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Thursday, November 17, 2005

Christianity and Culture: Dirty Words, Part Three of Three




Certain segments of Christendom have the tendency to let the admonition of their Savior whistle in one ear and out the other, operating under the delusion it only pertains to “those people”. It is classic “log eye” syndrome. If devolution of speech is a concern, no one need look further than the “post modern” churches, the liberal denominations, and the fundamentalists, all who have slowly blunted (in some cases perverted) the precision of theological language. The first two have allowed the very specific usage of certain words to be broadened or redefined to fit into modernity and reflect a more pluralistic and humanistic Christianity. The fundies constantly rewrite history and redefine words in order to assure us that the Scriptures (the KJV only, of course) teach Jesus drank grape juice and alcohol is “from the Debo!” And then there is the “doctrine is divisive and irrelevant” crowd, who talk about God in words more appropriate for school yard flirtations.

Theological language is turned inside out by the "openness of God" advocates
who are very uncomfortable with a God who has perfect knowledge and absolute control over His creation. Clark Pinnock's use of the word Sovereign is entirely diminished from the usage of St. Augustine, and suggests willful ignorance towards Paul’s proclamations about the freedom of the Potter to do precisely what He wills.

John Sanders seemingly derives his interpretation of God’s character detailed in his book, The God Who Risks, from the event of his brothers tragic death. Something he conjectures, God could not possibly have known, or else he would have stopped it. Sanders emaciates Providence by asserting that God is not “the ultimate cosmic explanation for each and every thing”, and suggests that God was taken by surprise when Adam and Eve rebelled. I think this kind of talk is juvenile, disempowering rubbish from the pit of hell- but that’s just me.

Greg Boyd randomly arrives at his redefinition of Love, saying “its first condition being that it must be freely chosen.” I’m sorry; I thought “We Love because God first loved us.” It seems to me that the first condition of Love is that God initiate it, and so causes us the ability to love him.

The precision of the historical-grammatical method of scriptural analysis practiced (in essence) by the early church Fathers to Aquinas, and perfected by John Calvin, is abandoned and subverted by modern liberal theologians seeking to affirm their own experience and validate their unjustified beliefs. This is the real crisis, not some four letter word that will come and go with time. Rather than throwing a legalistic hissy fit every time the culture hits its collective thumb with a hammer, we should battle against the redefinition of words like courage, love, marriage, truth, and other crucial “signs of ideas” being lost to cultural relativism and the semantics of liberal theologians.

However, as a Christian educator I must maintain a precise method of dealing with potential cultural acceptance of taboo words. I do believe that I, my students and others, cannot with good conscience use language deemed profane by certain segments of American culture . However, the substructure of logic cannot be that there are "bad" or “dirty” words because that is factually inaccurate and therefore unreasonable. Nor can we say such speech is taking the Lord's name in vain, for that is something else specifically. There is however, several reasons why using such language will remain forbidden for the Christian; at least in the context of general society, school, church and the Christian home.

1. Certain words reflect low intelligence and lack of education. The F- word and others fill the holes in the speech of simpletons. Only foolish and ignorant people use profanity because (a) they lack a vocabulary expansive enough to express themselves and (b) they are unable to control their emotions, nor describe them in a meaningful way.

2. Certain words are used primarily for incendiary purposes and insult. Scripture teaches that the speech proceeding from the mouth of man defiles the man, not because some speech is inherently evil, but because it reveals the depraved nature of such a man's heart. Jesus says that if a man insults his brother it is tantamount to murder because it reflects the hatred in the insulter's heart.

3. Certain words are used in ways that are coarse, obscene, degrading and offensive in their cultural context. Our Lord and the Apostles Paul and James all refer to the destructiveness of this kind of speech. In all accounts it is presented as a stumbling block, an affront to the name of Christ whose emissaries we are and divisive among brethren. Paul says he goes to great lengths not to offend people for the sake of the Gospel, and that should be our attitude as well. Of course, certain things (the Gospel namely) will always offend people and should not be compromised for the sake of making people comfortable. (That means you seeker sensitive churches!)

With that said, my basic attitude is this, God likely takes much more offense in being spoken of with blunted words denoting ideas diminishing to His glory than the utterance of over used slang that rhymes with duck. El fin.




Category: Gnat-Strainers

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