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Monday, October 15, 2018

The road to charismania is paved with good intentions.

I take up the keyboard yet again.

I have missed you.

The subject matter may be...rarified...but it has been hamster-wheeling in my noddle, and I must get it out. The stupid wheel squeaks.

One of the most disingenuous arguments out there is this: "all Pentecostal / Charismatic / Spirit-filled churches are un-Biblical, because they misuse "speaking in tongues". "They all stand up and babble in gibberish at the same time, and no-one interprets!".
Apparently, so did the Corinthian believers.

And it's always "tongues". There are eight other tools in the charismata toolbox, but NO...we gotta pick on tongues. Granted it being the most, ngaaah, vocal of the gifts of the Spirit, it is the most readily abused, for "who can tame the tongue?", whether you are speaking English, or La-ma-salala.

Have you ever given a grandchild or nephew a set of magic tricks for beginners, and he then endlessly treats you to the same disappearing nickel or magic numbers trick? Yeah, that was the Corinthian church. They had a new toy, the likes of which they had never experienced, so they wanted to experience it againandagainandagain! And they jumped ahead in line. Didn't wait their turn.

In short, immaturity was rife.

This does not render the GIFT inferior, or bad, nor does it provide a doctrinal reason for saying "Well, THAT went away after the apostles died. HURRAY! Now we have a BOOK!". (Since I brought up the Book, I will add that there is ZERO Biblical evidence for spiritual gifts being the conduit through which the Bible came to be written, beyond out-of-context application of two individual verses from two different New Testament epistles, by two different authors, Paul and James.)

One issue is cognitive dissonance, on all sides of glossolalia. Paul APPARENTLY has two things in mind when he speaks of tongues. One (in 1 Corinthians 12) is the contextually inspired utterance in tongues, which should be coupled with the gift of interpretation from another speaker, which renders them analogous to the gift of prophecy, apparently, and unexplainedly (though Acts 2 may well give a clew). This exists for the edification and understanding of the congregation. The other is from 1 Corinthians 14, where Paul teaches that, failing the presence of the interpreter, one should pray in tongues to oneself (quietly) and to God. The first is a Happening in the church's worship, the second is apparently a readily available and usable mode of praying (I will pray in the Spirit, and I will pray with the understanding -my native language- also. This appears to be a volitional thing for the believer.)

Excitability being what it is, people got it all backward, and then, as now, believers took to babbling uninterpreted, because GIFT! Paul does NOT CONDEMN THE GIFT, as many modern pulpiteers are wont to do. Paul CORRECTED the Corinthian misuses. Between chapters 12 and 14, The Holy Spirit sandwiches what became chapter 13, the "Love Chapter". The logical flow is this:
Ch. 12: These are the gifts of the Spirit. You are doing them wrong.
Ch. 13: This is agape, how to love one another.
Ch. 14: This is how to do the gifts in love.

Assuming that modern "Spirit-filled" practise is analogous to that in the New Testament church, human nature works its way, and the same errors and behavior repeat themselves. Could there be a reason for Paul's correction of the Corinthians to be included in the extant canon?

Mmmmmyeeahh, COULD be!

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