Sunday, August 29, 2010

Pithy Lingo Speak

This might sound petty and hair-splitty but it's one of those things that just gets under my skin and I'm not even really sure why.

Recently on twitter I read a tweet that said "you can't have a meaningful relationship with God without being relationally connected to a local church".

Now, to be clear, I agree 10 billion percent that to have a strong, growing, maturing, fostered relationship with God, you and I both need to be under the teaching and in the fellowship of a local church. No question about it, and no argument against it ever holds water. Ever.

However, as I read this tweet my eyes and my brain focused on 1 word.

"relationally"

Over and over I read that and thought "what in the world does that mean, "relationally"? I know this probably sounds just silly but I actually looked the word up. It means exactly what you'd think it would mean. It's an adverb that means "relating to" or having kinship or commonality with.

So, maybe it's just me but this seems like a horribly redundant thing to say since any Christian connected to a local church is already in kinship with and having commonality with the other members: that kinship being Christ as Lord. I can't imagine why else you'd be there if you had nothing in common with the other folks there. But maybe I'm totally wrong here and "relationally connected" means something different, better or deeper than just "connected". Is it possible that I'm not relationally connected myself and so I'm on the outside looking in to this kind of connectedness? I'm pretty sure I'm about as connected as I possibly can be to my local church, since I am in 100% agreement with the pastor and other members on our statement of faith, principles for godly living, godly parenting, service to the local church and community, etc.

I just have to wonder why people say things like this. In my own extremely subjective and limited experience, it seems this kind of language is fairly new among Christians, having first shown up among the wacky post-modernists calling themselves Christians and the extremist oddball emergent folks (and in some cases, the two were/are exactly the same). Hearing them speak and reading their writings always reminded me of the druggy beatnicks in the 50s who fancied themselves as these deep, philosophical thinkers when really... they just sounded like they were stoned and needed to sober up before they went off on another deep and profound tangent about spirituality, community and tangerine trees holding the mysteries of life. I would have been perfectly content to know that this kind of lingo was constrained among that crowd, but in the last few years I've heard and read more and more conservative, theologically solid people use it too.

I just wonder if folks that use this kind of language have this idea that using this flowery language conveys a message better. Or maybe they just think it sounds cool so they use it? Or maybe it makes them feel more spiritual to dress up a simple truth with flowers?

I wish I knew why it bothered me so much, but I really cannot put my finger on a definitive reason.



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