Here are some things I have noticed:
- I personally know someone who admits she faked speaking in tongues to "get along" in a Pentecostal setting;
- This same person was not intending to "fake it" but, when the leader saw she did not speak in tongues, the leader took it upon himself to privately coach her into speaking in tongues;
- I found out that this was not exactly a one-of-a-kind incident when I read this post mentioning a Pentecostal leader coaching people into speaking in tongues at an entirely different time, place, and setting.
- Adrian Warnock (who would likely disagree with this post, btw) recently mentioned that one draw to "spiritual gifts" is as an answer to the question his Calvinism simply cannot answer: "But, the question remains, how can I KNOW that I am one of the chosen ones?" In response, I suppose a true gift of tongues would settle the question of whether you have the Holy Spirit; but it also tremendously increases the pressure to "fake it" if you believe you have no evidence of your own salvation outside of this.
Unfortunately, my conversion-initiation didn’t follow the script the Pentecostal church I went to expected of me: I didn’t pray in tongues. So to remedy that defect, a church leader took me to a room behind the baptismal font and told me to repeat "she blah blah blah" after him until it "flowed naturally." I couldn’t do it.Because those who do not speak in tongues are typically seen as less spiritual -- some will dispute even the salvation of those who do not speak in tongues -- the pressure to pray in tongues is substantial. The fact that the leadership was involved in both these cases makes me wonder if this is a systematic problem. The fact that privacy was involved in both these cases makes me think that it happens to far more people than is generally realized. To me, all of this at least suggests the possibility that there is a large amount of faking going on, and that it is kept quiet. And again the fact that modern "speaking in tongues" bears a striking resemblance to babbling also lends to this suspicion. Based on off-the-record conversations, I have reason to believe the problem is widespread.
I am not a "cessationist" in that I'm sure God will give what gifts He wants when, where, how, and to whom He pleases. Neither am I any kind of anti-Pentecostal. But as Christians, it falls to us to clean up our own houses before we evangelize. What do you say, Pentecostals? Ever heard of anybody faking? Did someone coach you the first time? Ever feel pressured to do the "tongues" thing? Ever doubt the reality of the gift? Or have you always been completely sure of its reality in your life?
Update: Related post on people who have tested the tongues and translations, or admitted they were faking.