sloppy agape

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I’m starting to think that all the most memorable Christianese expressions either rhyme (like sloppy agape below or happy clappy) or they use alliteration like greasy grace or no Bible, no breakfast.

Sloppy agape gets used in several different ways. To some people it has a negative connotation (see senses 1 and 2), and in other cases it has a neutral, though perhaps a bit messy, meaning (see sense 3).

How have you heard the term sloppy agape used? How do you use it?

See also: cheap grace.


sloppy agape n. See various senses.
See also *cheap grace; *easy-believism; *greasy grace; *love-bomb; *unsanctified mercy.
1. Lavish but merely verbal or superficial affirmations of love and care for someone that are not backed up by concrete action or long-term support.
1961 Duvall “North American Conference on Church and Family,” Marriage and Family Living 23/3 (Aug.) 272 : No longer will any of us who were part of the Green Lake Conference be satisfied with what one conference workgroup called “sloppy agape” truisms, and “sweetness and light” platitudinous family programs. 1977 New Covenant vol. 7 21 : Sloppy agape can be a hindrance to holiness. The Bible clearly calls us to love all people. But Bible love is also clearly defined and focused. The Bible tells us who to love and how to love them. There are no ill-defined, vague platitudes about loving all mankind, when we can’t come into deep, committed relationships with a group of Christian brothers and sisters. Sloppy agape just mushes all over everybody. How many times have brothers and sisters in the Lord resisted the idea of entering committed relationships with one another in the name of sloppy agape? 1998 Prince The First Mile 4 : Love … is not a sentimental attitude expressed in religious clichés or honey-sweet phrases. Someone has characterized this unscriptural counterfeit of love as “sloppy agape.” … True biblical love is expressed primarily in acts, not in words. 2003 Lambert Charismatic Captivation 248 : I don’t know who is credited with the original coining of the term “love bombing,” but it is a term often evoked in contemporary descriptions of the psychological techniques employed by classic cults to woo new recruits, and to maintain the bonds of enslavement on existing members. The so-called “love” that is spoken of in these groups is an ushy-gushy, sickly-sweet, surreal, over-done, showy, carnal, humanistic kind of “sloppy-agape,” replete with a superabundance of hugging and cheek-kissing.
2. A permissive relationship or environment in which people are not held accountable for the consequences of their mistakes; any teaching that emphasizes God’s forgiveness over and above the need for believers to be holy and obedient. This term is sometimes contrasted with “tough love.”
1984 Jones Reconciliation 65 : Sloppy agape overlooks sins. Instead of talking to a young man about his sex problems or to a husband about his laziness, we continue to ignore their sins and heap on more sloppy agape. 1985 Kirk The Mind Polluters 162 : His love was “tough love.” “Sloppy agape,” on the other hand, refuses to address personal moral values revealed by God or to call each other to accountability. Instead, this sentimental love allows each individual to do his own thing. 2005 Johnson Splashes of Joy in the Cesspools of Life 179 : When a child chooses a lifestyle that is self-destructive, he or she needs your love more than ever, but what’s needed is tough love, not sloppy agape or syrupy sentimentality. 2012 Johnson Hosting the Presence 41 : It seems that you can’t even talk about the extreme kindness of God without someone voicing the concern for “sloppy agape” as they used to say, or an anything goes kind of Christianity.
3. Weeping and blubbering experienced during intense worship or prayer; sometimes associated with extreme emotional vulnerability or a spiritual ecstasy. The metaphor is that the person’s tears, drool, and snot are “messy” or “sloppy” evidence of the person’s direct experience of God’s *agape love.
See also *sling snot.
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