As a writer, it is important to define your terms. In fact, it’s one of your jobs. That way, all readers are on the same page with you and know what you are talking about. Why do you think Paul took up so much space in I Corinthians to define the word “love”?
“Tolerance” is a word that will need a definition when you talk to someone about it. Even the word “insane” has different meanings depending on who is using it: the criminal justice system, mental health workers, or comedians. Workers in the health-care field have to define the word “overweight.”
When talking about or writing about God in our multi-cultural, Bible-illiterate society, you have to define which “god” you are referring to. The word “family” is having the same trouble today; we have to define it. “Wealth” could use a definition as well. These are just a few examples. I’m sure you’ve encountered others.
If you are in a discussion with someone and seem to be going around in circles, take a moment to define some of the terms you’ve been using. This strategy will give you insight into the other person’s views and will help the other person understand your view.
Define your terms so you cannot be misunderstood.
“Radical Christianity” is one term that could use a definition so people know what you mean when you use it.
In a recent article in Christianity Today titled “Here Come the Radicals,” some people define radical Christianity as when you leave the comforts of your home and your suburbs to minister to (or live among) impoverished or needy people. This kind of radical Christianity calls believers to turn their backs on materialism and think of others first.
Focus on the Family defines radical Christianity in a different way. According to them, to be truly radical, and thus countercultural, the radical Christian will marry early—that is, before one’s after-college life is perfectly lined up—have many children, and raise them to love the Lord.
This is, indeed, two very different definitions of radical Christianity! Do you agree with either definition? Do you disagree?
Now it’s your turn: What is your definition of radical Christianity? What, in your book, does it take to be a radical Christian? Even if you are not a Christian, you have an idea of what you think a radical one is.
Write out your definition and then back it up with a few examples from real life, from literature, from the Bible, and from history. You might want to begin your definition this way: “A radical Christian is someone who . . . .”
Copyright (c) 2014 by Sharon Watson
Image courtesy of artur84 / freedigitalphotos.net
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