The Christianary

(It’s guest post Friday! This one is from Kathleen Leslie! If you’d like to write a guest post, submit one here.)

Christians should have their own dictionaries—not as in a “you can’t look at my cool dictionary with Three Crosses On A Hill or White Jesus With A Lamb emblazoned on the cover of it because you aren’t Christian,” exclusionary kind of dictionary. It would be a dictionary that anyone could have. But only Christians would understand it. It would really be used as a tool for new Christians. Right after we have them stand up to a congregation of 1,000 and point to them as “VISITORS,” clapping wildly and eying them up for signs of recent sin, we can have an usher hand them a handy copy of the Christianary.

What words should be in it?

It should have standards in it, like fruit, defined as the result of Holy Spirit that church friends recognize in you, e.g., “The fruit of Alice’s hard work decorating the church with poinsettias this Christmas is her rosy glow and ability to prune the extraneous food stuck on children’s faces during fellowship time.” It would still contain the other definition (“the sweet and fleshy product of a tree or other plant that contains seed and can be eaten as food”). Naturally, that definition would be secondary.

Other words must have pride of place too, like:

Margin: What Andy Stanley wants us to have and what we claim to need while in church meetings (If I had more margin like Pastor does, I would have been able to alert him that hosting the usher’s appreciation dinner after 5 pm at a place other than Cracker Barrel is a no-go.)

Tithe: Ten percent, when speaking about others, and the amount of money I can part with this week when speaking about ourselves (I got my tithe out of the cup holder in the car this week)

Awesome: What God is when we see the fruit of his Spirit. (It was awesome the way God totally saw that I was in a hurry and convicted that old lady to swerve off the side of the road so I could hightail it to my XTreme Uprising YouthX group).

Epic: What every youth group event is now, if your church hosts it.

Important phrases and Christian slang should also be included, like:

Hands and feet of Christ: Your hands and feet, and mind and money, not mine; mine are on spiritual retreat (see also: sabbatical).

Pearls Before Swine: Important stuff that heathens can’t have or won’t get. (I’m not giving out my fish wristband bracelets to the skaters in the IHOP parking lot so they can use them for rubber band weapons; no point puttin’ pearls before swine.”)

What other awesome, epic words could be included?

(For more great writing from Kathleen, check out her blog and follow her on twitter at @KathLeslie10)

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  1. says

    Should there also be Christian science books, since Christians seem to define terms like “evolution” and “entropy” and “scientific theory” differently too? 😉

    • says

      There are. And all of them I have seen believe in evolution. It’s just from an amoeba eleventy zillion years ago with a progression through monkeys.

      There is no denying, unless you are just weird, that evolution is real. Even the Bible shows micro-evolution within a 5000 year period.

      The average human worldwide is taller than even 300 years ago.

      Certain tribes in Africa (like the one in Kenya that has produced something like 95% of all world records in long-distance running) have proved that genetic evolution is common. They adapted not only to their environment, but through initiation rituals managed to evolve character traits such as pain tolerance.

      Even brain shapes change over time based on technology and inventions.

      No Christian science book debates that.

      We disagree on other things and I acknowledge that so don’t feel the need to start a debate please :) (Translation: You’re probably going to start a debate)

      • Garrett says

        Wait, did you mean to say “It’s NOT just from an amoeba eleventy zillion years ago…”?

        But, yes, you’re exactly right: micro-evolution is empirically observable and obvious.

        From-goo-to-you-by-way-of-the-zoo is not. :)

        • says

          People who pretend that “micro-evolution” is somehow a different process than “macro-evolution” are a fine example of Christian re-definitions of terms.

        • says

          Just so you understand what I mean, I am pointing out that whenever someone says that MICRO-evolution has been observed, rather than simply saying that evolution has been observed, I can bet good money that he’s a follower of an Abrahamic religion. There are certain verbal cues in the way people talk about science which I have found to be reliable predictors of religious faith.

          • Garrett says

            And yet, I’ve found that evolutionists have much religious faith in their theory as well. 😉 In fact, the belief that the entire universe arose from haphazard chance and processes requires more faith than the belief that the universe was created by an intelligent, supernatural being.

          • says

            Garrett, you’re doing a fine job of proving me right.

            In your mind, scientific theory is akin to religious faith. The irony of you demonstrating this, while simultaneously objecting to me saying that Christian fundamentalists have their own custom definitions of science-related terms, is hilarious.

          • Garrett says

            Michael, “faith” is believing in something that cannot be seen. Both you and I have faith in differing scientific theories about the universe’s origins (since the past is not repeatable, nor is it directly observable).

            The question, of course, is: Which faith is more logical?

            You dismissing my logic as “hilarious” and claiming my statements “prove you right” suggests that you are not willing to have a frank discussion about this issue. Oh well.

          • says

            No Garrett, that is NOT the definition of faith. Faith is believing in something for which no empirical evidence exists.

            According to YOUR definition, electromagnetism is a faith-based concept because you can’t see it, even though I can devise countless experiments to demonstrate it.

            Once more, you are merely proving me right: you are saying things that are a red-flag for being a Christian fundamentalist. Even if I had no idea what you believed, I could look at your statements about science and say “Yup, guaranteed fundie”.

          • says

            In the parallel bubble world of Christian isolationism, what you are saying is considered common knowledge, and everyone agrees that it makes perfect sense. That’s why it’s so incredibly easy to identify member of this community simply by the way they talk about science. They are always so quick to inadvertently reveal their contempt for (and misunderstanding of) the scientific method.

          • Garrett says

            Michael, by “seen” I was not strictly referring to sight. Faith is believing in something that cannot be immediately proven or observed. So, no, I do not believe in electromagnetism by faith.

            However, I do believe (by faith) that God created the universe (Hebrews 11:3). The notion that the complex design of the universe (and, especially, life itself) came about by chance processes is–for lack of a better word–ludicrous.

            You believe (by faith) that the entire universe can be explained by evolution. You observe small changes today and assume that those changes extrapolated over billions of years created our universe (and, somehow, life). I disagree.

            We both hold beliefs, Michael. We both have faith. And it appears that we both hold our beliefs firmly, so I’m not sure how productive these discussion are. But thank you for your time.

          • says

            You have to believe in one of two things…that something came from absolutely nothing (never can be replicated as it would be done in something even a vaccuum in a lab is more than nothing, try to wrap your head around nothing, hard to do) or that something has existed forever (doesn’t necessarily have to be God). That’s it…so yes, there is some faith in deciding between those two options in how it all came to be.

          • says

            Once again Garrett, you make statements which are a red flag for being a Christian fundamentalist. Your bizarre notion that the laws of physics and chemistry are “random” is one that has absolutely no resemblance to any kind of science, yet that is precisely what you THINK science says, because you have clearly been taught the Christian fundamentalist distorted VERSION of science.

            Yet again, you prove me right, and demonstrate that you’ve been raised in a parallel bubble world, with its own definitions of things.

          • says

            Perry Hunter, we observe something from nothing all the time. It’s called the “quantum foam” and is part of Stephen Hawking’s black hole radiation theory.

            Particles and anti-particles wink in and out of existence all the time. They do not violate Conservation of Mass because they are positive and negative pairs, so mathematically, they add up to zero.

            One of the FIRST things you need to understand about science is that it does not need to conform to what feels right to you. It feels so very wrong to you to think that something can come from nothing, and yet we know that this does in fact happen. Not only does it happen, but it happens everywhere, all the time. Please look up “quantum foam” or “Hawking radiation” sometime if you’re genuinely interested in learning, as opposed to merely being interested in scoring points against science.

          • says

            I am not trying to score points…we are observing things today in something that exists. Nothing is NOTHING.

            I looked up quantum foam and read all about the theory and how it’s supposed to work and what Hawking believes….

            Michael, you do not want to talk to people here with differing ideas, you want to lecture us.

          • says

            MW said: “Particles and anti-particles wink in and out of existence all the time. They do not violate Conservation of Mass because they are positive and negative pairs, so mathematically, they add up to zero.”

            My response: So…you *do* believe something comes from nothing, as opposed to Christians who believe that only God can create something from nothing.

            I don’t see how believing that God is behind the curtain of the disappearing particles invalidates the science of the matter..

          • spacegal says

            I’m a Christian who thinks the earth is 4.5 billion years old and that evolution is the best theory going for how species came to be, and I understand exactly what you are saying. I’ve been trying to get across the idea that man didn’t evolve from apes, but that we had a common ancestor some millions (I think – I’m not positive on the timing) of years ago, but it’s been slow going. I agree, I think that there is a general lack of understanding of the scientific method and what exactly science says about things in some biblically conservative communities.

          • says

            Lady Tam wrote: “I don’t see how believing that God is behind the curtain of the disappearing particles invalidates the science of the matter”

            It is an extra term which is unnecessary in the theory. As for the particles and anti-particles, they are just a side-effect of quantum mechanics. It’s not a matter of having faith; scientific theories must be justified by some sort of empirical observation which they can successfully model, and which cannot be modelled without them.

            In any case, the point here is that there are certain things people say which are red flags for being a religious fundamentalist. They don’t REALIZE what red flags they are, but they are giant screaming red flags, like saying that “micro-evolution has been observed, but not macro-evolution”. Scientists don’t say this. Even laypeople don’t say this, unless they’ve been taught to say it by fundamentalists.

          • says

            SpaceGal, it’s nice to see someone who is not hostile to science. As you say, it’s the “community”. Take a somewhat closed loop of people, and have them all agree on something, and it will seem eminently reasonable to all of them. It’s so difficult to get through to them; they immediately fall back on “you have your faith and I have mine”, which has nothing to do with the fact that they’re totally misrepresenting what the science is actually saying.

          • Garrett says

            Michael, that’s great that you brought up the laws of physics and chemistry! Turns out, they are not random, but are instead strong evidence (just like our universe’s overall orderliness) of our intelligent creator: evidence against a random explosion and chance appearance of the universe. Nothing never creates order and beauty and design. Only God does.

            Michael, I hope you one day escape your ardent evolutionism/atheism and see beyond the–to use your term–“parallel bubble world” of dogmatic naturalism. Please don’t base your entire perception of Christianity on these little SCL debates or anything I’ve said, but instead look beyond and consider our universe that testifies of its creator.

          • skyblue says

            (Oooh, a science discussion!)

            I don’t think “belief” and “faith” are really all that appropriate when it comes to science. All that matters is, do I understand what the theory actually says, and do I understand the facts regarding it (for evolution, this requires some knowledge of biology, etc). I understand the theory. I don’t have faith in it.

            And the crux of the matter, what do we say to the questions: is it possible we could be wrong? Would we want to know if we were? How would we know? Science isn’t about what we’d like to be true, or how badly we want it, it’s about learning what actually is.

            When people raised in creationist environments find their way out, they do have some stories to tell. I read about this and one in particular stood out. A little girl looked up “evolution” in an encyclopedia. She expected the easily-refuted caricature of the theory that she was familiar with, but instead found a clear explanation of the actual theory…and it began to make sense. Terrified, she slammed the book shut (that’s the part that stuck with me). Fear of knowledge instilled in children is indeed powerful, but curiosity can overcome it. Our world is such an amazing place, and I am constantly fascinated by the things I learn about it. What must it have been like for people learning about evolution for the first time in the 1800s? Wow.

          • Garrett says

            Good to hear from you again, Skyblue! If I remember correctly, we’ve discussed these topics in length in the past. :)

            In regards to your comments, I would point out that the simple definition of science is “knowledge.” When discussing the past, we are in fact limited to faith, since the past is not observable or repeatable or immediately knowable, if that makes sense. So, even though we have theories that attempt to explain the past, we must realize that we don’t know for sure exactly what happened. Most evolutionists believe (i.e. have faith) that evolution created life, whereas creationists believe that God created life.

            And, by the way, I’m always open to learning more about evolution: I’ve read Darwin’s On the Origin of the Species and Dawkins’ The God Delusion–and with great interest! However, I have found that the truth contained in those books pales in comparison to the Truth contained in the Bible.

            I have no “fear of knowledge” or lack of curiosity (as you seem to suggest). But when I have a choice between learning the fallible postulations of man or the infallible revelations of God, I tend to place greater respect on the latter.

          • skyblue says

            If you’ve read “The God Delusion”, you and I have different taste in Dawkins’ books :) I love his writing on evolution, but I reckon I already know what he thinks about religion, so a book of that doesn’t seem as interesting. “The Ancestor’s Tale”, on the other hand, I could not put down.

            I agree that people are fallible, and that’s why I like the error-checking and corrections of scientific research. I think people are fallible when they talk about religion and revelations too. That’s why I put in my earlier post about asking ourselves “is it possible we could be wrong? and how would we know?”

            As for the definitions of words, that is an interesting topic, and one that we keep coming back to. You define and use some words in ways that I have never encountered before, and it’s likely you might say the same about me. Some words have very specific definitions in different fields (think of the technical jargon different professions use, and how it can cause confusion). We end up talking past each other and it’s frustrating. Anyway, I wish you the best.

          • Paul Mayhan says

            I wish Christians would read something about science that is not put out by a flaming right winged anti-evolution publisher. Many that I’ve talked to about it have no idea what mainstream science actually believes about the origins of the universe, evolution, abiogenesis (not the same thing as evolution), or the nature of scientific knowledge. Sadly, the very errors that the creation science crowd accuses the modern scientific community of committed are the ones they actively teach to uneducated (in science and logic anyway) Christians in order to advance their position.

      • lee says

        To be fair to Michael, I have seen several Christian textbooks that argue against evolution, or at best seriously doubt its validity. Yeah, I couldn’t believe it either, but they actually exist, and unfortunately they are being used as actual textbooks.

        I’m not doubting that you’ve never personally seen them, but to use your words, there are a lot of weird people out there.

        • says

          The kind of evolution that most Christians disagree with is the kind where mankind came from primordial ooze, then were ape-like monkey-men, and then became how we are today.

          It has nothing to do with insects adapting to their environment or some folks having larger ears or whatever. Just the whole Ape-Man thing. That’s what most of us just can’t get on board with.

      • says

        Hey Matt, I used to like you… 😛

        But seriously, I have grown up around a biomedical chemist (with a PhD and a secular university medicinal chemistry position) who is also creationist, I have been blessed with being exposed to the science behind these examples you raise..

        However, it’s pointless getting into a debate here. What I will say is that I love God, science and the Bible and they are NOT mutually exclusive.

        :) Melissa

      • Moriah says

        Disclaimer: I do realize I’m posting on a comment a year old.

        Besides having different names, there is one difference between micro and macro evolution. Their definitions.

        Micro evolution: within a species, DNA variations or mutations cause differences

        Macro evolution: one species turns into another species

        Some evolutionists believe micro evolution, over and over again, turns into macro evolution. But they still differentiate between micro evolution and macro evolution.

        Micro evolution in itself does not bring in new genetic information. The variation that comes is from 1) genes being turned on or off with proteins, 2) mutations that are degenerative – (information loss), 3) nature’s breeding (also termed natural selection – but this term has been overused), 4) intentional breeding by humans.

        Macro evolution is theoretical by necessity, because scientists cannot test it. It is the theory that micro evolution will accrue [change to change to change] until macro evolution has happened.

        The problem with macro evolution is that micro evolution has never actually been seen to go beyond (higher than) present DNA information. DNA has been lost (degenerative mutations). DNA is turned on and off – although, the DNA itself remains. And breeding has never led to a species or animal that can continually reproduce. No new, good, DNA has been gained. Existent DNA has been turned on by proteins, but new DNA has not arrived.

        Scientists can make a case for macro evolution, but they have a large problem in the very nature of it. How can nature turn micro evolution into macro evolution? It would not be as easy as the similar terms indicate.

  2. says

    “I prefer the ____ version”

    Seriously, the Bible is the only book with like 800 million English translations. “But we need different perspectives.”

    That would be like updating Pride and Prejudice to use modern words and adding vampires…Oh wait…that’s been done? I hate America.

  3. Garrett says

    Maybe Christian books (or even Bibles?) should have glossaries explaining the Christian lingo!

    Two words that came to my mind:

    “Brought” = verb meaning “to preach effectively and compellingly,” as in “He really brought the Word in that sermon!”

    “Fed” = verb meaning “to be spiritually satisfied with church meetings,” as in “You know, I’m not being fed by these services…”

    • says

      Burden: what Christians feel for people when they are guilted by a sermon, causing the object of the sermon to be viewed as an actual burden. “The message today was about the pastor’s burden for the poor in spirit, so now my wife is making us visit her whiny aunt Mabel.”

  4. says

    It must contain the word: JUST –

    This word must be used continuously when praying to God before asking God to do something. Instead of saying, “Father, I ask you to bless my family”. You must say, “Father, I just ask you to bless my family “.

    Of course the level of expertise you obtain in doing this only comes with maturity.

    • TecSuperSec says

      OR…”Father, I just ask You to just bless my family.”
      On second thought, maybe that would be too overwhelming for newbies. But WE know (wink wink nudge nudge)

    • Garrett says

      Or, even better: “Father, I just ask you to just bless my family and just treat them justly and just justify them with justification. “

  5. Jared Shaughnessy says

    When we sing, “I will dance”, this in no way is an invitation to boogie or do as David and groove naked down the aisle. And for the love of sweet, 9 lb 2 oz baby Jesus, this is never an indication that you should do your impression of the Sister Act II sway. We have a dance team with carefully choreographed (with proper authorization from on high) moves that will take care of any dancing our Lord requires in worship. When we say, “We lift our hands in the sanctuary”, there is an unspoken agreement, with only one dissenter, that these lifted holy hands will not rise above the level of one’s head. We are still working on getting the Pentecostals in line.

  6. says

    “Each and every one”- means each. But it sounds super groovy and makes the phrase more earnest. (“We would like to welcome each and every one of you today.” or “we lift up each and every one of these requests…”)

    “sanctification”- means…I have only been in the church for 36 years and I still ain’t 100% sure. :)

    Nice post today!

  7. says

    “Love On” as in “We need to go love on those volunteers who helped parked cars in the snowstorm.”
    Or, in this case, “We need to love on the trolls who post in the comments and want to start theological and scientific debates.”
    Can also be replaced by “Give a Starbucks Gift Card to…”

    • Karen Harrison says

      I see what you did there. Slipped that wee troll observation in your comment. Well done!

    • Molly says

      Ugh, Season. I can’t stand that word now! It seems like its exclusively used at Ladies’ Bible studies and conferences, too. :p

  8. Karen Harrison says

    Fringe: anyone who attends church every once and awhile.

    The “pearls before swine” reminded me of a woman at our church who objected to us playing Bunco for money. When the rest of the group disagreed with her, she said her words were “pearls before swine.” So yeah, everyone in Bunco pretty much loved her.

  9. Bethany D. says

    As a writer for a missions organization, I always wish we had a Christianese Thesaurus. How many ways are there to say someone was saved? Believe me, I know all of them.

  10. Jennifer says

    I received a text today from an old friend in response to my “how are you?” She replied “going through a painful season, refining fire is no fun!”. Huh?

  11. says

    Leave it to Jon Acuff and his guest bloggers to stir up the old “this-Christian-satire-blog-post-about-funny-words-Christians-use-sure-does-make-me-want-to-argue-about-evolution” dialogue. TYPICAL!

  12. Paul Mayhan says

    Struggled/struggling- a sin that is common enough to not be embarrassing but the fact that you are mindful of it makes you extra holy. “I really have struggled with maintaining my daily devotions and loving others as much as I love myself”

    The world/worldly- Anyone who acts or thinks differently than we do with the implication that you will be turned to a pile of dust if you get near it. “Rock and roll and rap music is so from the world”

    Led- An epiphany from God that provides the proper plan for one’s immediate life, often used as a reason that you can’t do something else. “I feel led to change jobs” or “I know you need people, but I just don’t feel led to volunteer in the preschool ministry once every 2 months.”

  13. Matt B. says

    “In this place”. 1) To describe where you currently are to God, so that he knows where you are, while singing in the place that you are currently occupying.
    2) A meta-physical location, in which you are describing a particular difficulty in your life. ex.”I’m just in this place where I don’t know if God is calling me to Africa or not.”

  14. says

    Well the definition of “neighbor” would be a very good start. But then “love” would have to be defined before that, as it is in the alphabet, but then “yourself” is so far towards the end … Maybe the real problem is it should not be in alphabetical order …