Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Power of Language

It probably comes as no surprise to you that language plays a big role in our understanding of the world. But how big is a matter of debate.

Language shapes our worldview.

Consider how we talk about current issues. We use terms such as "right-wing" conservative, or "leftist" organization. We speak of liberal theology and conservative theology. We talk about "pro-war" and "anti-war." And by doing so, we begin to believe, and our minds are shaped, by the rhetoric.

For instance, the issue of war is divided, in some people's minds, between a pro-war stance and an anti-war stance. There is no other way to see the issue. Therefore, relational interactions in life can be centered around defeating those who hold an opposing viewpoint. But the issue is never between being for war, or against war. It is just like being for disciplining our children or against disciplining them. That is not the point. If you love your child, you will discipline them, whether you want to or not. But more importantly, God says that is the way we love them and achieve what's best for them.

Notice I didn't say that discipline will achieve love or what's best, but that it is the path to achieving those things according to the word of God. Discipline may be a means, but it certainly not the goal. There are other factors God mentions that will make discipline effective. But that is besides the point. Love is the goal, not the discipline. With war, the same holds true. War is a means to good and bad objectives, whether we want war or don't want war. God uses war for his purposes, and sometimes incites it. We are not commanded to love war nor cower in fear of it. But again, even this example is besides the point.

How do we see the issues of today? What shapes how we view the titanic struggle between good and evil? Don't be fooled, neither God nor the Devil are confused. We all base our assumptions on something. If we step back and view how we formulate our thoughts and words, it is a good indication of what is shaping our thinking.

And a hint: If it's not the Bible, it's probably wrong.

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