Tongues must be interpreted, period

For the last several weeks we have been working our way through chapter 14 of I Corinthians where the Apostle Paul repeats again and again his warning against misusing the gift of tongues in church services. He apparently thought that this was a very serious problem in the Corinthian church, because he spends virtually a whole chapter on this one issue. In verses 27 and 28 he states the commandment bluntly so that it is not misinterpreted:

If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and one must interpret; 28 but if there is no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God (I Corinthians 14:27-28).

Paul is very adamant that uninterpreted tongues have no place in church, because that would produce chaos. Paul, here, is not necessarily barring all outbursts of emotion in church, but he warns us that emotion must always be linked to doctrine. That is, whenever we are in a celebratory mood in church, we must be very clear as to what we are celebrating. We must speak to each other in clear language that we can understand, so that we know that we are all worshiping the same God. We must be sure that the person next to us is worshiping Jesus, not Buddha. Emotion that is not based on true doctrine is idolatry.

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