I appreciated Clayton’s discussion of the two warring camps – those who advocate using traditional language more and are not as concerned with relevance and those who are highly relevant but have a hard time connecting to the texts and traditions of Christianity. I feel like I am pulled at by both sides of this battle. How do we stay relevant without giving up what makes us uniquely Christian? How do we react to changing times and also recognize the tradition from which we emerged?
Clayton says, “When you can’t do without a word, you have to fight to redeem it. Theology is in the same category as Christian, disciple, and church. We need all these words or else we’ll get locked into a conspiracy of silence about things that we just have to talk about.” This was so affirming to me. There are many in the emerging church world that I have talked with who think we need to give up these words. They tell me that we can’t say church, that Christian has too much baggage. And I feel that if we can’t reclaim these words then we have lost much of what makes us Jesus’ disciples. Sometimes it makes me feel like the old and stodgy one because I want to keeping talking about Church and Christianity. I am uncomfortable when too much of our ancient language is lost. I hope to be part of the generation that reclaims these words so that they have positive meaning.
Clayton spends a lot of time showing an example of how a person can begin to articulate their own theology. It gives me ideas about ways to encourage my congregation to share their testimonies, to connect their life experiences to their understanding of God. My fear is that I will invite folks into this process and no one will be interested. That I will be faced with the possibility that many folks in church are in the pews for reasons other than a burning passion to deepen their faith. Or maybe it’s just that I don’t know how to articulate why this is important. Whatever the reason, I probably need to get past my fear and extend the invitation.