Drinking Deeply

Friday, June 01, 2007 at 7:46 AM

Fighting words

Douglas Wilson on words
The astounding thing about all this is the fact that there is so little controversy about it in the evangelical world. Our complacency shows nothing more clearly than how cold our love has grown. If a man were to see his wife being attacked by rapists, all his professions of love and deep concern are meaningless unless he fights for her. Under such circumstances, a refusal to fight does not stem from a love of peace, but rather from the now-revealed contempt he has for his wife. In the same way, a refusal to discipline is nothing but a manifestation of contempt for that which we refused to protect through the needed discipline. Bringing us back to the point, a refusal to fight over the meaning of words betrays, ultimately, a contempt for the Savior. Of course we need fewer church fights over the replacement for the choir director, or the color of the carpet in the fellowship hall. But we need many more church fights over the meaning of some precious and important words.

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Blogger jefe said...

(1) I see no harm whatsoever in surrendering words to the fickle tides of usage, so long as we're willing to take the trouble to find new effective ways to express ourselves. The challenge to the Church is always to hit a moving target: to express the unchanging gospel in a language that is never the same. If we try to hold rigidly onto certain words, despite how others use them, we are doomed only to speak to ourselves. Remember the reformation debates over translating the Bible into the vernacular.

(2) Better to argue over doctrine than over labels for doctrine.

(3) But the fights Wilson talks about are not really fights over words---words like "Christian" or "evangelical". He's really talking about group-identification. His distress is that people who disagree with him (more or less radically) are calling themselves the same thing he calls himself. Perhaps he should change the usage he has control over--his own--rather than the usage he doesn't control? Annoying to have your trademark stolen, but these things happen. It's hardly on par with rape.

(4) Unless he has something slightly stronger in mind. Could he be using these words as code for "the elect", "the brethren"? Then again, what's at issue is not the words, it's who belongs to this group, whatever it's called. And if that's what he means, I have even less patience. You may disagree strongly with the open theism, you may hate it, but is it even plausible that believing in open theism jeopardizes one's salvation? Does it contradict anything in the ancient creeds?

(5) We are not the border patrol of the Kingdom.  

~

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