words matter

I’m in the middle of grading confessions, and my friend Chris Brauns just blogged on the grade that my mentor and predecessor, Joe Crawford, gave his first confession.  Chris reminds us that precision is everything in theology (and anything else that matters), that we really don’t know what we believe until we can write it down on paper, and that good theology is not written but rewritten.

I also realized from Chris’ piece that despite my reputation with some students, I am a big softy.  So if you are one of my students and you received a paper back this week, deduct another ten points to get your new grade.

Read Chris’ sad story here.






7 responses to “words matter”

  1. i had to write my confessions for James Grier.


    you are a softy.

    but God still loves you and so do I!

  2. What you say is more important than most people realize. Your critiques of Brian McLaren and his newest book make it clear that McLaren really is attempting to use words in a most imprecise way in order to make it seem that historic and orthodox Christianity really are abominable, and that Christian doctrines such as the Atonement are responsible for most of the violence in the world.

    One always can take words and phrases and reduce them to absurdities (i.e., it depends upon the meaning of “is”), yet you are right in saying that words, indeed, do matter and they matter greatly. The words we use and the doctrines we follow are not popular with contemporary urban culture, but we need to continue to follow them even when political forces and the police power of the state are arrayed against them.

  3. I know what I believe, I think. A confessions is hard to write. I was rendered paralyzed at the thought of it. You are right though, “we really don’t know what we believe until we can write it down on paper.” I think I’m beginning to know what I believe.

    Blogging: I want my 10% back.

  4. Justin

    I laughed…and then I cried.

    Praise God I have graduated. I simply pray now there is no way for you to go back and change things! I have reread my confessions from 5 years ago now, and am not as impressed with myself today as I was back then. I think I am more comfortable affirming the 1689 London Confession than I am attempting to articulate what I believe ex nihilo.

    On the importance of words, I whole heartedly affirm this sentiment. May God raise up many more preachers and teachers of His Word who seek to articulate with the greatest of precision His truth. Moreover, may he bless instructors such as yourself who demand such precision out of their students! I continue to benefit, and thus thank you.

  5. mikewittmer


    I know the feeling of being less impressed with your former work. But that’s a good sign, don’t you think? As one of my profs said, the trick is to become a moving target–always getting better. You remind me a lot of Chris, and like him, I am confident that God is continually sharpening and using you to sharpen others in the kingdom.

  6. Justin

    I do agree. And thank you. As always, you are too kind.

  7. Tom Jessse

    When I was in seminary, we had to write on the ten doctrines and then defend it. I failed the oral part. I know how your students feel.

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