Choice terms

Fancy religious language
The word jargon suggests needlessly obscure words that insiders use to dazzle and confuse outsiders. But if we call the same words “technical vocabulary,” we’re suggesting a precise and established way of speaking that emphasizes accuracy. Christians have lots of words like hermeneutical, ecclesiology and sanctification. Are they technical vocabulary or religious jargon?

A friend with a Ph.D. in theology was writing a popular book on the Trinity and asked me to read the manuscript. It was excellent and generally accessible, but several times he used the term instantiation. I told him nobody knew what an instantiation was—he should either drop the word or explain it. He argued that it would take pages to explain, and that if scholars read his book and found he’d not talked about instantiations, he’d lose credibility.


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