Learning to Speak God from Scratch by Jonathan Merritt

Learning to Speak God from Scratch

As America rapidly becomes a pluralistic, postmodern society, many of us struggle to talk about faith. We can no longer assume our friends understand words such as grace or gospel. Others, like lost and sin, have become so negative they are nearly conversation-enders.Jonathan Merritt knows this frustration well. After Jonathan moved from the Bible Belt to New York City, he discovered that whenever conversations turned to spirituality, the words h...

Details Learning to Speak God from Scratch

TitleLearning to Speak God from Scratch
Release DateAug 14th, 2018
PublisherConvergent Books
GenreChristian, Religion, Christianity, Nonfiction, Faith, Theology, Spirituality

Reviews Learning to Speak God from Scratch

  • Rebecca Einstein
    Do you love language? Do you love learning about faith? This book will check both those boxes. Learning to Speak God from Scratch is for anyone interested in religious dialogue in these secular times. Though the author is a product of an Evangelical home, the issues he raises are not specific to one faith community. As a rabbi, I am always looking for ways to engage others in meaningful conversations about God and other faith topics. Jonathan Mer...
  • Cara Meredith
    I can’t get enough of Jonathan Merritt’s thoughts, mostly because I find myself on the same page with him, 1000%. If you find yourself needing to redefine certain sacred words, his book is a must-read. Loved, loved, loved it.
  • Jeff
    Merritt the Younger Again Proves He Is His Father's Equal. Jonathan Merritt and I grew up in roughly similar church traditions at roughly the same time in roughly the same geographic area. His father would eventually become President of the Southern Baptist Convention, my pastor would later become President of the Georgia Baptist Convention. Growing up, while not knowing of Jonathan specifically, his father was among *the* most respected men I ha...
  • Cherie Lowe
    Finally, a thinking book for people of faith to open a dialogue about why we use the words we use when it comes to talking about what we believe. Well thought out and artfully written, Learning to Speak God from Scratch combines data driven research and memoir to trace the how and why sacred words are slipping from the lexicon or have lost their original meaning. If you are fearful about opening a conversation about God with a friend, coworker, a...
  • Janna Northrup
    With clear and thoughtful language, Jonathan Merritt tackles a deeply personal subject…belief in God and how we communicate about that. His premise is that our language about God has become distant, stilted and full of what feels like ticking time bombs and it is time for us to rethink hope-fully how we can reengage with authentic words about God and thus invite anyone into the conversation. What resonated with me was his discomfort with the la...
  • Seth
    Read this in one sitting. Easy to read through and thought the words chosen were great to explore. As Bob Dylan sings “The times, they are a-changin’” and as they change, so does the vernacular. If anything, this book should encourage those that read it how they would define Christian words when talking to non-Christians. I largely appreciated “Pain” and “Disappointment”
  • McKay Hubbell
    This is the kind of book we need right now. Jonathan Merritt delivers a thought-provoking and yet incredibly practical work that any person of faith would benefit from reading. I loved the organization of the book, exploring each religious term in its own chapter. By doing this, he proves that a simple definition fails to capture what religious words really mean. Instead, he explores them with stories, illustrations, and metaphors, which bring so...
  • Adrienne
    Jonathan is stellar in his ability to bring questions, truth, and myths to the table in a way that invites rich conversation rather than polarity and excommunication. This book is beautifully written with thoughtful and thorough research, insightful interviews, and authentic personal stories to show the reader the book was written with the reader's heart in mind. As a theologian, lover of language and nuance, and one who has been studying semanti...
  • Shelby Spear
    Why Words Are a Holy Gift We’re Called to StewardHave you ever taken the time to reflect on the depth and wonder of vocabulary? Or imagined what life would be like without words? As humans, we have the power to wield elements of speech for both destruction and encouragement, education and deceit, praise and desecration. Quite a supernatural superpower; one that sets us apart from all other living things. God spoke us into being and then passed ...
  • Heather Caliri
    I’ll be honest—the first third of the book frustrated me. Merritt’s contention—that our use of sacred speech in the Church has often calcified our vocabulary and made it off-putting to a secular public—is one I agree with. Yet for much of the beginning of the book, Merritt supports his argument with statistics, general statements, and the distance of the reporter that he is. The problem did not feel VISCERAL in those pages, it did not c...
  • Elle Berry
    In 'Learning to Speak God from Scratch' Jonathan Merritt details what he notes as a disturbing decline in our use of spiritual words. He follows this by making a compelling case for why reviving these words matters, and then provides a kind of geography for how those of us who want to speak God can find our way forward. Far from a static definition of God-speak, the chapters that follow are part story and part essay. While I enjoyed all of these ...
  • Joe
    In Learning to Speak God from Scratch, award-winning contributor to The Atlantic Jonathan Merritt tackles a subtle but consequential issue in America - the decline of spiritual conversations.Fear not. This is not a book preaching to its readers that they should "share Jesus" more. Even among religious people, spiritual conversations are on a sharp decline. Merritt believes that everyone should be speaking more about their spiritual lives as it of...
  • Terri Fullerton
    My husband and I read this aloud. It captured the place we are—not sure how to talk about our faith. Throughout this book I felt like some of the confusing and deflated sacred words were standing up again—in my own heart, like God used this book to blow fresh air to me. I have struggled to know how to talk about my faith, especially in the last couple of years. This book was exactly what we needed.Jonathan provides a way forward. His storytel...
  • Lizz
    This book is an exploration into sacred words that in today’s culture have become so diluted or negative that we have forgotten what they truly mean. Words like grace, sin, and gospel just to name a few. Jonathan goes on a journey of re-learning those words from their origins and learning to ‘speak God from scratch’ in order to help others understand and come to terms with such sacred words and language.I received an Advance Readers Copy fr...
  • Dayna
    Words matter. Merritt provides us with space to remember to treat them kindly. In an age where proverbial babies are being constantly tossed with the bathwater this book is a great reminder of the treasures we have even if they’ve become tainted or tarnished. Speaking from Scratch provides countless avenues to start and continue conversations we need to be having with one another. Plus, the last chapter... worth every page leading up to it.
  • Rebecca
    I could relate to this book on multiple levels. Well researched, well written, well done! I can’t wait to dive into the bibliography. I received an advance reader copy of the book from the publisher for review.
  • Bethany
    I love language, words, humanity, and I love the world and the way we try to seek understanding...and I really wanted to love this book, too. Perhaps my hopes were too high? I did enjoy the history lessons and dissections of words, and I genuinely appreciated certain passages and observations, but I felt disappointed by the end. I'm glad I read it, but I wanted more than the text offered. I received an Advanced Reader Copy of this book.
  • Debra Anderson
    Jonathan Merritt does in this book what he's been teaching us to do for years through his RNS and Atlantic writing -- to be thoughtful speakers and generous thinkers. Part I is a robust, researched look at spiritual language and it's contemporary use. This is not a one-track thesis, but a six-lane highway toward understanding language and obtaining the courage to employ it for human flourishing. He's included a profusion of endnoted citations to ...
  • Heidi
    3.5 stars. This is a tough book to rate, partly because I highly value Jonathan Merritt's writing and observations even when I don't always agree with him theologically, and partly because I think his purpose would have been better served by stating some of his assumptions up front. For lovers of language and Jesus, this is an insightful work about the words we use to talk about faith and what they mean. It challenges believers to hone the words ...
  • Stefanie Kellum
    Jonathan Merritt has a knack for taking the observations, struggles, and joys I’ve had about being a Christian in today’s world and eloquently expressing them on paper. As someone who finds it difficult to speak about her faith in love and truth in an increasingly polarized society, this was a helpful guide for how we tongue-tied Christians can re-imbrace and reimagine sacred words of Christian faith in a way that brings glory to God and show...
  • Ginger
    This was a tale of two books.The first 82 pages, I was set to declare it one of my favorite books of the year. I kept jotting down names in the back of the book of the people I wanted to recommend it to, kept stopping to read passages aloud to my husband. Jonathan Merritt breaks down a complex concept on the exploration of how languages die and are revived clearly, and convincingly.He also does a fantastic job in the first half of countering conc...
  • Jeff
    3.5/5Every subculture has its own jargon. Christianity is no exception. There is “Christian-ese,” those in-culture words that evangelicals tend to throw around (“blessing,” “love offering,” “supplication, “born again,” etc.), and then there are those weightier, sacred words (grace, sin, saint, spirit, mystery, etc.). As religion journalist Jonathan Meritt moved from the Bible to NYC, he came to realize that these sacred words ha...
  • Lisa
    Learning to do anything is filled with starts and stops; like a toddler moving from crawling to walking. Yet when we have developed a way of doing something, it’s even more of a challenge to re-learn or to start from scratch. Even that saying is something that has become nearly outmoded; most kitchens are filled with pre-packaged meal ingredients, not the way my grandmothers fed the family in the middle of the previous century. The way they spo...
  • Alexander Steward
    The language that we use to speak of God has evolved over time and Jonathan Merritt puts out the call for us to reestablish our foundation. Learning to Speak God from Scratch is a way to examine our beliefs and reach out to generations that did not grow up knowing God in a religious setting.We must remember that the Bible as we have it today has been passed down through numerous generations with many additions and subtractions and what we find ou...
  • Janelle
    I was eager to read Learning to Speak God from Scratch. I had recently become aware of the writer, Jonathan Merritt, after he left Religious News Service in June, and I was very interested in learning to re-examine and reclaim some of the religious words that have become jargon we Christians often spew without thinking.As a writer, Merritt is passionate about words, and as a Christian, he is passionate about the gospel, and his argument here is t...
  • Laura
    4.5 Stars“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”Baloney!Words are powerful. We all know this. We were created with this knowledge. We were created by words. By ‘The Word.’ The Word was with God. The Word was God. The Word took on flesh and lived and taught us love and faith and grace and sacrifice and blessing and truth.But what happens when these ideas, these words, get lost in translation? What happens when ...
  • Jen Bradbury
    How and what we say affects what we believe. I saw this in my research for The Jesus Gap, which found that 73% of the language used by high school students to answer the question, “Who is Jesus?” was creedal in origin. I was further convinced of this through Amanda Drury’s fantastic book, Saying is Believing: The Necessity of Testimony in Adolescent Spiritual Development.Because of this, I was excited to read Jonathan Merritt’s new book, ...
  • Rebecca Ray
    Learning to Speak God from Scratch by Jonathan Merritt. This book begins with Merritt's realization that making a move from Atlanta to New York City silenced his ability to have spiritual conversations. The phrases and ideas behind them that made perfect sense in the south often were completely undiscovered by the New Yorkers that he was suddenly surrounded with. Through this, Merritt begins to think about the decline of spiritual conversations,...
  • Crista Kettenhofen
    Note: I received an ARC from the publisher. The opinions expressed here are my own.Jonathan Merritt, author of "Learning to Speak God from Scratch: Why Sacred Words Are Vanishing—and How We Can Revive Them,” begins by setting an ambitious goal.“Ours is an expedition to rediscover a love for consecrated terms and discover why speaking God matters now more than ever.”Merritt begins with a powerful and persuasive thesis that is well-defined ...
  • Emily P
    Alright, I am only giving this 5 stars because there's not more! I think this book is long overdue and brings to light many of the questions we all have about talking about God and faith in the world we live in. Jonathan weaves together stories of his upbringing as a pastor's kid, adult with questions and issues like us all, and the stories of those who have been alienated or excluded from knowing Jesus because of His followers' ineptitude or sho...