Even Aaron Sorkin makes mistakes with words

The follow advertisement for a screenwriting Master Class with Aaron Sorkin appeared on my Facebook page this evening. One can only assume Facebook is giving me a gentle hint about my writing talent, or lack thereof.

When it comes to contemporary screenwriters, Aaron Sorkin is among the world’s finest. The West Wing is arguably the greatest television series ever written, and Sorkin is the creative wordsmith behind movies such as A Few Good Men, Moneyball, and The Social Network.

During the 60 second promotional video, Sorkin remarked, “you should be evangelical about Aristotle’s poetics.”

Word fail!

The word he meant to use is ‘evangelistic’, not ‘evangelical’. Both words share the common Greek, εὐαγγέλιον, which means Gospel or good news. However they are nonetheless not interchangeable. Evangelism is the activity whereby one speaks the Gospel in order to persuade another. Evangelical, on the other hand, is the set of beliefs that derive from the Gospel. The latter is a noun (and sometimes an adjective), the former is a verb.

We all get Sorkin’s point, be persuasive, compelling, and passionate about Aristotle’s Poetics. Well, who isn’t!? But he has fallen for what is becoming an all to common blooper. Perhaps, one shouldn’t be too hard on Aaron Sorkin though, given so many Christians confuse the two words. And I wouldn’t have concerned myself to pick up on the mistake, after all who am I to judge a literary genius, however this presents an opportunity to ask my Christian friends, please use the right word.

Are you talking about explaining the good news of Jesus Christ? That’s evangelism.

Are you talking about the body of Christian doctrine which we believe? You mean evangelical.

Thanks Aaron

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