No Empty Words

We're glad our readers value the 'nobility of diction.'

Evangelicals can be sticklers for precise language. Credit all those hours of color-coded inductive Bible study, perhaps. Or the Bible's descriptions of powerful blessings, curses, and prophecies—and repeated injunctions against empty words. But among my recent discussions with readers is whether we mean compassion when we say social justice. Or whether people should say Christmas instead of holidays. Or whether anti-abortion is a term that undermines the pro-life movement.

Editors tend to be language fanatics, too. In my office is a prayer from the fourth-century bishop Hilary of Poitiers: "Almighty God, bestow on us the meaning of words, the light of understanding, the nobility of diction, and faith of the true nature. And grant that what we believe we may also speak." It's a prayer we need daily: As I write this, we at Christianity Today are debating whether church (as in the universal body of believers) should be used to describe what goes on in the parachurch as well as in congregations. That's just one of the dozens (hundreds?) of semantic negotiations that occur as we finish each issue.

Editing an evangelical magazine, then, gives us an opportunity to take joy in the meaning and power of words. In this issue alone, we examine the backlash against The C. S. Lewis Bible because of its use of gender-inclusive language. Our Under Discussion panel examines whether stingy is a word that has a relative or precise meaning. And, in our cover story, editor at large Collin Hansen examines the impassioned debate over how to translate Son of God for Muslim Bible readers. This issue also includes one of our favorite celebrations of words: the annual CT book awards. (We've given increased prominence to our annual movie and music ...

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Christianity Today
No Empty Words
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In the Magazine

February 2011

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