Christianese mixed with a lot of blabber...
Here is a post by Alastair Roberts using Rob Bell as his central example of a problem in American Christianity today. He describes him as an ad man, and he points out that there are lots of these in the Christian world these days.
His post isn't mainly criticizing Rob Bell, although it's important to know that Rob Bell is a false teacher. Instead it is about what has happened to communication in the 21st century. And he gets it exactly right. Here's the part I want to take further:
Advertisers can be masters of eliciting feelings and states of mind in a manner that makes you think that you are on exactly the same wavelength, without actually telling you anything. They give you the bucket and you fill it, without recognizing what you are doing. Vague and indefinite terms that will be filled with highly emotive states (e.g. ‘spiritual’, ‘transcendent’, ‘wonder’ – words which almost always carry great emotional resonance for any hearer) and prose that seems to be saying something profound without making much of a specific claim is fairly typical here. They hold up a mirror and you see yourself in it.
The best way for a pastor, author, or Christian conference speaker to keep from offending anybody who happens to be there is to be an ad man. Truly gifted ad men are rare. So if you can both say nothing and get people very excited about it, you can make lots of money, even with a Christian audience.
It's the fact that this works with Christians that bothers me. We should be able to distinguish between Christian teaching and Christianese mixed with a lot of blabber, but too many of us can't.
Often when you try to point out the problem with what an ad man has said, people get offended. Why? Because they have bought into his narrative with their feelings. So when you attack what he says, you are attacking them. They'll call you a grump and say, "After all, he didn't say anything particularly wrong, did he?" No. He mostly just implied things that were wrong. So how can we as Christians tell there's a problem, and how can we train other Christians to spot ad men?
The first test I propose is that you ask yourself this question. "If I was a non-Christian, would I still totally agree with this guy?" If so, you've got a problem. He's itching your ears, and it's time to run away.