How do Pentecostals reconcile the babbling of modern "tongues" with the scriptural example of actual languages being spoken? Do they say that the babbling is indeed a real language or that God has chosen now to use babbling for other purposes than to edify by communicating actual messages? In other words, do they teach that the ecstatic incoherent sounds are now the divine order or do they say that what appears to be repeated meaningless pseudo-lingo is actually a real language?

  • "If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal." (1Cor13:1) This always made be chuckle a little given that with or without love, this 'glossalia' is still clanging incoherent noises. Apr 15, 2018 at 14:03

3 Answers 3


I've heard at least two lines of thought on the issue back when I was in the Charismatic movement, attending Full Gospel churches etc.

  1. A minority of folks seem to cite the verse of saint Paul that mention "the tongues of Angels" and claim it as a kind of heavenly language.

  2. Romans 8:26:

    In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.

    The majority however see this as being a proof text for modern glossalia being "gibberish", most of the time. However many Charismatics will point out many anecdotal tales where people who believe they are just speaking the groans of the spirit/gibberish are in fact speaking actual languages that they never studied! (There is someone in the congregation that studied the language that recognizes the speech as being a language in an ancient or modern tongue and can even translate the message, which is often a praise to God or some other similar message.)

  • It's worth pointing out that "gibberish" means "unintelligible or meaningless", which is not the same as "not understood by humans". To call them "gibberish" is a bit of an insult". Tongues are often interpreted, so the meaning is given. Nov 19, 2020 at 13:57
  • Angels being spiritual entities do not need speak to communicate. As far as communication goes they certainly have the thought process for their thought patterns.
    – Ken Graham
    Dec 14, 2020 at 15:13

The idea is that tongued is an unknown language to it's speaker, whether a current language, a "dead" language, or a tongue of Angles and Demons. No "gibberish" is involved. It is a sort of praise to God.


My view of speaking in tongues is that it is always unknown to the speaker and most likely to those around us, so it would seem gibberish to most people. Hence the bibles command to always have an interpreter of tongues when you speak it. Is this interpreter someone who knows the language you speak because it is their native language or is it because they have a gift. Why is interpreting a language you already know a gift from the Holy Spirit, that makes no sense to me. So when we speak in tongues we speak most likely words we do not know, most likely some true language but I do not think it is limited to only live languages and interpretation is given by the Holy Spirit.

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