Miniblog #252: How & Why Pentecostalism Left Me Extremely Skeptical
Over the course of my life I’ve witnessed many Christians speak in tongues. Plenty of folks outside the tradition have asked what I make of it–whether I thought most tongues are real or fake. My response is always the same: Those aren’t the only options. That way of framing it doesn’t take into account the “baptism of the Holy Spirit with evidence of speaking and tongues.” Many people are taught if you truly love God you will speak in tongues. Because they genuinely do love God, a downward spiral begins of self-deception and self-manipulation. They convince themselves they’re having these experiences, not because they’re mischievous or fraudulent but because they so desperately want to have them. They become delusional because it’s all they know. Trust me. I share all this from firsthand experience. But many of us former Pentecostals started to feel guilty. Down deep we knew there was a whole lot of cognitive dissonance at work. Eventually you get to the point where you’ve lost any shred of intellectual honesty and you can no longer look yourself in the mirror because you know Christianity is supposed to be about truth. That plus your own blatant hypocrisy between supernatural gifts of the Spirit and an absence of the more subtle fruit of the Spirit. So you chuck it. Some people chuck the entire christian faith, others just Pentecostalism. I’ve tried both. Eventually I came out on the other side. My faith was saved, healed, rehabbed, and transformed. What I’m left with, however, is extreme skepticism of mysticism, existential spirituality, and supernatural claims. I don’t principally deny or reject any of them but I am very cautious.