Thursday, November 4, 2010

Glossalalia: My Cautionary Tale of Tongues Faking

When I was around 13 years old, I went to church camp. This particular church camp was run by what I can only assume was a very charismatic or pentecostal-leaning group of camp counselors. Night after night, we would meet for revival-style meetings, each night being invited to become Christians. Many of my friends went forward, and on the third night, I began to feel very nervous about my own eternal destination. On this particular night, the preacher was saying, "Maybe you've given your heart to Jesus, but you don't have the power of the Holy Spirit in your life. Maybe you've been defeated by sin and seem to be losing the battle against the Devil. If so, come forward, and we will pray with you for God to grant you His Holy Spirit."

I though, "This is for me!" I definitely need the Holy Spirit, and it was my sincere hope that this man would have the magic hands through which the Holy Spirit could finally get into my life. So I went forward, and was immediately surrounded, with hands laid upon my back, head, and shoulders. This crowd of believers surrounded me, and moments later, I knew that I had made a huge mistake.

Not only had I not felt anything happen within me upon having hands laid on me, but they immediately began praying that I would receive the gift of tongues. I was terrified. I just wanted the Holy Spirit! I didn't want to start wiggling and giggling, babbling and shaking. I wanted victory over sin in my life; not a bunch of nonsense to come pouring out of my mouth. But it was too late. I was in their grip. For several minutes the crowd around me was mumbling garbled words, earnestly praying for me to receive the Gift.

Now, five minutes is a long time to be kneeling, sweating, surrounded by tongues on every side. I was beginning to feel the pressure. The guy was praying, "God, I pray you give him the gift now." He was growing impatient.

Eventually, I leaned towards him and softly said, "I can't do it."

He didn't miss a beat. "God, he thinks he can't do this; well it's not him that's supposed to do this, it's You! I pray that you would do this thing!"

Somebody beside me said quietly, "You just start doing it, and it comes flowing out."

I leaned back to them and whispered, "No way!"

He said, "This is the way God works."

So I stayed kneeling thinking they'd give up. But they didn't. And so, to my eternal shame, I lied. I lied a lie that I feel ashamed of even to this day. I did it. I faked tongues.

I mumbled out something that sounded like, "Humena humena slobedflageda."

The crowd immediately responded, "AMEN! Thank you, Lord! More Lord, more!"

So I did it again, with some slight variations. I think at this point I could have sung the theme to Happy Days and they would have been satisfied.

It turns out, a lot of Pentecostals apparently think that this thing which I have just confessed to is the unpardonable blasphemy of the Holy Ghost. I can, however, guarantee that the only person I was blaspheming was the group of people who were trying to get me to play this game with them. I believe this was a sin because it was a lie, but there is no way that there was anything unpardonable in my behavior.

As a consequence of this willful deception on my own heart, I was very hardened towards God throughout my youth. I was very condescending to people in my church and lived in secret, atheistic, unbelief all through my youth until the age of 17, when God truly and finally changed my heart in a saving way.

I share this tale, not necessarily for the purposes of debunking tongues (that should be done through scriptural argument, not anecdotes), but for your entertainment. I would also say that there is an element of caution in what I'm sharing here as well. Irresponsibly practiced religion can have a very damaging and lasting effect on a child who is already prone to unbelief in the first place.


  1. Oh! I SO wanted "The Gift of Proof"! I went down to the tongue receiving circle after a meeting once when I was about the same age as your tongue-tied trip...
    The circle of strange tonguers asked me to start reciting the vowels (I'm so glad I knew the vowels, "a,e,i,o,u"! I started into a phonetic babble (but I left out "and sometimes 'y'") until the tongue-leader- circlers were in a frenzy and I sounded like Carmen, "Untie my bow tie and Who stole my Honda?"!)
    I'm not trying to anecdotally debunk tongues. I'm not sure this was entertaining or not. I always wonder what God must have thought of that time. I thought I must be so unspiritual and unworthy when I tried tongues alone at home. I blush at the flashback...(Then God sent Mike to me and that's another story!)

  2. An friend was politely asked to leave under similar cicumstances by finally surrendering to the pressure to speak in tongues by blurting out "heybatterbatterheybatterbatterSWINGbatterbatter"

  3. LOL! If only I'd had the boldness!

  4. haha
    some of these comments are awesome! "heybatterbatter..."

    I have seen similar cases - I was not one of these - I began "praying in tongues" alone at home (a pvt prayer language where the Spirit intercedes: Rom 8:26 "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.")

    I have not "spoken" in tongues to a crowd - there was one revival service where I gave an interpretation for a tongue that was spoken (as the Bible calls for) but have only been around a tongue being "spoken" 3 times in the 10 years i have attended a Assembly of God Church


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