"Bible Christians"

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Wed Feb 22 02:33:31 UTC 2006

FWIW, Japanese has made a distinction between "Christianity" (=
Protestantism) and "Catholicism," since at least the '60's, when I happened
to buy a copy of the standard, published-in-Japan-by-Japanese
Japanese-English dictionary. During the time that I spent in a Catholic
school (not a "parochial school," since that school was, at the time, for
whites only) in the '40's, it was never clear to me that there was a
necesssary connection between the "Catholic faith" and Christianity =
Protestantantism. When I got to high school, I was taken a bit unawares by
the fact that the Jesuits did regard the phrase, "Christian Church," as
merely another way of saying, "Roman Catholiic Church."

However, that was basically an anomaly. My personal experience as a Catholic
converted from Methodism ca.1942 is that "Christianity," in the United
States, generally refers only to Protestant Christianity, unless Catholicism
and Orthodoxy are specifically mentioned. If I saw a reference to
"Christian" singles, it would never occur to me that the reference was meant
include Catholic singles. And, as you suggest, the reference might not even
include singles from so-called "mainline" Protestant churches , such as the
Methodist Church.


On 2/21/06, Geoffrey Nunberg <nunberg at csli.stanford.edu> wrote:
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Geoffrey Nunberg <nunberg at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU>
> Subject:      "Bible Christians"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> 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
> Catholics."
> 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
> again.
> Geoff Nunberg
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