Drinking Deeply

Tuesday, November 15, 2005 at 3:11 PM

Watching your language

One of the most difficult things to do is to properly explain things. No matter what terminology we use, people will never have the exact same understanding of the terms.

For example, just today I had a discussion with a friend about the Inspiration of Scripture. I stated that Scripture is infallible, and he pointed out that it could be infallible but not be inerrant. Of course, to me, that was incomprehensible because I understood infallible as "cannot have error" but inerrant as "without error." Thus we were forced to backtrack and redefine our terms and repeat that until we could understand one another.

As difficult as it is to explain things, it becomes even harder when we use terms that are ambiguous and easily misunderstood. There are a lot of phrases that I really don’t like because I know it will be misinterpreted and misunderstood. A few examples:

"God is love" - This is entirely biblical, and I do support using it as the Bible states. What I don't like about this phrase is that it's used to justify many unbiblical understandings of the term "love." Love biblically is not just about feeling good about people. It's not these emotions. Rather, it's an action.

1 John 5:3 states:

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.
"Love the sinner, hate the sin" - I actually am not a big fan of this at all simply because it assumes an unbiblical distinction between a person and his actions. If we are a sinner at the root, we produce sinful fruit. Our sin is what God hates; our sinful nature is also what God hates. In one sense we are to show our love for God by loving our neighbors, sinners and saints alike, but in another sense, we hate sinners to the core because they stand for everything that is not God. What fellowship can light have with darkness?

"Total Depravity" - Ok, it is part of an excellent acronym, but the "total" seems to imply that "we are as bad as we can be" which clearly is false. It's supposed to denote that we are dead in sin and cannot rescue ourselves, thus our depravity is total.

"Once saved, always saved" - I believe that if God saves someone, He will carry it to completion, but this phrase has been the source of such great abuse that I don't like it.

"Perseverance of the Saints" - I personally prefer the "Preservation" simply because the idea of Perseverance implies it's "on me." Of course, Preservation could also denote the “once saved, always saved” mentality, so we’re really stuck here!

“Free will” – Even if we use the term “free will” it seems so misleading. We have to define the term “free will” as “free from something.” I have free will from my parents as to when I go to sleep now, but since I think that ultimate meaning is defined in relation to God, the question being considered is: are we free from God? To me the answer is always “no.” That’s why I don’t like the term, even used in the Reformed presentation of “Compatabilist freedom.” It’s not really “freedom” if I still believe that God is still sovereign over all of it.

What is the point of all of this? Simply to point out that we have to watch what we say. We can say something entirely biblical (Mormons quote Scripture too!) but without the proper understanding in the other person, we are not communicating as best as we should be. Of course, we cannot explain every single term we use, but we want to remain clear and as unambiguous as we possibly can. Does God use poor presentations of the Gospel to call His children? Of course! But there are also a lot of people in the church that don't understand the true Gospel and need to do so! (There also are a lot of people that are in the church that would reject the true Gospel if they heard it!)

Something else: Preach the full Gospel. We cannot summarize the Gospel in four points and an altar call. The Gospel is about a life of seeking and learning. When we come in with false assumptions, it becomes incredibly difficult to learn anything new, but when those false assumptions are torn down and replaced with Scriptural ones, then the floodgates of knowledge, can open.

Phil. 1

9And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

I was going to post something on common grace, maybe that’ll come tomorrow.


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Blogger Jessica said...

"though grace is shown to the wicked, they do not learn righteousness; even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil and regard not the majesty of the LORD." - isaiah 26:10  


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