Imminent Return

Three Theological Words that Sound Alike

A lot of people talk about getting a “stint” in an artery, but they really mean a “stent.”  I created a saying to keep things clear: “I went for a stint in the hospital to get a stent. It was quite a stunt.”

Like everyone else, I get my words confused. This can easily happen when discussing theology.  An internet friend pointed out that, in some of my comments on a discussion forum, I had used the word “immanent” instead of the correct word in that context, “imminent.”

I thanked him, and, upon pondering his comments, remembered yet another similar word, “eminent.” 

“Time to write an article,” I thought to myself.

So this article is about three words that sound alike, have different meanings, but all communicate important ideas in our theology.


First in our study of sound-alike theological words is the word, “immanent.”  This word is not well defined in a dictionary, so I turn to Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology, p. 267.

Grudem writes:

The technical term used to speak of God’s involvement in creation is the word immanent, meaning “remaining in” creation. The God of the Bible is no abstract deity removed from, and uninterested in his creation.

This stands in contrast to beliefs embraced by some of America’s founding fathers who were Deists. Deists believe God created everything and then left, leaving us to fend for ourselves without His intervention or supervision.

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