Sunday, June 1, 2008

Precise Definitions Please

If you take a visual tour of the evangelical blog world, you will see many people arguing about many different things. Some are worth discussing, while some are not. Some issues are worth standing up for, while some are not. There is simply no end to what Christians will argue about.

I do think some of the dialog, as long as its done in a Christlike manner, can be helpful. It is good to be challenged to know why we believe what we believe. I always enjoy it when someone posts a comment on this blog that may not agree with something I have said. It causes me to think about what I believe.

As I read blogs, I see another reason why we get in quite so many arguments. We are often not clear in what we write. When we use words (which blogging obviously requires), we need to take time to explain exactly what we mean. There are many terms in the bible that have a wide range of meaning based on the context. For example, words such as "love," "salvation," "sanctification," "world," "beginning," "all," "fruit," and "dog" can all mean different things based on what the author had in mind. While the biblical authors were careful to explain what they meant, we are often sloppy writers.

We need to be better definers.

Many blog-world arguments stem directly from sloppy writing. I am as guilty of this as anyone else. We tend to write quickly, assuming that others will understand what WE mean. However, it doesn't work that way. Others cannot see our body language or hear our tone of voice. All they can see is the words we write. We often leave a lot to be desired when it comes to specificity and precision. We need to hit the bullseye of what we mean.

So what can we do to cut off needless arguments before they begin?

Let me suggest a few things:
1) Define all important terms!
2) When writing, remember that others will be reading what is on the screen, not what is in your head. Don't make the reader assume anything or read between the lines.
3) Go overboard with clarity. Especially when dealing with deep concepts, go out of your way to be clear in what you mean.
4) Restate your important points with different words.
5) Read over your post before posting it. While you do this, try to put yourself in the position of a reader who has stumbled upon your blog for the first time.

I hope I've been clear enough in this post.

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