In reading Scott’s blog on the definition of marriage, I was struck anew that its redefinition has already happened. As the thinking in the West has shifted from the Biblical worldview that helped to shape Europe (and was foundational to the birth of the USA) to an Atheistic materialistic worldview, new words enter our vocabulary and old words are redefined. Scott has rightly pointed out that this “has already happened!” The atheistic ideas are working their way out in society in our laws and behavior and we are beginning to reap the consequences.
Recently in California, the citizens’ initiative Proposition 8 was passed. The purpose of this initiative was to enshrine in the California constitution what had been assumed at the writing of the constitution by virtually everyone in the state: that as public policy, marriage is between one man and one woman. We are thankful that the church in California led the way in establishing the initiative and seeing that it was passed. This is an example of how the church can engage in and help reform the culture. This kind of initiative needs to continue and expand nationally and globally.
However, the church needs to realize that the larger battle is to be fought in the realm of ideas and in the defining of words. She needs to send her best and brightest to teach in the universities and to occupy the gates of our cities and the sectors of our societies. In other words, we need to bring Kingdom culture of truth, beauty, and goodness into society at all levels; in our homes, to institutions, and to governance. A fight for language will be at the heart of this battle.
As Scott has pointed out, words are powerful.
God created the universe by speaking words (i.e. Genesis 1:3 – “and God said” and Genesis 1:5 – “and God called”). Jesus, Himself, is identified as the Word of God (John 1: 1, 14).
God created humans in His image (Genesis 1: 26-28). Part of what this means is that we are word-makers. This is reflected in the creative and analytical process of naming the animals (Genesis 2: 19-20).
Words are powerful. God spoke words to create the universe and humans speak words to shape our world and create culture.
Noah Webster, the founder of early American education, was America’s first lexicographer. Webster watched the rise of atheism in Europe, and the French revolution which sought to establish a society free from religions rather than as the American society that established freedom of religion. He understood that a nation would be shaped by her words and that the person who defines the terms would define the nation. He understood the need for the new nation to have a defining dictionary that was based on a Biblical worldview and principle. These would then form or reform government, education, the arts, science, and family. So he labored from the time he came to Christ in 1808, until 1828 to define the words that would build a nation specifically grounded in Biblical worldview and principle. People who desire to reform their nation around a Biblical worldview would do well to learn from Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language. An online version can be found by clicking here.
-Darrow L. Miller