Every once-in-a-while I write something in an email that I think may actually be interesting and worth sharing with others. Below is one such rant!
The older I get, the more I realize that our society has written out most "biblical" allusions and Christian terms from their vocabulary – or redefined them.
At one time, Limited Atonement may have been meant to portray God’s steadfast love for those who were willing to fear and obey Him. Unfortunately the term now strikes ears who hear only that they may have been (probably are) excluded from God’s love. So they don’t seek the remedy for their sin and for a personal relationship with God because they don’t think there is one coming from the Christian subculture.
I realize that any specialized profession (theology being our profession) has their own language. For precision’s sake, we learn that language so that those in the profession are speaking the same language. For the outsider to the profession (and this includes all sorts of professions), we do "outreach" (a term that I find interesting – borrowed from Christian roots??). This includes finding similarities in our two languages so that we (the professional and the outsider) can "listen" to each other.
In relation to Limited Atonement, our society’s language is full of words of inclusion – we must find ways to express God’s love for everyone. At the same time, we must find ways to express exclusion that make sense to them.
And that is where the Holy Spirit has his work cut out for him. While we can argue, explain and reason – there is something about conversion that is mysterious and reaches into the heart of people – where we as professionals can’t go. God’s Spirit must witness to a person’s spirit – to speak that person’s heart language in such a way that they are willing to go another direction (repent). With that conversion, they suddenly begin to understand the deeper things of their profession of Christ.
Should we abandon our specialized language of theology? No. Should we press in harder to understand our society? Yes.
"Speaking fish" is a good way to describe how we have to relearn our vocabulary. You can’t fish until you find the water where the fish are. You can’t fish unless you have the nets/lines/hooks to reel them in. Matthew understood the Jewish mindset. Paul got the Gentile approach to life. John heard the heart cries of unloved people. Luke understood those who had a strong "spiritual" side to their lives. The content doesn’t change – the delivery does.