Theology is often seen as something reserved for academics and seminarians. Part of the this is simply a misunderstanding of theology, but part of is also because of the way that Christians tend to talk about theology. As soon as we venture into theological topics, the conversation becomes lofty and out-of-reach. It quickly requires extensive biblical knowledge, a vast theological library, and excellent proof-texting abilities. The problem is this isn’t the way most of us want to think or talk about God.
It’s not that most of us don’t want to think theologically about God (this is logically impossible). Most of us simply want a theology that is not out-of-touch with reality. When theology is only for the classroom, we are missing out on the theology that the Scriptures teach.
Theology, Plain & Simple
Our theology is something that we carry with us into our homes, neighborhoods, and workplaces it also needs to be in the language we speak.
Martin Luther said:
“To preach plain and simple is a great art: Christ himself talks of tilling ground, of mustard seed, etc; he uses altogether homely anad similitudes. Cursed are all preachers that in the church aim at high and hard things, and neglecting the saving health of the poor unlearned people, seek their own honor and praise…When I preach, I sink myself deep down. I regard neither Doctors or Magistrates, of whom, are here in this church above forty; but I have my eye to the multitude of young people, children, and servants, of whome are more than 2000. I preach to those.”
This should be true in our preaching and in our conversations.
Our theology should be rich, deep, and life-changing but also plain and simple. When we make our theological conversations complex, we end up speaking a foreign language in a culture that cannot understand the Good News that we are talking about.
None of us would dare go into a foreign country ignorant of the language, the culture, and practices of the people we were visiting. And if we are going in as missionaries, this would become even more important. We would pay careful attention to how people talk, the nuances of their language, how people dress, and what things are and are not important in that culture.
As Christians, part of our calling is to bring the message of the Gospel (our theology) to the people in the language of the people.
And I’m not speaking of dumbing down our theology; absolutely not. I’m simply stating that the richness of our theology needs to be spoken in a language that people understand. And when it is taught in the language of everyday life and connected with implications for everyday life, our theology becomes mobile.
It moves with us from church to work to home.
What’s a theological concept that you know is important but is often difficult to put into everyday language?