Friday, March 02, 2007

Pejorative terms

"It would seem more appropriate in academic debate, and indeed a simple matter of common courtesy, to refer to positions by the terms that the representatives of those positions choose for themselves rather than by pejorative terms that they reject." -- from Should We Move Beyond the New Testament to a Better Ethic? by Wayne Grudem


Anonymous said...

When debating theology there is a middle ground of understanding, but in no way should we compromise what we believe to be the proper undeerstanding of said theological systems.

For example, foreknowledge is stated by many supposed Calvinists as the driving force behind election and predestination. I see no middle ground on this falacy, and therefore, no alternative but to use the strongest terms possible to make the point clear.

On the other hand, I see no reason for using language that might alienate these brethren from fellowship in Christ.



Anonymous said...

So we should stop using scriptural terms, like heretic, abomination, thief, liar, adulterer, etc., because they might offend someone? This would be a better ethic than that of the New Testament?

R. L. Vaughn said...

I doubt Grudem's statement could in any way be taken as a universal, but I should explain that Grudem was not arguing for a "better ethic" than the New Testament. His context can be read here (either link):

Find Articles: Grudem's Analysis of Webb
Pdf file: Grudem's review of William Webb

This is found in Grudem's analysis of the writing of William J. Webb, Slaves, Women and Homosexuals: Exploring the Hermeneutics of Cultural Analysis. It is Webb who believes we can arrive at a better ethic than the New Testament. According to Grudem, "Webb says that the ancient world in which the Bible was written had gravely deficient moral standards. God in his wisdom knew that it would be best to work gradually to lead his people from the moral practices of the surrounding cultures to much higher standards of moral conduct. Therefore in the OT God gave moral commands that were a great improvement over the standards of the surrounding culture, but were not yet his highest ideal. In the NT, God gave even higher moral standards, making further improvement over what was taught in the OT. But even these NT moral commands were not God's 'ultimate ethic'." Grudem objects to this view, as well as trying to define the his view in terms that would be disparaging

The statement about "pejorative terms" is not against using New Testament terms someone might not like and by which they might be offended. Rather in the context of academic debate, that positions be referred to and answered by the terms they use to describe them rather than playing on words to play to the emotions of the reader/hearer.