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Featured Biblical vs Secular Definitions of English Words

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by JonC, Aug 12, 2020.

  1. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    With the topic of “heresy” another issue resurfaced (one of my “pet” issues, perhaps). And that is the insistence that there are “secular” and “biblical” meanings of English words with the application that Christians should use the “biblical” rather than the “secular” definitions.

    I believe this mentality is problematic for a few reasons.


    It contributes to eisegesis:

    It reads theology into Scripture and misunderstands the process of interpretation/ translation. We should not take English words and assign to them new meanings to fit the target language. Instead we choose the best English word to represent the thought that the target language is communicating. Studying means that we look past the English word and to the text of Scripture to understand how the passage would have been understood to the original audience and in context to the overall message being communicated.

    For Example: Propitiation is the act of appeasing a god, spirit, or person. But I have been told that the “biblical meaning” of propitiation is “punishment to appease the wrath of God”.

    I use this example because reading into Scripture and “double-speak” is, I believe, obvious regardless of validity of the doctrine at hand.


    It is subjective:

    Using a “secular” vs “biblical” definition is a form of “double-speak”. Many Christians and probably all outside of the church will use the real meaning of English words. But using a “special” or “biblical” definition contributes to people talking past one another.

    The “biblical” definition is subjective towards one’s own theology. The “secular” or “dictionary” definition is objective and typically offers various legitimate meanings and usages of the real word. In other words, words have meaning. When we use “biblical meanings” we are saying that we do not like the meaning of the word and are changing it to suit what we would like the meaning to be.

    For Example: The word “heresy” refers to a doctrine that is in opposition to accepted or “orthodox” doctrine of a group. It has been argued, however, that the “biblical meaning” is different. Here it is assumed that this “biblical” meaning should replace the meaning when the intended usage is the “dictionary” or “secular” meaning.


    It gives precedence to definition over context:

    By redefining a word to incorporate the usage of a word we risk ignoring application and usage as a literary tool or devise. In other words, it shortcuts the legitimate process of study and exegesis.

    For Example: World means world. It can be used in different ways. However it is sometimes presented that the word itself means a certain population of the world.

    I believe this reflects a weakness in churches today and shows the need for Christians to learn how to study the Bible. There is a tendency, I think, for people to gravitate to sort of CliffsNotes.


    It creates a “smorgasbord” mentality:

    We now have so many word studies and language tools that people get lost in root words when they should be asking how the word is used in the context of the passage and the overall context of the book or epistle in general. Instead I have seen a “smorgasbord” type of “interpretation” (the word can mean this, I want the word to mean this, so the word means this).

    For Example: “For” or “in one’s behalf” has been changed to “instead of” because it was argued that “instead of” could be in the range of meanings for the word. This is despite the usage of the word elsewhere not meaning “instead of”. The only reason for using “instead of” was held theology. We need to be very careful not to employ this type of error.
     
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  2. Derf B

    Derf B Active Member

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    It also is a way of taking Christians out of the world (1 Cor 5:9-10), where they can't understand us, and we can't understand them. I had an instance where I was talking to an attorney about someone trespassing on my property. I mentioned that I hoped the person was convicted of his bad behavior, meaning that his conscience would bother him. Of course, the attorney thought I meant "convicted" of a crime in a court of law, and since there hadn't been any actual charges filed, there was no expectation of a court conviction. It was an awkward exchange.
     
  3. Derf B

    Derf B Active Member

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    In addition, Christians of different stripes also can't understand each other very well, as the meanings of the words are different between different denominations. It's a sort of Christian "Babel".
     
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  4. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    Long ago we had an issue with liberal theology creeping in SBC seminaries. People would use "double-speek". They would use words people would accept but mean something entry different.

    What bothers me most about that practice is that it sets the stage for indoctrination as it makes the leap to questionable doctrine gradual.
     
  5. Derf B

    Derf B Active Member

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    You mean like the Black Lives Matter indoctrination that's being foisted on many corporations today?

    I agree it's a problem in the churches, for sure, and the liberal mindset is not a "long ago" problem.

    To tie the two together, "racism" is double-speak for "anything that doesn't agree with liberal thought" these days, and "social justice" essentially means acceptance of homosexuality and trans-genderism, and churches seem to be jumping on the bandwagon in many cases.
     
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  6. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    I never thought about it that way, but yes. Many will say it is impossible for a black person to be racist because they redefine the word to include being in a majority population at a national level.
     
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  7. MB

    MB Well-Known Member

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    Maybe this why Christ said to come out of her.
    MB
     
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  8. Derf B

    Derf B Active Member

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    Noah Webster was a Christian, and committed to helping people understand each other better through his dictionary. He was also a founder of our nation, who influenced other founders, like George Washington and James Madison on how to set up the government.

    As the church and its influences were decidedly influential in the founding of America, so is the church influential in the stability of America, despite the push to marginalize it, both from within the church and without.

    The babel of American politics is going to tear America apart, though the church can last through such schisms. If the church isn't united, including in the use of words, it also will tear apart.

    [Jhn 17:20-23 KJV] 20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, [art] in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. 22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
     
  9. Derf B

    Derf B Active Member

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    Assuming we can figure out what "her" refers to. The apostate church? Jerusalem? Babylon (which fits my assertion of the importance of @JonC's topic).
     
  10. Guvnuh

    Guvnuh Member

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    Yes, that’s one reason the country will implode.
    But “Babel” Battle has been going on for sometime. The multiple uses for once familiar words can land you in a minefield of confusion when trying to engage certain groups of people.
     
  11. MB

    MB Well-Known Member

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    Churches are referred to as "HER" The Roman church has signed an agreement with Islam's Imam to create a one world religion. The church has always been referred to as her.
    MB
     
  12. MB

    MB Well-Known Member

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    I believe it would be hard to deny Christ was speaking of a Church.
    Rev_18:4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.
    The whore that rides the beast is IMHO the RCC
    MB
     
    #12 MB, Aug 13, 2020
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2020
  13. Derf B

    Derf B Active Member

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    Babel confused languages (at God's command) to spread out the people they were not doing His will in populating the whole earth (and cooking up evil in the city). Pentecost reunited people who spoke different languages.

    The church has a job of uniting people in Jesus Christ, and to do that, language plays an enormous part. Like the scriptures that are constantly being translated into new tongues. Thus the importance of this thread.
     
  14. Van

    Van Well-Known Member
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    Lets consider a few words found in scripture (or more accurately in our English translation of scripture).

    1) Draw - does it mean compel by irresistible grace or attract by the persuasion of lovingkindness?
    2) Foreknow - does it refer to knowledge of the future or knowledge acquired or formulated in the past, such as a plan?
    3) Men of flesh - does this mean someone whose mind is set on fleshly desires, or to any unsaved person?
    4) Propitiation - does this refer to the act of turning aside God's wrath or the means of salvation from God's wrath?
    5) Come to Me - does this mean to put our faith in Christ, or to be spiritually placed in Christ?
     
  15. Derf B

    Derf B Active Member

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    I think the problems in the church today are much, much bigger than the RCC. When the church is embracing behavior God calls abomination, the whoring is at full tilt.
     
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  16. George Antonios

    George Antonios Well-Known Member

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    To balance this out, one must also point out that definitions get infused with an external theology, which upon becoming mainstream, then makes its way into the dictionary, and then the Biblical word is read in the light of the dictionary's connotation. Dictionaries don't fall from heaven.
     
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  17. kyredneck

    kyredneck Well-Known Member
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    Apostate Judaism was the great city, 'Mystery Babylon':

    8 And their dead bodies lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. Rev 11

    10 standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Woe, woe, the great city, Babylon, the strong city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.
    21 And a strong angel took up a stone as it were a great millstone and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with a mighty fall shall Babylon, the great city, be cast down, and shall be found no more at all. Rev 18
     
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  18. MB

    MB Well-Known Member

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    It's also interesting that at the time the scriptures were written there were no dictionaries . At least there are none left in existence if there were
    MB
     
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  19. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    That is true. Words change but not necessarily by the infusing of external theology (it goes both ways).

    What I mean is the theological part is not what makes the difference. How the word is used and becomes common is what makes the difference.

    Nimrod means "a mighty hunter", and in the Bible he was. But Bugs Bunny made fun of Elmer Fudd by calling him "Nimrod" because he was a hunter. The term "nimrod" came to mean foolish. If I call someone an ass (a donkey) they may take the term wrongly as well.

    The problematic part, I think, is the area "in between" - that time when a word is misused or used to mean something new but not yet actually defined in that manner. This probably creates problems when it comes to communication between generations.

    But we have to remember that Jesus did not speak English. Translators chose English words that they thought best suited the target language.
     
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  20. Derf B

    Derf B Active Member

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    I think you are correct, but does this mean it applies to current day Jerusalem, or did it already happen and apply to Jerusalem in 70 AD?
     
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