Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Working Definition of "Christianese"

It seems that I haven't posted anything in almost three weeks, so here is a comment I made on a blog post written by my pastor Cor on "Christianese" sayings in which I give my definition.
I was thinking and journaling about this a few days ago. I define “Christianese” as a) Words or phrases that are used and thrown around in Christian culture as if they had very precise, technical, literal meanings, but whose meanings are actually broad, ill-defined, and vary from person to person. This fuzziness is often comfortable because it’s easy to hide behind. e.g. “Walk with God”, “pursue”, “call”, “doing life together”, “struggles”, “broken”, and, of course, “religion”. It’s unfortunate because some of these words represent important Biblical concepts that I worry we’re losing focus on. 
Or b) Words or phrases that are used in Christian culture to mean something only tangentially related (or not related at all) to their literal meaning, often by way of an allusion to a Bible verse. e.g. “Unequally yoked”, “born again”, “stumbling block”, “sprinkled”, and (sorry [Pastor] Steve) “garden glimpse”. 
Or like Tim said, c) Subtle ways to establish your “right-ness” over other Christians that are stolen from upright Christian discourse, like “biblical” or “Bible-believing”. 
Any of these things can make “Christianese” virtually impenetrable to non-Christians (and even to Christians). Although Cor, I would distinguish between Christianese (which I would say tends to be contemporary and endemic to Christian culture) and theological jargon like “omniscient”, which has been around a lot longer and is better-defined and understood outside Christianity.
The other comments on Cor's post are also worth checking out for other good examples and fun at contemporary Christian culture's expense.

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