Emergent Christian Clichés to Avoid
Following the creation of my first five articles in this ongoing series about Christian clichés (links below), I was alerted to the fact that my lists were notably absent of particular clichés often employed by emergent Christians. While the emergent Christians are endeavoring to re-imagine the way we engage faith, one another and the world differently; the movement still is dependent on human beings. As such, we tend to screw it up.
So in the spirit of fairness, I offer you a list of things emergent Christians can and should strike from our daily lexicon …
We Don’t Use Gender-Exclusive Language for God.
There has been plenty of pushback against speaking of God only as a “he,” and this has been addressed with new worship music, updated translations of the Bible and from the pulpit. And while it can be affirming to speak of God in broader terms, while also recognizing the baggage some people carry with regard to certain terminology for God, it’s unfair to suggest that any gender-specific descriptions of God are somehow inaccurate or inferior. If some people find comfort in thinking of God as father, mother or even both, it’s not our place to take that away from them. Engaging in substantive discussions about why we all use the words and imagery we do to describe God can be a good thing, but not if we’re starting from a position of having some kind of theological high ground.
Is this (fill in the blank) fair trade/organic/locally grown/humanely raised?
I think it’s great that part of the ecological and social stewardship at the heart of the emergent Christian movement is to know more about where all of the goods we consume come from, and at what cost. But making a big scene about such values in public serves to draw attention to ourselves more than the cause we value, if not done with some discretion. And as the text in Proverbs says, to everything there is a season. There are times to ask where your chicken came from, but probably not when you’re a guest at someone’s dinner table. Trying to make others feel bad because they don’t share your values only serves to buttress the stereotype of Christians as morally superior, arrogant and insensitive.
I’ve kind of moved beyond the whole (fill in the blank) Christian doctrine.
I bristle as much as anyone in emergent Christianity when someone tries to pin me down with a certain Christian doctrine; like my position on the trinity or my doctrine of salvation. But to reject these traditions outright is both a potential affront to those who still embrace them as well as a rebuff of our religious history. It’s healthy to have a reason for embracing or setting aside doctrines of our faith, but if we talk about getting over them or moving past them, it implies those who don’t agree with us are, well … dumb.
That is a very colonial/imperial attitude.
Most people would agree that plenty of harm has been done in the name of the Christian faith, or faith in general, for that matter. And while some call for the dissolution of religion all together, others believe that it is the marriage of faith to the power of a political empire that creates the real abomination of an otherwise peaceful and affirming faith. But while it is a worthwhile endeavor to seek to separate Christianity from its history of Christendom, casting knee-jerk judgments on sentiments or perspectives held by others only deepens the divide between two already deeply-entrenched camps. Yes, Jesus spoke truth, but he did it in love. And if we’re not coming yet from a place of love, it’s probably best not to speak at all.
I love Jesus but not religion/the Church.
Though this kind of began as an emergent Christian mantra, it’s actually begun to be embraced even by some evangelicals. But can we really cast such a broad net over the whole of organized religion and the entire history of the church? Has nothing good at all come from our two thousand years of history? Can we take nothing forward with us, despite our resistance to the established norms of institution? The whole, “I love this but hate that,” attitude reeks of modernist duality, which seems to work directly against what emergents claim to value. So be bold in critiquing the institutions of power in our midst, religion included, but don’t throw our entire collective history under the proverbial bus because the phrase trends well on Twitter.
We don’t do traditional worship.
Emergents tend to define ourselves as much or more by what we’re not than by what we are. And like the cliché above, we have a bad habit (bordering on tradition?) of kicking everything that smacks of traditionalism to the curb. Yes, some traditions become false idols that should be challenged, if not completely toppled. But tradition also is part of how we continue to create and pass on our collective story. Plus, while many emergents reject the very idea of tradition, we’re already in the process of creating some new traditions of our own. I wonder how we’ll react when a future cohort of Christians calls us on our own dusty, rigid ways?
I don’t (insert activity here); I’m a Christian.
It’s fine that you choose to live differently because of your faith. In fact, one’s faith should inform much about their daily life. But by making public announcements about what you do and don’t do because of your religious beliefs, you’re not only implicitly casting judgment on those who think or act differently than you; you’re also exalting yourself, which I’m pretty sure is something Christians aren’t supposed to do. Yes, I know we can find a Biblical basis for “boasting in Christ,” but if what you’re doing makes you look like a self-righteous tool, you’re probably doing more harm than good.
Read article one in the series here: Ten Cliches Christians Should Never Use
Read article two in the series here: Ten More Cliches Christians Should Avoid
Read article three in the series here: Nine (Final) Christian Cliches to Avoid
Read article four in the series here: Ten Antidotes to Christian Cliches
Read article five in the series here: Five New Christian Cliches to Avoid
CC image by Tom Newby Photography on Flickr.
- Linda Kardamis published the blogpost Should You Keep Teaching After You Start a Family?.
- Felicia Crawford just moved in. Take time to say hey.
- Sheridan Voysey published the blogpost Don’t Just Apologise, Make Amends (My BBC Radio 2 Spot).
- Adam Smith published the blogpost [Studies] How to Handle Cursing In The Workplace – Julia Winston.
- C Drury just moved in. Take time to say hey.
- Amber Soares created a new gallery
- Amber Soares just moved in. Take time to say hey.
- Brian Dodd published the blogpost 10 Characteristics Of Effective Church Communications.
- Jeffrey Totey published the blogpost 'An Evening of One Acts': Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad.
- Nicole Webb published the blogpost re: an explanation from the crazy crying lady at the park.
- Nicole Webb published the blogpost re: when the hands and feet of God stink and hurt, respectively.
- Nicole Webb published the blogpost re: "christian" - better as a noun, not an adjective.
- Michael Ernest published the blogpost Christian band All Things New drops new EP ‘Attic Sessions’.
- LuAnn Braley published the blogpost Write Tribe Blog Carnival - What if You Were Not Afraid?.
- Debbie Harris published the blogpost May We Always Speak Words Of Life And Healing by Debbie Harris.
- lucy santoshey.. I am lucy...
- Jonalyn Fincher published the blogpost The Spiritual Practice of Friendship (not just Chemistry).
- lucy santos just moved in. Take time to say hey.
- Janet Ridgeway published the blogpost Make Every Day A Celebration With Spellbinders Celebra’tions Collection + A Giveaway.
- Kelley Mathews published the article "Egalitarian" and "Complementarian": What's the Main Difference?.
- Lori Fogleman published the blogpost What killed the dinosaurs? Baylor geology researcher part of new study.
- John Bucher published the blogpost My Theories About Who Killed Gladys on HBO’s site Watchingtheleftovers.com.
- Jonathan Pearson published the blogpost Next Up Podcast: 3 Ways to Live & Lead in The Moment (Episode 6).
- George BullardFeatured TCP Book for July 30th: A Divine Assignment: The Missiology of Wendell Clay Somerville http://astore.amazon.com/tcpresourcesstore-20/detail/1603500073
- George BullardFREE TCP eBook July 30th Only! Seeing Jesus in the City http://astore.amazon.com/tcpresourcesstore-20/detail/B00AVJKOSS
- George BullardJuly 30th: Transform Congregations By Death and Resurrection #365SSIFTC http://bullardjournal.blogs.com/bullardjournal_microblog/2014/07/july-30th-transform-congregations-by-death-and-resurrection-365ssiftc.html
- Amy Young published the blogpost Pay it forward (part two — You must meet these people!).
- Michael Ernest published the blogpost ‘There would be no point in faith if it wasn’t tested’ – Jennifer Hudson.
- Brad Andres published the blogpost Would Your Christianity Survive in Other Parts of the World?.