Erosion of (Theological) Language

Gerhard O. Forde on the erosion of language in theology:

It is evident that there is a serious erosion or slippage in the language of theology today. Sentimentality leads to a shift in focus, and the language slips out of place. To take a common example, we apparently are no longer sinners, but rather victims, oppressed by sinister victimizers whom we relentlessly seek to track down and accuse…

We no longer live in a guilt culture but have been thrown into meaninglessness—so we are told. Then the language slips out of place. Guilt puts the blame on us as sinners, but who is responsible for meaninglessness? Surely not we! Sin, if it enters our consciousness at all, is generally something that “they” did to us. As Alan Jones, dean of the Episcopal Cathedral of San Francisco, put it once, “We live in an age in which everything is permitted and nothing is forgiven.”

Since we are victims and not really sinners, what we need is affirmation and support, and so on. The language slips and falls out of place. It becomes therapeutic rather than evangelical. It must he trimmed more and more so as not to give offense.