Glossolalia and Church Identity: The Role of Sound in the Making of a Chinese Pentecostal-charismatic Church

Glossolalia and Church Identity: The Role of Sound in the Making of a Chinese... Glossolalia or speaking in tongues has been one of the prominent features that characterize Pentecostal-charismatic Christianity. Some linguists, however, regard it phonologically illogical and semantically meaningless and thus invalid as a communicative tool. Orthodox Christianity frowns on it because of its uncouth ritual manifestations or disruptive effect on the church order. Against these perspectives, I argue that glossolalia plays a very crucial role in shaping the identity of a Pentecostal-charismatic community. “Tongue sound,” acoustically jarring to the outsider but soothing and harmonious to the believer, functions to confer on the glossolalists a particular mode of existence and consolidate them as a homogeneous group. For this argument, I draw on Lawrence E. Sullivan’s interpretation of sound in contrast to language, and on Alfred Schütz’s theory about “tuning in” and “inner time.” For illustration, I take the glossolalic manifestation of the True Jesus Church as a concrete example. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Review of Religion and Chinese Society Brill

Glossolalia and Church Identity: The Role of Sound in the Making of a Chinese Pentecostal-charismatic Church

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
© 2015 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
Subject
Articles
ISSN
2214-3947
eISSN
2214-3955
DOI
10.1163/22143955-00201005
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Glossolalia or speaking in tongues has been one of the prominent features that characterize Pentecostal-charismatic Christianity. Some linguists, however, regard it phonologically illogical and semantically meaningless and thus invalid as a communicative tool. Orthodox Christianity frowns on it because of its uncouth ritual manifestations or disruptive effect on the church order. Against these perspectives, I argue that glossolalia plays a very crucial role in shaping the identity of a Pentecostal-charismatic community. “Tongue sound,” acoustically jarring to the outsider but soothing and harmonious to the believer, functions to confer on the glossolalists a particular mode of existence and consolidate them as a homogeneous group. For this argument, I draw on Lawrence E. Sullivan’s interpretation of sound in contrast to language, and on Alfred Schütz’s theory about “tuning in” and “inner time.” For illustration, I take the glossolalic manifestation of the True Jesus Church as a concrete example.

Journal

Review of Religion and Chinese SocietyBrill

Published: May 6, 2015

Keywords: glossolalia; Pentecostal-charismatic Christianity; True Jesus Church; Lawrence E. Sullivan; Alfred Schütz

References

  • Percussion and Noise
  • Gifted for Change: The Evolving Vision for Tongues, Prophecy, and Other Charisms in American Pentecostal Churches
  • Hymnody and Liturgy in the Azusa Street Revival, 1906–1908
  • The Red, Black, and Gray Markets of Religions in China

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