Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Jim West cites a certain Bullinger on praying in an unknown tongue: "Indeed he utters Godly words, but he does not know what he says".

Paul too is clear - one who prays in a tongue edifies himself... and Do not supress the gift of tongues.

Herein lies a form of love - giving up on the rational, the tongue discovers the pre-rational and it turns out to be super-rational. The giving up is a death to pretension. The pre-rational is the human perception of an unknown utterance. The super-rational is the unexpected resurrection accomplished in the usual way...

It is good to utter Godly words. And Bullinger and Paul agree (Paul I know, but who is Bullinger?)

Utter the words in an unknown tongue - say Avra-kadavra. Let the mind go! But God is hard of hearing and he hears אָבִי אֶרְחָמְךָ and forgets the rest and the tongue is loosed. The mind does not know but the Father, my Father, has heard 'My Father, I love you'. And little else need be said.

If one utter these words in a known tongue, it is better, but it is worse if one then thinks one is godly and the other not. The godly know not what they say or do - for the left hand and the right hand are in the hand of God. When God is between the two hands, he is in the heart and the Spirit groans with unutterable praise. Such praise builds the utterer into the restored temple. And the stone in the Temple groans with unutterable praise. This is the specific function of the builder who is the Spirit - the comforter - paracletos in the Greek, the one who sighs (נָּחֵם) over the built as he brooded over the waters.

My closed table brethren friends tried to convince me that the gift of tongues had come to an end with the completing of the canon. This is not the case, I assure you. I have heard the stammering tongue and I have heard the loosed tongue of the tone-deaf singing a perfect one-note song. There is no invitation that has been more lovingly prepared or more perfectly delivered. Equally, there is no sign or wonder that cannot be 'explained' or refused. A gift does not trump the need to engage with the Giver - and that on the Giver's own terms.

I have a dim feeling that I was not supposed to read Bullinger positively. Sorry, Jim. I am not a cessationist. Nor is there any need to be one. My tongue will cease when I know face to face even as I am known.

1 comment:

Jim said...

Bob!!!! I'm SHOCKED! You don't know Bullinger??????? *Gasp*

I've failed....