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A Christian Language Problem?

November 1st, 2007 · Posted by Hugo · 7 Comments

On Facebook, there is a group titled “I’M A CHRISTIAN AND I’M PROUD TO SAY IT!” (Say it then, shouting isn’t necessary, y’know… ;) )

This is a case of finding identity in the label, instead of the concept that the label is supposed to point to. What do other people hear when you say this? This is what some people hear:

I’m a person that believes the world is 6000 years old, that Adam and Eve’s children committed incest, that a genetic bottleneck occurred on the Ark, that the air pressure was a billion times what it is today because all the water of the flood was “above” the atmosphere before the world-wide flood, that God came down and had sex with an engaged woman, that if a Christian prays for a nice, sunny day, that God will punish all the non-Christian farmers by not providing rain.

If this is what you meant, great… However, if this is not what you meant, you have just miscommunicated to some of your audience. That is the problem with labels, the problem with diversity in members of your audience. If you want to de-stigmatise the label, that’s great, however, that still requires people getting to know you first, rather than your labels. Once they know you, you can tell them what your label is, and they might understand what you mean by that label. The label is not as important as the concept it is supposed to be pointing to.

For more on the misunderstandings of the label “Christian”, check out Get the Good News Right.

Categories: Religion and Science
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7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Negate // Nov 2, 2007 at 12:05 am

    Ah yes, the concept disappeared because of growth in the knowledge of the average person. That type of language was more than adequate for people few hundred years back. This was perfect for them on how to be motivated in finding god. Language and general knowledge has grown so much over the years, the concept in our current day labels will be lost to the seas.

    If you want to evoke better awareness of the concept and not on the erroneous labels. You need a radical change or improvement in the core concept of what is Human or God(belief). Depends what perspective you glare at it.

    The biggest mistake of the bible in the modern age is that it left no room for improvement, because of ill planning of change.

  • 2 Hugo // Nov 2, 2007 at 6:24 am

    I disagree, the Bible is fine. Nothing wrong with the Bible.

    The problem is people read it as if it is a modernistic book. It’s a pre-modernistic book. People have become “fact fundamentalists”. ;) (It seems I’m throwing “fundamentalism” around a lot lately.)

    We need to work on our relationships, that’s what. Humans have been drifting apart. And it would have been great if people didn’t just reject God’s existence, but rather said “ok, accept God exists then, what have we learned about what God is and what God is not?” Keep communication channels open.

  • 3 Hugo // Nov 2, 2007 at 6:36 am

    The Reformation. A great idea, because those in power, the few that read the Bible, abused that power. That power needed to be democratised. The reformation escaped abusive power by placing the Bible into the hands of the “common people”.

    Now there’s the problem: the “common people” are not educated in theological matters. They don’t know how translations work (which is where the whole “King James Only” nonsense came from – they didn’t like their Bibles “changing”), they don’t know the cultural and historical context, they read a pre-modernistic book from a modernistic perspective… If everyone’s going to read the Bible, everyone needs to be educated about these matters, or they need some additional resources to help them out.

    See Ancient Religious Texts.

  • 4 Negate // Nov 2, 2007 at 12:04 pm

    Something I have noticed as well when talking to believers or non believers. It is the facts in the bible that form the strongest opinions. Educating people to see the bible in a different light, and let them know they are looking at a primitivebook from a modern eye can backfire tremendously. Are you not committing the same mistakes you want to correct for future generations? By only trying to fix one type of mindset around the bible.

    What about barriers from the bible like : Christianity was the exclusive and only correct religion.

    First of all one must admit that it is possible to read the Bible from different perspectives. Not only are there many different churches even within Protestant circles, but people who agree on basic premises also sometimes differ on aspects of the Bible. The Bible should describe “a human activity” and should be seen as a “foundational document,” “not so much in a `dogmatic’ or confessional sense but perhaps in a more existential sense: as documents describing and inscribing human life.” The Bible is however viewed to strongly as the Word of God.

    The question however remains: Is it possible to read the Old Testament and New Testament from a perspective that allows one to admit that the Bible only reveals part of the revelation of God regarding salvation and that it represents such a partial revelation that the full revelation regarding salvation can only be found by throwing multi-coloured facets of all different religions together?

  • 5 Negate // Nov 2, 2007 at 12:17 pm

    If we look very closely at the premises of the Bible and especially at that of the apostle Paul, it is not possible to see how he could have embarked on such a missionary endeavor without the firm belief that the events in Jesus Christ, his cruxifiction, his resurrection, etc. were of such importance that he, Paul, could not remain silent about them and wished people to learn about them so that their lives could be changed and they could become part of the saving grace that is to be found in Jesus Christ alone. This means that there are not only a few texts that may be quoted to say that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, the Life, or that Jesus is the only way that can lead to God. It is the whole tendency in the Bible, Old Testament and New Testament, that confronts one with the question: Is it possible that people living in the era of the influence of the Bible, can at any given time think of the event of Jesus Christ in this world as only a partial revelation of the salvation by God, rather than the decisive revelation by the Triune God?

  • 6 Hugo // Nov 2, 2007 at 12:49 pm

    I have very specific and strong opinions on just about everything you said here, however, that will unfortunately have to wait. All will be revealed in due time. ;-) (In the mean time, people can borrow books from me…)

  • 7 An Atheistic Language Problem? // Nov 25, 2007 at 8:45 am

    […] Christians are not the only ones with a language problem. I’m sure atheists would agree that the term “atheist” is often grossly […]

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