Thursday, November 01, 2007

Defining Key Words in the Lordship Debate: Introduction (Part 1 of 7)

by Doug Smith


The usage of words in a debate can be quite helpful or quite confusing.   Careful definition and consistent employment of terms is essential for profitable dialogue.


For example, the following exchange took place between Alice and Humpty Dumpty in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass, the sequel to Alice in Wonderland:

'I don't know what you mean by "glory,"' Alice said.

Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. 'Of course you don't—till I tell you. I meant "there's a nice knock-down argument for you!"'

'But "glory" doesn't mean "a nice knock-down argument,"' Alice objected.

'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.'

'The question is,' said Alice , 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.' [1]


This conversation illustrates a problem that has plagued the discussion of the role of faith and works in salvation.   Words such as faith, repentance, and Lord have been redefined in such a way as to hinder meaningful dialogue.  The issue of salvation from sin is not a playing field for word games.   It is a matter of life or death, a matter that concerns the eternal destiny of people.  Unfortunately, the truth has often been obscured by careless and possibly dishonest use of the terminology associated with salvation.   Therefore, in this study, special attention will be given to defining key terms (according to their biblical usage) and the relation they have to each other.


The following terms are critical in a study of the role of faith and works in salvation:   faith, repentance, Lord, regeneration, justification, sanctification, and discipleship.


[1] Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass in The Complete Illustrated Works (New York: Gramercy Books, 1982), 136.


NEXT TIME:   Faith

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