Saturday, 26 October 2013

No Bad Language in Church

Keen to promote cultural relevance between the body of born again believers and wider society, the ‘By the Way’ team has been researching the language of communication within the church. A number of commentators refer to this strange language with its own words, nuances and meanings as ‘christianese’.

To new believers and visiting ‘enquirers’ or the ‘church curious’, listening to Christians communicate, both formally and informally is often amusing, occasionally naff and daft, but mostly bewildering. The following examples of ‘christianese’ exemplify how it is a ‘language unto itself’.

Christians in communication:

ü  Pray for a ‘hedge' of protection

ü  Covet the prayers of others

ü  Make ‘love offerings’, ‘praise offerings’ and even... ‘clap offerings !’

ü  Talk about 'fellowship’, ‘quiet times’, ‘the flesh’, ‘devotions’.

In a recent article published in RELEVANT magazine, writer John Acuff satirises ‘christianese':

‘In Christian Love’  is a cousin phrase of ‘Bless her heart.’ This is the phrase you drop in right before you verbally punch someone in the face. Allow me to demonstrate: ‘John, I hope you can hear this in Christian love, because that’s how I mean it. Your books are horrible. They are really poorly written and I hope no one buys them. In Christian love.

‘I’ll pray about it’
is a synonym for ‘no’.  If someone asks you to pick up bulletins at the end of church, you probably don’t need to say, ‘I’ll pray about it.’ You can just pick up the bulletins. I’m not sure that’s something you have to approach the throne with.

‘Just’ This is just the most commonly overused word in public prayer. And I have just ruined you. I apologize. The next time you hear someone pray, it will be impossible to not hear them say, ‘Lord just hear us, just know us, just, just, just, just, just!’ This word is like salt we sprinkle on prayers.'

More seriously, the blogger Nicole Unice talks about the danger of ‘christianese’ as a barrier that does more to exclude people than draw them to Jesus. Taking the outsider’s perspective using the Urban dictionary, a popular user-driven website that defines slang, Unice notes........  “It says ‘christianese’ is:  the language spoken by Christians. It makes no sense to anyone unfamiliar with biblical texts, but earns you major points in the eyes of other Christians’............ It's all too easy to hide behind our washed-in-the-blood, princess-for-Jesus verbiage. Instead, let's consider our words thoughtfully, strive to promote understanding with those who don't speak the language, and be brutally honest with ourselves before we choose the easy way of ‘christianese’.”

Finally, Don Moen writing in Preaching Magazine provides an amusing translation for some ‘christianese’, in the summary below.

Christianese                                                Translation

 "That's not my spiritual gift"                     "Find someone else."

 "Fellowship"                                             "Organized gluttony."

 "The Lord works in mysterious ways."     "I'm totally clueless."

 "Lord willing . . ."                                     "You think I'll be there, but I won't."

 "I don't feel led."                                       "Can't make me."

 "God led me to do something else."        “ I slept in instead of going to church.









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