The Language Problem

I HAVE been reading an in teresting book entitled Helping Youth in Conflict by Francis I. Frellick and published by Prentice- Hall. It describes the problems of the juvenile delinquent and how the church can help those youth with problems. One section deals with the language problem. The following paragraph was of utmost interest. . .

-Editor of Ministry at the time this article was written

I HAVE been reading an in teresting book entitled Helping Youth in Conflict by Francis I. Frellick and published by Prentice- Hall. It describes the problems of the juvenile delinquent and how the church can help those youth with problems. One section deals with the language problem. The following paragraph was of utmost interest:

"One who knows nothing of the current specific lingo of the juvenile may be bewildered often times by the things he hears. He may be somewhat further bewildered if he is subjected to some colorful cursing. Are we now recommending that in order to reach the hard-to-reach we must affect their vocabularies? Not at all. In fact, persons who attempt to do so often forfeit the respect of those they try to reach by this tactic."

How many times I have cringed while sitting in meetings listening to some preacher attempt to reach the hearts of youthful hearers by the use of "slanguage." This degrading of the gospel never wins, but only repels. True, we should avoid any theological jargon in dealing with juveniles, but, on the other hand, let our language be simple and pure even as it was in the early church when the disciples were empowered by the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.

Not only did they have the ability to speak with fluency those languages which they had never previously learned but from that time forth "the language of the disciples was pure, simple, and accurate, whether they spoke in their native tongue or in a foreign language."— The Acts of the Apostles, p. 40.


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-Editor of Ministry at the time this article was written

August 1973

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