Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Speaking In Tongues (part 27)

Bearing in mind the way that an assembly-wide engagement in ecstatic speech would be viewed by the outsider, along with the importance attached to public speech acts (as those deemed to be most honorable are those that would be permitted to speak in the assembly of an association), and building on his statement that “Prophecy… is not for unbelievers, but for believers” (1 Corinthians 14:22b), Paul goes on to write “But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or uninformed person enters, he will be convicted by all, he will be called to account by all” (14:24a). 

Does this mean that those prophesying are convicting the unbelieving or uninformed visitor to the association of their sins, of their immoral lifestyle, or of their need to “get saved”?  Perhaps, but these would most likely be secondary convictions, discussed as fellowship and relationship is established. 

As the Christian assembly is to be a lived-out model of the kingdom of the Creator God in the world (a free association of equality as a mutually beneficial fellowship of Jews, Gentiles, men, women, slave, and free that actively disavows honor and the pursuit of the world’s ideal of honor, with the only “competition” geared to taking the lowest place as others are preferred above oneself), the unbeliever or uninformed will enter upon the Christian assembly and see something with which they are entirely unfamiliar. 

They would experience that which they could experience in no other place and in no other setting (apart from other Christian assemblies), for the Christians there gathered were worshiping a Lord like no other.  This worship extended beyond the pouring out of a drink offering to their god, and beyond a performance (or multiple performances) of ecstatic speech with interpretation, but extended to the point that those that are serving and those that are sitting at the lowest places are those that the unbeliever or uninformed person would, based upon knowledge of the position of certain individuals within their community, expect to see seated at the places of honor, receiving the best food and drink, presiding over the assembly, being listened to attentively as purveyors of wisdom and knowledge through eloquent speech, speaking in tongues, and interpreting tongues.  This, however, most assuredly to their surprised eyes, would not be the case. 

The church would provide a living, breathing, counter-cultural witness to the claims that those same Christians would be making outside of their assemblies and in interaction with the members of their community.  The church body, in which all prophesy regardless of their social standing (without even getting in to what exactly constitutes prophecy), engaging in what would generally be considered to be an honor-based or honor-gathering public speech act, without distinction or division, from what would be perceived to be the lowest place to the highest place, with all given equal standing and equal attention within the community, would certainly bring conviction.  In addition, the assembly in which all share equally in food and drink, which would be the most common indicator, apart from seating position, of social status, would certainly convict an untrained onlooker.  

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