Reformed Grits


Grammar and being intentional
August 28, 2009, 3:37 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

A few months ago, I was browsing the internet looking for some type of information (I think on writing curriculum for a homeschool friend???) when I came across a blog of a homeschool family who is trying to re-invent the wheel.  Ok, well not really– they called it being “intentional” and really thinking about everything they did and if it was worth the time, effort, money, and emotional energy they put in it.

Which is really great…  more people should do that.  But I was absolutely stunned to see that they had decided that grammar was not worth studying. Now I understand not liking it, or not totally getting it.   But by heaven and earth, I would to beg to disagree with this position.

Grammar for the present may seem a waste of time.  So does algebra.  Then again, so does the Classic Films class that one of my children is taking as an elective.  But if everything we do is to glorify God, then every decision we make in regards to how we live our life has serious implications. I do not purport to have perfected this way of living, but I do hope I am also “intentional” in my life.

Here’s where I’m going…

To examine God’s word and say “How then shall we live?” (2 Peter 3:11) is a critical question.  Some see the way we live out our faith and think we are being legalistic because we make choices based on our understanding of God’s word.  This is not so; it’s living in accordance with the scriptures.  But to discern how we shall live must be based on a study of the holy scriptures and nothing else.  It’s our guidebook and manual for our walk as Christians on this earth.   It’s our only rule of faith and practice.

And then, there is Paul.   You know, he’s one of the big guns when it comes to the “post-Jesus” writings on how as The Church we should carry out our lives.  But he is one wordy dude.   I know, inspired by the Holy Spirit, but there are a lot of words there.  People who know grammar would use words  like phrases, mood, tenses, participles, agreement, and the list continues ad nauseum.   I would say these things make a big difference when it comes to the understanding of the scriptures, and therefore the “how then shall we live.”

This was brought up to me when we were in our Wednesday night small group and we were going through Ephesians 2.  We were beginning at verse 4 which begins the sentence, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved) and raised us up with him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in the kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

How ’bout you diagram those 4 verses on the board, people?

I’m not trying to state that you should be able to diagram it seriously (although it probably would be helpful!) but how do you swallow a “bite” of scripture like that without breaking it down a bit?  And how can you get the richness and what it means if you can’t digest it?  I read it and began to brush over it… until I realized we were going to be spending the entire evening discussing it so I thought I should be prepared.

Where to begin?  Ok, what’s the subject.  What’s the verb?  I don’t know all the phraseology for everything but it’s helpful to know the subject is “God” and there are 3 predicates.  God (1) made us alive, (2) raised us , and (3) seated us.  The phrases going along with each of these things make it so rich and meaningful.  I could spend 10 pages breaking down the verse and talking about the modifiers and how the intentions of God are shown in this verse and you can even see why He bothered to tell us these things and why they are important!  I challenge you to exercise your grammatical muscles and think of scripture this way.

It’s hard to understand all the implications of every word of inspired scripture.  Often we feel overwhelmed when we read a whole chapter and think we are supposed to walk away with a new perspective on how to live because God is intentional.  I know this in part from being able to break down what He tells us in Ephesians 2 in the 3rd sentence which happens to encompass 4 verses.

And I also know it because I have a solid grammar background.  I got my solid grammar background from an intentional parent who, in the spirit of the Olde Deluder Satan Act, knew that in order to walk in truth I had to be able to discern it from God’s word.  (The antecedent of  “it” is “truth.”)  🙂

And the cycle continues.

(Making a disclaimer here that my grammar is not flawless and that sometimes I speak in “stream of consciousness” mode.  Grateful that Scripture is not subjected to man’s poor grammar but is decipherable because He will be found if we seek Him.  1 Chronicles 28:9)

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