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Tuesday, January 26, 2016


I suppose I shall have to learn a foreign language. I say this because it appears that my "first language", the language that I grew up speaking and the language I was taught in school and even the language for which I have multiple dictionaries no longer means what it once meant. We know, for instance, that "marriage" no longer means what it meant just a year ago. The Supreme Court self-consciously provided a redefinition (or, rather, deleted the old one without supplying a new one). But so many others mean so many other things as most of us are well aware. "Judgmental" is not judgmental when it is being judgmental of those deemed judgmental. Love once meant many things but is now mostly narrowed to "feel warmly toward" along with, generally, an expected sexual component. "Tolerance" once meant "the willingness to allow the existence of something with which one does not agree" but now means "to embrace and celebrate the ideas of others". Just a couple of terms that have changed that I've mentioned before.

Here's another one: "arrogant". The word used to mean "having an exaggerated opinion of one's abilities or value" but has now changed. It is "arrogant", now, to say, "The Bible says this which, you know, means just what it says." It is not arrogant to say, "We can't know what that means and it is arrogant of you to think we can." It is now arrogant to say, "God's Word tells me I must work on this in my life. Do you?" It is not arrogant to say, "You're wrong because I know better." I'm not able to figure this out.

It is not arrogant to say, "Jesus said, 'no one comes to the Father but through Me.'" (John 14:6) despite claims that it's arrogant for us to claim exclusivity. In fact, the opposite would be true. To deny exclusivity in the face of Jesus's own words would definitely be arrogant (having an exaggerated opinion of one's abilities). To hold that "The unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." (1 Cor 6:9-10) is not arrogant. To deny it is. To argue that the Bible is the God-breathed Word of God (2 Tim 3:16-17) is not to take an arrogant position; it is taking a position subservient to the Word of God. To do otherwise is the epitome of arrogance. To hold something as true because the Bible says it is is not arrogant, but today it is considered humble to deny it. Arrogance is not found in agreeing with God's Word; it is found in denying it. And humility is not located in the willingness to affirm we cannot know; it is found ... in agreeing with God.

But, as I said, it appears that the English language is so sharply changing that longstanding definitions are not being simply altered, but so altered to mean the opposite in some places. Apparently "arrogant" is one of those terms. Welcome to the new Tower of Babel.


Alec said...

Stan, hadn't thought about "arrogance" in the way you are describing. All of this redefinition of words to mean the opposite of their historical usage is described precisely in George Orwell's 1984. If you haven't read it since high school, it's a short read and worth going through again. In some ways it's like reading a newspaper.


Bob said...

i remember the first time i considered the idea that i was called to be one of the Elect.
Ref Romans 8:29
i mentioned to a friend, either i am being totally arrogant for believing such a thing. OR i am one of the MOST blessed. Here is a classic case of where the news is so Good that i shied away for fear of being an egotistical nutcase. but to my surprise the more i studied the case, the more i see what can be construed as arrogance is in fact a joyful blessing.

Stan said...

I read it in the last few years and was stunned at his insight. Then there's this interesting video about the actual meaning of "Orwellian".

David said...

The words seem to be shifting based on the feeling invoked by the word rather than the actual application of the word. Maybe a new form of false logic? If I can get you to feel badly about your position without actually arising against your position but your feelings, I can win the argument. We've seen it here many times. We all know being arrogant is bad, so if we accuse someone of arrogance they must backpedal to overcome that perceive sentiment. Also, God can never be arrogant because He can't have a higher opinion of Himself. He is the single most important being, and it is not arrogant for Him to believe so.

Alec said...

Well done video. Thanks for pointing it out. I'll feature that in tomorrow's post.

Stan said...

Yes, indeed, David. LOTS of that going on. "Intolerant", "homophobic", "judgmental", "rightwing" ... the list goes on and on.

In a group at church a week ago I asked them, "Was Jesus self-righteous?" "Oh, no," they assured me. "But," I said, "was He not, indeed, righteous within Himself? Was He not actually, truly self-righteous?" And they started to see it. Jesus must be self-righteous, God must be self-centered, and God cannot have an overinflated view of Himself.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

There is one troll (initials D.T.) who continually assaults as arrogant those who proclaim what the Bible says -- he knows they are arrogant because they can't possibly know what the Bible says because it disagrees with what HE says the Bible says.

There are a lot of his ilk out there in the liberal "church," and they are also the same ones redefining (or assisting in the redefining) of all the other words you note.

Stan said...

I have a problem with this accusation of arrogance thrown at me because "having an exaggerated opinion of one's abilities or value" is actually something I lack. For instance, I start with "Well, the Bible says ..." and end with something like, "those who practice homosexual behavior will not inherit the kingdom" (because, after all, that's what the text says) and I'm called "arrogant". But when I go to reconsider I find I cannot because so much of this is not the kind of stuff that has been debated in the Church for ages. No, it has been settled for ages. No one in Church history questioned that statement. Not until the end of the 20th century into our time has anyone suggested that it was not what the text said or meant. So I say, "Well, I can have a sufficiently elevated view of my own abilities that I can claim that I, after 2100 years of Church history, have figured out that all of those nice church people were wrong and I have figured out the true meaning", but to me that sounds far more like arrogance than my simple, "But ... Christianity has always seen it this way." Mind you, I'm not talking about the kinds of things debated in Christendom here. The Bible is God's Word. Homosexual behavior is a sin. God is Sovereign. We are saved by faith apart from works. Lots of agreement ... until now. I don't have a sufficiently overdeveloped sense of my abilities to assume that point of view. "I've figured it out after all of them got it wrong." I guess I'm just not sufficiently liberal in my outlook.