Why we don’t use “normal Christian” language

In an email discussion with a Christian, I was recently told, “In my opinion, you use very wooden and awkward language. ‘Well message,’ ‘terrestrial Jesus,’ among others. It’s hard to have a conversation when you don’t just speak normally (plus your wording sounds so wooden). The word ‘gospel’ means the same thing as ‘well message.’”

Now, if you aren’t used to the terminology and phrasing that English-speaking members of the body of Christ often choose in order to communicate certain truths, it can indeed sound unusual at first. We use phrases like “evangel,” Well Message,” “terrestrial Jesus,” “relative perspective,” “ecclesia,” “eonian,” “allotment,” “celestials,” “entombed,” “roused,” “the unseen,” etc. What most people aren’t aware of, however, is that most of us use these particular words very deliberately. It’s not that we’re trying to make things difficult to understand, but rather that we’re trying to reveal specific truths that can be tricky to see otherwise.

For example, we use the term “terrestrial Jesus” as well as the term “glorified Christ” to speak of the same Person while also differentiating between the times in His ministry when something He might have said or done occurred. It’s not that we’re trying to be confusing; in fact, it’s the exact opposite. Instead of trying to make things unclear, we’re actually trying to make the difference in times more obvious, because a teaching that applies to one period of time, or to a specific administration, doesn’t necessarily apply to all other times or administrations.

As far as the word “Gospel” goes, however, it’s not so much that the Greek word εὐαγγέλιον, which is commonly translated as “Gospel” in English, means the same thing as “Well Message,” but rather that the word εὐαγγέλιον/Gospel simply means “Well Message” (or “Favourable Announcement,” “Positive Proclamation,” “Glad Tidings,” “Good News,” etc.), which is to say, “a message or announcement that is uplifting in nature.” My usage of the phrase “Well Message” in my email was in regard to a discussion we’re having about the fact that there is more than one Gospel in Scripture, and when one simply uses the common term it’s easy to conclude that each of the Gospels in Scripture are all just pieces of a larger, all-encompassing message called the Gospel (which he, like most Christians, assumes to be the case). Now, a message, by definition, is a communication that contains specific information or news, which means that a “Well Message” is a communication consisting of specific words meant to convey distinct positive information or news.

Of course, it is certainly possible for a specific message to be one of a set of messages, and even for those various different messages to all be connected in some way, but if someone gives you a positive message (meaning a communication containing very specific words in a very specific order that reveals very specific uplifting information — let’s call this particular order of words “the positive message of the kingdom”) explaining that you will experience a benefit (such as “being saved”) if you believe those specific words and what they mean, it would seem safe to conclude that you can indeed be saved by believing just those specific words on their own (meaning that specific positive message) as you were told you could be. And if someone else later gave an entirely different group of people a whole other positive message consisting of a very different set of words (let’s call this particular set of words “the positive message of grace”) which, while being connected to the same Person providing the benefit, mean something other than what the words contained in the first message do, and this order of words explained how his audience experienced a benefit as well (also called “being saved,” even if the “salvation” this group experienced might be somewhat different in nature from what the first person’s “salvation” might be referring to) because they believed these specific words and what they mean, it would also seem safe to conclude that the listeners were indeed saved by believing those specific words just as they were told they were. And since each of these specific messages contained different words which, when put in the order they were placed in, meant different things, we can’t say that the people proclaiming each of these specific and distinct messages were actually proclaiming one and the same message, because the person proclaiming the first message definitely wasn’t including the meaning of the words contained in the second message in his particular message (so, in order for it to be able to be said that the two people are actually proclaiming the same “one Positive Message,” the sets of words ordered the way they are in each of the two messages would have to mean the exact same thing, which anyone who reads them without a predisposed bias towards there being only “one message” would tell you they definitely don’t).

To put it simply, if the “order of words conveying specific information” (read, the message) that the first person shared is not the same “order of words conveying the specific information” (again, the message) that the second person shared, or at least if it doesn’t mean the exact same thing, it means the “specific order of words conveying specific information” (aka the “Well Message” or the “Gospel”) that the audience of the first person hears and can be saved by is not the “specific order of words conveying specific information” (again, the “Well Message” or the “Gospel”) that the audience of the second person heard and was saved by, which means there’s no legitimate basis for calling them both the same “one Well Message” or the same “one Gospel,” and the words “the kingdom of heaven is near” definitely does not mean the exact same thing as the words “Christ died for our sins, was entombed, and was roused the third day,” so they just can’t be called the exact same “one Well Message” or “one Gospel.” And that is why we sometimes use phrases such as “Well Message” rather than simply always saying “Gospel,”, because we’re trying to make that point clear.