It’s always fascinating to me when secular sources discuss the phenomenon of speaking in tongues – and even more fascinating when they seem sympathetic to it.
Stamford anthropology professor T. M. Luhrmann took a friendly stance last weekend in the New York Times, writing with even-handedness and humor. In a day when our fellow-saints are running “Strange Fire” conferences to straighten us out (and perhaps to lampoon us) I find this refreshing.
Dr. Luhrmann reminds us of a recent neurological study which hints that speaking in tongues is neither an “emptying of the mind” nor a rational prayer of the type we learned at our mother’s knee. This tallies strikingly with the Apostle Paul’s description of praying in tongues as an experience in which our spirit prays but our mind is “unfruitful.” (1 Cor. 14:14)
However, while we’re thankful any time a Cambridge Ph.D. lends her aid to Charismatics, we should always take our true encouragement from God Himself. Neither the skeptical commenters at the Times nor our more Fundamentalist brothers have caught the full import of the Spirit’s assurance through Peter that the promise is for all who are afar off, as many as God will call.