do we lack a common vocabulary of shared life?

One of the things on my plate this week is putting together a seminar on Christian apologetics — answering those curly questions we often face when we try to bring Jesus into our everyday conversations.

I’ve been particularly challenged by the observation James Davison Hunter makes of Evangelical Christianity in the United States (in his excellent book, To Change The World, page 87):

Evangelicals … offer little by way of a common vocabulary of shared life informed by faith but not exclusive to it.

What Hunter has latched on to is that there’s this yawning wasteland between two extremes.

On the one hand, while many Evangelicals can draw from a deep reservoir of subtle, sophisticated and comprehensive ways of making sense of life and experience in light of Jesus and his Kingdom, they’re usually near-inaccessible for those who don’t share our faith.

On the other hand, many lack any distinctively Christian way of speaking about life and the experiences we share with our fellow human beings, falling back instead on the incoherent variety of non-Christian ways that lie to hand in the media and popular culture.

I suspect this is probably true of us here in Australia too.

It’s obviously a much bigger project than one seminar allows. (I guess I was already trying to have a crack at something like it in my recent series on grace without guilt.)

But I want to develop — and to help others develop — a better vocabulary (as well as more conversation ‘moves’) that allow us to speak of the shared realities of life in a way informed by faith in Jesus yet also reaches out and resonates with those without this faith.

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2 comments

  1. In the words of N.T. Wright, I think you summarise well our tendency to “give incomprehensible answers to questions nobody was asking” 😛

    1. I reckon ‘incomprehensible answers to questions nobody was asking’ could probably double as a pretty good heading for a few of the posts on this blog!

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