Ten things Christians say a lot, but shouldn’t.
We Christians have a remarkable talent for sticking our feet in our mouths. When searching the words most commonly associated with “Christian,” the list ain’t pretty. I think part of this can be attributed to a handful of phrases that, if stricken from our vocabulary, might make us a little more tolerable. Yes, these things may mean something to you, but trust me, non-Christians don’t share your love for these tried-and-true cliches.
So in no particular order, here are ten phrases Christians should lose with a quickness:
- “Everything happens for a reason.” I’ve heard this said more times than I care to. I’m not sure where it came from either, but it’s definitely not in the Bible. The closest thing I can come up with is “To everything, there is a season,” but that’s not exactly the same. The fact is that faith, by definition, is not reasonable. If it could be empirically verified with facts or by using the scientific method, it wouldn’t be faith. It would be a theory. Also, consider how such a pithy phrase sounds to someone who was raped. Do you really mean to tell them there’s a reason that happened? Better to be quiet, listen and if appropriate, mourn alongside them. But don’t dismiss grief or tragedy with such a meaningless phrase.
- “If you died today, do you know where you’d spend the rest of eternity?” No, I don’t, and neither do you. So stop asking such a presumptuous question as this that implies you have some insider knowledge that the rest of us don’t. And seriously, if your faith is entirely founded upon the notion of eternal fire insurance, you’re not sharing testimony; you’re peddling propaganda.
- “He/she is in a better place.” This may or may not be true. Again, we have no real way of knowing. We may believe it, but to speak with such authority about something we don’t actually know is arrogant. Plus, focusing on the passing of a loved one minimizes the grief of the people they left behind.
- “Can I share a little bit about my faith with you?” Too often, Christians presume we have something everyone else needs, without even knowing them first. Ask someone about their story, but maybe not the second you meet them. Christian evangelism often is the equivalent of a randy young teenager trying to get in good with his new girlfriend. When your personal agenda is more important than the humanity of the person you’re talking to, most people can sense the opportunism from a mile a way.
- “You should come to church with me on Sunday.” It’s not that we should never invite people to church, but too much of the time, it’s the first thing we do when we encounter someone new. My wife, Amy, and I started a new church eight years ago, founded on the principle of “earning the right to invite.” Invest in people first. Listen to their stories. Learn their passions, their longings, and share the same about yourself. Then, after you’ve actually invested in each other, try suggesting something not related to church to help you connect on a spiritual level. If the person really gets to know you and wants to know more about why you live your life the way you do, they’ll make a point to find out. Then again, if you come off as just another opinionated, opportunistic Christian, why should they honor your predatory approach with a visit to the church that taught you how to act that way in the first place?
- “Have you asked Jesus into your heart?” As many times as I’ve heard this, I still don’t really know what it means. why my heart? Why not my liver or kidneys? This also makes Christianity sound like a purely emotional experience, rather than a lifelong practice that can never entirely be realized. But yeah, asking someone if they’re engaged in a lifelong discipline to orient their lives toward Christlike compassion, love and mercy doesn’t exactly have the same ring to it.
- “Do you accept Jesus as your personal lord and savior?” Again, this is not in the Bible. Anywhere. And for me, it goes against the whole Christlike notion of the suffering servant. People tried to elevate Jesus to the status of Lord, but he rejected it. So why do we keep trying? Plus, the whole idea of a lord is so antiquated, it has no real relevance to our lives today. Be more mindful of your words, and really mean what you say.
- “This could be the end of days.” This is one of my favorites. We Christians love to look for signs of the end of the world; we practically have an apocalyptic fetish. It’s like we can’t wait until everything comes to a smoldering halt so we can stand tall with that “I told you so” look on our faces, while the nonbelievers beg for mercy. Yeah, that sounds like an awesome religion you’ve got going there. Sign me up!
- “Jesus died for your sins.” I know, this is an all-time Christian favorite. But even if you buy into the concept of substitutionary atonement (the idea that God set Jesus up as a sacrifice to make good for all the bad stuff we’ve done), this is a abysmal way to introduce your faith to someone. I didn’t ask Jesus to die for me, and if I’m not a Christian, I really have no concept of how that could possibly be a good thing. he whole idea of being washed clean by an innocent man’s blood is enough to give any person nightmares, let alone lead them into a deeper conversation about what Christianity is about.
- “Will all our visitors please stand?” If someone finally is brave enough to walk through the doors of your church, the last thing they want is to be singled out. They probably don’t know the songs you’re singing or the prayers or responsive readings you’re reading. Depending on the translation of the Bible you use, the scripture may not make much sense, and they probably have no idea where the bathroom is. So why add to the discomfort by making them stand so everyone can stare at them? Also, calling someone a visitor already implies they are simply passing through, that they’re not a part of things. Instead of “visitor” or “guest,” try something less loaded like “newcomer.” Better yet, walk up to them, introduce yourself and learn their name.
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I have to wonder how many of you who agree with these points have actually spent any significant time reading the Bible. Each and every point the author made is solidly Biblical…..except number 10. I suspect he made that one up.
“When your personal agenda is more important than the humanity of the person you’re talking to, most people can sense the opportunism from a mile a way.”
I recently got ‘bible bashed’ as a result of asking that they not push their way onto me. I then got a sermon, followed by a refusal to discuss it with me when I felt under valued and judged.
I don’t hate Christians, but I am yet to know how to resolve this with a person who loves God but see fit to turn away and dump me because I stood my ground…..
This exact same thing happened to me! I could have written your words.
Bashed and when I attempted to resolve it, the door got shot. Apart from stalking them I’ve had ti let them be. I came to to logical conclusion that whilst this person may be a Christian they are a human first, therefore flawed.
CHRISTIANESE. That’s what Christians speak and shouldn’t. It makes us all look and sound like a bunch of sappy, illiterate, unintelligent cultists. Unfortunately, modern evangelical Christianity is mostly Biblically and theologically unfounded and followed. It doesn’t help that it has it’s own distinct subculture and language that causes those who do not believe to look at us like we are idiots. I don’t mind being considered a fool or idiot for Jesus Christ, but not because I say and do the foolish and laughable things modern Christians do. It doesn’t cause those who do not believe in Christ to think… Read more »
Excellent piece, and this is coming from a former religionist.
#5 in particular. It happens all the time: I meet someone and think that maybe we could become friends. Then she invites me to church, and that’s the only thing she’s interested in — hauling me in as a trophy. It’s so phony and only serves to drive more people in greater droves AWAY from organized Christianity. Thank God it doesn’t drive me away from loving Jesus, who would avoid those churches like the plague.
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I am often confused and the way Christians come at other Christians, specifically online. This article has some decent points here and there, but over all, it feels like an open invitation to bash the faith and make sweeping generalizations! I understand that there are things with critiquing in and about Christianity (in the MANY ways that it manifests in this country) but I feel like critics coming FROM the church need to use a much better approach than this. Even as a Christian who is beginning to lean on the more Progressive (I kind of hate that word for… Read more »
C’mone, about all the talk of asking Jesus into your “heart” and not liver of pancreas, you hypocrites! How many non-theists or atheists have ever said they “love” something or someone with all of their HEART? Why not love with your liver or pancreas?? You’re being a bit cute and trifling. If you have a piece of a brain, then you’ll admit that the “heart” is metaphorically used, to the extreme, as your MIND! Whatever it is you use to think and reason. So, I love all of you “smarter than faith” brothers and sisters with all my heart and… Read more »
Christianity: We don’t know, therefore, God. This logic sounds goofy in Ancient Aliens but for some reason, this logic is socially accepted when it comes to religion. Go figure.
I agree with all of this. Being a recovered cath-ey, and a proud non-theist, I completely agree…Why Heart? why not pancreas, femur, cochlea, penis, thumb? Also, the arrogance of many krissies is just too overwhelming. Like when they come to your door and ask if you’ve been saved. Well, Not recently. I actually am the one who Does the saving, and I am in no soul-danger without espousing your made-up bible scare tactics. It also humors me that they teach their children that A-Theists are evil devil worshipers. I don’t worship that in which I do not believe. I likewise… Read more »
That whole “The Bible was written by men” argument is ridiculous. First of all, the Bible is the INSPIRED Word of God. He gave the words to the authors. I can believe it to be true in every way because it has predicted events time and time again.
And last I checked, who wrote all your textbooks growing up? Men. They’ve presented the theory of evolution among other things, but it’s just that–a theory. So why do people believe a theory presented by man, but yet it’s ridiculous to believe Scripture that can be identified as the same?
Mel, Wouldn’t an all knowing all powerful being choose a method of communicating with humans that was a little less prone to error? Perhaps direct communication? The verifiable fact that the bible has been rewritten, edited, changed, and redacted by clergy and king through the centuries should be evidence alone that it is not god’s inspired word. Secondly, you select evolution as your example? The definition of a scientific theory is not the same as the colloquial term you are using. Evolution is supported by the whole body of scientific knowledge from biology, genetics, archaeology, anthropology, and a host of… Read more »
CLICHÉ ONE There is a whole mixed bag of wrong and write in this statement, as with many of the clichés about which you have written. I don’t agree that it is not biblical. A variant of what is meant when people say this IS in the bible. It comes from Romans 8:28, which says: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” What is very irritating is however is when Christians use this verse in an insincere, thoughtless or cavalier fashion. I… Read more »
you should probably stop using cliche 9, not because of anything heretical but because how dumb it sounds.
God impregnates a virgin so she can give birth to him so he can be sacrificed to himself so he can forgive us for sins we’ve not yet committed that he created anyway.
Go ahead, keep saying it, we’ll just keep laughing
And you sir are the reason I stay as far away from Churches as possible…
Agreed… but why be anonymous? I am not ashamed of my firm grasp on reality.. You shouldn’t be, either.. <3 Namaste'
Well said. I was thinking the same thing when I read this. He is a preacher? Although I agree to degree with some of his posts, ie; “Have you asked Jesus into your heart” Although I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with asking the question, I do believe we need to wait for the prompting of the Holy Spirit. This guy is way off the mark. Thank you for your well educated response.
“Better yet, walk up to them, introduce yourself and learn their name.”
Some of his responses here are rank heresy. He does not know his subject so has no basis to speak on it. Even if some things said by us christians are cliched his reasons why this is so are simply wrong, most egregiously so if his definition of faith as unreasonable. His belief may be whistling in the dark. Mine is not
But faith is by definition unreasonable. If it was supported by evidence, it would be reasonable and called knowledge
Faith is belief without proof but something that is not proven does not equal unreasonable.
True. Faith is the assurance in what is unseen. Meaning we don’t actually see God, but we’re 100% sure He exists and the author of this article is being rude. He starts with the phrase “we Christians” and then says ” I didn’t ask Jesus to die for me, and if I’m not a Christian, I really have no concept of how that could possibly be a good thing.” Then why did he add the “we”?
He’s actually spot on, on every point, and this is why Christians continue to alienate people from the church. Stop babbling about “heresy” as though this were the 16th century, and pay attention. Your arrogance is an exact example of what he’s talking about.
The last time someone followed me down a sidewalk and kept asking what I would be doing for all eternity, I lost it and said, “Probably your mom.” Not the best response, I know. Learn when to take a hint if someone wants to listen or not.
I enjoyed your list here. Being an atheist i have encountered the whole list and my Catholic mother has encountered the whole list as well from fellow christians. It’s nice to see this list coming from a christian. It’d be so very awesome if more christians were aware of what they were saying and how they are saying it. I know their intentions are good but some of these sound very insulting when said to people of other faiths or non-faiths. Some of them sound somewhat insensitive when speaking of the recently deceased no matter what the living individuals’ faiths… Read more »
I am sorry to hear so many have had a bad encounter with a Christian. You are all right Christians fumble their words, they get it wrong at times. I know a computer specialist all he mostly talks about is computer. Go talk to a dental professional you just might hear strong opinions about teeth! Go talk to a guy/girl who is getting ready to get married they will talk about who they love excessively. A policeman has pretty strong opinions. Car fanatics go to car shows and even get them started talking about their cars. We all have our… Read more »
You’re comparing apples to oranges. There is a HUGE difference between car enthusiasts talking about their love of cars and Christians using many of the above phrases as a part of their sales pitch.
God is not a hobby.
P.S. It’s entirely possible that everything happens for a reason. That is NOT necessarily a reassuring concept. I’m an agnostic. I would be much more likely to believe in the existence of an almighty if we assume that the almighty can be a nasty, vindictive S.O.B. sometimes. Saying everything happens for a reason doesn’t mean there’s a *positive* reason. That’s why the Old Testament seems to make more sense to me — that God was an abusive father.
Right or wrong, rude or not, let’s look at it in practical terms. Do saying these things ever really WORK to convert people to your point of view? If the fellowship strategy is to say #1 through #10 over and over again until it sinks in, then that’s just not a very good strategy. I would think that if God wanted you to increase the faith that He would want you to do something more effective. If I say something that I intended to be comforting but that comes across as offensive and aggravating, then I should think about a… Read more »
Before I could ever accept the truth of “the Bible,” I need to know which bible you’re referring to. There are dozens of versions out there today, not counting all the versions that no longer exist. In fact, there’s no copyright on the bible. Anyone can print anything and call it a bible, so how can you really know that what you’re reading is not a misprint?
Given the history of Christianity, it’s entirely possible that “true Christianity” went extinct many centuries ago. Some of my old-school Catholic colleagues think it was destroyed by the Protestant Reformation.
He is spot on. I see a lot of Christians missing the point completely. If you want to share your faith, you have to share it with someone you know as an actual person and try to approach them where *they* are, which is not normally waiting around for someone to tell them they are going to hell if they don’t believe what you do. All of these statements of “Christian speak” are very good ways to turn people off from your message. And throwing scripture around isn’t usually helpful either, since the vast majority of Christians cherry pick the… Read more »
Can people stop saying “Love on” …. like “I work in the childcare room so I can love on those babies.”
Or another context “love on our friends Bob and Sue”.
It is WEIRD! And seems gross!!! And I am a woman and this one drives me batty.
Stop going around loving on people!
Here’s an idea. Stop telling people what they should do. If these people irritate you, then have a conversation with them personally. Get to the heart of why they say what they say, instead of complaining. Otherwise, smile and nod and don’t hang out with them. Telling others how to live their faith, whether it’s based on religious dogma or self-sovereignty, is just close-minded and judgmental. Focus on yourself, and what it’s important to you, and you’ll find you get along with others just fine.
Christianity was invented by guilty people (primarily Paul) who were searching for a way to assuage their guilt over his brutal crucifixion, approximately 70 years after his death. So the author is correct that these traits are not consistent with Jesus, but with the Bible? (Which was written by these people long after Jesus’ death), or “Christians?” No, this is how they justify their made-up religion.
I challenge ANY so-called “Christian” reading this article and making comments to prove their point WITHOUT quoting or referring to scripture…. please? C’mon, PLEASE!? My personal opinion is that I don’t think they can do it.
You act as if
a) those things are always unsubstantiated
b) non-christians don’t fall into the same fallacies at least to the same equivalent
Also want to challenge your pretty sever implication: reason, by the way, can have many incompatibilities with the scientific method in the way of assumption, limitation and … BIAS (you only need to compare scientific manuals over the last half a century). Sick of people putting it on the pedestal as the pin-up point for the whole plane of modern humanity.
“You act as if …. non-christians don’t fall into the same fallacies at least to the same equivalent.”
Absolutely right on that. There are idiots of all kinds out there. Non-Christian idiots are no better or worse than Christian idiots. Somehow I don’t think the author was saying that Christianity has the monopoly on cliché.
Perhaps you can think of 10 clichés that non-Christians need to stop saying?
9.“Jesus died for your sins.” Mark 10:18 “No one is good except God alone.” Isa 64:6 “ All our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” Isa 4:4 “The Lord will wash away the filth.” It’s a statement of truth and fact that Jesus died for the sinful man, not because he had to but because God loved us and it is the gift of salvation. John 3:16, For God so loved the world that he gave his on and only begotten Son so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. Also John 3:36, “Whoever believes… Read more »