We have said many times in this blog that words mean things, and it is sometimes fascinating to go back and look at where words come from and how they come to mean what they mean. It is also interesting and sometimes frightening how words can be manipulated to mean something different and when that happens we change reality. To lose the language is awful thing and reverts us to a Babel like state of confusion. I get chided once and awhile for getting political but it is important for people of faith to understand how their beliefs can be manipulated and confused by the use of language in subtle ways. For instance, I remember a President of a certain party who, we were told over and over again was a “moderate”. My response was that if this guy was a moderate the word radical means nothing anymore. That is the point. To constantly and consistently label someone who was obviously well out on the left a moderate moves that needle on what it means to be on the “right”. An example is abortion. There was a time when the idea of a government funded abortion was a “radical” idea and now when someone says that we should stop giving tax dollars to Planned Parenthood, to actually remove them from the budget, that idea is considered “radical”. The phrase and question when tax cuts come up as to “how are we going to pay for that” hides a twist on reality that we have gotten used to. The question is usually whined out by a politician. The “we” is the government and the answer is the government pays for nothing. You and I do. The idea is that there is nothing that the government does that can use less money and if you get to keep more of your money something horrible will happen to the government is nonsense and always has been. Yet there are millions of people who fall for it year after year.
Words are important. God sends His Word. Jesus is His Word. Creation was a speech act. Words therefore mean things. To be human means that we are spoken too and can respond. Faith comes by hearing and hearing from the Word of God. This idea of the “word” for us as God’s people can never be separated from action. “Actions speak louder than words” we say, and we intuitively understand what that means. Don’t talk about doing something, do something. Jesus delves into this conception of reality in the parable of the two sons in Matthew 21 who both said the opposite of what they did. It does not work that way with God. What He says is what He does and what He does He speaks. It is the nature of God to create, to do, by Word.
We are going to be looking at words and how they developed and what it says about humanity that is defined primarily as beings that respond to speech.