Alka-Seltzer Christian

“Plop plop, fizz fizz!” Alka-Seltzer Christians are all fun and games… until they disappear without a trace!

For the last two weeks I’ve been researching two very large groups of words: (1) words for Christians who show up to church irregularly (such as Chreasters, Christmas-and-Easter Christians, church-hoppers, church-shoppers, lone-ranger Christians, and sermon-tasters) and (2) words for Christians who show up to church regularly but don’t get very involved (the so-called back-row Baptistsbenchwarmers, pew potatoes, and pew-sitters).

But when I came across Alka-Seltzer Christian this week (and its related term Alka-Seltzer Baptist), I had to slam on the brakes and write a blog post immediately!

The term was coined in the early 1980s, which makes sense since the famous “Plop plop, fizz fizz, oh what a relief it is” jingle began airing in 1979. It didn’t take long for Christians to repurpose that popular jingle for their own Christianese purposes!

What other Christianese terms have you heard for Christians who show up to church but don’t do much once they get there?

 

Alka-Seltzer Christian n.
1. A churchgoer who attends church on Sunday mornings, showing zeal and emotion during the service, but who has nothing to do with the church all week until the next Sunday. See more information at sense 2 below.
See also *Alka-Seltzer Baptist; *roman-candle Christian.
1981 McGee Thru the Bible Commentary: Matthew 73 : These are what I call Alka-Seltzer Christians. There is a lot of fizz in them. They make as much fuss during a service as a rocket on a launching pad, but they never get into orbit…. They have great zeal and energy during special meetings, but they are like burned out Roman candles after the meetings are over. 1988 Jurjevich The F.O.J. Syndrome in Am. 74 : They could worry less about the Alka Seltzer Christian, the one who goes to church and “fizzes” for an hour on Sunday morning, while the rest of the week he [does nothing at all].
2. A newly baptized convert to Christianity whose initial enthusiasm quickly gives way to uninterest.
The image is of a person being baptized (an antacid tablet being dropped into water) and having a vigorous but short-lived religious zeal (the tablet fizzing and bubbling furiously) before he or she disappears without a trace (the tablet having completely dissolved).
The catchy “Plop Plop Fizz Fizz, Oh What a Relief It Is” television commercial with its familiar jingle first aired in 1979, and Alka-Seltzer Christian appears in print as early as 1981 (see in sense 1 above).
1985 Rogers The Secret of Supernatural Living 121 : I call these people, who start out fine and then fade away, “alka-seltzer Christians. 2009 Smith Life-Changing Thoughts 437 : There are a lot of Alka-Seltzer Christians: after they are dropped into water they fizzle for a while and then disappear.
Alka-Seltzer Baptist n. A Baptist variant of *Alka-Seltzer Christian 2.
See also *cotton-candy Christian.
1985 Hill Blue Rise 228 : “Are you an Alka-Seltzer Baptist? Put him in the water and he’ll fizz for half a minute?” 2000 Pyle The Truth About the Christian Life 4 : Someone has well said, “We have too many ‘Alka Seltzer’ Baptists. We put them in water, they fizz a little bit, and disappear.” Which will it be for you, success or failure in the Christian life?
  • The terms I tend to use for the twice-a-year Christians are, of course, twice-a-year Christians, or semiannual Christians. For those Christians who attend Sundays but do little otherwise, Sunday-morning-only Christians, Sunday Christians, weekend Christians, the 80 percent, and deadwood. But I don’t know how common these terms are. I don’t claim to have invented any of them.

    • timoteostewart

      A few of those terms are new to me—deadwood and weekend Christian in particular. Thanks for the contribution. I’m looking forward to researching those a little more…

      I enjoyed your blog post about the 20 percent and the 80 percent.

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