Is “glossolalia” in the AP Stylebook?

200303 018 EssenceMy fellow Godbeat scribes, I come to you today to ask a question that has been bothering me for several weeks.

Here goes: Do you think that the average newspaper reader understands the meaning of the phrase “speaking in tongues” or the big word “glossolalia”?

This leads to a second question that is like unto the first: If we decide that we need to define these terms in a hard-news story, how in the world do we do so in the brass-tacks, demystified language of The Associated Press Stylebook? How do handle this issue as journalists without sounding like we are National Geographic correspondents describing an exotic alien culture when, in fact, charistmatic and Pentecostal believers are now a large chunk of the American mainstream and an even larger force around the world?

Let me give you an example, drawn from a recent Associated Press report about Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s decision to, well, crack down on people who are doing something that isn’t very Southern-Baptist-like. Here’s the opening of the report from Fort Worth:

Trustees at a Baptist seminary have put it in writing: They will not tolerate any promotion of speaking in tongues on their campus.

The 36-1 vote Tuesday came nearly two months after the Rev. Dwight McKissic of Arlington said during a chapel service at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary that he sometimes speaks in tongues while praying.

As opposed to speaking in tongues while ordering a pizza? Speaking in tongues after hitting his thumb with a hammer? This is one way to handle the situation. You simply assume that the man on the street knows what’s going on.

Later in the story there is another passage that doesn’t do much to help the charismatically challenged reader:

The controversy has erupted as some Baptist churches become more accepting of charismatic forms of worship. Speaking in tongues is common among Pentecostals, whose more exuberant brand of Christianity is spreading in the United States and in foreign countries where Southern Baptist missionaries work.

Exuberant? OK, but Pentecostal people can speak in tongues in a quiet and reverent manner, and there are rare cases of hardshell Calvinists behaving in an exuberant manner while reading from committee reports that are written in technical Presbyterian lingo. So that extra word doesn’t help us very much.

Meanwhile, the Associated Baptist Press, in its coverage of the same story, provided a very helpful slice of church history that hinted at the roots of this controversy:

With the latest decision, Southwestern becomes at least the third SBC agency to have a policy officially opposing extraordinary expressions of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. …

Such gifts as speaking in tongues and healing are spoken of in several New Testament passages. However, many modern-day Protestants believe those gifts ceased with the passing of the first generation of Christian apostles. That belief, known as “cessationism,” has historically been held by many Southern Baptists. However, Pentecostal and charismatic Christians, including some Southern Baptists, believe in the continued validity of such gifts — a belief known as “continualism.”

google pentecost logoBut we are still left where we started, facing the same question: Can we assume that readers know what the phrase “speaking in tongues” means in the first place?

I think this is a serious question and, if you doubt me, I suggest that you click here and look through some of the data in the recently released Pew Forum study of the global rise of Pentecostalism as what some call a fourth major tradition within Christianity. For a solid look at this, you can read the Religion News Service coverage by veteran religion reporter Adelle Banks.

I also took a stab at summing up this massive study, in my weekly “On Religion” column for the Scripps Howard News Service. It included material from the noted Pentecostal historian Vinson Synan and, once again, I had to try to say, well, you know what:

Another interesting part of this study, said Synan, indicated that “glossolalia,” or “speaking in tongues,” may no longer be the spiritual gift that defines charismatics and even many Pentecostals. Within the Assemblies of God, for example, there has long been a gap between an “old guard” that believes this experience of ecstatic speech is always the initial sign that someone has been “baptized in the Holy Spirit” and a “third wave” of younger believers who see it as a gift that some experience and some do not.

I’m not sure that my attempt at a brief, AP-friendly description was any better than the others. It also doesn’t help to call this phenomenon a “heavenly language” or an “angelic tongue.” What do phrases like that mean to an outsider?

Any suggestions? Any charistmatic journalists out there want to take a short, newsroom-friendly shot at this? Oh, and don’t assume that we have the spiritual gift of interpretation.

Note: The second image is not an official Google logo, since Pentecost is obviously not an official Google holiday. This is an illustration floating around out there in the blogosphere.

Print Friendly

About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • Carl

    Language Log had a blog about the phrase
    “private prayer language” in the story two days ago. It’s worth a look for people interested in how to explain this stuff to the public.

  • Mark V.

    This so-called “glossolalia” is a blasphemy. If one re-reads the account of Pentecost in the Acts of the Apostles, one clearly sees the Apostles speaking in real languages in order to proclaim the Gospel to all people. This modern phenomenon is just nonsensical babbling that no one can understand. Doesn’t the Scripture say that Satan is the father of lies and the author of confusion?

  • Eric Weiss

    Mark V. wrote: This so-called “glossolalia” is a blasphemy. If one re-reads the account of Pentecost in the Acts of the Apostles, one clearly sees the Apostles speaking in real languages in order to proclaim the Gospel to all people. This modern phenomenon is just nonsensical babbling that no one can understand. Doesn’t the Scripture say that Satan is the father of lies and the author of confusion?

    A couple points: 1. If you read the NT in the original Greek, the language overlap and descriptions of what happened in Acts 2 and Acts 10 and elsewhere in Acts, and in 1 Corinthians 12-14, make it difficult if not impossible, IMO, to say that what happened at Pentecost was different than what was happening in the Corinthian church. 2. Based on what Paul describes about tongues at Corinth, we can’t emphatically say that the sporadic experiences of glossolalia throughout church history, and the more familiar and widespread ones of the last 100 years that began with the start of Pentecostalism in 1901, are something different than what happened there (or what happened at Pentecost). Some even conjecture that Pentecost was a miracle of hearing, rather than a miracle of speaking known languages. Again, in the Greek it’s not 100% clear which it was.

    Morton Kelsey’s book TONGUE SPEAKING, though more than 40 years old, is still one of the best books on the subject of this charismatic experience.

  • Alyssa

    Isn’t the point of this blog to figure out how to report a phenomenon that many practice (whether you agree with it or not) to an uninitiated public, and not to debate the actual merits or biblical authenticity of the event itself? There are volumes of books on this already. Whether you believe in it or not, people are doing it and the press is trying to report on it. I’m a lurker on this site and I’m confused by these comments?

  • Eric Weiss

    Alyssa wrote:
    I’m a lurker on this site and I’m confused by these comments?

    Would you like the interpretation? :^)

    My comment on this topic: The word “ecstatic” should absolutely NOT be used in articles about tongues-speaking, because most tongues-speaking, and especially the “private/personal prayer language” kind (as opposed to a message in tongues that is given publicly during a church service, which expects and usually receives an “interpretation”), is decidedly not an “ecstatic” or emotional or uncontrolled or uncontrollable practice. It can be, but it is usually just as calm, rational, and unremarkable as carrying on a conversation while typing on your keyboard, and the speaker can start and stop speaking in tongues at will.

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    Alyssa:

    You are right, of course.

    I let Mark’s comment through because his point of view represents the point of view of many readers. His view is part of the story.

    But let’s try to stick to journalism folks, rather than debating the theology of this.

  • Eric Weiss

    I personally can’t think of a better term than “speaking in tongues,” even though it sounds archaic. (How many people these days refer to languages as “tongues”? You hear the phrase in the Bible and in hymns – “O for a thousand tongues to sing my Great Redeemer’s praise!”, etc. – and maybe in 19th-century novels, but not nowadays.)

    Yes, glôssa means both “language” and “tongue,” but to translate “lalein glôssais” (1 Corinthians 14:5) as “to speak in languages” only obscures things, because EVERYONE speaks in a language, and to say that a person is “speaking in languages” just sounds like you’re saying that they’re multilingual. I think the term “speaking in tongues” should continue to be used, and it becomes incumbent upon the charismatically-ignorant readers to go to the dictionary or Wikipedia and find what the term means. Also, no matter how well you describe it or what terms you use, misconceptions will continue, because even people who know from observation what “speaking in tongues” is, but don’t do it themselves, often continue to say incorrect things about it. (E.g., they’ll regard them as being “ecstatic utterances” or as not being under the control of the speaker, etc. I’ve heard non-charismatics make such statements about tongues-speaking when I know they’ve viewed the phenomenon.)

    “Personal prayer language” is probably better, though, than “private prayer language,” because it’s not always spoken in private. But “personal prayer language” sounds cumbersome. “Do you speak in tongues?” sounds better than “Do you have a personal prayer language?” Also, since many persons’ tongues-speech is similar to that of others, one probably should not describe it as being “personal” any more than one should describe English as being Americans’ “personal language.”

    So my vote is to stick with “speaking in tongues.”

  • Jeffrey Weiss

    Oy. This is one of those issues that we tend to shorthand because a full explanation takes forever. I assume that readers know *enough* about “speaking in tongues” to pick it up from context. Unless the story is really about “speaking in tongues” — as it has been in stories about the SBC or the Pentecostal centennial — in which case, i’ll go with several paragraphs of explanation.
    But for most stories, there is not room.

  • http://sporadicatbest.blogspot.com/ carl

    You have certainly raised a worthy set of questions — questions that typically go either unanswered or unanswerable due to the common misunderstandings connected with them. I applaud you for opening the floor to this issue and for your desire to set things in a coherent setting.

    For me, the primary issue has been a surprising lack of definition in terms and/or concepts. One of the common misconceptions about the issue of “tongues” is that speaking in tongues and praying in tongues are one in the same. This is categorical mistake.

    More times than not, when speaking in tongues in mentioned in the NT, the reference is to the ability to speak in an un-learned language. This is the case in Acts 2; for the context (most notably the reaction from the crowd) points to the miracle of the followers of Christ speaking an un-learned language.

    This miracle would certainly be necessary for the early church given its cultural make-up — i.e., many different people from many different nationalities coming to worship in one specific location. (This is not so much the case in modern times, simply because of the sad fact that churches unconcisously [or, consciously] segregate themselves according to their respective nationality. Such is certainly not what Paul [or, Jesus, for that matter] had in mind). Thus, by having a multi-national worship service, the gift of tongues allowed those who were present to take part.

    There are only a small handful of times when “tongues” refers to a private matter — i.e., the prayer of tongues, which is always in reference to an individual’s conversations with God. The statement by Paul in Corinthians is a point where he is revealing the misunderstanding and the misappropriation of tongues. The people in Corinth where making a private matter a test of fellowship as well as a mark of superiority — and, something to promote in the public arena. (Glad to see times have changed).

    The privatized prayer “tongue” is not necessarily ever referred to as one of the gifts of the Spirit — at least, not in the sense that the other gifts are noted. In the Jewish culture, such an ecstatic form of personal (private) prayer was not uncommon. We in the modern world tend to overlook such things because of our (unconscious [or, conscious]) desire to situate history into our own terms — i.e., history must conform to our norms and patterns in order for it to be true (or, acceptable).

    Therefore, it may be safe to make mention of a few possibilities in context of what is found in the NT, and especially in light how a 1st century Jew (and/or Jewish-Christian) would have understood things: 1) a person may be able to speak in tongues in the miraculous sense of the term — i.e., speaking an un-learned language; or 2) a person may be able to communicate with God in their private prayers in a language known only in the spiritual realm; or even 3) a person may have both abilities just mentioned. But, the two should not be seen as being synonymous — as far as I can tell, the Bible does not suggest a parallel in usage.

    Feel free to rant and rave about my comments, which I assume is one of the purposes of this discussion. :-) Again, thank you so much for opening the floor on this topic and for inviting perspectives from all sides. I hope that such a venue does not become abused and/or turn into an arena of combat.

  • Tom Stanton

    Taking the technical distinction between xenolalia and glossolalia out of the mix – we’re really, here, talking about how to explain the later (the more common today).

    At the end of the day – speaking/praying in tongues sounds like gibberish but is believed to be a (sometimes private) language given to the practitioner by God for (occasional) use in public worship services and (perhaps more regular use) in private prayer.

    If you ask me – as an Assem. of God Seminary educated pentacostal who works to explain these things to his cessationinst friends at my now non-pentacostal church – I don’t think its worth it for a journalist to try to be too ‘sensitive’ on this issue. Facts are – tongues sound like gibberish – in fact (taking a theological approach) they are meant to sound that way.

    Of course – there are technical differences between what some would say is the “gift of tongues” in public usage with interpretation and the “private prayer language” that has been characteristic of the contemporary American pentacostal movement – see Assem. of God – but those distinctions are probably not relevant for your ‘brass tax’ definition. Words like ‘ecstatic’ or ‘exuberant’ aren’t really helpful in that they have too much theological meaning inherent in their religious connotation.

  • Dennis Colby

    I’m with Jeffrey Weiss – “speaking in tongues” is fine for a story in which the phenomenon is incidental or secondary. This is particularly true of an AP story – generally 400-500 words on an A-wire story, folks. Not much room to get into the finer points of xenolalia and glossolalia.

    Besides, if charismatic gifts like tongues are becoming increasingly common, surely readers are becoming familiar with the context. Like tmatt said, it’s not as if the story is describing an exotic practice by an obscure, faraway sect; I bet most readers have at least one church in their town at which tongues are spoken (so to speak).

  • http://www.arlinghaus.typepad.com bearing

    Is it possible for someone on this thread to clearly and simply explain what this speaking in tongues is? (rather than what it is not?)

    I have always subscribed to Mark V’s view. I’m ready to listen to anyone who is willing to explain it to me though. What is it? why is it important? what, theologically, is supposed to be going on?

  • Eric Weiss

    bearing asked:

    Is it possible for someone on this thread to clearly and simply explain what this speaking in tongues is? (rather than what it is not?)

    I have always subscribed to Mark V’s view. I’m ready to listen to anyone who is willing to explain it to me though. What is it? why is it important? what, theologically, is supposed to be going on?

    As I mentioned, the book TONGUE SPEAKING by Morton Kelsey (still in print in paperback) is, IMO, one of the best books on the subject. If you don’t want to order Kelsey, most any Christian bookstore has a copy of John Sherrill’s THEY SPEAK WITH OTHER TONGUES, the classic book on the modern glossolia phenomenon, as well as a description of this former Guideposts Magazine editor’s experience while investigating this. For a book that irenically deals with cessationism versus Charismatic gifts, there is THE WORD AND POWER CHURCH by Douglas Banister.

    As to your immediate question:

    What it “is” depends on whether you believe it is a Charismatic gift or activity. If you don’t, then “it” is either childish, psychological, delusional, psychotic, demonic, or two or more of the above. :)

    For those who believe it is a Charismatic gift from the Holy Spirit, it is spontaneously and naturally uttering sounds/syllables/phonemes/words in a “language” that one has not learned or that is other than one’s native or learned language, and the ability to do this is believed and said to be due to the activity of the Holy Spirit in and upon the believer. It is the Holy Spirit praying with and through the believer, as Paul describes in Romans 8. That is its theological and spiritual importance. It is a way the believer can pray God’s will, because it is literally God praying with Him, and the prayers are being prayed directly to God, bypassing the rational mind – i.e., spirit praying to Spirit. It edifies/builds up/strengthens the believer spiritually (1 Corinthians 14:1-4; also possibly Jude 20).

    Usually a person has an initial experience of the Holy Spirit coming upon him or her as a result of private or corporate prayer or someone specifically praying for them to receive the Holy Spirit, which often results in a powerful or stuttering uttering of such words or such a language, or sometimes results in a “prophetic”-type utterance – e.g., a declaration of God’s nature or acts or a message to believers.

    Thereafter these persons frequently – perhaps usually – find that they can utter these words/sounds as easily as speaking their normal speech, though at times they are most prompted to do so during times of prayer or during worship times when they desire to worship or pray to God more fully than they feel they can formulate with words.

    Some find that praying in tongues sharpens their spiritual senses and puts them more in tune with the Spirit, thus helping them discern God’s direction, esp. when seeking what to pray for for themselves or for others. E.g., some will pray in tongues when praying for someone in counseling or for healing, seeking the Spirit’s assistance to clarify for them what needs to be prayed for.

    Some linguists who have analyzed these utterances say that they are at best “proto-language” or may just be repetition of unconciously picked up sounds from foreign languages.

  • Mattk

    I think not distinguishing between xeno- and glossa- is the right way to go. Several people in my family practice glossa- one had an expeirece of xeno- but every one in my family calls both of the phenomena by the same name: speaking in tongues.

  • http://www.arlinghaus.typepad.com bearing

    Eric and others,

    Is the person who does this conscious of imparting a meaning to the utterances?

  • http://theaccidentalanglican.typepad.com Deborah

    As an ex-Southern Baptist who’s seen how worship in its churches has changed over the last 30 years, here’s the part of the AP report I found interesting:

    The controversy has erupted as some Baptist churches become more accepting of charismatic forms of worship.

    Many Southern Baptist churches are becoming more and more “charismatic” in practice (raising hands during singing, mind-numbingly endless repetition of praise choruses) but not necesarily theology. It appears the denomination wishes to mimic the appearance of “ecstatic” worship (and ride the wave of its popularity) while eschewing the teaching behind it. (Sort of like all us crazy Episcopalians drooling over the high ceremony of the Eucharist and completely ignoring the theology it points to.)

    It will be interesting to see how the convention messengers deal with this. So many of their churches are into the whole charismatic vibe that their pastors may make some noise against the official policy.

  • http://www.receive.org Barnabas Powell

    Well, as a former Pentecostal, tongue talking, pew jumping, isle running, shouting and praising, pastor of a church made up of the same, and now a (relatively) quiet Eastern Orthodox Christian, I’d like to add a bit here.

    First, I go with “speaking in tongues.” The charismatic sub culture has grown to the point in this country where only the truly illiterate, ivory tower, elite are ignorant of such.

    But the real story behind the growth of this religious phenomenon is the desire of the average Western Christian, raised in the philosophical environment of a secular Enlightenment mindset, to experience intimacy with God.

    That’s the story here – the hunger for intimacy in modern Western Christian and their turning to what I would consider the less than healthy spiritual individialism found in the modern Pentecostal movement. What is missing in classical Western Christianity (if anything) that makes Western Christians turn toward charismatic expereinces to “suppliment” their religious lives?

    The next big story will be how the Church will deal with the inevitable fallout from the failure of this movement to fulfill all its promises.

    As Charismatic and Pentecostal (not the same thing by the way) movements become the predominant expression of Christianity in Latin American countries and the growing Christian presence in Africa, we will see this situation take on more of a socialogical and political expression.

    At least we “live in interesting times.”

  • Eric Weiss

    bearing wrote:

    Is the person who does this conscious of imparting a meaning to the utterances?

    Are you asking if the person who prays in tongues understands what he is saying?

    If so … though Paul says that those who pray in tongues should pray for the interpretation (1 Cor 14:13), my experience and conversations with others is that most tongues-speaking is not understood or interpreted by the speaker.

    (My other experience is that most so-called “interpretations” of messages in tongues are not what they claim to be. Tongues are primarily communication from a person to God – Paul even refers to it as prayer – so the translation/interpretation should sound like a prayer to God. However, almost every “interpretation” I’ve heard has been more like a prophecy – i.e., a message from God to people, a “Thus saith the Lord:” or a “The Lord says: My children, I have this to say to you:” etc.)

  • Mark V.

    With all due respect to Mr. Weiss, I think many Protestants cannot understand the meaning of St. Paul’s epistles to the Corinthians. I truly believe that the Corinthians were mistaking ecstatic experiences from their pagan past (like the Eleusian mysteries and other mystery religions) to the true glossolalia experienced by the disciples at certain key moments in Church history, such as Pentecost and the reception of the first Gentile converts. The Apostolic experiences led to the proclamation of the Gospel beyond the Jewish people. The experiences of the past century are not authentic and have more to do with the death of mysticism and the sacramental life in Protestantism, as Mr. Powell recounts above. These fake experiences led to bitter divisions in the Corinthian church, just as they are doing now according to the article above. This division is “part of the story” and cannot be separated from the bad theology.

  • Eric Weiss

    With respect in return, Mark V., I don’t think anyone can categorically and absolutely with full assurance and proof state or prove that the 20th-century Pentecostal and Charismatic experiences are “not authentic” or are “fake.” I have many questions and issues re: my Charismatic experiences, but unless they are willing to take on Gordon Fee and Craig Keener, I think one should be hesitant to declare with full assurance that Protestants don’t or can’t understand 1 Corinthians, or that everything that Pentecostals and Charismatics have experienced in the last 100 years under the rubric of charismatic gifts and activities of the Holy Spirit are neither authentic (i.e., are “not authentic”) nor real (i.e., are “fake”).

  • Dominic Glisinski

    But the real story behind the growth of this religious phenomenon is the desire of the average Western Christian, raised in the philosophical environment of a secular Enlightenment mindset, to experience intimacy with God.

    That’s the story here – the hunger for intimacy in modern Western Christian and their turning to what I would consider the less than healthy spiritual individialism found in the modern Pentecostal movement. What is missing in classical Western Christianity (if anything) that makes Western Christians turn toward charismatic expereinces to “suppliment” their religious lives?

    The next big story will be how the Church will deal with the inevitable fallout from the failure of this movement to fulfill all its promises.

    As Charismatic and Pentecostal (not the same thing by the way) movements become the predominant expression of Christianity in Latin American countries and the growing Christian presence in Africa, we will see this situation take on more of a socialogical and political expression.

    At least we “live in interesting times.”

    Posted by Barnabas Powell at 4:45 pm on October 24, 2006

    ——————————————
    Insightful post Sir.

    We are in the middle of this epoch in history, the reporters who attempt to cover this sort of event are disadvantaged in that they have no perspective other than the present…there has never been a cycle of ecclesiastical history exactly like this that we’ve seen in the last century. I agree that this reaching out for the supernatural is a knee jerk reaction to the rationalism and overarching starchiness and turpitude that has afflicted Western Christendom since the flame of Celtic mystics and missionaries petered out. The reclamation of our Faith from the hands of lawyer-theologians and a rekindling of true spirituality is imperative. This pentecostal “outpouring” as reported on today is like a petrol fire… easily set aside once one is brought to an awareness of the shallowness and superficiality. I would look for the roots of this movement as a whole in a sense of desperation for meaning “intimacy” with God that the black suited puritan/protestant Church of N America at the turn of the last century was denying them. It took the likes of Merton and Evelyn Underhill to awaken us to the truth…

  • Mark V.

    Mr. Weiss: Sorry, but I never heard of Gordon Fee or Craig Keener. I don’t see how their opinions would differ from yours anyway. Why don’t you read some great Orthodox theologians such as Bishop Kallistos Ware of Father Alexander Schmemann, or other great Western theologians such as Bishop N.T. Wright or Luke Timothy Johnson. Just because you have a vested interest in your “experiences, it doesn’t mean that they are authentic in the 2,000 year Tradition of the Church of Christ.

  • Eric Weiss

    Mark V:

    Gordon D. Fee and Craig S. Keener are two top Evangelical Protestant scholars and commentators who happen to be Pentecostal (Fee) and Charismatic (Keener). Fee succeeded F. F. Bruce as the General Editor of the Eerdmans New International Commentary on the New Testament series and in fact wrote the 1 Corinthians volume, and has written numerous works on New Testament Greek exegesis.

    Keener’s commentary on 1-2 Corinthians was published last year by Cambridge University Press.

    You made the uncalled-for and unsubstantiated charge that many Protestants aren’t capable of understanding 1 Corinthians 12, and in response I suggested that Fee and Keener indeed can understand 1 Corinthians 12. That was my point.

    Read Fee’s and Keener’s commentaries and see for yourself if they can understand 1 Corinthians.

    I am not trying to defend my experiences, nor do I have a vested interest in them. I’m just challenging your statements that in my opinion cannot be stated with the certainty with which you make them.

    I’ve own and have read both of Ware’s books on Orthodoxy. I’m currently reading Schmemann’s EUCHARIST and have read his FOR THE LIFE OF THE WORLD and have his JOURNALS on my nightstand. You can add Meyendorff and Lossky to my list, too. I’ve owned and read Luke Timothy Johnson’s New Testament introduction, and I saw and heard N. T. Wright debate John Dominic Crossan in San Antonio two years ago, and have read some of his writings and books as well.

  • Eric Weiss

    Sorry. I meant to simply write “1 Corinthians” or “Corinthians” and not “1 Corinthians 12″ where it occurs in my last post.

  • http://www.ptgbook.org author@ptgbook.org

    I think that anyone who takes an interest in religious news stories will know what most people mean by “speaking in tongues” in the sense that they will have some familiarity with modern Pentecostal practices and will also recognize the term from the Bible. But there is not agreement that what Pentecostals practice is the same “speaking in tongues” that the Bible talks about. Pentecostals today make nonsense sounds and call it “speaking in tongues” while in the Bible this term refers to speaking in languages.

  • Mark V.

    Sorry, Mr. Weiss, but you continue to engage in flaming and not discussion of the article at hand. By the way, I apologize for writing Protestant instead of Pentecostal which I had intended. These so-called “charismatic” experiences are self-centered and do not build up the Body of Christ. They do not result in communion with God and neighbor like the Eucharist. My point is indeed defended by the 2,000-year Holy Tradition of the Church. Tradition is not a set of customs but how the Church lives and ministers in the Holy Spirit. These experiences were only manifested by some marginal group in California 100 years ago. The entire point of the article is that they lead to division, not communion. This is what also happened in Corinth. I am not saying that there are no ecstatic experiences; there are many instances of visions of the Uncreated Light by the Holy Fathers.

  • Mark V.

    Here is a semi-official Orthodox response to “speaking in tongues”:

    http://www.oca.org/QA.asp?ID=9&SID=3

  • Eric Weiss

    Mark V. wrote:

    Sorry, Mr. Weiss, but you continue to engage in flaming and not discussion of the article at hand.

    Mark V.:

    May I remind you of YOUR first post here: “This so-called “glossolalia” is a blasphemy. If one re-reads the account of Pentecost in the Acts of the Apostles, one clearly sees the Apostles speaking in real languages in order to proclaim the Gospel to all people. This modern phenomenon is just nonsensical babbling that no one can understand. Doesn’t the Scripture say that Satan is the father of lies and the author of confusion? – Posted by Mark V. at 8:05 am on October 24, 2006

    You didn’t discuss the article at hand – i.e., how best to explain glossolalia to those unfamiliar with Charismatic/Pentecostal practices. You, as one of the first posters on this article, changed the topic to whether or not those who do such things are engaging in valid Christian practices, and my responses were rebuttals to your flames of Charismatics.

    In fact, Terry Mattingly, the author of the article being discussed, specifically addressed your post as follows: “I let Mark’s comment through because his point of view represents the point of view of many readers. His view is part of the story. But let’s try to stick to journalism folks, rather than debating the theology of this.”

    You’ll note that my second and third posts here did specifically address the article at hand, and it is you who have not addressed the article at hand, but continue just to label all Pentecostal and Charismatic manifestations as “not authentic” or “fake” or “blasphemous,” and have now added “self-centered” and “marginal” to your characterizations of them.

    Two points:

    1. Last month Archbishop Dmitri (OCA, Dallas and the South) visited our church and was asked during lunch about Fr. Seraphim Rose’s harsh characterization of the Charismatic Movement and tongues-speaking, etc., which in many ways agrees with what you write. His Eminence did not agree that all such things were to be regarded as fake or demonic, and said or implied that it could be the Holy Spirit working in these people.

    2. Add John Zizioulas to the list of modern Orthodox theologians and writers whose works I have read.

  • Mark V.

    Sorry, I am the last person that would be a fan of Seraphim Rose, a schismatic monk outside of the canonical Church. Archbishop Dmitri is a gifted writer and pastor, but that was an unofficial statement.

  • Mark V.

    Besides, I would like to see evidence where Wright, Johnson, Ratzinger, Ware, Schmemann, Lossky, Florovsky, Meyendorff, Hopko, Gillet, Trakatellis, or Zizioulas condone these charismatic experiences. I really doubt those exist. Moreover, none of these theologians are followers of Seraphim Rose. As I wrote in my earlier post, the 2,000 year Tradition is the source of my argument.

  • Eric Weiss

    Mark V. wrote: Besides, I would like to see evidence where Wright, Johnson, Ratzinger, Ware, Schmemann, Lossky, Florovsky, Meyendorff, Hopko, Gillet, Trakatellis, or Zizioulas condone these charismatic experiences. I really doubt those exist. Moreover, none of these theologians are followers of Seraphim Rose. As I wrote in my earlier post, the 2,000 year Tradition is the source of my argument. – Posted by Mark V. at 11:48 am on October 26, 2006

    And how is this (to use your words) “discussion of the article at hand”? We weren’t requested to argue for or against Pentecostalism.

    Terry Mattingly’s question(s) in his article:

    My fellow Godbeat scribes, I come to you today to ask a question that has been bothering me for several weeks. Here goes: Do you think that the average newspaper reader understands the meaning of the phrase “speaking in tongues” or the big word “glossolalia”? This leads to a second question that is like unto the first: If we decide that we need to define these terms in a hard-news story, how in the world do we do so in the brass-tacks, demystified language of The Associated Press Stylebook? How do handle this issue as journalists without sounding like we are National Geographic correspondents describing an exotic alien culture when, in fact, charismatic and Pentecostal believers are now a large chunk of the American mainstream and an even larger force around the world?… I’m not sure that my attempt at a brief, AP-friendly description was any better than the others. It also doesn’t help to call this phenomenon a “heavenly language” or an “angelic tongue.” What do phrases like that mean to an outsider? Any suggestions? Any charismatic journalists out there want to take a short, newsroom-friendly shot at this? Oh, and don’t assume that we have the spiritual gift of interpretation.

    I’m not a Charismatic journalist, but I’ve already weighed in with a couple posts on why I think the phrase “speaking in tongues” is fine as it is and need not be further explained or defined, nor replaced with a different phrase. IMO and observation, I think enough readers know what this means, and those who don’t are I think better off looking it up in a dictionary than having to wade through a long and complicated explanation of Pentecostalism, Charismatic Christianity, “Baptism in the Holy Spirit,” etc.

  • Mark V.

    Just as I thought, no evidence to back up any of your arguments, just the usual circular logic.

  • Eric Weiss

    Thank you.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X