Jeremy Myers of Redeeming God asks Christians to please quit using these clichés. On the one hand, I get it. Clichés are statements that are overused to the point they have lost their original value. They are easy go-to statements, perhaps knee jerk reactions, that require little thought. Christians need to be careful about creating our own Christianese language, words and phrases we often use in-house that may have little meaning to non-Christians, the people with whom we need to communicate the Gospel. Like I say, on the one hand I get it.
But on the other hand… Overused is highly subjective; if a word of phrase is truly overused there may be a good reason we were saying it so much in the first place. We don’t want our worship to become a collection of tired old repetitions, but what about liturgy? What about biblical truths that are unchanging? Some of the things on Myers’ list I never say but there’s a couple on there I would like to put back on the table. We’re not talking about revising the dictionary here, at the end of the day Myers and I are both bloggers. He does have a tongue in cheek sense of humor that I can appreciate. But these are my submissions for consideration:
Jesus Saves. Myers asks “He does? From what?” We are saved from God’s wrath. John 3:16 is perhaps the most quoted verse of all time, but just a few verse later John 3:36 reads “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” Jesus is able to redeem us from our sins. We are not saved from hell; that is technically a consequence of God’s judgment. Peter testified of Jesus in Acts 4:12 “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” I don’t go around saying Jesus saves all the time, but maybe I should start. At any rate, it would not be right to stop someone from saying this that does. It is simply the greatest truth of the entire scriptural narrative.
Amen. His argument is that it may be confusing to non-believers. If it means “right” or “yes” we could say that instead. Granted. But it was used frequently by the early church and can still be an effective way to involve worshippers in the worship service. Worship isn’t led by a band for 30 minutes then followed by a speaker. Singing, praying, giving, reading the scripture, preaching and responding to preaching are all acts of worship. The seeker sensitive movement has done too much to make the Christian worship service comfortable and easily understood by non-Christians. Evangelism is a part of what we do but the Christian worship service is primarily a group activity for, well, Christians. Ordering at McDonald’s may be an awkward place to shout Amen. During church, however, is a great time and place for it.
After a punchlist of one offs Myers actually wrote this disclaimer: “Yes, I know that some of these statements come directly from Scripture. But when we just quote them without thinking about them and do not really understand what these statements mean, even Bible verses can become Christian Clichés.”
I suggest that instead of quoting them without thinking we choose our words carefully and use them intentionally and with purpose. There is no reason to continue not really understanding what they mean; get in a small group study or Sunday school class and learn what the Bible says and means. Good biblical scholarship should stop of us from repeating meaningless platitudes and cause us to be intentional with the words and phrases we choose to use. And maybe that’s what Jeremy Myers hopes we get to. But why didn’t he just say that?