Author Archives: David de Bruyn

On Baby Grands and Expensive Hymnals

On Baby Grands and Expensive Hymnals

“Why this waste?”, said the greediest member of the Twelve. Judas’ supposed concern with helping the poor and for efficient use of ministry finances was really a facade for his unvarnished envy. Judas wanted money, and like every jealous soul, disliked money being spent lavishly on someone else. The sentiment that it is frivolous waste… Continue Reading

Relevance and Notoriety

Relevance and Notoriety

This entry is part 26 of 26 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

One of the powerful spells cast over the modern world is the charm of celebrity. One quipped that a celebrity is someone who is famous for being famous, but few stop to notice that. Celebrity culture is the true opiate of the masses, and if it were not so, the word paparazzi would never have… Continue Reading

Relevance and Intelligibility

Relevance and Intelligibility

This entry is part 25 of 26 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Modern Christian champions of relevance mean many things by the term. One use is the concept of intelligibility. When calling for the church to be relevant to this generation, they mean that its message must be understandable, clear, and intelligible. Thus far, no objection. No command exists to make the Gospel obscure or arcane. If… Continue Reading

Relevance and Importance

Relevance and Importance

When some people speak of “making Christianity relevant”, they are referring to demonstrating Christianity’s importance and applicability. They fret over the fact that unbelievers and the wider culture dismiss Christianity and religion so easily. Secularism provides people with enough food, shelter, conveniences, comforts and sufficient diversionary amusements to keep them from truly investigating the claims… Continue Reading

Relevant or Current?

Relevant or Current?

This entry is part 24 of 26 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

When some people speak of the importance of relevance, they don’t mean relevance at all. After all, relevant, strictly speaking, merely means ‘pertinent to the matter at hand’. Relevance needs an object: relevant to whom or what matter?, we may ask. The fact that some people use the word relevant as a quality not requiring… Continue Reading

“Relevance”

“Relevance”

This entry is part 23 of 26 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Perhaps one of the great put-downs today is to be told that your church is not relevant, or that your preaching is not relevant to “the issues people are facing”. Being called irrelevant cuts a little deeper than being called intolerant; for if you’re cited for being intolerant, it merely means your teaching may have… Continue Reading

Without Wax

Without Wax

This entry is part 22 of 26 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

To recover the word sincerity from its current mangled form, we might remember some etymology. The etymology of sincerity is a favorite among preachers, and for good reason – it’s an interesting tale. It seems in the Graeco-Roman world, unscrupulous merchants had found a nifty way to sell otherwise useless cracked pottery. By using wax,… Continue Reading

As Real As I Feel

As Real As I Feel

This entry is part 21 of 26 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

An assumption of a generation intoxicated with authenticity is the notion that feelings don’t lie. Given their spontaneous and often uncontrollable nature, emotions are seen as the inevitable and unstoppable eruptions of the heart. Breaking through the surface layer of ‘masks’, ‘forms’, or some other supposed act of evading one’s inner truth, emotions represent pure,… Continue Reading

Sincerity and Profanity

Sincerity and Profanity

This entry is part 20 of 26 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Many pastors and Christian leaders believe they are purifying Christianity and worship when they remove any kind of formality from corporate worship. Formal dress, an exalted tone in prayer, or reverent music are eschewed for a more casual and informal approach. They appear to believe that retaining forms that are not immediately recognizable or penetrable… Continue Reading

The Colloquial, the Casual, and the Crafted

The Colloquial, the Casual, and the Crafted

Those who call for ‘authenticity’, ‘realness’, and ‘sincerity’, are not always sure what they mean, if you press them for a definition. Some mean honesty, some others mean integrity, both of which are virtues the Bible commends and commands. But some of those calling for authenticity are really calling for a removal of formality from… Continue Reading

What Titus Found in the Most Holy

What Titus Found in the Most Holy

This entry is part 19 of 26 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

When Titus attacked Jerusalem in 66-70 A.D., before ordering its destruction, Titus entered the Most Holy Place to see for himself what was really hidden behind that veil. He found, to his dismay, nothing, besides the Mercy Seat. There was “nothing there”. Titus is like many modern Christians, intoxicated with the idea of ‘sincerity’, ‘authenticity’,… Continue Reading

Sincerely Amused

Sincerely Amused

This entry is part 18 of 26 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

It’s a supreme irony, or perhaps a sad blindness, that the present generation is supposedly in love with ‘authenticity’, ‘sincerity’, and ‘keeping it real’. After all, we’ve been doing everything but that for nearly a century. As Neil Postman pointed out in Amusing Ourselves to Death, we took a medium designed for amusing spectacle – theatre… Continue Reading

When Catholics Get It Right

When Catholics Get It Right

It’s not only Fundamentalist Baptists who are pointing out the problems with using pop music for worship. You don’t have to agree with his strident Romanism to concede the points he makes about culture and music. Is There a Proper Role for “Contemporary” Music at Church? Continue Reading

Ten Mangled Words – “Authentic”

Ten Mangled Words – “Authentic”

This entry is part 17 of 26 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Few words roll off the modern tongue as readily or as frequently as the family of words associated with authentic. Authenticity, real, sincere and intentional are like newly-minted gold for the Millennial tongue. Most previous generations of humans would have looked at you with furrowed eyebrows and pained expressions of confusion, had you greeted them with the line, “Keep it… Continue Reading

Christians and Critical Judgments

Christians and Critical Judgments

This entry is part 16 of 26 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Most Christians are happy to accept the authority of expert opinion. What is instructive to note is which domains of knowledge they are comfortable to refer to experts, as opposed to those in which they actively oppose expert opinion. To paraphrase what I wrote to one commenter, Christians are happy to listen to experts when… Continue Reading

Authority, Soul Competence and Vocation

Authority, Soul Competence and Vocation

This entry is part 15 of 26 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Soul competence and the priesthood of the believer are two sides of one doctrine that Baptists cherish. Indeed, they make up part of the matrix known as the Baptist distinctives. Soul competence teaches that individual Spirit-indwelt believers can read and understand Scripture for themselves, using the means He has given. The priesthood of the believer… Continue Reading

You Elitist, You

You Elitist, You

This entry is part 14 of 26 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Since this series has dealt with “mangled” words such as tolerance, freedom, and authority, I was tempted to include elitism among them. Elitism, though, is really a misused word inseparable from the word authority. When the meaning of authority is mangled, be sure that a sorely maimed and deformed version of the meaning of elitism… Continue Reading

Identifying Authorities

Identifying Authorities

This entry is part 13 of 26 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Within the avalanche of information coming at us, how do we identify true authorities in any domain of knowledge? How do we judge the anonymous Youtube channel, the self-proclaimed discernment ministry, the mega-church pastor, or the well-known author? We need something more than merely an intuitive feeling that a person ‘makes sense’, or ‘seems to… Continue Reading

Who Made You the Authority?

Who Made You the Authority?

This entry is part 12 of 26 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

The explosion of information on the web has made the idea of authoritative information almost a thing of the past. A CGI-Enhanced Youtube video about the non-existence of the South Pole is as accessible as the online Encyclopedia Brittanica’s information on Antarctica. The crowd-edited Wikipedia is found as easily (or more so) than a peer-reviewed journal.… Continue Reading

Authority and Authoritarianism

Authority and Authoritarianism

This entry is part 11 of 26 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

When authority is usually discussed, about three sentences later, the word authoritarian will make its entrance. In fact, for some, authority is authoritarian – there is no other kind. Recovering the mangled word authority from all the thought-debris that has been hurled at it requires distinguishing it from authoritarianism. I’m not sure whether dictionaries help or… Continue Reading