I’m going to put this topic on the table. If you agree with my assessments, great, though I’m not looking for agreement. If you disagree, feel free to tell me why. I’m looking on one hand for clarification and on the other to clear up the confusion surrounding this issue. I don’t know how long it’s going to take to hammer and iron out the fine points of this, but I do know it's the first post of many regarding this issue.
The issue in question is praying in tongues or praying in the spirit as it’s often referred to. I was turned onto the concept by my dad (a former pastor, with a varied denominational background) when I was in my early teens and have been observing both the practice of it (in various churches) as well as perceptions about it—Christian and non—since that time.
I will open by saying that I believe that it is a valid, even necessary, albeit largely neglected, aspect to the Christian walk. My dad learned of it himself in a small church in Michigan in the late sixties. Prior to that, the gift can be traced back to Jerusalem, to a little room where it was "delivered to the saints" during the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:4), about three months after Jesus ascended into Heaven (Luke 24:51). Paul refers to it many times in his letters to the early churches in Asia Minor and it will be his thoughts from which I draw for the bulk of my reference. If you’re a Christian, you’ve probably heard all of the verses in circulation and already know arguments for or against it, whether or not your church practices praying in tongues. But! If you’re not a Christian, something this odd-sounding would necessarily have to be predicated by a belief in God’s existence. And secondly, by Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. So if praying in an unknown or largely indecipherable tongue already sounds like gibberish and nonsense to you (without even having heard it for yourself), then how much more would your belief in God’s existence, or lack thereof, color your opinion about this topic?
"Let all things be done decently and in order" (1 Corinthians 14:40).
Moving forward, praying in tongues is Linguistically classified under two types. The first being xenoglossia, literally meaning "foreign tongue". This type refers to the spontaneous acquisition of a language other than by one's native tongue. Other than the language that we have cognitively accrued and assembled through our years of interacting with our family and our society. The second is glossolalia which is a series of syllables and sounds unidentifiable with any spoken language on this earth and unintelligible to the hearer (without an interpreter, of course). As I have personally experienced only the latter, it's this type that I will be writing and opining on throughout this series.
One of the main aims of this blog is to address—and hopefully heal—the divisions within our church and subsequently, our world. And as this is (in my opinion) one of the most divisive topics within the Body of Christ, it would have to have been addressed and examined sooner or later.
To be continued.