Speaking in tongues
David V. Kimball

David, this is helpful. As this blog springs up, I can tell it’ll be fun to read and wrestle with. You can count on me reading often and piping up when I feel like I have something helpful to add.

I like the simplicity you’re going for but I don’t imagine it being quite this cut-and-dry. If you travel to especially Eastern cultures, it seems that their corporate worship experience does include a chorus of people praying their own individual prayers out loud. It’s actually a practice that should be fascinating to us as it is worshipful for our brothers and sisters in South Korea for example.

I love your point about shutting up. Holy Scripture is absolutely covered with guidance for us to be silent and listen to God. How often do we do so in our own piety? How often for the gathered church? Isn't it interesting that Jesus prayed for hours and hours with the Father and then when his disciples asked him how to pray he gave them a twenty second long prayer as our tool? Perhaps that’s because we ought to spend more time listening than talking.

A third thought I have, pigging-backing off of the scripture you provided, is that God certainly does speak to us, and through bizarre ways. However, scripture seems to emphasize the importance of accountability, which is maybe what the 1 Corinthians passage is getting at too. For example, if a friend walks up to me and says, “God told me that you ought to drop out of college and go to Chile.” I would ask God to give me the same message and I would, with that person, bring it before my church community and see if the Spirit speaks again, relying on communal discernment. We just have to be careful putting words in God’s mouth, especially when they do not sound like our shepherd’s voice (which we can become accustomed to through the Word). (As another aside, putting words in God’s mouth is getting more at what the scriptures speak to when they warn us about taking the Lord’s name in vain.)


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