I don’t necessarily know the “definitive reason” why, but I can share my own experience.
When I was about 11 or 12 years old, the adults and youth ministry at the Presbyterian church my family attended began the putting pressure on me and the others in my age group to “accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior”. Of course, this was coupled with the stock evangelical admonitions of the consequences of failure to do so: Eternal damnation and burning pain in Hell upon death of the human body. That’s about the ultimate in coercive psychological techniques that can be applied to get someone to join your gang and I have no doubt that it was perfected in the days of the Roman Empire in order to promote adoption of Christianity members of Constantine’s military. Fear of eternal damnation makes for a heck of a recruitment tool. Of course, the Roman Catholic Church had its hand in the creation of this coercive device as well.
For the 90%+ of kids with whom I went to church, mindlessly agreeing to sign on to the “accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior” mantra was no big deal –they readily agreed and were spared the prospect of eternal damnation. But it was a different story for me. You see I was a thoughtful and sensitive kid who took such matters much more seriously than my peers.
First of all, I had absolutely no idea what “accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior” meant. It was a total enigma to me. Accept that I had some kind of personal relationship with an historical figure who lived two thousand years ago? Say what? A “savior”? What 12 year old kid feels like he needs to be saved? Saved from what? And then there was the aspect that if God was truly omniscient and all-knowing, as I was being taught, then any attempt by me to bamboozle Him by simply agreeing to “accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior” without even knowing what it meant was certainly doomed to fail and I’d still be subject to the eternal damnation (or maybe even worse for trying to make a fraudulent claim before the Almighty).
This all came to a head one summer night when I was at our church’s Junior Camp up in the San Bernardino Mountains of Southern California. After dinner, the counselors built a big bonfire and arranged a pile of sticks by it. The campers were all instructed to walk by the fire, pick up a stick and toss it into the fire as a gesture symbolic of our giving our lives to Christ and “accepting Him as our personal Lord and Savior”. (You can see where this is going.) There were at least a hundred kids at that camp and each of them dutifully walked by the fire and tossed in their stick. Except for one. Yes, I picked up a stick and walked by the fire holding it but not tossing it into the flames because I didn’t want to engage in that lie to the Big Man when I didn’t even know what “accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior” meant. I cried myself to sleep that night wondering what in the hell was wrong with me.
In retrospect, the idea of laying that kind of abstract religious concept on a 12 year old kid and then threatening him with eternal damnation if he didn’t conform to it seems like a type of child abuse for which grownups would be locked up for these days. The fact that it was psychological abuse rather than physical is hardly a mitigating factor as heaven only knows what kind repercussions could have come from it (e.g., I knew a 17 years old Mormon girl who self-immolated and I’m virtually certain it was because of things she’d learned in church about sin and sex).
In light of this whole episode in my life it probably is not surprising that the name Jesus Christ remains somewhat creepy for me to this day.
There are some truths that JAH just plants right in your instincts (i.e., no book learning required) and one of those was that whatever or whomever God was, He wasn’t going to allow any of His children (meaning any human being) to be cast into some lake of fire for eternal damnation. That was just plain horse manure and I knew it. I also felt a definite spirituality inside of me, the essence of which was confirmed when I did acid at age 14 and was instantly aware of the truth the Love is the universal and awesomely powerful energy that animates all life and creates the grace that protects each of us on our individual journeys.
I did not have a name for God until I was reached by the message of the Song Prophets that His Majesty dispatched to herald that He had come and communicate His New Name: Haile Selassie I, RastafarI. Having been introduced to the name Jesus Christ in the way in which I had been, the New Name and Personage of His Majesty RastafarI was a profound blessing for me. It also made perfect sense the Lord would return with a New Name because who would know better than Jesus Himself that by the time two thousand years had passed His Old name would be defiled by the scams of thousands of charlatans and stained with the blood of millions of innocents slaughtered by Crusaders.
Haile Selassie I’s name and personage are new and fresh and pure. I have matured as a Rasta throughout my life, I have realize that Jesus Christ got a bad rap from people like the ones who tried to force Him on me. Clearly, Jesus was JAH Love incarnate as RastafarI is JAH Love incarnate. Nevertheless, the name Jesus Christ still leaves a very bad taste in my mouth.
When I do refer to Him I tend to use titles like “Our Lord” or “His Majesty” and avoid actually saying that name.