Why are Christian beliefs and behaviors so confusing? In the beloved 1987 film The Princess Bride, Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin) confronts the criminal Vizzini (Wallace Shawn) for his use of the word “inconceivable” to describe events that were, in fact, happening: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” Montoya’s assessment is both humorous and correct. And it applies quite nicely to many situations today in which the words we use do not mean what we think they mean.
A recent survey of American views on Christian theology from LifeWay Research confirms this to be true in matters of Christian beliefs. For example, asking respondents if they self-identify as a Christian isn’t very helpful, as the word means different things to different people. One person’s Christianity is another’s heresy. When the words we use to communicate our ideas to others do not come from a shared vocabulary, miscommunication ensues. But defining our vocabulary isn’t the easy fix you’d expect, because what we say we believe is often contradicted by our behavior. What we say we believe is more accurately seen in our behavior than in the words we choose.
In this episode of Persuasion, Erin Straza and Hannah Anderson discuss the dissonance between the Christian beliefs we say we have and how those beliefs play out in our everyday decisions, as well as the ramifications of those discrepancies. These variances in word meanings as well as our inability to fully know our own hearts explains the wide array of stances on cultural issues among Christians on everything from politics to baptism to spending practices. Understanding that we all have blind spots and differing vocabulary points to the need to seek understanding of everything that shapes a person’s opinions and behaviors. We need to be a mirror to each other so that what we think we mean can better line up with what we think we believe.
Listen to Persuasion Episode 72:
More from Persuasion: Why Christian Beliefs and Behaviors Can Be So Confusing:
Follow Erin Straza on Twitter: @ErinStraza
Pre-Order Erin’s book Comfort Detox: Finding Freedom From Habits That Bind You
Follow Hannah Anderson on Twitter: @sometimesalight
Order Hannah’s book Made for More: An Invitation to Live in God’s Image
Theme music by Maiden Name.