This video shows a “study” done by a doctor who examined MRI's of the brains of two people who profess to speak in tongues. The scans reveal that the frontal lobes of both participants are active when they are speaking in English, as one would expect in a normally functioning brain. However, when they begin speaking in tongues the brain scans fall silent in terms of frontal lobe activity. The doctor claims that he cannot definitively attribute the lack of activity to anything in particular. My contention is that the reason there is no frontal lobe activity is not because God is speaking “through” the participants as they claim, thereby causing the brain to become passive, but because the “language” they are speaking is nonsense. The brain does not recognize it because it holds no relevant cues or associations to known items in the cognitive map of a normal English-speaking brain. I imagine the images would look much the same if someone were to be scanned while making random clicking noises with their tongue (unless, of course, that really is their native language…).
Today in class we spoke of God’s revelation, which is fantastic because I recently had a very similar discussion on this very topic with my pastor. The Presbyterian Church (PCA) holds that revelation as it occurred in biblical times in the form of Inspiration by God through the prophets and the apostles does not occur in present times. In its stead, God reveals himself through Scripture while the Holy Spirit provides the requisite Illumination for that Scripture to be applicable to us as individuals. The spiritual gift of speaking in tongues is not necessary in present day because no further revelation regarding God’s ultimate plan for salvation is needed. The point of inspired revelation was for God to reveal His nature and His plan of salvation for the benefit of all. God's capstone revelation occurred with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The sacrifice that Jesus made to atone for the past, present and future sins of the world was the grand finale, so to speak; the fulfillment of all Old Testament Prophecies concerning the messiah. The point of men speaking in tongues in the early church was to spread the good news of the Gospel to nations and lands where the native languages were not known by the message-bearers. Additionally, the tongues spoken by those gifted by the Holy Spirit to speak them were legitimate regional dialects; they were not learned, nor contrived as depicted in this video.
I can appreciate to some degree that believers want to “experience” God in a significant way. I think people who claim to speak in tongues, or that God is somehow speaking through them directly are looking outside of the sufficient bounty of Scripture and the subtle impressions of the Holy Spirit upon us for something “greater” that isn't necessary, isn’t there…or worse, isn’t of God. All of this is to say that we must be wary of revelations that are not in agreement with Scripture, or that do nothing to edify the body of Christ. As counselors, we must always remember that the Holy Spirit is here for the purpose of guidance and counsel. Trusting that what we need to know will be adequately revealed through Scripture and by the Holy Spirit according to God’s plan for us and those we counsel, and not by way of “inspired” showmanship disguised as the direct voice of God, is of paramount importance in responsible Christian counseling and soul-care.