In Name Only

by Stephanie Logan


In my past, I often looked down on those who were nominal in their faith. Nominal means in name only and fundamentalists and evangelicals tend to refer to most Roman Catholics, mainline protestants, and many of their own as nominal. It is a spiritual insult to call a Christian nominal and often whispered as a prayer concern shared about someone who needs *saved*.

As a natural result of my rearing, I thought little of Roman Catholics who only attended mass on holidays, weddings, and funerals; mainline protestants who obviously didn’t understand the *real* message of salvation and didn’t desire holiness; and evangelicals who weren’t in the church every time the doors opened. They obviously weren’t serious in the faith if they even had any. Don’t you know that all those nominal Christians vote Democrat and evangelicals and fundamentalists *know* that people who vote Democrat aren’t real Christians.

What I didn’t realize then, I see clearly now. Perhaps nominal Christians know a thing or two about priorities and balancing their lives and faith. And those referred to as nominal are usually less invested. It is easier for them to miss the dirty underbelly of the church and just enjoy the traditional comforts. They are often less aware of what the Bible teaches – settling themselves on passages of scripture that are universally familiar and don’t cause too many questions. Had I been raised to be nominal, I would likely still be in the church.

But I was raised in a system that prioritized holiness with guilt laden altar calls that took place at both Sunday services. It was riddled with constant talk of death, judgement, and the end of the world. One of our four foundational doctrines was Jesus as the coming king who would save us all from the judgement of earth through the rapture. I can’t tell you how many times I got saved as my anxious child mind could never be certain if my sinful soul was genuine the last time I got saved. I didn’t want to be left behind. And just to be extra sure, I got baptized twice: once as an infant in my grandparent’s Presbyterian church and once again when I was a teen and was told that believer’s baptism by immersion was the way *real* Christians did it.

In my teen years, I was already doing daily devotional Bible study and was *called* to the ministry. Instead of going to a state university to study communications like my high school instructors encouraged, I spent more than twice the amount to attend a denominational college where I earned a degree that has been a hindrance to professional growth. While there, I not only studied for ministry, but I also began the habit of reading the Bible through annually and listening only to Christian radio – two things that greatly influenced the next two decades of my life.

That Bible reading continued for close to 25 years. I have read the Bible cover to cover over twenty times. During three of those years, I was also studying the Bible through verse by verse from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21. I took a notebook full of notes and created my own cross references using a Strong’s Concordance, a Vine’s Expository Dictionary, and a Halley’s Bible Handbook. I have read the King James Version, New American Standard Bible, New King James Version, New International Version, and the English Standard Version.

I have worked to arrange church programs, sat on committees, assisted preachers, taught Sunday School and children’s church, and have even been offered the pulpit on occasion, though only under the authority and in the presence of a male preacher and never to actually preach (of course).

My choices about the church and faith have not come from lack of knowledge or effort or faith. As a matter of fact, I was so all in that one of the last things my last pastor said to me was, “You know too much to stay away, Steph”. But as others who have walked a similar path have said, I have seen behind the curtain and once you see behind the curtain you can’t unsee.

Rather than knowing too much to stay away, I know far too much to return because there was nothing nominal about me.

Former evangelical homeschool mom and one-time missionary and pastor’s wife, Stephanie Logan, aka Snicklefritz, writes from her life story and four decades of experience in the evangelical movement. Her views and stories are her own.

Copyright © 2022


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