Thursday, June 4, 2009

Tongue Ramblings

For the last few days I've been pondering Kim's request to talk about tongues.

Truthfully, i was in a bind.

Do i research the topic? Do I look over my spiritual gifts notes, checking out sermons and diving into books? Or, do i go off the top of my head and ramble incoherently and sound not nearly as smart?

My answer? The later.

Why? Well, if i was asked in any other format than via a blog comment, i would have no resources but my vast intellect and worsdsmithness (let's all pretend that's a term). Be forewarned.

To begin i should say that i have never actually spoken in tongues. And honestly, it doesn't greatly bother me. Sure, sometimes I have wondered what it would be like, but if it never happens, I'll be fine with it. I'm ok with not having that spiritual gift, and so far, not exercising the role.

As for tongues itself, i have no option but to say that they exist. It is one of those things that the Bible includes that I cannot deny. Like miracles or healings, I may not totally understand them and I may not be absolutely comfortable with them, but the Bible leaves me no space to reject their existence.

Off the top of my head, i can think of a few Bible passages that are relevant. The first is the record of Pentecost from Acts. Then there is the part where the Spirit will intercede with goans when we don't have the words. Finally, Paul has a stack to say about tongues in 1 Corinthians.

I don't think that you need to speak in tongues to be saved. Just because it happens at conversion on some occasions in Acts, doesn't mean it must always happen. In fact, the instances a new believer does not speak in tongues outnumbers the times they do.

Tongues can be in the form of known dialects, like those at Pentecost, or unknown languages (which you more commonly hear in charismatic churches).

In my mind, tongues has a role to play in both the individual and corporate christian lives.

Individually the we can pray in tongues when our feeble words will not suffice. This is purely between us and God.

Corporately, i think tongues have the role described in 1 Cor 12 and 14. But, as Paul notes, it is dependant on someone to interpret what is said. This can come in the form of a divine message of encouragement or warning.

Also, i don't think that you're meant to be constantly speak in tongues. It is momentary communication of an immediate nature.

Closing my rant, i should mention that i wasn't completely in agreement with what was said on Sunday night. I think Graham did a good job, but I don't think that learning a language in another culture is the use of the gift of tongues. Missionary? Sure. Hospitality? Possibly. Knowledge or teaching? It's a stretch. But tongues? I'm not so sure.


kim said...

yes, i think graham may have been a bit wrong there too. what do you think of churches where everyone speaks tongues? i thought everyone had different gifts 'the church is not a centrepede, we do not have a hundred legs'... do you think its real?

Graham said...

I'm not prepared to say that it isn't genuine. Every Christian has the potential to speak in tongues. With exposure to the gift and others with that giftedness then it could be more probable that they excercise that role more than in other churches (but there are a lot of "coulds" in that sentence!).

But i'm definaitly not a fan of speaking in tongues into a microphone whilst in prayer UNLESS it is a message for the church and that message is interpreted (I think Paul makes that pretty clear).