We’re back to Jon Wilson’s Why Church Matters, and chp 5 is a fascinating chp. But Jon cheats here — in his section on worship he has included a chp on the pastor. It’s the adjustment of a nice article he wrote elsewhere, and it doesn’t matter to me one hoot — it’s a new topic with some suggestive ideas.
Here’s the question: Is our “theology”:
1. Cultural-linguistic: the language of a community of faith that shapes the experience of those in the community of faith?
2. Cognitive-propositionalist: the belief system of a community of faith that describes objective realities?
3. Experiential-expressivist: the language of a community of faith as it seeks to articulate its experience of God’s grace in spiritually symbolic terms?
Jon Wilson charts these options and then explores the first model — he is not concerned about the others in this chp — for understanding what theology is, what a pastor’s role is, and what worship is. Very suggestive, and a nice way to see the overall significance of George Lindbeck, The Nature of Doctrine.
First, theology in the cultural-linguistic model is learning a language, it is the language not about faith but the language of faith, and this theological language of the community of faith does not refer to experience but which refers us to the language of faith. The goal is to let the language interpret us and to let the language of the Bible provide for us an explanation of what we experience. It does not express our experience; it interprets our experience. If we let it interpret us, we are faithful.
And second, the pastor’s role according to the cultural-linguistic model is to be the grammarian of faith for the church, is to be the teacher of that grammar of faith for the congregation, is to be one who practices that faith.
And third, worship draws us into the language of our faith and genuine worship teaches us how to interpret the world through that language.