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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Locution Confusion--Part 1

John Piper is bad!

Imagine removing this statement from all context and eliminating tone. Extract from all surrounding indications, and try to figure out its meaning. For argument's sake, imagine seeing John Piper is bad! scribbled on a bathroom stall. What would the reader be subject to conclude?
    1. John Piper is deficient. He is not good at what he does.
    2. John Piper is below average. He may be able to complete his task, but in a bare level, understated way.
    3. John Piper is sick or ailing.
    4. Ironically, the least likely answer would probably be that he is morally depraved.

Things get even foggier. Tell the person that John Piper made the statement (or wrote the sentance on the stall) or even allow them to watch the small video (linked above) and they will come to yet another conclusion. In fact, not only will they come up with another explanation, they will come to a completely opposite perspective:
    5. John Piper is good, even possessing a superior edge.
Overtime, words often pick up new meanings or inflection. Over a great period of time (or unusual cultural shift), words may even take on contrary definitions. This can make language increasingly difficult, especially when one considers that words are being invented (and becoming obsolete) at the same time.

For the church, this has thrust a new word into our regular vocabulary:

Contextualize

I'm not going to debate fully the issue of contextualization (so step away from the keyboard if you were going to type, "Hey, we all contextualize, you hoser!" I don't want to deal with every nuance of "contextualization." However, I do hope to tackle two similar questions:

Is it bad if we have some unique words you will only hear in church?
Should we do all we can to replace them or change them?

[I should also point out that this video can answer what Piper meant, if you still are not sure. I also point out that Piper has an amazing book sale going on now through Thursday.]

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