Lies that Paralyze: Weaponizing Pleasant Words

Many more pleasant, but false words seep into our culture.  One way to be inoculated against them is to focus on what’s true, good, and beautiful.  Or, as the author of Hebrews put it: But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.[25] The call here requires us to practice regularly learning to discern.  A key way for doing this relies on knowing the Truth.  

“[O]ne must be wary of indifference masquerading as humility.”[1]

“One does not abolish slavery by doing nothing more than helping individual slaves.”[2]

Hell is nothing more than the truth known too late.[3]

“Never defeat an opponent when an opponent can be counted upon to defeat himself.”[4] So counseled the luminous Christian conservative William F. Buckley, Jr.  If your debate opponent self-neutralizes, no need exists to engage or rebut him.

Just as noisy rage is not a strategy, so too self-sidelining is not a strategy.  One cannot impact the game unless one is in the game.   And opposing paganism is no game.  Far too often, otherwise pious Christians, believe lies and half-truths that effectively sideline them and thereby blunt their witness for Christ.  They capitulate instead of conquer.[5]  One reason this occurs stems from having our ears tickled by pleasant words, words that contain worldview poison.  Let’s get to the gist.

The Pagan Operational Ethos:  Words as Weapons

It’s been said that “Satan doesn’t serve spinach”.  The idea is that the Evil One advances his agenda in attractive ways.  He began undermining the Truth in this way,[6] and because it works upon those lacking discernment, he and his minions continue doing it.[7]  Today, we see the same tactics deployed culturally – there is no need to serve spinach when the targets will willingly swallow good tasting poison.

Many of the clashes with paganism occur over language, as language crafts moral imagination and plausibility structures[8]. Vocabulary impacts thinking and thinking impacts action.   And abusing language precipitates the abuse of power.[9]  Accordingly, we should expect language to be weaponized as a means for advancing paganism.

Consider the LGBTQ activists and their allies.  They speak – by design – in glowing language invoking euphonic “who could disagree” terms and slogans like “love wins,” “marital equality,” “diversity,” “equity,” “inclusion,” “choice,” “visibility,” “marrying the person you love,” “minor attracted persons,” “reproductive justice,” being “gay,” “open relationships,” “sexual orientation,” “gender fluidity,” “assigned at birth,” and the standard default “go to” for any claim: “equality.”  The problem arises because while many people generally use these terms – which is precisely why the activists invoke them – the activists use a different dictionary.

Accordingly, the invocation of “loaded language” becomes the first arena – the initial battle lines – for exposing where the Truth has been exchanged for the Lie.  Why?  If we buy the term, we buy the premise; if we buy the premise, we buy the conclusion. Consequently, because God redeems us fully, that redemption should include – where necessary – a renovated and disciplined vocabulary.  Nothing pleases the enemy of our souls more than having God’s people use the serpent’s language:  the salt losing its saltiness.

Another aspect exists to this:  believing lies or half-truths embedded in slogans.  Here, the pagan tactic seeks to get God’s people to embrace notions that subvert or sideline them.  These lies or half-truths in some way detract from or defy God’s narrative:  Creation, Fall, and Redemption and these lies thereby paralyze God’s people.

Lies that Paralyze[10]

“The World is Evil”

Affirming that evils exists in the world is not equivalent to saying the world itself is evil.  Pardon the pun, but there is a world of difference between these two positions.  One is Christian and the other is Gnostic.  How so?

God created everything that is not God, described in this shorthand, “the heavens and the earth.”[11]  And God, who cannot lie,[12] called it “good.”[13]  The “stuff” of the cosmos is good.  And, as Jesus taught, it’s not the stuff we consume that makes us evil, but evil emanates from our own fallen hearts:

And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.”[14]

And, the crucial and non-negotiable doctrine of the Incarnation is that the “the Word became flesh.”[15]

Gnosticism attacked this Incarnation precisely because the Gnostics despised the material and the physical.  In rejecting this heresy, the apostle did not mince words:

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.[16]

Accordingly, then:  the world is not evil; evil is evil and the world’s redemption pivots on God taking on flesh and blood.

“Just Focus on Heaven and Spiritual Stuff”

No orthodox Christian would crassly deny Jesus’ Incarnation.[17] Yet, Christians can be functional Gnostics.  How so?  Christians do this by claiming that “this world” matters less than the next and therefore, Christians should focus on “higher” “heavenly,” “spiritual” matters.

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