The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink.In online venues at least, I think the root of unclear communication is the modern intolerance for disagreement. We have to hide or mask what we really mean so that others won’t sink their claws into us for being
hatefuljust because we express ourselves clearly or directly. Criticism has been elevated to the greatest sin, such that it must be expressed in the vaguest terms. Except, of course, that the self-styled gatekeepers of correct expression freely blast anyone who doesn’t comply. The deep irony escapes them, as I’ve tried to explain many times here regarding the online Christian community. Not only do we use terms like
baptism of the Spirit, along with the $20 words
supralapsarianism(and its cousins infra- and sub-), soteriology, etc., but we forbid the clear and direct expression of anything remotely critical or unpleasant.
This, I believe, is at the heart of the problem I’ve been ranting about lately. And it is compounded by poor reasoning skills or reading comprehension. And upon saying this, I can hear some readers unsheathing their daggers to punish me for arrogance because they think I’m saying I’m the only one with good reasoning skills or reading comprehension. Yet this is an example of another faulty belief: that since we’re all fallible human beings, then none of us can ever critique another person— unless the one doing the critiquing is critiquing someone who critiqued someone! There are apparently unwritten rules exempting the keepers of correct communication from their own rules.
How do we fix this problem? I have no clue. Though I’ve tried pinning down my critics to specify the precise wrong words I used, they’ve never found them. Or if they found some and I showed where they used the same or worse words, they quickly move on to something else. They expect me to accept their verdict without cross-examination or supplying any evidence at all. They expect me to learn from my mistakes without ever showing me where I made them.
Here is an example from that message board I mentioned in a previous post. I was conversing with someone who was questioning my salvation (because I’m not a Calvinist), and as part of that I explained my understanding of
the right Jesus. Then I summarized my points:
So I have the right Jesus, the right requirement of faith, the right... So why do you consider me unsaved? It seems clear enough (and my accuser didn’t take it any other way) that I’m merely listing the criteria we both agreed on for salvation. But a moderator warned/penalized me for saying I had claimed that I alone had the right Jesus and my opponent did not! Of course I vehemently protested this, but in the midst of the conversation with the moderator, s/he tried to change the reason for the reprimand to some other conversation. In a blog several years ago, the same kind of thing happened on the topic of prophecy and the Rapture. Because I voiced objection to the false charges being leveled against the pre-trib position, I was accused by everyone there of saying only my view was the right one! This is maddening.
How can such people be reasoned with? How can anyone ever be treated justly by such judges? Even when I do the research to list proof of someone’s ridiculous charges, it is brushed aside as irrelevant. I try to explain but it only makes things worse. Either the whole world has gone mad or I have, but if I, then I demand to see the evidence. In the paragraph above I provided the evidence against my critics, but in all these years not one of them has made a coherent or rational case to back up their claims against me. Yet this is the world I live in, and unless I find a way to get along in it, this blog is the only place where I can express myself. Yet I’m supposed to be having fellowship with other Christians so we can build each other up with our spiritual gifts.
Rock, meet hard place.