As a worker who is not a minister, not a theologian, I would like to say something to the ministers and theologians. In so doing I trust I will not be thought presumptuous, and I hope my words will be accepted without their giving offense to anyone.
As denominational workers we have developed a peculiar vocabulary. There are expressions that have become part of our language that to others are sometimes meaningless, often confusing, sometimes amusing, sometimes disgusting. Let me mention a few.
Contact is a much-used word with us. It means to touch, and denotes a literal place relationship—not conversation. Let us use the word accurately.
Then, there are the terms union and local, as they relate to conferences. Not long ago a relative of a patient in the Glendale Sanitarium was eating lunch in the employees' cafeteria. Several members of the union conference committee came to the cafeteria for lunch, and during the meal talked about working in the union, going to the union office, with references also to the "local." Later, the patient's relative, who at that point was thoroughly confused, asked one of our employees about our relationships with labor unions. She said she had understood that Seventh-day Adventists did not belong to labor unions, but while she was eating lunch in the cafeteria several prosperous-looking gentlemen came in, all of whom seemed to be acquainted with our employees, and they were talking constantly about the union and the local. Fortunately, a proper explanation was possible in this case, but how many others do we confuse with our peculiar jargon?
The abbreviation G.C. for General Conference should never be used. To the medically trained person, G.C. is an abbreviation for gonorrheal infection. Its careless use in reference to the General Conference and its employees is beneath the dignity of intelligent, educated ministers. Put up your antenna, use your dictionaries, and acquire a sensitivity to the values and the great potential of beautiful, accurate language.
There is another matter I wish to discuss. I understand the wonders of the great truth of the acceptance of the Gentile into the spiritual family of Abraham, even though he is not a Jew after the flesh. I understand, as a nontheologian, something of Paul's instruction regarding this matter. I understand the importance of making this truth plain. But I wish I could cause you, my ministerial friends, to sit in a mixed audience of people of all ages, and with the mind of a nonminister, listen to one of your associates talk about circumcision—talk, and talk, and talk—using the word over and over without regard to the thoughts and ideas it must create in the minds of young people and sensitive people. To you of pure minds, to whom the spiritual meaning is, or should be, the only meaning that intrudes itself into your thoughts, there is sometimes a failure to realize that your "plain talk" is offensive and objectionable to many people. I understand the setting in the Scriptures that called for the use therein of terms such as the one under discussion. But some of those circumstances do not now exist in the minds and feelings of some of your hearers.
There are ways of referring to the great truths without turning any away by reason of sensitivity or through the stimulation of wrong ideas. There are scores of ways to present any truth in a setting of great beauty. Find them, and use them. Don't embarrass our young people, and confuse our children, and disgust our visitors. Teach the message without fear. Teach it with skill, with profound wisdom, and with great perceptivity, so that none will be repelled, and all will be drawn gently but firmly by the beauties and wonders of the love of God and the magnificence of the plan of salvation.