reason for living

Christian Jargon, how we hate it!

A brief glossary

Whenever a group of people come together for some activity or purposes they nearly always start to invent and use “jargon”.  This means that they start to use words or expressions that are not in common use, or they give words and expressions new meanings that only the people in the group understand.

One result of the jargon is that it becomes difficult for people who are outside the group to enter the group or to understand the group.  If the “jargon” is used for a long time then the people inside the group can forget what the meaning of the jargon is and thus although the group members think they understand their own jargon, in fact they are just as ignorant as the people outside the group.

Christian groups have a proliferation of jargon.  From my own experience I am inclined to think that most of the Christians, including the so-called leaders, pastors and priests, who use jargon really do not understand what they are saying.  They use the jargon because it is a habit or because they want other people to think that they are good Christians but really they have never understood either the jargon or the real Christian message.

Here at “reason-for-living” jargon is not wanted.  Sometimes it is used accidentally but whenever it is noticed it is removed and replaced with something written in plain English.  If you spot any jargon on this web site please let me know so that I can obliterate it with the delete key.

Here are some common examples of Christian Jargon.  I have chosen these examples because when the jargon is replaced with plain words then the real meaning and significance of what Jesus and his followers taught is much easier to understand.


Gospel is a transliteration of a germanic translation or a Greek word.  The Greek word means, simply, “good news” and it does not have any special spiritual or religious significance.

Finding something that was lost is “gospel”, passing an exam is “gospel”.  In other words, these events are what we normally call “good news” — they are things that make us feel happy and give us a reason to celebrate.

In exactly the same way, the message that Jesus taught was also good news.  He told people something that made them feel happy and gave them a reason to celebrate.  The good news that Jesus brought was simply that, through him, sinful people could be reconciled with God (who hates sin) and be brought into the divine family.

minister, deacon

These two words are both derived from the same Greek word.  The Greek word means, simply, “servant”.  Once you know what the word really means it is easy to see the farce of many Christian organisations where the servants (that is, the “ministers”) act like lords and petty dictators.  The farce extends into government where the cabinet ministers also forget that they are supposed to be public servants.

Sadly, the jargon has caused both government and Christian organisations to misperform because people have given a high value to a word that they had not understood.  As a result the word “minister” has become a title used to denote importance and associated with power and prestige.  In reality it is supposed to be associated with humility and an attitude of wanting to deliver good service.


The Greek word means ·service· in the sense of performing a service for somebody, or doing somebody a favour.  Once again, the word has no special religious or spiritual significance · it is just a very ordinary word.  The window cleaner performs his “ministry”, his service, to his customers by cleaning their windows, the waitress serves by delivering meals to tables.  The domestic servant performs the service of keeping somebody's home clean and tidy or preparing meals or washing clothes.  A farmer serves by growing food.  A judge serves by upholding justice.  For each of these people, their “ministry” is simply the service that they perform in society.

bless, blessed, blessing

In fairness it is difficult to get a good translation for the word that we know as “blessed”.  The original Aramaic word combines several concepts that are represented by different words in the English language.  A person who is blessed could be said to be: having good reason to be happy and cheerful because he or she has had, or will have, something good conferred upon him or her.

A common misuse of the word is in the expression “bless you” which people seem to say to one another as a form of thanks or when they part from one another.  However, what they have actually said is more or less meaningless as they have neither conferred any good thing upon the person to whom they speak, nor are they asking somebody else to give a good thing, nor is it a meaningful instruction.  In reality the expression “Bless you”, is just a thoughtless, illogical and grammatically incorrect misuse of two words.

Related articles that you might like to read:

Church buildings, we hate them too!
Church buildings (as they are called) prevent people hearing the good news about Jesus.
Did Jesus ever claim he was God?
Some people say he is God, some say he was just a man. What did Jesus claim about himself?
What does it mean to be “born again”?
One life or two?  According to Jesus you'll need a whole new life before you can get close to God.
Correspondence about agapé.  A short discourse about love.
A letter about love.
Scripture of description and scripture of doctrine
Adultery is perfectly acceptable behaviour; it must be true because the bible tells me so.  Make sure you are reading the word of God intelligently.


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