The Pugilist: Fight For Words

Stick through the quote for the last paragraph.

You see, that what we are doing today as we look out upon our current religious modes of speech, is assisting at the death bed of a word. It is sad to witness the death of any worthy thing, even of a worthy word. And worthy words do die, like any other worthy thing–if we do not take good care of them. How many worthy words have already died under our very eyes, because we did not take care of them! Tennyson calls our attention to one of them. The grand old name of gentleman,” he sings, “defamed by every charalatan, and soil’d with all ignoble use.” If you persist in calling people who are not gentleman by the name of gentleman, you do not make them gentleman by so calling them, but you end up making the word gentleman that kind of people.

…If everything that is called Christianity in these days is Christianity, then there is no such thing as Christianity. A name applied indiscriminately to everything, designates nothing.

The words ‘Redeem,’ ‘Redemption,’ ‘Redeemer’ are going the same way. When we use these terms in so comprehensive a sense…that we understand by “Redemption” whatever benefit we suppose ourselves to receive through Christ,–no matter what we happen to think that benefit is–and call Him “Redeemer” merely in order to express the fact that we somehow or other relate this benefit to Him–no matter how loosely or unessentially – we have simply evacuated the terms of all meaning, and would do better to wipe them out of our vocabulary.

I think you will agree with me that it is a sad thing to see words like these die like this. And I hope you will determine that, God helping you, you will not let them die thus, if any care on your part can preserve them in life and vigor. But the dying of the words is not the saddest thing which we see here. The saddest thing is the dying out of the hearts of men of the things for which the words stand.  – B.B. Warfield in “Redeemer” and “Redemption”

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