I'm known as a rebel by many who know me well and after this post I may also be known as a cynic. Although I think that would miss the mark of reality a bit. I'm saying this because I want to address something that has bothered me for several years now and seems to be getting worse instead of better. It is the use of what I call Christian-ese.
Christian-ese, which cannot be found in Webster's dictionary, is a word of recent vintage that has come to define certain words or phrases used by Christians in everyday language that have become not much more than meaningless cliches. Christian-ese has developed over the past few years among some Christians and now seems to be something of a secret, coded language and is almost a badge worn by people who appear to find their comfort zone to be only with others like themselves. But I'm concerned that it may, in fact, unconciously feed a need to be known as spiritual as opposed to carnal. [Who can know the motives of another person with any certainty or what carnal means for that matter!]
My basic concern with all this is Three-fold.
One thing is that the Christian-ese lingo is generally thought of as conveying biblical truth when it doesn't really do that at all. "I feel in my heart God wants me to______" is not a biblical method for knowing and doing God's will. "Let this MIND be in you...who THOUGHT it not good to remain equal with God..." is the biblical pattern. [Phil. 2:5-6] The Bible always speaks of the thinking processes when discovering and doing the will of God. Paul said..."It seemed good to me."...when addressing something to be done except on rare occasions.
In Romans 14 when addressing making choices about questionable things his advice was NOT "Feel God impressing your heart"...but "Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind." [14:5b] He said in another place.. "For we have the mind of Christ.." [1 Corinth. 2:16] which is further indication that it is the mind that is as important as anything in Christianity, with all due respect to anyone who might think Christians are only ignorant and emotional and NOT intellectual.
A second concern is that such lingo too often becomes a source of measuring spirituality or spiritual growth. I've met new believers who sometimes wind up feeling inferior or less "spiritual" because they don't know all the "right" phrases yet. Or worse, they think someone is spiritual who does use the language.
The truth is it doesn't measure true spirituality at all and, in reality, may hide an immaturity behind that kind of language. To continually say, as I once did, "well, praise the Lord," at every opportunity, may sound as if we're spiritually minded in all things, when in fact may be as vain and empty as those who say "Well, fiddlesticks" [or worse] at every opportunity. I'm speaking from personal experience here as you can probably tell.
But a third concern is my greatest. It seems to me that it may forge an unnecessary stumbling block for unbelievers. I often wonder if non-believers hear some Christians talking and think, "Ugh, there go those Christians on their high-horse again using their silly, secret coded language." I know that I have that reaction sometimes and I'm in sympathy with the Christian message completely.
It seems to me when we Christians develop our own private language to be used with one another, we may have really forgotten how Jesus made Himself accessible to ordinary people. Using Christian-ese often does exactly the opposite which models the Pharisees rather than the Messiah.
Therein lies the real problem. Our message of the gospel is, in and of itself, offensive to the natural mind anyway. We don't need to create unnecessary obstacles which trite, empty, meaningless, cliches tend to do. I think we, as Christians, may need a new discovery of Koine-English [Common English] as an effective tool of communication much as the early Christians found Koine-Greek [Common Greek] to be an effective tool for conveying the gospel message.
Let me give just a few examples of some Christian-ese phrases along with what is probably meant if the truth were to be known.
1__"I feel in my heart God wants me to_______" Which being interpreted is... "I'm going to do it and I hope it's the right thing to do."
2__"I'm still waiting for God to open some doors." Which being interpreted is... "I don't have a clue about what I'm going to do and I'm hesitant to do anything."
3__"I can't do_______, so Christ in me will have to do it." Which being interpreted is... "I'm struggling with wanting to do this at all and sure don't want to do it right now."
4__"I need to share with you where the devil is attacking me." Which being interpreted is..."I want to tell you where I'm struggling and some of my failures and I feel badly about them."
I'm wondering why we can't simply say what we mean and mean what we say?
Of course the answer to all this isn't to "not speak at all" but rather to talk like normal people and act in such a fashion [Grace, acceptance, forgiveness, love, integrity] that our lives stir some to ask us about what makes the difference in us and then share the truth of our Lord.
I think that is what could be called...Christianity.