Learning a second language is hard. (duh).
I am currently enrolled in a Biblical Hebrew couse at NU. It’s a great class, and I’m learning a lot but it’s very challenging for me. We are learning the language conversationally. That makes it much more fun than just sitting down and running through stacks of flash cards and paradigms. I know the difference because that’s what I had to do for New Testament Greek.
In this course I keep thinking this is how my kids must feel when they have to learn new aspects of English. But I realized this morning that it’s not really the same at all. My kids have no other language getting in the way. So their associations are primary. When I point to an apple and say, “apple” they don’t have another word in another language that they have to associate with the english word apple.
I do. When I hear the word melech I have to think king, I can’t just think melech and be done with it. There is another step in the process.
Hear’s the point: Language is important. In the church we often try to speak the language of our culture and that’s important. But I think we are also guilty of trying to transform the language of the culture to make it more Christian. And I think that’s one of the big confusions around the church.
But what if we just used words that were biblical, like sanctification, redemption, justification, propitiation. These words are still english but they are the language of the church, and let people learn them through discovery and experience, the way our children learn. Instead of trying to make associations with different words, to make sense of a new word.
How can we take steps out of the process for people who are learning the language of the church, without changing the language of the church?