Sunday, September 25, 2011

What do we call it? Words for Becoming a Christian

This is post 661.  Hummmmm. 

Recently in class a student said in a speech, "I got saved."  The student sitting in front of me whispered to another one, in my hearing, "What does that mean?

My point exactly. Let's talk about the ins and outs of what we call the experience.

Getting saved sounds country and doesn't really communicate. 

Accepting Christ as your savior is a little better, although some groups would say He already is the savior in a general sense, and they accept that, so what's the big deal.  Oh, change it to "accept Him as your personal Savior."  Then there is the problem of accepting.  Who is doing the accepting?  Isn't Jesus accepting us?  Who are we to accept Him?  The "he stands at the door and knocks" idea is from Revelation 3:20 and is in the context of the church as a whole, so does it apply to this experience?

Then there is "conversion."  If I say "I converted" it's very me-centered, and people say that when they convert from one religion to another that has nothing to do with Christianity.  If I say, "I was converted" I think that's closer, because it's not me doing the work, although some would think you were Jewish or Buddhist, not just general American pagan beforehand.

Then there is the now trendy, "become a Christ-follower."  I can see that, although a lot of people who use it are using it to be trendy and not because they are really following Christ.  They are using it instead of "I became a Christian" because of the misconception of what a Christian is, as if there isn't a misconception about what a Christ follower is.

"Become a believer" is another phrase.  I am not sure it translates, so it should at least be "a believer in Christ."

"Being born again" is totally Biblical in origin, but had been co-opted, thank you, Jimmy Carter. 

Obviously, I am playing some semantic games here, with the understanding that semantics is the study of how persons understand the meanings of words, not just that words can be taken many ways.  In our discussion of what happened when we passed from death unto life, when we moved from being an enemy of God to a child of God, it is difficult to find phrases that  1.  have not been taken away from us and twisted by others;   2  have not lost their cultural meaning;  3. do not place the bulk of the work on ourselves when we often had little to do with the choice at the time; we are surprised by joy, as Lewis said.

I would appreciate input here. 

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