Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Speaking in Tongues

Here is an excellent article on the tongues-speaking movement:
Doctrinal Distinctives of the Charismatic Movement




"Evaluation of "tongues" by linguists and others:

Two secular researchers conducted studies of Glossolalia in the 1970's:

Felicitas Goodman, who used an anthropological approach across a range of cultures, and
William Samarin who used a linguistic approach.

Some conclusions and opinions of linguists are:

William Samarin wrote:

"When the full apparatus of linguistic science comes to bear on glossolalia, this turns out to be only a facade of language, although at times a very good one indeed. For when we comprehend what language is, we must conclude that no glossa, no matter how well constructed, is a specimen of human language, because it is neither internally organized nor systematically related to the world man perceives."

J.G. Melton wrote briefly of Samarin's findings, who concluded that glossolalia is not a true language. Only a few consonants and vowels appear in it.

An academic Internet mailing list, "The Linguist List" focused on glossolalia in early 1995. Some of the subscribers noted that glossolalia had a simple primitive structure, and exhibited very frequent repetition of individual sounds.

One commented that the words spoken within a given church tended to be similar, and unlike the sounds heard within in another congregation.
Another commented that his observations among American churchgoers showed that they "seem to latch onto and then repeat sounds that sound foreign to them, and intersperse the name 'Jesus' in between the sounds."
Still another said that: "there are two continental charismatic traditions - a French one concentrating on melodious spontaneous song and a German/English one concentrating on speech."

A subscriber stated that: "Some years ago as an undergraduate, I memorized the first eleven lines to Beowulf. Occasionally I recited them to people (I still do). Once I recited them to a friend from Alabama, and she told me that if I did that back where she came from, folks would say I was speaking in tongues."

The moderator noted that the: "... native language of the speaker was a pretty good predictor of the kinds of sounds that would occur in glossolalia; one general pattern was that sounds perceived as generally marking "foreign" speech (whatever that may mean) would occur, while sounds perceived as typical of the native language would not. Thus, for American English speakers, /r/ would be rendered as the alveolar trill, never as the American retroflex; on the other hand, these speakers would not include the low front vowel in their glossolalia, /ae/-as-digraph, because that's perceived as a typically "American" sound for some reason. On the other hand, truly exotic sounds--those not typical of the native language, but that don't happen to be familiar to speakers of the language--would tend not to occur: American English speakers don't produce clicks in their glossolalia."

D.J. James quotes some conclusions of William Samarin: "When the full apparatus of linguistic science comes to bear on glossolalia, this turns out to be only a facade of language — although at times a very good one indeed. For when we comprehend what language is, we must conclude that no glossa, no matter how well constructed, is a specimen of human language, because it is neither internally organized nor systematically related to the world man perceives."

A direct study of the reality of glossolalia in a church environment:

One analytical study of glossolalia was performed by an unknown person or persons. One individual's ecstatic speech was tape recorded and played back separately to many individuals who sincerely and devoutly believed that they had received the gift of interpreting tongues. Their interpretations were quite inconsistent. e.g. one said that "the utterances referred to a prayer for the health of someone's children." Another interpreted the speech as "praising God for a recent and successful church, fund-raising effort." It is obvious from that study that those particular interpreters were unable to extract significant meaning out of the glossolalia. However, they were probably not conscious of that fact.

Perhaps distortion, lack of frequency range or noise in the tape recorder inhibited the interpreters' ability to understand the glossolalia. Perhaps the lack of facial expressions or body English would inhibit the interpretation. It would be useful to people's understanding of the gift of tongues if this type of test were replicated "live" in different locations, under controlled conditions by linguists, anthropologists, psychologists, sociologists, or other professionals.

This appears to be only a pilot study. It would have to be replicated by others in order to establish the accuracy of the findings.

Brain scans of people speaking in tongues:

A group of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine used Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) to analyze brain activity within individuals as they spoke in tongues. It was the first study of this kind. During this technique, a small quantity of a radioactive drug is injected into a person's vein. The scanner then makes detailed images of tissues as cells take up the drug.

During an interview on 2006-SEP-20 by Steve Paulson, Andrew Newberg -- Associate Professor of Radiology, Psychiatry, and Religious Studies and Director for the Center for Spirituality and the Mind, at the University of Pennsylvania -- said that the region of the brain involved in language is not activated when a person speaks in tongues. He said:
"Speaking in tongues is a very unusual kind of vocalization. It sounds like the person is speaking a language, but it’s not comprehensible. And when people have done linguistic analyses of speaking in tongues, it does not correspond to any clear linguistic structure. So it seems to be distinct from language itself. That’s interesting because we did not see activity in the language areas of the brain. Of course, if somebody is a deep believer in speaking in tongues, the source of the vocalizations is very clear. It’s coming from outside the person. It’s coming through the spirit of God.

They found decreased activity in the brain's frontal lobes, an area associated with self-control. One of the researchers, Andrew Newberg, said: "It’s fascinating because these subjects truly believe that the spirit of God is moving through them and controlling them to speak." The data partly confirms the subjects' beliefs. In fact, the subjects are not in control of their usual language centers as they spoke in tongues.

Newberg, who is Principal Investigator in the study, was later interviewed about his team's article in the journal Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging. He stated:

"We noticed a number of changes that occurred functionally in the brain. Our finding of decreased activity in the frontal lobes during the practice of speaking in tongues is fascinating because these subjects truly believe that the spirit of God is moving through them and controlling them to speak. Our brain imaging research shows us that these subjects are not in control of the usual language centers during this activity, which is consistent with their description of a lack of intentional control while speaking in tongues."

Newberg went on to explain,
"These findings could be interpreted as the subject's sense of self being taken over by something else. We, scientifically, assume it's being taken over by another part of the brain, but we couldn't see, in this imaging study, where this took place. We believe this is the first scientific imaging study evaluating changes in cerebral activity -- looking at what actually happens to the brain -- when someone is speaking in tongues. This study also showed a number of other changes in the brain, including those areas involved in emotions and establishing our sense of self."

The study also compared the brain activity in the same subjects as they sang gospel music. Newbert said: "We noticed a number of changes" including in brain regions tied to emotions and the sense of self.

This is a SPECT scan of a person speaking in tongues:



- Activity in the thalamus region (bottom arrow) is increased.
- Activity in the left basal ganglia (top arrow) is decreased; this region is involved with focusing attention and emotional responses.

Image courtesy of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine."

from:
http://www.religioustolerance.org/tongues5.htm

10 comments:

Jeff said...

Speaking in Tongues



Q: Are tongues for today?

No. They went out of use with the sign gifts. The sign gifts were miraculous gifts given during the apostolic age (before the completion of the New Testament) so that those to whom the apostles preached would know that the word they spoke was really from God. When the New Testament was completed and direct revelation was no longer given, there was no longer any need for the sign gifts. Notice these characteristics about the sign gifts.

1. The signs were given for the purpose of "confirming the word" (Mark 16:20). This means to prove that the words they spoke with their mouths were from God.
2. The signs included taking up serpents and drinking deadly poisons (Mark 16:17-18). If we are supposed to do one, then evidently we are supposed to do the others.
3. The signs were given especially for the Jews (1Corinthians 1:22). God often deals with the Jewish people through signs beginning with Moses (Exodus 3-4).
4. The signs were given (especially tongues) in order to convince the lost. "Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not" (1Corinthians 14:22). They were never given for the pleasure or spiritual experience of the saved. This verse says that they are not for those that believe.
5. Although tongues were still allowed at the time of the writing of 1Corinthians (14:39), they were on their way out. We see this in the great number of regulations Paul puts on the speaking in tongues and in his emphasis on the lesser importance of tongues (14:1-9). He also clearly says that tongues "shall cease" (1Corinthians 13:8).
6. Tongues took the path of apostolic healing through the instrumentation of man. Christ healed all that came to Him (Matthew 9:35). The early apostles did the same (Acts 5:16). Yet, before the New Testament was completed, Paul could not heal himself (2Corinthians 12:7-9) or his co-worker, Trophimus (2Timothy 4:20). He kept Doctor Luke with him (2Timothy 4:11) and told Timothy to take a prescription of medicine (1Timothy 5:23). God still heals through prayer (see Philippians 2:25-27), but He does it directly and not through the touch of a man.


Q: Are they unknown or known tongues and what is the meaning of angelic tongues?

A: They are unknown in that they are languages no one present knows. When tongues were spoken on the day of Pentecost, every man heard the word in his own language (Acts 2:8). This is not angelic language. Paul only uses "the tongue of angels" as a contrast. [Even if I spoke in the language of angels, that would do no one any good if they could not understand me.] He was not defining unknown tongues an angelic language.


Q: Can you explain I Corinthians 14 to me; this is the chapter that my relatives say proves that speaking in tongues is for today.

A: 1Corinthians 14 is proof that:

1. Tongues were already unimportant in the service of Christ by about 60 AD.
2. The most carnal church Paul wrote to (see 1Corinthians 3:1-4) was caught up in tongues-speaking and gave way too much emphasis to it.
3. No speaking of tongues should be done unless the tongues are interpreted (v.27-28).
4. No more than three should ever speak in tongues in a church service (v.27).
5. Only one should ever speak in tongues a one time (v.27). That's what "by course" means--in order, one after the other.
6. Those who truly speak in Spirit-given tongues can speak if they want or refrain from speaking if they want (v.32). God-given tongues is not some uncontrollable urge that comes over someone. It is a gift that they can use when they want just like preaching.
7. Women are not to speak in tongues in a church service (v.34).
8. Truly spiritual people will agree that these restrictions are necessary (v.37).
9. Paul clearly told the Corinthians that tongues were going to “cease” (13:8). When would they cease? Tongues were a form of divine revelation; thus, the importance of interpretation (14:5). They would cease when God’s perfect revelation was completed—that which is in part is replaced by that which is perfect (13:10). God’s perfect revelation is found in His completed Bible and no new revelation is needed (Revelation 22:18).

I do not think that many churches follow the rules set down by Paul for the speaking in tongues. Does the church your relatives go to follow all these rules? If not, then they are not following God's plan.

You see, Paul was kindly regulating tongues to a minority role in the church at Corinth so that it could die out gracefully when it was no longer needed. It was no longer needed when the New Testament was completed. I hope this helps.

By David F. Reagan

from:
http://www.learnthebible.org/q_a_are_tongues_for_today.htm

satire and theology said...

Whether tongues are in existence today or not, and I am not certain; I do reason that there is psychological pressure in many charismatic settings to speak in tongues.

The same incident where my relative was exorcised featured the stated belief by the exorcists that my relative and I should both speak in tongues as a sign of salvation (This is error of course: 1 Corinthians 12). I was 12 and tried it, and this fooled them. I did not want them to think I was demonised and I reason I was not. I did trust in the Lord, although not in an mature adult fashion. My relative apparently spoke in tongues. To be honest I would be more impressed if someone could speak in Spanish, for example, and preach the gospel, without having learned Spanish. This would sway me in believing that the Holy Sprit is truly interesting in using tongues today. To me as a public witness there are better supernatural things to demonstrate than mumbo jumbo tongues.

Now, I am not charismatic, but here is something to think about. That same night when I was asked by the exorcists where the Lord was leading me after the experiences, I stated, 'To teach' and I had very little idea why I made the comment. No one had ever told me I should teach Christian doctrine at 12 or earlier as I came from a secular/liberal Christian background. The exorcists did not know me and I do not reason they pressured me to desire to teach, although there was pressure to say something, and I was sharp in that area at that age. I could have stated, to study the Bible, be a witness, become a Reverend, feed the poor, be an exorcist, or whatever. Any encouragement to be a Bible teacher/theologian came years later. Even after Secondary School graduation years later I went into the insurance business and had no intention of being an academic. The events of that night as far as what I stated did not make much sense until several years later. I do not know if it was a prophetic word, but the last year or so I have been wondering if the fact I stated I was to teach without largely knowing why, was as much of a supernatural occurrence as the exorcism. Again, I am a sceptic here and I think most religious supposed supernatural occurrences are psychologically based, but since I trust the Scripture, I reason that God can still use supernatural means today if he wishes.

Also as my charismatic MPhil advisor (PhDs in Theology/History and Education) told me, the Holy Spirit will work with human psychology and this can produce certain manifestations. I remain open-minded.

Jeff said...

Please refresh my memory. Have you already taught, or are you planning to teach (I think you may have mentioned teaching at some university)?

Your words may have been prophetic, but, if I understand correctly, that was you speaking about yourself, and not someone else prophesying over you.

Many years ago, someone at a Charismatic church once prophesied over me that I would bring the Gospel to other nations. Well, unless you count this blog, that has not happened yet.

The more I study about tongues, the more it bothers me. I am noticing that many churches that practice speaking in tongues also get into errors that seem far worse (convulsing on the floor like someone who is demon-possessed, then holy laughter, then crawling on the floor and making animal noises, then claiming that angels are dropping gold dust and oil and gems onto your hands and onto your Bible...not to mention the heresies being taught by many of these teachers that increasingly deny the deity of Jesus and demote God into being more like a mere mortal, as well as turning the gospel into a money-making, self-promoting, scheme and racket; plus turning the gospel into some sort of ultimate 'happiness pill').

satire and theology said...

Blogging would be a form of teaching, but a more full expression of teaching would be as a professor. I do not doubt that my theology blogs are a form of teaching ministry with over 20,000 hits between the thk68 and s&t. I have had two teaching internships. It could have been the Holy Spirit guiding me to make the statement supernaturally so to speak, or within our Reformed reasoning since God wills all things, I could have naturally made the statement. Both are within God's will, and so either way it may be truth.

For the most part tongues is a psychologically produced experience, but I cannot state conclusively that all tongues have ceased, and the Bible is not definitive on the issue.

They would cease when God’s perfect revelation was completed—that which is in part is replaced by that which is perfect (13:10).

A more common view, and from my Bible/Seminary education, more likely view, is that the perfect in 1 Corinthians 13 is the Second Coming and not the closing of the Biblical canon. We cannot definitely deny the charismatic gifts, although I think many charismatic churches are built on very presumptive assumptions about what God will do if they ask, which ties into a rejection of Reformed sovereignty perspectives. This rejection leads to theological error. I have found very few charismatics that are Reformed/Calvinistic.

Cheers, my friend.:)

thekingpin68 said...

Both are within God's will, and so either way it may be truth.

To clarify, if God guided me supernaturally to make the statement I reason it would be true, but not necessarily if demonic beings guided me supernaturally, of course. It is also possible I suppose God could guide me to make a statement concerning myself that would later be proven to be foolishness and incorrect on my part, for the sake of a lesson, but this is unlikely.

Chucky thought thekingpin68 vs. satire and theology on here was hilarious.

Should I start a blog war?;)

Jeff said...

For the most part tongues is a psychologically produced experience, but I cannot state conclusively that all tongues have ceased, and the Bible is not definitive on the issue.

A more common view, and from my Bible/Seminary education, more likely view, is that the perfect in 1 Corinthians 13 is the Second Coming and not the closing of the Biblical canon. We cannot definitely deny the charismatic gifts...


Well, because of your 'tainted' ;) education, I can excuse your unsure stance on that. But, after 7+ years of attending a few different Charismatic churches, and after struggling with the tongues issue for years, as well as praying about it and studying about it, I am certain in my mind that tongues have ceased. That is my stance on it. Someone in my family once prayed that the 'demons' would come out of me, because I disagreed with the Charismatic doctrine. I have also been called 'judgmental' and worse. Nevertheless, more and more, I have seen various things that I have suspected in the past confirmed (and I am seeing continued confirmations of various things that I have suspected in the past), and I am comfortable and at peace with my stance.

Jeff said...

Chucky thought thekingpin68 vs. satire and theology on here was hilarious.

I agree!

Should I start a blog war?;)

LOL! That would indeed be hilarious. I think readers would love it!

Jeff said...

I do not doubt that my theology blogs are a form of teaching ministry with over 20,000 hits between the thk68 and s&t. I have had two teaching internships.

Wow, I didn't realize it was that many hits! VERY impressive!

I can see you teaching at a seminary. Or at a Christian university, teaching theology. I think you would be an excellent teacher, and would be both intellectual and witty at the same time.

I visited a Lutheran seminary many years ago, and from what I saw, some of our seminaries are in horrible shape. So, if you were to begin teaching at a seminary, you would be a badly-needed asset, I would think.

In the past, I have taught at two schools...Elementary school through High School. One was a public school in the midst of a poor black neighborhood (and very unsafe at night), and the other was a private Christian school, with mostly middle-class white kids. The black kids at the public school were generally affectionate (when I left the school to move on, I received many hugs), while the white kids at the private school were generally spoiled. But at the black school, we had to worry about kids throwing rocks through windows at teachers, and kids bringing nunchakus onto school property and threatening teachers (this was years before Columbine). Not too long after I stopped teaching there, they had a large and very destructive riot in that neighborhood. One time, before I left, they drew all over my car with lipstick...thankfully, it was with something that was easy to clean off.

thekingpin68 said...

I am certain in my mind that tongues have ceased.

I am theologically certain most of them are phony.

Jeff said...

At least we agree on that much.