The Language of the Christian Faith

These are my notes from Tom Long’s evening keynote at Mo Ranch on May 5, 2012.

2 Peter Be ready to share the hope you have

One of our biggest challenges is sharing our faith

Book by Andrew DelBunko
– entire culture talked about Titanic theologically

1981 Challenger accident: we were theologically mute

What has caused us to lose our capacity to talk about our faith in public
– some progressive churches lose their vocabulary because thy stop using it

I was enamored with Paul Tillick’s approach, focusing on existential language

Faith became trust
More

Theological languge points to transcendence

Christian vocabulary is about all of life

We have pressure in the larger culture to not talk about our faith

Sociologists of religion say we live in a culture that doubts faith experiences – we cause people to doubt these experiences themselves Peggy Payne’s book “Revelation”

I took her Peter Burger: either people don’t have as many experiences with God as they used to, or the hide them because the culture tells them to

Subtraction theory: people are just losing their face
– Charles Taylor says I don’t buy it
– Taylor buys e addition theory, people now have different vocabulary to talk about it

They have replaced the language of faith with the language of psychology and science
– these have nosed out the language of faith

Christians need to be multi-lingual to read the world
– it requires the language of faith
– enchantment infused into the world is vital

Where do we get this language we can speak to a disenchanted world?
– Psalm 19
– some good help available there to find our language and confidence

movie “Places in the Heart” ends with a powerful communion scene
– I saw it in a New Jersey theater a God experience He can I have a God experience in a movie the reviewer hated and rejected
– it is because I have a vocabulary for If we are going to witness to the world we have to come here and take language more seriously

Dietrich Bonhofer’s rule: Can’t speak the name of someone else (even of they want to say something good) unless the person are present to hear it spoken
– to take language seriously. In its power to bless and its power to wound

How do you get to Carnegie Hall?
– practice, practice

We need to bring back testimony in our church services?
– how can we expect people to talk about their faith in church out in the world, if they are not comfortable talking about their faith in church

Story of a girl sitting in church wondering where the Holy Spirit is?

How wonderful would it be if our tanks of faith were constantly refilled by stories of testimonies

Example of my son reciting the Apostles Creed at age 11
– it is language that is being held in trust for us until we can understand it

If we practice inside the church, how do we take it out to e world
– start with our children
– speak not like a professional but haltingly and sincerely

Leon Vizeltie (?) book, Soren Kierkegard: story of little boy and old man standing by a fresh grave
– a son and a dad
– grandfather trying to explain the faith
– a powerful witness We need to profess the hope that is within us to our friends and neighbors
– take one of these sentence starters and practice it

There was a time in my life when the most amazing thing happened…

One time I used to thing about this one way, but now I think about this way…
Sometimes I don’t think of my work as a job, but as a calling…

This is not about carving a notch on on our Bible
– there are plenty of people doing damage witnessing poorly
– Jesus Christ is the prime testimony
– Hebrews writer talks about this God wants human life well lived…

there is something in me that would rather be right rather than free

Closed with story of a police ticket, resulted in ticket being waived because no witness was available

Reminder that one day we will stand before God and Jesus will speak on our behalf

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