LANGUAGE - A TOOL OF MANIPULATION?

Curtis J. Jenkins

I have a friend who once expressed to me that she felt hindered from attaining spiritual fulfillment and a thorough understanding of the Word of God because she didn't know Greek. Countless others have felt troubled or fainthearted because they, too, were ignorant of the Greek so often used to plumb the mysterious depths of scripture by those who measure Godliness by education.

Friends, do not be intimidated by those who mouth great swelling words, neither be ashamed of your own simple faith, unencumbered by the wisdom of man. Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as you (Matt. 18:1-6). Many wonderful things have been hidden from the "wise and prudent" by God Himself, but He has chosen to reveal them unto those the Lord described as "babes" (Lk. 10: 17-24).

From the Garden, language has been used as a tool of manipulation to gain advantage over the less shrewd. Under the guise of 'instruction', those who measure and compare themselves by and among themselves demonstrate in their presentations that the Scriptures alone are not enough. A special knowledge is required. A knowledge only they - the learned, the clever, the notable - possess. Identified among the ancients as "Gnosticism," this divisive ship wrecker of faith is by no means dead! Nowhere is this more evident than in the misusing of Greek to re-explain and re-define scripture in our own age.

It is possible to define a foreign sound any way you choose. I have read an article written by some sound cleric who took his place among those who take scripture, filter it through a "Greek" word, and then give it a new definition; only the "Greek" word he used wasn't a Greek word at all! It only looked and sounded Greek. Thus, both laity and clergy were deceived! Friends, I warn you concerning anyone who uses a foreign tongue to "aid" in the explanation of a language you already know. This is a practice not unknown to cults. Jesus doesn't do this. The Apostles do not do this, nor do the Prophets.

I assert that many of those who incessantly cite Greek to supposedly illuminate scripture are overthrowing the faith of their weaker brethren, and are themselves only parroting the work and study of others - without giving due acknowledgment. Two or three semesters of New Testament Greek at some "Bible College" does not make a parrot truly knowledgeable of Greek. It simply yields a pidgin-speaking parrot! This time would be better spent studying the parameters of language and linguistics, for then they would learn that the meanings of words are not found either in the word itself, its letters or its history. Rather, the meaning is found - no, locked - inside the heart and mind of the one who uses - or used - it.

Is there a place for the use "original language" in the communicating of God's Word to others? Consider:

1. Romans 8. Neither reading, writing nor a knowledge of tongues is necessary for salvation, thank God. Let this help us all keep the use of Greek - and God's Grace - in perspective.

2. Romans 14. How will the use of some Greek word affect those with a simple heart? Will it foster faith in God, or in you? What will be gained with its use that would be lost without it?

3. II Timothy 3. Is there a legitimate error in the translation? Who made that determination? How extensive or limited is your knowledge, and do you make that clear?

4. I Corinthians 2. Are you plagiarizing the work of others? What are your motives in using Greek words?

5. I Corinthians 14. Are you devoting ample time to clearly explaining what you are saying and why, or are you simply blowing smoke and bull-feathers to showcase your message?

God's Word is powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword. His Gospel is the very power unto salvation! What need do we have to try to embellish such simple greatness? Let us all be quicker to hear and slower to speak.

In the next article, I will discuss language in general, and examine some myths regarding the "original language" doctrine. Until next time, let us resolve to utter with the tongue words easy to understand.