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Ask the Patriarch 170
What are your thoughts on Pentecostalism?

from: Cherie

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I am wondering what your or your church thoughts are on the Pentecostal religion? How do you feel about the people that "speak in other tongues" when receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit?

The Patriarch replies:

Cherie:

First of all, I don't think Pentecostalism is a religion, or even a denomination. I suggest that it is a movement within Christianity in which people have a variety of different and conflicting beliefs. Pentecostals cannot even agree on the concept of the Trinity. The one belief Pentecostals hold in common, other than the basic belief in Christ, is that each believer can have a direct personal experience of God.

Just as I do not accept Christianity, I do not accept Pentecostalism. I do think that many Pentecostals are sincere in thinking they experience God. In my view, they are mistaken.

The issue of "speaking in tongues" was addressed in Ask the Patriarch 44 and in the subsequent discussion. In my previous answer I wrote in part:

As far as the denominations that don't practice glossolalia are concerned, the whole practice is based on an erroneous interpretation of certain New Testament passages along with a mistranslation in the King James version of the bible.

The general understanding is that these practices refer to apostles speaking in real languages which were previously unknown to them. For example, if I were suddenly to start speaking Urdu and be completely understood by those to whom Urdu was a native language, then I would be performing as described by "speaking in tongues" in the New Testament.

However, the languages actually spoken by those who "speak in tongues" in Pentecostal ceremonies are totally unknown. They are not real human languages.

My view has not changed since then. Whatever is happening in Pentecostal services, it is not "speaking in tongues" in any meaningful sense of the words.

Of all the acts attributed to a deity, the gathering of millions of Pentecostals every Sunday to mouth words that no-one understands has to be among the most pointless and inane. As South Park's Mayor McDaniels once said to a mob outside City Hall:

"Yes, but standing out here yelling "Rabble rabble rabble" isn't going to help anything. "

And that is what "speaking in tongues" amounts to.