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The Diabolical Heritage of the English Language

May 05, 2017

by Rev. Stan Key
Originally published in Face to Face: Intimate Moments with God © 2013. Reprinted by permission of the author.

"But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ" (2 Corinthians 11:3, ESV).

If I were Satan and my mission to capture souls for hell, I think my first theater of operations would be the dictionary. I could greatly enhance my diabolical plan for world dominion if I could subtly change the meaning of words so that verbal accuracy was lost and truth became foggy. My dictionary might include entries such as the following.

Bigot n. Anyone who has strong beliefs about anything you don't approve of.

Christian adj. Nice.

Evangelical n. Right-wing political zealot who desires a theocracy. (see "bigot")

Faith n. Believing something you know isn't true. Synonyms: gullibility, naiveté, wishful thinking, irrationality.

God n. 1. A swear word. 2. A benevolent cosmic influence that wants everyone to have a nice day. 3. A generic term useful for describing ultimate realities one knows nothing about, e.g. God helps those who help themselves.

Heaven n. The place where everyone goes when they die. Christians will sit on clouds and strum harps, and everyone else will go to a giant amusement park and party forever. Synonyms: Las Vegas, nirvana, happy hunting grounds, Shangri-La.

Holy adj. Sanctimonious, puritanical, Pharisaical, hypocritical.

Human Being n. A highly evolved mammal with non-specific gender.

Love n. 1. The feeling one feels when one feels good feelings. 2. Being made happy; experiencing pleasure, e.g. I love chocolate cake. I love my wife. 3. Something one can't control; it "happens," e.g. My sister has fallen in (or out of) love.

Prayer n. A psychological method of visualizing positive outcomes. Self-talk. A way to attain harmony and peace.

Sabbath n. archaic. The weekend.

Sin n. archaic A word that describes the behavior of Attila the Hun, Hitler and people you don't like. When applied to yourself, it is preferable to use words such as "issue," "problem," "growth area" or "inappropriate behavior." e.g. My habit of sleeping with my neighbor's wife is an issue that I need to work on.

Success n. The state of getting one's own way.

Truth n. Personal preference, opinion. Note: The word should never be capitalized.

"Men suppose their reason has command over their words,
still it happens that words in return exercise authority on reason."
Francis Bacon

Point to Ponder: Dictionaries are descriptive, not prescriptive; they describe the way we use language rather than telling us how we should use it. How do your own definitions of the above terms describe you and your view of today's culture?

Prayer Focus: For wisdom and insight to help you discern which of your thought processes come from the Word of God and which ones come from culture.

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