Servants of God's Word,
Masters of Man's Words
Josil Gonzales

As Servants of God's Words, Christian writers should pay close and serious attention to these two verses : 

Genesis 1:1 "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." 

John 1:1 "In the beginning was the Word..."

In here we find the two challenges of our craft. The first challenge is that as writers we are essentially creators. Through words, we can create something good, beautiful and true. Words can be powerful in the hands of a creative and disciplined writer.

How powerful? “A drop of ink makes millions think,” wrote Lord Byron (1788-1824), one of the great English romantic poets.  

As writers we are involved in the never-ending work of making words become flesh. We make our living out of words. While accountants work with numbers, visual artists with lines and colors, writers have a love affair with words, a life-long romance and adventure with words.

Considering that our alphabet has only 26 letters, thousands and thousands of words have been invented using those 26 letters. Are you familiar with Oxford English Dictionary III? It consists of 23 volumes, each one as almost as big as an Encyclopedia Britannica volume. That’s how rich and extensive the English language is. Just one dictionary with 23 volumes.

The first time I saw Oxford English Dictionary III (OED) was in 1990 – at the office of the Encyclopedia Britannica in Chicago. It just came out in 1989 and I felt awed seeing those 23 volumes on the shelf. I even thought of kissing a volume as a sign of respect. The first word I looked at the dictionary was “writer”. I also discovered that there is such a word as “writerly”.

Do you know that a writer has two best friends that keep him company? Who are they? Dick and Tess ! (dictionary and thesaurus)

Words aren't simply Words
for the Servants of God's Words

The author of On Writing Well, William Zinsser, defines writing as simply as clear thinking. It was Manuel Arguilla, a great Filipino writer, who said that a writer needs at least three lifetimes in order to be good in his craft: a lifetime of living, a lifetime of reading and a lifetime of writing.

You can only write well if you have lived well and read well.

The first challenge is that writers are essentially creators. The second challenge for us as servants of God's words is that our words must explain God to the modern man. Like Jesus, our writings should be the "word" of God to our generation, making him clear and known to our people.

The responsibility of a Christian writer, to paraphrase Francis Schaeffer (1912-1984), an American Evangelical theologian and philosopher, is to communicate unchanging truths into the generation in which he is living and which keeps on changing. The unchanging truths in changing times.

And for us to communicate the Christian faith effectively, to bear witness to God's Kingdom, we must know and understand the thought forms and thinking patterns of our generation.

John Stott (1921-2011), the well-known British theologian, calls this as “double listening”. He writes in his book, “Contemporary Christianity” -- "We are to listen carefully both to the ancient Word and to the modern world, in order to relate the one with the other with a combination of fidelity and sensitivity."

He says that we Evangelicals are good when it comes to handling the Word of God. But we lack the knowledge of the world around us. We focus on the Word and neglect to study the world, which is our context. That’s the reason why many times our preaching and writing are not relevant to the times. We don’t know our context.

On the other hand, the liberals are good in studying the world. However, they neglect the Word of God. In the process, they have come up with Liberation Theology and other controversial doctrines. John Stott says that we must be good in both the Word and the world. We should be conscientious students of the Word and the world. We should know the content of the Bible and at the same time the context of our times. 

At the same time, we Christian writers need to be good in our craft. Yes, we have the right content but sometimes we are lacking when it comes to style and presentation.

The challenge before Christian writers is to be true and faithful servants of God's Word and at the same time, be masters of man's words.

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