photo by Jeff Brownell

photo by Jeff Brownell

I think every subgroup has its own set of buzzwords. Just ask anyone who’s attended business school about their “highly-functioning team synergy” or listen to a World of Warcraft gamer talk about anything…at all.  Well, religions are like that too, and the one I’m most familiar with is Christianity. “Christianese” was, and is, part of my life. It was always so difficult to explain phrases like “grace without works” or “laying out a fleece before God” to people unfamiliar with the Bible or the social clubs that are Christian denominations.

If you’ve ever been active within Christianity, you may have heard many of these terms thrown around. Some of them may depend on the tradition and culture.

How many buzzwords and phrases can we think up? Here are 10 to start you off:

  1. The Bride of Christ: The followers of Jesus, used metaphorically to illustrate an intimate bond with the divine. It’s an amusing phrase since no one (according to tradition, not Dan Brown) ever married Jesus here on earth.
  2. ____ in the Spirit: Fill in the blank with your favorite verbs such as “slain, resting, crying, moving, praying”. This phrase means doing something under the influence of God’s holy spirit, often very trance-like, emotional, ecstatic, or dramatic. I even heard a woman say she was “driving in the Spirit” which made me afraid for the other motorists.
  3. Anointing: In Judaism, it meant being anointed with oil to mark being chosen by God to be a priest or king. In Christianity today, it usually means being “filled with the holy spirit” (another Christianese phrase) and blessed by God… followed by “____ing in the Spirit”.
  4. Revival: Christian revival is often accompanied by fire and brimstone sermons and evangelistic meetings that go on for days at a time. They say it will bring a new life or vibrancy to the church and community, but it usually just brings more church members into confessions of sin and commitments not to look at porn or listen to satanic secular music anymore.
  5. If it be God’s will/God-willing: Superstitious cop-out often said before someone states what they really want to do. Like “God willing, I’ll have enough money to buy that big screen tv next month” or “If it be God’s will, Bobby will get into Princeton and study to be a doctor.” Apparently having your own goals and dreams is bad.
  6. Just give it up to God/Take it to the Lord in prayer: i.e. “Sucks to be you.” or “I (have no idea how/don’t want) to solve your problem, so tell someone else.”
  7. Your Christian walk with God: All-encompassing way to describe the “relationship” one has with their imaginary friend. It includes pious acts of devotion, spiritual habits, emotional health, and everything that makes someone a “good Christian”. This is often used in the form of a question by someone who shouldn’t be in your personal business.
  8. Laying on of hands: Praying for someone while touching them. This often occurs before “____ing in the Spirit” because everyone is watching you; if you feel the “anointing”, you’ll probably do something interesting to prove it.
  9. Being born again: Coming out of a vagina fully-formed. Oh wait, that’s gross. It really means getting a fresh start as a newly “saved”(see below) Christian. Being “born again” is supremely important to people who evangelize. They think this magical-yet-figurative birth is vital if you’re going to get into Heaven.
  10. Salvation story/testimony: Here’s a typical testimony: “I was having a really great time doing things Christians think are bad. I was told they were bad. I felt guilty/empty. I chose to follow Jesus. I instantly felt awesome again. I gave up all the fun stuff and now I tell people I think it’s gross too.”
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25 thoughts on “10 Definitions of Christian Lingo”

Brian Gregory · September 6, 2009 at 6:39 pm

Some more: "Repent", "Washed in the Blood", or "Speaking in Tongues"?

    godlessgirl · September 6, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    Oh that "washed in the blood" one is especially grotesque out of context (or, actually, in context). Now all I can visualize is showering in type AB-.

      Back from the Tribal · October 8, 2009 at 9:47 am

      Hey, the vampires did that in the Blade movie, didn't they?

Beechbum · September 6, 2009 at 8:22 pm

This is interesting, but the one I'm always looking for is their definition of 'truth', it continues to allude me what they could possibly mean in context when they use that word. They also seem to have a lose grip on the meaning 'lie' as in "thou shalt not lie." Could it mean that, anything they say in favor of god is truth and whatever they lie about for jesus isn't really a lie. Or god is a lie and jesus is the truth, or they're lie about both and selling it as truth, I'm a little confused is all.

kim · September 7, 2009 at 12:30 am

I love this list. Every single one of them is so true. I especially love the testimony def.

Michael Nugent · September 9, 2009 at 12:32 am

My favourite is "It's a mystery" as a catch-all substitute for "Stop asking awkward questions."

    godlessgirl · September 9, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    haha well if we're talking argument tactics, my personal favorite is "God said it, I believe it, that settles it!"

      stuffed · September 10, 2009 at 10:55 am

      On a similar line. "How should I know?" crops up quite regularly. Oh and "That's just how it is/It is is because it is"
      Oh and I heard this one about an unrelated topic:
      "I believe there are ghosts because I know in my mind there are."
      Twisted logic much?

nogos.noqt · September 9, 2009 at 12:30 am

I’ve heard of all of those except “Bride of Christ” before. I’ve been subjected to small-town, evangelical indoctrination so I’m more than a little surprised. Where is that used?

Shelley · September 9, 2009 at 7:28 pm

When something any-frickin thing goes right…it's an "answer to prayer"! My Mom found $10.00 in her pocket and exclaimed proudly, "well that's just an answer to prayer oh praaaaise god"…I had to bite my tongue.

    stuffed · September 11, 2009 at 5:08 am

    She prayed for ten dollars? That is amusing. I'd bite my tongue too.
    Maybe she should ask for more following that logic.

stuffed · September 10, 2009 at 10:53 am

I must say that I filled every one of those blanks with a four letter word, and the laying on of hands before [email protected]#king in the spirit made me laugh. I think there is way too much stigma attached to these many intertextual references from the bible and reverent language which is adored by religious sheeple everywhere.

    godlessgirl · September 16, 2009 at 5:43 am

    "[email protected]#king in the spirit"
    Isn't that what Mary did?

    Ohhh, I'm going straight to hell. 😉

      stuffed · September 16, 2009 at 7:52 am

      Very Very amusing!
      Great well I'll definitely see you there.
      Billowing clouds don't appeal to me – under floor heating does
      Golden paving doesn't move me – fornicating does
      Bright white light would be annoying – flickering candlelight bliss
      Angels playing trumpets – a poker game sounds better
      Nothing more to do you've made it – I'd rather have some fun

      How could anyone possibly argue for heaven?

      Ps. Have you read that essay refuting heaven that did the rounds a few years back? Excellent.

        godlessgirl · September 17, 2009 at 3:30 am

        Nope, I don't think I saw that one. If you come across it, pass it on!

Shelley · September 10, 2009 at 6:03 pm

I thought of another one that always really got to me. "she/he's a God Fearing Christian" I never understood why we should fear go if he was so damn wonderful! Oh stuffed, [email protected]#cking in the spirit! Wow that sounds intense! And I love "religious sheeple"…can I use that?

    stuffed · September 11, 2009 at 5:10 am

    Yeah the God fearing thing is ridiculously ironic. …and by all means, I didn't come up with it. My girlfriend always says Im too intense, oh well.

    godlessgirl · September 16, 2009 at 5:44 am

    Scared into submission. What a way to live 😉

      stuffed · September 16, 2009 at 7:46 am

      Very very amusing.
      Good thing, I'll see you there.
      Sounds a lot more fun to me.
      Gold doesnt appeal – fornication does
      Pillowing clouds don't appeal -under floor heating does
      Nothing to do doesn't appeal -may as well have fun
      How could anyone argue FOR heaven?

      stuffed · September 16, 2009 at 7:47 am

      Haha me or the sheeple. Both I guess.

Shelley · September 11, 2009 at 6:19 pm

Thanks it's a good one! Tell the girlfriend, to take it from me, I survived a TBI, life is short and you never know what can happen…intense, I think everyday should be intense on some level.
That's the problem with religion, people loose sight of self-awareness and value in this life…the only one we have.

    stuffed · September 11, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    That is an excellent point. The amount of time some people worry about the afterlife or sating their deities so that they will have something at the end of it all they forget to live. They become closetted and less in touch with the 'real' happenings in the world, you do have to live your life as much as possible and enjoy it and the experiences it brings. As you say we only have one. I'm interested did anyone try to convert you during your initial periods after the TBI? Because it is often these sort of things that make peoples faith or break it.

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i think behr paint ( has something like that, but i belveie there is a $5 fee i’ve not used it, but i have looked at colors on the website before. also you can pick up the paint booklets/chips at home depot (from behr) and the booklets has complimentary colors and shows the paint in different rooms.i personally like the behr paint (semi gloss) because its wonderful for being able to clean it especially with kids and crayons, markers, finger paints, etc. it is a little costlier than most paints, but it covers great and last great also if you use the behr paint and there is something wrong with the paint itself a behr representative will come out and paint your walls for you (there has to be something

Smoking Hot Wives and Christian Prayer Clichés | Godless Girl · July 25, 2011 at 3:52 pm

[…] are too many Christianese clichés to count, but this particular one catches me off-guard because it makes me picture two […]

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