I'm a Christian and can assure you that the Bible clearly shows that tongues ceased in the 1st century. When tongues as a gift from God it came spontaneously and had a purpose. What you see today is shameful, pretend nonsense coming from demons ... but as an atheist I guess you don't believe in demons.
The first two minutes of this video shows that tongues has ceased. You don't have to be a great Bible reader to understand the simple grammar which shows that tongues has long ceased. Here is the video if you are interested ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qi6fIUpvZUI
For starters, why are you responding in letter form? Just curious.
I'm honestly not trying to be contentious, but I would like to know what relevance your claim that tongues ceased to be spoken in the first century is to someone who doesn't believe in a god or the supernatural to begin with. I personally believe "tongues" is always babble, then and now, and you can't prove what they were speaking during Pentecost was authentic... so it seems a moot point to me. It sort of adds nothing to the conversation.
I'm really not trying to be rude, I promise. I realize you believe that what certain sects of Christians are speaking is not real, but... it's not like you can explain to us what actually is real, sooo why comment? You should be trying to first convince us we should believe in god/demons/etc... (not that you can convince most of us).
By "letter form" I mean you start your response off with "Dear so-and-so" and end it with "God bless" or "Sincerely" and sign your name. Not that you shouldn't do that, but these discussion forums are less formal so you don't have to start and end them the way you do. If that is your preference, by all means continue. :)
I used to be a Christian (and I'm sure you might say I was "never truly saved", but I sure was devout!) and felt the same need to apologize for the behavior of other Christians. Having "lost" my faith, I realize there is really no need for apology. Atheists see Christians as imperfect humans like everyone else and do not hold them to a higher standard (even though Christians feel they are always being watched). The frustration with Christians lies in their seeming inability to make cohesive arguments in favor of their beliefs, yet most expect those beliefs to be treated with unquestioned reverence. But that's all I'll say on that topic.
"God" had ample opportunity to witness to my conscious; discovering his will, for 89% of my life, was the one thing that drove me. I had questions though, and was absolutely positive that, not only would God approve of me asking/seeking, he would BE the answer. That didn't work out. I wanted him to be the answer, he just wasn't. He's not. There's no one out there; just our own imaginations.
I appreciate that you're a well-spoken and thoughtful Christian though. I hope T|A is positive experience for you.
Thanks for the explanation. I always write like this, not that I'm a gentleman but I simply feel uncomfortable if I don't.
No, Cara I wouldn't say that you were never saved because the Once Saved doctrine is as erroneous as a doctrine can be - I loathe it and many who believe it are living lives that the average atheists would reel from, particularly the hypocrisy.
If you were part of a tongues speaking church or a Once Saved church then the odds are that you would have had very shallow teaching and (I say this respectfully) you probably never learnt how the Spirit witnesses to and strengthens believers, giving them the power not to go on in deliberate, habitual sin (not sinless perfection as that is another false doctrine). Even though you may sneer I can say confidently that I hear and follow the Lord's voice. I don't hear 'voices within' but the guidance is unmistakeable and I'd be a twit to believe otherwise. If I'm deluded then I am happy with that too.
Ps I'm 61 and got saved at 46. Do you know that it took me over 10 years of personal searching to come to understand how to walk with Jesus? And I got not one iota of understanding from any personal contact with a church.
Because the guidance is always as the Bible says it will be ... ie away from sin and toward loving God and neighbour. An unsaved person may say "Well that happens to me also" and it may be so but no one can stop habitual sinning without the power of God's Spirit. The permanent changes that have come into my life, since getting saved, prove it to me. I'm a mile from being sinlessly perfect but habitual sin is a thing of the past. Temptation is there but so is the power to resist.
There's nothing I do on a regular basis that should be considered "habitual sin". I don't feel enslaved to any action that I feel is immoral. In fact, I'm a pretty moral person even according to Biblical standards. I don't drink or sleep around or lust after other women's husbands or kill anyone or lie (yes, I've told lies, but I generally don't... I don't like lying and I'm not good at it). There's nothing I need to stop doing... and if there's nothing I need to stop in the first place, obviously I don't need a god to assist me.
Like you, I don't claim to be perfect. Perfection, like god, is something confined to our imaginations. Of course, we can strive to improve ourselves and be the best person we can be, but we shouldn't feel guilty if we can't fully attain our goal.
I can't speak for you; I don't know what your personal struggle has been against. You can't speak for me either, nor can you speak for other people who don't believe there's a god and who claim they don't struggle with immorality. I do good because I want to do good. I avoid being a jerk or a liar because, again, I want to do good. I feel good doing and being good! What other motivation do I need?
I realize your own personal experience is a testament to your faith, but my personal experience is testament against faith in general. People can be good without a god... interview just about any atheist on this site and you'll get to know many humanitarians and philanthropists who are loyal to their spouses, loving, generous, honest and kind. This site doesn't harbor criminals or morally depraved people. I don't understand how that fact isn't proof you don't need a god to be good/moral.
Besides, sin is subjective and a matter of opinion. Of course, you'll refer to the Bible and say because it says sex before marriage is wrong, and if we're engaging in that activity, we're struggling with "habitual sin". But... not everyone believes it's wrong; not everyone believes in marriage; not everyone believes it's wise to get married to someone before you get to know them on an extremely personal level. People's cultures are different. People's experiences are different. People come to different conclusions based on thought and reflection.
If Christianity is what works for you, that's fine with me. I appreciate if it's gotten you on track and feeling good about your life. But, just because that's the case for you doesn't mean it's the case for everyone. Unfortunately, the Bible makes it impossible for you to be objective and see that.
I can't seem to find the right 'reply to this' button so I hit the first one above your replies.
I know all your arguments because I have been where you are (46 years). I have also been saved long enough to know where these debates lead so I know that there is no sense in prattling on.
I do know, that if you seek to disprove the Bible you will fail as God has left enough evidence to show that no man could possibly write, prophetically, what is written in it. But of course you scoff at that.
No to worry, I will leave it with you hoping to see you in the heaven.
In my opinon - Gibberish. There is going to take a lot of evidance to convence me other wise.
Here is just one of the verse where people get it the Idea:
And he said to them,“Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” —Mark 16:15-18
Once a friend of mine was told by his parents that he can not eat until he speaks in tongues and the clever git said "e-pooty-ah-tay" which was a gibberish form of "Eat pudding all day!" and so he got to eat. Parent were none the wiser.
I've never witnessed what you are speaking of and I've been to many Pentecostal and tongue-speaking churches; it certainly has nothing to do with body language. From my vantage point, it just seemed that the general assembly took it a face-value that whomever was speaking in tongues was actually speaking in tongues. No one is analyzing motives or authenticity... because that would put a lot under the microscope they don't want to be examined. I think most who "speak in tongues" genuinely believe they are, so of course their body language wouldn't betray the fact that they've tricked their self into believing. Just because they're sincere, however, does not mean anything special is really happening.
Are you a Christian, or former Christian? I think everyone has different experiences with the many facets of Christianity. I'm not personally familiar with anything you've mentioned.
I know it sounds complicated... a person really believing they're speaking in tongues when they're not. I'm not being poetical or metaphorical.
I went to church one Sunday long ago and decided to be "Baptized in the Spirit" since the pastor was preaching about it. This particular church is a Four Square church (with Pentecostal roots) and they have members who will lay hands on you and pray that you will be blessed with the "gift" of speaking in tongues.
I'll preface this by saying I'm a natural skeptic. However, I really, truly wanted to speak in tongues because I did believe it was real at the time. A whole group of girls gathered around me and began praying over me, all of them switching between English and what they believed was their Prayer Language. One girl kept encouraging me to say whatever came; just to "let it flow".
Now, I knew then, as I know now, that I could've begun speaking gibberish. When I was little, I would pretend to speak German or Chinese by imitating the sounds as best I could. The noises these girls made were no more impressive than "Sha nanana heek-tah-rah nanana!" They could make noises that sounded phonetically like words from another language... but they ALWAYS repeat the same noises over and over again, every single time they pray "in the Spirit". Most people I know, however, are not nearly as skeptical as I am. They believe those noises they're making are Heaven-inspired and they don't question that idea for one second.
I never could do it... or rather, I could never do it and believe I was doing it. I assure you, I made noises that sounded like something (once after trying to meditate and something just flowed out of my mouth that genuinely sounded like some unknown language). But I've always been skeptical, and my religious friends are/were not. They sincerely believe they're speaking in tongues, and I sincerely believe they're only making the noises I made as I kid. I don't think they're LYING to their self exactly, but rather being easily led.