loaded words

At a recent Mennonite Brethren study conference, “Confessing Jesus in a Pluralistic World,” I thought it would be interesting to note words and phrases that are “loaded” – words carrying multiple, often divergent, meanings. And when not properly defined, these words can lead to inaccurate assumptions made by the listeners and perhaps lead to unnecessary confusion (disagreement!) within the group. Here’s my un-exhausted list in no particular order:

Sin, admire, eternal life, wrath, community discernment, team, protect God, peace, murder, hostility, gospel, atonement, penal substitution, enemies, guilt, shame, appeasement, secular, pluralistic, application, discipleship, grace, redeemed, lost people, theological anchor, Anabaptist, evangelical, authoritative, mutual submission, confession, inclusion, salvation, them, justice, violence, dialogue…

These are just a few of the terms that were being bandied about as we explored together what confessing Jesus means in our culture. As you can probably tell by the list, the old adage, “define your terms” could go a long way towards achieving understanding in any large group, such as 200+ Mennonite Brethren leaders.

I hope to post more on the conference soon...

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