If you have read enough blog posts and general news stories, you will find a common thread - the hijacking of words and phrases to make them mean something they do not mean. I offer some examples:
Love me - approve my lifestyle
Don't judge me - approve my lifestyle
The Middle Position - approve my lifestyle
Humility - not taking a position, my position, the "middle position"
Bigot - not agreeing with my lifestyle
Legalism - not agreeing with my lifestyle
Biblical - my lifestyle
Fundamentalist - Calvinist
I just offer these few, knowing that there are others. While this is played out clearly in debates about sexuality, you see this all the time when people debate any position. We need to be careful here to take phrases/words from Scripture and then fit them into our cultural lens. I know on one level, that is always happening, but on a deeper level, our words must be informed by how Scripture talks about those words. John 3:16 is surrounded by passages of judgement. Matthew 7:1 is followed by instructions on how to judge. Paul would write about humilty and also hand down strong words to the church and even call out false teachers by name. He would also speak strongly against legalism while laying down ethical teaching.
Am I a bigot? It seems so, though I have friends who live a homosexual lifestyle and others who disdain the Christian faith. Am I a fundamentalist? Last time I checked I haven't separated from anything, but maybe it now just means - believes the Bible is innerant. Am I a legalist? I do believe in specific sins, though I always lead discussions with the gospel.
If we change the meaning of the words, then the shoe will always fit.
Darren Carlson is the Founder and President of Training Leaders International. As President, Darren oversees the general direction of the ministry and serves as an advocate for pastors with little access to formal training and thoughtful cross-cultural theological engagement. You can connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.