Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Christian-ese Lexicon

In conversations within the context of modern Christianity, I've noticed there are some buzzphrases we like to throw around. These are words that may or may not have mundane meanings, but seem to be typically used in a highly technical, jargon-like manner by Christians to refer to deeper spiritual concepts. I call them "Christian-ese" terms. If you've been part of a church or Christian ministry I'm sure you've heard at least some of these. I'm going to help anyone confused by them by attempting to define them.

Generation (n.): An arbitrary grouping of Christians into a roughly five-year age range.
Walk with God (n.): 1. The current status of an individual's personal relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ. 2. The history of such a relationship.
Quiet time (n.): Time spent in solitary prayer and meditation on scripture, usually in the morning or evening.
People group (n.): 1. From this official-looking source, a people group is "the largest group through which the gospel can flow without encountering significant barriers of understanding and acceptance." 2. In common usage, it almost always means a tribe living in relative isolation and lacking modern technology.
Eternal perspective (n.): 1. The human approximation to God's perspective on the past, present, and future as an eternal, unchanging being. 2. Increased patience and "big picture" vision.
Spiritual warfare (n.): Spiritual oppression or opposition to God's redemptive work in the world by demonic forces.
Opposition (n.): The forces being fought against in spiritual warfare. Perceived hardship or difficulty in ministry.
Cast vision (v.): I'm honestly not sure what this one means. I think it's basically to tell others about some calling God has given you to do something or something you've been praying for.
Scandalous (adj.): Disgraceful.

Perhaps you know of others. The point I'm trying to make is that while terms like these can be helpful, they run serious risk of being turned into spiritual buzzwords to be exchanged, argued, and acted on with little connection to their underlying spiritual reality. You begin to care more about these words and your relation to them than your relation to God. (Not explicitly, of course, but in truth) I let terms like "walk with God", "quiet time", and "sharing the gospel" dominate my concerns until I forgot the Reason behind these things.

One thing that worries me about the church today is how careless we can be with words. I don't just mean hiding behind buzzphrases like this; the spread of social media has made it all too easy to share "Christian"-sounding ideas that may not be helpful or even entirely truthful. An example is the "Jesus vs. religion" dichotomy I went over in a previous post, which, while true in a sense, was easily twisted into a rallying cry against whatever part of organized religion you don't like. This is what I most dislike about memes: you're just repeating something because you like it on a surface level, with little thought as to the deeper meaning.

If a word is used repeatedly in a technical sense, it needs to have a precise, well-defined meaning. This is part of why the Bible gives me so much trouble--the link between common words like "justification" and "redemption" and their true, spiritual-reality meanings is absolutely essential, but they are such strange words to fallen minds that it's hard to make that connection and so much easier to just talk and reason and preach and teach about the words themselves without seriously looking deeper.

No comments:

Post a Comment