Thursday, October 16, 2008

Decoding Christianese

Provocative Church has a great post up listing various phrases commonly used by Christians that obscure true feelings behind God-talk. It's pretty funny. Here are the first ten:

1. I'll pray about it = NO!
2. We need to pray for so and so = Guess what I just heard?!
3. I'm waiting for God to open some doors = I'm living in my parent's basement.
4. God gave me a word for you = I have advice to help you with your disaster of a life.
5. I'm going to have my quiet time = Leave me the heck alone!
6. God is good = My life sucks.
7. Bless his/her heart = What an idiot.
8. I have the gift of discernment = I can judge people without even talking to them.
9. I was having fellowship with them = We had beer and pizza and watched the game instead of going to church.
10. I'm saved by grace, not works = I can do whatever the heck I want.

As I said, it's funny. But it's also disturbing. I've far too often witnessed -- and been on the receiving end of -- weaponized prayer and pastoral care. By that I mean subtle insults and degradations disguised as Christian love. What's worse is when prayer is used to hurt other people -- that's just plain blasphemy, as well as spiritual abuse.

I believe in a God who is holy above all things, and worthy of our adoration more than anything else in this universe. And consequently, I refuse to use him as a prop. And it drives me nuts when others do.

HT: Smart Pastor

UPDATE: In the comments, truevyne points us to this excellent spoof on the Christianese phenomenon:

[Video Link]

I have no objection to cultures and groups developing their own jargon. What galls me is the dishonest manipulation of spiritual experience for personal gain.


Michael said...

I've often wondered if such excuses can be construed as using the Lord's name in vain; ie, for no useful or holy purpose. Blasphemy at the very least, I think, though.

Steve West said...

Having once been the victim of spiritual abuse in a prayer situation, I appreciate your brief commentary very much. I was once accosted while being prayed for by someone who disagreed with me, with phrases like "Lord, help him to stop listening to men and start listening to God," and "deliver him from the demon that has him by the jugular vein" and "release him from the stronghold of denominationalism" and such. When I told her afterward that I was not comfortable with this prayer, she said "I'm sorry it made you uncomfortable but I'm going to keep doing it anyway." Christianese can be misused without being this bad, of course. But it reminds me that prayer is a tender and vulnerable experience, a holy and sacred moment. Most people have no idea what this can be like for it to be so abused unless they have experienced it themselves.

truevyne said...

Seen this video on this very topic? So funny...

The Ironic Catholic said...

Definitely there are cases for praying in tongues.

(I'm only half-kidding.)

God hears silent prayers too, you know.

the reverend mommy said...

Well bless your heart, John.
I'll be praying for you.


(That's a smiley raspberry, btw.)