Postscript: J. I. Packer’s Helpful Evaluation of Praying in Tongues [QUOTE]


ji-packerI just have one more thing to post in this little series on my charismatic sensibilities. Yesterday, when writing about praying in tongues, I quoted from this long piece that J. I. Packer (the spry man to the left) wrote evaluating the charismatic movement as a whole. It’s a heavy article, but if you get to his conclusions, they are very interesting.

Packer is a Reformed Anglican, and believes that the “sign” gifts (the “extra-crazy” works of the Holy Spirit) have now ceased and were only used for a time to “get the church going” as it were. (If it weren’t clear, I think this designation of “sign gifts” is incredibly arbitrary and I think you have to twist the Bible backwards to prove that these things simply stopped at some point in time. I think they are still very much with us, however neglected they may be.)

But still, he is incredibly gracious to the charismatic movement and sees it as a legitimate expression of God’s people seeking a greater communion with him, and even believes that they need to teach the old Reformed fuddy-duddies (is that how you spell that?) a thing or two. I found his comments particularly on tongues especially delightful, and I thought it would be a fitting post-script to these posts I’ve been writing on my own charismatic side. The paragraph breaks in this quote are my own, for ease of reading. Continue reading

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Charismatic Confessions, pt. 2: Tongues Don’t Have to be Weird


peter-preaching-statue{abstract: The Bible talks about two types of tongues that take place among the Church: speaking in human languages that get translated, and speaking a “heavenly language” that sounds like non-sense and an interpretation is given. The apostle Paul encouraged people to prefer speaking in regular human words rather than tongues, and this practice turned into the later historical practice of rooting authoritative Church speaking in Bible-based sermon preaching. Paul then encourages, and I have embraced, that we move speaking in tongues away from a corporate church usage and a private, prayer one. The next post will talk about praying in tongues.}

UPDATE: Part 3 is up, where I talk about the what, why, and how of individual praying in tongues.

Yesterday, I got thinking about my charismatic past. I mentioned an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times about recent research on the phenomenon of speaking in tongues. This got me thinking about my own charismatic past and experience of these sort of things, and reflecting on how little a part of my life those things are now. Except, that is, for personal praying in tongues.

A couple of nights ago, I raided my bookshelf and pulled down every theologian that may have said anything about this phenomenon and looked through all of them. Every person said something different. There are so many different opinions about tongues. I don’t write this post to sort out this issue or give a definitive account or defense of where I land. I just want to introduce some people to this idea who might otherwise be weirded out, strongly against it, or don’t really know what to think about it.

Continue reading

How do you use the Bible and Bible knowledge in your spiritual life? [OPEN MIC]


This weekend, I will be teaching the last class in my six-week Bible Survey class at my church. I want to end the class talking about how to use the Bible (and especially the knowledge gleaned from the class) in one’s personal (and corporate) spiritual life. How does the Bible actually function in a believer’s life to cultivate a dynamic, deep, and intimate relationship with Christ and the Holy Spirit? I have my own thoughts on this, but I want to hear from all of you. So here are some questions:

  • Do more Bible “facts” actually have a direct impact on your spiritual engagement with God? In other words, has studying the backgrounds of the Bible ever led to meeting God? How or why not?
  • What practical methods of immersing oneself in Scripture have been most fruitful to you spiritually?
  • How might people use the tools of Biblical Studies (commentaries, etc.) to treat the Bible formationally, rather than merely informationally?
  • For those that are oriented in such a way that they constantly want to know the context, background, history, date, etc. of Scripture, how have you been able to quiet all these questions in order to meet God?
  • Similarly, for those more “intellectually”-oriented, how have you been able to move beyond the intellect to engage other parts of yourself with Scripture?
  • How do we move beyond facts of Scripture to the Person of Scripture?
  • If (as I said in the first class, and other theologians have said) the Bible only “becomes” the Word of God as the Holy Spirit meets us during our engagement with it, what have been the most effective practical ways that you have invited the Holy Spirit into your Bible Study time?
  • In your experience, what have been some of the pitfalls in other approaches that are commonly endorsed by the contemporary church, or what are some of the realities that aren’t talked about often?
  • What would you say if you were me (haha)?

Feel free to respond below, in a Facebook comment, email, text, or phone call. Thanks.