas and the general isolation of these peoples from one another over time) and developed into the various Semitic languages found in the ancient Middle East.

What is fascinating is that the fact that people recognized that there was indeed a parent language for the various languages they encountered (there would have been some mutual intelligibility between all of them for several hundred years) and seemed to preserve this in their oral tradition. The reasons for the splintering off of P-Semitic would not have been known to these people so they attributed it to God and the story of the Tower evolved as a way to explain this divergence in languages such that everyone could easily understand.

The biblical account is interesting in that, as mentioned, not only did people realize that all their languages were similar and thus must have come from one parent tongue, but they also seem to relate that these original speakers came from the East (which would stand to reason if P-Semitic did indeed originate to the east of what is now Israel, i.e. Arabia or Mesopotamia).

The biblical account as we have it today is one of very few ancient accounts of a people remembering the history of their language(s) - told of course in a religious context. If, however, the religious context is extracted, you end up with a pretty accurate historical account of what happened - speakers of Proto Semitic migrated towards the west and as they migrated and became isolated nations, groups, etc., their languages eventually splintered off into what would have been at first just dialects of P-Semitic, but over time, separate but a very closely related group of languages (the word for ‘god’ for example is essentially the same word in Hebrew “el” as it is in Arabic “allah” as it is in Assyrian and Babylonian (a/k/a Akkadian) “ilu”, Phoenician 'l, and Ugaritic 'il.

Surely ancient people would have realized they all must have come from the same source language (the Proto Semitic *'il).

Very interesting post, Medaw. Thanks for sharing.

My perspective on tongues is that the use of it today doesn’t match with what is described in the new testament. I don’t know of pentecostal churches, or even charismatic catholic groups, for example, that utilize an interpreter. Scripture says speakers of tongues are supposed to be silent if there is no one to interpret, as has been mentioned earlier.

Plus, given that scripture says tongues (along with some other spiritual gifts) are temporary I’m inclined to believe that the practice as delivered from the Holy Spirit has ceased. I know there is disagreement on just how temporary the gifts are supposed to be, but regardless, we don’t see anything today resembling the set up we had in the first century.

A friend who is charismatic was first exposed to it as a teen. She tried reciting her Spanish lesson, but was called out for faking it. Another time she went to a church that had a class on speaking in tongues before the service. The leader had them recite “See my bow-tie, tie my bow-tie,” She did not go back to that church either. Despite these setbacks, she eventually joined a church that practices speaking in tongues.

It is no surprise that there are phonies in these churches. In fact, the surprise would be if there were not. Regardless of the denomination, they all draw their members from the same pool of sinners.

That’s a highly inaccurate statement. Use of the gift of interpretation is well established and long standing in both the classical Pentecostal churches and the newer charismatic movements (both Catholic and Protestant). There are countless books that discuss it and the protocol in classical Pentecostal churches is pretty standard across the board.

I have seen it countless times in my life. It takes place in small churches, average sized churches, and even megachurches. It even occurs in the devotional services at the business meetings of Pentecostal denominations occasionally. Just because every instance of someone speaking in tongues is not interpreted does not mean that interpretation is completely absent in the Pentecostal/charismatic movements.

1 Corinthians 13 does say they will cease but only when the perfect comes. Unless you believe the “perfect” is somehow the canon of Scripture or the maturity of the church (which I’d find to be horribly problematic interpretations given the context), I don’t see how anyone can use that passage to justify cessationism today.

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