An Experiment

Let’s conduct an experiment in psychological conditioning!

Step 1: play a song by clicking here (YouTube version here)

Step 2: Report how many seconds it took for you to begin feelings of anxiety, guilt, and the general urge to run across the room and kneel in front of something.

Step 3: Discuss

243 thoughts on “An Experiment”

  1. It doesn’t inspire guilt for me, or really any reactive feelings born from oppression. Fortunately, though, my stint in IFB was short-lived. Sadly, though, the extreme frequency of this as the altar call at Fundy U made me just…tired of it. It’s just all worn out to me for now. Disappointing because I always enjoyed singing the alto line for it.

  2. Would any student of Church history be willing to explain how the stairs to an elevated platform at the front of the non-nave became known as an altar in Fundy circles? It certainly has nothing in common with the altar of Lutheran/Anglo/RC churches and it never made sense to me. ❓ 😳

  3. One of the “big three” in fundy churches that I’ve gone to: “Just As I Am”, β€œHave Thine Own Way Lord”, and “I Surrender All.” They don’t really make me feel guilty anymore, I’m just sick of hearing them! πŸ™

    Really sad, though. I don’t think the writers of those hymns would be happy with the way fundy churches today misuse their work. They didn’t write them to guilt-trip everyone who heard them! πŸ™„

    1. I know I’m probably going to catch crap for this, but I hate “I Surrender All.” The message of the sing is good. I have no problem with it. However, every time I’ve heard it sung, it sounds like a wailing dirge.

      1. It’s the guilt tripping! Don’t sing it unless you mean it? And if you don’t mean it why not? After all Jesus did for you, how can you not willingly surrender all!? Somewhere in the mix they’d quote Romans 12:1 and guilt trip even more. πŸ˜₯ No wonder so many of us would come out of there feeling lower than a snake’s belly.

        1. George I wanted an exclamation point instead of a question mark after Don’t sing it unless you mean it.

  4. I didn’t even have to wait for the song to load. I had all those feelings when I saw the title. When the song did load, though…the plunkish sound really brought me back.

  5. Actually I felt very thankful for Jesus dying for me and accepting me just as I am. I appreciate his love, mercy, and grace.

    1. I’d say that a lot of the people here feel the same way. That’s not the point and not what we’re talking about. We’re discussing the misuse of this hymn during invitations by a preacher so anxious to see lots of people come up front that he’ll make the congregation sing it again and again and again and he’ll wheedle and attack and do whatever it takes to get people moving: “Don’t you love Jesus? Come to the altar and show Him you do!”

      But then, you knew that.

    2. My fundy church actually killed the positive message of certain songs for me. “I Surrender All” by Clay Crosse was twisted into one big guilt trip about donating money for the pastor’s annual building banquets. Every year…more money for yet another project. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$. Now whenever I hear that song, feelings of manipulation are associated with it. It is a nice song…what a shame.

      1. It’s very sad to see songs being used for purposes the writer never intended. There’s another thing that fundy preachers do that burns me up. They will take someone, often a member of their own family, and hold them up as an example to guilt other people. Our former pastor did that. “My wife went soul winning when she felt lousy! What about the rest of you who felt just fine yesterday? Where were you? If she could go feeling as rotten as she did, why didn’t you?” Some pastors even use a wedding to guilt people. “We’re having a wedding on Saturday, will you be here? Will you wish this couple well or will you just do your own thing on Saturday?” If I was part of that couple I’d tell him to never use me to guilt other people! πŸ‘Ώ

        1. I’m going to take a rabbit trail on the weddings. Pardon the rant. πŸ˜‰
          Let’s not forget guilt trips during the wedding ceremony! My wife and I got engaged and let’s just say it didn’t go over well with the folks. We had already left the church, but everybody there heard what happened – and everyone, save for one woman and a couple of our personal friends, swallowed the pastor’s lies like they were the very ordained words of God.
          About a month after our engagement, a friend got married and invited my fiancΓ©e and I, my family, and a few other ex-church members to the wedding. Not only did both pastors (our old one and the groom’s) belabor the bride & groom’s excellent testimony (no touching, no being alone together, and a nice impromptu presentation by the father, giving the groom the “key to his daughter’s heart” necklace)… The pastor left early to avoid us, church members refused to acknowledge us or shake even my father’s hand… And the following Sunday mornin. Service was entirely devoted to scolding the bride’s family for their insensitivity in daring to invite “all those devisive people” to the wedding, explaining that it was their fault that hebehaved so immaturely and pouted all that day. The afternoon service was devoted to slandering me and my fiancΓ©e. Shortly thereafter they segregated all teen activities (I’mn
          not certain how the church plans to carry on into the next generation, since they obviously don’t want their youth to progenerate amongst themselves). I feel bad for them.
          However: I express no sorrow for the glee I feel for the church’s faux pas of actually psting that Sunday morning service on their guest/sermon download page. Ich habe schadenfreude.

          In regard to the actual matter of the original post: as a musician, it breaks my heart to see a decent song abused and muddied by overzealous preachers. Great sentiments, Truly meant from the heart of the poet and composer, which are cheapened through overexposure and manipulation. As a former PCC student, I can attest to the other comments saying how they have been deadened or completely immunized to the song. Such a pity, but I doubt the damage will ever be undone. It’s on par with singing the words to “Amazing Geace” to the Gilligans Island theme. It’s just sad.

          Okay, my rant here is done.

        2. Pardon the spelling and punctuation errors; my ipod is unning out of juice and I wanted to finish posting before I lost everything I had typed. πŸ˜›

  6. Most of my emotions were used so hard and so often in my IFB years that the handles have broken off. I have a hard time connecting with people because if they express or expect or, God forbid, stir any emotion other than light humor, all I can think is, “What do they want?”

    Still, if someone reaches deep enough, they can find the stump of a handle. My gut knots up, expecting them to twist it. I used to feel guilty whenever I heard any of the hymns that were used regularly for invitations. Now I just feel dirty and… used.

  7. Although it’s been less than 2 years since we’ve left fundamentalism, I have not been under manipulaltive invitations for a long time. With the possible exception of a visiting evangelist, the last church we were at didn’t have long invitations meant to pressure people, and then when my husband took his own church, he didn’t do them either. We’d play a short “invitation hymn” (I usually picked them so I’d pick a variety of songs – usually something that fit the message. If he’d preached on holiness, I might do “Take Time to Be Holy”, we’d sing a verse, then close in prayer. Few people ever went forward. My husband liked to ask if people wanted to talk to him, to remain behind in their pew and he would come up and speak to them individidually instead of making them walk up an aisle in front of everyone.

    So while I have been present at manipulative invitations, they didn’t happen enough to permanently scar me!

    1. Some of that is probably because the church I grew up in was well under 100 people. A pastor would have to be a truly blind egomaniac to give highly charged, long-draw-out calls for people to “get right” week after week in a church as small as that. Ours was smart enough to know that he couldn’t do that.

      1. pw – The church I was in was typically around 50 on Sunday. That didn’t stop the pastor from giving the “hard-core” invitations (that were mentioned earlier). On some days you could just tell he was angry and on those days the invitation was a guilt laced scream fest of how all of “you” Christians should be responding to a message like that (his sermon) by coming to the altar.

      2. Apparently some people like that sort of thing. I’ve seen pastors in churches that small or smaller do exactly that, three times a week. I even heard a soloist announce before singing that, if her song convicted anyone of anything they needed to get right, they should “walk, don’t run to the altar!”

      3. PW, I would have loved to have attended the church your husband pastored as a young believer! I think I’ve probably run this in the ground, but asa younger believer, i actually have ended up in the ER on more than one occasion with heart palpitations due to this type thing. I sat under countless sermons & drawn-out invitations with even preachers confessing they were never really saved, & now they were going to take a stand by confessing this to their people & trusting God to provide for them if/when they were told to resign. This often really worried me, since i was the introspective type that viewed things as, well, if that man/woman was not truly saved, then I must now be either! Only God & my poor wonderful wife know how heart-wrenching this was for many years until the truly amazing grace & love of God finally was implanted in my thick skull by God Himself who used His Word & some loving believers to help me through it all. Oh me, forgive my rant, but this one still hits a tender spot in my heart, & i so feel for those going through it even yet.

    2. The church we attend has a designated prayer room. Every service closes with an announcement that the prayer room is open for anyone who has anything they would like prayer for. We then have either an elder or deacon husband and wife team that waits in the prayer room for anyone that may come. No high pressure sales tactics, just the leading of the Holy Spirit.

      1. We have “prayer ministers” standing at the side entrances during the Eucharist. Anyone who wants prayer can go there and be prayed for. Since everyone comes forward to receive, if you stop for prayer on your way back to your seat, you don’t stand out. And the prayer can be for any need, spiritual, physical, financial, etc. or just to give thanks. Your prayer request is nobody else’s business.

  8. As a student trying to do right at Fundy U, I always felt guilty about not going forward during the invitation. Then I would rationalize that coming out the “invitation door” after the sermon would put me too far away from the umbrella left outside in the stand. Also, as an introvert, I have always found altar calls completely soul crushing. I was convinced, no doubt, the problem was with me.

    Now that I’m older and wiser, I know I could have gone forward zero times, and as long as God and I were talking, I would have been okay. God save us from humans trying to take the place of his Spirit!

  9. I associate this song with my time in Anglo-Catholicism, which would be anathema to IFB. They played it every Sunday during the service of Benediction (kind of idol-worshippy use of a bit of blessed communion wafer, with prostration before it by the priest and acolytes while everyone else sang Just As I Am). It makes me feel awkward and guilty still, though, both for its content and for remembering how much I loved it and was moved by it, even while thinking I shouldn’t in a service that was so utterly idolatrous in nature to me…

  10. Hypocrisy! You accuse Fundies of spiritual abuse and yet you put us through THIS!?

  11. This was one of the songs my fundy church always played during invitations. It took me about 24 seconds before I got bored and irritated and closed the window.

  12. My legs start to get tired when I hear it because I’m used to standing through 1,000 verses of it while a preacher asks 50 million trick questions to get people to raise their hand and ultimately come down to the altar.

  13. When I *hear* the song, I feel a fundy drag; however, when I think of the words or read them, I feel overwhelmed and thankful.

    I used to get the fundy drag no matter what, but my turning point for “Just As I Am” came when a non-fundy/agnostic accepted Christ after a long time of holding back and doubts. He used that song as his testimony and he’s never set foot in a fundy church before. To him, it is simply a “grand old hymn”. So, now, I like to read the words and see them as he sees them. They are a blessing!

  14. “I would not embarrass anyone in the building, but if there is one not sure of their salvation, would you slip up a hand and say preacher pray for me. I PROMISE nobody is looking around. “

    1. Cult 101, break down boundaries, invade people’s interior lives and even claim that the individual has no claim to it.

  15. 4 notes and I was instantly transformed to an opening service at BJU. I thought of something to confess, but I did it right there in my seat…. πŸ™‚

  16. No, nothing happened. The lord of the pulpit couldn’t even move me to the alter as it did the entire congregation every single time, that just left me singing “Just as I am” solo.

  17. No desire to get on my knees, no guilt or feeling like I need to “get right with God.” Just a tightening in my chest and bad memories. I lasted about 40 seconds.

  18. I feel no guilt nor have any desire to “hit the alter to git right with gawd!”. I just have pleasant memories of my grandfather singing this song while standing next to me in church. πŸ™‚

  19. This song was so familiar I didn’t need the music to play it for my congregation and I remember many times zoning completely out thinking about other things while I played it. And the youtube version had an organ! *twitch*

    1. I did exactly the same! I did not even listen to the song.

      Not that I hate it–the words are good–but the overuse of the tune and its stifling slowness of the tune irritates me intensely.

  20. After about 3 notes I hit the stop buttom like a Whack-a-Mole. Now I’ve got the song stuck in my head. Thanks a lot Darrell!

  21. We used to have this really pretty version of that song…choir going at it acapella, tweaked a little. That I liked, and the IFB wasn’t really part of my home life. I just like music that pleases my ear.

    I do remember the invitations, though…the difference between the church I go to now and the way fundy invitations were…is refreshing.

  22. 16 seconds in I was irritated. Not guilted or anything, but I couldn’t listen any longer. My husband selects the songs at our church, and he rarely uses this one. Our pastor prefers one or two verses and then done. I don’t feel the pressure I have in the past. πŸ˜€

  23. Actually this version sounded much too upbeat for the fundy churches I used to attend. I always felt like closing altar call was like a funeral march.

  24. Alright, i started playing the song, chuckled to myself and moved on to something else. 10 seconds after i started playing it my wife came to my office door and said “I had the sudden urge to come to the front of your office.” She then laughed but I asked her if she had just been on SFL, she had no clue what I was talking about.


  25. 6 seconds.

    No guilt (I never did the whole confess at the altar thing even though my MOG wanted everyone too). I do fee anxious, tightness in the chest and gut, feelings of hopelessness and frustration.

    Sheesh… I’ve only been out for three months, but it all comes crashing back so quickly.

  26. No guilt, no anxiety, only an overwhelming sense of how lame the midi file sounded. πŸ˜›

  27. I actually was able to listen to the whole thing…but my survival technique in the IFB music was to pay attention to hitting the right alto note so I could ignore the fact that they all sang one thing and did another. I did occassionally get in trouble for basing my arguement against pre-mils on hymns that they sang…and they HATED that! 😈

  28. I didn’t even listen to it at all. I saw the link’s title as it loaded in my browser and I was already twitching. [Shudders]

    But you haven’t really sung that song until you sing all six verse thru at least three times.

  29. Nope. No desire to want to go and kneel, but now I’m craving me some K&W and it’s not even 9 AM!

    1. (For you heathens, K&W is a cafeteria restaurant here in NC, where the holy fundies dine after Sunday morning services. The chain is almost as old as fundyland)

  30. I became a Christian at a “Tent Mission” when I was 13. That was the hymn they played when I made my decision to follow Christ. I don’t think it was the hymn that did it, though, God’s Spirit had working on me for a long time.

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