Friday, December 18, 2009

What I Love About Catholicism: Not Having to Hear PC Churchspeak

I was listening to our local radio station's afternoon show and the topic was, "Phrases That Annoy You." We all have those certain, trendy phrases of speech that others think are cool but drive us nuts. For my husband, it's "24/7." He always says something about it if I use it in a sentence. (i.e. "He lives for the Buckeyes, 24/7.") For me it's hearing people say "fiddy" instead of fifty (as in "Fiddy Cents").

One caller admitted he really, really disliked a certain phrase that I heard in my non-denominational churches waaay too often: Seeker-sensitive. The caller likened it to "politically-correct" talk for churches. The host wasn't sure what he meant so he tried to explain it, but it's tough to explain what "seeker-sensitive" means to someone who doesn't usually attend church since the objective of a "seeker-sensitive" church is a strategy to reach the "unchurched."

I laughed aloud in my car as I realized I would never, ever hear the phrase "seeker-sensitive" in my parish, especially regarding the Traditional Latin Mass.

I remember the first time I heard the phrase and immediately disliked it. Being a "seeker-sensitive" church meant that you were sensitive to either non-believers or people who hadn't been to church in a long time, and you offered them Gospel-Lite. Which usually meant that expository teaching from Scripture didn't occur as much as a pop-psychological take on current cultural events that was meant to sidle up to a newcomer and say, "Hey, we're just as friendly and emotionally accessible as Dr. Phil!"

There are other "churchspeak" terms such as "the emerging church," "deep church," "reinvented Christianity." There are always developing phrases and lingo to describe whatever new fad has captured many non-denominational and even denominational churches. If you visit some of them, you'll see that a shift has occurred. No longer are many churches teaching about sin, Hell, and repentance. These doctrines of our faith are seen as "too offensive" for those investigating Christianity. (Hence, the "seeker-sensitive" mission.)

True story: I used to be involved heavily with the prayer teams at a "mega-church" Vineyard Christian Fellowship church. (Mega-churches usually have membership in the thousands.) When I first stumbled upon the Vineyard, I was intrigued by the prayer ministry that often opened an opportunity for deliverance prayer. During such times, the person who we would be praying for would manifest demonic behavior. Instead of being frightened, I knew that this was one of the reasons Jesus Christ came to earth - to set the captive free. I felt excited to be a part of it. Plus, I just liked knowing that the devil was getting pounded.

I went away to ministry school. When I returned, I asked the new pastor of prayer if they still conducted deliverances. "Oh, no," she said. "We stopped."

Stunned, I asked why. Her response: "It was just too messy and could be intimidating to new people." I still was in shock. Did Jesus ever stop helping people because it was "messy" or could possibly offend people? From what I've read of His experiences, it looked like He didn't care what others thought, only in reaching and saving the person who sought His help. Since when does His Body choose the easy route so as to not offend man?

Anyway. You won't find such apologies within the Catholic Church. There are priests who do pray for deliverance although it's not dealt with in the same manner as a non-Catholic church may do it. But Biblical standards are upheld and there isn't much "politically-correct" terms thrown about to make the truth more palatable. In fact, the Catholic Church is a pretty tough bunch. If anyone gets offended, they'd be as likely to be told "offer it up" (a Catholic way of saying "get over it") than anything else.

Some people think that church should be constantly "re-imagined" or re-packaged to appeal to the masses. However, I didn't see Jesus use such an approach. In fact, He made it rather difficult to embrace His message. He spoke tough words and challenged the societal norms of his day. He didn't try to please everyone. He only sought to please His Father and bring honor and glory to Him.

This is why I have such issues with "churchspeak" and church fads and trends. They seem to be focused more on gaining the acceptance of man than pleasing God. And to please God is pretty clear, explained in Scripture. Love God and love your neighbor. Simple, but not easy.

But then again, that doesn't sell a lot of books and expensive speaking engagements.


Elizabeth said...

Offer it up! Is one of my favorite expressions...just ask my children!
Pax Cristi!

Tom Ryan said...

Heard that broadcast myself. Like Corby, I was clueless

X said...

I hate these phrases - "mission statement" and "faith community." And don't get me started on "social justice."

Oh, and it's not a church expression but when a couple say "they" are pregnant - I despise that!!! No, SHE is pregnant and THEY are expecting.