“I believe if you can learn to order a coffee at Starbucks, you can learn theological language at church.” Ed Stetzer said this when he preached at the Chapel a couple of years ago, and he has a point.
Of course, on the one hand, we need to work hard to make ourselves understood so that even newcomers walking into church for the first time won’t get totally bewildered by the new language they’re hearing. Preachers, especially, have to think about ways to fill words with meaningful descriptions, metaphors, and analogies. They have to place themselves in the pew and listen to themselves speaking, so as to make sure they are understood.
On the other hand, there are riches of truth in the Bible that simply cannot be expressed if we jettison the language of theology. The particular word Stetzer was about to unpack when he made this comment was “imputation”. What a beautiful word, if you know what it means.
Spurgeon credits a household servant for teaching him much of his theology. Now, she was either an exceptional woman, a stand-out Christian, or he lived in an age when ordinary Christians took the doctrines of Scripture seriously and were able to explain them to one another. I don’t know which is true, but I know which I’d prefer for Christians today.
Unless we work hard to understand our faith, how can we “teach one another” (Col 3:16), or raise our children in the faith (Deut 11:19), or disciple young Christians (Matt 28:18-20), or explain what makes our faith so beautiful to those who don’t yet know Jesus (1 Pet 3:15)?
If you can learn to order coffee, you can learn your theology.