Saturday, May 30, 2009

Tongues of Fire and Rushing Heavenly Winds

If you want to get my take on the rather strange story of Pentecost, then please click here.

I suppose I should issue a health warning... this sermon may make smoke come out of the ears of biblical literalists. The rest of my small readership will hopefully be inspired!


  1. Cameron10:54 am

    I agree that you don't have to be a Biblical literalist about this and speculating on events can be fun. But I'm not sure where it gets you. I don't see how the speculation can be proven either way.

    Arguing about the Holy Spirit coming experientially from within or supernaturally from without seems to be missing the point. When you think about it, any talk about the "ground of our being" is just as linguistically allusive as having "toungues of fire" resting on your head. If you find one kind of language more helpful than the other, that's fine. Just don't label the other as false.

    But I also agree with Phill the Priest and his comment on the other site, at least up to a point. If God is God, then we should always admit the possibility of supernatural events. We can use our brains and say that this or that scenario was more or less likely. But we can't exclude the possibilty of something more. If we do, we deny more than just Biblical literalism.

  2. Hi Cameron,

    Thanks for taking the trouble to comment to intelligently - as indeed did Phil the Priest after the sermon itself. (Feel free to comment there too...this page is really just a signpost one now).

    Sorry that I don't have time to give your question the thought that it deserves. But do have a look at the response to Phil as well.

    I would just say with regard to your first paragraph that nothing we read (speculation or scripture) can be proving either way. We walk by faith - and to some extent by our own experience of God.

    However - I would be interested to know where you might think the big holes in my own sermon's speculation are.

    The Speculation is underpinned by scripture - (mainly, but not exclusively from John's Gospel). This is, of course, Scripture which seems to contradict Acts (when exactly did Jesus send the Spirit? Before, or after the Resurrection). In the face of such real difficulties, I find myself compelled to move well beyond biblical literalism, and into an understanding of the deep power of story.

    I agree with you entirely about the use of language. It is all just a scratch on the dark wall of real meaning. But I find 'the ground of our being' a rather more helpful metaphor than 'a tongue of fire' - primarily because it is an interior metaphor, not an exterior one. This is about God at the Centre...rather than God as the Sender. (Ooo...that's rather good...I shall have to use that one!)

    I hope this helps to clarify my thinking a little more. Probably not...I'm too tired no doubt!

    Best wishes