Friday, March 14, 2008

New Words

I know it has been a while, but here goes another post. In some reading lately, I came across an Ablaze document titled "Covenant Churches." I figured this would be interesting to peruse. I found a new word in there that is troubling. It is "incarnational." No, not "incarnate" as in "incarnate God." Here is a quick quote:

The cross of Christ heralds the incarnational, expansionary
movement of the reign and rule of Jesus Christ in the hearts
and lives of people also today.

The usage of "incarnational" becomes problematic when you consider other english words with the "-al" ending. Those words usually mean "act of" or "being" such as confessional (act of being in confession), functional (having function) , and internal (being inside). What does "being incarnate" mean? Let me pull another variation of incarnate used.

This “Gospel imperative” spoken to the disciples as the
representative leaders of the church summarized the
will of God that the reign and rule of Jesus Christ in the
hearts and lives of people on earth (the kingdom of God)
be incarnated, expanded, and lived out in communities of
the faith, confession, and mission.

Catch the use? Since incarnate means "embodied in flesh" and "personified," and include that with the Christian verbiage about Christ as the Incarnate God, you are opening up a place of confusion. Are we "little incarnate christs"? Or are they trying to mean "living in the way of Christ"? I think the intention is probably the latter, but the lack of clarity leaves this too dangerously close to the edge. Creating new words in english is a dangerous proposition, as it is in any language.

I won't even start on the legalistic tone of the document. There are Baptist/Pentecostal type calls for service and the insinuation of a requirement to do something. This is not going to help churches expand the ministry. What helps is the Word of God spoken clearly and taught properly. Anything else is a weakened place to start missions from.

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