Speaking in tongues is fun!
Jimmy Swaggart likes to tell a story about his trip to the
drive-up window of his local bank. He was feeling particularly good that day —
"blessed," as he puts it. When he drove up to the window the teller
greeted the reverend by name and asked how he was that morning.
Swaggart was feeling so good that he burst out speaking in tongues. "Shunda da da ma shunda, tonda, da da na munda!" he babbled. The teller was flabbergasted and didn't know how to respond. Swaggart's recounting of the story brought down the house.
Now you, too, can speak in tongues. You'll amaze your friends and baffle strangers. Speaking in tongues is easy. Anyone can learn. To begin, practice stringing a series of syllables into phrases. Use syllables which come most easily to you. Add emphasis where you want to make it sound as if you are asking questions or making exclamations. Cum do-see a sunda? La na ma sunda! May jay see kay-unda!
Where and when to speak in tongues
To the teller at a drive-up bank. Then, in English, say "Jimmy sent me."
To your waiter at a French, Mexican, or Chinese restaurant. The waiter will be impressed with your international flair. Switch back to English if you want to eat.
At parties. Party jokes are passé. Tongues are in.
When answering the phone, especially if you are passing a
pay phone that happens to ring as you walk by.
On your answering machine. Make it short, then leave a translation in English.
On answering machines that tell you to leave a message after the beep. On voice-activated machines you can ramble on for thirty minutes, if you wish.
If you own a retail business you might want to put a sign in your window, "Tongues spoken here."
When you don't feel like talking to your spouse. Remember, in most jurisdictions, speaking in tongues is not grounds for divorce.
When stopped on the street for directions. Pretend that you, too, are from out of town.
When stopped on the street by a panhandler.
When a traveling salesman comes to your door.
When the Jehovah's Witnesses come to your door.
When a bill collector comes to your door. Act as though the person he is looking for has moved out and you have just moved in.
During a Pentecostal church service. Wait until you get good at tongues before you try this one. You might be well rewarded. If the Pentecostal church is really with it, some person who believes he or she has the gift of interpretation of tongues will stand up and interpret your message.
When and where not to speak in tongues
When stopped by a motorcycle cop for speeding.
Before any judge, in any court.
If an agent of the IRS calls on you.
If called on to answer a question in school.
When undergoing a psychiatric exam.
If Ed McMahon calls to tell you that you have won the Publishers Clearinghouse sweepstakes.
When reporting a fire or some other emergency.
In a fundamentalist church. Its members will throw you out and lock the door. They may even call the police.
Seriously, though, what is speaking in tongues? To true believers, speaking in tongues — called glossolalia by pseudo-intellectuals — is the ability to speak in languages one has never learned. This is supposedly a gift from God, and a sure sign that one has been baptized in the Holy Spirit. Spirit-baptized believers think they have been given supernatural powers which bypass the natural learning process. Pentecostal and Charismatic circles abound with overly excited individuals who suddenly burst into babble. Though this may sound like an amazing phenomenon, not one case of these languages has ever been authenticated.
Vinson Synan, a top Pentecostal leader, once questioned the ability of mainline Protestants to have a Pentecostal experience, i.e., to speak in tongues. When Protestants cross over to this theological dimension they are considered to be charismatic. Synan gave his personal testimony to the Full Gospel Businessmen's Voice magazine. He attended a prayer meeting during which the group was praying for a Lutheran minister.
"I was astounded that, without a long period of tarrying, the Lutheran pastor burst out in a torrent of glossolalia like I had never heard before," Synan said. "I felt he was speaking Arabic or some other Middle Eastern language. I saw visions of camels, sand dunes, and pyramids as he spoke. I was deeply moved as I recognized that this was indeed an authentic baptism in the Holy Spirit.
"When the brother had finished speaking in tongues, he informed us that the Lord had shown him he was speaking Arabic and that he felt called to minister as a missionary in the Middle East." Synan concluded: "This experience turned me around. I came home convinced that the neo-Pentecostal movement in the mainline Protestant churches was genuine."
Another, and more common, interpretation among believers is that speaking in tongues is God, who dwells in Spirit-filled Christians, speaking to himself in heaven. This concept is derived from a Bible passage which says "the Spirit itself maketh intercessions for us with groanings which cannot be uttered" (Romans 8:26). We wonder, though, if these groanings cannot be uttered, why would one then speak in tongues?
A final explanation is that the gift of tongues used in Pentecostal and charismatic churches is a means for God to speak directly to the assembled believers. At some point during a service, a congregant will hop up and loudly speak in tongues. A hush falls over the congregation as they wait for an interpretation. Usually, there is someone who purports to bring an interpretation to the message in tongues. Sometimes the person delivering the message will bring the interpretation.
Not surprisingly, the vocabulary used in delivering the interpretation always seems to be closely related to the version of the Bible which that person regularly reads. For instance, if a person always reads the King James version, the interpretation of the tongues message will be heavily sprinkled with Old English: "Thus saith the Lord, yeah, I say unto you, do my will, and not thy will, for thou art unclean and must repent of thy sins."
Any scientific analysis of these languages would reveal that tongues is gibberish. Nevertheless, millions of charismatics and Pentecostals take tongues to heart.