It is possible to speak English and yet not communicate. Communication is the exchange of words. One person speaks and another listens. Implicit in the process is that there is a level of comprehension.
Unlike dead languages that are static, living languages continue to grow and change. This is obvious to anyone trying to read a copy of the 1611 King James Bible. The original spelling, grammar, and meaning of many of the words are different from today.
One example of a change of meaning is the word “let” used twice in 2 Thessalonians 2. The word originally meant, “to hinder” now “let” means, “to allow,” (2 Thess.2:6, 7, KJV). Another is in 1 Thess. 4, “prevent” meant “to go before” now the word means “to hinder,” (1 Thess. 4:15, KJV).
There are many words and expressions used in our circles (assemblies) that mean little or nothing to the unsaved or the “uninitiated”. Some people call these words or phrases – tongue in cheek, “Christian-eze” or by some as “Brethren-eze”.
This is probably a non-issue in assemblies with a demographic of fifty year olds or older. If there are younger people, immigrants who speak English as a second language or unsaved coming in it may be good to consider what words are used. This may also be important if there are new converts or the possibility of new believers coming into the building.
Here are some examples of phrases that would be foreign to the uninitiated. Expressions such as, “if there be some here that know not the Lord,” or “if the Lord be not come “or,” the next service will be…” convey little to strangers.
Some words that convey truth to many of us would be foreign to those in view in this article. Words such as sanctification, glorification, propitiation, atonement – are all good words but convey concepts which need explanation. There are words in the KJV which are beyond most of us – dissimulation, profligacy, dissipation, and prodigal to name a few.
A good test
It is good to consider what people are really hearing in our meetings. It makes sense to explain an idea or a concept in simpler terms. A test to see if you understand a word is – can you define the word without using that word in your definition?
By way of illustration, if I had started this article using obscure words you would not likely have read this far. Words like elocution, erudite, verbosity, etymology would cause most to accuse the author of hubris and verbiage. The reaction of many would be,”Why doesn’t he speak plain English?”