Speaking in Tongues: Real or Fake?
Glossolalia or speaking in tongues is practiced by an estimated 100 million Christians in the world today and the number engaging in this practice is growing at a massive rate every year. That is approximately 20% of all Christians. What many people are wanting to know is if speaking in tongues as seen in the Church today is always from God or are there other explanations. Speaking in tongues has been practiced for many centuries, but despite its long history, differences of opinion accompany almost all questions regarding the phenomenon: is it sent from God? Is it of the Devil? Need it be a religious experience at all? Or is it a result of a mental disorder? People from all different walks of life have strong opinions on the subject.
Throughout recorded history there have been many occasions where people have spoken in what was called ecstatic tongues. Note most of these accounts predate Pentecost and were of non-Christian origin. Christians therefore cannot say with confidence that every occurrence of glossolalia must be an expression of the will of God even though many do subscribe to this view. Those practicing speaking in tongues today portray Pentecost as the supreme example of supernatural tongues; however, the recorded cases of glossolalia go back as far as 1100 B.C. On that occasion a young Amen worshiper attracted historical infamy when he became possessed by a god and began to make sounds in a strange ecstatic tongue.
Seven hundred years later, the Greek philosopher Plato demonstrated that he was well acquainted with the phenomenon of speaking in tongues as he referred to several families who practiced ecstatic speech, praying and utterings while supposedly possessed. He also pointed out that these practices had even brought physical healing to those who engaged them. Plato and most of his contemporaries asserted that these occurrences were caused by divine inspiration. He suggested that God...