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Friday, April 08, 2005

Christianese 2.0

Recently, my wife and I have been considering going to another church. It's a long story, but the short version is that we desire to go to a church in our local community.

We ended up visiting one particular church for about 3 weeks. It is a fairly well known church here in Atlanta and some of my friends asked me what I thought about it. I was particularly struck by how much I didn't understand what the people were saying there. After a bit of thought, I realized that they were speaking the new version of Christianese.

Having grown up in the church, I had been fully trained in the beta version and Christianese 1.0 in the '80s. The Jesus Movement of the '70s was much like PARC; a hotbed of innovation. By the early to mid '80s, Christianese was coming into its own and I, as a rising star, was becoming a proficient user. Of course, Christianese was just one piece of the puzzle; there were the requisite Christian t-shirts made to look like beer ads that said "Be not drunk but be filled by the Spirit", the Christian white pages, and of course no good Christian boy would be without his Petra albums.

Now we have WWJD bracelets, Prayer of Jabez books, and Christianese 2.0. Having been out of the Christian subculture for so long now, I can hardly understand this new version. So when we visited this new church, someone said to us, "We are so blessed to have you here in our fellowship."

Uh, come again?

I can't tell you how grating it was to hear some of this slang again, particuarly the new version. I know that the people who talk like this mean well, but I wonder if there is any way to be less welcoming, particularly to people who haven't grown up in the church.

I'm certainly not the only one to notice this slang. But some of the critiques aren't much better. Ron Hutchcraft wrote about this in Moody Magazine and makes some odd suggestions.
Repent. A good phrase for this is: "Turning your back on living ‘my way’ to living ‘God’s way.’"
Like that's not a mouthful. He and some others also feel that Christians shouldn't use the term "sin" since much of our culture doesn't even believe in the concept of sin anymore. However, I don't think you are going to find many people who have no idea what you are talking about when you say sin.

Why is it so hard to just talk like normal people?

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