• Lambert Pallas, Religion Correspondent

“I am not a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal,” says Archbishop Justin Welby


Justin Welby answers your queries.

THIS WEEK: Speaking in tongues

As the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury I am most conscious of the illustrious figures who have held this office, up to and including myself. It is my aim to maintain and develop many of their fine traditions. For example, I think of my immediate predecessor and his gift of speaking gobbledegook to people across the land. I seek to go one better in furthering this custom; I speak gobbledegook to the Almighty on a regular basis.

Often people ask me, ‘Archbishop Justin, how can I speak in tongues?’ I am always glad to give an answer to this, as it means I don’t have to answer awkward questions about the George Bell controversy, the morality of same-sex relationships or the goings-on at certain boys’ camps back in the day. So as a ‘thank you’ to all those nice people who ask nice questions, here is my brief guide to speaking in tongues:

1. Find a quiet place early in the morning. Go to your personal chapel perhaps, or find a quiet corner in the Palace where you won’t be disturbed.

2. Begin to speak. Just allow the words to come. For starters, why not try phrases like ‘good disagreement’ and ‘radical inclusion’? Don't worry about their meanings at this point. They will indeed sound like unintelligible noises, but begin to say them nevertheless.

3. Have faith that God’s people are being edified as you utter these sounds. Believe it or not, these undefined and ill-formed words are actually the way the church is built up and formed.

4. Pray that someone in the church has the gift of interpretation to understand what these words mean, because so far no-one has a baldy what I’m on about.

NEXT WEEK: How to speak in a forked tongue.