I have to say I am not impressed with the way we talk in the emerging church. When I read what we write, I see very little difference between us and the industrial church. Sure, there is difference in what we mean, but no difference in the language we use. When I was in seminary of the Professors said, “Theology came unto its own when we developed words that were strictly used to describe what we study.” Meaning we became so full of ourselves that we needed a special language to say what we meant; theology became a science.
When that happened we lost the ability to speak in normal terms. Our words speak over the heads of many people and we come across with a “better than the average bear” mentality. This struck me hard today when I came upon the following sentence, “In the praxis of atonement our eschatology needs to relate to the hermeneutic of orthodoxy in relationship to our ecclesiology.”
What the …(insert strong word here)…was that? Oh my God, have we lost our collective minds? As I read that I realized we were no different that the industrial church – we created a language that no one, except the insiders, can understand. We have developed a way to talk to ourselves, and leave out those who are not “in our club.” None of the words we use were spoken in scripture – Jesus never talked in those terms, why do we? Here are a few words we use, and some suggestions I have for each:
Praxis – why not just say “practice?”
Apologetics – why not just say “what we believe and why?”
Ecclesiology – Why not just say “what we think of the church?”
Atonement – why not just say “what Jesus did for us?”
Exegesis – why not just say “how we understand the bible?”
Eschatology – why not just say “how we see the end of time?”
Soteriology – why not just say, “salvation?”
These are just a few words, there are many more. I am finishing up a book on being a conceptual leader in an emerging church and it should be out by September 2010. In the book, I take great pains in speaking a normal language that anyone can understand. If we think about how we speak, are we speaking in terms that only other Pharisee’s and Sadducee’s can understand? If that is the case, should we just speak in a way everyone can understand?