Definitions matter. They matter theologically. They matter personally. They matter in preaching. I’m not talking about the definition of preaching – although that is a fine word to wrestle with! I’m talking about the basic building blocks of the faith.
As preachers we need to think about the definitions of words and often we need to give the definitions of words. What is faith? What is hope? What is love? What is sin? What is grace? What is salvation?
Never assume that a definition is obvious. You may have had a standard definition in mind for years, but don’t assume it is accurate. Since the defining of key terms is fundamental to understanding, we must poke and prod our definitions.
Is faith believing a creedal statement to be true? Is hope anticipation of the unseen? Is love an act of the will for the good of another? Is sin lawbreaking? Is grace “God’s riches at Christ’s expense”? Is salvation being justified before God?
I hope we would like to add nuance or completely redefine these definitions. I suggest many in our churches either have no definition or these typically limited definitions in their thinking. If we as preachers don’t help people with the basic definition work of core theology – who will?