Speaking in tongues comes to ABC news

Speaking in tongues has finally come to ABC News as journalist Amy Simmons investigates why Pentecostalism is “attracting the Sunday masses” and examines the rise of Pentecostalism in a separate story.

The article covers some familiar territory – it seems each new generation of journalist keeps “discovering” the non-traditional traits that have made the Pentecostals the fastest growing Christian movement across the globe in the past century. 

There’s plenty in the article to allow people to make up their own minds about Pentecostal churches and some areas of belief such as healing and speaking in tongues.

Of course, most Pentecostals would rightly point to Jesus as being at the centre of their beliefs and that without a clear understanding of and vital relationship with the Son of God, then the other elements of faith are worthless.

Academic Associate Professor Rick Strelan of the University of Queensland is called on to deliver the “objective expert” view and is reasonable in most of his comments, which is noteworthy in that Pentecostals are not overly accustomed to having their faith and practice discussed in a reasonable way.

Icon of the Pentecost
Image via Wikipedia

He tackles the issue of control and pressure which he describes as a constant “checking” of people as to their attendance and commitment to church. He might be surprised to find that many Pentecostals themselves recognise the very fine line in this issue between genuine concern for the whereabouts and progress of another and the possibility of undue control and a loss of freedom. 

His suggestion that there is little room for questioning and that answers are “given” is an observation that deserves further scrutiny in churches in general.

But his attempt to define speaking in tongues is reminiscent of someone who has never been to the ocean trying to describe the experience of surfing to another.

Doing a much better job are the people of Brisbane City Church who, without any of the embarrassment or ‘super-spiritual’ language which sometimes confuses the topic, explain and even demonstrate their experience.

Church member Virginia Gillard says, “God lives in us and because he is God he can be anywhere, do anything at any time.” Virginia then gives a very natural demonstration of speaking in tongues (in the video) that should challenge the comments of “some academics” that speaking in tongues is “babbling sounds” or “inarticulate groanings”.

“Speaking in tongues” is an English phrase, first used in early English Bible versions, which attempts to translate the Greek words “glossa laleo” or glossolalia. In the New Testament, glossa laleo describes a supernatural utterance of the languages of “men and angels”. There was supernatural speaking in other languages when the Holy Spirit was given to the church on the day of Pentecost, 50 days after the resurrection of Christ, The small group of Christ-followers are recorded as delcaring the praises of God under the influence of the Holy Spirit, with their words understood by gathered Jews from many nations.

Paul the apostle said he was glad he spoke in tongues more than anyone but also urged Christians to remember the way of love and to utilise greater gifts such as prophecy . To find out more read the book of Acts and 1 Corinthians.

Check out the article and videos at ABC News Online and also visit The rise of Pentecostalism.

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