The Gift of Tongues and the Gift of Art
- Monday, September 24, 2012
First, I have to say that this blog is almost entirely my wife's brainchild. Jennifer (my wife) and I had been to a charismatic-pentecostal service one day and, as you might imagine, there was much speaking in tongues. Before I get into it, I want to speak about my history with tongues. As a child, I was fairly horrified when I first saw tongues being spoken. My family and I were recent Protestant converts from the Catholic church on the South Shore of Massachusetts and the gift of tongues was something that I never saw in the Catholic church growing up. One evening, I went to visit some friends at a pentecostal Christian youth camp and it was a baptism by fire. People were speaking in tongues, crying, screaming, rolling around on the ground and being slain in the spirit. As you can imagine, being from a modest Catholic upbringing... it was traumatic to say the least.
The major problem I had was that throughout all of that rolling and screaming, not once did I feel God's presence. Occasionally I sense the presence of God heavily during a charismatic worship service where tongues are being spoken; other times, not. This had always bothered me because I felt that if the Spirit of God was going to manifest himself in tongues it would be pretty powerful and you should sense his presence. You can imagine my confusion and frustration when I felt like God's presence seemed to be absent from such a strong manifestation of his gifts.
Also, many times I would be at services like this and people would be speaking in tongues and there wouldn't be an interpreter. This confused me because I thought that the three ways tongues normally happen in the Bible are:
1. That tongues of flames came over the disciples heads and gave them the ability to speak in tongues that people of different languages could all understand at the same time - Acts 2:1.
2. That the message spoken aloud in public through the medium of tongues 1 Corinthians 14:13 that would interpret the tongues.
Others may have different interpretations of the scripture, but this is how I understand the Bible's perspective on it.
Now, I am a much more charismatic Christian in these days than I ever was in the past. The gifts of the Spirit don't bother me like they used to, in fact, I am amazed by them. But tongues had always been difficult for me, and during this car ride home from the service I was previously mentioning, Jennifer gave me an amazing perspective I had never thought of before.
Jennifer said that dance was her gift of tongues. I looked at her with a mildly confused expression on my face. She went on to explain that she felt closest to God when she was dancing and that she believed dance was her heavenly language by which she spoke with God.
To me, this statement was revelatory.
It makes perfect sense... to me, at least. I have always felt that way when I was writing songs: God had blessed me with connection to him. Something about the flow between chord and lyric, between story and the music that underlies the story, always made me feel like I was connecting to something spiritual. As a matter of fact, I would argue that many, if not most, artists feel this way about art, that it IS spiritual. Could it be that the gift of art is a gift of tongues?
Let's look at the three qualifications of tongues that I mentioned before starting with the third and working backwards.
3. That the heavenly language was one for the personal and private prayer time between the speaker and God, not for the public.
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