Summary: Stop speaking in ways that no one understands. The Lord wants us to be as effective as possible by being relevant to those we are trying to reach. This is Reality Spirituality.
Introduction: Video - Real Christians of Genius Mr. Christianese speaking Guy – “from Sermon Spice”
When I was taking my first theology class, I was blown away by the abuse use of language I was reading. I was ducking away in fright like you might do in a scary movie. It was nasty! It was just down right foul! I would have nightmares about it.
In one chapter of my theology book, a chapter called sotierology, if that gives you any indication on what I am about to say, there were words like justification, regeneration, adoption, conversion, Lapsarianism, Arminianism, Calvinism, depravity, ecclesiastical separation, sanctification, in addition, there is positional sanctification, progressive sanctification, prospective sanctification, and so on and so on. All of this in one chapter.
I remember just sitting there and wondering, “What did I just read?” Have you ever experienced anything like that? Where you are reading something that you don’t understand so you have to go to the dictionary? Then you have to go to the dictionary again to look up the words you just read as part of the definition. Now of course I am just kidding about the nightmares part, but you can probably relate to being “in over your head” so to speak.
Or maybe you have been a patient at the doctor’s office, or seen a doctor talking to a patient on TV. It’s almost cliché that they are going to talk in a language above the patients head. Or maybe you are at a social gathering and you get introduced to Mr. Rocket science engineer and the conversation just goes straight over your head. You know the times right? Those times you just nod like you know what is being said. Or you say can you say that in layman’s terms?
We call that kind of talk “jargon” or maybe we call it lingo. It is a language that is
Only familiar to that other person and that other person’s world.
When it is spoken from the Christian standpoint we affectionately call it, “Christanese.” That is what the video was all about.
When we hear these things we are just like speak to me in English. Speak to me in a way that is relevant to me. Your language may be real to you, in your world. But if you are going to share with me at least know that I am not familiar with your language. It is not real to me. It is not relevant to me.
I think this many times is the thoughts of many people inside and “outside” when they view the church or people of faith. They say, “Can you put what your saying in laymen’s terms? Can you say that in English?
This is also seen when we speak in what I call “general speak.” General speak is when we stay spiritually general and vague.
That is what I want to talk about today in a message I call “reality spirituality.”
Reality is defined as “the fact, state or quality of being real or genuine.” So essentially what we are talking about is real spirituality or being relevant. However so often the language we use and the way we speak isn’t always so realistic. Not as it applies to real life anyway.
In fact, I would say that it almost starts to gain a distance from reality. Often times turning us off from the intended message or purpose.
I constantly have to work on the language I use when coming sharing something spiritual with others.
I am not saying that speaking in Christianese or being spiritually lofty is bad. Not at all! However I want what we say and do to be as effective as possible especially when it comes to sharing the good news of our lord. Do we know what we are saying.
So why do people do this? Why do people talk in “Christianese?” Well there are several reasons.
1. To show knowledge or intellect level. We want to impress others with what we know. We want to build ourselves up. I think it has a lot more to do with status or the way people see us. We have a desire to be considered important.
I will share this about myself. People who use big spiritual words don’t impress me. The average Joe striving to walk the journey of faith with the lord impresses me. You would be surprised how often this happens in the pastoral world where there is like a hidden completion to see who knows more about God. What impresses me is the one who shows they understand the big theological concepts by the life they live. That speaks to me more than words.
Prov 17:27 - a man of knowledge uses words with restraint…
1 Cor 8:2 - the man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know.