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Chapter 2, Section 3

Is heaven really so complicated?

The "language" produced by a Russian charismatic, for example, looks and sounds entirely different from that emanating from the mouth of a Latin American, and the Chinese utterances are so unlike those of their Norwegian spiritual counterparts that to speak of "a language" of the Holy Spirit would seem absurd. How can one justify the belief that heaven is so complicated that even the Holy Spirit needs several thousand languages to communicate with God? A Trinity of which He Himself is a part!

There are Pentecostalists and charismatics who hold the position that no one can know all of the 3,000 languages in use today, and that a rule which seems valid for one group of languages does not necessarily apply to another group. To this, William E. Welmens is opposed.

"We do know something about representative languages of every known language family in the world," Welmens writes in his letter, previously mentioned, in Christianity Today. "I am by no means unique among descriptive linguists in having had direct, personal contact with well over a hundred languages representing a majority of the world’s language families, and in having studied descriptions of languages of virtually every reported type. If a glossolalic were speaking in any of the thousand languages of Africa, there is about a 90 percent chance that I would know it in a minute."

The allegation that tongues are indeed languages—regardless of contrasting expert opinion—has reverberated up into the highest echelons in the land. As a result, the Federal government financed a scientific study into these claims and uncovered not only valuable pertinent information but also indications of noteworthy side effects.

The research project, initiated in 1965 at the Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York, by Dr. John P. Kildahl and Dr. Paul A. Qualben, reached some valuable conclusions. One of importance is that there is undoubtedly a tendency of the tongues speakers to be more submissive, more suggestive and dependent in the presence of "authority figures." It was also stated that it was not necessarily the speaking in tongues that made them feel "better" than those around them, but that it was the submission to the authority of the leader in the prayer group that brought about the much desired state of euphoria.

William Samarin, who assisted in the inquiry, related in Christianity Today that where certain prominent tongues speakers had visited, entire groups of glossolalists would speak in his style. Regarding this, the report continues, "So again, the leader was important not only in inducement of the experience, but also in the way in which it was carried out."—Nov. 24, 1967, p. 39.

In the opinion of the researchers—and again we glean our information from this report—the ability to yield ego in the presence of the one with authority is indispensable to speaking in tongues. Of the accompanying gift of interpretation, the report said, "There was no similarity in the interpretation of the various ‘interpreters.’ One interpreter said the tongues speaker was praying for the health of his children; another interpreter would report the same speech to be an expression of gratitude to God for a recently successful church fund-raising effort. The most common interpretations were general statements that the speaker was thanking and praising God for many blessings."

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