Every academic discipline, religion and career has its own language. By that I mean that each of these areas has a vocabulary and phraseology that is unique to itself which those outside of the field may or may not be familiar with. Each area has a vocabulary and phraseology that one needs to familiarize themselves with and learn in order to “get around” in that discipline, job or career path.
For example, if you are in education then you have to know what words like alignment and phrases like alternative scheduling mean. If you are a mechanic then you also need to know how to do an alignment and what it means to do a coolant system flush. If you are an accountant then you need to know how to do a cost analysis sheet and what a ledger is. These are words and phrases that the people who work in these fields need to know in order to accomplish their job effectively. These are things that the rest of us expect them to know in order to do their job effectively especially when we are the direct recipients of their services.
Religion is no different. If you are a Hindu or Buddhist then knowing what karma is would be important for you because it is a central teaching to both religions. If you are Mormon then you should know who Joseph Smith is and what they mean when they use terms like missionaries, Jesus and heaven. While many religions have similar aspects and practices (prayer, reading their holy book, acts of service, etc.) they do not always mean the same thing by them.
Christianity is no different. Christians have their own language, vocabulary, phraseology, etc. Each denomination can have its own vocabulary and phraseology as well. Even Christian educators, pastors, academics (especially) and laymen have their own lingo. With each of these areas having their own lingo it can make one confused.
Some denominations do a better job of educating their people than others. Some denominations wrongfully pride themselves on how much they know. They can tend to wrongly think they are better Christians than others because they know more. As equally unfortunate, some denominations think it is an exercise in spirituality to be ignorant of the language of their faith. These Christians can tend to wrongfully persist (sometimes intentionally) in ignorance of Scripture and theology because they think knowing less means they have more childlike faith. Both sides of the road are wrong. We need to be humble as we learn and grow in the knowledge of our faith. We also need to make an effort to grow in the knowledge of our faith. I call this “growing in the knowledge of our faith” concept The Language of the Gospel.
The Language of the Gospel is the name of a blog series I am starting. My goal is to help explain the language of the Christian faith – the language of the Gospel – so that the average reader can understand it and grow in their understanding of Christian theology and Scripture. I believe all Christians have the responsibility to “grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Pt. 3:18)” and that “like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation (1 Pt. 2:2).”
The general outline of each post will be guided by the following format:
1. Terms & Definitions – Each week I will select one term, phrase or Biblical concept to discuss. I will define that week’s selection and provide a definition as stated by a major theologian who captures the essence of the term more clearly than I do. With some terms, phrases or concepts that have great theological significance, I will present more than one definition by some who hold to vastly different understandings. I will either directly quote those who hold to the other positions or cite a supporting source where further explanation of my summation can be found.
2. Rooted in Scripture – Sometimes when people hear a new theology word it sounds so odd that they sometimes wonder if it is even Biblical to begin with. My goal is to provide 1-3 verses of Scripture to show that these words are in fact rooted in Scripture. Readers must be able to distinguish between words that are actually in Scripture (holy or wrath) and words we use to describe what is taught in Scripture (trinity or inerrant). By showing that these words, concepts and phrases are in fact rooted in Scripture, I hope this will encourage you as readers to take knowing and understanding them seriously and spur you to further study on your own.
3. Gospel Relevance – Rooting these things in Scripture is needed and important but it is only half the picture. I want to show that these words, concepts and phrases relate to the Gospel. That is, as often as I can I want to show that these things communicate and encapsulate truth from Scripture that is important to the Gospel. So, what difference does it make to the Gospel if Scripture is or isn’t inerrant? What does the atonement mean to the message of the Gospel?
4. Going Deeper – While my aim is to reach the average reader with each post, I also want to stretch readers in their understanding and appreciation for theology. In an effort to do this I will try to close each post with an additional description, definition or resource where readers can go to dig deeper into the week’s word, phrase or concept. This will both stretch new learners and provide more depth for more seasoned believers looking to go the next step.
It is my desire to help people know, appreciate and understand the language of the Christian faith. I look forward to growing and learning with my readers. Feel free to leave comments with questions, suggestions or other studies that have helped you better understand the week’s topic.