149 – Introduction to Terminology

149 – Introduction to Terminology



Terminology is an absolute necessity in all principles of teaching and learning. Let every teacher know that he has taught nothing until his student has learned it. The teacher is always threatened by two basic dangers. One that he shall speak above the head of his student so that his hearer cannot perceive the truths he is trying to impart. Two that his student will be so impaired in vocabulary that nothing, or not enough, can be conveyed to him, no matter how much effort in preparation and delivery is put forth by the teacher. In either case, the condition is produced, which is described by Paul in 1 Cor. 14: 11. Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me.

In approaching such a study, we must develop both a responsibility and a sensitivity toward SEMANTICS. By this I mean the development and the changes of speech forms, and the subsequent usage of particular words. Sometimes men wrongly assume the right to give their own meaning to a word, or to accept a meaning of another’s words, which suits them, as a correct definition of a given word. This is never acceptable in the discussion of Christian doctrine. It is incumbent upon the person stating an issue, to use accurate words which will convey a clear message to his hearer. It is equally incumbent upon the student to seek out and understand the intended meaning of those words used by the speaker, so as to know what the speaker is intending to state. I often hear heated, and sometimes hostile, arguments between men, who I am sure have no deep disagreement. They rather state their position in different terms, and with ambiguous words, so as to send an unclear message. Whether this occurs intentionally or through carelessness, the result is the same. While there is, indeed, word exchange, there is no real communication. We should all do our best not to fall into this trap, and this is one of the goals of this course.

An infant, no matter how good or keen his mind may be, is very limited in his immediate teachability. He cannot read, his experiences are very limited, and his vocabulary is extremely small, if existent. The loving parent-teacher, who is serious about the child’s learning, must, and will, first establish a medium of communication. This is done by teaching the child words. At first they are very few and simple, Mama, Daddy, no, yes, good, bad, come, etc. This is good for a start, but the more limited his vocabulary, the more limited the child’s learning ability will be. Therefore, the good parent-teacher expands the child’s vocabulary to new, more complex, and therefore more comprehensive words. He then teaches the child phrases, titles, and short sentences of instruction. After that, he teaches him to read, first simple words, then harder ones. All of this is only the basic foundation for education. These words, heard or read, become the medium for teaching. These little, simple words convey some fundamental teaching. As the child is able to learn bigger and more complex words, he is able to receive more complex truths, but more particularly, he can receive these truths much faster, and with a better sense of relativity to other truths.

The above illustration explains the need for this course, which I am calling Terminology. If we are to learn or teach Bible doctrine, we must first equip ourselves with the vocabulary necessary to convey and receive that truth. Quite often, a single word conveys the message of fifty or a hundred words. This makes us able to both convey and to receive truth much faster, and consequently, to convey and receive much more truth than we could without the use of these words or terms. For instance, if I say, “I believe in the impeccability of Christ,” I have made a statement that would require many sentences, if I could not use, or if my hearer could not understand, the word impeccability. I can then go on to teach other truths, which may also require other words, terms, or titles, and which are indispensable to both myself and my students, if we are to effectively communicate on a broad base.

If the above premise is true, and it is, it behooves every preacher and teacher to develop a good vocabulary of words and terms, not to sound intelligent but to convey truth. It equally becomes him to teach his students these words and terms. Again, not so they will be proud and puffed up, or so they can speak in high-sounding terms, but rather so they can receive and send messages of truth. Know too, that more important than the words you add to your vocabulary, is the learning of the doctrines they introduce. Having these words is of little value if you do not know what the Scripture says concerning the doctrines associated with them. I pray that you will fully dedicate yourself to this short course, for the noble purpose of learning and teaching Bible truth.

Let it be remembered, however, that the purpose of this course is not to justify or condemn the doctrines or notions mentioned herein, whether they be true or false. It is rather to identify the terms by which they are known. Some of these words or terms will represent error, while others will represent absolute heresy. On the other hand, some of them will represent basic and very important truths, and in some cases issues which are in honest question by basically sound students of Scripture. In some cases, we will briefly discuss the truth or error in these doctrines, but not normally, for that is not the purpose of this course. The essence of purpose in this course is to learn the meaning of the terms with which we shall deal. May God bless and guide as we study together

Forrest L. Keener