November 26, 2014

Talk Like a Human Being, Please

Oh my, this is funny.

Being “post-evangelical” means moving away from a culture, and cultures have their languages, cliches, and insider ways of communicating. Conforming to these verbal standards marks one as an insider and makes others feel reassured that we’re all on the same team.

But after awhile, it can sound so lame. And it can set you apart somehow as not a fellow human being. It turns out to be remarkably un-neighborly.

Since becoming a chaplain, I’ve realized more and more the need to find a simple, more human vocabulary and style — to listen and speak in ways that reveal I’m truly hearing what is being said and presented to me, in a manner that communicates interest, concern, kinship, and love, no matter who it is that I’m engaging in conversation. Usually now, when I use specific theological language, I try to frame it well within the context of the specific conversation I am having, and I make sure to check to verify that my conversation partner is understanding the terms and concepts I’m using.

I am perfectly OK with using “Christian” language — as Megan Hill has made a case for in this article. However, I think Megan misses a basic point of the video in her critique: the language being spoken, for the most part, is not biblical or theological. Instead, it represents forms of utterance that are wholly tied to modern cultural forms of evangelicalism. I would argue that much of the language doesn’t represent the message of Scripture or the reality of the Gospel at all. It’s just evangelical shop-talk.

Can we please just learn to talk like human beings and neighbors?

Comments

  1. Hysterical.

    I’ve personally found in the last few years that I have no idea what some of our evangelical language even means. When I have conversations with my family or others, I constantly have to ask them to define terms and then I have to do the same so I know we’re on the same page.

    Is he saved? (please define saved)

    I mean, he believes (what does believe mean? intellectual agreement?)

    and it can go on.

    • Dave D. says:

      Then there is that *awkward* moment when you ask for clarification and you get the dumbfounded stare. Like the question threw a wrench into the mental process transmission.

      I think the hesitation arises from two thought streams suddenly placed in opposition:
      – What do you mean you don’t know what that means? Aren’t you a Christian?
      – Now that you ask, I’m not sure I can tell you what it means. It just means what it means.

      Then they get mad because obviously you are just making fun of them. And they start doubting if you are really saved.

      Yah. Been there. Sometimes it’s just easier to nod your head and move on.

      • Ha. Yeah I agree it can be easier to move on. My GF’s grandparents are sure the rapture is coming any day now, Jack van Impe says so! If we visit them for a weekend, the rapture comes up probably 5-7 times. Right now they’re reading thru the bible because somewhere along the line they got the idea that when they finish, the rapture will happen. I just smile and nod. I don’t even know what to say when the topic comes up.

          • I’ll check that out eric.
            the page looks like it’s from 1996! ha!

            i recently read this, which i found really helpful and good:

            http://www.amazon.com/Rapture-Exposed-Message-Hope-Revelation/dp/0813343143/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1362363998&sr=1-1&keywords=the+rapture+exposed

            My GF’s mom wants to study Revelation with her. She told her mom that they are not going to agree on everything. Her mom said, “so what, you don’t believe in the rapture?” She said no, and her mom couldn’t believe it. She was actually upset!

            10 years ago, I was an ardent dispensationalist: Rapture, Tribulation, Millenium, The whole show. Once i began to understand that Revelation wasn’t written to predict the future, it became such a beautiful and hopeful book.

          • I think what bothers me most about it is that her grandparents keep giving their retirement money away to televangelists like Van Impe and the church across the street that bought land from them. Last time we visited, they were telling us that the church needs $28,000 a week, but have only been receiving ~$7,000. Somewhere, spending got out of line, and now the congregation is on the hook for all that overspending.

          • Josh in FW says:

            EricW,
            In the post about the SGM scandal you made a comment about Chandler’s church being in your backyard. I was confused as to whether you were criticizing Chandler when you pointed out that he is now President of the Acts 29 network. Unlike Driscol, I haven’t heard any negatives about Chandler and was kind of hoping he might mellow out the Acts 29 folks. Thoughts?

          • Josh:

            If they need mellowing out, then I hope Matt does mellow them out. I have little expectation that he’ll steer Acts 29 to Egalitarianism, though, which is a shame — but we can always pray!

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Sounds like they’re time-stopped in the Seventies Gospel According to Hal Lindsay. That sort of behavior was so widespread it was NORMAL back then.

          “All the End Time Prophecies are being Fulfilled even as we speak!!! We Might Not Have A 1978!!! Or Even A 1977!!!”

          It is now 2013.

          • headless – 88 reasons the rapture will happen in 1988! oh boy. i went to a KJVonly crazy church way back then and even they thought that was ridiculous.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Yeah. Edgar Whisenhaunt. That bust was what finally burned out my writing partner on End Time Prophecy. After which, he got married, settled down, and started having a life.

            And the next year Whisenhaunt was back with “89 Reasons The Rapture WILL Happen in 1989!” Sales of the sequel tanked for some reason.

            Oh, and was that a “KJV Only” church or a “KJV1611 ONLY!”?

          • Yeah, it was a KJV only church. I visited on a sunday night when i was in college, probably 11 or so years after my family left. Everyone was really friendly and kind. Most people didn’t recognize me as I was 21 then and 10 when we left. I think I was the only one with out a tie on (and I purposely wore a tshirt and necklace — big no nos in that place!). I was pretty arrogant then, honestly, I still am…

  2. Subcultures have their own “inside” vocabulary. As an IT person we have lots of TLMs and FLMs (three letter acronyms and four letter acronyms). Medical people not only have their own “inside” language, but some of it is in Latin to boot. In each case, the inside language serves to communicate complex concepts to a fellow worker quickly. For the most part we get it because we all have the same training. We are also not trying to communicate eternal truths with non-insiders.

    Christianese however, is simply a way of telling who is in and who isn’t. It’s inside language serves not to communicate quickly, but for self identification. As has been noted, there are some words that have a .basis in the Bible. Most do not.People who are not Christians and some new Christians can get quickly turned off when they realize that our inside language is designed to keep them on the outside.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Again, that is the difference between a Technical Language and a Mystery Language.

    • Even old Christians can get quickly turned off when they realize that the evangelical Christian culture’s jargon is designed to make it easy to judge who’s a “real” Christian and who’s not.

    • Stev, …I agree with you about the use of true technical languages, which are reall just short-hand. After I listen to the mom of a five year old talke about his recent cold for ten minutes, it goes to the doc looking like this:

      John Jones, white male, age 5 presents w/ sob HA x 3 days, s/p viral URI. VS wnl, serous fluid bilateral tympanic membranes, pharynx injected w/o exudate, hypertropic tonsils.

      That is the ten minutes reduced to the things the doc needs to know…which is all good and fine to communicate from me to him.

      BUT….what I tell mom and write down for her will be in plain English, so she can care for her boy at home. So, a little Christian shorthand is ok as well, but not as a means of bringing Christ to the world who doesn’t know him. AND the video was hysterical…had I not lived in a Florida neighborhood teeming with CC4C types, I would have had no idea was these guys were talking about!!!

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Wait, Pattie…

        They were speaking the CAMPUS CRUSADE DIALECT (“Cruese”) of Christianese?

        I didn’t know Christianese had split into specific dialects!

    • One of the ways I had of detecting Christianese was to hear it used out of context. When hanging with church folks, even in the workplace, the Christian vocabulary would punctuate the conversation and no one thought anything of it. However, if we heard certain words or language in a meeting or from a high up superior in a business context, it just felt weird. The word “fellowship” is an excellent case in point. It is rarely used outside of Christian circles in the way in which Christians use it. Just look at “Fellowship of the Ring” to see an example of secular use of the term. And it doesn’t feel creepy hearing it in that context. But in a business setting, it’s just not used.

      For me, it’s really weird when I hear church talk in a non-church setting.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        The word “fellowship” is an excellent case in point. It is rarely used outside of Christian circles in the way in which Christians use it.

        For instance, only in Christianese is “fellowship” commonly used as a verb.

        “Fellowshipping with The LOORD…”
        — verse from a forgotten Eighties CCM song

  3. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    I am perfectly OK with using “Christian” language — as Megan Hill has made a case for in this article. However, I think Megan misses a basic point of the video in her critique: the language being spoken, for the most part, is not biblical or theological. Instead, it represents forms of utterance that are wholly tied to modern cultural forms of evangelicalism. I would argue that much of the language doesn’t represent the message of Scripture or the reality of the Gospel at all. It’s just evangelical shop-talk.

    And that is the difference between a Technical Language and a Mystery Language.

    A Technical Language is a specialized dialect of technical terms. (Church Latin, Legalese, and various special-interest jargons are examples.)

    A Mystery Language is a secret code for the Gnostic Anointed, intended to freeze out all Outsiders.

  4. What does it mean to guard someone else’s heart? I can understand guarding your own in relationships but how do you guard another person’s heart?

    (My initial reaction was that the idea of guarding someone else’s heart infantilizes that other person but am not sure if I am missing something…)

    • I believe the term is used in the sense of, “don’t manipulate the other person, and don’t use the other person”, usually in a dating context. If not, then I am as lost as you.

  5. Talk like a human? But what about our servant-leader’s recent vision casting to declare more territory?

  6. Richard Hershberger says:

    This is, of course, how “Christians” talk in the sense of white American Evangelical Protestants. I am curious. Now that you are among us Lutherans (who might occasionally fellowship but who most certainly do not guard other persons’ hearts) have you noticed a similar insider lingo? I don’t mean theological language like “grace” and “law” and “gospel” but peculiarities of casual vocabulary. I ask because as a cradle Lutheran, this fish doesn’t notice that water.

    • This Lutheran convert doesn’t notice much “Lutheran lingo”, at all, in our gatherings.

      Once we’re out the fellowship door, it’s basically business as usual. And that is a crying shame.

      • Brianthedad says:

        As a Lutheran in the Deep South, surrounded by our baptist, non-denom, and Pentecostal brothers, I hear some of that language slipping into certain segments of our congregation. Especially now that leadership is more growth focused. Now, among the older, more traditional crowd? Not so much lingo generally, unless you count potluck, coffee, walther league, as insider language.

        • “Especially now that leadership is more growth focused.”

          I’ll be praying for them. That they knock it off.

          I don’t know what it is about Lutherans. We would rather discuss anything else, but the things of God when we gather together outside of worship. Maybe our relative ease of life has something to do with it.

    • Danielle says:

      As a (former?) evangelical, I don’t notice any screaming insider lingo in Lutheran churches. I think that evangelicals, as a popular/pan-denominational culture with a very strong set of “boundaries,” need to have certain catch-phrases to identify themselves to one another. Defining “Christian” by someone who has had a particular adult rebirth experience also necessitates having a language you can use to quickly get out of someone whether they have had the requisite Conversion Experience.

      An example: I was once party to a conversation between a cradle Lutheran (Wisconsin synod), a recent Orthodox convert (from evangelicalism), and a young non-denominational/Baptist type evangelical. The non-denom guy was recounting a conversation with a Lutheran lady he’d managed to corner in a bookstore. He tried to interrogate her about whether she was a Christian. She immediately tried entering the topic by such routes as her baptism, her church attendance, the fact she prayed, and so forth. He was recounting these responses and expressing dismay that she didn’t seem to be a Christian because there was no lost/found/new life formula in her narrative. For the next hour, the Lutheran and the Orthodox speakers attempted to translate what she had been trying to say to the Baptist, which meant trying to explain that religious experience can be lifelong and gradual but nonetheless profound. Meanwhile, the young Baptist just kept repeating, “Yes, OK, but I need to know if she has been Saved!” When pressed for a definition of this, he retreated to “I need to know if she Knows Jesus.”

      I’m never too sure, but it seems like mainliners don’t need this boundary-establishing language (they feel mainstream); the denominational conservatives I’ve met seem to distinguish themselves more by formal doctrine; and I assume that at least among Lutherans and other ethnic denominational churches, ethnic identity has done much of the “work” of creating a community with an identity. Generic White Suburban Evangelicals have to create markers, in order to have a subculture.

      If there is a trick I’ve noticed, it is that Lutherans seem especially prone to slip into endless discussions of Lutheran polity and intra-Lutheran politics. I wonder if the internal shop-talk is actually where the war axes are ground?

      • Danielle says:

        trick = tick

      • Richard Hershberger says:

        There definitely are dialects among mainlines. I recently was in an elevator with a middle aged woman. I was holding the Bart Ehrman book on the debate about whether Jesus was a historical person. She asked me what I was reading, so I showed it to her and briefly explained the topic. She then went into a rhapsody about how good God is. I smiled and asked her if she were a Methodist minister. She was surprised, and wondered how I could tell. I have been around Methodists, including middle aged female Methodist ministers, plenty enough to spot the signs. I suspect that being an outside observer helped.

  7. I’ve heard of maybe ten of these words and phrases. Fellowship, the minced oaths

  8. …slippery slope (but in other contexts), several biblical phrases, seeker service, not enough meat (but in other contexts), struggling/wrestling with x, accountable, not cool.

  9. Robert F says:

    I do understand that this is another one of those post-evangelical posts, and that as someone who has never been evangelical (although my wife came out of evangelicalism and my in-laws are staunchly evangelical, so I have some familiarity with the evangelical form of English) I’m probably a party crasher in having the temerity to join the discussion sort of uninvited, but there is a different problem out here in the mainline quarter of the post-evangelical wilderness, and that is god-speak phobia. There are many churches out here where practically the only mention of God occurs in worship, adult forums, etc., but people are extremely loathe to bring up the G word anywhere else. It often seems as if people are embarrassed by the word, or language associated with the word, except in the strictly controlled domain of liturgy and formal church programs; they talk sports, health issues, cars, work, sex, entertainment, politics, current events, etc., but the G word and language associated with it has to be very circumscribed and careful to avoid sending people into a kind of panic that personal boundaries are being overstepped. So god-language generally does not crop up in personal interactions, and when it does, there is great deal of awkwardness involved. I don’t mind silence concerning ultimate things; I was a student of Zen Buddhism for a significant part of my third decade, so I like the idea of humility and reticence in relation to the sacred. But there is very little to no sacred silence in mainline churches; rather, there is the same interminable chatter that you can hear anywhere else, as if the possibility that there might be silence even for five minutes was more foreboding than imminent apocalypse. I do wish there would be more boldness in the use of thoughtful god-language among my fellow parishoners in my mainline church. Rant over.

    • Dave D. says:

      Same problem. Different clothing. The use (or eschewing) of certain idiom defines the borders of the group. Use the G-word in particular manner or context and you are revealed as one of those “evangelicals.”

      I say go a step further and try using the J-word. Watch the fireworks then. Hoo boy.

    • petrushka1611 says:

      I had a friend who I think grew up evangelical, but spent some time leading a choir at an Episcopalian church just for the joy of the music. She was shocked at how shocked the choir members were when she wanted to open rehearsal in prayer one day.

      • Richard Hershberger says:

        One possible explanation is that some or all of the choir members might have been paid professionals. One of our soloists is a cantor, which leaves her Sundays otherwise free. (My understanding is that the Evangelical version of this is the band members who are professional musicians playing a gig.) If so, then prayer at rehearsal isn’t part of what they signed up for. If it was an amateur choir, then I suspect they weren’t so much shocked as they were surprised.

        By way of comparison, I just spent six years on my (Lutheran) church council. Every meeting is opened and closed with prayer.

        • Werther says:

          But is it a perfunctory prayer, as you find in American sports contexts, or do they hold hands, close their eyes, and say “Amen” a little too emphatically (and with an “ej” dipthong)?

          • Richard Hershberger says:

            There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy. The opening prayer is a free form devotional which rotates around the council. It can be pretty much anything. It often tends toward the awkward, is sometimes overlong and rambling, and on rare occasions is concise yet heartfelt. The Lutheran “Amen” done well carries quiet dignity. Done poorly it is simply mumbled. The closing prayer is the Lord’s Prayer, which Lutherans have down cold. The walk on the wild side is that we hold hands around the table. One guy likes to add a tag on the end: “Keep coming back!”

      • Ichabod says:

        I’ve seen the reverse, too. No evangelical worth the name pulls out a 3×5 card to read a prayer. From my experience in both camps, it is the shock of hearing extemporaneous prayer, which is heartfelt but often ambling and verbose. Episcopal prayers may be canned, but they are well-thought out, articulate, and economical in getting to the point. There is room in the Kingdom for both tribal idioms, but each sounds like a foreign language to the other.

  10. I recall a conversation that I had with an unbeliever over a decade ago. I told him that I wanted to “share” something with him. He smiled at me and said, “You Christians are always wanting to “share” something, huh?
    I laughed, and told him that he was right. I spoke “Christianese” and I got busted. Ever since, I have been careful with my choice of words, and ever hopeful that people would be as gracious as this unbeliever. I can honestly say that my intention was not to exclude him, or make him feel like an outsider.

    On another occassion, I spoke with a devout Presbyterian, and we discovered that we had different buzz words from our religious traditions. We “shared” a good laugh at at the differences in our vocabularies, and learned that many of our concerns were probably not as important in the big scheme of things as our specialized vocabulary might indicate.

    Evangelicalism has earned many of the criticisms thrown its way (and the video is hilarious), but I think that the development of a unique language among a unique group is almost inevitable. Maybe I am naive, but I don’t believe, for the most part, that Christian people are intentionally shutting people out with their language. The encouragement to “to talk like human beings and neighbors” is very needful, however, and the post is one that I wish a lot of my “brothers” could see.

    • cermak_rd says:

      The thing with Christian sharing is it is seldom meant to be 2 way sharing. If a Christian wants to share the message of Christ with me, they seldom want to listen to my experience of leaving Christianity and finding a life improvement by going elsewhere. Nor are they usually open to hearing my aunt’s experience finding spiritual solace in Wicca. This type of sharing always strikes me as a form of spiritual head-hunting mission.

      • Marcus Johnson says:

        +1

      • Robert F says:

        In an increasingly religiously pluralistic world, where greater and greater numbers of people have liberty to choose from a great variety of religious or non-religious options, Christian proclamation will more and more have to take place in the context of real dialogue; real dialogue requires two things according to sociologist Peter Berger: 1) a measure of confidence in ones own experience and where it has led one in terms of religious identity, i.e., NO WIMPS; 2) openness to hearing and respectfully weighing ones dialogue partner’s religious position, i.e., NO THUGS. What makes Christians uncomfortable about real dialogue is just this requirement that we must be open to change in our religious position, even radical change. It makes us very nervous. And the reason it makes us nervous is that it highlights the contingency of our religious position as Christians, and it undercuts the plausibility of our own choices with regard to religious identification being irreversible. Real dialogue requires that we move out of the linguistic ghetto that reinforces the plausibility and hides the contingency of our choice of religious identity. The linguistic ghetto of Christianese protects many from religious vertigo.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Real dialogue requires that we move out of the linguistic ghetto that reinforces the plausibility and hides the contingency of our choice of religious identity. The linguistic ghetto of Christianese protects many from religious vertigo.

          The first principle of Newspeak is to constrict thought to pure Orthodoxy, pure goodthink, pure INGSOC by removing any word or idea that could lead to thoughtcrime. If there are no words to express the ungoodthink, there can be no ungoodthink. (During WW2, George Orwell worked producing propaganda for the BBC. Besides Stalin’s Russia, a lot of 1984 came from his run-ins with pointy-haired bosses at the BBC, like some Grimdark version of Dilbert.)

    • Caleb W says:

      For me the issue isn’t just the development of a separate language. It is the utter banality of that language, which also seems to gloss over unexamined assumptions and difficult issues.

      • Damaris says:

        Yes x 100.

      • That’s part of the reason for the separate language, to obscure difficult issues. It’s sort of like double talk. If, when difficult times happen we can say “God is in control” or “All things work together…” then we can push the problem back on the person who is suffering. That’s a good part of why “mystery” languages are used.

    • When somebody wants to “share” something, the phrase “on my heart” can’t be too far behind.

      • Marcus Johnson says:

        Well, thanks a lot, Miguel. Now I have the phrase “share something that’s been on my heart” stuck in my head, and it’s triggering flashbacks of overly-passionate, immature evangelicals that I ran into during my days at Baylor who claimed I was rebelling against God if I didn’t join their small group. Oh, the horror…

        • Josh in FW says:

          I remember when I was at Baylor, living in my first apartment, a guy knocked on the door and when I answered he said, “I’m here to change your air filter.” As he was leaving he said, “I’ve changed your air filter but I’d really like to change your heart.” I responded in a very “unchristian” way despite being the grandson of an SBC pastor and growing up in the church. To this day I’m a little bewildered that he didn’t see the hypocrisy of entering a residence on a false premise and then trying to share about God. Also, it was a redundant effort since all Baylor student were required to take both an OT and NT class at the time.

          • Josh in FW says:

            One of the best things that happened to me at Baylor was joining a Fraternity and then discovering the membership was ~50% Catholic and about half of that 50% were actually practicing as opposed to cultural Catholics. I learned a lot about grace and mercy from those brothers.

        • Danielle says:

          So, Marcus, How is Your Walk With God Going?*

          *What you say will be prayed about by my whole circle of friends, who are already convinced you are the anti-Christ.

  11. A phrase I’ve heard many times is “God is in control”. I especially heard it after the 9-11 attacks in the US. I finally asked a friend if by “God is in control” she meant that God caused the terrorists to fly the planes into the Towers. She looked shocked and said, “Oh, no, not at all!” I told her that saying that phrase could give people the impression that you believed that God caused that all to happen. But she didn’t mean that. I think we need to be careful what we say and think about how it’s coming across to other people.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      A phrase I’ve heard many times is “God is in control”. I especially heard it after the 9-11 attacks in the US.

      At which point, how does “God is in control” differ from “In’shal’lah… Eh, Kismet?”

  12. Caleb W says:

    How do we separate spiritual truth from such cultural banality? I’ve been wondering about this for some time and this video articulated that thought for me.

    • Excellent point. part of what we need to do is to decide what our message is going to be. That might sound obvious, but I suspect that we often have multiple messages going on at the same time. We also need to make our message clear, using simple language. I suspect hat sometimes we get too involved with Theology, rather than getting the Gospel out.

      I also suspect that we rely too much on memorized “plans of salvation” . We need to be more personal in our approach to talking to people.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        I also suspect that we rely too much on memorized “plans of salvation” .

        “Memorized plan of salvation” = “canned sales pitch”. And when I was on the fringes of Campus Crusade in the late Seventies, I noticed something about ALL their “memorized plans of salvation” in “Witnessing Practice” sessions: They ALL depended on the Heathen/Mark acting exactly like the Witness/Salesman wanted them to.

        (No REAL Heathens were used in the Witnessing Sessions — only CCC GUBAs fluent in Christianese who knew their role. It ended up a dramatized Altar Call Ending each and every time. Actually painful to watch if you had any experience outside the Christianese bubble. I wish I could have snuck some of my D&D buds into the role and given them some REAL resistance.)

        • “Memorized plan of salvation” = “canned sales pitch”.

          I was in sales for a number of years. Much of what is passed off as “sharing you faith” are really sales techniques. They generally don’t work, not even in a sales environment. We are meant to share our faith, not sell it.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            It was no surprise when I heard Bill Bright (founder of Campus Crusade/”Cru”) had started out as a salesman.

  13. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    I think these video guys also did a video about “Stuff Christian Singles Hear”. The tone and format are identical.

  14. Some alternatives suggestions:

    1) Pray for stationary mercies. As they don’t wander away, they’re easier to find later without having to reapply.

    2) Instead of wrestling with doubt, consider, say, judo. Doubt won’t know what non-violently used its own momentum against it.

    3) Refer to something good that happens to you as a “partial God thing.” This affirms both human and divine cooperation in the Kingom. Plus, the fact that you’ll have to explain it every single time is a good thing too, possibly even a “total God thing.” Meta.

    4) Tell people that Jesus is NOT safe for the whole family. Alternatively, allow that he’s safe for no more than 63% of the family, tops.

    5) Every so often, pray a silent prayer, speaking victory to an unspoken need you heard about from a friend.

  15. I find that younger preacher are very effective in spreading and teaching the word of the Lord since I think they are able to relate to the issues that affect our society today. It is important to be kept up to date and be able to reflect on that with the bible. Sometimes people can’t find answers on their own especially the younger people. They need guidance by the Lord through our leaders today given that they can be equal to their followers.

  16. Werther says:

    Should “Jesus-shaped” be included in the examples? Discuss.

    • Of course it should. So should “Jesus” for that matter. The first point isn’t the words themselves, it is learning to be sensitive enough to know when and how to use them.

  17. Adam Palmer says:

    I echo this post.

  18. CM, thank you for taking on this morass. I believe it is fundamental in bringing the message of Jesus to a generation totally divided from the world of our parents and grandparents, never mind the world of agricultural iron-age peasantry found in the Bible. Asking for definitions of buzz words not only points out a lack of thinking in others, it also forces us to think.

    Christian Smith, a sociologist, spoke to this issue in The Bible Made Impossible: Why Biblicism Is Not a Truly Evangelical Reading of Scripture. He shows how people all agree that some jargon concept is essential, but no one can agree on what it means. The end result is to gloss over the lack of understanding by focusing on the word at the expense of spirit.

    Rob Bell has a new book coming out in a week: What We Talk About When We Talk About God. My impression is that it speaks to your issue here. He is preaching at his former church next Sunday and then doing a book signing that afternoon. I hope to attend both.

  19. Somebody once ashed to pray for them that God would give them “travel mercies”. I didn’t know what to say…

  20. I work as a technical writer. Much of my work invovles putting technical language in terms the public can understand.
    However, there is technical language, and then there is jargon. They are very different. Technical language is actually useful to those with expertise in a certain field. But jargon is rarely useful to anyone. It’s main function is to make something sound more important and meaningful than it really is, and by extension to make the person using it sound more important. I weed out a lot of it in my work. It just gunks things up. When a certain group moves from using technical language to communicate precisely with one another to using jargon to sound good and gain status, something is going wrong.

    I have a MA in theology, so I fuly understand the need for technical language in Christianity has some biblical terms that have very specific meanings. But language like that in the video is not in that category. It is jargon and use far too often used to keep up appearances. I’m convinced this has much to do with why people tune out to it.. Myself included. And I’ve been a follower of Jesus since childhood.

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