|Is heaven really so complicated?
The "language" produced by a
Russian charismatic, for example, looks and sounds entirely different
from that emanating from the mouth of a Latin American, and the Chinese
utterances are so unlike those of their Norwegian spiritual counterparts
that to speak of "a language" of the Holy Spirit would seem
absurd. How can one justify the belief that heaven is so complicated
that even the Holy Spirit needs several thousand languages to
communicate with God? A Trinity of which He Himself is a part!
There are Pentecostalists and
charismatics who hold the position that no one can know all of the 3,000
languages in use today, and that a rule which seems valid for one group
of languages does not necessarily apply to another group. To this,
William E. Welmens is opposed.
"We do know something about
representative languages of every known language family in the
world," Welmens writes in his letter, previously mentioned, in Christianity
Today. "I am by no means unique among descriptive linguists in
having had direct, personal contact with well over a hundred languages
representing a majority of the world’s language families, and in
having studied descriptions of languages of virtually every reported
type. If a glossolalic were speaking in any of the thousand languages of
Africa, there is about a 90 percent chance that I would know it in a
The allegation that tongues are indeed
languages—regardless of contrasting expert opinion—has reverberated
up into the highest echelons in the land. As a result, the Federal
government financed a scientific study into these claims and uncovered
not only valuable pertinent information but also indications of
noteworthy side effects.
The research project, initiated in 1965
at the Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York, by Dr. John P.
Kildahl and Dr. Paul A. Qualben, reached some valuable conclusions. One
of importance is that there is undoubtedly a tendency of the tongues
speakers to be more submissive, more suggestive and dependent in the
presence of "authority figures." It was also stated that it
was not necessarily the speaking in tongues that made them feel
"better" than those around them, but that it was the
submission to the authority of the leader in the prayer group that
brought about the much desired state of euphoria.
William Samarin, who assisted in the
inquiry, related in Christianity Today that where certain
prominent tongues speakers had visited, entire groups of glossolalists
would speak in his style. Regarding this, the report continues, "So
again, the leader was important not only in inducement of the
experience, but also in the way in which it was carried out."—Nov.
24, 1967, p. 39.
In the opinion of the researchers—and
again we glean our information from this report—the ability to yield
ego in the presence of the one with authority is indispensable to
speaking in tongues. Of the accompanying gift of interpretation, the
report said, "There was no similarity in the interpretation of the
various ‘interpreters.’ One interpreter said the tongues speaker was
praying for the health of his children; another interpreter would report
the same speech to be an expression of gratitude to God for a recently
successful church fund-raising effort. The most common interpretations
were general statements that the speaker was thanking and praising God
for many blessings."
Information is ignored