Decoding Religious Language in Sojourners

The most recent issue of Sojourners carries
a helpful article by Bryan McLaren about the language we use to speak of the
experience of faith.

The kingdom
of God is
like a street
party to
which everybody
is invited
–Brian McLaren

Writing in Sojourners this month, Brian McLaren says the old kingdom language of Christian faith is obsolete for this century. He makes the point that biblical language referring to kings was descriptive of the social and political realities in their time. But kingdom language is anachronistic today. As a result, it doesn’t convey the understanding of God and, in McLaren’s phrase, God’s dream for Creation as in the past.

I like McLaren’s suggestions about new descriptive language. One of the interesting challenges I’ve watched from afar is the attempt to reconstitute faith language and reclaim the content of traditional faith in many different movements from neo-orthodoxy to fundamentalism. What McLaren offers is a faith language that is inviting and inclusive with theological integrity.

He writes, “The kingdom of God is like a street party to which everybody is invited.” That’s a metaphor that speaks in the language of the day, in the same way Jesus spoke in the street language of his day.

McLaren, like Eugene Peterson, whose The Message paraphrase of the Bible is being widely accepted by contemporary readers, is among those offering the most cogent alternative to the language tradition that has served well but is becoming anachronistic in a new age. His article is an excerpt from a new book and well-worth a visit to Sojourners.

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