What is a Christian?

ImageI like Bishop Will Willimon’s answer to that in a video he did for one of the Disciple Bible Study Program.  A Christian is one who has heard and believed the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection.  Very simple, some might say over simplified.  But if I am to try to cast a net that says who is and who isn’t a Christian, then, the broader, more simple the definition the better.  In other words, it’s not up to me to judge.  If one claims to be a Christian, I must accept that.  I don’t have to agree with their theology…I might not even like them, but I can’t really question their FAITH.

I do not like the things fundamentalists stand for, but I can’t question whether or not they are Christian.  They say they are and I accept it.  But when a fundie (no insult intended, using a term they sometimes use for themselves) disagrees with me, they question how “true” my faith is.  “You’re not a REAL Christian.”

I do not agree with some interpretations of Scripture–especially those that are trying to either drive us back under the law or those that are trying to force Christianity into a new set of laws, but those who adhere to such understandings are still Christian if they put their faith in Christ to save them, no matter how much I disagree.  But let me express my feelings that we are saved by grace, not by our works and then actually treat people that way and I’ll get an earful of how I’m deceived and not a “real” Christian.

I am a fan of not judging, especially judging while hiding behind, “I’m not judging you, I’m just telling you what the Bible says–IT is judging you!”

Yet even those who (to me) seem to be the most judgmental and condemning can’t simply be dismissed as  non-Christian, it makes him or her someone who disagrees with me, we can sort it out in haven.  But those who find my acceptance of people on the margins of our faith to be wrong, judge me as (according to my cousin yesterday when I showed support of the Gay and Lesbian Community) being in Sodom, about to be destroyed, or being elite and deceived.

The most dangerous place we can find ourselves is trying to determine who is and who isn’t a “REAL” Christian.  Judging that is the same as us trying to determine someone else’s eternal destination.  The way I read the Bible, that task remains only in Jesus’ hands.  But we take it to a new level when we not only judge someone as not “really” Christian, but we demonize them as well.

I am a Bible believing, evangelical minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Just because I don’t agree with you on all things religious does not make us enemies.  It does not make one of us “in” and the other “out.”  We must see how wide the arms of Jesus were when he stretched them out and died for us all.

I’ll not judge you, even when we disagree.  I will not demonize you.  Promise.

Peace out!

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “What is a Christian?

  1. Doctrine of the False Teachers 2 John 7-9

    For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.

    Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward.

    Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.

    Avoid the False Teachers 2 John 10-11

    If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him;

    for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.

    ? Do you think that we should not warn others when they are failing to teach God’s word? Do we not owe it to them to give them the chance to save their eternal life if they are mistaken in what they are teaching, not mistaken deliberately, for those will not try to learn but those who truly want to be followers of Christ? It is not our job to judge, but it is our job to correct and exhort those that are failing, in order that they may live and not die. If we do not the responsibility lies on us as does their loss and their blood. God bless my friend. Your raise a lot of questions!

    • the epistles of John were written during a time where the Christology of the first century had gone continuously to a “Higher” Christology from the “Lower” Chrsitology in the earliest writings. What is meant by these terms for example–the earliest writings are by Paul, who speaks of Jesus and “him crucified. It is his death, the death of the one God claimed as his Son, that mattered–he DIED for us. Later we have the Gospels: Mark begins with his baptism, he was the Son of God then, Matthew and Luke go back, he was the Messiah from before even his birth, and John goes even further, he not only is the Messiah, he has always been the Messiah from before the beginning of the Earth. Over the next decade or two, several groups arose that took this Christology to an even higher level, saying Jesus never even came in the flesh, he was never human–we only saw an image, not real flesh and blood. The epistles of John are to counter that and set an upper limit on the Christology of our faith: “Wait, you cannot say Jesus didn’t come in the flesh–you’ve gone too far with that.” So John tells his churches that when someone comes and tries to teach them this new doctrine, they are not to be recieved as they have removed the humanity of Christ.
      I’m not sure why you raise the question here with this particular quote. I’ve certainly not entertained such an idea, nor stated that I believe it. Perhaps you missed the point of my post. You can certainly judge one’s teaching–happens all the time. You can certainly judge one’s behavior–happens all the time, but it is not OUR place to judge one’s eternal destination–that is for Christ and him alone. So even if someone comes along and has what I believe to be bad theology or a poor understanding of living as Christians in the world, if they say they are a Christian (ie: they believe that Jesus is their Lord and Savior), then it is not my place to say, “no, you are not a Christian, you are bound for hell. That is Jesus’ job–not mine.
      I hope that clears up what I was saying. Blessings to you. And I love to raise questions–just wish everyone was as pleasant as you in their responses (lol, lighten up people–life is too short!)
      blessings!!!

  2. Wow, I was right. I like your world view more now. My pentecostal preacher father would also like it. He toned it down a bit and went toward your world view. We agree on a lot. What we do not agree on does not affect how we each can live life, nor whether that life will be fulfilling or not. I hope that we have many more discussions.
    It is not my place to judge what others think or believe until their belief becomes part of what affects me. I really do not care what another thinks about a next life if they keep it to themselves in respect of the public concern. What they believe has little to nothing to do with whether we can be friends or even allies in this life… and this one life is all that I know to be concerned with. Mind the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves it is said. It can be said that if we can live and let live, the next life will take care of itself. I’m all for that.