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Vic Biorseth, http://www.CatholicAmericanThinker.com
Glossalalia comes from two Greek words, for tongue and speak, and refers to human sounds and utterances that appear to the listener to be either an unknown (xenoglossia) foreign language, or, completely meaningless syllables and sounds. Glossalalia is sometimes associated with mental illness; but most commonly, it is closely associated with religion, and many diverse religions, including Christianity, exhibit it in some way as part of organized worship. Within Christianity, and particularly in America, it is most notable within the Charismatic and/or Pentecostal denominations of Protestantism.
Glossalalia is typified by use of phonics common to the speaker's native language, but not used to form any proper words in that language. The recorded glossalalia of Englishmen is phonically distinct from that of Russians, and from other languages, yet each sounds, phonically, vaguely familiar within their own native language group.
The theory, for Christian practitioners, is that they speak in a mystic or Heavenly language, as the Holy Spirit prompts them, and even speaks through them. Skeptics and detractors point to emotionalism of practitioners, with emotions being further heightened by, potentially, religious ecstasy, or, self- or otherwise induced hypnotism, and even the power of suggestion.
The human mind - any human mind - by its very nature, may not be studied objectively, but only very subjectively, by any other human mind or group of human minds. Human consciousness, like unconsciousness, and like the human soul, cannot be empirically studied and tested. It is completely ephemeral and immaterial, does not consist of matter and thus may not be materially examined.
In Protestantism, it began with one Charles Parham in the early 1900s. In Catholicism, it began with the now famous 1976 Duquesne weekend. The similarities of the two events is quite striking.
For details of the history of the movement, go to the Catholic Prayer page. You should read this in conjunction with Paul's instructions in 1 Cor 13 and 14, in which he admonished his listeners to not cause confusion. When the Apostles spoke in tongues they were widely understood by their listeners. Paul admonished tongue-speakers in prayer gatherings to only speak when there was an interpreter present. We have witnessed people praying in tongues; we have never witnessed any of their words being understood, or interpreted, by anyone.
The Catholic Prayer page goes into the related Scripture, and the history of how glossalalia came to be, and then came into Catholicism and where the movement seems to be going; this third-tier linked-to page is just a brief explanation of the term itself. Hesitation is advised at both ends of the possible reaction scale: do not condemn it out of hand as fraudulent, and, do not dive in head first fully expecting something radical to happen in your soul.
Unless you personally somehow benefit from Divine insight, when you witness glossalalia, you do not know if what you are witnessing is induced by hysteria, hypnotism, some form of ecstasy, suggestion, a big act, or if it is demonic, or, if it is of the Holy Spirit. Which it just might be.
A major factor, if not the major factor, in the Life In The Spirit seminars given within the Catholic Charismatic Renewal movement, involves lessons, psychological preparation, coaching and teaching designed to induce or somehow bring about "true" events of glossalalia prayer among participants. And that raises some questions. I note that there were no lessons or coaching involved in the events of the Pentacost, or any other Biblical events involving tongues, or any events of any saints involving glossalalia.
I naturally tend toward skepticism. However, I do not ever want to be in the position of having spoken or acted against the Holy Spirit. When I see such things, I would much rather pray that it be true, and keep my mouth shut.
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Thursday, March 28, 2013
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