As someone progresses through a career or academic field of study, there is a jargon that is learned and used in speaking with people in the same field. For example, in my sons’ Trail Life USA troop, there are several dads that work in the information technology field. Many times when they “talk shop” I am lost as to what they are even saying. They share a common lingo, complete with acronyms and abbreviations that I am not familiar with.
This is true in my professional field as well. Working as a forensic scientist, there is a language that is spoken within the lab that is foreign to those that aren’t familiar with the field. One of the most critical aspects of being an effective forensic scientist is courtroom testimony. The witness must be able to explain to the judge, jury and lawyers what is done in the lab without using specialized scientific terminology. This is a skill that young forensic scientists work on as part of their training.
The Christian apologist is no different. Being that apologetics is a part of theology, there are many words and terms that are likely unknown or misunderstood when used in theological discussions. Typically, the apologist should not use such words because they will make communication more difficult because of the unknown terms.
Words such as justification, sanctification, propitiation. Ontology, teleology, cosmology. Even words that are used in everyday language have specific meanings within Christianity that need to be clearly explained when speaking with the skeptic or the critic. Evil, righteousness, sin, the church. The apologist must be aware that their language, their theological Christian jargon, may itself be a barrier to explaining the simple aspects of the gospel of Jesus.
I have yet to find anyone who truly likes others who are arrogant and prideful. An apologist who is concerned with sounding educated by using big words and philosophical terms may be perceived as a “know-it-all” or as showing off. When sharing the gospel, let’s use words that everyone in the conversation can understand, and leave the fancy language for when we are “talking shop” with one another.