Theological Phrasebook: An Introduction

A phrasebook is (according to Merriam Webster) “a book containing idiomatic expressions of a foreign language and their translation.” Basically, it’s a tool that can be used when learning a new language, usually in a way that helps the learner participate in everyday life and communicate in real world situations. The idea with this Theological Phrasebook project is that I want to describe some concepts from Christian theology in a way that provides an introduction to the “conversation” of Christianity. I’m not aiming to be exhaustive. The entries are short and presented with some imaginative verve (I hope those already fluent in Christianity will still find the posts worth reading). All the related posts can be found through the Phrasebook tag.

There are variety of ingredients that have gone into this – an obvious influence is Frederick Buechner’s theological dictionary project, Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC (and its related volumes). In some ways, the project is my attempt to repay the debt I owe Buechner after encountering his work when I was a teenager. There are plenty of additional influences getting mixed into the conceptual pot (for those familiar with my other writing in a theological vein, yes Bonhoeffer is going to show up more than once), and a number of entries will include a “Further Exploring” note at the end, giving links to other sources.

As a side note, for those who don’t know me: I’m just a layperson (aka “just a guy”). I don’t work in a church or as a professor or anything like that, so there’s not any institutional authority behind what I’m going to be writing here. I have started and stopped this project multiple times, and it has grown more wild and loose each time I return to it. It is a strange, spiky sort of thing, but I can’t seem to leave it alone, and so am going to try and write it through to its end. I hope it might be helpful to someone out there who stumbles across it in the vast hinterlands of the internet.

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