sundayword:BY PROSPER TINGINI
I have been relentless in my writings about the practices in some religious sections. While I am not qualified to judge others, I fully rely on what is written in the scriptures to support most of my arguments. I was inspired to read in full most of the contents of the Holy Bible from the first page to the last. Prior to that, I admit I heavily relied on the gospels of some preachers as a guidance. Taking time off to go through the Scriptures and reflecting on what I had grasped, on my own, has assisted me to improve on my religious interpretations. My understanding has been magnified and can now interpret with a new vision and in greater details. Thanks to the Lord who has opened my mind, to reveal a higher spiritual understanding of the gospel, both of the Old and New Testaments.
I have been compelled to touch on the tongues topic again after listening to a ZBC early Sunday morning gospel programme that was aired two weeks back. A very distinguished ‘prophetess’ of a well respected church denomination was on the pulpit. Her preaching, assisted by an interpreter, was indeed electrifying.
Towards the end of her very good sermon she started to speak in some strange ‘tongues’ in-between her English and Shona interpreted gospel. It was very evident that each time she spoke ‘in tongues’ the interpreter remained silent to those words, as if stunned. She then started to tell her audience (including us the Television viewers) not to listen to what the newspaper writers write about. She went on to claim that they are paid to write the way they do, and that they write their newspaper articles while ‘sleeping’ on their beds. She was not specific, but her claims were tantamount to labelling those who write (most probably religious) articles, as newspaper mercenaries. Thereafter she diverted again to babble in a strange tongue not even her interpreter could understand, as he remained petrified in silence every time she uttered the ‘tongues’. I can bet no one else in the audience understood the words, nor that which was spoken of, because there were no interpretations to them despite the presence of the interpreter.
I however was astounded by the revered lady’s veiled attacks on newspaper writers without her being specific. I was not surprised because I, for one, had written about some reckless misrepresentations of the Scriptures, including the imitations of speaking in tongues, a factor she was engaging in at that very moment. I figured it could be me she was speaking about; knowing she and some of her followers could have read about my articles on the subject of tongues.
Whatever the issues that have ruffled the lady’s feathers, she surely was breathing fire. On the other hand, how could the distinguished ‘prophetess’ stoop so low to imagine that newspaper bosses could go around looking for mercenaries or critics to employ, to write or attack the practices in some religious circles?
What also perplexed me was the highly respected and esteemed lady’s assumption that we write while ‘sleeping on our beds’ as translated in Shona, “vanonyora vakarara pamubhedha.” Did she mean that we are too poor to afford even at least a chair to sit on? Maybe it was just a metaphor meant for another meaning. I decided to write about this particularly to share what I saw and heard on our Television screens not out of spite or malice, but of the graciousness and happiness of it all. What the Lord (not the newspaper) has assigned me to do is indeed reaching the intended recipients and of the expected reactions. May I also make it known that I am not an employee of this newspaper and that I personally bear most of the costs of having my articles published? I actually pay a secretary who types my handwritten scripts every time, to make them adaptable for publishing. I am not ‘paid’ to tarnish other people’s activities. I always kneel down and pray first for the spirit of the Lord to assist me in all my writings; I thereafter sit down on a chair and table to write on whatever topic that is spiritually presented to me.
I have been informed that in this particular denomination, as is in many others, there is a schooling department within it that teaches and grooms people to be able to ‘speak in tongues’. People actually go through a learning process to acquire the skills of speaking in tongues. Really? To sit down in a full class to be coached on how to speak in tongues? God forbid!! To what level has our religion gone down to? Is this not a degradation of the Holy Spirit? To bring it down to a level similar to that of an ordinary art? I pray that no certificates are then issued to those who have mastered the ‘art’. It is an insult not only to our religion but to the Holy Spirit itself. Those who want any verification to this practice can consult the officials of the numerous related churches that ‘groom’ people on the modalities of speaking in tongues. Lord forgives us!!
I have fully read the scriptures to comprehensively understand the history and purpose of speaking in tongues. I now know of the origins of speaking in tongues both of the Old Testament and New Testament eras. There are two opposite intentions of its purpose. Those speaking in tongues that cannot be understood or interpreted by others are actually perpetuating the Old Testament purpose of creating confusion among the audience. I have termed such scenarios as tantamount to the ‘curse of Babel’, in reference to a time and place where God created many languages among the people, to sow confusion among people who thought they could outwit the Creator.
The Old Testament clearly states the origin of speaking in tongues that cannot be understood by others, as a means by God to cause confusion among a rebellious people after an imagined ‘overthrow of God’ by the people who thought they could compete with God. The Lord send the Holy Spirit to bring about a confusion among the people. Genesis 11:6-9 clearly states the Lord speaking “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; and nothing that they propose to do (among themselves) will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down, and therefore confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech?” Let’s not forget about the tree of knowledge that Adam and Eve had eaten at the instigation of the serpent. Indeed humanity had gained some knowledge after eating of the fruit, just as we can now fly to the moon, to Mars and even beyond. We have many other marvels of modern science today which are also competition with God’s works. This is what God needed to and needs again to curtail, hence we now also have people speaking what others cannot understand. It is why we now have a proliferation of tongues that are so strange other cannot understand them, thus babbling the ‘tongues of Babel’. It is a second coming of the event for the same purpose. These are the Old Testament tongues of the curse of Babel. The New Testament tongues are a clear reversal of the ‘confusion of tongues’, so that people speaking the different languages which were brought about by the Lord at Babel can now understand each other as if speaking in the one original language; as like the case before the ‘curse of Babel’. New Testament tongues are of understanding, not confusion.
Even Jesus Christ understood that language was an important tool, hence at first he instructed his twelve disciples, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but rather go the lost sheep of Israel” (Mathew 10:5-6). Since the language was the same, there would be no problems at all the communication. The game changes after he arose from the dead, when he then instructs them, “Go into the entire world and preach the gospel to the whole of creation”. Henceforth language became an important factor and the Holy Spirit would descent upon the earth so that a group of people of different languages gathered together would understand each other as if speaking in one language. Common sense would tell us that if people congregated together speak the same language, then there would be no need for the Holy Spirit to intervene language-wise. Those who then deviate to speak in tongues that cannot be understood by others are possessed by the Old Testament spirit of Babel, of confusion.
St. Paul, the Apostle concurs. In 1 Corinthians 14:6-9, he speaks, “Now brethren, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how shall I benefit you unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge, or prophecy or teaching?… So likewise, if you utter words which are not understood, how will anyone know what is said?” in verse 28, he states, “If there is no one to interpret, let each of them (who speak in tongues) keep silent in church and speak to himself and God (i.e. quietly without uttering the words). In verse 33, he goes on to conclude, “For God is not a God of confusion but of understanding”.
l Prosper Tingini is the president of the Children of God Missionary Assembly. Registration in progress for those who wish to undertake Bible Studies or train as Ministers of Religion. Contact 0771 260 195 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org