Friday, September 30, 2016


If you're anything like me, it's fairly easy to get lost in some of the language of the Bible, particularly when reading one of the translations that relies heavily on more archaic language - like thee, thy, thine, and thou. One of the ways we resolve our tension with these words is to just conclude that they all refer to God in some way, and then what we end up with is some version of the Bible that we almost, but don't quite, understand. 

And then it's easy to get our theology a bit messed up.

The more I think about these words, though, and the more I discover about the grammatical use of them, the more I think that perhaps there is something about them that is still relevant today. Perhaps even more relevant today.

All of these words are forms of personal pronouns. They are not the personal pronouns that we use most often today - today, we are stuck on "me" and "you." It seems that there are but these two - everything in the world is either mine or yours. And we use these words to create distance between ourselves.

But that's why I'm coming to love these archaic-sounding pronouns. These are second-person forms (you) that sound more intimate, like first-person forms (me). They draw God closer through their very form.

Check this out: any time you might be tempted to say "me," say "thee." These two words serve roughly the same purpose in a sentence. The same is true with "my" and "thy." Try swapping those out. The same is true, as well, with "mine" and "thine." All of these forms ring to our ear as most intimate, most personal - because they sound like the words that we use for ourselves. The only subtle difference here is the very first phoneme, the first sound, and this "th"? It is the beginning of the Greek word theos, which means "God." 

So unwrap all of that for a second. In a world in which everything is either me or you, mine or yours, what we've essentially done is brought the Gospel and tried to make it a "me" thing. We've taken the story of God and made it our own. In a world in which individuality and subjective reality are the prime motivators of existence, we have a Gospel, too, that is centered around us.

This so-called outdated language changes just one sound, but refers the Gospel back out to God without losing the intimacy.

Where we need to create a little space, where we need to separate more deeply between ourselves and God, we have "thou," which, if you look at it, is this very same phoneme away from being "you," - a true second-person that permits us to discriminate between two things (lest we confuse the Gospel entirely). 

The implications of this cannot be overstated in a world that is so easily, and so readily, divided into me and you, into mine and yours. Because what this does, without losing either the intimacy or the distinction, is to remind us that it is all God's. It's all His. That's what the th is about. 

It's Thee-ology at its finest. 

And we'd do well to remember that. 

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