Dictionary.com has released its selection of the word of the year for 2011 – tergiversate. You are probably like me and have never used the word in any conversation. Just be sure that this verb does not define your faith if you are a Christian. Here is the definition:
1. to change repeatedly one’s attitude or opinions with respect to a cause, subject, etc.; equivocate.
2. to turn renegade
The word was chosen because of the changing attitudes evidenced in public demonstrations across the globe this year. Opinions and positions shifted and changed. This is what happens when a person or people are not grounded in their cause or subject. This can be due to either the person or the cause.
For example, decades long strongholds in the Arabic world were toppled. A forced loyalty splintered into outright rebellion. In American news, a charity for disadvantaged children lost support when the founder was accused of child molestation and rape.
As Christians we do not have a cause which will falter. We have a faith that was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3, ESV). With this faith the only chance to tergiversate is if we are not grounded in this faith. That is why the Bible warns us against not maturing in our faith;
So that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
(Ephesians 4:14, ESV)
Tergiversate means more than just flip-flopping. It implies a lack of intentionality. That is, if a Christian tergiversates, they did not set our or plan to do so. Outside influences steered them into a new direction. You may not plan to change your mind about your faith, but it may happen if you do not guard against it.
Tergiversate is derived from the Latin word meaning to turn one’s back. Don’t turn your back on Jesus. Run headlong towards him.