Thursday, March 5, 2009

Embracing Bad Words

Growing up in “foreign” and more importantly non-evangelical cultures can make one more sensitive to the legalism—no, downright Pharisaical attitude of the Evangelical Ghetto. Usually the root of the legalistic practice is not bad; it is just the habits that have become standards that we use to judge people’s spiritual health that are wrong.

One area that is really sensitive for evangelicals is language. There are certain words that are automatic sins, no matter what the context or how the language evolves. You can tell how spiritual a person is by their level of lingual-sinfulness. The really spiritual ones won’t even say “crap!” or “fart!” or “shoot!” The worldly Christians might say “bitch” instead of “complain.”

Those are not the bad words that we need to talk about here, however. They are just an interesting aside. The bad words in cross cultural circles today are those like proselytize. We have been convinced that we need to be subtle in our approach to non-Christians. We should go slow and never ever use crass methods like tract distribution or a packaged Gospel delivery. We could never present the Gospel cold-turkey without first building a relationship or preparing the heart of the individual through copious amounts of coffee and company.

Once again, this attitude is not bad at its roots, but sometimes we need to be reminded of the earnestness of out task. Here is a great reminder from world famous atheist, Penn of Penn and Teller. (Incidentally, he loves to use bad words, but not in this clip!)

Check it out. (Thanks to {missional} space for the heads-up.)


  1. I've read through your blog a few times from Jay Wright's blog. I don't know how y'all know his family, but I went to high school with him. I appreciate so much you posting this video. It is so true that we, as Christians, SO OFTEN are afraid of a social awkwardness, as was termed in the video, that we DON'T do what we know we should! Great Great Video! I hope you don't mind if I steal it and put it on my blog!

  2. Oh, and a related comment: I'm rereading Lewis' The Problem of Pain and came across this quote CSL uses from William Law:
    "if you will stop here and ask yourselves why you are not as pious as the primitive Christians were, your own heart will tell you, that it is neither through ignorance nor inability, but purely because you never thoroughly intended it." Hmm


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