Rethinking “Rethinking” / J. Pritchett

February 22, 2014

“Rethinking Rethinking:
Why Rethinking is the most annoyingly
overused word in Evangelical titles and subtitles”

by Johnathan Pritchett

A search at Amazon reveals almost 400 books in the Religion and Spirituality Section with the word “Rethinking” in the title. Many of them are evangelical books on everything from essential doctrines to retirement. Journal databases reveal that the word is popular for articles and essays as well.

Frankly, it is very annoying, overused, and just plain silly.

Some are aspects of this nuisance are outlined as follows:

A. “Rethinking” presupposes there has been a lot of thinking on this or that issue when there isn’t much evidence for that. Thinking isn’t necessarily all the rage these days in evangelical theology, and simply thinking about how the Church has always thought about these things would be a vast improvement over what is now the norm, which is not much thinking at all. Rethinking anything when there isn’t enough thinking on what has already been thought in the history of the Church certainly distracts from the plain old notion of more thinking that is currently lacking.

B. However, it may be the case on some things where there has been a lot of thinking on a particular issue, and when authors want evangelicals to start rethinking this or that doctrine, what they really mean is that they think the Church has got this or that doctrine wrong for several thousand years now, but thank goodness God has picked them to fix it for all of us even though it is highly likely the authors are tiptoeing with heterodox, heretical, or just plain stupid ideas.

C. The worst-case scenario: Publishers think it is a hip word to have in a title, and we just need more of it. (WRONG!)

Here is a novel idea. How about we just stick to thinking about things rather than always being bombarded with books and articles telling us to be rethinking everything when we still haven’t thought hard enough on the way things have always been thought in the faith once for all delivered unto the saints. Let’s get that right before we move on to rethinking things, even the things that most certainly don’t need to be rethought anyway. After all, Martin Luther wasn’t “rethinking indulgences,” he was simply thinking about Scripture, and concluded indulgences were stupid and had no part in it.

But, let’s say the entirety of my opinions on this issue are way off base and wrong. Okay, fine. Even granting that for the sake of argument, I still say that some originality in these titles would make for a refreshing change. The word “Rethinking” is worn out and tired. 

Though I must confess, I, too, want to be published some day, and if following the trends is the way forward, then be on the lookout for my next two books in the Rethinking series. You will find them in the dumb evangelical book title section of Mardel.

“Rethinking Curtains: Why Heated Business Meetings About the Baptistery Decor Matter.”
“Pews Reconsidered: Rethinking the Stupid Idea of Putting Couches in the Sanctuary.”

– both by Johnathan Pritchett (Useless Press: My Living Room, 2016).