Christians have a tendency to say some pretty lame things. That doesn’t mean non-Christians are exempt from this, but as a Christian myself, I feel that if I am going to offer critique, it should, first and foremost, be to my fellow brothers and sisters (and those who are non-binary) in the faith. Sorry, but not sorry.
That said, while the great majority of these folks probably have the best of intentions when they draw deeply from the well of cliché Christianese, I believe they need to stop, because, as the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. And we’ve been on this road long enough.
To that end, in this piece I would like to mention 8 cliché things that Christians need to drop from their vernacular. By no means are these the only things. They are just the first 8 that popped into my head this morning.
So, without further ado, here they are:
“The Bible clearly says . . .”
For the most part, the Bible isn’t “clear” about much. So, don’t say it is. Seriously, just stop. I mean, if you are fluent in Hebrew and Greek, as well as familiar with the historical, theological, and philosophical context in which the Bible was written (which of course changes over the course of thousands of years), then perhaps you can say this. Perhaps. But, then again, if you are indeed fluent in Hebrew and Greek and do have a decent grasp on the cultural context of Scripture, then you probably already realize just how unclear our English bibles are, and aren’t using this type of language anyway.
“God’s ways are higher than our ways.”
On the surface, I really don’t have a problem with this phrase. Indeed, God’s ways are higher than our ways. However, what this means is generally not understood by large swaths of Christianity, who typically use it to justify whatever asinine thing they want to say about the Divine. Either that or they default to it any time they are theologically pressed for an answer about something and can’t come up with one. Regardless, if one is going to say this, at least keep in mind that the context of this phrase—which comes from Isaiah 55—is that God is more merciful than we are (cf. Isaiah 55:7–9).
“I’m a Bible-believing Christian.”
Okay. So is every other Christian. We all “believe” the Bible in one way or another. From the conservative Southern Baptist to the liberal Anabaptist, the Franciscan monk to the dispensationalist C&MA member, everyone “believes the Bible.” But that’s not what those who say this mean. They mean that the Bible is the inerrant and/or infallible Word of God, and that in order to be a “true Christian,” one must affirm this same theory of inspiration of Scripture. Hogwash! At no time did Jesus say this. Nor Paul. Nor the early Christians. Nor the early creedal formulations. So, stop saying such tripe. You’re not really saying anything anyway.
“Jesus preached about hell more than heaven.”
First off, no he didn’t. My buddy and colleague Dan Wilkinson did a count, and out of the 1,944 verses in the gospels, only 60 or so of those refer to hell. However, with regards to heaven, there are 192. But, let’s pretend for a moment that this statement is true, that Jesus indeed talked about hell more than heaven. So what? That doesn’t mean anything. It’s purely a vapid statement, entirely void of context, and it fails miserably at everything but instilling fear in others. Please, do everyone a favor and save it.
“Love the sinner, hate the sin.”
Or, how about we just love people? Seriously! Hasn’t enough damage been done to the LGBTQ+ community? Haven’t they had enough abuse at the hands of the Church? Plus, aren’t we supposed to be more focused on that logjam in our own eye? I think this guy named Jesus taught that. So, if we are going to hate sin so vehemently—and we should, really—we need to start with ourselves, with our own plank if you will. The “sin” of others is but a speck (and no, that doesn’t mean I consider non-heterosexuality sinful. I’ve written about that here and here).
“Well, we are in the last days, after all.”
This is such an eye-roller for me. We’ve been at this whole “it’s the end of the world” crap for so long that nobody is taking us seriously any longer (are we not the boy who cried wolf at this point?). So, when we say this, we are just yet one more dolt among other dolts—Harold Camping, John Hagee, and Jerry Falwell initially come to mind—who narcissistically think the end of the world will be in their lifetime and that they will be the ones who got it right. Time to move on folks. Like, for real!
“Jesus is my personal Lord and Savior.”
Okay, are we supposed to be impressed? The last I checked, the Bible clearly says (oops!) that Jesus is Lord. Period. He is the Savior. Period. He’s not my Lord. He’s not my Savior. He’s not your Lord. He’s not your Savior. He is Lord, and everyone will one day give praise to God for this (Romans 14:11). He is the Savior “of all people, especially of those who believe (1 Timothy 4:10).” Can we not reduce either his lordship or salvific act to something “personal,” when it is much more corporate? That’d be great, thanks.
“This is a Christian nation.”
Oh, yeah? Really? I guess, if you consider it “Christian” for a nation to be at war for all but a handful of years since its inception; if you consider it “Christian” for a nation to incessantly feed the military industrial complex whenever its tummy’s hungry; if you consider it “Christian” for a nation to engage in a perpetual war on drugs that has ruined the lives of countless people, primarily men of color; if you consider it “Christian” for a nation enslave black folks and attempt genocide against Native Americans; if you . . . well, you get the point. If all these things are “Christian,” then screw it, I’m not.
Well, that’s all I’ve got for now. I’m sure there are more. If you have any others, I’d be curious to read them. Feel free to make a comment below (unless you are just going to tell me how much of an asshole I am; in that case, please try to hold your tongue).