1. said:

    While I certainly agree that theological terms shouldn’t outweigh their original root word, I do think that at times there are “theological words” that have helped to illuminate an aspect of God that I haven’t been able to capture without them. I’m thinking of terms like “prevenient grace”: where the term brings to life the wider concept.

    Note – this comment was initiated before Rebecca added her sneaky little disclaimer.

    January 28, 2008
  2. said:

    only just before!

    January 28, 2008
  3. said:

    Oh you guys! You have come to communicating via blog already!?
    Just kidding. You seemed to be talking when I saw you at the cinema tonight.
    In relatively unrelated news, I’ll be posting a review of Atonement on my site soon.
    Too late for any constructive comment on your brilliant, as always, post.

    January 28, 2008
  4. said:

    Hey Bec.

    The issue here relates to language in general: a single word has a multiple word definition.

    This is true of “Christian theological terms”, but it’s the same with sociology, or any ‘ology’ for that matter.

    I really like the way NT Wright explains it – he says that doctrines, expressed as terms like “atonement” are portable shorthand stories. He uses the analogy of a suitcase – there is a lot of stuff packed into the suitcase of atonement and it needs to be unpacked to be useable by the recipients.

    The problems come when we use terms without necessarily having the same content and we don’t unpack them in a useful way.

    January 29, 2008
  5. said:

    mmm. so as long as we want to use our suitcase words we need to take the responsibility of being able to properly unpack them. Context, context. Is not that somewhat alienating though?

    Thanks for your thoughts Rohan. I really like: portable shorthand stories.

    January 30, 2008
  6. said:

    Alienating? Maybe. But any knowledge gap can have that possibility. Yet a willing student or good teacher can overcome this…

    The interesting and pertinent part of “portable shorthand stories” is the stories part.

    Stories are way less likely to be alienating, like how the parables come across.

    Using “atonement” as the shorthand – some would say the story as “Jesus came to die for my sin”. I’d suggest this to be insufficiently unpacked (and would agree with it being a bit alienating).

    However, if the story starts with “In the beginning…” and tells a great, epic story of God wanting to form a people for himself and the failures of them to live up to that and the politics of power and the hope of Isaiah and the need for redemption and a man coming who challenged that and took them to task and showed glimpses of that hope and was then crushed by the rulers of the day and yet on the third day…

    You can see how this story speaks to many people at many points… a little less alienating to start with their circumstance and paint the picture around and through it…

    anyway amongst my unpacking I hope you get the concept 🙂

    January 30, 2008

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