Katherine Ruonala & speaking in tongues

Posted 04 May 2011

I listened to a Katherine Ruonala (KR) sermon/teaching CD the other day. She is a pastor (along with her husband Tom) at Glory Gathering Christian Church, Brisbane, Australia.
KR seemed very genuine & her preaching was sound, as far as I could tell. KR seemed to be proposing a wonderfully fulfilling, & very personal relationship with God the Father, in her sermon. She seemed to be very full of genuine happiness & spontaneity, which was a joy to hear in her voice.

KR read the whole of the book of Jude on the CD, but concentrated on verses 20-21 which say,” But you, dear friends, must continue to build your lives on the foundation of your holy faith. And continue to pray as you are directed by the Holy Spirit.” (New Living Translation)
As she read this book out on the CD, I was drawn to this passage, & wondered what was meant by the phrase “build your lives on the foundation of your holy faith.” I wondered if the scripture was suggesting that we are directly responsible for keeping ourselves pure, holy, & on the right track, in our walk with the Lord Jesus. I wondered if I was understanding that correctly. In a way, I like the idea that it is my own responsibility to keep myself in the right place, in relation to God, to allow Him to bless me as He wants to. But I wondered if that was the right emphasis that KR had meant. As it was, I didn’t have long to wait for my answers, as this was the very section of the book of Jude that KR went on to preach about!
KR proposed that “building yourself up in your most holy faith” can be done in several, practical ways: praying in tongues, reading the Bible, meeting together as church.

Praying in the spirit.
KR spoke about this section, “And continue to pray as you are directed by the Holy Spirit.” She related that to the gift of tongues, or praying in a different language than your native one. She mentioned a friend of hers who prayed in tongues for a season. He prayed for significant amounts of his prayer time, using the gift of tongues. She said that you have to have faith that you are not simply babbling meaningless words (which tongues certainly sounds like!) but that you are allowing the Holy Spirit to reveal mysteries to you, by this unknown language that you are accessing. I think it is essential to have faith that what you are saying (which sounds like gibberish to your own ears!) is not gibberish, but actually has some unknown, mysterious, spiritual, other-worldly meaning & importance. My mind is not build up by speaking or praying in tongues (whether it is meaningful, or simply gibberish!) but I believe that my spirit certainly can be. But that requires faith: that what my mind finds childish & silly, my spirit finds personally edifying & useful.

As I have reflected on what KR preached on, I’ve realised that so much of Christianity (all of the major bits, in fact!) relies & depends on us exercising some faith about what we are doing. Going to church, praying, reading the Bible, & a whole host of other Christian activities don’t always make complete sense at the time we are engaged in them. For example, sometimes I read the Bible, but nothing much grabs my attention. I still believe (by faith) that it is important for me to read the Bible, even in these “dry” times. Sometimes I go to church, & nothing much stirs my spirit: it isn’t a particularly exciting time. However, I am still convinced (by faith) that it is important for me to keep going to church – even when the whole church event is not particularly fulfilling. So it is with speaking or praying in tongues. Whilst my mind doesn’t “get” it, nevertheless my spirit does.

I have come to realise that many things in life don’t really make much sense to me. There are many mysterious things in this world that I simply do not understand. But should that stop me from believing in them? Must my intellect & my understanding have the final say in what I will, or will not accept, & therefore believe? Is my intellect & my capacity to reason actually the very best “tool” to use, when it come to accessing what I will or won’t accept & believe in? Perhaps faith (belief that transcends reason) is actually a better “tool” to employ, when it comes to accessing that which I am presented with. Faith can accept mysteries & unknown things, which my intellect & mind sometimes can not accept. Doesn’t that make faith better at assessing mysteries & the unknown of this world, than intellect & reason can ever be?! I think so.

I realise that we don’t have to know all the answers to all the questions & to de-mystify all the mysteries of the world, before we can accept Jesus as Lord, & become a Christian either. I think many, many people believe that they are somehow “owed” perfect knowledge & a complete understanding of every mystery in the universe by God, before they will accept His salvation & His Lordship over their lives. I am so very glad that this is not the case, since it would take us all an infinite amount of time to figure out all the answers to all the questions that could ever be posed… so, in fact, no-one would ever be able to accept that God exists, or that He wants what’s best for us & no-one would ever become a Christian! Some things just have to be taken on faith… a great many things, it turns out!

So, the whole issue of speaking or praying in tongues (or different kinds of spoken languages) is pretty far up there on my particular list of mysteries & things that I do not understand. Tongues sounds childish & silly to my English-speaking, rational mind. But KR said (on the CD) that you have to believe that you are not simply speaking gibberish, but that you are engaged in an activity that builds up your most holy faith. I can’t see any way that you could speak/pray in some unknown language (which sounds silly & meaningless) without believing that you are somehow engaged in a spiritually significant, meaningful activity. I suppose you just have to believe & have faith that this is so.


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