Thursday, October 13, 2005

Mother Tongue

We all remember the story of Babel, that disastrous experiment in human unity and autonomy. Men united around a single ideology of self-improvement and self-aggrandizement for the purpose of seizing a Heaven without God. God's mildly amused response to this itty-bitty uprising was to confuse men's language, literally, to confuse their "lip".

James Jordan's book, "Primeval Saints", clarifies,
"As we begin the story of the Tower of Bable we read, 'Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words' (Gen 11:1)...The phrase 'same words' refers to language, but the phrase 'same lip' - literally 'one lip' - refers to religion (Zeph 3:9; Ps 81:5; etc)...What happened at Babel was not first and foremost a division of languages, but rather a division
of religious belief..."

So what has religion got to do with language? Why would a division of religious belief have the secondary effect of dividing language?

Well, in some fundamental way God IS language. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God..." (Jn 1:1) And we are created in the image of that Word.

Ephesians 1, that delicious exposition of the purposes of the Trinity in making and redeeming man, is shot through with this refrain: "to the praise of his glory...." Apparently, our underlying purpose is to glorify God, and our mother-tongue is praise. When we will not speak the praise of God, we no longer speak our mother-tongue.

But James Jordan further reflects:
"The Christian knows that God has established Christianity
to create a true unity of confession (the lip) among allnations and peoples, but this unity will not destroy the diversity of languages. Instead, each nation and language will praise Him in its own tongue (Rev 7:9)...Every language has a particular set of perspectives on the Word of God, and thus every language
is fitted to reveal God and praise Him in a special way. Throughout eternity the saints will delight to learn language after language, learning to praise God in new ways, age after age, forever and ever."

As a mother, I have a good deal of influence over what is said in my home. As I pursue a unity that does not crush the individual, I pursue God's praise. As I pursue understanding among the members of my household, I pursue God's praise. And as I pursue joy outstripping despair, I pursue God's praise.

May all our homes become fluent in praise, the song of Heaven, the language of power, and our true Mother-tongue.


Firefly said...

I'm afraid I am going to have to disagree with you here. I can't imagine God causing a division of religious belief. This sounds suspiciously like it is supporting the idea that all religions are equal and is one slight step away from saying that there is no ultimate truth. Which is only a step away from humanism.

God might confuse our language so that we might not work together in a way that is against his wishes, but scripture constantly shows us that he wants us to worship him and him alone.

Kim Anderson said...

I couldn't agree more about God wanting us to worship Him and Him alone. The point I had hoped to make was that the division of language that God made was both an exposure and a judgement of the division of religious belief that Nimrod and his cohorts had made from the true faith.

God punishes sin with more sin. If the builders of Babel thought a single unified deviation from the worship of Yahweh was great, God gave them a confusion of deviations - to the point of not being able to cmmunicate at all.

And which was the more important rift? The ideas or the vocabulary?

Weekend Fisher said...

Now that's an interesting angle. Praise of God is the universal language ... I think I actually buy that.

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Anonymous said...

Ever since I finished school I didn’t think I would want to have anymore lessons ever again, however recently I have wanted to learn a language, maybe become fluent in one and basic in a couple of others. I did a bit of research and found there were loads of different packages available I went with one that claims you teach yourself Spanish and I was impressed it was a computer program that helped with pronunciation and speaks back to you so you can hear it too.


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