Define With Precision

“It may be laid down as a rule, with tolerable confidence, that the absence of accurate definitions is the very life of religious controversy. If men would only define with precision the theological terms, which they use, many disputes would die. Scores of excited disputants would discover that they do not really differ, and that their disputes have arisen from their own neglect of the great duty of explaining the meaning of words” (J. C. Ryle, Evangelical Religion).

Though Ryle was an unbeliever, he accurately explains how important it is to give precise definitions or meanings of the words being used or employed. Otherwise, people will not understand what you are saying. It is also important to discover how others with whom we are disputing are defining their terms as well.

May true Christians be quick to listen and to ask clarifying questions. And slow to speak (or write) or jump to any sinfully hasty conclusions. It is folly and shame to thrust with the Sword of the Spirit prior to a clear identification of the theological target.

“So that, my beloved brothers, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:19).

“If one rejects a matter before he hears, it [is] folly and shame to him” (Proverbs 18:13).