Friday, October 31, 2008

What Is A Christian?

Thanks to everyone who got involved in our last discussion!  It was quite interesting and, I think, helpful in clarifying a number of things.

Today, in part to those discussion as well as some emails that I have received, I would like to ask: Who or what is a Christian?  What are some non-negotiable beliefs that Christians have?  What are some beliefs that are negotiable?  What are some non-negotiable beliefs that Christians have, which you think should be negotiable?


James said...

You may not get two of the same answers to that question. When I think of "Christian" I think of a lot of negative things that have been done under that banner; the Crusades, the Inquisition, anti-science, sexism, racism, and all manner of bigotry and discrimination. If somebody asks me about being a Christian, I tend to say that I don't even want that label. I don't want to defend Christianity. I'm not interested in organized religion. But I would want to talk about what my relationship with Jesus has done in my life. I want to talk about The Way; how God's love overcomes adversity and how we can life differently and treat people differently and make the world a better place by following Jesus and his teachings. Maybe I'm a "post-Christian follower of Jesus."

Erp said...

From my point of view, a Christian is simply someone who considers themself to be a Christian. I'm not about to argue with them about it. As for those who don't want to be called Christian but state they follow Jesus, I'll allow them to be called by what they want to be called though I might classify them in my mind in the family of Christian religions.

I might want to know what strand of Christianity a Christian is in (Russian Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Coptic, Mormon, Quaker, Southern Baptist, American Baptist, Jehovah's Witness, Wee Free, Charismatic, Church of the East...) and what their beliefs and rituals are.

Anonymous said...


I am truly sorry to hear about the hurt and pain that you and so many others have experience "under that banner," as you put it.

However, how can you live as a Christian without being connected to the church? The church is not a building or an organization. The ekklesia (the NT word) is God's set apart, called out people. They have been called out of darkness and into the light.

Moreover, would you not be more effective in making the world a better place, by joining together with like-minded people (the church), rather than trying to chip away slowly?

Imperfect Church said...

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This was done as a courtesy so that for those of you who are not technologically savvy could still post, or so that those of you who did not want to sign-up for another user ID or account could participate.

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Anonymous said...

The simple, but fundamental question is whether "being a Christian" is a self-consciously made individual decision or, a matter of passively absorbing christian values and behaviours through living in a Christian environment.

If you subscribe to the belief that you must be "born again" i.e. must make a self-consciously made individual decision, then you are saying culture has no bearing on Christianity - you could argue that St. Paul got this ball rolling in Acts 15 when he said that new Christians didn't need to be circumcised. This is a perfectly reasonable argument, but it gets itself into trouble when it ignores that fact that nobody can live in the absence of cultural. Thst is, you can declare the irrelevance of culture to your personal faith, but you cannot escape culture. Even the idea that the "born again" christian is the only true christian is a quite specific historical and cultural phenomenon.