Ah, I know you’ve been waiting ever so impatiently for the next five myths. Your patience will be rewarded.
6. The key to effective communication is the precise formulation of the message.
Get this quote: “Many would-be communicators pay primary attention to the technical preciseness, accuracy, and truthfulness of the words and phrases they use to construct their messages. Yet the choice to use precise, technical language, especially with popular audiences, usually increases rather than decreases the possibility of misinterpretation. The drive towards preciseness does not take account of the fact that much of what goes into effective communication is outside the control of the communicator,” (32).
That’s fascinating. perhaps the drive for precision is driven by a certain view of biblical inerrancy (which I believe, by the way). This is the lie of modernism, which has a particular view of inerrancy that forces the Bible to say things that it doesn’t say. But the very words of the Bible are inspired by the Lord and are truthful and inerrant, but that doesn’t mean that authors can’t use metaphor, hyperbole, exaggeration, humor, sarcasm, and the like. But if we import this wooden view of inerrancy into our own communication, it robs us of all these communicative tools that the biblical authors didn’t hesitate from using (include Jesus). Do you think Jesus was striving for ‘precision’ when he said, “if your right hand ï»¿causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away” (Mt 5:30)? My view is he was going for impact, not necessarily technical precision. Ok, I’ve taken up too much space with that one.
7. Words contain their meanings. Kraft says, “a given word may have different meanings to different groups of people.” Consequently, “meanings are attached to words… by people rather than being inherent in the words themselves…. Word meanings are a matter of social agreement, not of anything inherent in the words themselves.” While caution should be urged on this point, I think he makes a valid argument. When I first read Lord of the Rings, found myself giggling like a 12 year old everytime I ran across the word “queer” or “gay,” because our social agreement on the use of these words has totally changed since Tolkien’s day.
Not all words undergo this sort of transformation. But many do. That’s why we always need to be updating Bible translations and evangelistic methods.
8. What people really need is more information. As a seminary student, I can attest: more knowledge does not necessarily produce more godliness! Didn’t Paul say, “knowledge puffs up…”?
9. The Holy Spirit will make up for all mistakes if we are sincere, spiritual, and prayerful enough.
Many who are sincere and prayerful can be ineffective communicators.
And one of my favorites…
10. As Christians we should severely restrict our contacts with “evil” people and refrain from going to “evil” places lest we “lose our testimony” and ruin our witness. Be in the world, not of it. This is an uncomfortable tension, and may even be different for different people. But the witness of the New Testament is consistent: keep oneself unstained from the world (James 1:27), and proclaim Christ in season and out of season (2 Tim 4:2).
Ok, quiz time. How many do you agree or disagree with?