ephesus_fresco.jpg

Council of Ephesus

There are plenty of feuds that have separated all sorts of Christians for centuries; from Rome in particular and from each other. While many of these feuds stem from who came first, more specifically who’s faith and authority, many others stem from “language barriers”. Language barriers, occur when two or more people with no language in common attempt to communicate with each other. These matters of miscommunication are some of the most prevalent sources for anti-ecumenicism between people of different languages, but they can be, and often are, just as prevalent for people who speak the same language.

Like all other languages, English has different dialects. Across the globe and throughout history, it varies in delivery, accent, diction, and vocabulary. However, unlike other languages, English is rampant with homonyms (words that have the same pronunciation and spelling but different meaning and origin and vice-versa); which makes it one of the most difficult languages to translate. So, I ask, how can any English speaking Christian be successful ecumenically if all they do is vomit doctrine on others all day? Take for instance, Protestants and Catholics. We have been divided since the 1500’s. And by being so removed, it is difficult for some English-speaking Protestants to understand or accept Catholic vocabulary because most of the time things do not translate rhetorically (“co-mediatrix”, “infallibility”, “indulgence” or even “faith”).  In these and all matters of quarrel, the pen (if available) is always the most effective of our instruments of communication. I had a Professor that always said,

All animals communicate, but the thing that separates Man from other animals is his ability to read and to write… therefore, try not to bark at others, all that people will hear is that you are territorial.

In writing, we can take our time. In writing, we can discern our words more appropriately. In writing, we can prompt a structure of questions and answers. In writing, we can provide scholarly and scriptural support more concretely. In writing, we can effectively define the words that, if left undefined, contribute to language barriers. And most importantly, in writing, we can safeguard our emotions and our prejudicial triggers. Of course, if you are outstanding in your speech and can mediate well: your emotions from the truths you wish to discuss when facing opposition, keep on keeping on. However, if your ecumenical discussions become things that breed contempt because of mistranslation, put pen to paper… or in this case, keys to screen.

Advertisements