Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Sensa Scriptura

Neologisms for Neoevangelicals 

Sensa Scriptura [(sens’ uh] [skrɪpt ər’ uh])] 

[Sensa (n.) Middle English < Latin sēnsus. sensation, feeling, understanding, equivalent to sent (īre) to feel +-tus,. Scriptura (n.) Latin scrīptūra: writing. See script, -ure)] 

Example: "A New Bible: The Passion Translation"[1]

1. Interpreting the Scriptures with a view to how both the interpreter-communicators’ and their listener-hearers’ feelings/ passions can be aroused. Employing this “new” hermeneutic, interpreter-communicators strive to stimulate, manipulate and massage one or more of the five human senses (sight, touch, taste, smell, and hearing) of their audience. They strive to soothe the ears of their hearers precisely where they scratch (It’s called ministering to felt needs.), employing whatever words—usually “voluptuous” and/or “great swelling” words—along with technology, to keep members of the audience coming back so that their “itch” can experience another “scratch” (See 2 Timothy 4:3; 2 Peter 2:18; Jude 16.).

2. Provocatively reading or handling Scripture with a view to arousing sensual reactions in, among or between the hearers, whether the reactions are physiological, psychological and/or mystical. Failing to arouse the passions of the audience through the accepted canon of Scripture, interpreter-communicators often turn to mix other supposed divine revelations into their “passion punch.” Calculated to convince the audience that they are experiencing a divine presence, these revelations confuse hearers by substituting the sensual-soulish for the scriptural-spiritual (See Hebrews 4:12.).

Example: The "worship" at the Cornwall, England Creationfest in the summer of 2013[2]

3. The careful staging of a spiritual environment wherein mood-altering experiences, cues, impressions, feelings and/or mystical revelations can be personally considered valid and true, and even of superior value than the Scriptures alone. This method can sometimes be quite elaborate with carefully orchestrated sensory stimuli designed to alter the objective mind (rational thinking) and affect the subjective soul (feelings and emotions) thereby altering cognitive beliefs, values, and morals.

4. To reach out and touch the feminine side that is thought to comprise one-half of every human brain. To this end, the interpreter-communicator utilizes a flowery, feminized and vanity-laden method of interpreting Scripture based upon an experiential, emotional, relational, and “speaks-to-my-heart” paradigm. This modus operandi is designed to delicately and sweetly arouse personal passion and pietism. This arousal can be facilitated by employing visual cues of fancy swash type fonts (see graphic illustrations below) to help the audience “feel” the counterfeited word.

5. Conversely, to reach out and touch the macho side that is thought to comprise the other half of the human brain (there’s no firm distinction which clearly differentiates the feminine from the masculine, and vice versa). To this end, the interpreter-communicator employs an aggressive and evocative “warrior” or “tribe” mentality to the interpretation of the Bible. But this paradigmatic method of interpretation inflames the idea of “manly” dominion over their wives, families and churches. Absent constraints over the arousal of passionate manly dominion, abuses can result.

Example: Passion 2012[3]
6. A paradigm-shattering, passion-based and peer-oriented youth conference which conveys a promise that attendance will make all participants “Christianly hip.” As a prelude to the event, fasting and other sensory deprivations, including loss of sleep, are advised so as to make the arousals of the conference more acute. Passions are then stoked in the large gathering by raucous rock music accompanied by a deafening beat, flashing lights, and released smoke, even as cameras pan the excited, chanting and shouting audience for broadcast on jumbotrons of the images of hyped-up excitement that explode all over the arena. In the aftermath of this created cauldron of excitement and passion, “new insights and revelations” about, or in place of, the Bible are shared—revelations which alter prevailing concepts about God’s “truth” and “mission.”

Note: the passions induced by such sensual measures seldom last. In the aftermath of the arousals, emotional let-downs occur. A question arises: Did I really experience God? Then “reversionism” sets in as burned-out participants go back to previous behaviors and beliefs, or worse, to unbelief (See 2 Peter 2:18-22.). Therefore it may come about that emotional stimulation may have to resort to other sensory methods to sustain the passion and commitment—coercion and peer-pressure, even threats, deprivation or other punitive stimuli. Hence forms the spiritual environment of a cult. Frolic turns into fear.

7. The deprivation of stimuli in the environment under ascetic conditions that results in a hyper-sensitivity and susceptibility to rapturous mystical, erotic, sensual, mystical and metaphysical stimuli of all kinds—thus resulting in a change in belief, awareness, cognition, interpretation, or even rationality; with a concurrent complete loss of discernment of right and wrong, truth and lie.

Illustrative examples of sensory stimuli in writing and media:

When Ann [Voskamp] writes, she paints verbal pictures as she amasses a collage of words and symbolism…. [S]he crafts a web of words that woo a person's deepest emotions of tragedy and trials—which causes a reader's heart to lock with hers. Once she's captured the reader's heart through her imagery of words and masterfully entangled mess of emotions, she transports you to a place of mystical sighs. And here, anyone… can very easily lose sight of what is true in accordance with God's perfect Word and what is true to our imperfect and often, emotionally and sensory driven hearts and minds.[4]

On a recent Dividing Line program, Dr. James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries discussed the production of conspiracy videos in which spooky, manipulative music and leading language take the place of actual scholarly data. The specific film being discussed was Tares Among The Wheat by filmmaker and talk show host Chris Pinto, and in this segment, Dr. White christened Pinto's filmmaking style as the "the spooky music proof approach." Unfortunately, the sad reality is that these fringy films have a way of getting around in the Christian community, and thus it is a real service to the body of Christ for our respected leaders to acknowledge that these films are out there, and take the time the refute them, as Dr. White has done.[5] [emphasis added]

"It’s a weekend designed to stick the grit back in the Christian man, the pluck back in the preacher, the growl back in the father, the purpose back in the husband, and the life back in the believer. With patented Ellerslie tenacity, gumption, and straightforwardness, this conference will pull no punches and promise no comfort. It will not be a retreat, but rather, a call to the front lines of war. Yes, it is a conference, but it is unashamedly a conference with an agenda. And that is, to see men made ready, in this hour of dire need, to live strongly, suffer joyfully, and die singing for the Glory of Jesus Christ."[6][emphasis added]

Typographical fonts for a feminine stimuli:

"A swash is a typographical flourish, such as an exaggerated serif, terminal, tail, entry stroke, etc. on a glyph. The use of swash characters dates back to at least the 16th century."[7]

"Zapfino is a calligraphic typeface designed for Linotype by typeface designer Hermann Zapf in 1998."[8]

Example of macho masculine stimuli:

"1) the birthplace of heroes; 2) the sound of a multitude of swords being drawn simultaneously from their sheaths; 3) a fertile ideological soil for the concepts of nobility and honor to return to the stage of time; 4) in Scottish antiquity, understood to be the birthplace of Sir William Wallace; 5) a humble little training program in Windsor, Colorado. "[9]

"Seeing there be many things that increase vanity,
what is man the better?"

(Ecclesiastes 6:11)

1. Advertised on TheElijahList, April 22, 2013. An endorsement says: "I believe that the release of the Passion Translation coincides with a global awakening and this new translation has been given by God to fuel the fire of this Awakening."
2. This is an example of the conferences for youth that use extreme stimuli to invoke "passion" and "presence." Thank you to Pastor Ken Silva for capturing this image and turning it into a graphic for us. For the original video see Roger Oakland's website: See also: and 
3. Passion 2012 conference with Beth Moore, Francis Chan, Lou Giglio and John Piper. We wrote about this on Herescope:
4. “Abandoned to Christ: What Do Ann Voskamp, Beth Moore and Sarah Young Have In Common?”
5. Christine Pack, “The Problem of Conspiracy Videos,”
6. See: and and To understand the history of creating a men's movement in evangelicaldom, see this article series:
This font "is based on an alphabet Zapf originally penned in 1944. As a font, it makes extensive use of ligatures and character variations (for example, the lower case letter d has nine variations)."
9. Currently posted on Note: there were other examples at these webpages (see also footnote 6) but we declined to publish them.

This post was co-authored by Pastor Larry DeBruyn and Sarah Leslie. It is part of an ongoing series about how evangelicals are revising Sola Scriptura to fit their transformative agendas. A complete list of previous posts can be found at the bottom of this post:, including a more recent one: