The “Meanings” of Christianity: A Series on Words

I’m currently reading Frederick Buechner’s devotional book, Listening to Your Life, and the following quote caught my interest.

“I shall go to my grave,” a friend of mine once wrote me, “feeling that Christian thought is a dead language – one that feeds many living ones to be sure, . . . but which I would no more use overtly than I would speak Latin.” I suppose he is right, more right than wrong anyway. If the language that clothes Christianity is not dead, it is at least, for many, dying…. 

There was a time when such words as faith, sin, redemption, and atonement had great depth of meaning, great reality; but through centuries of handling and mishandling they have tended to become such empty banalities that just the mention of them is apt to turn people’s minds off like a switch.

Buechner goes on to talk about how, even so, he devotes himself to such words. He ends by saying that he would be satisfied if, at the end of it all, he was able just to clarify four or five of these great words.

This idea of our words of faith losing their meaning had already been ruminating in my mind. I remember teaching the original meaning of the word ‘gospel’ in a class here in Arica. One student mentioned that for years this word had been used, and never explained. They knew it had something to do with faith and the Christian life, but it was always abstract, overly used and always without explanation.

So I’m taking up the challenge. In hopes to clarify just a small part of some of these very important words, I’m beginning a blog series today. Each blog will look at one word, and we’ll try to re-imagine how that word can transform our lives. I invite you to follow along, to share your insights, and to seek together what these words mean.

Categories: Theological Reflections | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “The “Meanings” of Christianity: A Series on Words

  1. -A little on the opposite end of the spectrum, I recently studied the etymology of the word, “Christian,” and uncovered its very pagan origin. If you haven’t already, do some research on the ancient Hebrew picture language (the alphabet Moses would have written in). You may make some surprising discoveries!

    • Blake Hart

      I really enjoyed studying Hebrew in seminary; I’ll probably need to dust off my textbooks for this series!

      • I would highly recommend checking out Dr Frank Seekins and Pastor Mark Biltz (of El Shaddai Ministries). Biltz has some great free resources via Youtube that my husband and I enjoy. Can’t wait to read more of your series!

  2. Pingback: The “Meanings” of Christianity: Faith | Thoughts of a Recovering Seminarian

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