Friday, October 13, 2006

Too Much Information???

I am posting this in response to a post by a friend that you can find here. My response was a bit long to leave as a comment, so I thought I would post it here instead!

I tend to agree with what Sarah has said. Even if you don’t use these words in “normal conversation”, you should have an understanding of what they mean. It will help you to understand where people are coming from when they are talking to you about Biblical things.

All these terms were “made up” by man to help explain/describe different ways of looking at the Bible, the events in the Bible and people’s thoughts about “religion” and “doctrine”. So, although using those words are not necessary for studying God’s Word or telling others about it, it will help you personally to understand various ways of looking at scripture and various beliefs. It will also help you not to feel “lost” when people bring up those words.

I do hear people using these words in ways that aren’t correct—or that don’t explain well what they are saying. They put a different meaning or more meaning into the word than it actually has. To me, that is really annoying and tells me they don’t really understand what they are talking about!

Take for example—hermeneutics—which simply put means a method of interpreting the Bible. But if you look it up here. You will see that that there are many, many different ways of looking at scriptures “hermeneutically”. So you would have to ask a person what they mean by that! Once again, it is man’s way of trying to understand and study scripture in a way they can make sense of it.

You can look up further info on eschatology and orthopraxy .

I enjoy taking the time to look these things up to understand more about where people are coming from. I am not saying that all the ideas listed on these links are “correct” but it does help you to understand what people are talking about!

God desires for us to understand and evaluate His Word from beginning to end. He always “backs himself up”. Our only “interpreter” is supposed to be the Holy Spirit. He will teach and guide us to understand God’s Word. We are to be taught by the Spirit and not by man. John 14:26 & 1 John 2:27

We should always be evaluating what any “person” tells us regarding scripture with God’s Word. It will help you to learn to discern whether people are giving you their opinion or actually sharing what God’s Word says.

Thanks for the great discussion!


Grafted Branch said...

Just a guess, but if you were to promote a new Sunday school or bible study in a church bulletin as, "A study in Daniel, Revelation and the end times," you'll have more people coming to check it out than if you say, "A study in eschatology."

Except in the most strictly higher-level academic venues, I don't know why anyone who truly loves the Lord would hide their light under a bushel like this. To a great number of people -- saved and unsaved -- such indecipherable language is off-putting and discouraging.

Even though I know most of the terms, I find them very difficult to keep up with in the flow of conversation, so if you talk to me using them and I'm smiling and shaking my head it might be that I didn't understand the string of words you just said. lol.

So then, what's the point?

Wendy said...

I understand what you are saying. I think it is more important to just have an idea of what they are talking about when you do hear those words, but I rarely go around using the terms in normal conversation.

It does come up when we attend Bible Studies, etc., so I am familiar with them.

I don't think using the words you referred to is "hiding their light under a bushel". The basic definitions for all the words you mentioned are actually very straight-forward and not hard to understand. Other than hermeneutics--which has so many different variations when you start appying it to Scripture because people have their own way of interpreting what they are reading.

I know some people use the words just because they are "big" and many people don't understand what is being said and I think that is wrong. That is just as bad as using "Christian-ese" with unsaved people who are not familiar with the Bible or any Christian "jargon".

I don't think you should think badly of people, though, just because they choose to use "big words" in their conversations if they are explaining methods of study, etc. concerning Scripture.

Our witness to others won't come through the use of big, hard to understand words, but through our daily walk with the Lord, the words we speak daily and the actions we have towards others. You are right that what we do daily is what will impact others for Christ.

But among those who are Christians and who are studying the Bible in-depth, it does help to have an understanding of those "big words" because it will come up in those types of situations. You will also hear references to eschatology and hermeneutics on the news from time to time, so it is always good to understand what it means. But it doesn't mean someone should go around "flaunting" what they know to make themselves look good---just like some people name-drop. Those are prideful ways to speak and respond to people and we shouldn't do that.

Personally, I like when people use words/ideas I don't know much about because it gives me the desire to find out what it means and then study how it truly lines up with Scripture. There are a great many ideas out there that "man" has come up with that have nothing to do with what God is really saying or how He wants us to be learning/living. We must be careful about what we hear and see no matter what source it is coming from.

So, yes, it is better to communicate with most people in simple language they can understand but that doesn't make it wrong to use and be familiar with the terms you mentioned.

Grafted Branch said...

"I don't think you should think badly of people, though, just because they choose to use "big words" in their conversations..."

Sister, I don't remember doing that at all. I read the pronoun, "I" throughout my post--that's self reflection.
But for the record,

(1) it IS "elitist" language (def: the choice or most carefully selected part of a group) much as Latin is to the doctors who learn it in their pursuit of the healing arts is elitist and would not be useful to the general audience. Only they're not called to preach their "gospel" to everyone.

(2) anything that obscures another's ability to understand the simplicity of His plan: the love, grace and forgiveness of Christ available to all IS "hiding our light under a bushel."

But, if you and others can honestly draw closer to God, find yourself daily conformed to His image and be light and salt to a dying world through the use of such vocabulary ...more power to you!

But do then stand SURE in that -- no regrets -- and resist the need to bolster your conviction by trying to change my mind through your defense. Afterall, at its core, this isn't a sin issue. We needn't be arguing, however politely. :)

"Let each be fully convinced in his own mind." Romans 14:5b

Anonymous said...

Wendy, I really appreciate this well thought out and Scripturally supported response to Grafted's blog post.

HeartsDesire said...

Great discussion ladies. Having grown up in a church full of Christian jargon...I could have a lot to say, but it's kind of a side road to what you're discussing here. Besides, it's a blog post of it's own as well. Maybe someday I'll get on that soapbox. Maybe not.

Not Afraid of Big Words! said...

This might be a few days old, but I was wondering what words GB might suggest we use in place of eschatology, hermeneutics, orthodoxy and orthopraxy?

I use them because they are correct, not because I desire to impress anyone.