But if you’re a Christian, then what am I?

Over on the Wall Street Journal blog, one of the members has (hopefully) started a thread by asking this question:

How do Christians define Christians? What makes you or not a Christian?

I often come across the argument that “said person is not a real Christian”, many tend to use this argument to exclude particulars who happen to shame the religion calling themselves part of it, or act in the name of it.

I think it would be interesting to see, how does every one define it, is it simply believing in a higher authority?. Is it taking every literal word of the bible?. Is it following the “reasonable” aspects of the bible?

Now, so far, only one person has given an answer, and it is one that I suspect the majority of American Christians would agree with:

A Christian is somebody who believes that Christ died on the Cross and shed his blood as the ultimate atonement(replacement for the blood sacrifice of the Old Testament law) for the sins of mankind. They believe that Christ is who He said He is. ie, The Son of God, and therefore God Himself. The concept of the Trinity applies here. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Christ was the product of the immaculate conception. Christ was the fulfillment of Old Testament prophesy. Isaiah 53:3-7 is an example, among others of the prophesy.

The first chapter of John in the New testament, gives a good representation of what Christians believe about Christ.

To be saved (ie a Christian), is nothing more then the realization that man is born into sin, and the acceptance and acknowledgment of the free gift of eternal life(made possible because of Christ sacrifice on the Cross), that is offered to mankind, should they(exhibit their “free will”) except it. It is nothing more then Gods grace being demonstrated through mans faith.

If all of the above needs to be believed in order to be a Christian, then I guess I am not one.  Of course, for many reasons I think the above definition, although perhaps “orthodox”,  is incorrect.

Over on Ric Booth’s blog there is an interesting conversation taking place about a new organization that John Shore is spear-heading called ThruWAy Christians, particularly their controversial acceptance of gays and lesbians.   The stated goal of ThruWAy Christians is to provide moderate Christians with a new forum.  As it says on their website:  “If you find conservative Christianity too oppressive and exclusionary, and progressive Christianity too theologically tenuous, you’re probably a ThruWay Christian.”   Which means that, though I agree with much of the content of their founding document, my theology is much too “tenuous”  (something which I am sure the Conservative Christians could accuse the ThruWay people).

Surprisingly,  I don’t believe my theology is any weaker than theirs or any one else.  It’s different to be sure.  Maybe not as orthodox as they would like.  And like Christianity, it is evolving. But that doesn’t mean that it is “flimsy, insubstantial or lacking in strength”.  This is a charge that the orthodox have always levied at those who had the audacity to question theological authority.

The good folks over at ThruWAy Christian are not really challenging conservative Christian theological authority, though. They are only challenging the  conservative interpretations of certain scriptures that they believe lead to intolerant and mean spirited attitudes and behavior.  But I would suggest that the overarching theology that both the moderates and the conservatives still hold in common ( much of which has been condensed by the commenter from the WSJ blog and jives with the  first line of ThruWay’s creed )  is actually what drives this intolerance.  And has for centuries.

I ‘ve found that it is nearly impossible for Christian moderates to  engage Fundamentalists in any meaningful dialog that might result in a change of perception on the part of either, so  I’ve given up on it myself.  If this is the goal of the folks at ThruWAy, well then, have at it.  But  if they would be open-minded enough to engage some Christians whose convictions are not quite as solid, substantial or strong as theirs then perhaps they might find that ‘progressive’ is not such a bad word after all.


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  1. #1 by anon on February 10, 2011 - 11:10 pm

    “As the flower blown out by the wind
    goes to rest and cannot be defined
    so the wise man, freed from individuality
    goes to rest and cannot be defined
    goes beyond images
    goes beyond the power of words”
    —-Sutra Nipata

  2. #2 by Christian Beyer on February 11, 2011 - 4:23 pm

    Nice. Welcome back.

  3. #3 by fred medaris on February 24, 2011 - 9:58 am

    In the 60th chapter of Isaiah, there is the prophecy of a 2nd holy nation. That means that there must be a fully righteous man like Abraham was. This man has gone beyond the forgiverness of disobedience to,”Thou shall love God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your might, and thou shall love all peoples of the earth as yourself, through Christ’s shedding of blood, to actually obeying this (these) Commandment(s). Is this man alive or en futuro? He will have 3 boys. One shall become a great nation. One shall be called after the House of Jacob.One shall have the namer of the Lord tattooed on his hand. Who is this man?

    • #4 by Christian Beyer on February 24, 2011 - 10:06 am

      Really? In my opinion, this man may have once existed, prior to or during the time this passage was written. But he does not exist today nor will he. I don’t believe that biblical prophesy is “prophetic” in that it predicts the future or was even intended to do so. But even if it did, the predictions are so nebulous that they can be interpreted to mean just about anything.

      So, how is this ‘prediction’ relevant to the discussion?

  4. #5 by fred medaris on February 24, 2011 - 10:10 am

    And God has spoken to this man verbally and HIS words burn like fire.

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