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Words eh?

This week I had a couple of chuckles over the words people had chosen.

First was an email from an internet accountability site.  It told me that a friend had accessed websites that were "Highly Mature."  Judging by the domain names, "infantile" would have been a much better description.  There's nothing adult about porn.

The second chuckle came when meeting one-to-one with  pastors in Eastbourne to discuss evangelism.  Two different pastors from two different churches have told me exactly the same thing:

We don't like to use the word evangelism.  It scares people.  We don't have an "Evangelism team" any more, we have a "Witness team."

I fully agree that "evangelism" scares people.  And "witness" sounds much nicer.  But once you know the meaning of the two words, it's a tad ironic...

We don't like to be good news bearers, we'd much rather be martyrs!

0 thoughts on “Words eh?

  1. Tim C

    As with any area, there is an ongoing and deepening philological divide between the linguistic liberals and conservatives.

    The liberals would have us 'roll with it' and simply accept the majority of changes in meaning based on modern usage as the new definition. The conservatives are more purist and while accepting that language is dynamic and meanings associated with words do develop their meaning over time, they refuse to accept the denuding of language through 'incorrect' usage.

    I like to see myself as a 'progressive conservative' - always pushing language to see how far I can take it but never leaving behind the fundamental building blocks of meaning inherent in the words themselves based on their historic usage. :-)

  2. Ed Eubanks

    This gets at something that always gets under my skin: Jesus commanded his disciples to "BE [his] witnesses" (Acts 1:8, emphasis mine). But often Christians today will talk about "witnessing" to others.

    It speaks to a fundamental misunderstanding of what is important in the act of evangelism: not so much witnessing the others, but being a witness to the grace of Christ.

  3. Si

    Tim, the thing with 'adult material' is that they are using 'adult' without changing the meaning. Likewise 'highly mature' is rather ironic, especially as accountability software knows its not mature to look at porn - hence why it exists.

    I like it that I found 'adult humour' funny when I was a child (but old enough to get it) but don't find it funny now.

  4. Tim C

    Si, I was actually referring more to the evangelism reference.

    With the 'adult material', the issue is elsewhere I think. You're right that they are not changing the meaning with 'adult material' but I don't think Glen's point was that they were anyway - more that it is a misnomer to call porn adult material 'in light of the way we approach it'.

    In a sinful world, the content of 'adult material' remains in a very real sense "adult" (whether sexual activity is in a Biblical or extra-biblical context, we still don't allow young people to view it), so my comment on changing meanings doesn't really apply there.

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