“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” 1 Cor 13:1
I have quite a few friends in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, and I have been kind of torn in regards to how I should respond in regards to it. On the one hand I in no way wish to be holding myself back from receiving any gifts God wishes to give me because I will not humble myself and my need to understand, but on the other hand I believe there are some things I have a reasonable expectation to be shown.
A lot of emphasis is given in to the gift of praying in tongues and I have been diving into it trying to determine the nature of this gift, because I do not wish to be getting in the way of God from giving me a grace he wishes to give me. The Renewal seems to split tongues into two types one being speaking in tongues for edification of others, and praying in tongues for primarily our own edification. I am seeing very little scriptural, early church father, or theological basis for the idea of praying in tongues as separate from the traditional idea of speaking in tongues for the edification of others by having it translated.
One things that has come up is the idea of praying in angelic or otherwise non-human languages and the scripture verse above is pointed to in support of this. From what I have researched I have found very little to support the idea that what is considered angelic speech could be associated with what is considered praying in tongues.
I started with Aquinas in Summa Q.107
He says Angels do speak, but it is mind to mind because they are non-corporeal. So even if we can speak in the tongues of angels wouldn’t it not be in the same manner and be only within our minds and there would be no reason to presume this would have any verbal counterpart?
Secondly I considered that angels do speak to people throughout the bible.
Aquinas answers this is Q.51
He answers they that can fashion and assume bodily form for the purpose of interacting and communicating with us if God so wills but they are lifeless bodies different from our own. Every instance of this in the bible though we have no reason to presume they are speaking to people in any other language other than the native language of whomever they are speaking too.
Finally I see Jimmy Akin’s post on the subject here:
And this explanation of why St. Paul uses this phrase here in Corinthians makes a lot of sense as hyperbolic considering the following verses are very obviously hyperbolic. Speaking in the tongues of angels is compared with faith that moves mountains and knowing all mysteries and knowledge. It is clear this is hyperbolic because we will not even have knowledge of all things in Heaven as explained here by Peter Kreeft because we are still finite creatures and therefore our knowledge will be finite.
When you add to this that nearly all the early church fathers talk about the gift of tongues in the sense that it is speaking other real human foreign languages, what basis is there for believing that praying in tongues should be understood as the Charismatic Renewal understands it? I understand reason alone will not explain it and faith is required, but every Catholic belief has a fundamental reasonable basis on which faith then springs off of and I’m not seeing that fundamental basis for praying in tongues, which is troubling because it is a question of some consequence.