Bob Tamasy: Redundancy And Repetition: A Repeating Theme

Sunday, April 28, 2013 - by Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy

Visiting a writers’ networking website, I was intrigued by a post about redundancy in communications. After all, I’ve told myself a million times, over and over, “Don’t repeat yourself. I say it again, do not repeat!”

Various writers chimed in, offering their pet peeves about redundant phrases. For instance, “past history.” Unless you own a time machine or dabble in quantum mechanics in your spare time, you’re not likely to encounter any “future history.” Another was “plan in advance.” When was the last time you did any planning after the fact?

One writer complained about “serious danger.” I’ve always had a preference for not-so-serious danger. Then there’s the ever-popular “total annihilation.” When can you remember worrying about the threat of “partial annihilation”? “Trained professional” is a term that stuck in someone’s craw. This might be debatable, but I’ve always found myself very suspicious of “untrained professionals.”

Someone wondered why describe things as “absolutely perfect,” unless somehow they could be “absolutely imperfect.” And then there’s the term we’ve probably all used at one time or another, “exactly right.” I suppose that’s better than being “inexactly right” or “exactly wrong.” Am I right? Of should I say, “perfectly correct”?

The news media are fond of informing us about the latest “terrible tragedy” – I think that’s so we don’t confuse it with a not-so-bad tragedy. A writer commented on the person that “sprinted fast,” obviously not someone prone to sprinting slowly. Another person, obviously in a cooperative mood, complained about “joint cooperation” and “mutual cooperation.” I’ve never seen “divided cooperation” accomplish much.

Have you ever been the target of an “unexpected surprise”? Obviously, if you had expected it, you wouldn’t have been surprised. Some people say, given the turmoil in society, it’s time to “rise up.” That does sound more effective than rising downward. Maybe what we need to do then is “revert back” – because reverting forward doesn’t seem to be working very well.

I put forth the redundant “general consensus,” unless you’re seeking to distinguish it from Admiral Consensus or Colonel Consensus or even Corporal Consensus. Generally speaking, that is.

But there is one commonly used term that many people fail to regard as redundant: “Born-again Christian.” As I understand it, you can’t be one without being the other.

It’s kind of like saying you’re a female woman, or that you have a canine dog, or you drive an automobile car. (Actually, NASCAR stands in part for Stock Car Auto Racing, but that’s another matter.)

In the original translations of the Bible, the term “Christian” is used only three times, and two of those were by people wondering what to call those “Christ ones” or, as some would term it today, “Jesus freaks.” In Acts 11:26 it says, “The disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.” Then in Acts 26:28, non-believing King Agrippa, interrogating the apostle Paul, observed, “Do you think in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”

The apostle Peter does tell his fellow believers, “…if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed…” (1 Peter 4:16). But even then he was acknowledging the threat of enduring persecution for what they professed.

However, the term “born again” is integral to being a follower of Christ. In John 3:3, Jesus told Nicodemus, a Pharisee, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” Later in the passage Jesus explained this referred to “everyone born of the Spirit” (John 3:7).

Peter also used the term when he assured followers of Christ “you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Peter 1:23).

Not to get theological, but the Bible teaches to be “born again” is to be a “Christian,” if you choose to use that term. And to be a Christian, in the biblical sense, requires being born again.

So unless you’re fond of talking about insect bugs, feline cats or airplane jets, it might make sense to jettison the redundant term, “born-again Christian."


Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, a former newspaper editor and magazine editor. He is presently vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit focused on mentoring and coaching business and professional leaders. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and has authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” “Business at Its Best,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. He also posts regularly on two blogs,, and

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