I speak two languages. Butchered, shortcut-laden English and fluent Hillbilly. I pray to God that I never become guilty of adding Christianese as my third. Hate it. Hate everything about it. It's an empty language, promoting fluid (to the speaker) symbolism instead of substance. It's ammunition in the gun of the legalist mouth.
I've spoken some Christianese in my time. I'm not proud of it. I haven't spoken anything along the lines of the nonsense I've encountered in the last 4 years with this patriarchal crowd, but I'm still not proud of any Christianese I've spoken - whatever it was and to whomever it was spoken. I'm not a fan of empty words.
For those wondering what exactly I mean by the term "Christianese", this is MY definition...
Christianese: language crafted to create the appearance of, the illusion of, or provide the evidence of piety
My less formal definition of Christianese: BS.
All of us have our favorite (SA) Christianese terms which make us roll our eyes or shrivel away from dialog. In the last 4 years I've come to loathe the term "godly", and the last couple of years have also brought me to recoil at the term "biblical worldview". I'll explain why...
The term "godly" is probably the most used, and abused, word in the Christianese language. ALL of us in the Christian faith have used it, and misused it, in our day. It's been rendered, in substance, meaningless.
When the patriarchal jackholes in her life would come down heavy on her, my ex, long after having accepted my ring on her finger, would hit me with things like, "I need you to prove to me that you're a godly man." I'd respond with "Say what you actually mean", to which she'd again give me the spiel about proving my "godliness" to her. She was confusing "godliness" with conformity - expecting me, in her moments of extreme weakness, to conform to the bassackward ways and wishes of her crazy family. She couldn't outright say it, though, because she'd once sent me a list of qualities she desired in a husband which she'd drawn up a couple of years before I ever came along. Featured prominently on her list was "non-conformist". Ouch. So, splash a little Christianese on the cognitive dissonance, and viola. When I'd ask her how exactly I was supposed to prove that I was "godly", she couldn't answer.
How does one become "godly"? Praying 8 hours a day? Memorizing the KJV cover to cover? Walking on water? Belching "Amazing Grace" in three-part harmony? Tithing 11% (you Spinal Tap fans will appreciate that one)? How? What is the threshold? If man is created a little below the angels, and I'm not quite "godly" yet, can I achieve "angely"? Is that possible? Can I still be accepted in the Christian community if I'm just "angely"? I mean, that's better than I was, right?
In my ex's world, the Patriarchal/Authoritarian Dictionary definition fits perfectly...
godly: adhering to a list of self-punishing, arbitrary, and superficial rules designed to cosmetically defeat the sin-nature and produce a SuperChristian
godliness: a SuperChristian - the result of adhering to a list of self-punishing, arbitrary, and superficial rules designed to cosmetically defeat the sin-nature
In other words, substantively, it means nothing. It means to cease to be a thinking, discerning creation of God, and instead to become a creation of whatever fundamentalist group you've had the misfortune of joining. Yes, you've become a new creature compared to who you were, but you're really just a knock-off of whatever fundamentalist fruitcake "walked you down the Roman Road", recreated in that person's image, not in the image of Christ.
In sports, there's a language called "Coachspeak". It covers everything from insider language and cliche to the stuff coaches say out of both sides of their mouths to the media to avoid telling the truth about something. Most of the more forthright coaches avoid it (guys like Bobby Knight, Bill Parcells, Jimmy Johnson, et cetera). The whole thing with "godly" brings to mind a postgame press conference Bobby Knight had in the NCAA tournament in 1992. A reporter asked him if he felt like his players had their "gameface" on. Knight's response...
"In my entire adult life, I've never used the expression 'gameface'. I have no @#$!ing idea what that means or what you're supposed to do."
...before proceeding to make a series of goofy looking faces to further illustrate how stupid the idea of a "gameface" was. While Knight could be, and often was, a jerk of the highest order, both as a coach and as a man, he hit that nail squarely on the head.
And such is "godly". There's any number of unappealing adjectives I'd prefer you apply to me - stinky, hairy, ugly, smelly, skinny, fatty, dummy among them - than to hear you refer to me as "godly". It no longer has any positive value to me.
Some of you will likely disagree with me on "biblical worldview". The reason I don't like it is simple. To the vaaaaast majority of those who use it, what they really mean is the conservative, likely Republican, fundamentalist, protestant, trinitarian, white, religious worldview. Personally, I don't exclude anyone who doesn't exclude Christ as Lord from the Christian faith. For most who claim a "biblical worldview", or who claim to actually know what THE "biblical worldview" is, they're excluding a HUGE section of professing Christians. The fact is there are lots of followers of Christ who aren't conservative, aren't fundamentalist, are of some political affiliation other than the GOP, aren't protestant, aren't trinitarian, and are ethnic minorities. Where does this "biblical worldview" leave them? Where does this "biblical worldview" leave Preterists, or Universalists, or Apostolics? What about Catholics who use a different bible? Unless I'm mistaken, all of those groups acknowledge and accept the lordship of Jesus Christ. What about those of us who aren't confident in the human canonization we currently call the protestant "Holy Bible"?
Look at a guy like Rob Bell, who, to my knowledge, has yet to diminish the role of Christ in the salvation of humanity, yet most who don't share his "biblical worldview" have beat the hell right out of him (pun intended).
Things like biblical worldviews can give the bible a bad name.
Yes, the bible does play a significant role in shaping my view of life - past, present, and future. It doesn't, however, play a larger role than the Holy Spirit - which I rely on to shape my view of the bible. Other things also shape my "worldview". My personal walk with Christ and the experiences therein, human relationships, common sense, history - and my personal interpretations of all those things as lead by the Holy Spirit. Lots of things. To call my worldview "biblical" is just a little too Christianesy and dogmatic for me.
If you use either of those two words regularly, it might be a good idea to read this. There's a very fine line that's sooooo easy to cross, and after having crossed it, the bible itself becomes either a rigid rulebook or the true "deity" we worship. Crossing that line produces things like patriarchy, and quiverfull, and all kinds of other little cultic nasties.
And sometimes we, as Christians, take ourselves, our "godliness", and our "biblical worldviews" waaaaaay too seriously.
If any of you have seen the movie "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby", you know there's a couple of scenes that would be so offensive to an uptight legalist that it'd make him or her choke on their own spit. There's a scene of Ricky Bobby's family at the supper table, Ricky Bobby is getting ready to ask the blessing, and an argument breaks out over "which Jesus" he's gonna pray to. He starts out with "Sweet baby Jesus". His wife doesn't like it, interrupts his prayer, and tells him "You know, Honey, Jesus did grow up." The argument then ensues, and ultimately, Ricky Bobby spitefully begins his prayer with, "Dear 8 pound, 6 ounce baby Jesus, all wrapped up in your swaddling clothes, probably don't even know a word yet..." High comedy. My favorite line was one of the outtakes - Ricky Bobby's best friend Cal Naughton, Jr., sitting right next to him at the table, chimes in with his version of Jesus..."I like to picture my Jesus as, like, a dirty ole bum or somethin' that comes walkin' up to me, and just as I'm about to punch him right in the mouth, I say, 'Wait a minute, there's somethin' special about this guy.'"
Somehow I don't think Jesus is or was threatened by any of that. Gothard or Phillips might be so offended by it they'd light themselves on fire in protest, but if it were a real life scenario, that's probably the supper table Jesus would sit at. He didn't speak much in the way of Christianese and probably had a good sense of humor.
The thing about it is, there's more people out there like those characters in that movie than not, and you aren't gonna persuade them to Christ with Christianese. Trust me - I've done mission work with Motor Racing Outreach at NASCAR events, even as a guest speaker. (There's nothing quite like a drunk, middle-aged woman running up to side of the stage just a few feet to your right, grabbing the bottom of her T-shirt and going all "Girls Gone Wild" on you while you're trying to play "Will the Circle Be Unbroken")
God help me if I can't talk about Jesus, my faith, or the bible in everyday, everyman terms. Yes, even then, some people won't "get it", but I have NO control over that. If I spoke Christianese, no one would WANT to "get it", so I'd rather speak English and LIVE Christ. That I DO have control over.