Glossolalia-mania image


I consider myself something of a polyglot. I speak a reasonable number of languages: five human, one mammal, and even on occasions the tongues of angels! I’m not averse to making the odd joke in Koine Greek. But I recognise that my tongue-speaking talent vastly outshines that of most mortals, and so rather than lauding my linguistic dexterity over you, I choose to condescend to write in the one language many of you understand – English. (And even then, if the other bloggers’ outputs are to be believed, many of you understand it poorly!)

I was somewhat perplexed, therefore, to read Andrew J. Wilson’s recent piece on The Man from Neanderthal, peppered with untranslated German phrases. Perhaps Andrew was trying to show off what he’s recently learnt in night classes? Perhaps he is a little too enamoured by Deutschland 83? Or perhaps he really does spend his free time reading worship songs from his interlinear edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern? But surely even he can see that this blog post is a direct violation of 1 Corinthians 14!

Anyone who blogs in foreign languages does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them! Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies only themselves. Of course, I would like every one of you to speak in as many languages as I can! (But I recognise that such a thing is highly unlikely.) 

Now, brothers and sisters, if I blog at you in untranslated German, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction? It will be a lifeless sound: like a pipe or harp, played by a tone-deaf amateur! Unless you blog in intelligible words, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be writing into the air! 

The one who writes in foreign languages should pray that they may interpret what they say. Otherwise when you’re blogging in the Spirit, how can someone else, who is now put in the position of an inquirer, say “Amen”, hit favourite, or offer a retweet, since they do not know what you are saying?

I thank God that I speak more languages that any of you – Andrew included! But on this blog I would rather write five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in German.

Andrew - stop thinking like a child. In regard to evil be an infant, but in your blogging, be an adult! If you want to write in German and there is no interpreter, (or if Google translate is unavailable), you should keep quiet and speak to yourself and to God.

Brother Wilson, if you think you’re gifted by the Spirit, you should acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command. And if anyone ignores this, they will themselves be ignored.

And to the editors of Think Theology: do not forbid Andrew writing in foreign languages. But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.

I hope that settles this mess once and for all.

However, one silver lining to this otherwise gloomy cloud is that it appears Andrew’s German is nearing the point where a translation of Incomparable might finally be possible. I look forward to reading: In seiner Einzigartigkeit mit nichts Ähnlichem zu vergleichen.


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