The Importance of Uneducated Language

It has been almost two years since I wrote my previous blog. When I took the time to set up my blog site back in April 2016, I did not anticipate it taking me so long to add a new entry. Yesterday, however, I stumbled upon the blog site of a Church leader in London named Andrew Wilson (see his blog here if you are interested). Andrew seems to have many of the same interests as me, is reading many of the same books as me, and is taking the lead in creatively engaging with this material in order to make it available to the people in his networks. He has some amazing content, and if you are interested in conversations around the intersection of biblical scholarship and daily life, I highly recommend his entries.


Yesterday as I read through this content with growing delight, I began to feel a sense of conviction: one of goals that I had set for myself in moving from Texas to Massachusetts to attend seminary was to creatively engage with my class material in order to help foster conversations about God with the people that I love. I began to realize yesterday that I was spending a great deal of time on the creative engagement side of the equation, and perhaps not nearly enough time on making the valuable things that I am learning accessible to the people that I love.


There is a great quote from C.S. Lewis that I ran across a few months ago: Lewis writes in his difficult-to-imitate concise prose, “I have come to the conviction that if you cannot translate your thoughts into uneducated language, then your thoughts were confused. Power to translate is the test of having really understood one’s own meaning.” In some ways, I want this quote to be the project of my life’s work in ministry. As compelling as I find some of the academic works of theology that I have engaged with the past five years, the mark of having truly understood the meaning and importance of these works is the ability to explain them in uneducated language.


Therefore, enter this blog. Even if no one ends up reading some of these entries (which is a distinct possibility!), I believe there will be real value in trying to articulate what I am learning, reading, and praying through in language that makes a difference in peoples lives. Honestly, there is part of me that is really nervous about writing these blogs, as it is going to open me up to critical engagement/comments from others. One of the elephants in the room in the Christian circles that I inhabit is a real aversion to honest dialogue. Very few people (maybe no one?) are comfortable with having their deepest held beliefs challenged. I certainly am not. I hate being challenged. When challenged, I scoff, blunder, and dodge (just ask my wife). And the hard truth is that this kind of behavior is immature and un-Christlike. My hope with this blog is that through an honest, open engagement with what I am learning, both in seminary and in life, I can open up space for critical dialogue with others who care about the some of the same issues that I do, with the aim of actually learning from one another.

To that end, I sincerely welcome your comments, questions, and critiques. Feel free to comment below, or email me at I look forward to what this process of blogging will become, and the thoughts that you will bring to it!

The quote above comes from C. S. Lewis, “Christian Apologetics” [1945], in God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970), 96.


2 thoughts on “The Importance of Uneducated Language

  1. Karl, I think this is fabulous! I wholeheartedly agree that being able to explain complicated ( philosophical, theological, or metaphysical ) ideas in a way that the common person can understand it one of the greatest challenges that many theologians, ministers, professors face.
    You have always been a good writer, so I would say, GO FOR IT! The world needs you to, and the more you do it, the more comfortable it will become.


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