Quotation of the Week

In our secular and/or religiously plural society, it can no longer be assumed that the images, practices, and vocabulary of Christianity will come naturally, that they will automatically make sense to the average person. In such a world the intentional and disciplined thinking of the faith–theology–is essential in order to shape, equip, and empower missional communities. In other words, churches living into a missional identity are saying “goodbye” to Christianity as good common sense, available to all without reflection, training, or change in attitude and lifestyle. And they are saying “hello” to theology as the work of the people, affirming that all Christians are to be engaged in the persistent and consistent exploration of the uncommon sense of Christianity.

From Take Time To Be Holy, by Inagrace T. Dietterich and Dale Ziemer


  1. Yes, this concerns me very much. I believe that unfortunately the media has inadvertently splashed a plethora of bad connotation on the name of Christianity due to the coverage of sins committed by religious madmen.

    Of course we ourselves have at times given others room for mockery, have we not?

    Peter’s prompting to defense (1 Peter 3) should make more sense to us now than ever before.

  2. I’m not quite sure how I feel about this quote.

    I certainly agree that we must not assume that Christianity comes naturally, since, evening just looking at my life, it involves quite a bit of discipline and intentionality.

    Not even getting into how I feel about common sense (namely, how uncommon it is), this quote reminds me too much of the kind of language that assumes that Christianity is primarily an “insider” religion that needs to be taught to the outsider.

    What about the “uncommon” work that God is already doing in our neighbor whom we consider “non-Christian?”

    It almost seems to imply that there is specialized, or privileged Christian knowledge that we, as Christians, need to help other people realize…

    Of course I could be reading into this wrong, but I couldn’t fully agree with the quote. :/

  3. Masaki,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. When I read the quotation, I recalled the opening chapters of Compassion by Henri Nouwen (and McNeill and Morrison) where they counter the idea that compassion is just our natural impulse that simply needs to be harnessed. They argue that it goes against our very natural impulse to elevate self, avoid suffering, and self-protect. Just an example of what I was thinking about in offering this today…

  4. This quote reminds me of my experiences with my students reading Steinbeck. His work nearly depends on a certain level of familiarity with the major narratives of the scripture that simply doesn’t exist in contemporary culture. My students were clueless–even about the story of creation and the fall, which became the primary parallel texts for the novel we were reading.

    In the end, I had to print out the chapters from bible gateway and teach them (as literature, whatever that means) in order for them to do the level of thinking and work I wanted them to do.

    This “biblical literacy”–even for Steinbeck, who very clearly opposed Christianity–has been the air we’ve breathed in the US for so long…now that it’s gone, we (the church) do have new and unfamiliar work to do as people come into faith.

    I guess my $.02 is that the work now (unfortunately?) extends beyond the church–I’m doing it as a teacher training readers of the broad variety of texts in our history–Christian or not–that depend on that kind of knowing.

    Lucky for the student who has me, someone who reads and studies those stories intact, in and with the Church as we live them together.

    But what about the rest of them? What does it mean that the knowing of Christian “images and practices and vocabulary” is often “taught” by those who do not love or live it?

    (Clearly, this takes the conversation in a different direction, so my apologies if it’s a rabbit trail)

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