This is a great question that comes with a very simple answer. Throughout history, we have seen a consistent language in the Church. Where does this language originate? From the Holy Scriptures. God, in His mercy and wisdom has chosen to speak to us through his prophets, apostles and evangelists (Ephesians 2:15, Hebrews 1:1-2, 1 Chronicles 28:9). In doing this, He has used particular words that He has wanted His Church to hear, know and speak, as a reflection of His good works for us and for our salvation.
In the modern era, there has been a stark variation in certain churches. For some people, they believe that the language of Scripture does not accurately express what they want to say. There is also the belief that since so many of these Church words are so ingrained in the vocabulary, that they have become, somehow, less meaningful. Of course, the danger in doing this is, when you try to say something “New”, you end up saying something DIFFERENT than what was originally said. As you might guess, that can lead to all sorts of problems.
In the end, what we want to do when we speak of what God says, is to use the speech and language He gave us. Of course, we will need to be able to explain the nuances of ancient languages, but that just goes with proclaiming Christ in a truthful and consistent way.
I hope this helped!
In His service and in yours,
–Rev. Brandt Hoffman
Zion Lutheran Church (LCMS)
You have made a good observation. Faith and relationship are two distinct things. If the distinction is kept, both can be useful, however when used interchangeably, the consequence is really a loss of the Gospel.
Rightly understood, faith is the trust given to us by the Holy Spirit in the forgiveness, life, and salvation accomplished for us through Christ’s death and resurrection. Faith rests in the concrete and objective truth of Christ’s work of redemption.
A relationship is simply a description of one’s station in life with regard to another. We have various types of relationships with others such as husband, wife, child, boss, employee, neighbor, ruler, citizen, pastor, and hearer. By virtue of being a creature we have a relationship to God as our creator. By grace, through faith, we also are restored to a relationship as a child of God.
Notice that both faith and the relationship we have with God are, indeed completely passive things. However, they are not the same thing. When a “relationship with God” is made to be something that one strives for and creates by their own efforts or choice, and where this language replaces the Biblical language of faith, this is where the real danger lies. No longer is our salvation then something God has freely given and the objectiveness of Christ’s work of redemption, rather, salvation becomes about what a person is doing or how “close” they feel their relationship. Whenever our trust for our salvation turns from what God has done to what we are doing, we risk losing the Gospel completely and faith itself is destroyed.
God has spoken to us through His Word. He has chosen to use human language to accomplish His revelation. For the comfort and care of souls, we in the Church must guard our language and use our language in the way Scripture uses it.
Matthew Lorfeld, Pastor
Messiah Lutheran Church
La Crescent, MN