Sometimes I have something I want to say, something that strikes a chord deep within me but I can't seem to find words to express what's on my mind. My last post was on the importance of words which made me think about the value of finding just the right word. I am taking some time off my licensing studies to listen to the Dividing Line and to attempt to relate my thoughts.
I have a decent vocabulary and yet each time I read the Puritans, I learn a new word. When I do, I like having to look it up in the dictionary and see if I can find it. Sometimes words fall out of use and dictionaries no longer carry them. Although we do find new uses for words and make up a few as we go along, we are not replacing words as quickly as we are losing them. My theory is this: If everything is relative and nothing is wrong or bad, then we no longer need to differentiate one thing from another. Is it any wonder our thoughts, worldviews and cultures are in such a muddled mess?
Each discipline has its own vocabulary. The job I am studying for also has its own vocabulary. If I am going to be effective, I need to learn that vocabulary. In one of my first theology classes we learned a basic vocabulary for theological principles. So many believers have a vocabulary of 'Christianese" and neglect the studies that would give them the ability to define and address with specificity the needs of their souls. I fully believe if you clearly define a problem, the solution becomes evident. I also believe if you define your problem biblically, there is a biblical solution. But I am on a rabbit trail now... rambling on.
I had a semantics teacher that drummed it into my head that "The map is not the territory." Just as a map cannot duplicate exactly the bit of topography and geography it is representing, so too it is that words cannot exactly represent the thing the message is attempting to convey. Instead of being distrustful of words and numbering their inadequacies because of our limited vocabularies, we should be striving to regain what once was ours. How is it that 200 years have gone by and we know less about our faith than our predecessors? Why do we content ourselves with saying "Jesus died for me" instead of taking the time to know the difference between propitiation and expiation or being able to define substitutionary atonement. For all of our texting, blogging, emailing and 30 second sound bytes we are becoming less communicative.
Especially about things that matter.