In the days when Judah returned to Jerusalem after the Babylonian captivity, Ezra and Nehemiah worked together to improve the conditions then prevailing. The problems they encountered were many, not the least of which was the fact that Jewish men had married women of Ashdod, Ammon and Moab (Neh. 13:23). A consequence of these illegal alliances was seen a generation later, in that their children could not speak the Jews’ language: “And half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod, and they could not speak the language of Judah, but only the language of each people” (Neh. 13:24).
Interesting parallels have been drawn from this passage over the years, by gospel preachers, to illustrate how our language can betray us. Our words will reveal the sources of our spiritual learning, whether it is of man or God. When people refer to a gospel preacher as “pastor,” or “reverend”; when people say, “I am a Church of Christ,” or, “He’s a Church of Christ preacher”; when people speak of how they “got saved,” or, how they accepted Jesus Christ as their “personal Savior”; when people wish to “witness” before others; when people call worship a “celebration,” we know that they have been drinking from non-Biblical wells. As a remedy, time spent in studying the Bible will refine their speech, and reveal a purer source of knowledge. They will learn to “call Bible things by Bible names.”
A classic illustration of this principle came to me recently. Peyton Murphy informed me of an email he had received, with the sender’s name being “Pastor Dennis Gulledge.” The email claimed that the matter needed to be handled discreetly. It said, “I am currently busy in a prayer session, no calls so just reply my email” (sic). Peyton replied saying he was unaware that I had become one of our pastors. To which the sender replied, “I have been working on incentives and i aimed at surprising some of our diligent staffs with gift cards this week. This should be Confidential until they all have the gift cards as its a surprise and you will keep one for yourself too” (sic). In an ingenious move Peyton managed to talk the scammer into getting Woolworths gift cards. Lol!
This email disturbed me more than a little. I was afraid it might have gone out to other members at Mabelvale. I hoped no one would fall for this, but you can’t be too careful these days. People should know just from the lousy spelling and grammar alone that I am not the writer of any such garbage. The big thing for me, however, was the title, “Pastor Dennis Gulledge.” Surely, that would be a dead giveaway to any member of the church at Mabelvale that such a thing did not come from me!
I posted a warning against this fraudulent email on the Mabelvale members Facebook page with a reference to the “Ashdodic language” of the sender’s name. It generated some interesting replies. My reference to “Ashdodic language” caught the attention of a few who wondered what I meant by it. Peyton googled it and an article written by me in the Mabelvale bulletin (2003) came up. Rebecca Gowen asked a very interesting question: “So if the preacher happens to be an elder, is it still considered Ashdodic?” The answer is no. Every elder of a congregation is a pastor (Eph. 4:11), and if the preacher happens to be one of the elders, he is a pastor too. But, as I suggested to Rebecca, I have never known a faithful elder anywhere to use the word “Pastor” as a title attached to his name. Such wording is a definitive sign of the denominational origin of the expression. It is not New Testament terminology and it illustrates very well what is meant by “Ashdodic Language.”