"Bible Christians"

Geoffrey Nunberg nunberg at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Tue Feb 21 23:45:58 UTC 2006

In an editorial in the Chicago Sun Times that appeared to on
12/31/04, Andrew Greely wrote:

"Patently I use the word "Christian" in an extended sense and not in
the sense of the Bible Christians for whom most of the rest of us who
follow Jesus of Nazareth are not really Christians, especially

I assume that Greely is using "Bible Christians" to mean
Evangelicals, Pentacostals, Charismatics, and the like. Does this use
of the term tend to be associated with Catholics nowadays, or is it
more general? (I note that there was a 1988 book called "Catholicism
and Fundamentalism - The Attack on 'Romanism' by 'Bible Christians,'"
which put the phrase in quotes.) Is it related to the early use of
the term for a Methodist denomination?

Also -- I know this is harder to answer -- does anyone have a sense
of how far back the modern, restricted sense of "Christian" that
Greely is alluding to goes? I mean the sense that the word seems to
have in  a phrase like "Christian singles," where the reference is
presumably to those who have accepted Jesus Christ and been born

Geoff Nunberg

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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