A Study in Theological Language: A Series of Definitions

I’ve been working on a series of definitions that I hope will grow progressively larger over time. This effort is partially to help clarify and re-orient how I understand or think theological concepts should be understood. This is also the beginning of an attempt to shore up and re-examine Christian language, as it is located within the Christian community. Each definition will be set up as its own post, but will also be linked within the list on this page for future reference.

So far, I have sought to re-define:

Freedom: “To be free to do something necessitates a certain communal allegiance. To go willy nilly after pleasures at the expense of others, or to seek to live one’s own life style come hell or high water, means that this pursuit is defined by a certain notion of freedom that comes from a community. Freedom largely understood is at the heart of what a community cares about. Freedom is what the community urges its people towards. … Christian freedom is the space and power provided by the Christian community (and God) to be and do the things your Christian community (and God) needs or asks of you. The emphasis of a Christological freedom is both highly political, as it is part of the complex nature of salvation, but also entirely in line with some liberation theology. … Liberation, salvation in all its complexity, is the aim of God.”

Justice: “Setting aright relationships. … The justice of Jesus, setting the possibility of righting relationships is grounded in the rule of God. God doesn’t weigh the misdeeds, but rather she redeems the people and their dysfunctional relationships. Redemption and new creation are the paradigms through which justice is done. … in the church, the communal body founded around the memory of Christ, redemption and new creation, found in the in-breaking of the basileia, is the entire idea.”

Solidarity: “Solidarity should not be understood as synonymous with representative government. In fact, in some ways, it is quite the opposite. Instead of someone being for someone else, we should be with each other. Such a shift is very important, ultimately empowering the disenfranchised to raise their own voices and make choices, rather than by proxy. … Solidarity begins with people treating other people, marginalized people or not-so-marginalized people, as people worthy of their creative status. Simply, all people are human and should be recognized as such. … There is social change in solidarity as alluded to above, but it is fundamentally within the context of the basileia — the rule of God on earth, the church. … Solidarity is sharing life, and the life of Christ. It is sharing joy and suffering.”

Peace: “Peace is not silence or a cessation of violence brought about by coercion or elimination of competition. … Peace is not the elimination of the other. It cannot be. That isn’t peace between people because it is first not justice, it is the prosecution of death upon one group by another group. State and society can only rid the world of an existence or exact punitive violence that it calls justice; however, true peace requires true justice, not slaughter. … However, those that claim a monopoly on justice, the state, or market, or cosmopolitan society, cannot achieve a full sense of justice — putting relationships aright. … Peace is also fundamentally a conversion and discipleship — from swords to plowshares and lions laying with lambs. Quite simply, evil, or evil acts, is a warped sense of peace: it is not redemptive but seeks to convert or eliminate. Therefore, actions such as torture are violent conversions and the antithesis of peace. Torture is the re-narration of a person by destroying a human being — a fundamentally abusive relationship, while peace is instituted from the righting of relationships (justice) and is maintained as we treat each other as part of creation through the grammar of Christological, divine love. … living out and participating in the continuing redemption by God through grace and love.”

I have also connected the definitions together and with other concepts, like love and pacifism.

7 thoughts on “A Study in Theological Language: A Series of Definitions

  1. Pingback: A Study in Theological Language: A Series of Definitions « flying.farther

  2. Pingback: Solidarity Defined « flying.farther

  3. Pingback: Freedom Defined « flying.farther

  4. Pingback: Peace Defined « flying.farther

  5. Pingback: Love is the Movement (of Freedom, Justice, Reconciliation, and Solidarity) « flying.farther

  6. Pingback: Pacifism in Light of Freedom, Justice, Solidarity, and Peace « flying.farther

  7. Pingback: Usama bin Laden is Dead and I Don’t Feel Fine : Justice Outside The City

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