Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Christianese: Not as Bad as All That

Recently, KTVT ran a segment on Christianese. What they seemed to be saying was that Christianese is a bad thing because people outside of Christianity. Christianese is a type of jargon that Christians speak. Part of it comes from the Bible, while other parts of it come from the way Christians do things or from music they sing.

KTVT is the first to say something against its use. Those who have criticized it range from Atheists who are making fun of Christians to pastors who are speaking from the pulpit. There are even some videos on YouTube that make fun of it. It is easy enough to criticize it because non-Christians don’t understand it, but as I started putting together a list of Christianese terms, it occurred to me that it is pointless to try to eliminate it completely. I suppose that is always the case with jargon. Consider the statement, “My WIP is up to 80,000, but it’ll go up because it has a lot of telling.” If you’re a writer, you know exactly what I’m saying, but if you aren’t then you’re probably clueless. I could rewrite it as “The novel I’m currently working is up to 80,000 word, but I expect that number to go up because I have a lot of paragraphs that just make statements about the way things are instead of being a sequence of actions the characters are doing.” But by the time you expand jargon into its definitions, the meaning gets lost in the abundance of words.

The following is a list of a few Christianese terms:
On my heart - the feeling that something is of great importance
Witness - to tell others about what Jesus did
tithing - to give 10% of one’s income to God
Amen - from a term meaning “God’s will be done”, but usually spoken to indicate agreement with a someone, or to indicate the end of a prayer
Sin - anything that violates the law of God
Prayer - the means by which one speaks to God
Blessed - the Lord has brought good things into a person’s life

Does it really hurt to use these terms around someone who doesn’t know what they mean? If you were to say in a meeting of co-workers, “It’s on my heart that we should finish Project X before we go too far with Project Y,” they’ll understand what you mean. Or if a co-worker gets walked out the door for some impropriety and you say, “be sure your sin will find you out,” people may not know you’re quoting from the Bible, but they’ll understand what you mean. So while Christianese may cause a few people to scratch their heads, I doubt it will confuse people so much that they can’t figure it out after looking up one or two words.