Why use theological terms with your students?

Don’t they just turn teenagers off?

Specialized words such as justification or atonement can be either an aid to understanding or a hindrance. Theological words are useful because they are precise, succinct, and come right out of the Bible. You can communicate a big idea with just one word. For instance, instead of saying, “I’ve been released from sin and death by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross,” you can simply say, “I’ve been redeemed.”

However, when you do use specialized words like sanctification and imputation, make sure that all your students know what you’re talking about. Don’t use them to announce your intelligence or education. Theological words aren’t jargon that only a privileged few can understand.

The book of Romans is full of terms with special meanings. That’s why the student book, Roadmap to Romans, contains the R2R Guide, a glossary on pp. 56–58. Make sure students know they can turn to the R2R Guide for words they might not understand.

Project the notion that everyone can grasp these words. Use concrete examples, analogies, and mnemonic (memory) devices to achieve understanding. For example, you can remember what atonement means when you break it down into at-one-ment. You could explain grace as God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.

Finally, don’t be satisfied with merely defining theological terms. Encourage your students to live the ideas, to embrace the doctrines, and to experience the reality of the truths. Then terms such as justification and redemption can be used by your students as accurate descriptions of what God has done for them.

(Roadmap to Romans study book is included with A Study of Romans, 13 sessions that take your students on a journey through the entire book. Learn more here.)

Tell us about your experiences teaching teenagers theological terms!


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