The equivocation of language is the result of misusing words. Equivocation refers to ambiguous words and gibberish talk that attempts to hide the truth. The equivocation principle denigrates the proper use of the language in our culture. The intentional effort to equivocate language has been with us since the fall of the human race. In fact, deceit was one of the causal factors in the fall. It was the father of deception that said to Eve, “Has God indeed said… (Genesis 3:1). From Adam and Eve to the last baby born, there will always be the twisting of language. Although sophistry is similar to equivocation, there is a difference. Sophistry uses stealth and specious arguments to deceive the other person. The Sophists of the 5th century B.C. were famous for turning philosophical skepticism into the impossibility of absolute knowledge, which in essence denies absolute truth.
The biblical doctrine of sound words is necessary to avoid the equivocation of language. “Hold fast the pattern of sounds words which you have heard from me…”(1 Timothy 1:13). I translate it from the Greek text in terms of having an outline of healthy words. There are three parts to this short phrase from the Bible. The command is have or to hold fast. The pattern refers to a summary account or an outline of sound words. Sound words are healthy words, which provide good health for the soul. Words start wars and words bring peace. The power of words can destroy or save.
Unfortunately, worldly passions lead to words of confusion and words of strife rather than sound words. The result is forgotten doctrine. But aside from what I call necessary forgotten doctrine, people tend to ignore words of eternal importance:
Human beings are born sinful creatures
Human beings deserve eternal damnation and punishment
God is longsuffering, compassionate, and merciful
Call on God for today is the day of salvation
If sound words have been taught, why do Christians misunderstand simple Bible doctrine? If sound doctrine has been taught why do so many professing Christians believe that sinful man can save himself? These questions should not be taken lightly. A summary of the sound words from God imprinted on the souls of men, women, boys and girls would eliminate these questions.
A summary of sound words is not equal to quoting Bible verses. It has often been said that biblical texts may be found to prove almost anything. Unbelievers, liberals, the ignorant and scholarly alike use Bible verses taken out of context to prove their opinions. One Bible verse does not equal the entire Word of God.
The goal of every Christian should be to gather a summary of the Word of God so that God is exalted and man is put down. For instance, the doctrine of God must be relative to God’s nature and the doctrine of man must be relative to man’s nature. When we hold fast to the healthy words of Scripture we will save ourselves and our progeny from theological error.
Error in doctrine will almost inevitably lead to error in practice. When a man believes wrongly, he will act wrongly. The very cause of division, schism, quarrels, and bickering in the church is a result of wrong teaching. Why? Because we have ignored the outline of healthy words from Scripture
We cannot hold fast to something unless we understand it. The task is not easy, but it is necessary. God’s people are custodians of God’s truth and they must hold fast to His truth in faith and love.
We must not only leave a summary of the Christian religion to the coming generations, we must hold on to that summary of the Christian religion by the power of the Holy Spirit so we will have reasons to believe.
It was the use and misuse of words that compelled me to write Theological Terms in Layman Language.