Abductive Columns

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Biblical Exegetes and Culture Exegetes

Words should never impede. The idea is to remove the obstacles in words; some words we've used in the past are turn-offs and have the potential of hindering ones ability to listen.

Telling me that “we have said it this way for years” is probably longhand for obsolescence. So----

Blow-up the phrase Church Membership and replace it with Partnership
Membership” assumes privileges.
When partnering with a faith community you don’t gain rights, you lose them.

Blow-up the word “Evangelism” and replace it with “Spiritual Explorer, Sometimes Guide."

The word evangelism has been so bastardized through the years I find difficulty using it. It’s a word with a good heart, but a terrible reputation. On the street the word is equated with pressure. I prefer to be what I am…a fellow spiritual explorer walking alongside those Jesus’ misses. Ninety-five % of the time I’m an explorer. The small remainder of the time I become a guide. But this only happens after I have cared and genuinely liked the person I’ve walked with. This may take years and I’m willing to wait and even accept the possibility that they will never ask and that’s okay. If they ask, then I help them connect the dots.
Blow up Lord and Savior and use Leader and Forgiver
No luggage and no mistake about that phrase. Everyone understands.

Blow up Disciple and replace with Apprentice

Blow up Preacher and replace with Transformational Architect

Blow-up the word Lost and replace with the Missing
When missing people here us call them lost it’s a synonym for “unclean” or “impure”
They wonder…lost? From what?

Become introspective. What images are conjured up when the missing hear our words? What are we hoping they hear and are they hearing what we hoped they’d hear?

And remember words are not sacred. Christians forget that words like gospel, discipleship, evangelism and a host of others are English words translating another language.
Thanks to Ron Martoia for providing ideas


At 9:53 PM, Blogger Greg Kendall-Ball said...

I appreciate the efforts you and others in the EC are making at reaching people for Christ.

BUT, and this is where some of my hesitancy about the EC comes out, abandoning ancient words, even words with baggage, bothers me.

For instance, evangelism. You mention this is just an English word translated from another language. That's sort of true, but it is more accurately a transliteration of a very biblical word: the evangellion. That's a word I want to recapture, and refine and redefine. I want to teach people the beauty of the Good News, and not just abandon it in favor of a less controversial word. To a lot of us "institutional church folk" (and believe me, just because we're in institutional churches doesn't mean we endorse everything they do), the abandoning of these old words and the replacing with new words reeks of fadism. Maybe the next 40 years will prove us wrong, but right now I wonder how many people have a negative connotation or disposition toward innovative language.

I am reminded of Nick Hornby's "How To be Good." When the main character experienced turmoil, she went to the church, to hear the hymns sung badly and the sermon and the prayers. There is something familiar and expected when it comes to church, and we can't abandon that.

I'm not saying Churches of Christ have to be one way or the other, either institutional or EC, but we do need to stay in conversation, and make sure we still present a unified body to the world.


At 2:18 PM, Blogger Johnny said...

You are right, words that have been around for a long time collect baggage but maybe more important they often don't carry the orginal meaning anymore, so become almost useless. But the use of Transformational Architect for preacher made me almost fall out of my chair with laughter. Good post.

At 11:18 AM, Blogger K. Rex Butts said...

Fred, thanks for the post. We need to be reminded that when culture changes, so does the meaning of words and therefore we may need to pick new words to convey the meaning that would allow us to be faithful to Jesus and incarnational in our ministry.

With that being said, I am not sure about replacing the word "Lord" with "Leader." Does the word "leader" convey and confess the meaing of "kurios / Lord"?"

I enjoy what the emerging church movement is trying to do, as I hope myself to be a minister to unchurched postmodern communites. However difficult the idea of "Lord" may be in a postmodern world, it seems as though this is one area where Christianity must shape the postmodern world. Am I wrong? I would love to hear more explination, as I am open to consider other possibilites.

Anyways, thanks for the post again because I did learn and think about something new.

At 3:30 PM, Blogger Stacey said...

While I can see the use in using language the people understand, I think that it can be taken to the point where it almost seems as if we are trying to be PC. Transformational Architect? I'm with johnny on this one... I have to laugh. I think preacher is just fine. If you want to replace it, then something like "Instructor" might be more appropriate. As for replacing "Lord", I can see where you are trying to go with that, but I think using something that doesn't convey his Supremecy over us. As for Savior, I think it is fine. He is more than our forgiver. I can forgive you, but I can't save you. You lose the real meaning.

So, while I think that some words can be interchanged, others cannot. The thing with trying to use single words to convey the original meaning is that the original words carried a lot more baggage. For instance, we translate the 4 variations of love in the new testament with one -- love. There is much more to the meaning than we sometimes realize, or convey.

One that I wish we would "blow up" as you say is "Baptize". That word is so misused. Blow it up, and replace with immerse.

Overall, a good post, and a topic that needs more attention and discussion.


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