Christianese

Kyle Reed // @kylereed

The language we speak sets us apart, it places us in a group of individuals who all communicate based on the way we talk. You can take this globally and look at the languages spoken in countries and you can take this to individual homes and the language and verbiage spoken by families. Each community or group has a way of communicating that is only understood by that community. Most men have a way of communicating about sports, most women have a way of communicating about chic flicks. We all are separated into groups that speak our language. One of the biggest groups that speak a “language” is Christianity.

I wish we all spoke the same language. I have never been more frustrated then I was in Mexico, trying to communicate with a Mom and three children as we built a house for them left me frustrated and disappointed in myself for wasting three years of Spanish in high school. So much human contact is lost when you are unable to conversate and speak with one another. I have been thinking about this a lot lately (and you might notice from my blog post yesterday about Selling Christianity). How much of the message is lost in communication from Christians?

What troubles me the most is my blog. I talk so much Christianese here that I feel the most convicted about having a message lost in translation. I find this even more interesting that even Christians do not exactly understand all the Christianese. Saying words like Missional and Emergent bring about so many different definitions that problems arise amongst the Christian culture and communities are divided. I can talk Christian BS with the best of them, what Christian blogs are saying, what Christian artist are producing, even what Christian authors are writing about, what troubles me is I am only having these conversations and nothing else. I wonder if my language is losing influence?

Christianese is a way of dressing up Jesus to look appealing. The draw to have a system in the way we talk and operate is very appealing to us, that is what we have been taught from a very young age. A systematic way to learn Biblical truths have proved valuable to studying the Bible. Unfortunately we have become so systematic in our conversation and language that we sound more like robots then people who are marked by radical grace. I cannot help but think about the tower of Babel. The main goal was to become God, it celebrated mans achievement and ability to be on the same level of God. Seeing this, God put a little change of plans into effect and divided everyone by language. He did not wipe them out or send a dragon to kill them all, instead he took away the very tool that lead them to start this project, their conversation piece. Sometimes I think we get so concerned with becoming God that we start to lose our communication. We start to speak a language that no one understands or worse wants to understand.

Here is the question that I want to talk with you about today:
How can we stop speaking christianese and start conversating about life?

I am concerned that this blog and many others are all talk and no action. That the only people that read this blog are people that speak my language. This blog focuses on conversating about life as a 20 something searching to find meaning and call in life, but I feel it can turn into a language playground for a group of people who can decipher the code and know who Carlos Whittaker is.

What would a blog look like that discussed life, culture, faith, music, books, technology, and everything else that spoke no languagese, but just spoke and conversated?

*kyle

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Kyle Reed

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I create websites, conversations, and ideas. Advocate for the 20 somethings. Looking to connect everyone to a mentor. Married to my best friend, Ginny. I like my coffee black and my dog Jack. I currently live in Nashville and work at Sony Music/Provident in Nashville
  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Matt_TCoNP Matt_TCoNP

    What's funny about Christianese is that there's so many dialects that we expect another Christian to understand, when they may have no point of reference.

    I especially loved the really wordy guys in seminary. They were always working the big words (which is a dialect of Christianese) into their questions in class. Sometimes, they'd even work in a word that we had just been taught the day before. Yeah, I was really impressed that he used one of our vocabulary words.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/klreed189 Kyle Reed

      What would be even more impressive is if they spoke in Hebrew or Greek while they were asking questions.
      You know, through in a parsed verb to describe forgiveness.
      But I know what you are talking about.

      It is funny to talk with people at church…even in those conversations they have their own language that I often have to interpret and then decipher. Just does not seem right.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/austinklee austinklee

    I grew up in a traditional church environment singing Hymns and the occasional praise chorus. My wife, however, grew up going to North Point Community Church. She and I have this language barrier sometimes when we go to my home church. She doesn't know any of the hymns we sing.

    Its pretty interesting how even Christian people don't speak the same language.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/klreed189 Kyle Reed

      Exactly, I find it even more interesting when you have a church within 200 feet of each other.
      There is one stretch of the road here in St. Louis that has 6 churches all on the one road.

  • http://michellesidles.com Michelle

    As a Christian… I am TOTALLY turned off by Christianese or "pat" Christian answers. I don't know why people do it. I don't know what they hope to accomplish. But the people I'm drawn to speak normally. They are matter of fact about their faith and how it influences their life. I am a Christian. If you read my blog for any length of time you'll see that. But my blog is about my experiences, my struggles and my life. All of that is often filtered through my beliefs. I guess it's a lucky blessing that I'm not "smart" enough to write eloquent Christianese or theological discussions. I am pretty sure the people who read my blog would have no interest in that anyway.

    Great post. :)

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/klreed189 Kyle Reed

      That is the kind of blog that I want to have. More of a conversation then a theological show and tell type feel.
      Thanks for stopping in.
      Will be checking your blog out shortly. Sounds like a cool place to be.

  • http://theestherproject.com Lex

    It might look like Anne Jackson – but there I go Christian-name-dropping again. :)

    I feel you, man. I've been feeling really fed-up myself lately too. I like talking theology in appropriate settings, but I'm trying to find more ways to love practically.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/klreed189 Kyle Reed

    Its tough isn't it, even trying to compare the blog to what it could look like or sound like we use Christianese.

  • http://morethanuseless.com Tom

    "Christianese is a way of dressing up Jesus to look appealing." This is just me, but when you read the accounts of Jesus' life purely as they are, He is appealing.

    On some level, there are some of us that are trying to undo what others have done.