Wednesday, January 14, 2009

It's Only Words

Yesterday, my dear friend Kat highlighted to me a grammatical error in my post. Some people may consider that to be nitpicking but I actually appreciate it. I like precision in writing and proper grammar is part of that precision. We write to communicate and precision will let others understand exactly what you are trying to say. Miscommunication is usually the result of a lack of precision.

You readers probably take less than five minutes to finish reading my post but it had taken me hours to craft it. Besides the content itself, I also spend time agonizing over phrasing, sentence structure, paragraph placement, fonts, etc ... oh and yes, grammar too in order to present to you an article that is precise and can be clearly understood.

Our God is a God of precision and order - just look at how our bodies are wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). Similarly, the Word of God i.e the bible, which God wrote to communicate with us, is also a work of precision and order - every alphabet, every word, every symbol is placed where it is for a purpose and has its significance.

The use of Hebrew for the Old Testament and Greek for the New Testament also has its significance besides the fact that the Hebrew language is known for its richness while Greek is known for its precision. Just as the OT and NT together form up the complete Word of God, so too the Jews and Gentiles together form up the world that God so loved (John 3:16).

When you read the bible, do not casually dismiss any sentence or passage that you do not understand. Sometimes certain passages seem to contradict each other but know this: our God is not a God of confusion. I say again, our God is a God of precision and order, therefore He says what He means and He means what He says.

Take a look at Isaiah 9:6.
For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

The verse specifically says a Child is BORN while a Son is GIVEN. The words "born" and "given" cannot be interchanged. This is because God wants to say that Jesus will come to earth as a man, therefore he has to be born. However, even though Mary gave birth to Jesus, Jesus is not her son. Jesus is the Son of God. The Son of God is, the Son of God exists from the very beginning, therefore the Son cannot be BORN, he can only be GIVEN. This is confirmed in John 3:16 - For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Have you noticed that not once in the bible did Jesus address Mary directly as "Mother"?
John 2:3,4 - And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.”
4 Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.”

John 19:26 - When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!”

Words can be used to proclaim the truth but words can also be used to shade the truth. In Genesis 20, Abraham told his wife Sarah to tell others that she was his SISTER as she was very pretty and he was afraid that he would be killed on her account.

Now strictly speaking that is not a lie because in Gen 20:12 Abraham said,"But indeed she is truly my sister. She is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife."

However, while that is technically not a lie, is that really the truth? There are people today who, just like Abraham did thousands of years ago, perform linguistic gymnastics to shade the truth. Let me come back again to the case of Sze Zeng saying Rev Koh's use of quotation marks indicate that he is quoting from other sources (sori Kat, I know I told you that I will quit talking about it).

As I have mentioned before, quotation marks can be used for various purposes besides setting off a quotation:
Quotation marks are not only used to set off a quotation. They are also used to set off a speech, a phrase or a word. Another important use of quotation marks is to indicate or call attention to ironic or apologetic words. Quotation marks are also used to indicate that the writer realizes that a word is not being used in its current commonly-accepted sense. (source:

While it is not a lie that Rev Koh used quite a few quotation marks in his article, is it really the truth that Rev Koh, through the use of those quotation marks, meant to indicate that he was quoting from other sources?

Precision in writing is what you will see in the bible. This is because God wants you to know exactly what He wants you to know - THE TRUTH.


Anonymous said...

Hi Stanley,

Have been greatly blessed by your blog. Press on in defending the faith and be gracious to Sze Zeng.

Now there's is another fellow who says JP is not a christian:

Wld expect him to do a review of DTR ...

A non-NCC church goer and a follower of your blessed blog.

Stanley Wong said...

Hi YK,

Thank you for your feedback.

I know about puritanreformed aka astronova aka daniel chew. He is the one who wrote the aricle "Joseph Prince - the heretic".

As for being gracious to Sze Zeng, please note that I have not written anything that attacks him on a personal basis. I did not call him names nor have I assassinated his character.

I have merely stated my arguments to counter what I feel is flawed logic in his arguments - this is just normal cut and thrust in debate.

Perhaps one reason why I keep on bringing up this quotation mark issue is that Sze Zeng persists in his line of reasoning, which I feel is illogical as he is an intelligent young man pursuing his studies at a local theological college (Sze Zeng, please correct me if this is not true, the college part I mean).

Anyway, I won't be bringing up this issue anymore as I feel I have made my stand clear by now.

Thank you once again for following my blog YK. I look forward to more of your feedback.


Sze Zeng said...

Hi Stanley,

I am not formally pursuing a theological studies now at a local college. At least, not now. :)