cradle Christian, cradle Episcopalian, cradle Presbyterian

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You’ve probably heard the term “cradle Catholic,” but did you realize that Protestants use the “cradle” combinations too? Check out “cradle Christian” and more.

definition of cradle ChristianCradle Catholic was without a doubt the first of all the cradle combinations. The earliest known usage of “cradle Catholic” in print is 1864. The Protestant-friendly version, “cradle Christian,” didn’t show up in a printed book until 1943. Perhaps it’s not so surprising, given the Catholic emphasis on raising up one’s children to partake of the faith, and given the Protestant emphasis on evangelizing and converting adults. Of course kids in Protestant families often grow up to be Christians too, but I’m just saying that the emphasis is a little bit different in each denomination.

Interestingly, after cradle Christian, the next “cradle” combo to appear in print was cradle Lutheran, in 1955. Then in the 1970s we saw cradle Episcopalian and cradle Anglican.

These days it’s a free-for-all. The past several years have seen the arrival of the terms cradle Baptist, cradle evangelical, and even cradle Pentecostal!

Have you heard any other “cradle” combos besides the ones here?


cradle Christian n. A Christian who grew up in a household in which Christianity was practiced; a Christian who converted to Christianity as a child; a Christian who was raised by Christian parents.
Variant forms that are specific to particular denominations or movements include: *cradle Anglican; *cradle Episcopalian; *cradle evangelical; *cradle Lutheran; *cradle Methodist; *cradle Nazarene; *cradle Pentecostal; *cradle Presbyterian.
These various “cradle” terms are formed on the pattern of the much older and more widely known term cradle Catholic. The term cradle Catholic appears in print as early as 1864.
See also *Christian home.
1943 New Catholic World CLVII. 647 : I have heard many Cradle-Christians say that everybody must believe in God. 1969 Bligh Galatians 508 : But the man who was baptized in infancy is not able to make this reassuring comparison; the cradle-Christian may be unable to discern the influence of the Holy Spirit in his life. 1975 Trethowan Mysticism and Theology 82 : First, however, we need to add to it the distinction between the experience of the “cradle” Christian of the manuals and that of the adult convert to Christianity. 1994 Polkinghorne Quarks, Chaos, and Christianity xii : Perhaps I should explain that I’m a “cradle Christian,” having grown up in a Christian home, and having always been a part of the worshipping and believing community. 2005 Shepherd Teens and Spirituality 30 : As for ourselves, perhaps, if we’re “cradle Christians,” we’re too used to grace, too used to our own faith and acts of love—however slight those may seem to be. 2008 Kent Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity 105 : He started going to church, where he eventually met his wife, whom he describes as a “cradle Christian” who had grown up in a strong faith. 2008 Williams Greater Than You Think: A Theologian Answers the Atheists About God xv : I am a “cradle Christian,” who from an early age recognized God’s loving presence in my life.
cradle Anglican n. The Anglican variant of *cradle Christian.
1975 Armstrong Evelyn Underhill (1875–1941) xiii : Evelyn was indeed a “cradle” Anglican. 1991 Stevenson, Spinks The Identify of Anglican Worship 174 : He was not a cradle Anglican. It was spirituality in his undergraduate youth which turned him from Congregationalism to Anglo-Catholicism. 1998 Griffiss The Anglican Vision x : It [=this book series] assumes a different readership: adults who are not “cradle Anglicans,” but who come from other religious traditions or from no tradition at all, and who want to know what Anglicanism has to offer. 2006 Chartres Why I Am Still an Anglican 1 : I am a cradle Anglican. “Church,” in its middle-of-the-road Anglican manifestation, was part of the fabric of my childhood. 2009 Packer Praying 260 : [He] can testify to this with regard to the psalms. As a cradle Anglican, he said and sang them in church from his earliest days. 2010 Hunter The Accidental Anglican 10 : In his estimate of what he finally calls the Anglican treasure chest I, a cradle Anglican who am now a converted and convictional one, resonate with him as enthusiastically as ever a man could.
cradle Baptist n. The Baptist variant of *cradle Christian.
1995 Heterodoxy: Articles and Animadiversions on Political Correctness vols. 3–5 000 : Hillary Clinton’s Methodist roots are lifelong, while her husband is a cradle Baptist. 1996 The Living Church CCXII. 89 : As a “cradle Baptist,” I was raised to believe the Bible and not to skew the scriptures to suit my situation at any given time. 2003 Cross, Thompson Baptist Sacramentalism 56 : Spurgeon was not a “cradle Baptist,” having been baptised as an infant among the Independents.
cradle Episcopalian n. Episcopalian The Episcopalian variant of *cradle Christian.
1971 Van Gelder Forbes The Springfield Mite 207 : Persons from Episcopalian backgrounds (“cradle Episcopalians”). 1982 Holmes What Is Anglicanism? ix : Some years ago I had the occasion to preach in a seminary chapel on the Feast of the Bestowal of the American Episcopate (November 14). It provided an occasion for a “cradle Episcopalian” such as myself to ask why he was an Anglican. 1986 Marshall The Gospel Conspiracy in the Episcopal Church 52 : Ask from those present for those who are cradle Episcopalians to raise their hands. Then ask for those who became Episcopalians later in life also to raise their hands. The latter group are always substantially and significantly in the majority. 1992 Fichter Wives of Catholic Clergy 101 : While all of the wives were devout Episcopalians at the time when they converted to Catholicism, less than half had been “cradle” Episcopalians. 1993 The Door iss. 127–138 13 : “Were you a cradle Episcopalian?” “No. Though I was baptized as an Episcopalian when I was a child, I came to the faith through the most cynical possible motives. I went to Trinity School on scholarship, and the English prize was only given to confirmed Episcopalians…. So I became a confirmed Episcopalian and won the English prize. 1995 The Living Church vol. 211 2 : Laura Ehling is a cradle Episcopalian whose husband is a cradle Lutheran. They attended a Lutheran church for some time, and then began to “church shop.” 1997 Meyers Continuing the Reformation: Re-Visioning Baptism in the Episcopal Church 1 : I am what is sometimes known as a “cradle Episcopalian.” The child of active Episcopalians, I was baptized at the rather tender age of one month, confirmed when I was in the ninth grade after a full school year of confirmation classes, and admitted to communion at the time of my confirmation. 1999 Armentrout An Episcopal Dict. of the Church : A person who has been an Episcopalian or a member of an Episcopal family since birth. 2010 Putnam Am. Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us 52 : “I’m a cradle Episcopalian,” agrees Steve Adams, one of Good Shepherd’s parishioners, “which is almost an anomaly in the church these days.”
cradle evangelical n. The evangelical variant of *cradle Christian.
1994 Ackerman Spiritual Awakening: A Guide to Spiritual Life in Congregations 6 : Some people, often “cradle evangelicals,” have stereotypical expectations of the “normal” religious experience. They may have desperately prayed to “be saved” and yet never have felt any assurance of that salvation. 1997 Martin New Covenant XXVII. 44 : I had wondered if I was the only “cradle evangelical turned R.C.” with this habit. 2000 Heather Religious Language and Critical Discourse Analysis 265 : From early Sunday School the cradle evangelical learns the importance of “getting to know more about Jesus.”
cradle Lutheran n. The Lutheran variant of *cradle Christian.
1955 Romig The Book of Catholic Authors 263 : I was a cradle Catholic and she was a cradle Lutheran. 1995 The Living Church CCXI. 2 : Laura Ehling is a cradle Episcopalian whose husband is a cradle Lutheran. They attended a Lutheran church for some time, and then began to “church shop.” 2001 Lutheran World Federation Between Vision and Reality 254 : Many Lutherans are “cradle Lutherans,” baptized as Lutheran, cultural Lutherans, in a sense, traditional Lutherans. 2011 Bolz-Weber in Snider, ed. The Hyphenateds: How Emergence Christianity Is Re-Traditioning Mainline Practices 2 : The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) offices in Chicago kept asking me to fly out and talk to them. I became a Lutheran evangelist to these “cradle” Lutherans who had no idea what they were sitting on.
cradle Methodist n. The Methodist variant of *cradle Christian.
1999 Methodist Hist. XXXVII. iss. 2–4 173 : Hannah and Pope were cradle Methodists, while Gregory came from a great Wesleyan dynasty. 2001 Synan The Century of the Holy Spirit: 100 Years of Pentecostal and Charismatic Renewal, 1901–2001 181 : Other “cradle” Methodists who worked at ORU and who werewidely known as charismatics were Bob Stamps and Robert Tuttle. 2005 Witherington The Problem with Evangelical Theology 171 : I am a cradle Methodist. Rumor has it that my first two words were “John Wesley.” 2006 Bass Christianity for the Rest of Us 45 : I think we could probably count on the fingers of only three or four hands the members of this congregation who have been in church all their lives, or are cradle Methodists.
cradle Nazarene n. The Church of the Nazarene variant of *cradle Christian.
2008 Hollingsworth Gifts of Passage 143 : I was sitting in the sanctuary of a fine old church. At the time, it was the most Catholic church in the history of the United Methodist Church. They had enough great black robes and a lovely enough choir and enough liturgies that even a cradle Episcopalian could be comfortable there most Sundays. Being a cradle Nazarene, I thought I was near the Vatican.
cradle Pentecostal n. The Pentecostal variant of *cradle Christian.
2005 Thompson Waiting for Antichrist: Charisma and Apocalypse in a Pentecostal Church 125 : Only one “cradle” Pentecostal said that she had lived in expectation of the Second Coming ever since her childhood.
cradle Presbyterian n. The Presbyterian variant of *cradle Christian.
1984 Beare, Richardson, Hurd From Jesus to Paul xxx : A “cradle Presbyterian” turned Anglican, he has never displayed the obnoxious features of a “convert.” On the contrary, he has maintained friendly relations with the Presbyterian community. 1998 Hodgson Life and Joy: An Autobiography of Varsity Acres Presbyterian Church 84 : Gardner was not a cradle presbyterian, and he willingly set about to learn how presbyterianism worked. 2001 Reed How to Survive Being a Presbyterian xii : The author is also a bit aged and 13 years new to the denomination, and it is therefore a bit presumptuous to give advice to younger folk—particularly those who are—or were—Cradle Presbyterians. 2003 Douglas The Praying Life 24 : As a cradle Presbyterian, I have spent most of my life in a tradition that places a premium on decency and order in the Christian life. 2008 Russell The Fly in the Ointment 115 : I am a cradle Presbyterian. I am a third-generation Presbyterian. My great-grandfather was a Presbyterian minister.
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