Translation Required

A brief article entitled “Preachers’ Language” caught my attention. It gave humorous examples of coded statements preachers use to impress people or hide what they really mean:

“It has been the teaching of the church down through the centuries…” (The early fathers taught this, but it doesn’t make sense to me).

“The consensus of modern theological thinking is…” (One of my seminary professors said).

“In the words of the poet…” (I can’t remember which poet wrote this). — The Christian Century, May, 1957

The world is filled with double talk. People in all walks

of life mislead others by using veiled expressions:

A secretary tells a man who has applied for a job, “We’ll call you.” Translated: You didn‘t get the job.

  • A shopper tells a merchant, “I may be interested. I’ll come back later.” Translated: You’ll never see me again.
  • A politician promises: “You’re going to see some big changes if I’m elected.” Translated: If I get the office, you’ll see the same old thing.
  • An angry father asks his son, “Why did you lie to me?” The confused son responds, “But Dad, I heard you lie to our neighbor.” “Well,” the father replies, “you’re too young to understand.” Translated: If you follow my example, you’ll be as big a hypocrite as I am.
  • A church member says, “I just don’t have time to read my Bible.” Translated: I watch too much television.
  • A gossiper says, “I don’t mean anything bad about this, but…” Translated: I hope this makes you mad at the person I’m talking about.
  • Now let’s go back to preachers and try to interpret some of the expressions they use today:
  • “Bible scholars are divided on this question.” Translated: I don’t know.
  • ·Brother __________ said…” Translated: I don’t know.
  • “It is my studied opinion.” Translated: It’s my opinion.
  • “I’ve looked at over a dozen commentaries on this passage.” Translated: I spend more time reading commentaries than I read the Bible.
  •  “This is not a salvation issue, but…” Translated: I’m about to make a bigger deal out of this than I should.
  •  “God told me…” Translated: It’s not in the Bible.
  •  “I’m going to share with you something you’ve never heard before.” Translated: It’s not in the Bible.
  •  “Jesus said ‘Ask, and it shall be given.’” Translated: Give me your money.
  •  “The Bible is a complex book.” Translated: Don’t study it yourself. I’ll tell you what it means.
  •  “The New Testament epistles were ‘occasional’ letters.” Translated: What Paul said about the role of women doesn’t apply today.
  •  “I know what the English says in Acts 2:38, but Greek experts say…” Translated: I don’t believe what Peter said in this verse.

“Prove all things: hold fast that which is good” (I Thess. 5:21).

Kerry Duke

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