Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Word Meanings

Much of the following is from the preface to Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis.  Any sentence quoted came from that book. I have been on a Lewis kick, reading and rereading all that he wrote. 

Like Lewis, I want words to have an exact meaning; not just mean what anything thinks they mean. I don’t want them diluted or expanded.   let’s just call a spade a 256px-CSLewisPlaquespade and let a word mean what it was supposed to mean.  Lewis points out in his preface that the world “Gentleman” once meant man who was a landowner.  It had only that one definition.  But people started deciding that “Gentleman” had characteristics other than landownership and they formulated what those characteristics ought to be.  For example, to them, Gentleman meant kind.  So an unkind person was not a Gentleman.  Then Gentleman meant nice, and when it finally resolved, Gentleman meant only a person that the speaker liked.  There already were terms for nice and kind people.  Nice.  Kind.  It was not necessary to dilute the term Gentleman so it meant nothing anymore. 

In the same manner, Christian has been diluted.  “The name Christians was first given at Antioch (Acts 11:26) to ‘the disciples’, to those who accepted the teaching of the apostles.  If we refine or spiritualize “Christian” then the word is no good to anyone.  If we spiritualize it we can say that Christians have no right to determine who is or who is not close to God.  If we refine it, non-believers will call anyone who is good (or bad or bigoted or . . . ) a Christian.   But it is no refinement because we already have words for good, bad, and bigoted.   So the word Christian is ruined because it means nothing or we can go back to the original meaning and say that a Christian is one who accepts the teaching of the Apostles, that is the New Testament.

That leaves it wide open denominationally and all we can really say is that someone is a good Christian, if they live lives worthy of the Apostles’ teaching or a bad Christian if they accept the Apostles’ teaching, but live unworthy lives.

Let’s keep the word Christian to its original meaning.  A clear meaning.  An undiluted meaning.  A good word.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

New Earth or Why I want the Windows Open


The TV weather forecaster has been predicting 90 degree days for the past week.  As a result, we have had the windows closed and the air conditioning on.tree for blogger bkgd (768x1024) 

When windows and doors are closed, it’s ethereally quiet.  I don’t hear the crickets, frogs, birds, squirrels, or the wind in the trees.  I don’t hear the automobiles with squealing breaks or trucks’ rumbling engines.  I don’t hear neighbors’ cars starting and pulling away or their children’s voices protesting.  Silence reigns with intermittent thunders of airplanes and helicopters, and the quiet hums from my computer and the refrigerator.  It seems lonely and sad—like death--a body surrounded by glass and timber—coffined--where outside, somewhere, a hostile but desperately desired world awaits.  

This morning, standing at the kitchen sink, which no longer even drips, drips, drips because the faucet is new, I realized that I was being given a foretaste of the new heaven and earth where the Holy One himself will be our light, a light without heat, a temperature fit—as we seem currently unfit to survive hot humid days and cold winter nights--for our perfect enjoyment.  Then the windows will be flung open for us and the sound of birds, crickets, all the animals and insects will meet our ears, far clearer and sweeter than we perceive them now.  The shouts and cries of our neighbors will be music.  Though now we see through dim eyes and clouded glass, then we will see face to face, truly see colors beyond compare, a green bower greener than green, a bluer than blue sky.  Although we cannot perceive it now, save in glimpses from a kitchen sink, our real home, our true abode awaits.  Even so, Come Lord Jesus!