Is it more beneficial to unbelievers to prophesy or to speak in tongues?

In 1 Corinthians 14, Paul discusses the relative merits of prophecy versus speaking in tongues. He says as far as the church is concerned, it’s better to prophesy, because no one can understand you when you speak in tongues.1 But what about when unbelievers are around? What’s the best thing to do then?

Paul says speaking in tongues is the sign that should be shown to unbelievers. He says prophecy should be reserved for believers.

But then he says if unbelievers hear Christians speaking in tongues, spouting gibberish that not even they can understand, the unbelievers will think the Christians are out of their minds. Whereas if they hear Christians prophesying, the unbelievers will instantly be convinced that this is the one true religion, and will start worshiping alongside them.

If that’s true, how can he say speaking in tongues in the presence of unbelievers is better than prophesying?

Possible explanation

It’s better for people to think Christians are crazy than to think Christians are right.

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