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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Salvation Decoder Ring

Every profession, pastime, and hobby has its own special jargon. Golfers talk about birdies, bogeys, and The Rough; bowlers deal with strikes, spares, and splits; and runners embrace endorphins and shin splints.

And Christians...we have jargon to beat the band. We 'agree' in prayer, 'confess with the mouth', and 'repent of' our multitudinous sins.

Watching Christians talk with one another can be quite instructive, as the jargon flies thick and fast, a kind of cross between verbal shorthand and Swahili.

it's very good, very fulfilling, and completely fails in one vital aspect of Christianity - The great Commission.

The problem with jargon is that it's a separator. Yes, I know - 'go and be ye separate'. But trumping that is the message to spread the Good News to all creatures. Period.

And all creatures don't know the jargon. They walk into a church, and what they hear contains a lot of specialized terms - not specialized because they have to be, but because, in general, they come from the King James translation of the Bible. as such, they're at best archaic, and at worst, they don't correspond accurately to modern English.

Take confess with the mouth. Where, outside church or Bible Study, have you heard this? What it means is that we're verbally acknowledging that Jesus is God's Son, and that His death was in atonement for our sins.

But if you say this to a non-Christian, or to a nominal Christian whose practice ends at sleeping through Easter and Christmas services, you'll cause a bit of bewilderment, discomfort, and resentment.

Bewilderment because the first thing that comes to mind with the word confess is what criminals do, discomfort because the words do not rest easy on the modern ear, and resentment because Christianity is being portrayed as something of a 'club', with passwords and hierarchy.

It's not supposed to be that way. Jesus said that we enter the Kingdom as a child, or not at all. That pretty well rules out ranking based on our expertise in 'unpacking' the KJV.

He also suggested that we say yes when we mean yes, and no when we mean no. That's an exhortation to plain speech.

No one wants to take away the linguistic grace of King James' translation, but we have to keep our hearts on the reason we're here - to help others find peace, life, and hope in Christ.

The Great Commission is our primary job. Walk the walk, and talk the talk - plainly.

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