"Christian" as an Article of Speech


I’m in the middle of reading Velvet Elvis, by Rob Bell, a book that has drawn some fire from conservative evangelical circles. I understand why, and think that maybe at a point or three Bell could have been a bit more careful in his wording; that said, I love this book. I thought I’d toss out a line from the book and let you chew on it:

“‘Christian’ is a great noun, but a lousy adjective.”

Talk amongst yourselves…


  1. Don on July 22, 2008 at 9:30 am

    This goes back to a discussion we had several months ago on What’s a “Christian Business”? The term “Christian”, at least in our culture, HAS become a marketing label. A business is called Christian if it produces or distributes a product that can be labeled as “Christian”. The question I guess is whether or not this is proper or even accurate.

    The term “Christian” is used in scripture to describe the followers of Christ. So in that sense, if you want to be technical about it, it would be impossible for an in inanimate object, like a business or a product, to be “Christian”. Not knowing the context of the quote this sounds like what Bell may be getting at.

  2. Byron on July 22, 2008 at 11:56 am

    Yeah, it pretty much is. This is a realization that I’m late coming to, and I guess I’m not totally convinced–what do we make of “Christian schools”? Should they just be “private schools”? But yeah, I find myself disenchanted with a lot that labels itself “Christian” these days, and beyond that, there’s the whole sacred/secular false dichotomy; that’s really what Rob Bell is going after. God is everywhere present; all truth is God’s truth; non-believers get it right sometimes and Christians get it wrong a lot as well, of course.

    Funny…we just got our shipment of “Shepherd’s Guides”, the “Christian phone directory”. Should that make me queasy? Probably at least a little bit. Should followers of Christ support other followers of Christ? Yes, most definitely; Galatians 6 fields that question well. So for now, they stay in the lobby…

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