farewell, farewelling, farewelled

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“Farewell, Rob Bell, World Vision, Burger King!” The act of publicly dismissing people or organizations from the church has been catching attention the past few years, especially as it relates to a recently coined idiom of “Farewell!”

farewell, farewelling, farewelledFirst it was John Piper in 2011 bidding “farewell” to Rob Bell. Then it was Denny Burk in 2014 bidding “farewell” to World Vision. Now the terms “farewell” and “farewelling” seem likely to stick around, at least for the time being, as Christians continue to have discussions (mostly in online forums such as blogs and Twitter) about who gets to say who’s in the church and who’s out. Or, perhaps to be more precise, who’s in the evangelical camp and who’s outside it.

We’ve covered this topic previously at the Dictionary of Christianese under the heading of the Christianese term excommunitweet.

See below for some key quotations that will help in understanding how Christians have been using this term “farewell.”


farewell v. To publicly declare that someone no longer adheres to orthodox Christian doctrine; to publicly declare that someone is no longer part of the church or is no longer part of the evangelical community.
This Christianese sense of the verb farewell typically conveys a dismissive, judgmental attitude on the part of the speaker. This is a marked difference from the secular sense of the verb farewell, which typically evokes a positive and even affectionate tone (e.g., “We gathered last night to farewell our dear friends before they moved out of the state”).
2011 Piper (@JohnPiper) twitter.com (26 Feb.) : Farewell Rob Bell. 2011 christianitytoday.com (2 Mar.) : One popular blogger who read a couple of advance chapters of Bell’s latest book, announced that Bell was probably a universalist. This set Twitter on fire with both speculation and condemnation. One famous Reformed theologian simply tweeted, “Farewell, Rob Bell.” One does not imagine that he had kicked Bell out of the Reformed theology club. Bell hasn’t been considered a member in good standing for some time. Now, the tweet implies, Bell is no longer evangelical, or orthodox, or maybe even Christian. 2011 lisavelthouse.com (26 Mar.) : A few weeks ago when I saw my former pastor’s name was a Top Ten Tweet, that there was some controversy about his new book Love Wins, that certain evangelicals were Twitter-farewelling him, etc., I made up my mind to keep from throwing my hat into the discussion. 2011 edsjourney.wordpress.com (7 Apr.) : Rob also takes apart our “pray the prayer and you’re in” theology. For many of us this is sacred. It’s how I became a Christ follower in High School. But at the risk of being “farewelled,” let me point out that this theology is nowhere found in the Bible. 2013 christianitytoday.com (15 May) : Unlike some of my other fellow believers, I cannot say, “Farewell, Rob Bell.” Instead, I think of him as my brother in Christ. 2014 Burk (@DennyBurk) twitter.com (24 Mar.) : Farewell, World Vision. 2014 Evans (@rachelheldevans) twitter.com (24 Mar.) : I’m so sick of this “farewell” crap. You guys would have “farewelled” Jesus. 2014 futurechurchnow.com (26 Mar.) : all this overdramatic “farewelling” over non-essential issues is getting tiresome. It’s shutting the door of the Kingdom in people’s faces. 2014 Lupfer (@jlupf) twitter.com (31 Mar.) : I’m a nobody, but it’s fun to send “Farewell, _______” excommunitweets on behalf of all evangelicalism, as Rob Bell & World Vision received. 2014 jacoblupfer.com (1 Apr.) : Without rendering a judgment about whether conservative evangelicals are too preoccupied with boundary maintenance, I want to comment on how cavalier some of them have become about kicking people out. In the Twitter age, it has become as simple as sending out an excommunitweet…. “Farewell, _______” excommunitweets are authoritarian and unbecoming. They seem to connote a certain gleeful “good riddance,” as if to say, “We’ve been wanting to kick you out for a long time now, and this time you’ve finally done it. You’re out!” 2014 rachelheldevans.com (1 Apr.) : The response to World Vision revealed some major fault lines in the Church, and many of us who grew up evangelical interpreted all the gleeful “farewelling” from evangelical leaders as our final kick out the door. 2014 tylorstandley.com (16 Apr.) : By the standards of these gatekeepers, the definition of “evangelical” is becoming so narrow that it really doesn’t describe anyone but themselves. As I’ve said before, evangelicalism is shrinking, and pretty soon even the gatekeepers will have to bid themselves “farewell” due to their inability to meet their own standards. 2014 rachelheldevans.com (19 May) : Just last week I was accused of heresy by Owen Strachan of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, and I often get “farewelled” on Twitter (or “excommunitweeted”) for the supposed heresies of egalitarianism and theistic evolution. [2014 Piper (@JohnPiper) twitter.com (4 Jul.) : Good-bye, Burger King.] 2014 patheos.com (7 Jul.) : John Piper is “farewelling” again. No, this time it has nothing to do with Rob Bell—he’s actually farewelled Burger King. (Though he changed the Bell trademark to “Good-bye.”)
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