What is a Christian?

I believe it is very important that we broaden our definition of Christian, but at the same time narrow our definition of Evangelical. Very often people confuse the two these days. The Evangelical movement has always been a movement within the wider Christian movement. Often it has been accused of believing that only other Evangelicals are really Christians. It is no wonder then, that some today do not like it when people suggest they are probably not an Evangelical. The latest in a long line of examples of this is a recent debate over whether Rachel Held Evans is an Evangelical or not. Answering the question “What is an evangelical?” is far from easy, but I will attempt it in my next post. Clearly though, if “Evangelical” is a subset of “Christian” we do well to first understand what is the meaning of Christian. I have always been taught to never assume anything.

Having a clear understanding of what is a Christian is very important. However, when we look at many statements of faith for Evangelical organizations, they actually often in fact define Christian doctrine that many from other wings of the church could affirm. Thus if used as the meaning of “Evangelical”, such statements are surely way too broad. Equally, many other attempts to define Evangelicalism quite rightly look at certain aspects more unique to the movement, but in doing so often fail to make the point that Evangelicals do in fact also hold very tightly to those truths that all Christian movements adhere to.

As hard as it is to define an Evangelical, I believe, however, that the Bible is very clear about what a Christian is. The word Christian appears in only a few places in the Bible, In Acts 11:26 we are told “the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch,” clearly stating that a Christian is a disciple of Jesus, who is one who has been taught to obey Jesus (see Matthew 28). Then, according to Acts 26:28 you can be persuaded to become a Christian, by listening to someone explaining the message about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. In 1 Peter 4:16, we are warned it is possible to suffer for being a Christian and encouraged to “glorify God in that name.” The Greek word used, “christianos” is actually based on a Latin practice of simply adding “-ianos” to a name to indicate the followers of that name. So Christians are simply followers of Christ, in exactly the same way we still do today (Eg Keynesians follow Keynes views on economics.)

In my book, I define a Christian as follows,

“A Christian is someone who believes in the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ, and lives in light of the implications of that event.” Raised With Christ, Page 20

Almost everyone who would call themselves Christian today would identify with this definition. Certainly, for example, despite controversy about her evangelical credentials outlined above, Rachel Held Evans says she believes in the physical resurrection of Jesus. Here on Patheos there are a number of fellow resident bloggers from a broad range of Christian denominations. I will approach some of them from the Catholic, Evangelical and Progressive Channels to confirm this, but I predict that almost nobody would argue with it.

It is of course worth pointing out that biblically this “belief” is no mere intellectual assent. It is a deep heartfelt orientation of the heart towards trust and devotion. It involves a radical change in our worldview and approach to Jesus. Thus in Acts “believe” is a synonym for “repent.” It is also very much about a journey which is why the early believers were called “followers of the Way” or “followers of Jesus.” So, being saved, which is very much an act of God, is the beginning not the destination. Thus, we are often saved on a fragment of truth, but we can expect to grow in our knowledge of God. Faith is trust in the person of Jesus to save us more than it is agreeing with a set of doctrines.

The belief that Jesus, having died for us, was raised bodily, leaving behind an empty grave and folded grave clothes gave birth to the Church in the first place. Throughout history no major group has used the name “Christian” without believing this. Whether you meet someone who says they are an Eastern Orthodox or a Pentecostal, you will almost certainly find they believe that Jesus rose again. There are some in recent times from the more progressive wing, the liberals, who do still want to use the label “Christian” despite denying that Jesus body literally left the tomb. To be honest, however, historically they really do not have any claim to do so. As has often been said, “If Jesus did not really rise again as he promised, why bother listening to anything he ever said?”

This broad definition is inspired by a phrase in one of the Apostle Paul’s letters. In it he says, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)

Paul, lists only two requirements here: First, openly confess the Lordship of Jesus, which surely implies both that he is God and to be worshiped, and that I have determined to follow him. He is not described as “a” Lord, and so he will not tolerate any rival Lords in the life of a believer. To make Jesus your Lord surely implies trust in him as good, the only one able to save us from our sin, and worthy of following single-heartedly. Second, believe Jesus rose from the dead. Clearly, such a belief includes the idea that he died, and the Bible is clear that he died for our sin. Elsewhere Paul summarizes the gospel as “Christ and Him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:2, and 1:23). Believe that he died for us, was raised for us, and is now ruling in heaven for us, and determine to follow him, says Paul, and you are a Christian. Nobody should dare make the gospel any more complicated than that.

Of course, such a simple declaration has massive implications. How can we call Jesus “Lord” and not do what he says? The verse says nothing directly about a changed life as a result of such a declaration, but surely it is inevitable that such radical beliefs will lead to a radical transformation? Most Christians have always argued that the moment you put your trust in Jesus in this way you are saved. What comes afterwards is simply the result of the change that happens the moment you become a Christian. We do not have to wait until we are living a good life before Jesus will accept us. We come to him as we are, are welcomed home by him like the prodigal son, and then he is committed to change us.

This verse tells us if we call Jesus the Risen Lord, and mean it we are saved. The differences between different types of Christians are merely this: differences about what we believe are the implications of Jesus resurrection for us today. We do not argue about whether or not Jesus rose again. We argue instead about how we should live individually and within our church communities in light of this event.

So, this definition of a Christian is both unifying as it allows a very broad group of people today to say “Yes! I agree with that!” and yet it makes room for the fact that many of us disagree about precisely what we should believe and how we should act and light of that. It also makes clear how difficult it is to judge whether someone else is a Christian or not. When you are looking for an outward confession, an inward reality, and a life that in some way matches up with that, you can see that judging who is in or out is practically impossible. An individual Christian can become reasonably confident of their own salvation, but should be careful before he dismisses another as “obviously not saved.” Who are we to judge our brothers? God will judge all of us.

There are some today who may take different views of what it means for Jesus to be both man and God, but it is highly debatable that there is can be any such thing as Christianity without a belief in the Trinity. Basically the Trinity is the way in which Christians square the idea that Jesus is divine which is essential to Paul’s summary above, with believing in only one God. Every major Christian Church also holds to the truths outlined in what is usually called the Apostles Creed (although Eastern churches prefer to use the Nicene Creed which is in many ways similar), which i include below:

I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth:

And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord:

Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary:

Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried: He descended into hell:

The third day he rose again from the dead:

He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty:

From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead:

I believe in the Holy Ghost:

I believe in the holy catholic church: the communion of saints:

The forgiveness of sins:

The resurrection of the body:

And the life everlasting. Amen.

There has been very little debate over recent centuries about anything in this creed aside from some discussion about precisely what it means to descend to hell (and some modern Christians including Wayne Grudem deny this concept altogether.)

To conclude this post, I really do wish we would accept a suitably broad definition of what is a Christian. As important as doctrine is, the Bible is clear that the issue of salvation is purely about our relationship with Jesus and his claims. Now, if only the next post, “What is an Evangelical?” would prove to be so straightforward!

UPDATE: Responses to this post from around the web:

About Adrian Warnock

Adrian Warnock has been a blogger since April 2003, and a member of Jubilee Church, London since 1995, where he seves as part of the leadership team alongside Tope Koleoso.

Together they have written Hope Reborn - How to Become a Christian and Live for Jesus, published by Christian Focus.

Adrian is also the author of Raised With Christ - How The Resurrection Changes Everything, published by Crossway.

Read more about Adrian Warnock or connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.

**********************************

You are warmly invited to comment on this blog. By doing o you demonstrate that you accept Adrian's comment policy.

  • http://thebluefish.org Dave

    The Nicene Creed is a good basic confession for Christians – as with Athanasian Creed – believing in Trinity is the key. The problem is that creeds are always responsive to issues… so today people barely get why some of the clauses are there…. and the authority and reliability of scripture wasn’t on the table as an issue in the early church, whereas today it is… so does a creed need responsiveness to that…

    If you’re united to the crucified and risen Christ then you’re in Christ… which covers over a multitude of sins and divergent theology.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/adrianwarnock Adrian Warnock

      I think creeds help to a certain extent. But what is more vital is the “attitude” and in particular the attitude to the Bible. This is especially true when it comes to the subject of my second post in this mini series “What is an Evangelical?” Although attitudes are hard to measure, they are easy to spot!

      • http://byzantium.wordpress.com Kullervo

        Who says those things are more vital? If “attitude to the Bible” is the most vital definitional component to Christianity, why didn’t Christianity spell that out during the first thousand years of explicitly spelling out what it means to be a Christian?

  • Dan F

    I’m not sure. I agree that the bar is low, that Paul says clearly that if you call Jesus lord and believe that he was raised from the dead then you are a Christian. But I think that there are some implications within this, some other key doctrines that make this make sense.
    Think about it this way. The Judeaisers believed in Jesus. They believed he was raised from the dead. They confessed him as Lord. But Paul wishes that they would emasculate themselves (Galatians 5:12). Harsh words. Why? Because by demanding that the believers obey the law as part of salvation, they alter the Gospel and reject Christ (see Galatians 1:6-9). As far a Paul sees it, those who tweek the gospel are to be accursed. And as he is the same man who said Romans 10:9, I can’t help but think that he thought that to say and believe these truths is relient on belief in other truths that make up the Gospel.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/adrianwarnock Adrian Warnock

      Dan, I think people can be saved on a fragment of truth, but there are some doctrines that if well taught it will be hard for a true believer to deny. Trinity is one. Also, if we trust in Jesus to save us, how can we add law to help him along?

  • Matthew Ling

    Adrian,
    I think this is a very helpful definition. I wonder, however, how you would view Oneness Pentecostals who very much uphold the divinity of Christ but reject the concept of Trinity to do so? Dave’s comment on the way creeds are formed (i.e. in response to issues) is pertinent as the division early in the twentieth century between trinitarian and oneness Pentecostals lead to the formation of the (trinitarian) Assemblies of God and their “Statement of Fundamental Truths.”
    As a confirmed trinitarian, I guess I’m asking what is more fundamentally Christian: belief in the Trinity, or belief in the divinity of Jesus?

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/adrianwarnock Adrian Warnock

      Well I don’t know any. And I’ve not read their books. Does anyone know one that could be invited to review this definition, comment on it. say whether they agree with it, and perhaps simply explain what they really do believe. The caricatures or straw men I have heard don’t sound at all plausible, so I am interested to hear from a real live person if anybody knows one?

      • Matthew Ling

        I was surprised to find that there is a coalition of over 5 million Oneness Pentecostals (see http://awcf.org), and their numbers are estimated at 24million today (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oneness_Pentecostalism).

        My knowledge of them comes mostly from studying the history of Pentecostalism, not from first hand experience or friendship. Earlier this year on an Elephant Room conversation T.D. Jakes explained that Oneness was his background, although he has moved from the position to a more trinitarian one. I think Oneness Pentecostals hold to a form of modalism. Their history begins with the first major schism in the Assemblies of God in 1916.

  • http://alanmolineaux.blogspot.com/2012/01/message-from-coward.html Alan Molineaux

    Thanks for this Adrian.

    I think that we have to be careful of deciding who is ‘in’ and who is ‘out’.

    We are not saved by doctrine but by God in Christ.

    I am interested to see what you do with evangelicalism.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/adrianwarnock Adrian Warnock

      It will be a couple of days…though the post is almost written. Anybody have any good sources of defnitions for me that aren’t simply a list of doctrines that many non-evangelicals could agree with or the famous quadrilateral? I have some other ideas, but you will have to wait!

      • http://alastairadversaria.wordpress.com/ Alastair Roberts

        I think that you should engage with definitions such as Barna’s, which is incredibly important in a US context. The problem with the term ‘evangelical’ is that it has a number of different domains of usage. Historically, the term meant little more than belonging to a church that found its roots in the Protestant Reformation and was used by mainstream churches, conservatives and liberals alike. The meaning of the term has moved considerably since then. For much of the latter half of the last century, it was defined primarily in contrast to liberalism as a sort of non-fundamentalist anti-liberalism.

        This evangelical identity was always a loose one, assembling Christians from a wide range of theological and ecclesiastical backgrounds under a single designation. It was also a ramshackle and artificially constructed identity, more than an identity that had developed out of a unified theological tradition, especially in the US. Consequently, it lacked clear definition and was bound together more by a loose set of developing family resemblances and shared religious sensibilities, cultural traits, common institutions, agencies, tactics, and para-church organizations. As these shifted in various ways over time, the term has changed in meaning.

        Theologically, I think that the term is practically useless. It is quite unable to serve the ends of those who wish to deploy it as a guardian of orthodoxy. Theological prescriptivists fail to reckon with the fact that the descriptive usage of the term – which was arguably always in the driving seat when it came to its meaning – has moved on and that there are a number of people who are definitely not evangelicals in Bebbington’s sense (Rachel Held Evans being a good example) who clearly fit into the evangelical camp in many ways, being active within its institutions, speaking its language, displaying its cultural traits, etc. In the current debate, I am firmly convinced that Rachel Held Evans *is* an evangelical, just one who tends to have a rather looser commitment to the Bible and its authority than one would traditionally associate with evangelicals. I would add that the reasons that Rachel gives for her evangelical identity are bad ones (they are far too broad and vague to define anything).

        Sociologically, I think that the term ‘evangelical’ serves some purpose. The term’s more contemporary meaning was always primarily rooted in a sociological phenomenon, rather than a clearly delineated theological stance, commonly held by all to whom the label was customarily affixed.

        For me, ‘evangelicalism’ names a tradition-lite/free, democratized and populist faith, with a heavily expressive, affective, and experiential piety, committed to faith-driven activism (less ‘conversionist’ and more ‘missional’ nowadays), and a pragmatic theology for which the individually interpreted Bible is the primary means of divine authority, all situated within a loosely defined Christian and Protestant tradition. I would suggest that we might distinguish between someone being described as ‘evangelical’ in their theology (the adjectival use) and someone described as ‘*an* evangelical’ (the substantive use, or when the term modifies ‘Christian’, with no denominational identification intermediating). Evangelicals have certain family resemblances (certain modes of worship, for instance), resemblances which some but not all may share, and which may even be in certain cases incompatible or contrary to others. Evangelicals are also bound together by their differences or, rather, by the questions that they deem important. Evangelicalism is a salmagundi of different groups and individuals who find their coherence less in a consistent ideology, than in certain institutions and organizations, forms of activism, tactical alliances, styles of worship, modes and objects of cultural consumption, theological conversations and disputes, and shared cultural traits and references (from CCM to Veggietales). Despite the ecumenical and tactical serviceability of a shared evangelical identity, we will try in vain to distil some theological quintessence from such a diverse agglomeration.

        • http://patheos.com/blogs/adrianwarnock Adrian Warnock

          Thanks Alistair. It’s definitely a much harder second post to write than this first one!

      • http://alastairadversaria.wordpress.com/ Alastair Roberts

        Have you read D.G. Hart’s ‘Deconstructing Evangelicalism: Conservative Protestantism in the Age of Billy Graham’?

        • http://patheos.com/blogs/adrianwarnock Adrian Warnock

          No, but it sounds an interesting title.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/frankviola Frank Viola

    Thx. for the shout-out, Adrian.
    That article you linked to was written by T. Austin-Sparks (someone you must get familiar with), but it nails the question beautifully.
    Nice to see you on Patheos also. I got some of the ideas for my new page from yours! ;-)
    fv
    Psalm 115:1

  • Susan

    A Christian is one who is indwelt by God’s Holy Spirit. That is the purist, simplest definition. I’m surprised you didn’t mention this.
    Also, you identify necessary beliefs but you didn’t mention repentance. Both belief and repentance are necessary for true salvation. My own husband said, “Yes, I believe” to your definition, in other words he professed to be a Christian for many years…but it became evident over time that he was not saved (no fruit). He had responded to an alter call while in college because, “I was scared to death to go to hell.”. After marrying he attended church with me for years. He had belief, but repentance was not there. So, what was missing?

    A person can not come to a point of repentance unless the Holy Spirit brings conviction over their sin. They then change from their former path and turn toward Christ in openness. This repentance is essential. With belief only a person can continue to profess Christ but not have God’s indwelling Spirit. The demons believe and shutter.

    You didn’t say much (if anything?) about the necessity of recognizing sin as an offense to God, and self as a guilty offender.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/adrianwarnock Adrian Warnock

      I do agree, but I also think that repentance and faith are broadly synonyms. I will be talking more about some of the things you mention in my evangelical post tho!

      • Susan

        Adrian, your comment reminded me of something of Darrell Bock’s I just read:
        “The point is that life’s comforts and the threat of loosing them might keep one from coming to Jesus (Luke 18:4). If one gives up life for the sake of Jesus, if one gives one’s spiritual and physical welfare over to him, that person will receive life. Orientation to Jesus (i.e. “for me” (:24) is a prerequisite for saving life, Though some disciples fulfill this passage in martyrdom, the image of the entire section is figurative and so is the remark here.

        Luke later describes this change in attitude with two terms: repentance and faith. In turning to God for forgiveness of sin, one recognizes that one must not live life as in the past and that one cannot approach God on human terms. Rather, one must live in the light of God’s offer of forgiveness and life. Thus, a person’s spiritual welfare is to rest in God’s hands. Paul speaks of faith in describing this reorientation of perspective toward the things of God (Rom 1:1-5; 1 Thes 1:9-10). The issue is fundamentally one of attitude and allegiance, though there may be failure in its execution at individual points.”

        On that note, I will never forget my husband’s words to me when he finally entered God’s family, “I finally gave my life completely to Jesus.” Nothing has been the same since!

    • Grace Penn

      Susan,

      I agree that there is “more” to being a Christian than just ‘one who follows Christ’, but ONLY in the sense that any other added description, definition, etc. comes from our OWN journey (as with your description of “indwelt by God’s Holy Spirit”). But I think we are also to unite in our following and as David states we are ALL Christians. Denominations who put restraints on people in order to be a member, in my humble opinion, only serve to separate us from each other and put up walls so that we are afraid to share our own experiences and views with others lest we be separated outside of the religious arena as well. We are all human and we are all susceptible to misinterpreting a scripture or 30… Our own experiences in life color our viewpoint in everything including how we perceive what direction it is God is leading us. How can we, any of us, state without any reservation that “I know for sure this verse means such and such?” Even when there is a “consensus reached” time and culture cause us to look more closely at certain dogma we have been following or that which our parents followed. (Example: Divorce) It is not that we believe it is not a sin (OR maybe that is exactly what we are saying), but as a society we have stopped SHUNNING those who have been divorced (except, sadly, maybe our ministers). Another dogma followed by some denominations and not others is women cutting their hair. According to a traveling preacher who showed up on a local college campus while I was there, I am going to Hell for keeping my hair short. I asked him about the Cross and Resurrection and he said I must stop cutting my hair in order to be “properly saved”. Of course I realized quickly there was no reasoning with this man even by asking where in John 3:16 did it say this only applied to the women who did not cut their hair.

      My point is, I very well could be offending God by cutting my hair every 6 weeks and wearing pants 99% of the time, but that is between me and God and I thank Jesus Christ for his sacrifice so that I do not have to sweat the small stuff. That is how I am Christian.

  • http://www.kellyjyoungblood.com Kelly J Youngblood

    I’m on board with your definition.

    I think one way things have gotten confused is that we tend to use “Christian” more as an adjective rather than a noun, and it becomes about a certain standard of behavior (not that behavior is unimportant overall). I like how Neil Cole (I think) put it in one of his books I read (either Organic Church, Organic Leadership, or Journeys to Significance) in that we really shouldn’t use Christian as an adjective especially regarding things like “Christian music” or “Christian movies” because those objects do not have a soul. [note: I could very well be misremembering who said it and where it was said and I just can't spend the time to look it up right now].

    But then again, when it comes to belief, sometimes there are Christians who want to make sure that if one uses the term Christian, that person is a “true” Christian, and we get all these lists of things we MUST believe in order to make the cut.

    Sometimes it is all so tiring, especially if fitting in to a particular group is important. All I know is that I believe in the Trinity, I believe in Jesus’ death and resurrection, and I want to love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength.

    I think one can be a Christian based on that belief in Jesus in an instant, but living a life of discipleship is just that…a lifelong endeavor.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/adrianwarnock Adrian Warnock

      I think I am trying here to distinguish between salvation that can happen in an instant, and the ongoing walk which will be in a community of believers and include much more than the basic first gasp of the soul towards the Risen Lord

      • http://www.kellyjyoungblood.com Kelly J Youngblood

        I do see the difference between them…someone who has been a Christian for a day will not have all the understanding that goes along with someone who has been a Christian for say, 50 years. And yet, they can both be defined as Christians.

        Maybe this is why some Christians have decided not to actually call themselves Christians anymore but instead use terms like “disciple of Jesus” or “Christ-follower”?

        • http://patheos.com/blogs/adrianwarnock Adrian Warnock

          The Bible does use the word, though, and encourages us to glorify God in that name. To me the word at its core does mean follower of Jesus anyway. So in that sense it’s a journey not a destination so you are right that a baby Christian may look very different to a mature one. We are often saved on a fragment of truth.

          • http://www.kellyjyoungblood.com Kelly J Youngblood

            I am definitely with you on the journey part, for sure. One of my annoyances is when Christianity is portrayed as some kind of momentary decision and that’s it–the journey is sometimes ignored in order to just keep making numbers of new believers.

          • http://patheos.com/blogs/adrianwarnock Adrian Warnock

            Amen to that! To be honest, even the Calvinists are meant to believe in the ***perseverance*** of the saints, that all who truly believe persist in that faith. So we really should be careful about assuming that all who make some kind of public response to the Gospel have really believed **in their heart*** My definition aims at once to be inclusive and simple, but extremely demanding as well. With a definition like this one should not rush to say “You are now a Christian” to people…

  • http://parablemania.ektopos.com/ Jeremy Pierce

    By your definition, Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses are Christians, but they certainly wouldn’t accept those creeds. So I think you either have to choose the very broad definition of accepting the resurrection and making an explicit commitment to follow Christ or narrowing it significantly by moving to a credal statement with doctrinal commitments beyond the bodily resurrection of Christ. If you want the really broad thing, though, why worry about the bodily resurrection? If anti-Trinitarians are in, why not Gnostics who denied a physical resurrection? They claimed to follow Christ, and it seemed to me that you took the claim to follow Christ as the crucial bit.

  • http://patheos.com/blogs/adrianwarnock Adrian Warnock

    Well, I think that worshipping Jesus as God is hard to do if you don’t believe in the Trinity. I cite the creed here because I do believe that it is pretty hard to justify using the label Christian if you don’t accept that creed. The Bible doesn’t mention the Trinity directly but it clearly states Jesus is God to be worshipped, AND there is only One God…so difficult to see how you can be consistent with even the one sentence definition I used and not believe in Trinity! Resurrection of Jesus is the core of the Christian faith of that much I am sure. Surely, if a JW or Mormon read this definition, they would not want to include themselves in it? The other thing I suppose is the finality of the revelation. I don’t say it here but hard to accept any group as truly Christian that believes in a subsequent authoritative revelation. That will come out strongly in my definition of Evangelical, but perhaps rightly belongs here.

    • JLMerkling

      “Resurrection of Jesus is the core of the Christian faith of that much I am sure. Surely, if a JW or Mormon read this definition, they would not want to include themselves in it?”

      And surely you would be wrong.

      As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon) I am saddened when we are excluded from the Body of Christ by our brothers and sisters.

      From the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith.
      http://www.lds.org/manual/teachings-joseph-smith/chapter-3?lang=eng
      “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.”

      The most important part of our weekly worship service is sharing in the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, over which we pray,
      ” O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it; that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him, and keep his commandments which he hath given them, that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.”

      From the Book of Mormon, which reads on its title page that its purpose is “the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations.”

      http://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/moro/7?lang=eng+
      “12 Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually.

      13 But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.

      14 Wherefore, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil.

      15 For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night.

      16 For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.”

      I wish to finish with my witness, that I know that Jesus is my Savior, my Lord, and my God. That it is only through his atoning sacrifice and glorious resurrection that we are redeemed from the fall, cleansed of our sin, and enter in by the strait gate which leads to eternal life in the Kingdom of God.

  • http://patheos.com/blogs/adrianwarnock Adrian Warnock

    I think one reason why I didn’t speak about the finality and completeness of Scripture here is the Catholic view of the Church as also making authoritative pronouncements. So in a sense, it is more of an Evangelical thing to limit authority only to the Bible….Catholic readers feel free to contradict, as I don’t fully understand your actual views on this.

    • http://www.future-shape-of-church.org Edward Green (@EdwardBGreen)

      From a broader perspective there is the sense of Apostolic Tradition, passed down empowered by the Holy Spirit, which is required to make fullest sense of Scripture. It is the atmosphere Scripture needs to breathe to be fully alive. It is not that Scripture is not complete in itself but rather, for me at least, that the Sacramental is its natural and proper habitat, in a stronger way than say the Charismatic, which I also believe to be important.

      To come back to the post, it is a difficult one to define. For any definition must encompass the simple faith of a child and the richness of ongoing discipleship. From my perspective being a defined as a Christian does not guarantee perseverance either.

      So, it has to come back to the person of Jesus, the heartfelt yearning that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

      So I think we are agreed on that at least!

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/adrianwarnock Adrian Warnock

        I’d love to hear more about your view of Scripture as to me that is crucial. Glad we basically agree on the notion that it is Our relationship with Jesus that saves us.

        • http://www.future-shape-of-church.org/ Edward Green (@EdwardBGreen)

          I think that Philippians 3:10 sums it up very nicely, making the personal link with Christ, his resurrection but also the participation in his sufferings and conformation to his nature, that by any means (and specifically perhaps those means) we may attain everlasting life.

          The question between Reformed and Apostolic Christians (and by that I perhaps take a swathe from Wesley through Orthodoxy to Rome picking up some Lutherans on the way) is the process and nature of the conformation.

          For example although I do not physically suffer as Jesus did (although we all may) I do participate in his passion and death through the Eucharist, which I would see as the ongoing offering that fulfils Malachi 1:11 – only His offering is the fullness of worship. For some seeing the cross as worship might be strange – but biblically I see sacrifice as essential to worship: Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice and in bread and wine that event is brought into the present. A “sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving” as Calvin would have it, but I suspect (and experience) more than that – the ultimate sacrifice of a broken spirit.

          Coming back to Tradition, I certainly see this sacrificial approach expressed in the early Christian writings, and see those writings as making clear sense of Scripture. I struggle to believe that the disciples of the apostles writing in the 2nd century got it so very wrong. So although I do not treat Ignatius of Antioch and Clement of Rome or the Didache as Scripture I am suspicious of any interpretation of Scripture that does not resonate with their thought.

          It was not the intention of the Reformers to do so of course, but in reacting to very real abuses in the Western Church I fear that they did depart from the Apostolic tradition at points.

          Of course the Didache also speaks of the Charismatic life of the church, especially in the context of the Eucharistic feast, so there is clear room for renewal, and the role of Bishop’s and Priests in the 2nd century strikes me as closer to the roles of Apostles and Elders in New Frontiers of which I spent many happy years, so restoration is also needed. But I believe both are needed within the Apostolic and Sacramental tradition of which I believe Anglicanism to be a small, broken, but valuable part.

          This then makes me not an Evangelical, not because of things I don’t believe, but because of other things I do believe.

    • Brian

      “I think one reason why I didn’t speak about the finality and completeness of Scripture here is the Catholic view of the Church as also making authoritative pronouncements. So in a sense, it is more of an Evangelical thing to limit authority only to the Bible….Catholic readers feel free to contradict, as I don’t fully understand your actual views on this.”

      While I am not a theologian, I am a Catholic whose closest friends are not Catholic, so I have faced this question a few times. Catholics, like many other christians consider the bible to be the word of God. For Catholics, there is the Bible and there is the Church, as in ‘One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church’. As humans, our understanding of the Bible and the teachings of Christ are imperfect, so we turn to the Church. The Catholic Church teaches that which is in the Bible. On rare occasions the Catholic Church will make a definitive final statement regarding the teachings of Christ. Such definitive statements are always based upon the Bible, the traditions of the Church, AND the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Often times clergy will teach based upon their understanding of the teachings of Christ, even though the Church may not have issued a final definitive statement on the subject.

      PS on a side note when people ask me a generic question “What is a christian?” my answer is “A follower of Christ”.

  • http://henrysthreads.com Henry Neufeld

    As a self-described “passionate moderate, liberal charismatic” I find the two parts of your definition acceptable. I tend to place the incarnation at the core, and to see the resurrection as an essential outgrowth of incarnation, i.e. none of us would believe in the incarnation if we did not believe, in some way, in the resurrection.
    But to make labels useful, I think some distinction is necessary. As Jeremy noted, many non-trinitarian groups could claim your initial definition. My tendency is to call “Christian” anyone who accepts that Jesus has come in the flesh (and I like/expect the bodily resurrection to be derived from that), but then I use a further definition for “orthodox” Christian (note lower case ‘o’) as someone who can say the Apostles’ or Nicen creeds without crossing their fingers.
    I don’t personally claim the title “evangelical” though I’ve found people who are to my theological left who do. I just don’t understand how they do it.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/adrianwarnock Adrian Warnock

      Thanks Henry. I really think some grow up in an environment that totally equates “evangelical” and “Christian” so cling onto the first in my view wrongly but more of that in the next post!

      As far as my first definition it is deliberately loaded by the word “implications” and I would see the truths in the creeds as very much implied by Jesus resurrection.

  • http://tolivelifetothefull.wordpress.com tolivelifetothefull

    Personally I come from a mixed Christian family; my father is a Catholic and my mother is a Protestant and attends a Baptist church. I grew with these two in parallel and went to Catholic schools. I decided that the Protestant (essentially Baptist for me) doctrine made more sense biblically and there were many parts of Catholic church I could not personally reconcile with. But I still have a lot of Catholic family and I believe without a doubt that they are saved because they believe in Jesus and his death and resurrection and don’t simply go to church out of tradition, which is an unfortunate feature of many Catholic and Anglican churches. But its not because of those denominations’ doctrine people aren’t saved but because they don’t have a genuine belief in Jesus’ death and resurrection. And although as you say, in response to a different comment I think, this fact probably does mean its hard to ‘deny’ some doctrine such as the Trinity, most doctrine is details that we can discuss and debate over but don’t affect our salvation. When we’re already so imperfect being wrong about doctrine isn’t some huge sin that suddenly becomes unforgivable! And they are many, many points in doctrine I will happily say I can’t be absolutely sure on until God tells me himself.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/adrianwarnock Adrian Warnock

      My point on the Trinity was not that every believer must understand the nuances of that doctrine (arguably NONE of us do!) Rather that the well taught believer would find the concept of Trinity compelling as they already worship Jesus. I see my children as they grow even at a young age stumble on some form of Trinity when the really young ones talk about ‘Jesus and God’ and the slightly older ones correct them and say ‘but Jesus IS God…”

      • http://www.kellyjyoungblood.com Kelly J Youngblood

        I think the concept of the Trinity/Jesus is God would actually be more understandable if we didn’t call the Father “God” in our everyday language. If we instead said Father (or Abba), Jesus, Holy Spirit instead of God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, it could really break down at least part of the barrier to understanding.

        • http://patheos.com/blogs/adrianwarnock Adrian Warnock

          Better yet is “God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.” But there is a divine order of authority in the Trinity which reflects order we see in this world also….but that is another discussion you and I are very familiar with!

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/pgepps pgepps

    Adrian, I think you’ve done an excellent job of identifying at least one “minimal definition” of a believer in Jesus; but I don’t think that historically you’ll find that the term is as simple as that. Specifically, I think a Christian is minimally a believer who has been baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (baptism should be completed by confirmation). http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p2s2c1a2.htm#1289

    The question is whether salvation happens because we *think* a certain way, or because God *does* something. As someone raised Baptist who through a true spiritual conversion became Catholic, I would emphasize that God *saves* us; we don’t “get saved” through any single change in our knowledge or thinking.

    God *saves* us primarily through the Person and Work of the Incarnate Word, the Risen Christ; God *saves* us by bringing word of Christ to us; God *saves* us by preparing a People through whom we receive the Word; God *saves* us by ordering our lives and circumstances and moving within us to prepare us to receive the Word; God *saves* us by having given His People the Scriptures; God *saves* us by giving us families, or friends, or cultures, or missionaries who are moved already by His Spirit; God *saves* us by having given His People sacraments by which He lays hold of us….in all these and so much more, God is at work to save us. Whoever cooperates with this saving grace of God will be saved, and their cooperation begins with the faith that grace leads them to, the accepting belief in that God who saves to which God has drawn them. Ultimately, everyone who is saved by this grace does meet Christ in a state of charity with Him; those who are not saved by this grace are rejecting Christ, turning away from charity with Him.

    Therefore, even the thief on the cross can be saved by turning to the Christ into whom, had he lived long enough to carry out his Lord’s command, he would have been baptized; he was a believer, as we know from Christ’s authoritative promise. Yet, had he lived, rather than receiving that declaration near death, we would not correctly call him a Christian if he refused baptism–though we might well wonder whether he was nonetheless a believer. The term tracks with the identifiable Church (“at Antioch they were first called Christians”) in distinction from the rather more individualistic “only God knows” question of whether one is truly a believer.

    …incidentally, did you know your page is advertising some charlatan’s “healing hands,” complete with promise of “20 Divine Healing Hands” for those who buy a copy of the book?

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/adrianwarnock Adrian Warnock

      Thanks for these comments. I’d agree with your comments and they reflect some of what will be in my evangelical definition.

      About the advert, if you see it again please send me a screenshot and the URL it’s advertising by email. In some cases we can block specific adverts.

  • http://garyware.me Gary Ware

    Adrian, a definition which, on face, value Jehovah Witnesses could accept would seem problematic to me. And the Arian controversy proved that it was problematic for the church.
    Adducing your own biblical definition of a Christian and then qualifying that with systematic theological statements from Scripture (eg, Trinity, Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds) simply retraces the steps of the church over its history in understanding what God has done through Jesus Christ.
    How can you try to clear away theological history and arrive at your definition and then defend its capacity to do what you want it to do by appealing to theological history?

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/adrianwarnock Adrian Warnock

      JWs don’t worship Jesus as Lord. I’m also not trying to strip away theological history, just explain simply what a Christian is.

      • http://garyware.me Gary Ware

        JWs confess Jesus as Lord, but don’t accept what you’ve stated about His Lordship. Like the Arians.
        That’s why the church formulated the Nicene creed.
        The definition doesn’t stand on its own.
        That’s why you drew the creeds in at the end.
        And that’s why the church formulates these summaries.

        • http://byzantium.wordpress.com Kullervo

          Bingo.

  • Goandsay2012

    Exclusive versus inclusive Jesus? Do all “Christians” worship the same Jesus? some claim to love Jesus but dont think everyone needs a relationship to be saved (inclusive). Which is the “true” Christian: excluvists or inclusivists? thoughts?

  • DWelliver

    Hmm. Is the purpose of this discussion to help the “orthodox” judge who is in or who is out? (in which case the post seems largely relevant to the purpose). Or is the purpose to help people in their assessment of whether they are “Christians”? It’s unclear to me. It is helpful for me, in terms of my own self assessment, to understand what are the active, lively and motivating principles that drive what I say, do and value. What are the ideas that have consequences in my life? When I affirm and defend certain orthodox creeds but I have a different set of ideas and values that drive my affections and actions what does that mean about what I really “believe”? When I think in these terms then it becomes helpful to me personally. I guess I am really trying to redefine the purposes for why Christians defend their beliefs and send the arguments in a different direction. I think the content of most evangelical arguments are for the defense of the “boundaries” of orthodox Christianity and should probably be a minority of what we debate. I think most of the Bible is for Christians; to define a lively and active knowledge of God. We all have a set of belief’s or a person that we actually live to (real faith is experiential). Lets be people who are actually alive to the experiential knowledge of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and the love of others.

  • http://www.summitweb.net/ Martin Oxby

    If someone has accepted the living reality of the Lordship of Christ and determines to live for Jesus then some of the other bits happen naturally – e.g. confession of sin (because Christ at work through us by the Holy Spirit will help us identify actions/thoughts etc that do not fit in with a life with Christ).

    It is, on one hand important to keep it simple – Jesus came so the poorest, humblest most uneducated, could come to him (‘God has hidden these things from the wise’), yet comprehensive enough to be not entered into off-handishly.

    I feel I agree with your write-up – good definitions and explanations, well put together.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/adrianwarnock Adrian Warnock

      Thanks Martin. Shouldn’t every Christian easily be able to answer the question “What is a Christian?” if we can’t answer that one, how hard do we find it to answer “What must I do to be saved?” which is I suppose a similar question expressed a different way.

      • http://www.summitweb.net/ Martin Oxby

        Absolutely, couldn’t agree more. We are often in danger of over-complicating it – but equally cannot miss out necessary steps either so people enter the Kingdom with ‘eyes open’ :-)

        • http://patheos.com/blogs/adrianwarnock Adrian Warnock

          I would certainly include Baptism in a full presentation aimed at people who are not yet Christians that aimed to answer the question what must I do to be saved?

  • @robwarlick

    In attempts to avoid writing another blog, I make my response brief as a ONENESS APOSTOLIC PENTECOSTAL.

    A broad definition of “Christian” does not conflict with our doctrine. However, I would caution on the relevance of defining from within “the church”. The scripture does not clarify who provided the label of Christian to the disciples at Antioch – but the wording hints that they did not think up the themselves. These believers were proclaimed as Christians, followers of Jesus Christ, by others observing their teaching and practice. It was what they preached and the way lived that included them with that label. Two morals to that story – first, the name is subject to the fruit; secondly, it doesn’t matter what the world or my peers call me just as long as Jesus calls me faithful.

    It needs to clarified whether we are discussing labels or salvation?

    Oneness Apostolic Pentecostals would agree that Christians should be described by how they live in light of the resurrection of Christ, but would suggest a revelation of Jesus, baptism in His name and infilling of God’s Holy Spirit as crucial responses to their faith in out resurrected Lord.
    After the resurrection, Jesus showed himself alive with many infallible proofs, taught concerning the kingdom, and gave instructions to His followers who witnessed His ascention (Acts 1), He stated that all power was in Him (Luke 24) and that His followers would receive power/authority/anointing after the Holy Spirit comes upon them. This power of the Holy Spirit is what enables the world to see Christ in us.

    And finally, in response to the nicene creed being a gauge for Christianity (along with the belief in a trinity), a Oneness Apostolic Pentecostal would certainly disagree. The agreement of this doctrine was confirmed under an authority outside of what we would call the apostolic church. With limited space/time to dive into the history, all I can say is Oneness Apostolics Pentecostals typically disassociate from a Catholic tradition or church history. And while the protestant reformation was instrumental in numerous revivals and revelations, Oneness Apostolic Pentecostals would typically not label themselves a protestant denomination. Our association is most confident with the record of the original apostolic church as described in the book of Acts and the epistles. As such, our gauge for Christianity would be best reflective of the doctrine, preaching, example of those apostles who were counted faithful to lead the church at the beginning. Acts and the letters to the church indicate (in our opinion) specific expectations for church structure and spiritual leadership, a consistent message of salvation through Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit, and emphasis on the revelation of Jesus as God.

    I’ll stop here and give this disclaimer for my fellow Oneness Apostolic Pentecostals. I am a licensed minister with the United Pentecostal Church International, but wish to clarify that I am by no means a authority to claim the entirety of our doctrine and statements of faith. I write in my own opinion as a (proudly) self-proclaimed Oneness Apostolic Pentecostal. The revelation of Jesus as the image of the invisible God will change the way you worship! God is good!

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/adrianwarnock Adrian Warnock

      I’d love to hear more about this. Could you write a blog post and link to it with more about what it is you do believe? Am particularly interested in how you can both worship Jesus as God, while believing there is only one God, and yet reject the Trinity. Its always been a mystery to me, but I have never actually met a Oneness Pentecostal, I don’t think we have many in the UK.

  • Pingback: VIDEO: Has Rob Bell demonstrated clearly that he is not an Evangelical any more?

  • http://tachesterton.wordpress.com Tim Chesterton

    Dave, I certainly think you should include baptism in your definition. The evangelistic sermons in the early part of Acts all include an invitation to baptism as part of conversion, and the language used in the rest of the New Testament makes it clear that the expectation is that all Christians are baptized into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I say this as an evangelical Anglican, but an Alliance Church pastor friend of mine once said to me ‘In the New Testament, baptism was the prayer of commitment to Christ’.

    Of course, the issue of infant or believer’s baptism divides Christians, but I don’t think it would be necessary to get into that.

    • http://tachesterton.wordpress.com Tim Chesterton

      Sorry, I meant Adrian! Wrong Warnock!!!

  • Ted Seeber

    I’m to the point that I’m willing to call myself Catholic, but find myself utterly unwilling to call myself Christian.

    The label has been misused to the point of being utterly meaningless and far too broad.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/adrianwarnock Adrian Warnock

      But as Christian is a Bible word shouldn’t we try and rescue it somehow?

  • Steven J

    I was most intrigued by your opening premise that Evangelicalism is something that can and should be narrowly defined, but that Christian needs to remain more broadly defined. To a certain extent I think that is a good approach.
    However, as you started to place a definition on Christian I had to say ‘no, that isn’t reasonable’. You spoke of belief in the physical resurrection of Jesus as foundational. There are many who hold the name Christian who are intimately shaped by the life of Jesus. There are many who live with resurrection deep in the bones, and coursing through the blood, but simply do not look to the physical resurrection of Jesus as an imperative to that faith.
    I think that I am coming to the conclusion that is it becoming impossible to come up with a definition of Christian. You have to ask the question ‘who gets to set that definition?’, and by doing so some will inevitabley be excluded.
    We are long past a ‘one church’ structure of Christianity. We are in a period where we are moving past a ‘one doctrine’ of Christianity.
    Blessings on the journey.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/adrianwarnock Adrian Warnock

      Historically EVERYBODY who was a Christian accepted the resurrection. When the Bible speaks so clearly of an empty tomb, and Jesus promised he’d rise again how on earth can we call those liberals that dont believe in this historical event Christians?

      • Steven J

        Simply because we are.

      • Steven J

        Simply because we are.
        No one defines who I am. No one defines who you are.
        My faith has been formed by a host of influences, not the least of which is the life story of Jesus.
        I won’t get into matters of textual studies, and philosphy of how we know what we know.
        My point is that Christianity is past being able to impose definitions in such a diverse religion.

        • http://patheos.com/blogs/adrianwarnock Adrian Warnock

          But that makes Jesus a liar. Makes the gospel writers liars too. Makes all the early Christians who proclaimed Jesus rose again liars too!

      • http://whoisrobdavis.wordpress.com Rob Davis

        Adrian, which stream of Christian history are you claiming is the entirety of its history? There have been many Christian sects that did or do not believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus.

  • Pingback: What is an Evangelical?

  • R. Scott Pennington

    Somebody upstream might have pointed this out but it caught my eye immediately: You didn’t quote the Nicene Creed. You quoted the Apostle’s Creed which is considerably shorter. The Nicene Creed does not contain the phrase, “descended into hell”. Just FYI.

  • jerry lynch

    What did Jesus say distinguishes a Christian? That they love one another. Or as my mother put it, “The proof is in the pudding.” What Creed or Confession, what Articles of Faith or Statements of Belief mention the most crucial, absolutely essential, aspect of faith, the Two Great Commandments? “If you have not love…you have nothing, you are nothing.”

    This is not to dismiss the simple criteria of faith that Paul put forth as unessential or even less than love. But that love is not even mentioned in such discussions truly amazes me. Without it, the rest is utterly useless. It seems that something that is the very substance of God, what brought God to earth, and is greater than faith and hope should at least get a cameo appearance.

    • Grace Penn

      You say that none of these comments even mention Love, yet I would put forth that in saying “I am a Christian” and that a “Christian is One who follows Christ” is shorthand for those two commandments. The one description of Jesus that I think anyone who reads the stories about his life can agree on, even if they do not believe the stories to be about someone real, is that Jesus IS LOVE. If that is the case how can one who follows Christ (follows his way of life) not be about Love?

  • Pingback: What is Evangelicalism? – Part 1 | Alastair's Adversaria

  • Pingback: New Evangelical Archbishop of Canterbury – Justin Welby

  • Pingback: What is Evangelicalism? – Part 2 | Alastair's Adversaria

  • http://www.black-torch.co.uk SEO Edinburgh

    I’m always amazed by the amount of “Christians” these days who have never been to Church and can’t even paraphrase a single parable.

  • Andrew

    I say, a Christian, is someone who believed Jesus died in their place as their substitute for sin. Believing and trusting what Jesus did for you and turning from sin is salvation. But a changed life evidences that salvation.

    • http://byzantium.wordpress.com Kullervo

      If Atonement is the touchstone for defining Christianity, why didn’t the first thousand years of Christians say so?

      • Clif Loucks

        They Did. Without believing the Atonement, there is no salvation.
        1) The Apostle Paul in Romans 3: 24-26: …redemption is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth [to be] a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, [I say], at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”
        2) In Romans 5:11, he speaks of Jesus Christ, “by whom we have now received the atonement.” If you’re not receiving the Atonement, you’re not receiving Christ’s salvation….
        3) In Galatians 1:7-8, he warns of those who “pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.”
        4) If you missed that, here is his next inspired verse: “As we said before, so say I now again, If any [man] preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” Gal 1:9
        = ) No Belief in Atonement of Christ = No Go to Salvation-Land. Note that the Apostles’ Creed, falsely so-called, has no mention of Atonement, OR the Scriptures: it is a Romanist document, funnelling you into their authority-base with a lowest-common-denominator farce. Jesus commanded more: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe ALL things whatsoever I have commanded you…….” Mt 28:19-20a. Not One, or two, but ALL things that He commanded to believe.
        5) Paul’s own confession at his trial is telling: “But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets….” Acts 24:14.
        ALL Things which are written in the law and the prophets, which precludes short creeds omitting key elements.
        See: http://www.trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=108 for “a/c” shortcomings from Scripture’s POV.

      • Clif Loucks

        They Did. Without believing the Atonement, there is no salvation.
        1) The Apostle Paul in Romans 3: 24-26: …redemption is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth [to be] a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, [I say], at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”
        2) In Romans 5:11, he speaks of Jesus Christ, “by whom we have now received the atonement.” If you’re not receiving the Atonement, you’re not receiving Christ’s salvation….
        3) In Galatians 1:7-8, he warns of those who “pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.”
        4) If you missed that, here is his next inspired verse: “As we said before, so say I now again, If any [man] preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” Gal 1:9
        = ) No Belief in Atonement of Christ = No Go to Salvation-Land. Note that the Apostles’ Creed, falsely so-called, has no mention of Atonement, OR the Scriptures: it is a Romanist document, funnelling you into their authority-base with a lowest-common-denominator farce. Jesus commanded more: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe ALL things whatsoever I have commanded you…….” Mt 28:19-20a. Not One, or two, but ALL things that He commanded to believe.
        5) Paul’s own confession at his trial is telling: “But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets….” Acts 24:14.
        ALL Things which are written in the law and the prophets, which precludes short creeds omitting key elements.
        See: http://www.trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=108 for “a/c” shortcomings from Scripture’s POV.

      • Clif Loucks

        They Did. Without believing the Atonement, there is no salvation: Christians believe the Gospel: “How that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.” 1 Cor 15:3-4. “How” does the Scripture say “Christ died for His people’s sins,” and how important is this belief?
        1) The Apostle Paul in Romans 3: 24-26: “…redemption is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth [to be] a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, [I say], at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”
        2) In Romans 5:11, he speaks of Jesus Christ, “by whom we have now received the atonement.” If you’re not receiving the Atonement, you’re not receiving Christ’s salvation….
        3) In Galatians 1:7-8, he warns of those who “pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.”
        4) If you missed that, here is his next inspired verse: “As we said before, so say I now again, If any [man] preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” Gal 1:9
        = ) No Belief in Atonement of Christ = No Go to Salvation-Land. Note that the Apostles’ Creed, falsely so-called, has no mention of Atonement, OR the Scriptures: it is a Romanist document, funnelling you into their authority-base with a lowest-common-denominator farce. Jesus commanded more: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe ALL things whatsoever I have commanded you…….” Mt 28:19-20a. Not One, or two, but ALL things that He commanded to believe.
        5) Paul’s own confession at his trial is telling: “But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets….” Acts 24:14.
        ALL Things which are written in the law and the prophets, which precludes short creeds omitting key elements, like the Atonement. The entire sacrificial system of the OT was of Atonement pointing to Christ for its true fulfillment: to miss that, is to miss its whole point.

  • http://whoisrobdavis.wordpress.com Rob Davis

    I don’t “believe” that Jesus physically rose from the dead, but I still think that I have the right to call myself a Christian.

    I wrote some initial thoughts on what I mean by Christian here:
    http://whoisrobdavis.wordpress.com/2012/10/28/my-christianity-part-1/

  • http://Thisone Peter

    I believe that a “Christian is one whose life is set on fire by Jesus Christ”. The “Trinity” is a construct by the early Church, and it maybe that the that relevant phrase in Mathhew 28 is a later addition because of its atypical vocabulary and style. I don’t feel that God should be constrained by any single word, or group of words. John writes a whole Gospel in which he struggles to find words which are God – Word, Light, Love, Truth, Way, Shepherd etc etc.

  • Pingback: The best of the blog: 2012

  • MichaelGonzalez

    I don’t agree with this blog. A

    Christian is someone that believes that Jesus is who He claims to be in the
    Scriptures. He is our Savior and
    Lord. These two go together just like justification and sanctification. You
    cannot claim the name of Christian just by believing. Believing is indeed a
    requirement however; accepting His Lordship over our lives is also a
    requirement. You cannot have one without the other and claim to be a Christian.
    To do so would be to manifest the heresy of faith without works. Works being
    the result (evidence) of our faith and not our faith. Meaning good works is not
    our faith rather good works are the result of our faith.

    The standard is God’s Word and not
    some creed, or denomination. Those are all well and good but they do not trump
    the truth of God’s Word. The standard is God’s Word and only God’s Word. The fallacy of
    believing without submitting is contradicted as error throughout the Scriptures. So; to
    claim the mantel of Christian we must believe and submit. This is the teaching
    of Scripture. Those who profess otherwise are in error because they do not understand
    the Scriptures. In fact such doctrine is nothing more but late date
    antinomianism. The clearest example belief, love, and submission are found in
    Jesus’ prayers in the garden of Gethsemane Just before His illegal arrest.

    The definition of Christian should
    not be broadened in any way. In fact the exact opposite needs to occur. To make
    the definition more broad for the sake of acceptance by many is a classical
    error of the church today which wants to be accepted by all and therefore;
    correct doctrine is sacrificed to produce pragmatic manmade results which if we look at
    church history always fail. In short the church today is obsessed with being
    accepted instead of proclaiming the truth of God so; it has adopted the
    heretical doctrine of pragmatism to be accepted by the world so that it can
    save everyone from the world. This doctrine would be comical if we weren’t talking
    about the eternal life. Alas it is very sad. Is it not written that Jesus
    Christ is a stumbling block and an offense to those that are still living in
    themselves instead of living in Him? The truth of God’s Word is offensive,
    illogical, impractical and gibberish to those who are living in themselves and
    not in Christ. Nevertheless that does not mitigate the responsibilities of the
    saints to carry out the commandments as laid out in God’s Word. What; have true
    Christians forgotten that The Law is not for the followers of Christ? Or is it
    that the commandment to read, study, meditate on God’s Word is just being
    ignored by so called Christians.

    What is a Christian? Someone that
    has believed that Jesus Christ is who He claims to be in the Scriptures and has
    submitted their lives to Him in love and obedience just like the Scriptures
    command. In other words, we have picked up our cross daily and are willing if
    necessary to drink the cup that He drank. This then results in life, anything
    less is deception and unscriptural and will result in the second death.

    Do you claim the mantle of
    Christian? Then are you obedient to Him as it is written? If not at least be
    obedient enough to check yourself to see if you are really in the faith. If you
    are, you do well, continue in Him. If not, you can call yourself whatever you
    want but, you have not the mantle of Christian. Anyone that claims the mantle
    of Christ yet is not obedient to Him is lying and has deceived themselves.
    Please don’t take my word for it, in fact don’t take my word here at all but
    rather; go to the Scriptures and check and see for yourself if what I am saying
    is true.

    Supporting Scripture: Rom 6, 7, 8;
    Matt 4:10; Matt 7:21-23; Matt 10:24; Matt 37-40; Mark 12:20-31; Lk 4:8; Lk 6:46; Lk 10:27; 1st Jn 2:3-4; Titus 1:4; Col
    20:23; 1st Cor 7:19; Jn 15:10; Jn 14:15-21; Mark 7:7; Matt 19:17;
    Amos 2:4; Dan 9:4; Eccl 12:13; Prov 10:8; Prov 7:2; Ps 119; Ps 78:7; Ps 103:18;
    Ps 111:10; James 4:4; Mark 14:36; Matt 26:42; Matt 26:39; James 2:19.

    The supporting scripture here is
    woefully inadequate to address all that I have written; nevertheless it is a
    good start for both Christian and those who falsely claim that mantle.
    MG

  • Gerard Kelly

    Interesting article, Adrian – but if you have such a robust definition of what a Christian is, why do you need a definition of what an Evangelical is? What purpose does the more narrow definition serve, other than to cause division?

    • http://adrianwarnock.com/ Adrian Warnock

      I think it is helpful to understand different groupings within the church and labels like “Roman Catholic” “Baptist” “Evangelical” and “Charismatic” act as a form of shorthand which is useful in discussions. The Bible says a lot more than “Jesus rose again” and Christians disagree about a lot of it, and it is not wrong for us to discuss these things.

      • Gerard Kelly

        Thanks Adrian, I get that… But I fear that we evangelicals too often use the term as a shorthand for ‘theologically kosher’. When you described Rob Bell as Christian but not evangelical, did you assume that we would read ‘not one of us?’

  • Daniel

    “It is of course worth pointing out that biblically this “belief” is no mere intellectual assent. It is a deep heartfelt orientation of the heart towards trust and devotion. It involves a radical change in our worldview and approach to Jesus. ”

    “Faith is trust in the person of Jesus to save us more than it is agreeing with a set of doctrines.”

    “As important as doctrine is, the Bible is clear that the issue of salvation is purely about our relationship with Jesus and his claims.”

    Is this view as a result of pietism? Making experience rather than Scripture our final authority? What does having a relationship with Jesus consist of?

    It seems you try too hard making the term Christian as broad as possible. Is it wise to do that? Someone who calls himself a Gay Christian is an antinomian. Jesus said: Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven:

    Matthew Henry writes:
    “The Jews reckon the least of the commandments of the law to be that of the bird’s nest (Deu. 22:6, Deu. 22:7 ); yet even that had a significance and an intention very great and considerable. (2.) It is a dangerous thing, in doctrine or practice, to disannul the least of God’s commands; to break them, that is, to go about either to contract the extent, or weaken the obligation of them; whoever does so, will find it is at his peril. Thus to vacate any of the ten commandments, is too bold a stroke for the jealous God to pass by. it is something more than transgressing the law, it is making void the law, Ps. 119:126 . (3.) That the further such corruptions as they spread, the worse they are. It is impudence enough to break the command, but is a greater degree of it to teach men so. This plainly refers to those who at this time sat in Moses’ seat, and by their comments corrupted and perverted the text. Opinions that tend to the destruction of serious godliness and the vitals of religion, by corrupt glosses on the scripture, are bad when they are held, but worse when they are propagated and taught, as the word of God. He that does so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven, in the kingdom of glory; he shall never come thither, but be eternally excluded; or, rather, in the kingdom of the gospel-church. He is so far from deserving the dignity of a teacher in it, that he shall not so much as be accounted a member of it. ”

  • Pingback: hefalimp cardijon

  • Pingback: The lost art of prayer | Deb's Place

  • Pingback: air duct cleaning houston

  • Pingback: cialis ou viagra

  • Pingback: prix cialis 20

  • Pingback: you can try here

  • Pingback: home remedies to last longer in bed

  • Pingback: best online slots

  • Pingback: medicament cialis 5mg

  • Pingback: prix du cialis 5mg en pharmacie

  • Pingback: anxiety and premature ejaculation

  • Pingback: how to stay longer during intercourse

  • Pingback: payday loans online

  • Pingback: cialis price


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X