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"Amillennialism 101" -- Audio and On-Line Resources
« The Basics of the Reformed Faith -- The Covenant of Works | Main | Christian "Terrorists", the Crusades, and Ecclesiology »

Focus Group Tested Speech

The Beltway crowd is at it again.  Obama's speech on the debt ceiling was packed with focus group tested positive speech.  Words like "balance" and "compromise" apparently tested quite well (Obama kept repeating them), while pejoratives like "extreme" and "Tea-Party" tested poorly and produce a negative reaction when applied to one's political opponents, as Obama did.

The Reformed have their focus tested speech as well.  "Covenant" is a good Reformed word.  "Arminian" is a negative term.  When we wish to say something positive in our circles, we call it "covenantal" or tie it to "covenant."  When we wish to mark something off as problematic, we call it "Arminian," for obvious reasons, of course.

Apparently, the pre-trib rapture people have their focus tested speech as well.  One pre-trib rapture blog has a list of theologians/pastors and ranks them as to whether they are a "good apple" or a "bad apple" (check this out, it really is a hoot--Good and Bad Apples on the Bible Prophecy Blog).

Here's the "Bible Prophecy blog" description of that "bad apple," R. C. Sproul.

"A brilliant scholar and founder of Ligonier Ministries and, he is probably best known in prophecy circles for his support of preterism.  He is a `partial preterist' which claims the events of most of the book of Revelation occurred during the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., yet there will be a future bodily return of Jesus Christ.  A difficult, confusing model of Bible prophecy, few scholars accept this form of eschatology which has roots in liberal covenant and reformation theology.  He, along with other scholars, authored the Reformation Study Bible.  He is a professor, pastor, teacher, conference speaker and author.  He writes against the pre-tribulation rapture position."

When I think of R. C. "brilliant" certainly comes to mind, but "liberal"?  Apparently, "liberal," "covenant" and even "Reformational" are negative focus tested words in this circle.

We can have some fun with this.  How about some examples of "focus tested speech" found in the Christian world?  Leave them in the comments section below.

Reader Comments (15)

Chuck Smith sets a date for the rapture back in the 1980s, yet he still gets a green apple?! False prediction should be automatic rotten apple!
July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPreston
If there is reason to be ashamed to call yourself Christian, it has to be because of possibly being associated with dispensationalists of this type.
July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAlberto
Sproul, Piper, and Spurgeon all got red apples - what?????
July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMike
I forgot to mention that "Augustine" , "beer", "creeds", and "confessions" are other words that don't score well among dispensationalists

As for the Reformed, it depends which guys you ask. "Postmillenialism" would get some cheers, but also dislikes. "Baptist" might get a negative response, depending how strongly they object to Baptists calling themselves Reformed.

We can't forget our friends in Protestant Liberalism. "Orthodoxy" and "miracles" would get frowns.

I'm surprised, Kim was given the honor of being a bad apple.
July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAlberto
Some of my favorite "focus tested speech" that I've only heard in reformed churches are archaic wordings like effectual (in stead of just saying effective) or profitable (instead of saying encouraging or helpful) and my all time favorite is communicant member. Which leaves me thinking, "is there any other kind of member?". Can't we just say member in good standing? I'm guessing only those who are under discipline are not taking communion. Which is confusing again becasue I've never heard a reformed church that actually calls it communion. They always call it the Lord's Supper. Maybe I'm just slow but I feel like I hear archaic and/or unclear wording in Reformed churches all the time. Is it somehow less theological to be clear using everyday language? Probably not what you were looking for but what came to mind.
July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMark
Mentioning of "Calvinism" around members of Calvary Chapel is like mentioning "cats" around reformed folk, it's the worst way to spoil any party.
July 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGev
That list hasn't changed a bit since the first time I saw it, years ago. And, nobody I read registers a bit on their scale. The usual motley crew

I'll think of something witty to say later.
July 27, 2011 | Unregistered Commenter"lee n. field"
A word that comes to mind is "evangelical." From confessional Lutheran and Reformed ranks that word is often construed to mean "liberal, ecumenical, credobaptist, and/or CW-prone" nowadays, even though that was certainly not what it meant historically - especially in post-Reformation Germany. From those "evangelicals'" perspective, though, I'm sure the word has just the opposite connotation. Darryl Hart has been having a lot of fun with this very word over on his blog lately.

BTW, did you hafta pick that old photo with the former Speaker of the House in it - shudder...
July 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge
Legalism can be masked by associating it with the word "Gospel." For example, if you want to preach law without ever referencing the gospel, say your sermon is about "Gospel Living."
July 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBBywaters
"Missional" and "intentional" test well with the so-called new calvinists. "Confessional" and "paedo-anything" are not broad enough, so they are generally avoided in T4G/TGC type circles.
July 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua Peterson
hey Pastor Kim,

What color apple are you?
July 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPresbyterian_keith
In my former church (PCUSA) years ago, calling a person, interest, or activity "spiritual" meant "good," while "carnal" or "worldly" meant bad. They didn't necessarily mean "worldly" in the sense of "of this fallen world," either. If the music you listened to wasn't at least nominally Christian it was worldly. The funny thing is that some of the "spiritual" music was rather worldly in perspective (e.g. good people go to heaven and bad people go to hell).
July 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick Yamada
July 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMark
"Radical" is an interesting one. Tapping into general Reformed sensibilities about the difference between the Protestant Reformation (Reformed and Lutheran) and the Radical Reformation (Anabaptist), Reformed theonomists and transformationalists use it against Reformed 2k to suggest that 2k is more Anabaptist than Protestant and call it Radical 2k. The irony is how theonomy and Anabaptism are two different ways of merging the two kingdoms as opposed to keeping them distinct.
July 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterZrim
Zrim - In my mind even the term "radical reformer" itself is an oxymoron. Based on my understanding medieval church history, they (the anabaptists) were, in fact, not reformers at all. Instead, they seemed to insist on obliterating anything that the early church had established entirely, developed their own rules (sans confessions of any sort), and simply started over again from "scratch." Hence, "re-baptism" since anything done previously could not possibly have been valid. If this mind set does not set the stage for biblicism I'm not sure what does...
August 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge

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