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Saturday, July 3, 2010

Weekly Trivia Files: "Christianisms"

So far in this series I've defined and discussed general terms for categories of religions, for example, polytheism and agnosticism.  I think now it's time to define three "Christianisms" or examples of "Christianese" as some people call it.  These are terms that Christians tend to throw around without defining--which probably confuses a lot of people.

  • Born Again--Jesus was the first to use this term, and it confused His audience, at first, until He explainedJesus was not talking about a literal second birth, in which a person would somehow re-enter the womb and be born a second time.  Nowadays, some would think this term referred to reincarnation, a doctrine of the Hindu religion, in which the spirit of a person comes back after death in a different body, animal, vegetable, mineral, or human.  To be "born again" or "born from above" is to undergo a spiritual transformation, where even the desires of the heart are changed completely--as if a person has become a completely new person. 
  • "Washed in the Blood"--The ancient Romans believed that Christians were blood letters and routinely sacrificed their own god for a religious observance.  Of course, that wasn't true, but I can see where people might get confused.  Christians believe that blood can atone for sin; in essence, something must die to pay the penalty for sin, as God has required.  Animal sacrifice (human sacrifice was never required!) is no longer necessary; however, because Jesus' death atoned for all those who believe in Him.  To be "washed in the blood," then, is a figurative way of saying "to have one's sins atoned for through Jesus' sacrifice."  This is also borrowed, in part, from a Bible verse that says, "'Come now, let us reason together,' says the Lord.  'Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool'" (Isaiah 1: 18 NIV).
  • Bible references with names and numbers and random letters--While I'm in the business of explaining Christian terminology, I think I out to explain how to read the above Bible reference, because the standard format I just used is definitely not intuitive.  The first word in the parenthesis above refers to the book within the Bible, that is, the big named sections in the Bible.  The above scripture reference is in the book of Isaiah, but there are many others, such as Matthew and Genesis.  The first number refers to the chapter within the book of Isaiah (each chapter starts with a large number breaking up the text).  The number after the colon references the verse within that chapter (divisions within the paragraphs, labeled with small superscript numbers).  The "NIV" refers to the translation this quote was taken from--in this case, the New International Version. 
Okay, that's all for today. See you back here in a few days!  To all my U.S. readers, have a happy 4th!

2 comments:

Kamal said...

Thank you for explaining the terms. The third point about "Bible references" was really good. We sometimes forget that the people to whom we quote the scriptures have no idea at times about the bible and how it consists of all these different books, chapter and verses.

Rachel M. said...

That's something I learned in my stint as campus student leader. Never assume that people know what you're talking about. Chances are, they're feeling too embarrassed to tell you they're confused. Thank you for the comment; it's good to know I'm on the right track. :)

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