Speaking in Tongues Proven

Uhh… proven? Well, at least it’s been “proven” to be a mindless activity (see 1 Cor 14:14 below). Apparently when people pray “in tongues” their frontal lobe is not active; whereas it is active when praying in sensible language. Now, I’d be a lot more interested in seeing a brain study with a bunch of non-pentecostals speaking in English as compared to the same people speaking in gibberish, and compare those results to the tongue-speakers. That would be a far more interesting study. In fact, who knows? Maybe they studied that, but the results would have meant that ABC wouldn’t had an interesting story.

What does Scripture say about this?

1 Cor 14 (4) The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. (9) So with yourselves, if with your tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is said? For you will be speaking into the air. (13) Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray for the power to interpret. (14) For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. (15) What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also. (18) I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. (19) Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue. (27) If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret. (28) But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God.

So maybe all those people in this video who are huddled up speaking in tongues in church without seeking an interpretation should stop. In verse 28, Paul basically tells anyone speaking in a tongue in church without an interpreter to shut up.

Published in: on April 26, 2010 at 12:22 pm  Comments (8)  

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  1. I used to go to a Pentecostal church. I was a new Christian at the time, so I thought Christianity was all about “living victoriously” and speaking in tongues. I could never speak in tongues, so I felt left out.

    Looking back, I now know there was nothing wrong with me.

  2. i’m almost afraid to watch the video you posted. thank God for Jesus– FEAR NOT! and on that note, i’m not gonna watch it! hehe 😀

    i thank God for the Holy Ghost. God wouldn’t give His precious and holy to thieves [see Matthew 7:6], so those who attempt to do a “scientific study” on something so marvellous, may as well fail before they even begin. and those who resent others in Christ within their heart, for having a spiritual and heavenly gift that they do not have, might want to find out why they haven’t received the baptism of the Holy Ghost (evidence = speaking in tongues). God help us and forgive us if we have coveted and THANK YOU for what You have generously given us! Amen and amen.

    God shared I Cor 14 with me a while back. it was a huge revelation. it was great! especially coming from The Message Translation. what a blessing! that entire section is one of only TWO bookmarked/tabbed sections in my Message Translation, primarily because i’m a KJV-er (haha, check the terminology, hehe!) and only peruse The Message Translation if i need further revelation or clarification not seen from/or overlooked reading KJV.

    now, wonder if anyone has checked out I Corinthians 14:39-40 (final thought on speaking in tongues and last verse in that chapter!)… here it is for you:

    I Corinthians 14:39-40
    39-40 Three things, then, to sum this up: When you speak forth God’s truth, speak your heart out. Don’t tell people how they should or shouldn’t pray when they’re praying in tongues that you don’t understand. Be courteous and considerate in everything.

    see also, 1 Corinthians 12:25 (which as observed, comes before I Cor. 14), That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.

    In Christ,


  3. Many people has different views on speaking in tongues. All I can say is I have done it and it is very much so real. I have found out that the ones who discredit it are the ones who have a lot of doubt with it.

    If you want scientific proof well know that it has been proven that tongues could be considered an language. People have studied different people from around the world who speak in tongues and saw that the same pronunciations, the way they spoke, the tone was very similar to each other. If you wait to see a study on the brain then u would be waiting for a long time because it is not a mental experience but a spiritual experience…. when a person is praying or speaking in tongues they do not know what they saying (unless they have that gift) but it is the spirit that is praying or speaking on there behalf. I say pray about it and let God show you…. but do not discredit it!!!!!!

    Your bro in Christ,

    Gregory Keels

  4. My issue is not with whether people are having a real experience, it’s with whether it’s a proper Christian experience. My study of the Bible on this issue has shown that the idea of “praying in tongues” is thoroughly non-Biblical. I may address this issue at a later time on my other blog.

    Speaking in tongues as it is practiced today was a pagan practice that was recorded by Plato more than 300 years BC. The NT spiritual gift of tongues clearly suggests a human language is spoken (Acts 2). There is no Biblical record or command to speak in tongues as a prayer language. So even if the spiritual gift of tongues is still in effect, it should ONLY be used in Church and ONLY when an interpreter is present, because spiritual gifts are for the common good — NOT the building up of the individual, which is exactly what Paul critiques in 1 Corinthians 14.

    Nowhere in the NT do we see any suggestion that believers should pray in unintelligible speech. We are to love God with all our heart, soul, MIND and strength. We aren’t ever supposed to shut off our minds, and furthermore, one of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control.

    Everything I have studied in the Bible (and everything my Pentecostal friends have pointed me to) has brought me to the conclusion that the modern Charismatic practice of private praying in tongues is far from Biblical, and simply serves as a selfish, ecstatic mystical experience.

    • Yikes. A little too hostile to your Pentacostal co-laborers, brother. Your last comment is quite hurtful, actually.

      But here are some quick comments for you to think about:

      Acts 2 doesn’t require that the disciples were speaking known human languages. They certainly could have been. But they also could have been speaking in unknown languages (tongues of angels or who knows what) and the Spirit could have been working a miracle in the hearers’ ears. It’s interesting that the whole crowd of onlookers (of mixed linguistic backgrounds) could all distinctly hear their own language from a crowd of people who looked like they were drunk.

      Also, I think you’re misreading 1 Cor. 14. You say speaking in tongues “should ONLY be used in Church and ONLY when an interpreter is present, because spiritual gifts are for the common good — NOT the building up of the individual.” But then why in v.18 would Paul celebrate how much he speaks in tongues, but emphasize that he’s not talking about how he does so in church? “I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. But in church I would rather speak intelligently….” It sounds like Paul’s talking about his use of tongues in private, and not in church. Would Paul be thanking God for a selfish, ecstatic, mystical experience?

      Also notice Paul’s emphasis in v.28: “If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church…”. Why would Paul need to emphasize “in the church” if there was no other venue he anticipated tongues being used in? He goes on further to say if there’s no interpreter, the speaker should “speak [in tongues] to himself and to God” (since “speak” there implies “speak in tongues” based on the immediate context of v.27).

      So, based on the text, Paul encourages the Corinthians to speak in tongues, both in private and public – but when it’s used in the gathered community, it needs to be interpreted.

      One last comment. I didn’t grow up in a Pentacostal background. But the Scriptures changed my mind. From there, my experience continued to conform with what I saw in Scripture. And from personal experience, I have found Paul’s guidance in this chapter to be very helpful. Speaking in tongues personally really does end up benefiting the whole body – it helps me be a better servant to those around me. Kind of like eating a healthy meal before a banquet, so I can be a server, rather than just a consumer, when the community gathers. And interpreted tongues in the gathered community have been such a blessing to me, and I assume the others who heard it – even as recently as Corefa Connections a couple weeks ago, about how much we are to remember God’s delight in us!

      So I encourage you, brother, as Paul would: eagerly desire the spiritual gifts. Which include speaking in tongues in private and publicly – all for the benefit of the body.

      So tread lighter, brother, on your fellow Scripturally-committed siblings. If you end up disagreeing, that’s ok, just be gentle about it.

  5. Geoff,

    Thanks, you’ve got some good points. Sorry that my words offended you, but I think the truth on this matter is important. When someone speaks in an unintelligible tongue, how do they know that they’re not cursing the Lord? Without speaking in an intelligible language, you can’t do the litmus test of whether someone is glorifying or cursing God, or worshipping an idol, and therefore you can’t know whether they’re filled with the Spirit of God or the spirit of demon. (1 Cor 12:1-3)

    You could be right about it not being a human language, but regardless, it was intelligible language, and like you said, the miracle could have been in the interpretation, but the point is that what was being spoken was intelligible to the hearers, and therefore it built up rather than tearing down (i.e. a reversal of Babel). The point was that there was always someone present who spoke the language, so that it would be a sign of God’s true presence.

    You are right about where tongues should be used – they happen in evangelistic situations and apparently are permissible in Church, so I was wrong, it’s not church alone. In 1 Cor 14:18 Paul could easily be referring to the fact that since he’s out on the mission field all the time, constantly around Jews where the sign of God’s curse on unbelieving Jews is necessary (1 Cor 14:21-22), or the sign of Paul’s apostleship (2 Cor 12:12), or the sign of blessing that the Gospel is for all the nations (the flipside of the sign of cursing), Paul would have many occasions to speak in tongues outside of Church other than in an ecstatic personal prayer language.

    Paul says in 1 Cor 14:19, “Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue.” Why? Paul has already explained in 1 Cor 12:7 that “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” The point of spiritual gifts is “the common good”. Paul explains in 1 Cor 14:4 why tongues is the least of the spiritual gifts — because it’s not edifying to the body of the Church.

    Let’s take a closer look at v28ff:

    28 But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God. 29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. 30 If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged, 32 and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. 33 For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.

    To me it seems that “speaking to yourself and to God” is part of the Church service. It sounds like meditation. Verse 29 continues: let the prophets speak, and the others weigh what is said. How can you weigh what the prophets are saying if you’re busy speaking in your personal prayer language?

    Secondly, it can’t mean speaking in tongues. 1 Corinthians 14:2 says “For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to a god; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries”. You can’t reconcile that with a command to “speak to yourself and to God”, because you’re not speaking to yourself — your mind is fruitless.

    Finally, why didn’t Jesus teach about praying in tongues? Why didn’t anyone else in the Bible teach us how to pray in tongues, except for Paul who was rebuking the Corinthians for their misuse of tongues? Why doesn’t Paul even mention tongues in a later letter? “Keep on desiring to speak in tongues, guys!” That just doesn’t show up.

    • I also think the truth is important. But this is a second-tier issue, and because we’re in the same family, Scripture calls you to tread lightly. You and I (and so many of your Pentacostal friends) are brothers in Christ, so maintaining unity, speaking gently, even restoring each other gently when we are caught in errors is to be our approach.

      As for this issue in particular, this is just one of those areas where we are going to disagree, because I think you’re coming to the text and forcing your perspective into it. I came to the text with your same perspective, but in the course of studying, had my mind changed by the text.

      However, there are wise men and women of God who disagree with me on this, and other, points. And that’s just got to be ok in the body of Christ.

  6. That’s interesting, because that’s just what I see you doing — forcing your perspective on the text.

    John MacArthur has written a lot on this issue – if you’re interested in hearing the other side, he has some great sermons here: http://www.gty.org/Resources/Sermon+Series/102_Speaking-in-Tongues

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