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How to Speak Christianese

February 25, 2011

One of my biggest pet peeves in the church is “Christianese”, words and phrases we use in the church that are only used in the context of church and which no one outside of church can understand. Granted every religion, culture, and community will have its own vocabulary which will be foreign to outsiders. I whole heartedly embrace the language of the faith. The problem, however, in my experience is two-fold. First, most people inside the church really have no clue what they saying when they speak Christianese. Don’t believe? Ask a Christian friend what “trinity” or “atonement” mean and count how many times they say “uh”. Second, despite our ignorance of our own vocabulary we for some inexplicable reason expect those outside the church to understand what we are saying when we speak to them in Christianese about the gospel. We then get frustrated and look down on them because they have no idea what we are talking about.

Fortunately there is solution!

From the people at BADD it’s “How to speak Christianese”!

This video is a couple of years old, but hilarious nonetheless.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Ron Krumpos permalink
    February 25, 2011 4:45 pm

    There are “trinities,” of sorts, in various faiths. My ebook on comparative mysticism, “the greatest achievement in life,” summarizes five of them.

    Mahayana and Vajrayana vehicles of Buddhism speak of Trikaya, or three bodies: Nirmanakaya is the Buddha in human form, Sambhogakaya is celestial Buddha and Dharmakaya is the formless essence, or Buddha-nature. The Theravada primarily addresses the historic Buddha. The “Three Jewels” are the Buddha, the dharma (his teachings) and the sangha (the community of monks and nuns).

    Christianity has its Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit referring to God, Jesus Christ and their spiritual bond of unity (unlike the Nicene Creed). Interpretation of the essential nature of each, and their relationship, differed among the churches. In Christian mysticism, the three ways of the spiritual life are the purgative in being purified from sin, the illuminative in true understanding of created things, and the unitive in which the soul unites with God by love.

    Hinduism’s trimurti are the threefold activities of Brahman: in Brahma as creator, in Vishnu as sustainer and in Shiva as destroyer. Saccidananda are the triune attributes or essence of Brahman: sat, being, cit, consciousness and ananda, bliss. The three major schools of yoga are bhakti, devotion, and jnana, knowledge and karma, the way of selfless action. Raja yoga can apply to, and integrate, all three in mental and spiritual concentration.

    In Islam, nafs is the ego-soul, qalb is heart and ruh is spirit. Heart is the inner self [soul], hardened when it is turned toward ego and softened when it is polished by dhikr, remembrance of the spirit of Allah. This is a three-part foundation for Sufi psychology. Initiation guides them from shari`a, religious law, along tariqa, the spiritual path, to haqiqa, interior reality. It is a gradual unveiling of the Real.

    In the Kabbalah of Judaism, sefirot – sparks from the divine – have three fulcrums to balance the horizontal levels of the Tree of Life: Da`at (a pseudo-sefirot) is knowledge combining understanding and wisdom; Tiferet is beauty, the midpoint of judgment and loving kindness; Yesod is the foundation for empathy and endurance. They also vertically connect, through the supreme crown, the infinite and transcendent Ein Sof with its kingdom in the immanent Shekhinah.

  2. Supercross permalink
    February 25, 2011 8:11 pm

    Does Ron really expect me to read all of that?

  3. Ron Krumpos permalink
    February 25, 2011 8:31 pm


    Heaven forbid you should read six paragraphs. Have you ever read a book? Mine is only 88 pages, plus lists of mystics and three bibliographies, and it is free.

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