A Guide to Christian Cliches and Phrases…


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From Patheos

 “Save sex for marriage.”

Translation: “If I can’t have consequence-free sex, neither can you.”
Acceptable Response: “I pledge myself! Give me a promise ring!”
Unacceptable Response: “So how did that work out for you?” Or, “Where exactly does the Bible say that?”

“All you need to do to go to heaven is ask Jesus into your heart.”

Translation: “You’re going to burn in hell if you don’t say this prayer, little boy.”
Acceptable Response: “Dear Jesus, thank you for coming into my heart and saving me…”
Unacceptable Response: “Dear Jesus, where in the Bible do you tell us to ask you into our hearts? That seems kinda weird. And why did the ancient world think the heart was the kidney? Hello? Can you hear me? I guess this is just a one-way intercom. How can I know if you’re still around if you don’t say anything back? Okay, if you’re really there, appear to me right now in person like you did to Paul.” Or, “What exactly does Jesus do in my blood-pumping organ?”

“What can I pray for you about?”

Translation: “Any juicy tidbits about your life I can spread through the prayer gossip grapevine?”
Acceptable Response: “Thanks for asking. You’re so kind. My wife is having an affair, my brother is a drunk, and my dog can’t control his sexual desires.”
Unacceptable Response: “Have you ever kept a prayer journal to see if you get more unanswered prayers than answered ones, or if your unasked prayers get answered just as much?”

“I’m not a racist, but…”

Translation: “I’m a racist asshole who attends an all-white church and is uncomfortable around most black people. I love racist jokes and am about to tell you a good one.”
Acceptable Response: Laugher followed by telling a slightly more racist joke.
Unacceptable Response: “You’re a hypocritical racist asshole.”

“God is in control.”

Translation: “I only believe this about overwhelming situations. The rest of the time, I believe things are up to us and I act that way.”
Acceptable Response: “Amen.” Sometimes followed by an anecdote about some unexplained or coincidental experience that you attribute to God.
Unacceptable Response: “If God’s in control, then relax and don’t do anything about it! In fact, you don’t have to do anything at all ever, right? But that’s not right, and people still have to do everything, so what does it mean for God to be in control and why does it matter?”

“I believe this because the Bible says so.”

Translation: “I have no clue about the history of that big book I’m in love with, and I don’t care either, because it’s God’s Word, and if God said it, it must be true.”
Acceptable Response: “Amen.”
Unacceptable Response: “It also says to kill homosexuals.” They might heartily agree to that one, which in case the unacceptable response becomes, “It also says to kill your children when they talk back. Have your children ever talked back?” Or, “Explain to me the authorship and transmission of the Bible, and why you think it’s God’s Word.” Or especially, “Jesus said to give anything to those who ask of you – and not only to give what they ask, but more. So please give me your wallet and your car.”

“What’s God doing in your life?”

Translation: “I’m getting ready to judge you.”
Acceptable Response: “I’m conquering pride and lust!” Or, “Oh, Jesus, Jesus, I love Jesus my beautiful King and Savior!”
Unacceptable Response: “God’s been teaching me about how much evidence there is for evolution.”

“Hate the sin, love the sinner.”

Translation: “I’m a flaming fundamentalist.”
Acceptable Response: “Amen.”
Unacceptable Response: “That’s a relief, because I’m a homosexual transvestite in an interracial relationship.”

 “We’re in the end times.”

Translation: “My pastor said we’re living in the end times.”
Acceptable Response: “God will punish America for our sins!” Or, “America isn’t mentioned in the Bible because we’re going to crumble soon!”
Unacceptable Response: “Did you know that out of the millions of times Christians have claimed this throughout history, they’ve always been wrong?” Or, “If you’re so confident, I’m sure you’ll be confident in putting some significant money towards a bet on that.”

“He is risen!”

Translation: “It’s Easter! Let’s eat!”
Acceptable Response: “He is risen indeed!”
Unacceptable Response: “Where? I don’t see him.” Or, “Do you have any evidence for that statement?” Or especially, “Like yeast?”

“Jesus loves you.”

Translation: “Jesus does, but I don’t.”
Acceptable Response: “Amen.”
Unacceptable Response: “If that were true, why doesn’t he tell me himself?”

“Do you know where you’re going to go after you die?”

Translation: “This is the question they told me to ask in my evangelism class.”
Acceptable Response: “To heaven to see my sweet, precious Savior!”
Unacceptable Response: “How can you know that before you’re actually dead?”

“What would you say if you stood before God after you die?”

Translation: “I’ve got you now, sinner!”
Acceptable Response: “Please forgive me! I was so fracking stupid! How blind of me not to see you in everything you created!”
Possibly Acceptable Response: “Oops.”
Unacceptable Response: “If you wanted me to believe in you, why didn’t you show some kind of evidence? Why create everything through the painful process of evolution? Why did you let your creation suffer through hunger, neglect, disease, and war? Why incarnate yourself and then commit deicide/suicide? Why were you so bloodthirsty in the early years? If you’re God, you’re not a very good one.” Or, “Which one?”

“Thank you Jesus!”

Translation: “It’s easier to thank Jesus than the people who deserve it.”
Acceptable Response: “Amen!”
Unacceptable Response: “I’m not Jesus.” Or, “You’re welcome.”

“Have you found Jesus?”

Translation: “Are you also a Jesus-lover, or must I convert you?”
Acceptable Response: “I’ve been walking with the Lord since I was two years old, Praise Gawd!”
Unacceptable Response: “I didn’t know he was missing.”

“I’ll pray for you”

Translation: “This conversation is over. My mind exploded.” Or, “I refuse to believe you won this argument.”
Acceptable Response: “Thanks, you’re so kind.”
Unacceptable Response: ”Instead of praying, why don’t you read a non-Christian book?” Or, “I’ll think for you.” Or especially, “Liar.”

“Lord willing…”

Translation: “The Bible says somewhere to say this, and I feel uber-spiritual whenever I do.”
Acceptable Response: “…”
Unacceptable Response: “How would you know if it’s the Lord stopping you, or just your laziness?”

“Here’s my testimony…”

Translation: “I was a guilt-ridden sinner until I hit rock-bottom and then believed in Jesus and my sins were forgiven!”
Acceptable Response: “That’s a great story, how can I have my sins forgiven and go to heaven?”
Unacceptable Response: “The reason you’re telling your story is because it’s impossible for me to say you didn’t have that experience. Unfortunately, people have religious experiences all the time, and many of them have nothing to do with Jesus. Your story is nice, but it’s easier to fool yourself than you might think. You don’t know the truth about God and Jesus and the Bible through an emotional experience, but through evidence, and you’ll find that lacking.”

“It’s a miracle!”

Translation: “My brain can’t comprehend how this could happen without the God of the Universe getting involved, so it must be true.”
Acceptable Response: “Exactly! How else could they have called when you were thinking of them, except for God to control them like a puppet to impress you?”
Unacceptable Response: “Maybe, but could you prove it?” Or, “Would this really be impossible without God?” Or especially, “It seems you don’t understand probability theory. Let me explain.”

“It takes more faith to be an atheist than a Christian.”

Translation: “I don’t really understand atheism or how it’s possible not to believe in a god.”
Acceptable Response: “That’s right, brother. Denying God is like denying gravity.”
Unacceptable Response: “Believing in something without evidence takes faith. Not believing in something without evidence takes intelligence.”

“Atheism is a religion.”

Translation: “Atheism is a religion because everyone believes there is a god, right?”
Acceptable Response: “They know there is a God and they reject him and hate him! They will burn in hell forever!”
Unacceptable Response: ”Calling ‘atheism’ a religion is like calling ‘bald’ a hair color.” (Don Hirschberg) Or, “If atheism is a religion, then notcollecting stamps is a hobby.”

“It’s a mystery.”

Translation: “It doesn’t make any sense to me either, but that’s what the Bible says.”
Acceptable Response: “And when has the Bible ever steered us wrong?”
Unacceptable Response: ”If every hard question ends with mystery, how can you be so confident you are right?”

“It’s not a religion, it’s a relationship.”

Translation: “I hope he doesn’t ask if I attend church every week.”
Acceptable Response: ”Yep, it’s all about the big J.”
Unacceptable Response: ”Can’t every religion claim they are about a relationship with God?” Or, “If you’re not a religion, why do you attend church, read the Bible, believe in orthodoxy, and are trying to convert me?”

“God always answers prayer.”

Translation: “He just usually answers no…”
Acceptable Response: ”God knows best.”
Unacceptable Response: ”Jesus said if you ask anything in his name you’ll receive it. He also said if you have even the smallest amount of faith, like a mustard seed, you can move mountains. Does that fit with your experience?”

“Have you made your peace with God?”

Translation: “Are you a Jesus-lover like me?”
Acceptable Response: ”Of course, Jesus is my best friend! He’s filled my soul with gladness and joy, brother.”
Unacceptable Response: ”I wasn’t aware we were quarreling.” (Thoreau) Or, “It’s hard to make peace with someone who never calls you back.”
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