Culture At Large

Hiding behind God-talk

Andy Rau

Interesting piece at Christianity Today on the topic of covering up our confusion with God-talk. The article describes the way in which Christians often avoid addressing difficult or uncomfortable subjects by hiding them behind "Christianese" language:

Consider this example from church life (though such situations are not confined to local churches). A minister is not happy in his place of service. He wonders whether he was right in accepting this call in the first place. He has dealt with painful personality conflicts, constant power struggles, and criticism. Now he is leaving. He is leaving because he can't take it anymore. His future is most uncertain.

But he believes that he can't say any of these things. There is an unwritten Code in the church (and not just this church) that dictates how a minister says goodbye. So he says, "God spoke to me and is leading me to a different place of service at this time. I appreciate the opportunity to be your pastor. I now must move on to wherever God leads me next."

I've seen this exact situation at my church, and you've probably witnessed it yourself. Sometimes, of course, churchy language like this is a polite way of saying "My reasons for moving on are between me and God, not for public discussion." God does call us all to different places in our lives, after all. But a lot of times, you know there's more going on than a heavenly calling, and wish that it could be confronted and resolved rather than swept under the rug to avoid conflict or hard feelings. If a community problem is driving a minister or leader away, then it should be dealt with; and if the problem is a personal one, the community should be given an opportunity to help.

Have you ever used God-talk to explain a decision, keeping the real reasons to yourself to avoid creating a scene? Did it work out for the best, or do you wish you had been more open and specific about your reasons?

Topics: Culture At Large, Theology & The Church, The Church