Friday, December 9, 2011

What is a Christian?

So just what is a Christian?  Is it
  • a person who admires the ethical teaching of Jesus?
  • a person who has selected Christian on his census form?
  • an American?
  • a member of a Christian denomination?
  • a Roman Catholic?
  • a Southern Baptist?
  • a creationist?
  • a fundamentalist?
  • a person who believes that God exists, Jesus was his son and the Bible is true?
  • a person who believes that the resurrected Jesus is the Son of God and seeks to follow his teachings?
By no means are all of these definitions mutually exclusive.  I would have to pick 7 of them for myself.  But, in my opinion, not all of them can uniquely and adequately define what a Christian is.  For instance, I am a Southern Baptist.  But that is not really synonymous with Christian.  There are Southern Baptists who identify as such simply because that is what their parents are, or other social reasons, rather than because of any faith decision on their own part.

I have heard all of these used as definitions for Christian; so much so that I have begun to dislike the word.  It is used in so many ways that it has almost become meaningless, a label that nearly 1/3 of the earth's population apply to themselves.  You almost need to know the context and maybe the person to actually know what they mean.

Because of that I have struggled recently with just calling myself a Christian, although I certainly believe that I am and am not ashamed of the label nor what it means to me.  But more and more I have begun to use a different term for self identification: Christ follower.  I firmly believe that God calls us, not just to profess with our mouths that we believe in Jesus, but also to commit our lives to following him.  A Christ follower is one who:
  • will admire the ethical teachings of Jesus
  • will likely select Christian on their census form
  • may or may not be an American
  • will likely be a member of a Christian denomination
  • may or may not be Roman Catholic
  • may or may not be Southern Baptist
  • may or may not be a creationist
  • may or may not be a fundamentalist
  • will believe that God exists, that the resurrected Jesus is his son and may believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God
  • and, most importantly, will seek to follow Jesus and his teachings
Are you a fellow Christ follower?  If not, I would encourage you to take that step and become what God has created you to be.  The journey will not necessarily be an easy one, but it is a rewarding one.



6 comments:

  1. Are you a fellow Christ follower?

    Likely no, even though I fit six of your ten criteria. Mainly because you do not qualify whether all ten have to be met or just one or something else.

    Note: Five of those are very poor criteria, Ed. "May or may not be X" qualifies EVERY human on this planet.

    I trim those, I find myself agreeing with only the first one, exactly the way you have stated it (see emphasis)

    "will admire the ethical teachings of Jesus."

    since it allows me to discard the unethical ones.

    (Simpleton)

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  2. "May or may not" means it doesn't matter. For instance, as a Christ follower you might be a Baptist and you might not, your denominational standing has no bearing on whether or not you are following Christ.

    From my perspective it is the last two, and particularly the last one that are the distinguishing characteristics of a Christ follower.

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  3. "May or may not" means it doesn't matter

    Yes. Which is why 5/10 are kinda useless, Ed.


    From my perspective it is the last two, and particularly the last one that are the distinguishing characteristics of a Christ follower

    So
    a. The others are non-essential
    b. Following the last one alone will qualify you, correct?

    (Simpleton)

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  4. You are correct Simpleton. And that was the intent of the post. Most of the things that people use to identify themselves as Christians really don't make them a follower of Christ.

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  5. Then all you are saying is that a Christ follower is one who "seeks to follow Jesus and his teachings"

    It being tautological, not very useful, is it?

    (Simpleton)

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  6. Notice that there are actually 3 'will's' in the final list. IMO, a Christ follower will do all of those 3. The remaining 7 have no bearing one way or another. They are included to say that even though some think them to be very important, I do not.

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