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

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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.靈言與教會認同:聲音在塑造一個中國五旬節-靈恩基督教派 中所扮演的角色摘要靈言或說靈言是五旬節-靈恩基督教的主要特徵之一。有些語言學者卻認為靈言在音韻學上不符合邏輯,在語意學上也無意義,因此無法成為有效的溝通媒介。正統基督教則因為說靈言在儀式上有失莊重或根本打亂教會秩序而嗤之以鼻。本文不同意這樣的觀點,主張說靈言在形塑一個五旬節-靈恩基督教會的認同上,扮演相當關鍵的角色。靈言的聲音對於圈外人可能聽覺上感到刺耳,但對於信仰者而言聽來卻具撫慰與和諧特質,功能在賦予說靈言者一種特別的存在模式,也將他們整合成一個同質性的群體。為論證此一觀點,本文在理論方面擷取 Lawrence E. Sullivan 有關「聲音」與「語言」互為對比的說法,也採用 Alfred Schütz 所提「調入」與「內在時間」的見解。為說明起見,本文以真耶穌教會的靈言現象作為具體實例。

Affiliations: 1: Graduate Institute of Religious Studies, National Chengchi University,


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