Should the Church Change Its Language to Accomodate the World?January 2, 2014
I recently read a religious article that encouraged spiritual leaders, and the church at large, to stop using historical, biblical words that are not easily understood by the world. The writer criticized the use of such words: sanctification, atonement, justification, glory, redemption, and righteousness. The argument is: such “archaic” and “antiquated” words have little significance to the world, and should therefore, be replaced with easier, friendlier, more consumer-oriented terminology. C’mon, it’s the 21st century; give the masses what they want, right?
What is the church to think of such a demand?
The Teachings of Christ are Simple, not Shallow
Just for a moment, let’s all agree on something…it is the responsibility and calling of God’s men to communicate the truth of God’s Word in honesty and simplicity. This was the way Jesus taught. He communicated deep, profound truth in simple, parabolic fashion. He used a bush, a seed, a sparrow, a net to bring home His point. However, He never watered down the truth to please the crowds.
As a matter of fact, He spoke in parables for two reasons: to reveal and conceal. When asked why He spoke in parables, the Lord said, “Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given” (Matthew 13:11). Not everyone can naturally understand such truth. It takes a supernatural sweeping of the Spirit of God to quicken His Word in the degenerate soul. God designed and intended truth to reach the heart before the head. Culture wants it the other way.
Why Such a Mandate Upon the Church?
Why do you suppose many are calling the church to substitute such important words? We do not impose such mandates on other institutions. No one is protesting medical schools to change the vernacular of the anatomy. No one objects to the tedious language of sports with all of its various and complex positions, plays, and programs. You never hear of anyone revoking the subtle and oftentimes confusing terminology of the judicial system. So I ask again, why does society demand such change from the church? A more sobering question may be, why are religious leaders rethinking such important words?
I think it has little to do with accommodation and much to do with transformation. Antichrist, as John said, is here, at least in spirit; and his movement is one that stands in deliberate contrast to Calvary and the cross of Christ. The closer we get to the coming of the Son of God, the further away we get from Him in emphasis and language. The heart of society is drifting toward the man-made utopia of false religion. The chant of the apostate church will inevitably cry out, “Less blood, more buildings. Less Christ, more convenience. Less atonement more accommodations! Less salvation, more self!” This mantra will usher in a leader who will appease their desires, and give them what they want: a society free and clear of Golgotha’s slain and resurrected Lamb. The truth is the culture doesn’t want us to change the language, they want us to change the doctrine.
Role Reversal and Conclusion
The world has taken seriously the Great Commission, and works fervently to evangelize the church. We should read that sentence again slowly, and with tears. Yes, the world is evangelizing the church. Long gone are the days when the church set the pace for culture. The culture, by in large, has overtaken the church property, and has given the true believer a visitor’s parking spot. This is true in atmosphere, this is true worship, and this is becoming true even in words. Language is changing because the church is changing.
In spite of this spiritual role reversal, God has a remnant. With Christlike grace and resolute courage we are to hold in highest esteem the precious Word of God, every jot and tittle. We must work more diligently to define truth and all of its intricacies to an unlearned culture; yet we should do so with the understanding that only the Spirit of God can give light and clarity to the unsaved. We are to expect further and more antagonistic rejection of gospel truth, down to the very words that are being used to declare it. In conclusion, we are to anticipate and hope for the soon return of the King of kings. He will take us to His glory, where the language is heavenly and the Word, which is Christ, never changes.