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Why using strong biblical language doesn't have to be the end of the world

Thought for the weekend

By Allen Sleith

There seem to be any number of major issues that loom large in our collective consciousness at present.

Since news broadcasting of whatever medium is, by definition, concerned primarily with events or trends that are out of the ordinary, most often than not we're on the receiving end of bad news, real or perceived.

Despite the more sinister attempts of some in positions of power to manipulate or corrupt, one continues to hope that the integrity of good journalism and investigative broadcasting will disentangle truth from error, lies or deliberate distortion. The wellbeing of public life is at stake.

Beyond the factual accuracy and transparency of what's reported, the language used is important too.

Some would argue that in negotiating treaties, the phenomenon of creative ambiguity can be a useful tool. But most often most people want clarity, thus the media's crucial role.

Yet even here, there can be, at times, a tendency to fall into the lazy habits of cliched phraseology. Let me give just one example: the all too frequent use of 'apocalyptic' to label anything that smacks of threat or fear or horror.

The word itself has migrated from its biblical setting to now stand for all sorts of terrible scenarios.

Maybe because the book of Revelation (from the Greek word 'apocalypse') has been the not so happy hunting ground for some people's extreme or fanatical views, a particular mindset has spawned the notion that all our worst cosmic nightmares are best described by that word.

In popular speak, each and every crisis (there's another biblical word) gets labelled as being apocalyptic, but like the boy who cried wolf once too often, we tend to switch off after a while.

But far from suggesting that 'apocalyptic' should be repressed or retired, I'm a firm advocate of the word. Stripped of its scaremongering stereotypes it properly describes the Christ event as the central dynamic of the gospel, or, more specifically, that Christ crucified and risen is the centre of the centre of that message.

It's there that we see, hear or have revealed to us how utterly opposed to God we are, yet with the stupendous good news that God in Christ has put things right in a new creation of his own doing.

Apocalyptic? Yes, please!

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