Neuroscientific Study on Speaking in Tongues

The N.Y. Times recently published a dispassionate study on speaking in tongues. However, one of the contributors also served as a research subject:
Ms. Morgan, a co-author of the study, was also a research subject. She is a born-again Christian who says she considers the ability to speak in tongues a gift. “You’re aware of your surroundings,” she said. “You’re not really out of control. But you have no control over what’s happening. You’re just flowing. You’re in a realm of peace and comfort, and it’s a fantastic feeling.”
Also noteworthy:

A recent study of nearly 1,000 evangelical Christians in England found that those who engaged in the practice were more emotionally stable than those who did not.

I know very little about the practice of speaking in tongues. And I realize believers vary widely in their convictions regarding this practice. Given that last quote above, I am hoping Adrian Warnock can comment and set us all straight….

6 Responses to “Neuroscientific Study on Speaking in Tongues”

  1. Frank M. November 16, 2006 at 12:12 pm #

    I also, don’t know very much about the practice. But, I read this and a question just poped into my mind.
    Is there evidence that women spoke on tongues in the New Testament?

  2. Philippa November 17, 2006 at 8:46 am #

    Frank: I believe that the New Testament teaches that the spiritual gifts are given to everyone, regardless of sex or race (we are all equal in Christ, Gal 3: 28). The fact that women were numbered among the disciples, and the way in which Peter applies the prophecy in Joel 2: 28-32 in Acts 2: 17-21, suggests very strongly that women were there on the day of Pentecost when the holy fire fell. I’ve never assumed otherwise.
    A recent study of nearly 1,000 evangelical Christians in England found that those who engaged in the practice were more emotionally stable than those who did not.
    I find this a bit bizarre. I’m an evangelical Christian from England who has prayed in tongues privately since I was seventeen, but I’m not all sure that I would describe myself as ‘more emotionally stable’ than my brothers and sisters in Christ who don’t speak in tongues.
    In fact, I definitely wouldn’t. I think I am emotionally stable, as a matter of fact, but I’m not sure what that has to do with the gift of tongues!
    Tongues is not a seal or guarantee of spiritual maturity, even less emotional maturity. It’s a private prayer-language. St. Paul lays down some order for how it is to be used, responsibly, in the context of public worship.
    I know Christians who speak in tongues and who are emotionally stable, I know Christians who don’t speak in tongues and are emotionally stable.
    I would also add that I know Christians from both camps who might be described as emotionally immature …
    So I really don’t know what studies like this are supposed to prove!

  3. Craig Ervin November 17, 2006 at 11:26 am #

    I believe the reason the study refers to the mental health of those who speak in tongues (like me) is because so many people think that those who practice it are crazy. I believe that what they are trying to point out is that glossolalia is not a mental health issue.

  4. Alex Chediak November 17, 2006 at 8:51 pm #

    I know Christians who speak in tongues and who are emotionally stable, I know Christians who don’t speak in tongues and are emotionally stable.
    I agree that neither stereotype is fair. Craig, thank you for pointing out what can be an unwarranted criticism.
    My (limited) perception is that tongue-speaking is more common in private than in public. Am I mistaken?

  5. Frank M. November 21, 2006 at 8:59 pm #

    Alex: Depends on the church you go to.
    While I don’t speak in tongues or believe God uses it today. The reason I asked my question is because if it’s true… then doesn’t it contradict what paul was saying when he said that women should keep silent (1 Corinthians 14:34)?
    I guess a few questions need to be answered for that… Was tongues used only in public? I believe so. I think there can be a strong case build around the idea that when Paul said to pray in silence is because he was stressing self-control and no distractions during times of worship.
    What does it mean for women to keep silent?
    The first one might not be a good answer and is worth exploring. The second one I have no real good answer, just thoughts.
    Anyway, if this went off track I appologize Alex.

  6. Frank M November 21, 2006 at 10:29 pm #

    Sorry, I want to make a fix to the last comment… I meant to say… “I don’t know if God would use tongues as a gift today.”

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