“You must translate every bit of your Theology into the vernacular,” exhorted C. S. Lewis in an essay entitled “Christian Apologetics.” He admitted this could be “very troublesome and it means you can say very little in half an hour, but it is essential.”
Theologians, he believed, had a tendency to write in an obscure way. In the same vein, many pastors may try to impress their congregations with high-flown, little-understood phrases that leave the listeners spiritually cold.
Lewis therefore challenged those who are called to preach the gospel to put it in the language of everyday people. Not only would it communicate better with them, but “it is also of the greatest service to your own thought.”
I have come to the conviction that if you cannot translate your thoughts into uneducated language, then your thoughts were confused.
Power to translate is the test of having really understood one’s own meaning. A passage from some theological work for translation into the vernacular ought to be a compulsory paper in every Ordination examination.
The driving force behind Lewis’s exhortation was that communication of God’s Good News is the most significant message imaginable; therefore, it requires clarity of expression.
Later in that same essay, he emphasizes the necessity of pressing upon an audience (whether of one or of many) that the Christian faith must be presented from the proper foundation:
One of the great difficulties is to keep before the audience’s mind the question of Truth. They always think you are recommending Christianity not because it is true but because it is good. And in the discussion they will at every moment try to escape from the issue “True—or False.” . . .
One must keep on pointing out that Christianity is a statement which, if false, is of no importance, and, if true, of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important.
Therefore, it is incumbent upon us who have been given the charge to be communicators of God’s Truth to do so in a way that people can really grasp its importance.