Conferences/Seminars Medical/Technical Pentecostal Religion Science & Technology

Biology of Speaking in Tongues



Picture from New York Times

Critics deride it as fake, but new research shows that something authentic happens in the brain when someone speaks in tongues.

In 2006, a University of Pennsylvania team headed by Andrew B. Newberg found that the frontal lobe area of the brain usually associated with language skills and willful control of the body slips into low gear when someone engages in this form of ecstatic prayer.

“Our findings are very consistent with what people say they are feeling,” Newberg says. “That they are not in charge of what is happening and are experiencing an intense sense of themselves in relation to God.”

Newberg, a neuroscientist and co-author of Why We Believe What We Believe, a book on the biology behind belief, used neuroimaging to track blood flow to the brain. The study’s subjects were five women from the same Pentecostal church. They were measured twice: as they sang a gospel song and as they spoke in tongues.

The scans found that when the subjects spoke, the frontal lobe showed less blood flow and lower activity than it did during the singing.

Newberg previously examined Buddhist monks in meditation and Catholic nuns in prayer. Their brain scans showed that the frontal lobe lit up with more activity the exact opposite of the tongue-speakers.

Still, Newberg cautions against using the study as proof that God speaks to people through tongues.

“It talks about the biological reality of the experience. It does not address whether there is a supernatural reality,” he says. “That question is still left open.”

– By Kimberly Winston, Special for USA TODAY

America Christianity/Religion Life

Offensive Cartoon Response from Washington Post

A biblical scholar, pastor, and President of a United Pentecostal Seminary, Urshan Graduate School of Theology, David Bernard, has joined with others in writing letters of protest to the Washington Post for their recently published offensive cartoon. Pastor Bernard has received a reply the Washington Post, and has responded to their answer, challenging their integrity. This material is taken directly from the web site of New Life Center of Austin, Texas.

Pastor Bernard’s Response to Washington Post Cartoon

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

Dear Washington Post,

As a Pentecostal pastor, theologian and educator, I am disappointed by Pat Oliphant’s recent cartoon that ridicules Pentecostal beliefs and practices and portrays God in a way that is blasphemous to Pentecostals as well as many other Christians. Under the First Amendment, you have a right to publish such a cartoon. Nevertheless, it displays ignorance of Pentecostal beliefs, and it expresses prejudice against Pentecostals because of their religious identity. It is a clear example of bigotry. Although you likewise have a constitutional right to publish a racist cartoon or a cartoon ridiculing Muslims, I do not think you would do so. To be consistent with your own standards, you should apologize.

David K. Bernard
President, Urshan Graduate School of Theology, Florissant, Missouri,
Pastor, New Life United Pentecostal Church, 4001 Adelphi Lane, Austin, Texas 78727

Pat Oliphant is a syndicated editorial cartoonist carried on news sites across the country. It is the nature of an editorial cartoonist to be provocative and offer up unique — and often controversial — viewpoints on the issues of the day. I have always opted for the approach that we should not limit the cartoonist’s freedom of speech. We prefer to present the cartoon and allow you, the reader, to make the choice on whether to read it or not, and to express your own freedom of speech if you’re bothered or offended by it.Thanks,
Jim Brady
Executive Editor

Dear Mr. Brady,Thank you for your response concerning the cartoon recently published by the Washington Post that attacks the Pentecostal faith. I don’t question Mr. Pat Oliphant’s right to free speech. However, I question whether you are really being accurate in saying, in effect, that you will publish anything by a syndicated editorial cartoonist as long as it is protected as free speech under the U.S. Constitution.

Specifically, is it the official policy of the Washington Post to publish material that is bigoted, prejudiced, and discriminatory against people’s religious identity? If so, does this policy apply only to material attacking Pentecostals, or does it also apply to statements that ridicule Jews, Muslims, Catholics, Protestants, and so on? Also, does this policy mean that the Washington Post will publish racist, sexist, and other biased material as long as it is submitted by a syndicated editorial cartoonist? After all, freedom of speech applies to these types of speech as well.

In short, you still owe your readers an apology for publishing bigoted, offensive statements about the Pentecostal faith.

David K. Bernard
President, Urshan Graduate School of Theology, Florissant, MO
Pastor, New Life United Pentecostal Church, Austin, TX

America Christianity/Religion Culture Life

The Stigma of Christian Thought

For some time now, here in the United States, a peculiar way of thinking has set up and proliferated, so that finally it has massed into what I consider a questionable and highly suspicious thought: Persons who openly talk about the Bible, about God and about looking to Him for direction are thought peculiar, and often are investigated (even castigated, though this may be couched differently, and stringently denied) for those ideals. This spread of such a negative comprehension baffles me. For some time now, I have been brooding over this development: I am filled with righteous indignation at what has developed in my country.

In my mind, the awareness of this stigma associated with Christian thought, and the speaking to such ideals, has come to a head during the past few weeks since Sarah Palin has been chosen as Republican vice-presidential candidate. It is now clear, that among us, there is a fanatical anti-religious movement that denigrates those who are God-minded; God-minded to such degree that they speak openly of those thoughts, and that they consider their daily activities in the light of God’s will.

Sarah Palin has been scrutinized, castigated, misquoted, and disdained because she said this:

“Pray for our military men and women who are
striving to do what is right, also for this country, that our leaders,
our national leaders, are sending them out on a task that is from God.
That’s what we have to make sure that we’re praying for, that there is
a plan and that plan is God’s plan. So bless them with your prayers,
your prayers of protection over our soldiers.”

What is wrong with such words? How can a Christian nation reprove and upbraid one of its leaders for such worthy request? How dare she be chastised for suggesting that our plans need to be aligned with God’s plan?

Jana Allard first made me aware of the Pat Oliphant cartoon the Washington Post ran several days ago now, in which it sneers at  Pentecostals and ridicules the biblical-founded practice of speaking in tongues. Recall that Sarah Palin is reputed to have been a Pentecostal for much of her life. The publishing of this cartoon is unconscionable, and served to fuse in my mind the understanding that now in America, there is a stigma to Christian thought and Christian ideals. I am deeply troubled.

I am somewhat soothed by the outcry from such publication. A few days ago my granddaughter Aisha sent me a copy of the following letter from Rev. Nathaniel Wilson.

Letter to the Editor
The Washington Post
1150 15th Street, N.W.
Washington,=2 0DC 20071

Dear Editor:

I am writing in regards to your recent cartoon lampooning Pentecostals.

First, I am somewhat shocked at the paucity of judgment in running such a demeaning piece (not to mention the awful artwork). The crassness and lack of discretion shown in your cartoon reveals a surprising narrowness and ignorance of world realities by both the cartoonist and those who approved it.  When I compare such with the intellectual perspicacity, the enduring utilitarian beauty, and the unparalleled literary skill of the writers of the New Testament (all of which were Pentecos tal, Acts 1:8, 2:1-4) your newspaper comes out a sad and very distant second.  (An example of such beauty is I Corinthians 13.  Yes, it is written by a Pentecostal preacher and author).

Further, it is evident that someone at the Post may not know that 16% of the world’s population is Pentecostal (not just “Christian” but “Pentecostal Christians”).  This is approximately 500 million people worldwide.  Further, this number is expected to continue its exponential growth for decades to come.  So impacting is this phenomenon that, several years ago, Time magazine estimated it may be one of the most impacting events in the last one thousand years.

The liberating power of Pentecostalism also has a direct impact on the political climate of the world. For example, China is being revolutionized from within by conversions20to Christianity, much of which is Pentecostal.  This emphasis on the value of the individual versus the state is literally readjusting the philosophical underpinnings of the world’s largest nation.

In the intellectual and spiritual Hall of Greats, Jesus I know.  Paul I know, but I gently ask, who are you?


Nathaniel J. Wilson, Ed.D

A few days before I received a copy of Rev. Wilson’s letter,  Rev. Barry King sent this to my screen.

A Message from Jerry Jones:

Dear Sir:

I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw the long-denied political bias of the editorial board of the Washington Post confirmed by the highly offensive cartoon by Pat Oliphant published on September 9th. I was shocked to discover the board also holds a religious prejudice as well. To single out those of us who are Pentecostal and revere as well as practice the Scriptural experience of speaking in tongues in such a calculatedly offensive way is disgusting. That it was published by a leading U. S. newspaper is beyond belief. Quite obviously the board’s phobia of Governor Palin has caused it to lose its senses as well as its decency. To attack her on the basis of her political positions is certainly within your right, but to attack and ridicule her solely on the basis of her faith, a faith that is practiced by a significant number of Americans is indefensible.

A response by the millions of Pentecostals both in their future choice of reading material as well as at the polls can be expected from this unprovoked attack on a belief than spans many denominations of Christianity.

If such a deliberate disregard of the sincerely held beliefs of a significant segment of our population is fair game in the pursuit of a political agenda, how can the already tattered reputation of the traditional press in our country be rehabilitated? Your abrogation of your responsibility to respect and exhibit at least a minimum sensitivity toward other’s beliefs relegates the fabled Washington Post to the sorry company of yellow journalism rags of the past.

I urge the editorial board to issue an immediate apology to the millions offended by this silly and disgusting cartoon.


Jerry Jones
General Secretary
United Pentecostal Church International

With fervor do I defend the right of the Washington Post to print their cartoon. With equal passion do I plead for editorial honesty and discretion. Let us in every walk of life consider our godly roots and righteous foundation. Let us be of extreme wariness when a person who speaks to his Christian principles; who voices his faith in God and in the Bible is disdained and scorned. God help us.


My devotional blog is here.