Saturday, July 28, 2007

Speaking in Tongues

I have been hearing impaired since a young child. It's genetic in my family. I have four sisters and a brother who are all hearing impaired to some degree, as well as a host of nieces and nephews with the same condition. (only 3 out of 10 are hearing) I was mainstreamed in my education growing up. For those of you who don't know that that term, it means that I took regular classes with hearing students as opposed to special education classes. I had a sign language interpreter for a few classes, but not all. Looking back now, I don't understand why I wasn't given an interpreter for all of my classes. I remember two classes that I struggled in. Biology was one of them.

Not only did the teacher show favoritism towards particular students (not me!), but he mumbled a lot! I would focus on what was in the text in order to keep up with the class. I would pay extra close attention to his body language and facial expression in the hopes of catching a glimpse of comprehension. All that did was make him more loud and annoying to me! In the stream of nonsense babble, I would find myself fazing in and out of conscience wakefulness, bored to tears and frustrated beyond belief. I did seek outside help, and eventually passed the class with a low grade in light of the fact I was an "A/B" student. With my personal experience, I can truly relate to the 14th chapter of 1 Corinthians, in particular verse 11--"Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me"

Communication is essential in edification, in the light that there must be understanding as a result. Paul is exhorting the Corinthians on speaking in an unknown tongue in this chapter.

"Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret.

For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.

What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.

Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?" -- verses 13-16

What does it mean to speak in tongues? I do believe today's understanding of tongues and the biblical reference to tongues are two very different things. If Paul is admonishing the Corinthians to have an interpreter of an unknown tongue (verse 27) It would make sense that there is understanding with a known tongue. In other words, tongues used in this chapter is a spoken language of a specific group of people. (Author's note: Pay special attention to how Paul differentiates between tongues and unknown tongues). Acts 2: 4-8 supports this understanding. Additionally, in verse 10, Paul states that there are "so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them are without signification".

Paul writes to Corinthians explaining what seems to him basic common sense; there is no edification without interpretation. "Be not children in your understanding" he says to them (verse 20). In the end, God is NOT the author of confusion (verse 33) I would imagine He would want us to communicate in a way that is clear and understood by all who would hear him, ultimately bringing Glory to His name. Before Christ's ascension, He promised an invaluable resource, in our effort to carry out His commands:

"But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, unto the uttermost part of the earth." -- Acts 1:8

That's exactly what happened in Acts 2:1-4. They became equipped to carry out the commission of Christ. Today, there are hundreds of languages in which we have interpretation. So I wonder what's the whole point of "speaking in (unknown) tongues" today? What does it profit? How is the Body of Christ edified? As a hard-of-hearing believer, it is complete non sensible confusion. If that is so in my case, how much nonsense does it make to a hearing unbeliever? Even more, hearing-impaired unbeliever??

To read the entire chapter of click here: 1 Corinthians 14.


  1. Yes, you are at the right place! I have "renamed" my blog to "In Spirit and In Truth" to convey my purpose of worship of Him! I've finally found a style that I love and I believe I will keep it for a while!

    John 4:23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.

  2. Excellent points. Very good post.

  3. Thank you Hanna for sharing your experience. I would likely agree with you completely if it was not for a clear experience that I had when I was a fairly new believer.

    One Sunday afternoon I went home from a church that does not believe in tongues. I left church very hungry for more of the Holy Spirit and Jesus in my life. I desperately buried my nose in my carpet and cried out to God for all of Him in my life. The result was I began to speak in tongues.

    Later I found in Luke Chapter 11: 10 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 11If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?
    12Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

    I was asking for the Holy Spirit and our heavenly Father sent tongues.

    Tongues is a mystery; they are not clearly understood. There are two general classifications of tongues: private prayer language and public tongues with interpretation.

    With private prayer language, the Holy Spirit leads a person to pray the perfect will of God. When God answers a prayer in his perfect will, it is tremendously edifying.

    I have heard the public tongues, with interpretation, fit beautifully into a church service and amplify the direction of the Holy Spirit in song, preaching and during an altar response.

  4. Pete,
    The 14th chapter does mention speaking in "tongues" in private prayer sessions. My post wasn't focused on that, but on the context of the 14th chapter which was "there is no edification with out interperation".

    Paul starts out the chapter exhorting his audience to prophesy.

    1Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.

    He explains that prophesying is the "better" gift because it edifies the body:

    4He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.

    12Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.

    As Paul mentions the speaking of tongues, privately, directly to God, he says this:

    14For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.

    If you have actually experienced someone speaking in an "unknown" tongue and had another interperet, you are the first person I know to have experience this. :)

    My post is focused on one point only, that is the edification of the Body, which there can be none, if we fail to communicate the Word of God in a way that is clear, unconfusing and consise.

    I'm in no way negating your spiritual experience, as I do not know your relationship with the Lord, but I do know that so many people are confused, and divided.

    There are lot of people who say they can speak and tongues and do so, but I would rather take the counsel of the Word and desire after prophesying, the coming of the Lord, if only another soul can "see" Him and believe.

    Thank you for your comment and God Bless.

  5. I must add this sentiment in addition, the deaf population is the 4th largest unreached population in the world. Only 2 percent profess some kind of belief in Christ.

    As a hearing impaired believer,a lack of interperter is ALWAYS an obstacle. In my church-hunting season (So long ago) it was a discouragement. When I did attend church it was a burden to others to find an interperter for me, so I ended up without one. (Despite all the money that was collected every week, I might add)

    Having said this, I'm torn.

    I don't know if this is a good or a bad thing! Christianity and her churches this day and age is divided and confused about the Word.

    So, I'm praying that I'll be able to reach the hearing impaired with this blog!


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