Thoughts on Christian Jargon and how it blinds

My Favorite Christian Parlor Game

One of my favorite Bible study subjects is actually a simple game. The group is asked, "What does it mean to be a Christian?" Each person, in turn, is free to answer the question. They must be complete, and they must state the answer for everyone else to hear.

One hitch makes the game interesting. No one is allowed to use any Christian jargon. Everyone in the group who is not speaking listens to the speaker and can "buzz" the speaker if one word of Christian Jargon is used. After being buzzed, or if an incomplete answer is given the next person in the room gets to try. The "winner" is the first person who can completely state what it means to be a Christian and not be buzzed by someone else in the room.

Words that are not allowed include faith, grace and salvation. Indeed one of the values of this game is to cause everyone to think about each word being said and ask themselves if the word is Christian Jargon. We often don’t even recognize the use of Jargon. Of course someone can use one of these special words but not without defining it first.

Most American Bible Study groups will circle the room at least two times before anyone can state what it means to be a Christian using language that other Christians will agree is complete and that non-Christians will understand.

This is profound, most Christians don’t really understand what they believe and are unable to explain their belief to the outside world.

Useless End-Times Jargon

When I started this project I should have played this parlor game with a different question: "What are the end-times?" I was aware that there is Jargon used here too, I didn’t understand how profoundly blinding Jargon can be.

Most end-times theories sit around a specific Jargon-filled idea: There will be "7 years of Tribulation." Most theories debate the details around this period of future history, accepting at face value that there will be such a time.

Now that I know this phrase to be Jargon, I would "buzz" anyone who used it in and End-Times parlor game. Say it again, but don’t use Jargon and explain what you mean... (And please, don’t ever nod your head in agreement with anyone ever saying this to you again. You are promoting Jargon and the uselessness Jargon has to winning Souls for Jesus.)

What is a Tribulation?

The word "Tribulation" is a strange word. The New Testament is widely understood to be written in a common, everyday, form of first-century Greek. The words used to write the book are thought to be generally free of Jargon, words that everyone, even non-Christians, used in everyday speech. Not so this modern English word used in New Testament translations. I can’t say I’ve ever heard the word used outside of religious circles.

Debates like "Are you, will you, or will you not go through Tribulation?" are themselves patently absurd as the word itself is Jargon. How many Angels can dance on the head of a pin? The two questions are the same.

Notice that simple substitutions on this word don’t work either. "Troubles" is a nice, common, substitute. What is a "Trouble" anyway? The price of Gasoline is up. Is that a trouble? Is it a tribulation? How about World War II? Was that a trouble? Was it a tribulation?

For how long?

For that matter the other side of the point of argument is also strange. Nowhere in the New Testament is there any reference to a 7 year period of anything ever in the future. If some important 7 year period was the focus of New Testament writers then at least one of them would have taken us there and focused their writing at the same place. None did.

The Book of Revelation, the place where you’d expect this to be mentioned, given its central place in this debate, doesn’t mention 7 years even one time. The time period it does mention, 3 and 1/2 years, is mentioned often enough and in enough contexts that there is no evidence at all that Revelation intends them to be strung together end-to-end only one time.

When Jesus was asked these questions, he did not start with a reference to 7 years either.

Funny, then why do we? Why does the Church start debate at a point that the writers of the Bible found fruitless?

Keep your eyes open

You may or may not agree with the rest of the material on this website. My point is not to offer day-for-a-year end-times prophecy as an answer to this problem. What I would like you do as you hear others speak about the "end-times" or "last-days" is this: Press for Jargon free explanations so you can come to a more complete understanding of what the Bible says is going to happen in this period of future history.