By Al Hartman, former Leading Brother in the San Fernando Valley

A concern has been raised by some, that there are those among us who pose as ex-Assembly members, but who still adhere to pro-Assembly views, and that these imposters can be recognized by certain patterns of speech, which have been dubbed "Assemblyspeak." 

That these individuals are at large is beyond question. That they are a danger to the unaware is certain. But many of us stand also in peril of being hastily and irresponsibly mislabeled because of a misconception of the nature of Assemblyspeak.

Assemblyspeak exists. It is a reality. It is similar in nature to Corporatespeak, Governmentspeak, Mediaspeak and any number of other "-speaks": a collection of buzzwords and catch-phrases used by insiders, and meant to impress and confound outsiders.

Such practice serves to bolster the sense of belonging held by those within the group while encouraging jealousy in outsiders to want to be welcomed within.

The important thing to know and remember about Assemblyspeak is that it is an abuse and misuse of genuine language, and not a language of its own. Assemblyspeak is a corruption of both English and of the Word of God.

Why must we bear in mind that Assemblyspeak is not a language? Simple:To prevent our throwing out the baby with the bathwater (an Assembly catch-phrase if ever there was one). When we hear someone say that God doesn't give two snaps of a gnat's wing about something, a red flag goes up: "Assemblyspeak."

But it behooves us to recognize that the offending phrase was spoken in English, not exclusive to the Assemblies, and that corruption of a language does not invalidate the language itself. So we must turn at once to Christ, trusting in His grace and keeping power, while we investigate further, albeit warily.

A phrase alone is out of context, and must not be allowed to condemn the speaker without the confirmation of much more dialogue. When all you heard said was, "Jesus was just a teacher and a good man," can you afford to write off the speaker as a heretic?

Perhaps you missed hearing the preceding "Some say that..." and turned away in horror before the ensuing "...but He was much more than that: He was the living Son of God, the only Savior of the world, to Whom is due all glory and honor!" was spoken.

If you spent any time at all in an Assembly, you not only grew accustomed to, but no doubt used Assemblyspeak in your own conversation. It was unavoidable. Assemblyspeak is simply the Assembly's views, both doctrinal and practical, applied to such biblical terminology as grace, works, rewards, obedience, worship, subjection, gathering, and innumerable other examples.

Must we now fear these words? Should we shun them because we have grown accustomed to hearing them wrongly applied or defined? Of course not; they pertain to the Word of God, which endures forever.

There are two aspects of hearing to be considered. The first is the physical: sound strikes our ear (or the printed word our eye) and registers. The second, and far more important, is how we respond to the first.

My wife and I live on a busy corner near a high school. We are frequently subjected to the THOOMPA-THOOMPA-THOOMP... of passing cars' oversized subwoofers as they separate their occupants' brains from their skulls.

We hear this, but we choose not to listen to it, and when we listen to music for our own pleasure and edification, it is of a far more moderate nature. The key to true hearing is listening. It is a matter of choice, not only of what we hear, but how-- in what context-- we hear it.

Many who have survived or escaped the assemblies have not yet unlearned (another Assemblyspeak term) Assembly lingo. Give them, and yourself, the benefit of the doubt. Seek to know their hearts by the fruits of their lives, and not by their words alone.

And pray. Our protection, our deliverance, our spiritual growth, just as our initial redemption, are in the hands of the living God, in whom we live and move and have our being. Regardless of the means He chooses, He will faithfully keep every promise He has made to us.

If you are trying to help new Christians who have recently come out from the Jehovah's Witnesses or the Mormon church, you will seek every means possible to overcome their customary misuse and misunderstanding of scripture, making allowance for their backgrounds.

Be at least so considerate of saints with Assembly histories. It is not an easy thing, nor necessarily a quick one, to overcome such a past. But it is possible, and it is happening.

"Assemblyspeak" is an example of "loaded language" discussed by Robert Lifton in his criteria for thought reform.

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