“Every group, be it a profession, subculture, religion, or social group, has its own collective lexicon of unique jargon, understood and appreciated only by its members.”
This quote by David Cho, defines Christianese perfectly to me. More importantly, it gives two reasons why we should work to eliminate that style of language when we share the gospel: People won’t understand us or appreciate what we’re trying to communicate.
For instance, if you used the phrases below while explaining Christ to someone who was unfamiliar with church life, couldn’t the picture above each phrase depict their understanding of what you were saying?
Maybe they would come up with a different picture but it’s all too likely that their understanding would not correspond with the biblical meaning of those phrases.
What the Bible Says
Jesus died in our place for every act of disobedience we committed toward God. He was like the unblemished lamb of Old Testament Israel, only he died once for all men. That truth is precious to Christians of all ages but not necessarily understood by our non-Christian friends.
When we trusted that God would accept his Son’s death as payment for our sin, we became God’s adopted children, and he began to supernaturally change our behaviors and attitudes. He started to replace the human nature that once regularly chose actions and thoughts contrary to his will (old man), with a new man; one with the desire and ability to do things God’s way.
When we explain this to people unfamiliar with the concept, we can select different words to explain ‘old man, new man’ or show them the comparison in the book of Romans or in one of John’s letters.
As we become more and more like our Savior, our character will begin to match his. As people see these changes that are not of our own doing, they are viewing the fruit of the Spirit. Real fruit is usually tasty and as our unbelieving friends and family experience how true Christianity can ‘taste,’ we may be given a wonderful opportunity to share how God enables us to live a changed and improving life.
Resources to Help Clarify Your Communication
First Hand Assistance: If you think your Christian communication style can use some unwinding, click on Tanglefoot and send us an email explaining the problem. We’ll try and come up with some suggestions to help.
Articles of Interest
Glossaries of Christian Slang
The Christianese Crusher