April 8, 2006


Filed under: beanquest — Brian @ 8:26 pm

that’s “Things that turned me off to Christianity (before I gave it a fair chance)”

Number 27 of my as-yet-incomplete 100 things about a blogger is:

I was baptized into my church just this past winter. Almost 20 years to the day after I finished my confirmation class as a 12-year-old. I resisted the church for a long time, for reasons I now recognize as ignorance, pride and selfishness. And – stupidest among the bunch – terminology.

In the comments, I suggested I might do a few posts on Things That Turned Me Off to Christianity. This is the first of those.

Terminology in church always made me uncomfortable. People spoke there in ways they I didn’t hear elsewhere. Sometimes is was an inconsistent pattern: is He “Jesus Christ,” or “Christ Jesus”? Is He “The Son of God” or “The Son of Man”? What’s this “hosannah,” and why is it “in the highest”?

And there’s nothing like the word “virgin” to make a 13-year-old boy a little self-conscious. I’m supposed to sing, “round yon virgin” – about Mary (who is a girl, you know) – standing next to my mother? First, I’m not singing. Second, I’m not singing about sex (or the lack thereof) next to my mother. And, why are we talking about sex in church? I mean, I know why, but, um, can we not talk about it? My mom’s right here.

A simpler one – one that I’ve been thinking about lately, is “praise.” Here’s a word I thought I knew, until I looked it up. I’m a dog person. The way I’ve always used it, “praise” is what you do to teach a dog to obey commands. “Praise” is what you do to reinforce positive behavior in your children. “Praise,” then, is what you do to influence someone else’s behavior. Surely, that’s not what “praise God” means – we’re not trying to manipulate Him, right?

No, we’re not. Defintion #2 of “praise” is “to glorify (a god or saint) especially by the attribution of perfections”

Now, that’s a different word altogether. Now, that makes sense.

My first reaction was, “we oughta use a different word.”

Then I looked up “hosannah.”

Maybe “praise, definition #2” isn’t so bad after all.



  1. Heh. My friend, Lyndon, wrote a good sermon on the Son of Man (vs. the Son of God) that I’ll ask his permission to post. What I think is difficult too, as you suggest, is that these are words people don’t use outside the church. And why not? I mean, if God is the foundation, why not? Good post. :-)

    Comment by Gwynne — April 9, 2006 @ 3:12 pm

  2. I hope he gives it, Gwynne – I’d like to read that.

    I laughed out loud at church this morning. On the screen before service began, what did it say? “Hosanna in the highest.” Honest.

    It’s funny when I think about these as an adult. Most of them are leftovers from early adolescence that I never got over, having abandoned church as soon as I could get away with it. And most of them are as silly as this one about “praise” – easily solved with a look in the dictionary. I’d just never given it a fair chance.

    Comment by Brian — April 9, 2006 @ 7:55 pm

  3. I got his permission and I’ve got a link to the entire sermon. When I get a chance later today, I’ll post an excerpt and the link. It’s right on point with what you’re referring to. Funny about the Hosanna bit…that seems to happen a lot, doesn’t it? Mention a Bible passage, and the next Sunday’s sermon (or TV evangelist ;-) refers to the same one.

    Comment by Gwynne — April 10, 2006 @ 9:59 am

  4. Mention a Bible passage, and the next Sunday’s sermon (or TV evangelist ;-) refers to the same one.

    Yes. That has happened to me incessantly since I started paying attention. At first it was just wierd. Then it made me start a blog. And now it’s really wierd.

    Comment by Brian — April 10, 2006 @ 7:32 pm

  5. Okay, it’s up (the sermon).

    Hey, did you redecorate this place? I’m looking at a green bar across the top now, instead of a blue one. Looks nice.

    Comment by Gwynne — April 10, 2006 @ 8:53 pm

  6. Yes, I did redecorate. The WordPress folks keep adding new “themes,” and this one even has a few things I can do to the sidebar! And, it appears to put paragraph breaks in comments, which is nice. Not the level of configurability I’d like, but better than what I had before…

    I read the excerpt of the sermon on your site – sounds good. I’ll go read the whole thing later today.

    Comment by Brian — April 11, 2006 @ 6:11 am

  7. Brian,
    Thanks for stopping by my blog and reading the sermon on “Here Comes the Son…of Man!” I’d forgotten about that one, to be honest. And after re-reading it, I realized it was a pretty good one after all lol :-) I think it accurately explains that “nickname” so to speak. So appreciate the encouragement. Lyn (short for Lyndon, but don’t call me Brooklyn :-)

    Comment by Lyndon — April 12, 2006 @ 7:53 pm

  8. Thanks for the sermon! It was entertaining to read, and made a lot of sense.

    I’m relying pretty heavily on the more experienced Christians I meet to help me out with this stuff. I *know* that a lot of the things that “turned me off” as a teenager don’t make much sense. Certainly not now, at 32. I’m grateful for all the lessons and examples out there I can use to better understand this stuff.

    Comment by Brian — April 13, 2006 @ 6:27 am

  9. Maybe you should look for the good in the religion you choose and not pick apart the imperfections and/or traditions of the men that preach and the worshippers that profess faith. Most religions have some base of good to teach, even though the men who teach them are not perfect. Secular Christianity is a confusing religion all in itself, with all the sects professing to be the true church of God, yet all of them differing in almost every doctrine they try to teach. Whichever Christian religion you belong to remember to be honest, strive to be near to God in your heart, and help your fellow man. By doing just that you will be more “Christian” than the millions of pious individuals who claim faith in a religion they blindly follow because of traditions. And remember noone perfect has walked the earth in 2000 years. :-) Just keep looking for the answers and you will find them, if your heart and mind are open.

    Comment by Chris Qualheim — December 26, 2006 @ 6:44 pm

  10. “Maybe you should look for the good in the religion you choose and not pick apart the imperfections and/or traditions of the men that preach and the worshippers that profess faith.”

    Indeed. I was far too concerned about the behavior of people in church, and completely missed the point. I like to think I understand it better now, though I do have a long, long way to go.

    Thanks for stopping by, Chris, and for leaving some good things to think about.

    Comment by Brian — December 26, 2006 @ 7:43 pm

  11. Very intresting blog, thanks for posting

    Comment by ST — March 1, 2007 @ 4:14 am

  12. Definitely an interesting concept, I enjoyed reading, thanks!

    Comment by Alan — March 22, 2007 @ 6:01 am

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