After reading a great post over at Doulogos on relativism, that topic got me thinking…

We commonly use terms such as “works salvation“, “sincerity gospel“, and even “Mormon Missionary“. Now I know the authors of posts, articles, papers, and books that use these terms generally do not intend to say that one can achieve salvation by their own merit through works, or by being sincere in some belief (whatever the substance of it may be) that person will be ‘saved’, or a mormon young man on his 2 year rotation is proclaiming the Gospel of God in Christ. (And before I go any further please understand that Daniel is speaking against heresy here, not for it in masked language.)

Should we propose a new lexicon for these things? Would we not be better served in our thinking by saying “works righteousness heresy“, and “sincerity belief system“, and “mormon false teacher?” Am I going “fundy” here? Well, I hope not.

I recognize there is serious value in approaching these ideas from the “works salvation” terminology. For the more polemical, it aids the argument by pointing to the fallacious quite clearly.

There is also the (potentially more controversial) usage of terms in contextualization. I find thinking in this context exposes some of my own bias toward certain usage (e.g. “muslim believer” or “american christian” or “nominal christian”) depending on the audience (believer/non-believer, reformed/unreformed, etc.).

All of this pondering leaves me thinking about how exactly we choose to be very honest, loving, and forthright in our speech. Whether through oral or written means, how do we speak the truth in love with our religious terminology?

I think we should not tolerate the disastrous relativism of viewing truth and love as a dichotomy in expression. I know it has often occurred to me that I could (or did) “water down” some of that salty speech I intend to share with an unbelieving friend, or an arminean coworker. How does that serve to point them to Christ when I skirt the issue, thereby honoring some earthly esteem over the truth of my God?! Let us repent (myself especially) of being diplomatic with men to avoid speaking the truth of Christ.

I think Daniel uses the terms well in his post to get his point across. Yet I still have some reluctance to the common usage. Perhaps it is best expressed in this example:

Do I really think saying “works salvation” to refer to a heresy points believers astray, NO. Do I really think saying someone is a “mormon missionary” is offensive and misleading, YES.

This draws out the fact that the key is the christian usage of the word that I think is correct, and that other meanings for it confuse the truth of the christian meaning. So some may say as long as missionary is preceded by mormon, we haven’t lost the meaning of missionary to mormon twisting. And that objection is right! Christians are not the only ones with access to words and can not appropriate words for thier own usage to the neglect of everyone else.

Ultimately missionary means messenger, and as much as I’d like to make it mean christian messenger because it often does mean christian messenger, I can’t claim it always does.

A friend helped me see this today, that the christianese words are not holy unto themselves. It seemed my gut reaction was to cannonize the terms. Perhaps a better way is to use the common grounds of the terms to point to The Gospel.

“…so, you’re a missionary…”