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Author Topic: Glossolalia vs. Xenoglossy - Pentecostals and "Speaking in Tongues"  (Read 5981 times) Average Rating: 0
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Alveus Lacuna
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« on: January 03, 2010, 02:29:28 AM »

What does Orthodoxy teach about "Speaking in Tongues"?  I have always understood the miracle at Pentecost to refer to people being able to miraculously speak in other human languages so that they could go forth and preach the gospel to all nations.  From what I understand, this is also deeply tied into the Feast of Weeks in Judaism and many different nationalities being present in Jerusalem at the time.

Anyway, whenever the New Testament speaks of "tongues", what do the words mean in the original Greek, for our posters who know their Koine Greek?  How are we to understand what St. Paul describes in his epistles?
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« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2010, 04:14:18 AM »

I believe the miracle of Pentecost, which has been repeated several times on smaller scales, works something like this:  A speaks in his native tongue to B.  B hears A in his native tongue.  The Holy Spirit acts as a universal Translator.

Glossolalia, as practiced by modern Pentecostals and by the immature members of the ancient Corinthian church, is gibberish.
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« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2010, 03:57:05 PM »

Well, supposing that things are not the way Cymbyz said, even if the the Apostles had been instantly taught to speak a new language, it's still different from the so-called "linguistic trance" that drives you mad and you start speaking stuff.
I mean, the Apostles say consistent things that do make sense.
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« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2010, 05:10:15 PM »

What an overwhelming response.  (AKA Bump)
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« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2010, 05:44:06 PM »

I believe the miracle of Pentecost, which has been repeated several times on smaller scales, works something like this:  A speaks in his native tongue to B.  B hears A in his native tongue.  The Holy Spirit acts as a universal Translator.

Glossolalia, as practiced by modern Pentecostals and by the immature members of the ancient Corinthian church, is gibberish.

This.

Pentecostals are speaking gibberish, and they know it.
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« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2010, 11:32:36 PM »

Here is a link to most of the verses related to speaking in tongues. It is surprising how much this gift of the Spirit is spoken about and emphasized in the New Testament. 

http://www.twopaths.com/faq_tongues.htm
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« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2010, 02:31:10 PM »

What about this verse in particular?

1 Corinthians 14:2-5

2For those who speak in a tongue do not speak to other people but to God; for nobody understands them, since they are speaking mysteries in the Spirit. 3On the other hand, those who prophesy speak to other people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. 4Those who speak in a tongue build up themselves, but those who prophesy build up the church. 5Now I would like all of you to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. One who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up.

This highlighted verse seems to imply that (at least) some of those who spoke in tongues spoke in a language that only God could interpret. Couldn't the pentecostals use this verse to make a valid case for their "gibberish"?
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« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2010, 03:51:50 PM »

Yes, but only as a private prayer-language.

My current pastor, when he was in Seattle, received a convert from Protestantism who "spoke in tongues."  He set her to praying the Psalter, and before she got through with a complete round of that prayer-rule, the gift of tongues vanished from her.
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« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2010, 04:14:34 PM »

For those who speak in a tongue do not speak to other people but to God; for nobody understands them, since they are speaking mysteries in the Spirit.

I seem to recall reading a commentary where a saint asserted that this was referring to the Prayer of the Heart; private interior prayer.

How that involves a tongue is beyond me.
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« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2010, 11:07:32 PM »

Quote
For those who speak in a tongue do not speak to other people but to God; for nobody understands them, since they are speaking mysteries in the Spirit
Isn't this speaking of tongues as being uninterpreted?  The contrast is between tongues and prophecy.  This phrase doesn't stand on its own as being a proof-text of a private gift of tongues called a "prayer language."
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« Reply #10 on: January 06, 2010, 01:04:10 AM »

Pentecostals are speaking gibberish, and they know it.

I'm sorry but this is untrue.  We came out of the Pentecostal movement and the people we know are very sincere in their beliefs; they believe it does draw them closer to God to pray in tongues. 
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« Reply #11 on: January 06, 2010, 01:08:38 AM »

Isn't this speaking of tongues as being uninterpreted?  The contrast is between tongues and prophecy.  This phrase doesn't stand on its own as being a proof-text of a private gift of tongues called a "prayer language."

If St. Paul is simply referring to an untranslated tongue that would otherwise be an intelligible language, then how could such a thing be referred to as "mysteries in the Spirit"?
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« Reply #12 on: January 06, 2010, 01:12:50 AM »

Pentecostals are speaking gibberish, and they know it.

I'm sorry but this is untrue.  We came out of the Pentecostal movement and the people we know are very sincere in their beliefs; they believe it does draw them closer to God to pray in tongues.  

I do try to understand things like this, and respect that people can have wildly different beliefs than me and still be completely sincere. But really, I can respect that a person is sincere, but when does fringe or different become silliness or even dangerous? Speaking a strange language that needs to be translated/interpreted? Holy Laughter? Rolling around on the ground? Barking like dogs? I mean, don't we have to say at some point: "please stop"?
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« Reply #13 on: January 06, 2010, 01:26:44 AM »

Look at verse 4 again:

4Those who speak in a tongue build up themselves, but those who prophesy build up the church.

Here Paul clearly refers to this type of speaking in tongues so as to strengthen the individual who is doing it, not those around him. This practice would seem to fall in line with that which Thankful is referring to.
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« Reply #14 on: January 06, 2010, 01:30:38 AM »


I do try to understand things like this, and respect that people can have wildly different beliefs than me and still be completely sincere. But really, I can respect that a person is sincere, but when does fringe or different become silliness or even dangerous? Speaking a strange language that needs to be translated/interpreted? Holy Laughter? Rolling around on the ground? Barking like dogs? I mean, don't we have to say at some point: "please stop"?

Exactly; herein lies the problem. There is no way for the pentecostal church to discern whether such activity is true fruit of the Spirit or something else. Orthodoxy relies on precedent in such cases. We know people full of the spirit don't get on the ground and bark like dogs because we have a 2000 year old history that attests against it.
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« Reply #15 on: January 06, 2010, 01:39:13 AM »

Orthodoxy relies on precedent in such cases. We know people full of the spirit don't get on the ground and bark like dogs because we have a 2000 year old history that attests against it.

Part of that tradition remembers this happening in the past.  The lives of the saints possess accounts of people doing things like this, and they are always demon-possessed.
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« Reply #16 on: January 06, 2010, 01:56:46 AM »

For those who speak in a tongue do not speak to other people but to God; for nobody understands them, since they are speaking mysteries in the Spirit.

I seem to recall reading a commentary where a saint asserted that this was referring to the Prayer of the Heart; private interior prayer.

How that involves a tongue is beyond me.

Sometimes when people sleep they speak things in there sleep, usually things that were on there minds the day before. In contrast. Maybe these people that speak in tongues are in such a deep prayer that they mumble words.
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« Reply #17 on: January 06, 2010, 05:36:23 AM »

Isn't this speaking of tongues as being uninterpreted?  The contrast is between tongues and prophecy.  This phrase doesn't stand on its own as being a proof-text of a private gift of tongues called a "prayer language."

If St. Paul is simply referring to an untranslated tongue that would otherwise be an intelligible language, then how could such a thing be referred to as "mysteries in the Spirit"?
They are "mysteries" because they aren't understood unless translated, as opposed to prophesying.  The context is about gifts being ministered in a church setting.

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« Reply #18 on: January 06, 2010, 05:42:57 AM »

Look at verse 4 again:

4Those who speak in a tongue build up themselves, but those who prophesy build up the church.

Here Paul clearly refers to this type of speaking in tongues so as to strengthen the individual who is doing it, not those around him. This practice would seem to fall in line with that which Thankful is referring to.
This doesn't stand on its own, in context it's a little sarcasm to show the nature of the gifts of the Spirit.  The point is that they are specifically not given for individual use, but are given for the Body.  The Apostle Paul isn't saying "tongues build up your spirit," he's saying "you are not ministering to the Body and you should rather prophesy intelligibly in love."
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« Reply #19 on: January 06, 2010, 10:07:04 AM »

Could Paul's words refer to people who speak in a coded language? Like prophesying? Biblical symbolism etc.?

My current pastor, when he was in Seattle, received a convert from Protestantism who "spoke in tongues."  He set her to praying the Psalter, and before she got through with a complete round of that prayer-rule, the gift of tongues vanished from her.
Didn't seem to be much of a gift then. Wink
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« Reply #20 on: January 06, 2010, 12:36:14 PM »


Hello friends,
I think the primary problems with glossolalia can be divided into categories (my tentative responses in parentheses):

1. The 'requirement' of public glossolalia to verify the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

(This is not Scriptural, as the passages previously quoted point out.  St. Paul makes the argument that one can have 'tongues' without love [which signifies nothing] but that love is key.  Nowhere in the Scripture is glossolalia mentioned as a requirement on the par with Repentance and Baptism.  If glossolalia interferes with one's repentance and introspection, then it is demonic or carnal.)

2. The disruptive nature of glossolalia in public worship.

(It is pretty clear that public glossolalia was so disruptive that it was discouraged early on in the Church.  Of course, we see how difficult it is to keep public worship organized, and it is harder when some folks will use the excuse of 'glossolalia' to make themselves into public spectacles.  Glossolalia is fine in private when one is moved by the Spirit, but it is not appropriate to draw attention to one's self in worship of God.)

3. The forcing of glossolalia in cases where the individual feels pressure to be accepted by a spiritual community.

(If one makes public displays a necessary part of initiation to a faith community, then people who desire membership will rise to the challenge.  The danger of glossolalia in a public setting is that genuine cases cannot easily be discerned when people feel they must perform or risk being shunned.  The susceptibility to forgery has led the Church to discourage the public display of tongues, though I have never heard of the Church banning the gift when it comes in private and draws one closer to God in repentance and gratitude.)

4. The propensity of human to whip themselves into an emotional frenzy that results in a trance state where involuntary actions occur.

(I think enough has been said about humans getting worked up.  One thing I can say for sure: Orthodoxy does not teach trance states or ecstatic worship, mostly because the free will is paramount in Christianity and a trance is a short-circuit of the free will process.)

Anyway, those are just a few thoughts on this glorious Feast of Theophany!


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« Reply #21 on: January 06, 2010, 12:57:36 PM »

Someone I knew used to go to Pentecostal services and recite the prayers (our Church's prayers) in Slavonic.  The Pentecostal "interpreter" would come up with the most interesting "translations."
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« Reply #22 on: January 06, 2010, 01:17:03 PM »

Pentecostals are speaking gibberish, and they know it.

I'm sorry but this is untrue.  We came out of the Pentecostal movement and the people we know are very sincere in their beliefs; they believe it does draw them closer to God to pray in tongues.  

I do try to understand things like this, and respect that people can have wildly different beliefs than me and still be completely sincere. But really, I can respect that a person is sincere, but when does fringe or different become silliness or even dangerous? Speaking a strange language that needs to be translated/interpreted? Holy Laughter? Rolling around on the ground? Barking like dogs? I mean, don't we have to say at some point: "please stop"?

I was solely addressing the comment that "Pentecostals are speaking gibberish and they know it."  Pentecostals who believe in the gift of praying in tongues do NOT believe they are speaking "gibberish" as if they're making it up.  Whether or not they ARE is different -- but in their heads, it's not gibberish.  That's all I'm saying.  
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« Reply #23 on: January 06, 2010, 07:07:33 PM »

Came across this nugget today by St. Gregory Palamas in the Triads:

Quote
To make the mind "go out" not only from fleshly thoughts, but also out of the body itself, with the aim of contemplating intelligible visions - that is the greatest of errors, the root and source of all heresies, an invention of demons, a doctrine which engenders folly and is itself the product of madness.  That is why those who speak by demonic inspiration become beside themselves, not knowing what they are saying.
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« Reply #24 on: January 06, 2010, 08:10:35 PM »

Someone I knew used to go to Pentecostal services and recite the prayers (our Church's prayers) in Slavonic.  The Pentecostal "interpreter" would come up with the most interesting "translations."

Haha! Brilliant!  laugh

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« Reply #25 on: January 07, 2010, 10:46:47 AM »

Thank God for St. Gregory! Smiley

Someone I knew used to go to Pentecostal services and recite the prayers (our Church's prayers) in Slavonic.  The Pentecostal "interpreter" would come up with the most interesting "translations."
I actually thought about doing this with Greek (if I ever get to visit a non-Greek Pentecostal Church). But that would be a bad joke. Undecided
Still, good enough to uncover their "gift".
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« Reply #26 on: February 18, 2010, 01:15:43 AM »

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/07/health/07brain.html

Interesting article about current glossolalia from a scientific standpoint.
It's easy to be critical of things we have never experienced or know much of.
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« Reply #27 on: February 18, 2010, 01:31:41 AM »

It's easy to be critical of things we have never experienced or know much of.

Thanks for that.  I've actually already read Dr. Newburg's book, and while his results were fascinating indeed, this didn't really tell us anything we didn't already know on a spiritual level.

They believe that God is talking through them.  Well, something might be moving through them, but there's no way to discern whether the spirit is holy or demonic. 

Quote
You're not really out of control.  But you have no control over what's happening.  You're just flowing.  You're in a realm of peace and comfort, and it's a fantastic feeling.

Well, I'm glad to know that our feelings are a reliable guide.

In response to the accusation that many of us have "never experienced or know much of" this phenomena, I have attended many Assemblies of God services, and my closest spiritual brother and Christian friend, who is dear to me and who I will love for all of my life, speaks in tongues.  He knows that I don't agree with it, and I have asked him to please never do it around me.  My sister who was raised Roman Catholic was recently "saved" in an Assemblies of God megachurch.  Many on this board are converts to Holy Orthodoxy from the insanity of "Pentecostalism" and "Charismaticism."  So actually many of us do know what we are talking about.
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« Reply #28 on: February 18, 2010, 01:50:18 AM »

Sorry to offend you or anyone else, but as in regards to "what" is flowing through them, I would ask what are the fruits of their life? Jesus said you will know them by their fruits, and Paul talks about the fruit of the Spirit in his writings as well. Paul also says to not forbid speaking in tongues. The movement has been endorsed by the Vatican and brought renewal to many people's faith in Christ. What is wrong with that?

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« Reply #29 on: February 18, 2010, 01:51:19 AM »

It's easy to be critical of things we have never experienced or know much of.

Thanks for that.  I've actually already read Dr. Newburg's book, and while his results were fascinating indeed, this didn't really tell us anything we didn't already know on a spiritual level.

They believe that God is talking through them.  Well, something might be moving through them, but there's no way to discern whether the spirit is holy or demonic. 

Quote
You're not really out of control.  But you have no control over what's happening.  You're just flowing.  You're in a realm of peace and comfort, and it's a fantastic feeling.

Well, I'm glad to know that our feelings are a reliable guide.

In response to the accusation that many of us have "never experienced or know much of" this phenomena, I have attended many Assembly of God services, and my dearest spiritual brother and Christian friend, who is dear to me and who I will love for all of my life, speaks in tongues.  He knows that I don't agree with it, and I have asked him to please never do it around me.  Many on this board are converts to Holy Orthodoxy from the insanity of "Pentecostalism" and "Charismaticism."  So actually many of us do know what we are talking about.

I very much agree with your perspective, Alveus.

Our Lord tells us not to judge by 'feelings,' but by 'fruit.'  If we say, 'This is from God,' then it should bear fruit.  If it bears no fruit, or bad fruit, then we know it is not from God.

I tell folks not to ignore their thoughts or feelings, but to check them out with someone more mature.  One of the most important things about feelings is to know why we are having them. 
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« Reply #30 on: February 18, 2010, 02:08:15 AM »

Sorry to offend you or anyone else, but as in regards to "what" is flowing through them, I would ask what are the fruits of their life? Jesus said you will know them by their fruits, and Paul talks about the fruit of the Spirit in his writings as well. Paul also says to not forbid speaking in tongues. The movement has been endorsed by the Vatican and brought renewal to many people's faith in Christ. What is wrong with that?

I'm not advocating that "speaking in tongues" should be forbidden.  I'm arguing that what these people are doing is not what the Holy Scriptures are referring to.  What happened at Pentecost was not a frenzy of spiritual mediumism.  God isn't a crystal ball, and disorder and allowing ourselves to retreat into passionate emotions is contrary to Christian temperance and sobriety.

The gift of prophecy is alive and well in Orthodoxy, as many of our holy elders (starets) have possessed this gift over the centuries.  Also alive and celebrated in our Church is clairvoyance.  Concerning "tongues", this gift is for missionary purposes and spreading the gospel to all nations.  It is the redemption of Babel.  The Orthodox Church has many "tongues" in which we pray and missionize, and none of them are gibberish which comes to us in a trance.  Many people under the spell of these feelings are enraptured and roll around on the ground, laughing hysterically.  Every time this is seen in the lives of the saints or mentioned by the holy fathers it is demonic possession.

Many studies have been done that posit that the origins of this movement actually began in the deep South with African slave workers mixing their indigenous sorcery with Christianity.  Not Azuza Street, and not Duquesne University.  This comes from without and not from within the Church.  Someone is teaching this, as it is a learned behavior.  If the Church isn't teaching it, then there is a likely candidate behind the scenes.  We don't take our cues from heterodox, heretics and the apostate.
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« Reply #31 on: February 18, 2010, 02:23:59 AM »

Ever heard of Fr. Eusebius Stephanou?

As to modern day speaking in tongues, don't you think it is a bit insulting to refer to it as "gibberish which come to us in a trance"? It seems the the people in the article I posted would disagree with you.

I would still ask you as well as all of us to observe the fruit of those who do speak in tongues. I know people who have experienced glossolalia, myself included, and have a sincere devotion to Jesus. My experience recently has been during my personal devotion at home while praying through the evening prayers out of the Orthodox Study Bible. I never went into any trance.
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« Reply #32 on: February 18, 2010, 02:29:26 AM »

Ever heard of Fr. Eusebius Stephanou?

Listen, I don't want to insult you or argue with you about this, particularly since you are inquiring about Orthodoxy and the practice obviously important to you.  Just please be careful.  I need to be focusing on my own sins right now, not trying to win a disagreement over this phenomenon.  May God show us all the way and have mercy on us.
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« Reply #33 on: February 18, 2010, 02:36:48 AM »

Hey I don't want to argue either Grin The practice is not central in my devotion to Jesus. If it happens, it happens, but regardless I want my eyes fixed on Jesus. I appreciate your concern, but know it's reciprocal for those who attribute the gift as "demonic".

May God grant us a spirit of repentance during the season. God Bless.
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« Reply #34 on: February 22, 2010, 09:18:36 AM »

Sorry to offend you or anyone else, but as in regards to "what" is flowing through them, I would ask what are the fruits of their life? Jesus said you will know them by their fruits, and Paul talks about the fruit of the Spirit in his writings as well. Paul also says to not forbid speaking in tongues. The movement has been endorsed by the Vatican and brought renewal to many people's faith in Christ. What is wrong with that?

I'm not advocating that "speaking in tongues" should be forbidden.  I'm arguing that what these people are doing is not what the Holy Scriptures are referring to.  What happened at Pentecost was not a frenzy of spiritual mediumism.  God isn't a crystal ball, and disorder and allowing ourselves to retreat into passionate emotions is contrary to Christian temperance and sobriety.

The gift of prophecy is alive and well in Orthodoxy, as many of our holy elders (starets) have possessed this gift over the centuries.  Also alive and celebrated in our Church is clairvoyance.  Concerning "tongues", this gift is for missionary purposes and spreading the gospel to all nations.  It is the redemption of Babel.  The Orthodox Church has many "tongues" in which we pray and missionize, and none of them are gibberish which comes to us in a trance.  Many people under the spell of these feelings are enraptured and roll around on the ground, laughing hysterically.  Every time this is seen in the lives of the saints or mentioned by the holy fathers it is demonic possession.

Many studies have been done that posit that the origins of this movement actually began in the deep South with African slave workers mixing their indigenous sorcery with Christianity.  Not Azuza Street, and not Duquesne University.  This comes from without and not from within the Church.  Someone is teaching this, as it is a learned behavior.  If the Church isn't teaching it, then there is a likely candidate behind the scenes.  We don't take our cues from heterodox, heretics and the apostate.

Just wondering, what's the difference between prophecy and clairvoyance? I thought they were the same thing.
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« Reply #35 on: February 22, 2010, 12:04:07 PM »

Just wondering, what's the difference between prophecy and clairvoyance? I thought they were the same thing.


Wikipedia defines clairvoyance thusly:
"The term clairvoyance (from 17th century French with clair meaning "clear" and voyance meaning "vision") is used to refer to the alleged ability to gain information about an object, person, location or physical event through means other than the known human senses, a form of extra-sensory perception. A person said to have the ability of clairvoyance is referred to as a clairvoyant ("one who sees clearly").
"Claims for the existence of paranormal and psychic abilities such as clairvoyance are highly controversial. Parapsychology explores this possibility, but the existence of the paranormal is not accepted by the scientific community."
{see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clairvoyance}

and prophesy:
"A prophecy is the message that has been communicated to a prophet which the prophet then communicates to others. In general, this message can involve divine inspiration, revelation, or interpretation. More specifically, it may be a professed psychic prediction. Confusion often exists between the word "prophecy" (noun) and "to prophesy" (verb). A memory phrase to help distinguish between "prophecy" (pronounced with the long e sound as in "see") and "prophesy" (pronounced with the long i sound as in "sigh"): "When a prophet prophesies he or she utters prophecies."
"The concept is found throughout the religions of the world. The term has found popular acceptance in two of the world's largest religious groups, Christianity and Islam, along with many others."
{see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prophesy}

Clairvoyance can come from either divine or demonic sources, but prophesy is only from God.  An example from the Life of St. Anthony:
"Some brothers came to find Abba Anthony to tell him about the visions they were having, and to find out from him if they were true or if they came from the demons. They had a donkey, which died on the way. When they reached the place where the old man was, he said to them before they could ask him anything, 'How was it that the little donkey died on the way here?' They said, 'How do you know about that, Father?' And he told them, 'The demons showed me what happened.' So they said, 'That was what we came to question you about, for fear we were being deceived, for we have visions which often turn out to be true.' Thus the old man convinced them, by the example of the donkey, that their visions came from the demons." {see http://www.greek-icons.org/texts-papers/synaxaries-saints-lives/life-saint-anthony-the-great.html}

Anyone who claims be a prophet is to be tested in this manner:
"If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, 'Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,' you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the LORD your God is testing you to find out if you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall follow the LORD your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him.
"But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has counseled rebellion against the LORD your God who brought you from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, to seduce you from the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk So you shall purge the evil from among you."
(De 13:1-5)

Anyone who says, 'God told me __________' is to be held with suspicion because of the danger of false prophesy.  Clairvoyance must also be held with great caution because we cannot be certain of its origins.  Sometimes demons will use this 'gift' to lure some away from God.  Other times, God grants it for whatever His reason, but I do believe it is always to help us.

I hope this helps.
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« Reply #36 on: February 22, 2010, 04:27:48 PM »

On Glossologia*

Ch. 18. from The Truth of Our Faith:: A Discourse from Holy Scripture on the
Teachings of True Christianity, By Elder Cleopa of Romania

Inquirer: What is glossologia or “speaking in tongues”?

Elder Cleopa: Glossologia, or “speaking in tongues,” as a gift of the Holy Spirit, is the ability to speak a foreign language without having to be taught it or knowing it beforehand. This is clear from the Holy Scriptures in which the events of Pentecost are described, and at which time this divine gift first appeared. The text is unabbreviated and unambiguous and recounts for us an actual event. Consequently, the text itself cannot be explained with some particular mystical or spiritual meaning alone, omitting the literal meaning.

Let’s allow the passage from the Acts of the Apostles itself to explain what the text means and what comprises the speaking of foreign tongues by the Grace of the Holy Spirit:

    “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine” (Acts 2:1-13).

From an examination of these thirteen verses that contain the key to the solution of the problem, we can educe the following conclusions:

    - The speaking of foreign tongues or languages, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, manifested itself, as a miracle, for the first time in history. For this reason the reader is provided with an extensive description, that he may be able to learn what this miracle is and in what it consists.

    - With this powerful gift of the Holy Spirit the Apostles began to preach in other languages, even 15 different local languages of other tribes and nations that had converged there for the feast of Pentecost.

    - The Jews of other nations, who had as their mother tongue the language of the nation in which they lived, marvelled when they heard the Apostles preach in their own language, for the Apostles were simple men of Galilee and it was impossible for them to know another language except the Aramaic they had learned at home.

    - The Jews of other nations understood everything from the divine preaching of the Apostles. They spoke to them with precision in their own language concerning the greatness of God, without needing a translator, and it is in exactly this that the miracle rests. The visitors to Jerusalem were unable to explain what they witnessed and were full of wonder.

    - Among the listeners of the preaching there were also some that did not understand anything that the Apostles said and subsequently mocked the Apostles, thinking that they were drunk. This group can be none other than the residents of Jerusalem, and perhaps those of nearby Palestine, who didn’t know other languages except their mother tongue, Aramaic. For these men the preaching of the Apostles was completely unintelligible and they considered it simply sputtering.

Thus, the residents didn’t understand anything from the preaching, unless someone translated it for them. For just as there is the gift of speaking in tongues or foreign languages, there also exists the gift of translation. This was given, as is apparent below, when those listening were only locals ignorant of other languages, as was, for example, the case in Corinth (1 Cor. 14). In Jerusalem, however, during this period there was not felt this deficiency. The gift of translation was itself also miraculous, just as was that of glossologia, on which it was directly dependent. Not having this gift the residents who were listening judged the work of the Apostles according to their personal determination and perception alone.

Glossologia was a sign of the power of God and, as a decisive means of proselytism, was manifested among men who ignored the Faith (1 Cor. 14:21-25). For, apart from this, what meaning does it have for someone to speak about Christ in a foreign language if he was taught, believed and lived his faith in Christ from his childhood years?

If there are those who speak foreign languages and they are not understood by anyone, how do they build up the Church or benefit it? For the purpose of glossologia was for the Apostles to be able to spread, via the transmission of the kerygma (preaching) in foreign languages, the Faith of Christians to all people and to make the Gospel known throughout the world, as it is written: “Their sound hath gone forth into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world” (Ps. 18:4).

If someone had this gift, we must not think that it was the greatest among the gifts of God. The Apostle Paul says that there are other, greater gifts of the Holy Spirit than that of glossologia. “I would that ye all spake with tongues but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edification” (1 Cor. 14:5). And elsewhere he also says, “If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?” (1 Cor. 14:23).

Consequently, the gifts of prophecy, of preaching and of interpretation of Scripture are much higher than the gift of glossologia, for with these the Church of Christ is built up and benefited much more than with the gift of linguistics or speaking different languages (1 Cor. 14: 2-4). More sublime and higher than all the gifts is love, about which listen to what the Apostle Paul has to say: “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal” (1 Cor. 13:1).

Inq.: It is claimed by certain people that when the grace of the Holy Spirit comes to them and they begin to speak in tongues, they find themselves in a state of ecstasy. It is only at this time that they are able to speak certain inarticulate and incomprehensible human sounds, to have certain internal impulses or exclamations of joy, or to voice a certain remorse for their sins, as well as other movements of the body which are made by the action of the grace of the Holy Spirit. Saul had a similar spiritual manifestation when following David and going to Ramah. He was overcome by the prophetic spirit and with a flurry he prophesied, ripped his clothes off and went naked all day and all night (1 Sam. 19:22-24).

EC: It is incomprehensible for a healthy, clear and well-balanced intellect to reveal the great mysteries of God with inarticulate exclamations. Such a thing is not at all the same, as we know from that which was revealed through glossologia as a divine gift (1 Cor. 14: 2-4).

The Greek idol-worshipers of antiquity had similar exhibitions when they prayed to their gods Dionysus, Zeus and the others. When they were found before a diabolic idol they would fall into ecstasy or a trance, shaking and making rhythmic movements with their body, and tumble on the ground, with a few even foaming at the mouth like the demon-possessed of olden times. Next they would get up and sing rhapsodic melodies and make exclamations with demonic delight. The same happened with the Montanists, heretics of the first and second centuries after Christ, the Gnostics, and later the Methodists, the Quakers, the Pentecostals and others. These groups took to making uncanny and strange turns and movements of the body, had hallucinations and were in delusion, and thought that all of this came from God, when in actuality it comes from theologians of darkness who are familiar with Holy Scripture and who lead into delusion the unsuspecting, cheating them with words taken even from Holy Scripture.

Inq.: These people also say that with the charisma of glossologia that they possess, they maintain unbroken the work of the Holy Spirit among men and within the Church of Christ as it existed in the beginning of Christianity. For, they claim, today, as also in the beginning, with this perceptible sign of the gift of grace, the Holy Spirit stirs wonder and amazement in those who as yet are not Christians. Furthermore, with this visible sign of the gift of speaking in tongues, it becomes known to the faithful that there still exists a work of the Holy Spirit in the Church as in the first period of Christians in Jerusalem.

EC: The gift of speaking in foreign tongues or glossologia was not given by God for all time, until the end of the world. It was a sign given to the Church only for a time, with the aim of making it easier for those of other religions to convert to Christianity. We see, in this respect, that the Jews of Jerusalem, who did not understand the preaching of the Apostles - kerygma given by divine grace - did not, in fact, believe but rather said that the Apostles were drunk. The Prophet Isaiah prophesied concerning their disbelief before this great gift of grace, saying, “For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear” (Isa. 28: 11-12). Indeed, in Jerusalem they spoke to them with lips of strangers, for the foreign Jews, or Jews of the Diaspora, heard about the wondrous works of God in their own languages and believed (Acts 2:11). And thus it is that the Apostle Paul prophesied that the gift of speaking in foreign tongues would cease (1 Cor. 13:8 , 1 Cor. 14:22-28).

The people of that time were spiritually in the age of infancy, for only just before had they left the worship of idols and their intellects were blurred, confused and insensible. They were still captives to the enjoyment of the fleshly pleasures and did not have knowledge of the divine gifts that one enjoys only on account of faith. It is for this reason that signs and wonders were then showered upon them.

Some spiritual gifts are invisible and become accessible to man via faith. Others, however, are visible on account of the unbelief of men. Here is an example: The forgiveness of sins is an invisible spiritual work. We do not see with our sensible eyes how we are purified of our sins. Why? Because neither is the soul that is purified visible to the eyes of our body. Speaking in different tongues or languages is also a work of the Holy Spirit, but it is a visible sign and more easily persuades those of other religions. Hence, the reason Saint Paul says the following: “Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe” (1 Cor. 14:22). He who believes doesn’t have need of guarantees and signs. The first Christians would not have believed if they had not received signs.

Inq.: From those who I spoke to I learned that besides the gift of speaking in tongues, they have also the gift of the baptism of “the Holy Spirit and fire” (Lk. 3:16) which is totally different from baptism with water. This baptism showers upon them various miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit, especially that of glossologia and the interpretation of Scripture, as happened also at Pentecost with the Apostles.

EC: Is it possible that there are two Christian baptisms? Doesn’t it say in Holy Scripture that there is one and only one? St. Paul tells us there is but “one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all . . .” (Eph. 4:5; See also:1 Cor. 12:13). The baptism of “the Holy Spirit and fire” (Lk. 3:16) of Pentecost is none other than the Christian baptism which was pre-announced by both Saint John the Baptist and the Saviour Himself (Mt. 3:11, Acts 1:5) and which He said would happen by “water and the Spirit” - baptism neither by water alone, as with the baptism of John, nor only by the Spirit (Jn. 3:5). These two elements, the one visible and the other invisible, constitute the two most necessary prerequisites for the one and only Christian baptism. If, with respect to the practice of this mystery, some still speak only of water or only of the Spirit as constituting the main element of this Mystery, let them know that the Mystery is one and only one and its two elements are inseparable.

Inq.: Each Christian should have within him the Holy Spirit. The members of a certain Christian brotherhood say that while they can give evidence of the presence of the Holy Spirit within them through the practice of speaking in foreign speech, the Orthodox are not able to show this by any means. Consequently, they say that the Orthodox are not true Christians due to the absence of this work of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

EC: It is true that each Christian should have consciously within himself the Holy Spirit. Yet, the presence of the Holy Spirit is not only made manifest via glossologia. The Apostle Paul tells us that “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance . . .” (Gal. 5: 22-23). Do you see, therefore, that among the fruits of the Holy Spirit the practice of speaking in foreign languages is not referred to anywhere? This is the case because it is a gift of the Holy Spirit that was given for a certain period of time in the Church, while the gifts referred to here by the Apostle, all Christians, of every epoch, must have throughout their life. Whoever has the fruits of the Spirit has also the Holy Spirit within him. The gift of glossologia is not a common gift of grace but something special and not given to everyone (1 Cor. 12:10). How, then, can we consider it a precondition of salvation and a prerequisite for the presence of the Holy Spirit in our life when it is not given to everyone? The Apostle Paul says, “Do all speak in tongues?” (1 Cor. 12:30). Consequently, then, those who do not speak in tongues can also be good Christians. In the community of true Christians everyone does not have the same gifts. The Apostles did not require this gift from all the Christians, and indeed, in quite a few it was revealed that this talent was profitless. The Apostles themselves did not use this gift, apart from exceptional cases when they had a certain aim, as on the day of Pentecost. So, therefore, it should be clear that they did not call upon every Christian to have this gift as a means of salvation.

Inq.: I would like, after all that we have said concerning glossologia, for you to summarize exactly the main points of our discussion.

EC: Listen, brother, and guard well within your mind: True glossologia as a gift of the Holy Spirit can be recognized only when it is combined with the following presuppositions.

    1) If someone, by inspiration [of the Holy Spirit], speaks a language, it should be understood by all those who stand nearby, as happened in the case that we cited from the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 2:1-13).

    2) When someone speaks a language among the residents [of Jerusalem, Corinth etc.] that they do not understand, then another gift, the gift of translation of this language into the language of the people is necessary. Without this translation the foreign language is babbling and lunacy (1 Cor. 14:23).

    3) Glossologia was not given to the Church forever, but only in the beginning of Christianity in order to awaken the idol-worshippers and Jews to belief in Christ. This is why the Apostle Paul said that the gift of glossologia would at some point cease to exist in the Church (1 Cor. 13:Cool.

    4) Since we believe that Christ is our true God we no longer have need of glossologia, given the fact that the knowledge of foreign languages by inspiration [of the Holy Spirit] is a sign (miracle) necessary only for the unbelieving and not for the faithful (1 Cor. 14:22).

    5) From the beginning of Christianity the gift of glossologia was one among the lesser in the Church of Christ, while the others, such as that of prophecy, interpretation of Scripture, of love and the rest, were much greater.

    6) It is totally out of the question for speaking in tongues, as a gift of the Holy Spirit, to mean a delirium in a non-existent and incomprehensible language, for then it wouldn’t be speaking in languages, but our own [exclusive] language (Mk. 16:17). Moreover, it comes into clear contradiction with chapter two of the Acts of the Apostles.

    7) The inarticulate voices, lunacies and incoherent utterances which we often hear from the self-proclaimed speakers of tongues very much resembles the scenes the idol-worshippers would make before their idols of Dionysus, as well as with quite a few of the Montanists, Gnostics, Quakers, and later Pentecostals, all of whom the true Church of Christ anathematizes (See the first and second Canons of the Sixth Oecumenical Council).

Thus, brother, foreign to the Spirit of God is the speaking in tongues of those who think they are grace-bearers and make bold to misconstrue the true glossologia, a gift of the Holy Spirit which existed at the outset of Christianity.

* Translator’s note: Literally, the Greek word translates as “linguistics.” Due to a popular misconception among English speaking people, the translation of γλωσσολογία is troublesome. In this chapter the word has been rendered variously as “glossologia,” “speaking a foreign language,” “speaking a foreign tongue,” “linguistics,” and “speaking in tongues.” The English dictionary gives for glossology: “The science of language; linguistics.”

* * *
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« Reply #37 on: August 10, 2010, 02:06:58 AM »

The following video is very helpful in understanding the gifts of tongues, prophecy and knowledge and why they ceased.

Speaking In Tongues Part A
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qi6fIUpvZUI

God bless,
Mick
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« Reply #38 on: August 10, 2010, 06:14:27 AM »

I'm sorry but this is untrue.  We came out of the Pentecostal movement and the people we know are very sincere in their beliefs; they believe it does draw them closer to God to pray in tongues. 

I'm sure this is true of many Pentecostals (although it is still deception rather than a gift of the Spirit). However, I've seen people 'practicing tongues' together before a service in Evangelical churches to make sure they sound convincing on Sunday, which is hardly sincere.
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« Reply #39 on: August 21, 2010, 02:09:12 PM »

What about this verse in particular?

1 Corinthians 14:2-5

2For those who speak in a tongue do not speak to other people but to God; for nobody understands them, since they are speaking mysteries in the Spirit. 3On the other hand, those who prophesy speak to other people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. 4Those who speak in a tongue build up themselves, but those who prophesy build up the church. 5Now I would like all of you to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. One who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up.

This highlighted verse seems to imply that (at least) some of those who spoke in tongues spoke in a language that only God could interpret. Couldn't the pentecostals use this verse to make a valid case for their "gibberish"?

The mysteries of God are "another language"... Look at the parables of Christ, the prophecies, etc.. They are not to be taken literally.. This are the "tongues of the angels" : The doctrine of God.
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« Reply #40 on: August 21, 2010, 02:19:15 PM »

I believe the miracle of Pentecost, which has been repeated several times on smaller scales, works something like this:  A speaks in his native tongue to B.  B hears A in his native tongue.  The Holy Spirit acts as a universal Translator.

Glossolalia, as practiced by modern Pentecostals and by the immature members of the ancient Corinthian church, is gibberish.

Agreed.This is how i`ve seen it myself..
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« Reply #41 on: August 21, 2010, 05:38:47 PM »

What about this verse in particular?

This highlighted verse seems to imply that (at least) some of those who spoke in tongues spoke in a language that only God could interpret. Couldn't the pentecostals use this verse to make a valid case for their "gibberish"?

The mysteries of God are "another language"... Look at the parables of Christ, the prophecies, etc.. They are not to be taken literally.. This are the "tongues of the angels" : The doctrine of God.

Hello there,

If you examine 1 Cor 13:1-3 you will see that Paul is using exaggerated language to bring home his point that love is greater than the gifts. For example in 1 Cor. 13:3 he speaks about having all knowledge while at the same time he knew that he could not have all knowledge as knowledge was 'in part' (1 Cor. 13:9). What he is saying in these verses is, in effect, "Even if I could jump over the moon and had not love then I have nothing". So, he is not saying he could speak in tongues of angels but that 'even if' he could and didn't have love then he had nothing. There is no such thing as tongues of angels.

Also, the reason tongues sounded like mysteries at times was simply because foreign languages do sound like mysteries to us ... that is why Paul said that without an interpreter the speaker was to keep it between himself and God as no one is edified unless there is understanding.

God bless,
Mick
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« Reply #42 on: August 21, 2010, 06:18:17 PM »

What about this verse in particular?

This highlighted verse seems to imply that (at least) some of those who spoke in tongues spoke in a language that only God could interpret. Couldn't the pentecostals use this verse to make a valid case for their "gibberish"?

The mysteries of God are "another language"... Look at the parables of Christ, the prophecies, etc.. They are not to be taken literally.. This are the "tongues of the angels" : The doctrine of God.

Hello there,

If you examine 1 Cor 13:1-3 you will see that Paul is using exaggerated language to bring home his point that love is greater than the gifts. For example in 1 Cor. 13:3 he speaks about having all knowledge while at the same time he knew that he could not have all knowledge as knowledge was 'in part' (1 Cor. 13:9). What he is saying in these verses is, in effect, "Even if I could jump over the moon and had not love then I have nothing". So, he is not saying he could speak in tongues of angels but that 'even if' he could and didn't have love then he had nothing. There is no such thing as tongues of angels.

Also, the reason tongues sounded like mysteries at times was simply because foreign languages do sound like mysteries to us ... that is why Paul said that without an interpreter the speaker was to keep it between himself and God as no one is edified unless there is understanding.

God bless,
Mick
Just curious.  What faith tradition do you represent here?  Are you Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, or something else?
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« Reply #43 on: August 21, 2010, 06:30:11 PM »

Dear PeterTheAleut,

I am a Protestant but not affiliated with any particular denomination.

God bless,
Mick
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« Reply #44 on: August 21, 2010, 06:56:45 PM »

Welcome to the forum.   Smiley
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