Three Dictionaries. Three Words of the Year. One Theme.

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Each year, dictionaries select and announce a “word of the year.” It is an attempt to either summarize the “feeling” of the passing year or highlight a word that had a spike in usage or definition searches, or both. The three major dictionaries, Merriam-Webster,, and Oxford, have each released its word choice and, while the three words are very different, they still follow a common theme.

Here are the three “word of the year” choices:

What do these three words have in common? They reflect the change and preoccupations of an increasingly secularized culture, one that is permeated with moral relativism.

What do these three words have in common? They reflect the change and preoccupations of an increasingly secularized culture, one that is permeated with moral relativism. Here are the explanations given for each word selection:

  • They. This choice is more about the new definition given to the word by Merriam-Webster than the word itself. The editors explain, “The word's use has increased in connection with the transgender community, many of whom prefer the gender-neutral pronoun ‘they,’ instead of ‘he’ or ‘she.’ Merriam-Webster this year [September] added a new definition of ‘they’ to its dictionary online, reflecting this usage of the word.”

  • Existential. This choice was inspired by “Forky,” an animated character from Toy Story 4 who experienced an existential crisis. (Yes, you read that right: an animated character inspired this choice.) explains, “Well, the thing about Forky is, his dilemma actually speaks to a broader theme of threat and crisis reflected not only in culture and news, but also in our dictionary work throughout this year. High-stakes events around the world involving climate change, gun violence, and democratic institutions were some of the top news stories . . . It captures a sense of grappling with the survival—literally and figuratively—of our planet, our loved ones, our ways of life.” It also seems the word existential is a favorite word among many US politicians these days.

  • Climate emergency. This choice is unsurprising, considering how much climate change, and the anxiety many young people feel in regard to man-caused climate change, has been kept in the public eye all year. It is particularly due to the climate activist Greta Thunberg, who was recently named “Person of the Year” by Time magazine. Oxford explains, “This year, heightened public awareness of climate science and the myriad implications for communities around the world has generated enormous discussion of what the UN Secretary-General has called ‘the defining issue of our time’.” Actually, instead of climate emergency, I believe they should use the term Climate Change Cult.

They—a Swirling Hurricane of Societal Change

These three words—they, existential, and climate emergency—point to the ongoing secularization of the culture.

These three words—they, existential, and climate emergency—point to the ongoing secularization of the culture.

They emphasizes how much the gender revolution has, in just a few years, built off the sexual revolution and radically changed the culture. It points to the “spiritual” climate change raging around us. I’ve described it as a swirling hurricane—you see, without the firm foundation of God’s Word, people are being blown here and there by every new thing. As a culture (and as a church!), we must have our feet firmly grounded on the only unchanging foundation for our thinking—the infallible, inerrant, unchanging Word of God.

Existential—A Sign of How Generations Have Been Taught

Existential also directs us towards this spiritual climate change. Many people are experiencing an “existential crisis” (defined as “a psychological episode in which a person . . . questions the meaning of their life and of all that exists”). It is particularly regarding supposed man-caused climate change and all the dire predictions that many scientists and the media are trumpeting.

But it’s more than that. As a recent study reported, 89% of young people in the United Kingdom feel their lives have no purpose or meaning. Young people have been taught they are just animals, there’s no God, this universe and life itself—including their lives—are nothing more than a cosmic accident, when you die that’s it, and we’re on the verge of ruining the planet and even wiping ourselves out. No wonder so many people are experiencing an existential crisis!

The secular worldview offers no ultimate meaning, purpose, or hope. How different from the gospel and a biblical worldview, which gives meaning, purpose, and hope for this life and eternity!

Is There a Real Climate Emergency?

Lastly, climate emergency directs our thoughts to physical climate change. We’re being told, with increasing frequency and alarmism, that climate change is going to destroy everything, including, perhaps, human life (and some claiming it could happen in just a few years). But is this hysteria justified? Well, consider this list, published in my blog a few months ago:

  • In 1967, Stanford biologist Paul Ehrlich said it was “already too late” to stop a long famine period that would be at its worst by 1975.
  • In 1970, many scientists predicted a new ice age by the 21st century, the depletion of all the rivers in the US, and a lack of oxygen in the atmosphere.
  • In 1978, scientists said there was “no end in sight” to a 30-year cooling trend.
  • In 1989, rising sea waters were thought to obliterate nations by the year 2000.
  • In 2008, the Arctic was expected to be free of sea ice in the summer by 2018.

That is just a short list of the many failed apocalyptic scenarios given by alarmists over the years. That those and many more predictions failed should cause everyone to stop and consider that perhaps the models used to produce these scenarios may be wrong and are not taking into account everything involved with the very complicated topic of climate.

Judgment is coming—but this world won’t be destroyed by climate change.

Young people are anxious and depressed about the so-called “climate emergency.” But the emergency they should be concerned about is the spiritual condition of their own souls and that of those around them. Judgment is coming—but this world won’t be destroyed by climate change. It will be destroyed when Jesus returns to judge this world and establish the new heavens and new earth. But we don’t have to face God’s judgment! Christ took our penalty for us by his death on the cross, and if we repent and put our faith and trust in Christ, we stand forgiven, clothed in Christ’s righteousness.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).

Get Answers to the Words of the Year at our Easter Conference

Our upcoming Easter conference is going to tackle both the spiritual and physical climate changes we see happening around us. Essentially, we’ll be addressing the three words of the year from 2019 in this April conference! These word choices emphasize how timely our event is and how desperately our culture needs to hear the answers we’re giving. Don’t miss this conference! You’ll be equipped to share the truth of climate change, whether it’s physical climate change or the moral chaos of the spiritual climate change raging throughout the West.

When you attend the Easter conference, you will enjoy an annual pass to the Ark Encounter and the Creation Museum. This pass allows you to visit (and park for free at) both attractions during the conference and the following twelve months. Return as often as you like for presentations, certain concerts, upcoming new exhibits (e.g., our planetarium upgrade in spring 2020 and our Fearfully and Wonderfully Made pro-life exhibit in summer 2020 at the Creation Museum), enjoy the grounds, and much more.

The last day of the conference, April 9—12, we will be hosting a special Easter morning sunrise service with Ray Comfort as our guest speaker. Attendees loved this event last year (our 2,500-seat auditorium, the Answers Center, was full) and we’re looking forward to celebrating the sacrifice and resurrection of the Savior again this year.

Register today on the events page of our website.

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,

This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.

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