This is me, thinking, about theology, philosophy, and anything in general not related to my main blog about everything else..

Thursday, June 23, 2005

What do I think about tongues?

Well here's a topical topic. Not really topical at all though, but quite controversial. I go to a church where we do not speak in tongues, and I used to go to churches where we (and I) spoke in tongues on a regular basis for the past 7 or 8 years. So how do I feel about them? Well the first topic I'm going to tackle is wether or not all christians should speak tongues and also what they are.

To start with though, I am going to put forward 2 concepts of bible study which will ultimately lead us to determining how we feel about such a subject, because what has God given us to know him other than the bible?

  1. The difference between "Descriptive" and "Prescriptive" books.
  2. Reading our experiences into the bible.
So I touched on the first point in my last update but I will repeat it here as it is an important part of understanding how the bible works and fits together.

What type of book is Acts? If Acts was on it's own and not in the bible, would we look at it as a fiction, a historical book, or an instructional book? Well nothing in the bible is fiction so we can cross that off the list right away. So is it a historical (Descriptive) book or an instructional (Prescriptive) book? Well I guess we'd all agree that it is a historical book, it describes history as it happened.

Note that it is important to realise this isn't a book telling us what should happen to us, but what has happened in the past.

So are we to read this book and assume that what happens in it should happen to us? Surely not, as in acts people get transported (Acts 8:39-40) about, also the holy spirit appears as fire (Acts 2:3), a number of other unusual acts (lol) happen too. Now what we need to understand about Acts that the book is very unique as it deals with the Apostles, a group of people that existed at the time but no-one can ever replace in position or authority (see Acts 1:21 to back that up) and was also a book of many firsts, including the first time that God's blessing ever came onto a group of people that was not Jewish. These are all things that are once-offs and do not happen in this day and age, or more correctly, cannot happen in this day and age.

The second point is reading our experiences into the bible. Now here is where it gets tricky and where I am going to write from. Now I have spoken, and am still able to, speak in what I used to know as "tongues", but now I'm not so sure that what I did speak was what the bible meant when it referred to "tongues", see everything I knew about tongues was from other people and what they told me, but not really from the bible. I think we have been reading our experiences into the bible, as in, we spoke what we thought was "tongues" and then decided that what is in the bible is what we were doing.

The problem I have with this is that the bible when it refers to tongues talks about tongues as if it were another human language. The first time tongues was heard was in Acts 2:4, and please note that the word tongues also means languages. The NIV even has a note to do so. It is a problem when reading the bible in English that we take the translation too literally without studying it to find out what the original text actually said, because often the translation process isn't so straight forward.

I do not believe that the nonsensical sounds that I can produce and call tongues are what the bible talks about. In Acts 2:8, in reference to Acts 2:4, the people all said that they are speaking the native tongue (language) of the people listening, not the people speaking. Now would it not be accurate to say that here the tongues are other languages? In 1 Corinthians 2:2-28 Paul tells us about how tongues serve no purpose in church unless they are interpreted. I have never ever been in a situation where tongues have been interpreted. It says that we should prophesy, and yet I don't see this happening?

In my experience the pentecostal church has put a lot of emphasis on people and speaking in tongues. I have even heard people say that you have to speak tongues if you are a christian! Thats crazy talk! 1 Corinthians 12:10 says "to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues." So it says that some people tongues, some people prophecy, as you can see here.

I think thats all I have to say about tongues right now. My next topic might be the idea of baptism of the Holy Spirit, and is the Holy Spirit coming on us an experience that is different to becoming a christian? Basically the concept of a christian having to "get" the Holy Spirit after becoming a christian is crazy because without the Holy Spirit what is a christian? More later ;)


Jo said...

You seem pretty anti the whole pentecostal thing. Shouldn't it just be that for some people it's what they need and for others it's not? Does pentecostal have to be a bad thing?

andrew brown said...

I just feel there are some fundamental issues. I've been in services where the "Holy Spirit has come down on people" and then seen people go on with their lives as if it didn't happen and in one instance even become a satanist. The bible says that miracles don't lead to salvation yet the pentecostal church pushes them and other experiences. Experiences that people deny after leaving the church, they deny their own eyes! If these people are taught the word and not just what some preacher says, well they can choose not to believe it but they then have the word in their heart. I can deny what john mcjonerson says about something as it's just a guy but if you're taught the word, well then it's in you. The focus is wrong in my opinion.

andrew brown said...

btw don't get me wrong, as I say in my previous update, the pentecostal church has done a lot of good things for me, and it continues to, it obviously didn't push me away from God.

but in the last year and a half i have learnt so much more about God then i did in 7 years of pentecostal church

Aaron said...

I believe right through scripture it points to the fact that the Spirit will move more in the end times then at any other times. I think many of the things that happened in the book of acts will be seen in greater measure in end times.

andrew brown said...

no offence aaron, but can you back that up? (with scripture of course)

Aaron said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Aaron said...

Sure can! For one example an often quoted scripture about these matters is Joel 2:28-29. Sure people say that this has already happened or began at the beginning of the end times (pentecost) and this is true in part as this was the first out pouring, what is often referred to as the early rain. However when we read this scripture contextually. The early verse are talking about Israel reclaiming their land, something which did not happen until the 20th century and Joel says "It will come about after this".

Jesus first miracle was the fulling of vessels at the end of the wedding feast. He filled six vessels (six being the number of man) with the most precious wine at the end of the wedding. I strongly believe this speaks of Gods end times outpouring

Also the book of revelation speaks of the man child. When studying this it would appear to be speaking of the end times church. To fully understand this you would need to do a full study although a book I could recommend would be Moses, the Master and the Manchild - Kelly Varner.

Their are many other scriptures I could pull out but I think it is important to look at these things contextually. It is hard to find time to really go through a full study of the scriptures that I belive point to this

andrew brown said...

I guess the problem here, is that I'm not trying to say that mircales AREN'T happening or shouldn't be, it's the problem of seeking them. I just have a major problem with the fact that often in church we've spent a lot of time healing people and other miracles, but I just don't see the point, you know? We've seen right through the bible that people have seen miracles and yet continue to not believe. I've been to a lot of churches and have felt that they are chasing 'glory' in God, which is something I don't really expect to get from our life on earth.

andrew brown said...

"Jesus first miracle was the fulling of vessels at the end of the wedding feast. He filled six vessels (six being the number of man) with the most precious wine at the end of the wedding. I strongly believe this speaks of Gods end times outpouring"

you state a fact about scripture, but then you go and add "that you think this speaks of". No offence but you just can't do that with scripture.

I also did a quick research of Kelly Varner, and I don't doubt you believe him, but my problem here, is that I'm dead sure I'll disagree with him, judging by things I read about him on the internet, and his theological stance.

Aaron said...

I completely agree with you that a lot of pentecostal churches have focused on visitation when God wants habitation. I also agree that their is a lot of chasing after miracles and experience rather then truth and relationship

With regards to the interpretation of Jesus first miracle their is lot more involved with this interprtation then just dreaming up what it speaks of. I believe that we should always first focus on the literal meaning of scripture but I do believe their are sometime allegorical or figuritive meanings as well. Obviously their are lots of guidelines that need to be followed when using this method of interpretation, however I think we may not agree on this type of interpretation so we could both debate until our finger were numb!