Tongues twisted, part 1

Finally, a follow-up to my Tongues Tied post a little while back. Not exactly what I had been planning, but I’ll save my originally intended comments for part 2 of today’s post, which I expect to post tomorrow or Monday. Even though I’m finally getting to this topic, Miz Pink or Big Man can feel free to come to my aid with topics to post soon anyway. 😉

So, to start this off, I’m going to focus on just one passage of scripture that I personally have witnessed misused to support the gibberish-y speaking in tongues that we all know and most of us make fun of (click the link to my Tongues Tied post above if you need to catch up on what I’m talking about). And that passage is in the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 2, verse 4:

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.

Going back to my previous post on speaking in tongues, that passage refers to the apostles speaking earthly languages that they didn’t know. Pretty miraculous stuff. I’m sure it impressed the hell out of folks that were listening to them and probably did a lot to jumpstart the effort to spread the gospel and to turn more people to God.

So, what’s my problem? Well, there was a church my wife and I were going to for a while not so long ago (the same one I mentioned in the post titled The Shit List back in March, in the “Word of Faith” segment) and the pastor actually used that passage from Acts to suggest that if you don’t speak in tongues, you must not really be born again. You must not really be right with God.

Now, I don’t want to repeat my Tongues Tied post here, but as I mentioned there, the gift of tongues isn’t given to everyone…not even to most believers…not even to a large number of them…and the Bible is clear on that. So right there, saying that tongues is a prerequisite to being born again is already on the shakiest ground possible.

But here’s what is worst: In his sermon, despite reading from the Bible, the pastor in question altered the passage from Acts to say:

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began by speaking with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.

By changing the words “to speak” to “by speaking,” this pastor set up an argument that the Bible tells us our journey to being born again begins when we speak in tongues. That we must begin with tongues as our first step in faith.

Now, that’s some twisted mess. Even with the words “began by speaking” that assertion is a stretch, but the fact that those aren’t even the original words in the Bible makes it all the worse. Speaking in tongues is neither a sure indicator of salvation nor is it a necessary step toward salvation. There is enough reason for people to doubt the validity of Christianity without pastors making up new rules and lying to people about what the Bible says. Bald-faced deception. It’s one of the things that made us start to wonder if that church was actually a little cult in the making.

For more on the topic of speaking in tongues, there’s a great post on the topic at Bible.org that I recommend. I do differ with the author on one point. He says that there is only one kind of speaking in tongues, the one that is depicted in Acts…and that there is no “heavenly language” version of tongues. I understand his reasoning, but I question it on one basis. Why would Paul have said one shouldn’t speak in tongues in front of others unless someone else is gifted with the ability to translate tongues? If the people are only speaking an existing language when they speak in tongues, you don’t need someone with a spiritual gift to translate…only a person that already knows that existing language. Anyway, food for thought.

In part two, I really go to town on some outlandish ways that speaking in tongues is promoted as something that all believers should be doing.

No, I’m not going to end this post with some witty and/or punny spin on the word “tongue.” No, I won’t. My readers deserve more. Stop it. I’m not listening to you. Oh, damn, OK.

You’ll just have to wait until next time for me to give you some more tongues.



5 Responses to “Tongues twisted, part 1”

  1. April 21, 2008 at 7:15 pm

    I had a similar experience in church. The tongues thing. It really bothered me.

  2. 2 rmckinno1
    May 7, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    I got a “referred” visit from your site, so I decided to check it out. I hope to get back to your site and read some more. I must say that I enjoy your “point blank” way of saying things. You just pull the trigger, don’t you?

    Anyway, I don’t agree with all you said about tongues here, but I DO agree with your take on the preacher’s changing things around. I DESPISE it when people twist the scripture to support their own agendas. I hate agendas, too. There’s only supposed to be one. We get away from that so often.

    Don’t know if you’ll ever read this reply, but if you do we might be able to exchange a few thoughts.

  3. 3 Deacon Blue
    May 7, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    One of the nice things about having a blog that is visited fairly lightly is that I don’t have a billion comments and so when I check my dashboard, I usually don’t miss anyone.

    And I try to respond to everyone, particularly the first-time posters.

    Tongues is definitely an interesting area. More so than a lot of areas of Christianity, there’s REALLY a lot of room for interpretation on this. Feel free to disagree with me; I don’t mind. If everyone thought like me, I’d get pretty bored. 😉

    I’ve probably been guilty at times of seeking scriptural passages that support my views and homing in on people who espouse theories that help support my arguments but yeah, like you, I hate to see that out and out word-twisting. We’re only human, and we want support for our own opinions, but pastors and preachers in particular really need to be above that and let the Word speak for itself.

    Anyway, hope you find plenty of stuff of interest around these parts as you come back and look around. Feel free to comment any time, and I’ll do my best to give you a real response and not just a “hey, thanks for coming!”

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Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

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