Watching Words Closely

I was in church Sunday during what we call our educational hour. Usually, the person who spoke speaks again and the audience gets to ask questions. At one point, the speaker was speaking on something, though what it was was not the focus of the blog tonight. I kept noticing he used two words and he used them as if they had different meanings. So I raised my hand.

I told him that I was hearing these two words to which he agreed. I then told him that he was using them as if they were different. He agreed to that also. I then asked if he could explain the distinction between the two for me. Now I know there’s no context for my readers in what words were used and how they were used, but I want to recommend this for people. When you listen to someone or read something someone has written, watch their words very closely.

This is especially important in an age of the cults. When the Mormons come to you and say they believe in the deity of Christ, it does not mean what you think it means. Even JWs will tell you they believe in it, but they do not mean what you think it means either. JWs would say Jesus is a god so he is deity and Mormons have a Christ who is the brother of Satan. Neither of these are orthodox.

The homosexual left is out in full force often today and we have people saying gay instead of saying homosexual. Friends. Don’t say gay or queer or any other term. Say homosexual. This is an effort of rephrasing things to make them more friendly to the public. What a shock that the next word to be redefined on their list is marriage.

This is also in the abortion debate. What does it mean to be a human? What does it mean to be a person? What does it mean to be a life? What does it mean to be innocent? All of these terms have to be watched closely. The other side will jump at any slip that they can find in you.

The same goes with creation/evolution. What exactly do we mean by each of these words? What does it mean to say something is scientific? What is science? What is truth? People must be asked what they mean. Don’t accept a dictionary definition either. We often say words without having the dictionary definition in mind. Ask them to say exactly what they mean by the word.

This is going to be quite prevalent in our postmodern generation with the emerging church coming. What does the word “Truth” mean? Is X true for everyone, or is it true for you but not for me? What about tolerance? Does tolerance mean that I welcome the practicing homosexual into our midst? Does it mean I cannot disagree?

Friends. Our words are essential. We have to watch them closely. When you hear someone speak and they want to talk about something, ask yourself what they mean by that word. Have they said what it is yet? Be willing to ask questions and be willing to insist on distinctions. Make your own language clear as well. The gospel needs to be said with clarity after all.

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