We’re losing the meaning of our uniquely Christian words.
I listened to a Phil Johnson interview where he talked about being caught off guard this spring with the flooding-in and vehemence of the social justice movement and the racial equality woke movement.
It is a true fact that many of our younger people think that ‘social justice’ is the same thing as ‘biblical justice’ when they certainly are not.
Biblical illiteracy is high, and with the lack of actually reading the Bible, younger people are losing the meaning of foundational words like justification, sanctification, glorification. It doesn’t help when venerable theologians choose to use phrases like “future justification; instead of ‘justification’ and confuse, well, just about everybody.
Some years ago I enjoyed the Apologetic Index’s listing of the Emerging Church: Glossary of Emergent Terms For Those New to the Conversation. It was funny, if you were up on the movement. It was also sad to see how devastatingly accurate those writers were about the co-opting of normal terms and made to mean something new. Like this entry to their ‘dictionary’-
Christ – An incredible, outstanding man in the Bible who left behind a valuable story that enables us to make the world a better place. Some people (including some in the emergent conversation) say he is a divine being, but this concept is subject to deconstruction.
Since we in our native countries speak a language to each other and are subsequently understood, we tend to think that language stays the same. It doesn’t. Language isn’t static. Meanings shift and move all the time. Hogwash was a word that came into use, rise int he 1700s, peaked in the 1800s and now you rarely see it written anymore and even more rarely, spoken. Lots of words that are currently in use weren’t a existence when I was a kid, because the thing the word refers to wasn’t invented. Compact Disc (and even that is dwindling as digital music takes over), surf-n-turf, head trip, grok, miniseries, and biohazard were words that were new when I was growing up.
New words today would include adulting, sup, suh, trill…sigh, are currently trendy words.
Or words still exist but change meaning. When I was growing up, incontinent means liable to pee one’s pants. 2 Timothy 3:3 uses the word incontinent-
Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
No it does not mean that men everywhere will be dribbling. The word in the 1300s-1400s used to mean without self-control emotionally and physically, now it evokes only the lack of control over the bladder. We don’t use the word dayspring much anymore. Suffer in the old translation of “suffer the little children to come unto me” has a different meaning now. We don’t see words like froward, graven, cleave, or husbandman in common use these days.
So words fall in and out of use, new words emerge, and old words shift meaning.
However the thread of Christianity depends on a unity from one generation to the next of mutual understanding of our important words. Words handed down that form the bricks of our faith must be used, taught, and widely understood. We must understand the important terms.
Hence the Word of the Week.
Defined by Baker’s Exegetical Dictionary, public domain. More at link
Justification is the declaring of a person to be just or righteous. It is a legal term signifying acquittal.
Accordingly it is not surprising that salvation is often viewed in legal terms. The basic question in all religion is, “How can sinful people be just (i.e., be justified) before the holy God?” Justification is a legal term with a meaning like”acquittal”; in religion it points to the process whereby a person is declared to be right before God. That person should be an upright and good person, but justification does not point to qualities like these. That is rather the content of sanctification. Justification points to the acquittal of one who is tried before God. In both the Old Testament and the New the question receives a good deal of attention and in both it is clear that people cannot bring about their justification by their own efforts.The legal force of the terminology is clear when Job exclaims, “Now that I have prepared my case, I know I will be vindicated” ( Job 13:18 ).
Justification means that God brings down the gavel and declares a person righteous, despite their crimes, because they have passed through the Righteous Door of Jesus. This was enacted when Jesus died on the cross, becoming sin for us, and then His righteousness was imputed to us. Therefore God can and does declared His elect justified, i.e. no longer under penalty for their crimes.
Phil Johnson wonderfully explains it here in this sermon-
Who Can Condemn Us?
May 27, 2018 | Romans 8:34
More explanations here
Got Questions: What is Justification?