Thebonics: The Language of a Generation

Simply put Thebonics is the presentation of theological truths in the language known as Ebonics.

The word Thebonics is the result of the merging of two words; Theology and Ebonics. Theology comes from the Greek word theos, which means God and -ology from the Greek logia, meaning to study or speak of. Ebonics comes from ebony and phonics (street slanguage).

In both of the books the Lord has given me the grace to write, (G.O.S.P.E.L. & DNA: Foundations of the Faith) I include a "Thebonic glossary" in the back. My reasoning for including a glossary of terms was two fold;

  1. Help the Evangelical community learn how to communicate high theology in the heart language of the urban context
  2. Help the urban community learn biblical theology in it's heart language while getting introduced to high theology

Whenever God gives me the grace to teach His word I'll introduce Thebonics to the audience by translating (paraphrase style) Hebrew, Aramiac, or Koine Greek into ebonics so the hearers, no matter urban or rural, can gain a contextual understanding of the passage. Once this understanding is received I will provide them with take-away truths for life application.

When I preach to an audience that does not know me or is unfamiliar with the urban context I provide them with primer on my vernacular by informing them I'm fluent in three languages that all begin with the letter "E":

  1. English
  2. Evangelicalism (theological jargon)
  3. Ebonics (the heart language of the urban community)

Often people chuckle when I open with this primer yet, the Lord gives grace for them to understand and appreciate the unique delivery He has graced me with for reaching the world I'm indigenous to. You can watch a clip of me doing this at the Advance 13 Conference by clicking here.

Thebonics should not be seen as the "dumbing down" of God's Word or Systematic Theology rather, it is the communication of healthy biblical theology using both words and concepts that resonate with the urban context.

The goal of Thebonics three fold:

  1. To give urbanites sound doctrine through speech they can grasp
  2. To provide linguistic assistance to urban churches for the purpose of evangelism and discipleship
  3. To see Evangelicalism become diversified in leadership and influence (ethnically and generationally)

Recently during an Interview on The Exchange with Ed Stetzer I was able to give a 2 minute primer on Thebonics, I pray this break down helps you see my heart behind Thebonics.