Born again, the secret language.

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One of the most fascinating things to me is the dialect in which “born again” Christians speak.  They don’t speak in some foreign language and it’s not that they speak in tongues (a Christian belief) all day everyday, however when two born again Christians begin speaking there is undeniably another dialect being spoken.

I liken it to one who travels from Cockney London to Scouser Liverpool, although both are speaking English it may still seem a foreign language to both.

In this “born again” language they have words rarely used in common English such as Holy Spirit, as well as often using old English words that have all but died out such as Brethren (brother).

ImageIf you have ever sat next to born again Christians you will often think they are speaking in some sort of code where you recognise every other word such as “Jesus” or the “Bible” and in many cases you may not even hear these words as they are replaced with the Old Hebrew word such as Yeshua (Jesus) or Torah (Old Testament laws) which only adds to the confusion.  Evangelical Christians often forget this when they attempt to evangelise the heathen which in turn leads the heathen not so much rejecting the Gospel but more to the point not understanding the Gospel.  The “Apostle” (rarely used English) Paul when speaking to the Greeks and the Romans (aka heathen) would explain his dialect to the listeners by listing a complete history of where his beliefs came from before he even got started with the Gospel message.  I can see why it was he was often in an area for up to 4 years seeing as he would probably first need to overcome this dialect issue as much as a language issue.

Some find this born again dialect scary and strange, perceiving the one speaking as scary and strange, it is this fear of the unknown that makes for stereotypes such as brainwashed and cult members, however I have rarely met nicer more down to earth people as those that call themselves born again.  I have taken the time to try to understand these “born again” types and the way they speak and once the dialect becomes clear so to does their meaning and intent.

The dialect born again Christians speak is not any different from the the Patois of any language and once we overcome our fears of the language barrier we can also overcome our fears of those speaking it.  It reminds me much of the Patois of the Jamaicans which to the listener might not be understandable and perhaps at times sound aggressive to the listener but once you have overcome the lack of understanding then you realise once again just how nice the Jamaican Patois speaking person is.

ImageThe dialect of a born again Christian is often not even understood by their more orgasnised brother and sister religions such as the Church of England and Strict Methodists, which proves even more so that the dialect in which they speak isn’t so much a Christian dialect but a uniquely “born again” one.  Even though the dialect is different from these more organised parts of the Church it is not different from “born again” believers all over the world, a born again preacher can travel from England to China and give a translated sermon to other “born again” believers into their own native language and the born again dialect crosses those barriers which is quite miraculous in itself.  Which leads me to believe it is not so much the dialect that crosses cultures but the concepts behind the dialect.  It would seem although there may be different churches and different languages in Christianity there is only one concept behind it which you may have to be to understand it fully.

But why is there a born again dialect?  I couldn’t exactly tell you however it does seem extremely Bible based rather than secular based, it seems to use actual Bible quotes, it seems to rely on old concepts heavily and is without doubt cultural.  I mentioned cultural due to the fact that we remember that not only was Jesus a Jewish man but also that the Bible was firstly a Jewish book written by and for Jewish people primarily, in speaking with Messianic Jews (aka born again Christian Jews) there definitely seems to be a quicker and fuller understanding of Jesus’ teachings and the New Testament concepts than perhaps their “Gentile” aka non Jewish counterparts.

I hope that next time you come into contact with a “born again” believer speaking a dialect you don’t quite understand that you take the time to learn rather than switch off in ignorance which we are often prone to do.

Perhaps one day there will be a mobile app that translates on their behalf.

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One thought on “Born again, the secret language.

  1. “Christianese” really bothers me. I don’t know why it should, since I delight in accents and languages of all other sorts, but I really can’t stand it when people start on in “Christianese”. I can usually understand it, but that’s not the point. I think what bothers me is that other people *can’t*. And okay, that doesn’t usually bother me when I speak to my sister in French or my father in German to avoid being understood by the people around me, but surely, since a major part of being Christian is to bring other people to Christianity, one of the very best ways to NOT do that is to speak in a way they can’t understand?

    Also, why use a Christianese term when there’s a perfectly good English term to suffice? “God’s really been laying it on my heart to start a mission outreach, and I’ve really been crying out to him…” No. Just no. Please?

    Besides, if, as you said, a lot of this dialect is based on concepts, rather than the words itself, why not use a standard word for that concept rather than a peculiar “Christianese” one?

    Now that I’ve finished ranting, I’ve got to admit that I do use some “Christianese” terms. I grew up hearing and using words like “communion”, “psalm”, “hymn”, “pew”, and “offering”, and although I know some of these have modern/secular counterparts) pew and offering as bench and donation, for example), I still use the “Christianese term in reference to a church setting. Sometimes I can even say something and not realise that my friends mightn’t know that word – “Your church is run by a noodle? Really?!” “No, a pastor.” “A pasta?” “No, a pastor. Like a minister.” “Oh, so it’s a government department…”

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