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 The State of Words, The Shape of Faith

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TomL
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PostSubject: The State of Words, The Shape of Faith   Sun Dec 28, 2014 10:45 pm

THE STATE OF WORDS, THE SHAPE OF FAITH

Recently I have been in a discussion about what words mean, and how that effects what we believe. In this discussion I maintained that basic definitions of words never change, but people change their usage of the words. Someone in that discussion said that the word "gay" meant something different 50 years ago than it does today, which actually goes to prove my point. The definition of the word "gay" is still "happy." But, that is not how people, unless they are intelligent, understand it.

Of course, there was a time I believed the word "happy" meant "mentally unstable." Someone was admitted to a Pennsylvania State Hospital which was a mental institution. I overheard my mother tell someone on the phone that he "went happy." Maybe in my subconscious what my mother said that day shaped my belief about the word "happy" and what it means. I often ask God to make me happy, and yet I always seem to jeopardize any chance of that. It's like an inner defense mechanism.

Well, I believe this also changes our perception of the Bible and our religious beliefs from time to time. The reason for this is words seem to mean something different from time to time that reshapes our faith, when really it is not the definition of words that changes, but the perception of what those words mean at different times. For example, the word "you" in Matthew 24. From all that I know, the function of the pronoun "you" hasn't changed for hundreds of years. When Jesus used the Aramaic or Greek word that has been translated "you" in English, who was he referring to? And how did they understand what he was saying? And that is the basis for something called "audience relevance."

Of course the perception of audience relevance is different depending on variable understanding. For example, those of us who believe in fulfilled prophecy believe it matters how the original audience, in this case the disciples, understood what Jesus said to them. But others that believe fulfillment of prophecy is future believe the important audience are those to whom Matthew was written which they say is the audience today. That the perception of the pronoun "you" meant someone in the distant future to those that the words were originally spoken to.

Then there is another theory which I recently heard for the first time recently which is that it doesn't matter what any audience understood, but the usage of the user. In the case of Matthew 24, there is only one user, which is Matthew the writer, as he was quoting Jesus it didn't matter what the words meant when Jesus spoke them, but how Matthew used the words when he was quoting Jesus. But, one would think that if Matthew quoted Jesus accurately it does matter how Jesus used the words he used them.

So, can you see how the state of words can shape our faith? It all matters on our particular perception. My perception is based on what Jesus said, and how to whom he spoke to understood what he said. The disciples were the original audience of what Jesus said.

I am more convinced that the purpose for modern theology is to make the simple complex.

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study - Do your best to present yourself to God as an approved worker who has nothing to be ashamed of, handling the word of truth with precision. - 2 Timothy 2.15; ISV, isv.com
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