The Christian and Language

 Eugene Peterson wrote a few helpful things about words in his introduction to Tell it Slant.  I appreciate his take on language and how Christians should speak:

Language and the way we use it in the Christian community are the focus on this conversation on the spirituality of language.  Language, all of it – every vowel, every consonant – is a gift of God.  God uses language to create and command us; we use language to confess our sins and sing praises to God.  We use this very same language getting to know one another, buying and selling, writing letters and reading books.  We use the same words in talking to one another that we use when we’re talking to God: same nouns and verbs, same adverbs and adjectives, same conjunctions and interjections, same prepositions and pronouns.  There is no “Holy Ghost” language used for matters of God and salvation and then a separate secular language for buying cabbages and cars.  ‘Give us this day our daily bread’ and ‘pass the potatoes’ come out of the same language pool.

There is a lot more to speaking than getting the right words and pronouncing them right.  Who we are and the way we speak make all the difference.  We can sure think of enough creative ways to use words badly: we can blaspheme and curse, we can lie and deceive, we can bully and abuse, we can gossip and debunk.  Or not.  Every time we open our mouths, whether in conversation with one another or in prayer to the Lord, Christian truth and community in every generation is that we diligently develop a voice that speaks in consonance with the God who speaks, that we speak in such a way that truth is told and community is formed, and that we pray to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and not to some golden calf idol that has been fashioned by one of the numerous descendants of Aaron.

Eugene Peterson, Tell it Slant, p. 2-3.

Shane Lems

Advertisements