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bodyhead's avatar

Do you believe (as the Pentecostals and Evangelicals) that speaking in tongues can get you closer to God?

Asked by bodyhead (5530points) September 25th, 2008

Please explain this one to me.

From the wikipedia article here

‘Speaking in tongues’ is given various meanings by various people that are dependent on their viewpoint. Those who consider the outward appearance of the phenomenon understand ‘speaking in tongues’ to be the glossolalia practised by some Christians; that is, it consists of utterances that approximate words and speech, rather than being words and speech. Others, usually Christians themselves, dispute that understanding of the practice and therefore dispute the meaning of ‘speaking in tongues’; they may assert that when people ‘speak in tongues’ they “speak in languages which they have not learned”[4] (xenoglossia), perhaps the language of angels.[5] Among such, what is spoken is understood to be a ‘message from God’,[6][7][8] although some limit it to “prayer or praise”.[9]

Is gibberish the language of the angels?

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25 Answers

JackAdams's avatar


The only thing that will bring you closer to God, is your own death, unfortunately.

mzgator's avatar

No, I don’t believe in speaking in tongues, in the way some religions do.

I was taught in Sunday School that speaking in tongues meant that when the disciples of Christ went to speak in front of people who spoke another language, God made them ( the disciple) able to speak in whatever language they were talking to. They also could understand other languages spoken to them.

jasongarrett's avatar

Speaking in tongues is a Pentecostal and Charismatic practice. It is not broadly Evangelical.

bodyhead's avatar

Interesting. In the documentary Jesus Camp which follows Evangelicals shows a church camp where they have a huge auditorium of kids which they lead through a ‘speaking in tongues’ ritual.

It also states here that Pentecostals often identify as Evangelicals. It continues to state that they vary in their beliefs of speaking in tongues.

charliecompany34's avatar

“praise” is demonstrated in many different ways. some people weep quietly. some cry out “hallelujah!” some lift their hands in praise and adoration. some sing and some exalt. i could go on and on. speaking in tongues is just another praise method. in some circles it is accepted. in others, it’s accepted but with caution. the process is if it’s true praise in a strange language, most likely there is somebody in the room who can interpret it. not judging here, but tongue speaking is also imitated. that’s not good. you may fool us, but you can’t fool God.

jasongarrett's avatar

Pentecostals are a subset of Evangelicals.

bodyhead's avatar

Hey Jason. Thanks, I didn’t know that. Could you direct me to any type of chart that explains which religions are subsets of others?

Judi's avatar

This is a huge part of the Evangelical experience. Many denominations don’t consider a person a complete Christian (Not baptized in the Holy Spirit) until you speak in tounges. They believe that this is what “Born Again” means. That is why the Evangelicals are so crazy about Palin, because she was a member of an Assembly of God Church, so she must be Baptized in the Holy Spirit (aka speaks in tounges) therefore anointed by God to be some sort of David fighting Goliath and save the world from the evil doers.

Judi's avatar

I should also say that as a Christian I don’t deny that some have this gift, I just don’t think it is necessary for faith like many do.

Skyrail's avatar

No. I agree with charlie and Judi.

A gift from God doesn’t make you any closer to him, it’s not a race like that, no one is bigger or better then anyone else e.g. in the eyes of a number of denominations the pope isn’t any better (or worse for that matter) then any other Catholics. My dad, being a minister, isn’t any better then his congregation, and those who can speak in tongues aren’t any closer to God then those who can’t. It’s just a gift, and should be used wisely and truly.

jasongarrett's avatar

The wikipedia article on Christian denominations has a chart, and there’s a decent breakdown at None of it is very clear… apparently nobody agrees on anything. :-)

syz's avatar

I’ve never been able to believe that speaking in tongues is anything other than a form of mass hysteria.

Judi's avatar

When it happens in “the masses” you may be right.

GAMBIT's avatar

Unfortunately the only way I can see someone benefiting from talking in tongues is that they are acting out some emotional turmoil and have gotten so worked up in a seizure type state, usually instigated by the pastor, that acting a fool helps them to release it and if the church approves it and even encourages it well it’s One Hell of a Show. To me it is a bunch of gobbly gook and has absolutely no religious baring at all. If I want, at this present moment I can say the spirit is moving me OJHYTNBGLRFILNNFG which is in tongues.

syz's avatar

(I also tend to think seizure activity, or some bizarre Tourette’s Syndrome. But mostly, I think it’s hysteria or outright faking.)

Judi's avatar

Maybe for some, but for some it is prayer.

charliecompany34's avatar

sometimes believers are so full of either emotion or just overwhelming stresses of life that it has to come out one way or the other. sometimes it expels by speaking in tongue. faith is within the believer and his/her excitement about what God has done is demonstrated in all kinds of ways. sometimes when we are focused so much on what God has in store for us, high praise comes out or even unwanted spirits that block and hinder us. you can tell the difference between the two.

tinyfaery's avatar

I guess you can consider it chanting. The vibration of the words, the idea that the “language” is beyond logic and the chanter is expressing to a god/whatever from something other than the ego.

jasonjackson's avatar

@syz: I agree. Hysteria.

But I also believe that god is imaginary.. and that just got me thinking: positing that god is a delusion anyway, perhaps some forms of hysteria can, in fact, allow one to get more in touch with that delusion? Hmm..

jasonjackson's avatar

@bodyhead: What I was taught about speaking in tongues is that on one occasion (I no longer recall the specifics, sorry) Jesus’ disciples preached to a crowd from many different countries/regions. But even though the members of the crowd only understood different languages than the disciples, when the disciples spoke, each person in the crowd could understand the words, as though they had been spoken in their own language.

So the “speaking in tongues” that was referenced by my church was considered a miracle similar to the water-into-wine miracle, and didn’t really have anything to do with the glossolalia practiced by Pentecostals, Shakers, etc. In fact, I think I recall learning that this disagreement over what “speaking in tongues” meant was one of the major things that caused those groups to split off into separate denominations in the first place.

buster's avatar

It appeared they were close to god, aliens or own a lot of drugs the one time I attended a Pentecostal service. Those people really are freaking on something. They talk crazy, interpret tongues roll in the floor and act a fool. Maybe its the Holy Ghost or maybe hysteria but they are in some zone when they do that shit.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

I went to a friend’s church when I was younger, where they spoke in tongues. And to this day, thinking about it freaks me the fuck out. It’s one of the weirdest things I have ever seen. It does seem as if the people have some kind of seizure, due to working themselves up so much. I saw one adult male that day fall to the floor, start bawling, curl up into a ball and start sucking his thumb…

augustlan's avatar

@DD: That would have scarred me for life!

MissAnthrope's avatar

Speaking tongues is just a self-trance mechanism that has been used in many religions through the ages. I’m tired and cranky and kind of don’t feel like finding sources, but it’s fairly common practice to work yourself into a trance to get closer to the Divine.

Do I think they’re speaking some unknown language of God? No.. they’re essentially just making sounds in a stream-of-consciousness kind of way. I also don’t think you have to speak in tongues or put yourself in a trance to have faith. However, having experienced this divine trance state in doing rituals, I do buy into the premise behind it.

texyjo13's avatar

Pentecostals have always freaked me out… I am not saying that it is impossible for people to speak in tongues and really experience something overwhelming as that (and really from God), but what do you get when you teach that people are only Christian if they experience all that? I’ll tell you what – a bunch of people acting out those seizures and pretending that it’s coming out naturally.

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