In this Just A Thought, Ravi makes an astute observation about how a changing culture has changed our communication.
First, he describes secularization:
Secularization is basically where religious ideas, institutions, and interpretations have lost their social significance.
Second, he explains that at one time many decades ago:
The religious worldview was so present in Western culture that even when you are expressing secular ideas you had to borrow religious terminology with which to do it.
But third, this has changed:
Now our world has become so secular that even when you’re communicating religious ideas you have to borrow secular terminology with which to do it.
To me, this is a critical insight. One of the main reasons that I think many Christians are not equipped to help their friends explore faith is because they are speaking a different dialect that sounds ‘funny’ or ‘weird.’
Instead of being empathetically engaged in the language and perspective of secular culture, the attempt is made to more loudly explain the language and perspective of a Christian perspective. This uncomfortable experience leads to alienation and reduced interest in discussing questions of faith.
However, if we are both rooted in the Scriptures, and in good theology, and living out the good news in how we love our neighbors, and at the same time conversant in the secular language of our friends, then we will have opportunities to bring people along.
I think one prime example of this is the language of autonomy and freedom. These are highly prized values in Western culture. Starting a conversation along these lines opens doors for a deeper sharing of the heart. Then, at some point, there is the trust and sense of mutual understanding that we might be able to share about the sweetness of Christian freedom - as servants of Christ. It is a very different meaning to the idea of being free, but it is a good meaning: finally, free to fulfill my purpose in life - a good purpose that is beyond me that I long to know and completely express.
I would be curious to hear other reflections on how we deepen our understanding of the Scriptures while simultaneously communicating in the language of our culture (whether that is secularism or another worldview or religion).