Thursday, June 05, 2008

Watch your language

I've been thinking about how beautiful language is. I've also been thinking about how misused it sometimes is. I am, in particular, thinking of the "Christian circles"--high thinkers, "deep" discussers...empty speakers. I see it at Moody (but not only at Moody). The heady stuff sometimes gets to me. Theology and doctrine discussed and expressed in ways sucked dry of juicy beauty.

I came across an article today by John Piper entitled "The Poverty of Theological Vocabulary." It's good. Here are a few things I've pulled out:

"Personally, I am not ready to concede that theology must be done in the desert while poetry roams through forests, mountains and meadows."

"To put it simply, without a full and rich language of the sense, we will lose the enduring quality of our sensuous joys, and, what's worse, with the atrophy of our descriptive capacities the power of all our enjoyment languishes. When you cease to use the word "tree" in your vocabulary, you have probably ceased to look at trees.

The relation this has to theological vocabulary is this: The fastest and easiest way to obliterate the language of the sense and the power of the senses is to read only poverty-stricken theology. If we in seminary do not stretch ourselves beyond the pages of our dogmatics we shall all be dead by graduation day. And that evening, diploma in hand, we may lament with Samuel Coleridge,

All this long eve so balmy and serene
Have I been gazing on the Western Sky
And its peculiar tint of yellow green
And still I gaze—and with how blank an eye!"

De Rosset says that preaching is an art form (and, I would add, an art form quickly dying). Fewer and fewer pastors take it seriously. I wish they did.

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