Allow me to share with you the story of an old fashioned lady, quite delicate and elegant, especially in her language.
She and her husband were planning a vacation so she wrote to a campground for reservations. She wanted to make sure it was fully equipped, but didn’t know how to ask about the toilet facilities. She didn’t want to write ‘toilet’ in her letter. After much deliberation she though of the old fashioned term ‘bathroom commode’ but when she read the letter she had written she was still uncomfortable with the straightforward language. So she rewrote the letter and abbreviated bathroom commode to B.C. “Does the campground have it’s own B.C.?” she wrote.
Well, the campground owner wasn’t old fashioned at all and when he got the letter he couldn’t figure out what she was talking about. The B.C. business really stumped him. After worrying about it for awhile he showed the letter to some of the campers. Many of the campers were Baptists, and they were certain that the lady must be inquiring about the location of the local Baptist Church. So, the campground owner sat down and wrote the following reply.
I regret very much the delay in answering your letter, but I now take the pleasure of informing you that the B.C. is located six miles north of the campground. It is capable of seating 250 people at one time. I will admit that it is quite a distance away, if your in the habit of going regularly. But no doubt you will be pleased to know that a great number of people take their lunches and make a day of it.
They usually arrive early and stay late. The last time my wife and I went was 6 years ago, and it was so crowded that we had to stand up the whole time. Right now there is a supper planned to raise money for more seats. It will be held in the basement of the B.C. I would like to say tht it pains me that I am not able to attend regularly, but it is not for the lack of desire on my part. As we grow older, it seems to be more of an effort, particularly in cold weather.
If you decide to come down to the campgrounds, perhaps I could go with you the first time, sit with you, and introduce you to all the folks.
Remember that this is a friendly community.
If two parties are using the same terms in different ways what do you have? Confusion.
Medieval scholastics had a Latin phrase that was almost a motto for them. “When there is confusion, make a distinction.”
How many of you have read the dialogues of Plato? What is the first thing that Socrates always did in his effort to arrive at understanding? – He forced those involved in the discussion to define their terms. “What is justice? Don’t give me examples of justice, define it.”
How many of you have been involved in dialogue with other faiths? Do they use the same theological vocabulary as you? Yes. Does it mean the same thing? Probably not.
As a religious leader, guarding your flock, you must make sure that you have defined your faith for them and that your flock understands the language games that are played in the theological marketplace of ideas.
Are you a follower of Jesus Christ? Really? What does that mean?