speaking in tongues

:smack:Is speaking in tongues a real thing? I see a resurgence in it, but I always thought it started at the Tower of Babel where many different languages were spoken and they could not understand. But, the Holy Spirit allowed the presenter to speak in an unknown tongue, yet everyone could understand the words being spoken.
The tongues of today are just plain babbling that no one understands.

So is it a real thing, or just mass hypnosis ?

Thanks for your time and consideration.

What do you mean by “a real thing”?

Glossolalia is the technical term for it. Basically it’s a party trick, something that most people can learn to do regardless of their religious convictions. So yes, it’s “real” in the sense that people actually do it. But not “real” in the sense that there’s something magical or specifically Christian about it; non religious people and other religions do it to. Nor is it actually a language, it just sounds somewhat like one.

Besides which, that’s not what the Pentecost story (which most of the charismatic sects who do glossolalia base their beliefs about it on) is about. “Everyone heard the Apostles in their own tongue” is not the same as “the Apostles started speaking a language no one knew”.

Yeah, I’ve never been able to understand why glossalia is supposed to be so impressive. Not only is speaking gibberish something that everyone can do, it’s something that everyone knows that everyone can do, and it’s not useful or glorious at all. Now, if someone starts talking in a way that everyone can understand, from Mesopotamia and Parthia and Rome and Medea, like is claimed of the Apostles, that would surely be impressive, and useful, and a sign of a gift.

Pretty good answers replies there.
Thanks Der Trihs for the technical term.
Thanks to jayjay for confirming what I understand about the speaking of tongues.
Thanks to Chronos for for opinion on speaking in tongues is gibberish unless many languages can understand.

My grandparents were Pentecostals, and I used to go to church with them and listen to my grandmother speak in tongues all the time. She thought it was real.

Tfihx saw! Cla! Cla! Blah! Stcupnttt.

*typing in gibberish

Do the religious that ‘speak in tongues’ also claim to understand each other? Or is that not a requirement? I asked my local Pentacost guy, but he evaded answering the question.

Not in the churches I grew up in. If you were doing a 100% what the Lord expected of you, then of course you’d speak in tongues. However, it was supposed to be more a ‘prayer language’ than anything else, a direct line (and maybe one hidden from Satan, if I remember correctly) to God. However, very early on in my life (read: 70s), every once in a blue moon someone would ‘interpret.’

And looking back now, granting that those who spoke truly believed they were moved by the spirit or were under mass hysteria or something, the ones who told the rest of us what was said? I’m not sure if that was just the worst grandstanding or being a ‘false prophet.’

I don’t attend fundamentalist churches anymore, but my folks do. I never hear hardly of speaking in tongues much, and interpreting is right out. Of course, they’re not the hardcore kind. Women can cut their hair, wear makeup and pants, no one is prohibited (although strongly discouraged) ‘secular’ music and there’s no snake handling, so maybe that all still belongs to a different crowd than what I’m familiar with.

According to the teaching of the Assemblies of God church I went to there are three types of speaking in tongues. The first is a prayer language which all believers who are filled with the holy spirit can do. This is like what happened in Acts 10 after Cornelius’s conversion. The second is a gift of prophecy in tongues followed by an interpretation during a worship service for the edification of the Church. This is what Paul refers to in 1 Corinthians 12.
The difference between the first two types is discussed in 1 Corinthians 14.
The last type is speaking in a language that the user doesn’t know to proclaim the gospel. This is what happened to Peter during the first Pentecost.
If you are interested in more about this topic the AofG church has a web page about it.

Ph’nglui mglw’nfah Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!

Chanting the holy language of R’leyhian isn’t speaking gibberish, silly. :cool:

That’s easy for you to say…

Pentecostalism and fundamentalism are two very different things. The more conservative Pentecostals do tend to believe similarly to fundamentalists about dress standards, but that’s largely a byproduct. You will never find a fundamentalist anywhere who believes in speaking in tongues.

And snake handling is yet a third entirely separate thing.

Sorry no cite (seem to remember it was in a Martin Gardner book) but I read that some linguist analyzed recording of glossolia and found no evidence of an actual language - just random utterances featuring syllables characteristic of the speaker’s native language.

I knew a Thai lady who had spent a year in Oklahoma as a high-school exchange student and got caught up in that. She thought it was real. Condemned her own family forevermore for their pagan ways once she returned. Her family seemed awfully understanding though, considering they were still letting her live with them at age 30.

Speaking in tongues might have originally referred to a speech that people from any nationality were able to understand miraculously (maybe comparable to telepathy :confused: ). Or it could also have referred to the Spirit giving them the power to simply speak any language.

In today’s parlance, mass hypnosis. I remember being 17 or so, and a skeptic, visiting a Pentecostal church with a friend. Even given the attitude I went in with, I was amazed at how much I felt…drawn…to “participate.” I even broke out in tears although nothing was personally moving me. It felt like a cross between hypnosis and seizure behavior (psychogenic/dissociative).

Those preachers do have a talent. Whether it is best used in a church setting is arguable. But I have to compare it to the church I was brought up in (Eastern Orthodox). The response is meant to be more quiet than that of a charismatic church like the Pentecostals. However, I often ruminate whether the litany/liturgy/icon meditation is not largely the same thing in a different garb. A way to trigger emotions OR a different mode of thinking. Only the charismatic churches seems to want to elicit a strong emotional, cathartic response, and those of my church are more geared toward the contemplative. Yet both esteem a sort of masochistic, self-deprecating trance as well. To me, it’s very interesting what role this might play in the general human experience, and whether it might be a “necessary” or at least optimal one (substituted with drug experiences or exercise or non-religious meditation for the non church-goers). :confused: :slight_smile:

Because it’s not really something most people can do.

I think you guys are thinking it’s just babbling. But that’s intentional. You control what comes out of your mouth. Glossolalia is uncontrolled. There have even been brain scans that show the difference.

It’s a religious fervor thing. A big part of the Pentecostal experience is a lack of direct control. These uncontrolled actions are attributed to the Holy Spirit “taking over.”

Now, it does get a little hairy in that frequent users will be more easily able to work themselves up. But they still aren’t controlling the actual act.

At least, not unless they are faking. And, yes, it’s very easy to fake, so I can understand why seeing it would not convince you of anything. Feeling it is what is convincing. Maybe not that it’s spiritual, but that it’s something different, something we don’t experience a lot of in our modern society. For those who regularly practice it, it’s a profoundly stress releasing experience.

And, yes, I speak from experience. It took me almost two decades of growing up to have it happen once. Once it happened, I had the ability to stop it, but not the ability to control what came out of my mouth if I didn’t stop it. It unfortunately did not help with my anxiety overall, as I had hoped–when I was really anxious, it only functioned as a distraction.

Still, all my Pentecostal and Charismatic friends seem to enjoy it. They find some spiritual meaning in this release of conscious action. There are other religious fervor activities that are superficially similar, but brain scans show that different parts of the brain are active. Other than that, there’s nothing in modern life like the experience absent any chemical help.

There’s a reason it’s called being “drunk in the spirit.” It’s a religious high.

Edit: This actual article discussing the studies on the subject is far better than anything said in this thread so far.