Words and meaning

Since I have been blogging, I have been trying in a variety of ways to get the word out. I tell people I think might be interested, and encourage them to tell others.

Something very interesting happened. When I told youth, almost all of the were very surprised I had a blog. In fact, their reactions were beyond surprise; they were shocked, as though there were something inappropriate about an adult guy, and a pastor, blogging. I had to know what their concern was.

This was news to me, but apparently for youth, blogging is basically online diary writing. As they explained this, I quickly began to understand their reaction to my being a blogger. Once I explained my bloggin to them they understood me, too.

Such misunderstandings pervade our society. We use common words and phrases and mean entirely different things by them.

One of the most problematic of these is the simple word “god.” I enjoy asking people, when they’ve made some generic reference to god, “which god do you mean?” Some have worried I am a polytheist. I have actually had people explain to me that if we all use the word “god,” and since there is only one god, we must all be referring to the same god.

I challenge Christians in such a case to describe our God in terms of what we know of God in scripture. Instead of just assuming “god” means the God of Abraham, Issaac, Moses, David, and Paul, Christians ought to clarify by the scriptures exactly who the god we claim is God is.

We don’t all mean the same thing with the same words. We need to start having the necessary conversations to clarify what others mean by words we use. They don’t know what we mean and we don’t know what they mean unless we do.

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1 Response to Words and meaning

  1. Richard H says:

    Because words don’t just “mean” something, my theory is that the only way we find common ground – or even discern whether we do or not – is through sustained conversation. But that takes work, and we don’t like work, so we either skip ahead and say “we all mean the same thing,” or “you’re obviously a horrible evil person and you should be killed.”

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