Saturday, January 27, 2007

Speaking in tongues, two hemispheres of brain and Oral Roberts

I was trying to think how I could communicate the problem people have regarding what is called “speaking in tongues” or sometimes, “praying in the Spirit.”

At the same time I was chewing over explanations, I was also watching the Discovery Channel on TV. At that moment, they pictured a huge crocodile exploding out of the swamp, snapping its jaws closed on a watering antelope. He thrashed about as he chewed and digested his prey. I received my inspiration for this article.

Keep in mind, I am a theologian and a psychologist trying to apply my training in both fields to the understanding of spiritual phenomena. My life has been devoted to spiritual experience and the understanding of the human mind.

The crocodile reminded me of the human mind, especially my own. Like the crocodile, my mind snaps on to any problem that comes in its range.. That is its job. Set a problem before it from the simplest, “what to have for lunch, to the complicated “how do we get to Mars”, and crunch, down its jaws shut. Then it chews. And it chews and it chews until it is satisfied.

Every Christian who tries to make direct contact with God, soon encounters the thrashing crocodile, or as the Eastern meditators prefer,chattering monkeys. For Christians, God has given us a tool to get around the thrashing–the gift of tongues.

Paul wrote in Rom 8:26 “...the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities, for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with sighing which cannot be uttered.”

One of the modern masters of this gift of tongues, is the Rev. Oral Roberts (Everyone calls him Oral For convenience, I will also.)

Once when I was interviewing for a job at Oral Roberts University, Oral’s closest associate told me that Oral spent hours praying in his tower. That was not unsual, but what was, was a clever analogy Oral had hit upon. I was fascinated because he was pulling from my field of psychology. (In fairness to Oral, I doubt he would ever want people to think his analogy was his complete explanation.)

I am sure that like a lot of us, Oral had discovered that praying in the Spirit, blocks the thrashing crocodile, or if you prefer, the monkey mind. I would guess that God knows that too and that was one of the reasons He gave us praying in tongues as a method of prayer.

Oral was following Paul’s advice. Paul had written in 1Co 14:13 “Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue, pray that he may interpret.” If you read the conext, Paul had first informed people that he prayed in tongues more than anyone. Then he said that the content of the sounds were not comprehensible to others. He suggested if they were going to pray around strangers, they should translate into comprehensible language, what God had revealed. Pray in tongues but share what you learn.

Oral apparently has lived his life out of Paul’s advice. He prays in tongues more than most people, then he translates material not only for others, leading to their physical and psychological healing, but he also translates for himself. He has built a great university and a great ministry with what God teaches him.

The fun part for me as a psychologist was his suggestive speculations from my field of psychology. Oral had read of the discoveries of the different functions of the two sides, the two hemispheres, of the brain. He had learned that the right hemisphere, processes information non-verbally, that is, in images, and emotions and even non-verbal mathematics.

On the other side of the brain, the left hemisphere processes information discursively--that is, with language that follows rules of reason.

Hearing what Oral was doing, I began to think of how much communications from God come in the form of right brain-like activity--images, dreams, visions, designs, and emotional intuitions. I thought also, of how few times God ever spoke in the discursive, i.e. rational linguistic way of the left brain. Jesus preferred painting mental pictures, i.e. “fields white unto harvest”, “seeds fell on rocky soil” etc. When he talked discursively to people, they often said “Master, we don’t understand.”

Besides dreams, visions, intuitions, etc., Oral has added one more non linguistic input--tongues. Those who study linguistics say tongues are like gibberish and have no linguistic structure.

The following is another interesting activity from St. Paul and from Oral Roberts. They translate the non-verbal into verbal. The two hemispheres of the brain are connected by a bundle of nerves known as the Corpus Collosum. Thus, Oral believes God is communicating in non discursive, non verbal ways as He always did. Oral then lets the communication cross over the Corpus Coluseum into the left hemisphere, which does its best to decipher into rational form, what was received.

Because I have always made it a practice upon awaking each morning and trying to pass my right brain images (my dreams) over to the left side for rational understanding, I am intrigued with Oral’s thinking.

Now back to my corocodile that snaps up everything and people who won’t let themselves speak in other tongues (even though all of the writers of the New Testament did). Some people’s crocodiles are just too powerful to let go. Their crocodiles insist on eating everything. So, even if they ever spoke in unknown tongues, their left brains would be demanding that they find out what language they were speaking and where it was spoken.

Did you know that at the turn of the century, when God restored the gift of tongues to the churches, some people took off to different parts of the world to try to find out what language had been given to them. They thought the gift was for missionary work. Of course, they never found the tribes who sounded like them, but fortunately some stayed on anyway and did great work.

It helps to read the fine print some time. Nowhere in the Book of Acts does it say the disciples “spoke” in understandable languages. As a matter of fact Paul said the languages were not understandable. What it does say is that the people “heard” in their own languages. But I will save that thought for another article.


Anonymous said...

I am spirit filled and was raised into my early 20's as a Southern Baptist, God has truly given you a gift, you are truly able to explain "speaking in tongues" so that others such as myself might not struggle so is truly amazing when my spirit links up with God's spirit and they have this sacred conversation which his spirit in me always tells me of later...

Blogger said...

Anonymous, Thanks

Anonymous said...

Good dispatch and this enter helped me alot in my college assignement. Thanks you for your information.

Anonymous said...

You have to express more your opinion to attract more readers, because just a video or plain text without any personal approach is not that valuable. But it is just form my point of view

Anonymous said...

Nice fill someone in on and this post helped me alot in my college assignement. Thank you seeking your information.

Anonymous said...

i really love all your writing type, very exciting.
don't quit and also keep posting mainly because it simply worth to look through it,
excited to see alot more of your own content pieces, enjoy your day ;)

Anonymous said...

ha, I am going to try out my thought, your post bring me some good ideas, it's really awesome, thanks.

- Thomas