From the Revd Peter R.
Sir, - Christian Piatt's clichés that "Christians should never
Comment, 3 August) and the subsequent letters (
10 August) touch on the general and profound problem that human
language is always inadequate to express divine truth fully.
The free universal use of language is
chaotic; and the key word "God" cannot be defined, because it
comprehends the human experience of infinity. It is a contradiction
of terms to speak of defining infinity.
Attempts to assert the truth by
enhancing language with exaggeration, poetry, metaphor, myth,
parable, visual art, music, silence, and clichés often distort the
meaning with confusing overtones. For example, there is some truth
in describing the Bible as "the Word of God", but it is also the
words of a series of intelligent, thinking Israelites. The Old
Testament was canonised by Jewish leaders, and the New Testament by
those of the Christian Church. The description "Word of God"
encourages irra-tional, magical use.
All Christian clichés and the words of
the Bible itself need to be explained by faithful thought. We
should thank wise Christian scholars for doing this work.
If and because it is true that the
grace, love, and mercy of God are fully manifested by Jesus Christ,
the mission of our Church will succeed. Christ's faithful disciples
and especially trained sacred ministers need to be far more aware
of the problems and limits of communication by language. Greater
understanding than is currently recognised is possible, but
"Careless talk costs lives."
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From Judith Filkin
Sir, - Christian Piaff's "clichés to avoid" was the most
helpful and healing thing I've read in the Church Times
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