Why Am I a Christian?

Following the series of four “Christian Cliche” articles, I received hundreds of responses from across the spectrum. One in particular, however, stood out to me. A man who does not consider himself to be a Christian asked me why it is that I identify as a Christian, particularly given my apparent difference on a number of key issues of the faith.

Good question.

I do not ascribe to the notion of substitutionary atonement (Jesus had to die for our sins to be forgiven). I also do not hold a literal understanding of scripture as essential to my faith. Frankly, I’ve never met anyone who literally believes and follows the Bible, word-for-word, so I think the only honest approach to the bible is to admit we all interpret it on some level. I also have a far different understanding of salvation, hell, the Trinity and so on from many of my fellow followers of Christ.

For one, I don’t accept the idea that any individual or instituion (translated: church or denomination) has the authority to dictate what it does and doesn’t mean to be a Christian. That’s between me and God. Also, I think there’s a basic difference between a lot of traditional understandings of what it means to be Christian when compared with some more recent – and arguably, more historically ancient – beliefs in what it is to be a Follower of the Way of Christ.

I don’t believe adherence to certain doctrine, dogma, baptism, communion, a blessing from a priest or pastor, approval from organized religion, attendance at a church or giving a certain amount of money to charity make you a Christian. I understand many people do, and I am fine with that. But those don’t work for me. Although I’m not a vocal advocate for an emphasis on personal salvation as the primary purpose of Christianity , I do believe that each person has to decide for themselves whether they consider themselves to be Christian or not, and what that means.

Yes, some church leaders will claim that is heresy, because it strips them of authority in the process. The case is made that this is a slippery slope into religious relativism in which it’s a free-for-all, everyone picking and choosing what they like, as if their faith was a grocery store. But given that I do not believe there is such a thing as “ultimate, singular Truth” with a capital “T” and there is no such thing as un-interpreted scripture, I would suggest that EVERYONE does this already at some level.

You may recite the prayers and verses as you’re taught, but no one can make you believe anything. It’s a choice, That’s fundamental to free will.

So why, then, do I even call myself a Christian?

Rather than mine being a theology of “Jesus died for your sin,” mine is one of “Thy Kingdom come.” That is archaic language, and I find that a little off-putting,  but given that it’s from the Lord’s Prayer, attributed to Jesus, I think it’s worth wrestling with. Basically, I share the interpretation of this line of the prayer with many seekers of social justice, like MLK, Walter Rauschenbusch and the like, who believe that the line, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” is an expression of longing, for God’s love to be fully realized, for our inequities and brokenness to be reconciled here on this earth, and not just some day after we die.

This is not likely something at which we will entirely arrive in this life, but it is something toward which we should re-orient ourselves daily, in order to seek it out, actively and vocally, in all we do. This, I believe, is Christ’s call to the world.

I also hold a somewhat different understanding of God than many other Christians. Whereas some consider God to be some “other” being “out there” somewhere, I don’t believe in a God that is “other.” Rather, I relate to such phrases describing God as:

  • I Am that I Am.
  • God is love (not God has love or owns love, but God IS LOVE).
  • In the beginning was the Word.

In so much as I understand God to be the pervasive presence of love in the universe, and in so much as I understand Jesus to be the most perfect embodiment and expression of that love in the world, I believe that Jesus is “love, made flesh.”

I recognize much about the human condition that is broken and that, left untended, leads to more brokenness. I see Christ’s life and message as the path through that brokenness (not to avoid it, but to make our way through in spite of it), and as such, his life and word is salvific. Folks talk about salvation about a one-and-done sort of fire insurance policy, but I see it as a lifelong  process of healing past, present and future hurt (both individual and collective). This doesn’t mean that the hurt ever stops, that we suddenly, upon becoming Christians, are always happy, smiling, bubbly folks. But it does mean we believe in a love that is greater than the sum total of that hurt, and than it is in community that we can both multiply our joys and share the burden of our tragedies.

Feel free to quote the scriptures that point to selective salvation, blood atonement and the like, but I’ve read and heard them all before. Many times. We all have. This is what I believe, and although I remain open to changing and growing in my faith, I will not stop speaking plainly and publicly about that belief, simply because it makes some uncomfortable or even angry (trust me, some things you do piss me off too). But we’re still brothers and sisters, all part of a greater body, be that the Christian Body if you are of that faith or the whole of humanity if not.

My hope is that we can try a little harder to act as such.

About Christian Piatt

Christian Piatt is the creator and editor of BANNED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE BIBLE and BANNED QUESTIONS ABOUT JESUS. He co-created and co-edits the “WTF: Where’s the Faith?” young adult series with Chalice Press, and he has a memoir on faith, family and parenting being published in early 2012 called PREGMANCY: A Dad, a Little Dude and a Due Date.

  • Chris M.

    You absolutely, 1000% put everything in my head into this post, Christian. Well said. Thanks for your candor and humor. May we all strive to live more fully into this experience of Christianity.

  • Deanna Ogle

    Christian, thank you for posting this. After the last couple of years of my beliefs beig shaped, shaken, blown away, and reinvented, I often wonder why I would call myself a Christian ever again. I might have the same set of words and claim to be following the same deity, but I believe so vastly different than the majority of Christians I know.

    I appreciate you speaking candidly about this. Just because you use the word, doesn’t mean you believe or affirm or represent any of the things that other Christians have said or done. It’s just how you feel comfortable identifying and living.

    Great post, thank you.

  • Eric Addison1

    While I agree with the fact that God is love, I think rationally speaking that you cannot separate love from action.  Action means that love means absolutely nothing if it is merely a teaching or a philosophy.  Jesus is Love made flesh which makes the cross all the more potent.  You cannot separate Jesus from the cross without separating Jesus from the act of love which substitutes for our sins.  Otherwise what is the point?  I applaud your search for truth and justice in this fallen world.  However, if Jesus did not pay for our sins whether collectively or individually, then where is the hope that we have of someday being united with him in heaven?  Why was it included in the Bible? Why must I do theological calisthenics to to come up with a way to explain hell away? If I discredit the Bible as being merely metaphorical, then how does anyone find God? I couldn’t trust something that is open merely to interpretation on every level.  I want to leave you with one final question.  

    If the teachings of Christ have to do merely with social justice, then why would God send his son to earth only to have him killed? If it means nothing more then it was a cruel joke to make believe that we have hope of something more when all it was was God trying to get us to live better.  If we look at our own lives, we must concede our need for a Savior.  

    No, I choose to believe in a higher purpose.  A love that exceeded all by substituting for our sins.  Otherwise the Christian experience is a waste of time.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1427700563 Michael McCoy

       Christ came to preach: good news to the poor, recovering of sight for the blind, release for the captive, freedom for the oppressed, and the “acceptable year of the Lord.”  (Lk 4:8 c.f.)  How could Christianity not be about social justice when, “…the Spirit of the Lord has anointed him…”, to do these things? 
      I am not trying to proof-text here, my point is that this statement makes plain the need for us to continue the work that Jesus began.  No where in the biblical narrative do we read anything, anything, that says something to the effect of, “Humanity is so bad, that someone has to die so that God will forgive them.”  Think about what that sort of theology must mean.  If someone doesn’t die, then God stops loving us?  That is contrary to the statement in 1 John that “God is Love.”  How could a father (to use Jesus’ own word) love his son and yet send him to be murdered, (and yes it was murder–unjustified killing), so that he can “get over it” and love us again?  God is omnipotent and can do whatever he wants.  The purpose of Jesus’ life, teaching, death, and resurrection was to show us that God had not and has not given up on us.  Jesus preached a message of forgiveness and showed us how much God was willing to forgive again and again.  We didn’t listen to God, we didn’t believe the prophets, we failed miserably at following the Law, so God sent a Son, (to which the parable alludes), hoping that we would finally get it, and we killed him too.
      Jesus did have to die, God loved us so much that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.  Right?  And the verse right after this, which most people stop short of says, “For God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but that world might be saved through him.” (Jn 3:17)  No condemnation; only love.  Jesus was killed in the usual way that Romans executed political prisoners.  He said things that threatened the powers that be in that place and they killed him for it just like some many others.  But rather than letting this be the end, it created a new beginning.  His death was transformative because it showed us that not even the death of the messenger can kill this message of love that God has for us.  This is the good news and it is hardly a waste of anyone’s time.

  • http://www.travismamone.net/ Travis Mamone

    Thank you SO MUCH for writing this! Lately I find myself somewhere between a Christian and an agnostic. On one hand, I love the idea of a loving God that can heal brokenness. But on the other hand, since there’s no way to either prove or disprove God’s existence, am I just fooling myself with some pie-in-the-sky fairy tale?

    • Nia

      That’s exactly how I have been feeling lately too.

  • Chasjeanw

    Christian, you pretty well summarized my beliefs as well, though I would add a piece that feels very important to me.  I believe it is possible to be in communion with this spirit of God/Christ.  To me there is an element of friendship and mentoring, sometimes vivid, sometimes barely perceptible.  But this piece of communion makes all the difference to me.  What is your experience?

    • http://www.facebook.com/christiandpiatt Christian Piatt

      My experience of God in that way generally is either in relationship with others or in moments of artistic inspiration/expression. Not so much daily regular presence as a burst of inspired clarity and communion, as you call it.

      • Chasjeanw

        Thanks, Christian.  And I have one other question that perhaps you could write on.  Kind of related to this article, What experiences have led you to be a Christian, vs just being an ethical humanist?

        • http://www.facebook.com/christiandpiatt Christian Piatt

          Ahh, for that you have to buy the books :-)

          • untied_methodist

            You capitalist!

          • Chasjeanw

            Which book would address that best?

          • http://www.facebook.com/christiandpiatt Christian Piatt

            I talk a good deal about my own faith experience in MySpace to Sacred Space as well as PregMANcy. I also have lots of personal “testimony” in my upcoming book, “postChristian”

  • David

    Wow!  The commonality I continue to find between your ideas and mine is amazing.  You have just summed up my beliefs, as strange as they sometimes appear to my fellow Christians.  Thank you!  If any of my family or friends want to know what I believe…I can just point them to this.  Keep doing what you are doing!

  • http://www.bipolarlessons.com/ Mary

    Thank you for this. I had wondered what exactly your beliefs were. It makes me like you even more. I think faith should be inclusive, not exclusive. While so many people attacked your beliefs the past few days, they were ignoring the true message of Jesus. LOVE. Does it demonstrate love to bash everyone who has a different belief system? Does it heal the hurt you mention to say only SOME people are worthy of God?

    I don’t identify myself as a Christian because I believe TRUTH IS TRUTH no matter where you find it. It doesn’t mean that I am against the Bible, but I see worthwhile teachings in ALL RELIGIONS that practice love. If you get rid of all the ridiculous dogma what you find is that they all say the same thing. LOVE GOD AND LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR.

    It is so simple, but so many people want to make it complicated so that they can feel “special” and better than everybody else.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1077510123 Wes Shank

    Well said, well said. Preach on, brother.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Morse/1144712692 Brian Morse

    Thank you thank you thank you!!!  We don’t know each other, but we have a similar mission and kindred spirit.

  • Ken Yarmosh Sr.

    This is such ambiguous nonsense, it’s enough to even make a secular relativist’s head spin. You’re NOT a Christian based on your own words!

    Since the Word of God doesn’t seem to have any real meaning to you and you’re able to twist words to meet your philosophical goals, you’re idea of His kingdom coming may have nothing to do with what that kingdom actually looks like or how you’ll be judged when it arrives.

    I read with interest your “10 cliches Christians should never use” and I found myself agreeing with you on most of them, but for very different reasons.

    1) “Everything happens for a reason.” Contrary to your reasoning and rationale, everything does in fact happen for a reason. God is sovereign and we may not even like the reasons, but God is a rational, logical being and we may not understand it or have the ability to comprehend the reasons with our finite minds, but reasons do exist for events occurring. Nothing happens in a void but we don’t live in a void. Every event in time and space has a cause and effect. Ultimately, a sovereign God is responsible. And no, I did not say God was the author of sin. We are responsible for our condition as sinners, it is Christ who by His mercy plucks out whom He wills to save the few from what they rightly deserve. “Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executes my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.” Isaiah 46:10-11

    Is this an appropriate phrase for a funeral, especially after a particular mind-numbing tragedy, of course not.

    2) “If you died today, do you know where you’d spend the rest of eternity?” Clearly, you must not believe in the assurance of Scripture for those God has called out of this world by the Holy Spirit. “Being confident of this very thing, that He which has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” Phil.1:6 

    One can know where they will spend eternity if they have trusted in Christ. Of course this is impossible if you don’t value the integrity of the Scriptures and the promises conferred to those who serve the Living God. Not of their will but of His will. It is not our faith, but His faith that saves us. And it is God who causes us to believe. As Spurgeon said, ‘little faith saves.’ And this is why the disciples cried out to the Lord to increase their faith, recognizing that it is God (which they saw Christ as) who can only provide this saving faith.

    3) “He/she is in a better place.” I agree with you. This is a reckless comment unless the individual was a servant of God. Most aren’t. Christ stated to be a disciple required: 1) taking up a daily cross (speaking Biblical truth – the very things for which they crucified Him for); 2) denying self (doing the Father’s will instead of our own); 3) continuing in His Word (most “Christians” have no idea what the Bible says).

    4) “Can I share a little bit about my faith with you?” No, you actually can’t since this is the job of the Holy Spirit. You can share the truth though about the commandments, sin, hell, and the good news of the Savior. Whether God opens their eyes to His truth is up to Him. Our job as believers is to speak the truth whatever the consequences. Sugar-coating the truth is not truth with pat comforting words that God loves everyone just as they are – if He did, there would be no need for change or the atonement of the Savior.

    5) “You should come to church with me on Sunday.” This is in fact the problem. We (genuine believers) ARE the church. It is not a physical building. Church (Greek: ἐκκλησία ekklēsia – ‘called out ones’). Coming off as an “opinionated” Christian is an oxymoron. Christians are to adhere to the doctrines of our Lord. Quite frankly, our opinions are irrelevant to the matter of what the Word of God requires of the believer. What you term as a “predatory approach” is in fact your opinion. The apostles and disciples did as the Lord commanded. We can do no less and should do no more. It is the Holy Spirit who convicts and turns the sinner to obedience. This is not a mental test of wills. If it were, the best orators would only have adherents to the best argument or the most compelling emotional appeal. But it’s not and this is something you don’t seem to comprehend. It is the Spirit of God who quickens the dead and gives them ears to hear. Are you hearing this? If so, it is the call to God’s repentance. 

    6) “Have you asked Jesus into your heart?” A silly proposition and I agree with you. The proponents of this base it on Romans 10:9-10 but the Greek word for ‘confess’ is the word ὁμολογέω homologeō  which means to be of the same (homo) logeo (word or doctrine). Most “Christians” have an ‘abracadabra’ theology in which they substitute that term with the name of Jesus. It is adherence to His Word which God has written upon the fleshly tables of our heart (Jer.31:31-34 and Ezek.36:24-28) which ultimately counts.

    7) “Do you accept Jesus as your personal lord and savior?”  And again I must agree with you. This is a modern day nonsensical tradition which conflicts with Scripture. Since God doesn’t hear the prayer of sinners (John 9:31), only God will choose who are and aren’t His. The Biblical doctrine of predestination, election, and a chosen people whom God has called out by His mercy to save is not only inherent from Genesis to Revelation but can’t be any clearer when one looks at John 15:16, 19; Romans 8:29-33; Ephesians 1:4-5, 10-11; 2 Thess.2:13; James 2:5; 1 Peter 1:2, 20, etc.

    For those who cannot wrap their minds around this (read Romans 9), remember we don’t know who is and isn’t called of God. Our call is to obedience (if we are His we will obey) to the Word. The great scandal of the gospel is God chooses some of the most unlikely and most unworthy vessels to use for His glory while discarding those who are successful in the eyes of this world, full of pride and self-righteous. The Holy Spirit will filter the wheat from the chaff.

    8) “This could be the end of days.”  It is the end of days because our time is but as a wind that passes or a leaf which fades. No one has any claim on tomorrow. For those searching for signs and wonders – Christ said an adulterous generation seeks after these, which most certainly we are. Our culture is rapidly imploding and devolving socially and morally (read the paper lately?). Even the heathen know this world can’t last much longer but this is not the issue. The issue is the sinful condition within the hearts of every man. The pride of man declares that “man is basically good at heart” but this contradicts the testimony of Scripture and our very conscience if we are honest in light of the commandments of a Holy God. The simple question is would any of us want our most secret intimate thoughts advertised for our fellow family members, co-workers, and neighbors to see. I don’t think so. We are deplorably wicked at heart, all having sinned, none that does good, no, not one. 

    It is not our righteousness but that of Christ’s which justifies us by the blood of the Lamb, the Son of God who atoned for those who are His.

    9) “Jesus died for your sins.” This is where your heresy is so clear that I can only pray the Lord brings you to His repentance. Christ died for His people. His blood shed once to atone for the sins, transgressions, and iniquity of those whom He calls from the dead. The dead cannot choose Christ any more than a corpse can wave goodbye to loved ones. It is Messiah who has grafted in the Gentiles as the Branch, enabling us to bear fruit, not of our own accord but by the Spirit of God within us.

    No, Christ did not die for everyone. If He did, this would be universalism but the Scripture clearly talks about hell and eternal damnation for all liars, fornicators, kidnappers, murderers, those who covet, the lawless, etc. It is God who has purposed to save a people for Himself and save them He will. No one comes of their own accord. But when God speaks, men leave their fishing nets, tax collector tables, and leave their own agenda behind for the sake of the kingdom of God which He establishes within us.

    10) “Will all our visitors please stand?” Another silly tradition. If preachers spent their time pleading with God to prepare their wicked hearts to speak the holy truth of God’s Word, they’d have less time for mindless, useless, meaningless anecdotes and more time to present the law of God that indicts by the Holy Spirit and the grace of God by which the same Spirit saves. The overwhelming majority of the evangelical church world has no clue about sound systematic theology and what it means to be a true disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. 

    “Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” Acts 14:22 and again, “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power” 2 Thess.1:7-9

    Church pulpits do not preach the truth with any kind of regularity. Christ isn’t returning to pat evil sinners who never knew God or lost church members who never obeyed His gospel. Everlasting destruction is forever and no, this is not annihilation (otherwise it wouldn’t be everlasting). Flaming fire in a bottomless pit where the damned shriek in horror and gnash their teeth because they have forsaken the only Hope of mankind, the grace and truth of Jesus Christ.

    • Chasjeanw

      Ken, thanks for reminding me why I left your version of Christianity behind.  Does it really inspire you to love your neighbors as yourself?  That being Jesus’s version of the most important command.

      • Ken Yarmosh Sr.

        You came out because you never belonged to Christ. If you are His, you will return. As the apostle John wrote, ”
        They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. ” 1 John 2:19

        It isn’t my version, it is the Biblical version. My opinion doesn’t matter. As for loving my neighbors? I tell them the truth. The truth doesn’t hurt – it is the lie that hurts. The truth sets the captive free but only the Spirit of God can liberate those enslaved to sin.

        Sorry, I don’t play kumbaya and hold hands in a wasted circle of lost souls. God calls His servants to diligently study His Word and speak truth to a darkened and lost world. This is the daily cross we carry and quite frankly I rejoice in Christ for those like yourself who attempt to diminish me. God will have His way and it will be according to His Word. Flesh and blood will not reveal this but the Holy Spirit will to whoever He chooses.

        We can only love our neighbors by giving them the Bread of Life. If God has given them a hunger and thirst for His righteousness, we will rejoice in fellowship. And if not, believers are to separate. And this has been the problem with the modern church: they have incorporated the world into their gatherings and been compromised. The modern “church” is filled with mindless goats who have no understanding of the requirements of the Master and sit fat, dumb, and happy – totally disposed to giving their 1 hour per week of mind-numbing religion.

        • Chasjeanw

          Good luck to you Ken.  Hope you end up spreading something positive in your life.  

          • datakcy

            One, I don’t depend on luck. Two, not my will but God’s will be done. Doesn’t get any more positive than that. By God’s grace, this is exactly what I’ll be doing. If you are Christ’s, you’ll do the same.

          • Chasjeanw

            I too am doing my best to follow God’s will – the focus of my life.  Glad you feel the same about your life.

    • http://www.travismamone.net/ Travis Mamone

       Okay, who let the fundamentalists in?

      • Ken Yarmosh Sr.

        Fundamentalist? Raised Roman Catholic. Challenged at 20 to read the Scriptures. Spent 20 years in Pentecostal/Charismatic churches until I was introduced to the writing of the early church fathers and reformers.

        That changed everything because I saw and acknowledged from the readings of Athanasius, Polycarp, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origen, Jerome, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Edwards, Spurgeon, and others the same scarlet thread of the redemptive work of Christ Jesus that runs from Genesis to Revelation. I began to understand that most in the modern church have been taught the traditions of men and understand nothing of the work of the Holy Spirit.

        Mindless quote Scripture Mary? You choose to search your own heart? Your heart is as wicked as mine but you choose in your ignorant pride to elevate self rather than acknowledge the truth of the Word of God. Let me give you more of the mindlessness of Scripture: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jer.17:9 and again, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” Isaiah 64:6

        When I was challenged as a 20-year old to open the Word of God it was with the full intent of showing the stupidity of the ignorant Christian. After just four months of careful and diligent study, I found myself as a communications engineer in the military on my knees in repentance before the Lord God Almighty, knowing I war fully deserving of His wrath for my sins. The Scripture says “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

        There are no exceptions. It is the low view of sin that enables man to swagger through life with pride, arrogance, lying, lusting, coveting, stealing, murdering (at least in their heart) and idolizing. We are all guilty. As I walk the streets sharing the Word of God I encounter individuals from all walks of life. When they tell me how ‘good’ they are and the reasons why God should let them into heaven on that basis I ask them, “if all of your secret most intimate thoughts which go through your mind were placed on a video screen for all the world to see…” – no one could stand this level of scrutiny. All would be shocked at some of things that pass through our minds. 

        “Behold, He [God] puts no trust in his saints; yea, the heavens are not clean in His sight. How much more abominable and filthy is man, which drinks iniquity like water?” Job 15:15-16

        If you choose to shoe box me as a fundamentalist you do so at your own eternal peril. I can assure you that I don’t come to this blog with any kind of self-righteousness. The things I’ve done over the course of my life time and in fact on any given day would absolutely damn me. But it is not my righteousness, but that of the Lord Christ’s which covers me. His blood has atoned for my sins, lawlessness, transgressions, and I can only thank God for an Advocate with the Father who ever lives to make intercession for me as a faithful High Priest.

        And again Mary, before you spout about predestination, did you even bother to read the Scriptures I provided? Just to recap, “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will” Ephesians 1:4-5 and again, “Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who works all things after the counsel of his own will” Ephesians 1:9-11

        “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” Romans 8:29-30

        I would strongly suggest you read the creeds and confessions of the churches because all they do throughout history is reiterate what the Word of God says. You and I may not like it, but the rules of the game were established by the Creator who is immutable and doesn’t change according to the whims and fancies of the dust He forms into clay vessels. Read Romans 9, God has already chosen even before we inhabit the womb. Again, neither you nor I know who they are but if we are Christ’s we will be faithful to proclaim His gospel and He will awaken those who are His to His truth.

        Please recall only 8 were saved in the ark of Noah and only a few came out of Sodom and Gomorrah. Only two of the original Israelites made it into the Promised Land. The LORD God is selective. Serve Him while there is still time. Don’t obey the philosophies of man. Eternity is forever and it is God that calls whomsoever He wills.

        • Adam Louw

          The problem with arguing by quoting Scripture is that it is finite and that your choice of passages to support your argument are subjective. Would that be the reason you looked into the early church fathers and reformers? That is still limited though, but may I applaud your search to increase and broaden your understanding albeit of philosophies of men, but nonetheless. 

          I have come across one very problematic philosopher recently, well in more detail, named David Hume an incredibly eloquent and very intelligent individual who scrutinised both rationality and religion, but chose rationality instead. 

          You see he questioned the authority or legitimacy of Scripture as the foundation for faith and well the conservative/fundamentalist arguments just do not work though neither do the experiential foundations that makes up the liberal argument for that matter so where shall we look for direction? 

          So you may be inclined to ask,”Why am I so concerned about a man that lived about three hundred years ago and who skewered the ID/Creationist argument for the existence of God, and pretty much mortally wounded the whole existence of miracles as far as we traditionally understand them?”

          Simply because as Christianity becomes more and more irrelevant mainly due to a combination of the witness (mainly the lack thereof) of fundamentalists/conservatives, and dare I say liberals as well, and arguments such as David Hume’s that Christianity does not appeal to an incredibly spiritual generation any longer and who are pretty content to search else where. 

          May I introduce Christ Jesus aka Jesus of Nazareth free of all doctrinal trappings? That is Jesus through new eyes not just through the ‘my salvation’ blinkers as characterises so much of Pharisaic modern Christianity.

          I am referring to a more Christo-centric Christianity, where Jesus is at the centre of Christian life, where we look at the dubious origin of many a doctrine in disdain (most doctrine was formulated at the behest of a state controlled forum), to seek discipleship within a community of Jesus followers testing Scripture and realising that Jesus should be the focus of all revelation.

          Most people assume that the Bible is the parallel to the Koran, but that is not true, Jesus is the Revelation of God, not necessarily the Bible; similarly Mary is a witness and that parallels Mohammed as witness. 

          Faith without works is dead, we need to return to our mandate of caring for and alleviating the poor and poverty respectively. We need to realise that we are strongest when we are weak so we do not have to become politicians and give in to the idolatry of power which has plagued us for the better (actually the worst) part of the last 1700 years of our history. We should actually stand by the LGBTQ community not against them because Jesus teaches us to love our neighbour and to its logical conclusion that also means loving our enemies which is how God loves. This is not new to Christianity, but it is new to Modern Western Christianity. We need to realise that Christianity is just one voice among many and that we need to acknowledge that God has others whom he is drawing to himself from all corners of the world if the vision of people from all nations, creeds, tongues is anything to go by. We Christians need to see what the Father is doing and align ourselves with Him. 

          • datakcy

            Hume said belief in God was neither rational or logical. But logic and rational thinking are the product of God. Messiah Himself is described as the “Logos” (Word) made flesh. And it is reasoned by Isaiah, ”
            Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Isaiah 1:18

            The universe at large is by its construct rational, reasoned, and ordered. It reflects the work of a Designer much like a building demonstrate an intelligence. No reasoned person would look at a skyscraper and say it evolved. How much more complex is the universe with billions of galaxies, each with hundreds of billions of stars, all adhering to the principles of physics, laws of gravity, electromagnetism, thermodynamics, quantum mechanics, inertia, mathematics, and so on. 

            It defies logic and reasoning to state that something came from nothing and order from chaos. Just because Hume argued that man could not know anything transcendent doesn’t make it so. 

            Miracles demonstrate God’s supernatural ability to override His natural laws and thus His eternal prerogative to accomplish His will as He pleases. From Genesis to Revelation, time and time again, God authenticates that it is He and not us who eternally rules and reigns. He sends His Son as Messiah who again authenticates the authority of His office not with an empty proclamation or some fine philosophical teaching but in Word and in deed. He speaks to the winds and the seas and they obey Him. He changes water in wine. He is able to multiply the fishes and loaves. All of these demonstrate His authority over nature.

            He further cause the blind to see, the deaf hear, the lame to walk, the mute speak, the lepers are made whole, and He raise the dead. He prophetically declares His own death and resurrection. Contrary to the cynics, His disciples didn’t allow themselves to be martyred for a myth. No one would. This would be neither logical or rational. But a supernatural God in the person of Messiah changed and transformed them from the inside-out. 

            Christ is either a lunatic, liar, or He is indeed Lord. For His followers to lie would be a denunciation of the very One who called Himself the way, the truth, and the life. The Scriptures do not hide the blemishes of Judas’ betrayal, Peter’s repeated denials, Paul’s persecutions, and so on. They are front and center, demonstrating that what they witnessed was worth dying for. But they didn’t do this from a natural reasoning but from a supernatural transformation based on rational truth. This is why genuine Christianity has nothing in common with vain, dead religion or cults. This is the faith promised to Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the prophets, apostles, and disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ. Not according to the will of the flesh, or the will of man but according to the will of God. And because it is of God and can’t be procured by the vain empty reasoning of proud men that many cannot see the kingdom of God. We must humbly cry out to this Holy God to reveal Himself which He does in the person of Christ Jesus.  

          • Adam Louw

            You wrote,
            Sorry for not getting back sooner

            You wrote,
            “The universe at large is by its construct rational, reasoned, and ordered. It reflects the work of a Designer much like a building demonstrate an intelligence. No reasoned person would look at a skyscraper and say it evolved.”

            Hume refuted arguments such as William Paley’s even before he [Paley] made his. Though Paley was not the only one that made those arguments some were contemporaries of Hume.

            There is tons of evidence for God just no proof. I think that God could have created everything on earth and quite possibly life on other planets through evolution, some of the central tenets of evolution are seen in Genesis, for instance a common ancestor, Eve, which means mother of all living things. The Adam and Eve creation myth is not the only one out there nor the only one in the Bible (Gen 1).

            In Gen 1, God says let there be light and there was light – the Big Bang?
             
            Some of the creatures came out of the earth in Gen 1 as well.

            Natural selection, I am reminded of the story of Jacob when he makes a deal to keep all the livestock with spots or blemishes and let his uncle have the pure ones. (Gen 30)

            You wrote,”Miracles demonstrate God’s supernatural ability to override His natural laws and thus His eternal prerogative to accomplish His will as He pleases. From Genesis to Revelation, time and time again, God authenticates that it is He and not us who eternally rules and reigns. He sends His Son as Messiah who again authenticates the authority of His office not with an empty proclamation or some fine philosophical teaching but in Word and in deed. He speaks to the winds and the seas and they obey Him. He changes water in wine. He is able to multiply the fishes and loaves. All of these demonstrate His authority over nature.”If God overrides the laws He set in place why does He not do it so that we can measure it, why does He not take suffering out with one blow? We have no evidence that Jesus actually did those things except what the Bible says, some say they are symbolic, others take them literally, some do not even think they occurred at all. So many different voices vying for supremacy. As for Scripture it was compiled by a rather nasty bloke who was exiled five times and at the behest of the ‘powers that were’ at the time.  So how can Scripture have any kind of authority? It was commissioned by the state just as the KJV was despite being the #1 best seller for the time being, the compromise with the state has neutered the Gospel and marginalised Jesus Christ. I think that Paul’s ‘death in the letter, life in the Spirit’ stands out. Say for instance there comes a time when all the Bibles in the world are destroyed, how would the Christians if there are any left (not a fan of the rapture so no pun intended) that is, going to navigate their way? The Bible is a lens to Jesus of Nazareth, it is not a scientific text book (yes, I was illustrating that the Bible can support science, though controversially science can support Revelation – not talking about the creationist-ID philosophy).

        • http://www.bipolarlessons.com/ Mary

          I am truly sorry you feel this way and I will repeat that an uncompassionate God is an evil God. God gave me a heart and a brain to understand the truth. If the truth conflicts with a book written by men, not God, then I will discard the book.

          There are many religious books out there so what makes you think that the Bible is the Truth? I have yet to hear any Christian offer me an answer to that.

          Quoting scripture does not convince of anything because I don’t believe the Bible is inerrant. For the most part, the teachings of Jesus are the only worthwhile parts to follow. Anything in the Bible that conflicts with the Law of Love is not from God.

          You must hate yourself so much in order to hate others so passionately. People find in the Bible what speaks to them so if they hate themselves then that is what they will get out of it. If they choose Love then that is what they will find in it.

          The choice is not between believing in the Bible or not believing in it. The choice is do you want to serve a God of hate or a God of Love?

          If you respond with more scripture quoting or condemnation I will not respond. My questions are to your heart only and if you can’t respond with that then there is no point in talking with you.

    • http://www.bipolarlessons.com/ Mary

      It amazes me that people would rather mindlessly quote scripture rather than look in their own hearts to see what is true. The God you believe in would be an evil and cruel God especially since you believe in predestination. So you think God would actually create people with the sole purpose of sending them to hell because they are not “chosen”?

    • http://blog.travishinkle.com/ Travis Hinkle

      Ken,

      You said much of what I was formulating in my head as I read through the same post.

      “Fundamentalist” or not, Christians who don’t believe the Bible (which, as it says, is the inerrant word of God) and just take some of its “love your neighbor” and “do good” verses and apply them to a social-good worldview should not really call themselves Christians. It’s miss labeling. To be a Christian is to be “Christ-like” and that applies to sin and his perfect sin-free life. No, we won’t attain that perfection, but we are to continually strive for it. And, yes, love others as ourselves and help those that need help. But the gospel of Christ is about so much more than just being a humanitarian.

      • http://www.bipolarlessons.com/ Mary

        I would agree that the message of Jesus is about more than simply being a humanitarian. But I don’t have to believe in the inerrancy of the Bible to know that. Loving your neighbor means more than being nice to them. It is a spiritual transformation within yourself and a way of life.

        I see in Christian’s writings exactly that. It is a shame that you put people into categories and assume that simply because they don’t accept everything in the Bible then that means that they are not as “spiritual” as you. While everybody here is arguing dogma, I actually see that Christian practices love, not just in a “do-gooder” way, but because he really cares. That is the highest form of spirituality.

         

        • http://blog.travishinkle.com/ Travis Hinkle

          Mary,

          As we both agree, we need to love our neighbors. Really love them. Humanitarianism isn’t bad. It’s very good and noble. In calling someone a humanitarian, I don’t mean it as an insult.

          My point (on which anyone can disagree and I harbor no ill will toward them) is simply:

          I don’t believe the Bible is there for us to pick and choose which parts we like and which we would like to ignore. My basis for that assumption is the Bible itself. And IF we believe the entire Bible then we have to realize that while helping and loving others is an excellent showing of Christ’s love, it can’t be the only thing we do. It is about changed souls and changed lives. It’s about eternity and a God who isn’t willing that any should not know him. That is the whole reason for Jesus and the cross.

          There are many good people. There are many spiritual people. But if someone calls themself a Christian, they should believe the whole Bible and everything Jesus said in it.

      • Caleb

         So, if we’re to be Christ-like, wouldn’t that mean only reading the scriptures that Jesus read?

        • http://blog.travishinkle.com/ Travis Hinkle

          Caleb,

          Being Christ-like (which none of us will ever actually attain) means living our lives like he lived his. The only scriptures he had at the time were what he read. The new testament is about him and what happened with the early church. If you believe HE is who he said he is, God in the flesh, who existed before anything else was created, that he is the only way to heaven, then why wouldn’t you read the entire Bible?

  • Alonso

    C’mon, even atheists AGREE with you. 

    Stop saying you’re a christian.

    You can’t be a friend of the world and a friend of God at the same time. You have to choose one or another, but not both.

    • http://twitter.com/joelpno81 Joel Miller

      Please allow me to clarify that I do not agree with Christian’s blog in many ways. I believe he has thrown out notions that are good on the basis of those that use them in bad ways. And I understand his angst, but I think differently on many issues. I suspect that he and I are closer than it seems, but there are some serious differences that I’d love to discuss with him over coffee.

      Now, on to you. Jesus was described as a friend to sinners. You have to love both God and your neighbor, which is the sum of the law and the prophets. I say that to say that you’re making an ignorant statement. You’d do well to read Philippians 4:8 and ask if your presence here does anything except make you stew. If it does not, spend your energies elsewhere!

      Christian–it seems that you have a lot of either/or types of things. I’m more of a both/and type, myself. Are you familiar with the writings of Dallas Willard? If so, I’d love your thoughts. I find he describes my point of view better than most – the evangelicals call me a universalist and the liberals call me an evangelical. It’s a good place to be.

      • Alonso

        “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God?Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God”- James 4:4

        To love them doesn’t mean to do or justify every sin they do.
        Jesus loved the sinners, and indeed, he hated their sin. Jesus was a friend to them because  He loved them so much that He wanted to rescue them from that empty life, He said they were sick, and He was the doctor. 
        No doctor wants his pacient to remain sick, instead, he will do whatever it is neccesary to heal the pacient, EVEN IF IT HURTS OR ISN’T PLEASANT!

  • isaacplautus

    I’ve read through a lot of this series and enjoyed it greatly, agree with a lot of it.  I do think the difficult thing in Christianity in the modern West is the simple act of living it.  This cannot be diminished when speaking or writing about Christianity.  The teachings of Christ are in actuality quite difficult and off-putting when first encountered.  They are as off-putting to the crowd at a Radiohead concert as they were to a gathering of Jews or Romans 2,000 years ago.  “If your eye offends you, cut it out.  Leave your family and follow me.  Resist not an evil doer”  I loathe the term “Post Christian” because it assumes there was a time when the West was Christian which we have now moved beyond.  Of course that is nonsense.  To cite one example among thousands, there is no way in which the historical treatment of Native Americans can be rationalized as what Jesus commanded of his followers.  So I prefer “Post-Christendom” to “Post Christian.” 

    If there’s a figure in the NT I identify most strongly with it is Zacchaeus.  I am up in the tree.  I really don’t know what to make of Jesus.  I do know that the cookie-cutter ideological presentations of him which Christendom has given us are not ultimately reflective of the terrifying figure who we encounter in the Gospels.  I think confusion, perplexity, maybe even anger with Jesus; these could be the gateway to faith rather than the loss of it.

  • Paul Freeman

    I’d like to comment on the error of Ken in stating ” Christians are to adhere to the doctrines of our Lord.”

    Doctrines are man made – codification of beliefs or a body of teachings or instructions, taught principles or positions, as the body of teachings in a branch of knowledge or belief system.

    To put it simply, the Bible contains, what many scholars believe, are a set of teachings and principles the early forebearers desired for the church to adhere to to claim to be Disciples of Christ.

    I’d much rather stick with the Love of God, that is enduring and eternal.

    • http://www.bipolarlessons.com/ Mary

      Very well put!

    • Ken Yarmosh Sr.

      Doctrines are not man made. I’ll just use one New Testament quote but there are many: ”
      And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: 
      For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” Matthew 7:28-29

      The Greek word for doctrine is διδαχή didachē and it means ‘teaching’ or ‘instruction.’ Christ (Messiah) is the Word (the Law or Torah) made flesh. He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). The word ‘way’ is ὁδός hodos and describes a path or course of conduct. Christ is the narrow way and conformity to that ‘way’ can only occur by God’s Spirit.

      As for the “Love of God” you can’t even define it. The Bible does though and it doesn’t conform to the mushy ambiguous meaning of the modernist. Christ said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” His commandments are embodied in Torah, which are now written in the true believer’s heart per Ezekiel 36:24-28 and Jeremiah 31:31-34. 2 John 1:6 even defines ‘love’ but this again will no doubt disturb you: “And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.” The commandment from the beginning is that we should live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God because He as our Creator is the source of eternal life. Not to do so is a death sentence which all of us have on our head except for those God by the Holy Spirit has called out of this world. Those have recognized the horror of their gross sin before a Holy God and by His grace have fallen at the feet of Messiah Yeshua. All who come to Him He will in no way turn away. But we come on His terms in sincerity and in His truth.

      One thing I do note with the modern day heretic: they never source Scripture or reference the Greek or Hebrew and with good reason – it contradicts their erroneous thinking which comports to the desires of the flesh.

      You go your own way Paul at your own peril, but such is the way of the world.

      • Mrsequator

        The doctrines in the Bible were picked from a vast collection of writings hundreds of years after Jesus was crucified. The earliest known source of the Gospels was written around 90 AD. The rest came later, some much later. The people who wrote the Gospels weren’t reporters, they were writers, and to the best of our knowledge, none of them were contemporaries of Jesus. The Bible as we know it today gives a very limited picture of what first century AD Christianity was. The doctrine of substitutionary sacrifice wasn’t original to Christianity; it was argued and fought over for centuries before it became part of orthodox Christianity. Even the idea that there *should* be one set of doctrines for Christianity didn’t happen until the council of Nicaea, nearly 300 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection. Men wrote the scriptures, men chose which would be included and discarded; men decided that there would be one orthodox set of beliefs, and men decided that there would be punishment for those who strayed from those beliefs.

        Imho, I don’t think God stopped speaking in 325 AD, or whenever it was we decided the Bible was complete and we wouldn’t accept new submissions. My reading of the Bible shows a God who changes over time, broadening his original promise to the Jews to include, eventually, the population of the entire world. Acts shows us that Christianity was a dynamic religion, changing and growing to accommodate an ever broader range of believers. Peter had the amazing revelation that Gentiles could be Christians, and Paul agreed that they didn’t have to become Jews first. I just can’t take the Bible literally, because I don’t think it represents everything that God had to say, and is still saying.

  • http://www.bipolarlessons.com/ Mary

    Check out this article “Why a hard God is more attractive” at http://www.morganguyton.wordpress.com

    • anthony

      I am very interested in a book by Anthony Freeman called God In Us–a Case for Christian Humanism.  It’s worth a read.

      • anthony

        There’s a lot of theology flying around in many of these responses.  Truly, there are many paths up the mountain and they all lead to God.  And I sincerely doubt that God cares about a right theology, right and correct belief, as long as the gift that was given in the teachings of Jesus are replicated in our own lives.  Others believe that yet another has led them in the journey that they have toward faith.  We need to honor, respect and care deeply for them.

  • Scott Frederickson

    I like this a lot. For me, however, no matter how intimate I want God to be with me, there still has to be some “otherness” in God to challenge me to do and be the human God created me to be. I would agree that this does not have to be some super-distinct way of being, or some judge on a cloud, but about the only reason I do anything is because I am called out of my own selfish self to be in relationship, with God, my neighbor, and even my own self too.

  • TinaD

    Very interesting position.  Definitely makes me think.  Not sure I agree with all aspects of it, but I probably agree more with you than most pastors I have heard lately.  Thanks!

  • Fidlnow

    What is needed is a Martin Luther for today, a person with a list similar to Luther’s 95 Theses (see wikipedia), which would probably be much the same, yet apply to both the  Catholic and the protestant churches of today…..

  • Margarita

    I am in complete agreement with the individual who wrote this statement of his beliefs!  I have always believed in these things although I did not know how or why.  Even through Catholic school and researching, reading dozens of books on Christianity and other religions.

    I believe our faith and how we believe is a direct reflection of what is already in our heart.  Of course our beliefs evolve over time, as does our heart.

    There are those who must be told what to believe, and they cannot fathom having questions within their faith.  There are those that repeat things their pastor tells them, that does not seem right, but they actually BELIEVE that questioning it is of the devil.
    There are those who believe and who actually feel the presence of God within them.  

    There are those who don’t feel it, but long to, and know that they will!

    That is the beauty of Christianity.  It CAN be for everyone!Jesus spoke in parables so the bible could be interpreted for everyone at any stage in their path toward God (or toward love). Those who are dogmatic should have respect for those who are not!  And vice versa.  Otherwise we are not, in fact, the body of Christ.

  • Margarita

    Eric – Otherwise Christianity is a waste of time FOR YOU!  It is NOT a waste of time for me.  And, I would hope that your faith would include respect and compassion even for things you cannot understand.  I respect you.

  • A Friend in Christ

    Ken,  

    Close your eyes and imagine just for a minute how much God loved us to send his only son here to die for us John 3!  And then think about Jesus (Matt 5) sermon on the mount, and think about how he did NOT stone the adulterous woman (John 8), how he healed the woman who touched his garment(Mark 5:21-43, Matthew 9:18-26, Luke 8:40-56, how he preached about not judging others before examining yourself first (all over the gospels), how he washed the feet of his apostles as a servant leader(John 13), and so much more.
    Then think of this verse John 14:12 
    2 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And ask yourself are you doing what Christ has done?  

    Do you believe your rage filled speech, your judgments of strangers, your dismissive tone will create miracles?  Will bring people toward Christ?  Will turn them onto Christ?

    Or will it turn people OFF or AWAY FROM Christ?  

    Now read and think about Matt 18,  where people are arguing about which one of them is the greatest, (or in this case which one knows the most scripture, or which one is the TRUE christian. . . . 

    Jesus rebukes their arrogance strongly when he says :  
    6 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble (or to turn away from God), it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.
    Is that what you want to do, make me feel so wrong and stupid and a waste of humanity that I give up and turn away from God?  If not, please imagine what it would be like to respect others who believe differently than you.  FIRST, before rebuking them, you must love them – as Jesus did!Try to exhibit your beliefs without bragging, without condemning, without shaming and dismissing anybody who is not at the same level or on the exact same path as you.  It is not you who gives faith to others, but God.  But you, you can turn them away.  

    This afternoon I was listening to a Christian broadcast and heard this verse Hebrews 13;2:  Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. 2 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

    • Randy

      Ken, you write too much.

  • MorganGuyton

    Christian, I wonder if you would be open to a less asinine understanding of the cross as sacrificial atonement, penal only insofar as we need the cleansing power of Christ’s blood sacrificially in order for us to “approach God with freedom and confidence” (Eph 3:12), not because God is the insufferable doosh that the suburbanite “focus on my nuclear family” crowd loves (http://morganguyton.wordpress.com/2012/07/13/why-a-hard-god-is-more-attractive/).

    You’ve read what I have to say about the un-Biblical pop-evangelical caricatures of penal substitution: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/morgan-guyton/four-cringeworthy-claims-_b_1631944.html

    I preached last weekend on Paul’s account of sacrifice in Ephesians 2:11-22. I explained that function of sacrifice in Jewish temple life was the means by which the community was made clean (in terms of clearing the air of sublimated violence by laying the violence plainly on the altar). The reason that Jesus’ blood tears down the temple wall is because it replaces the slaughtered animals as the permanent source of our cleanliness (as the book of Hebrews exhaustively describes). Here’s my summary of what I preached: http://morganguyton.wordpress.com/2012/07/19/how-can-blood-tear-down-a-wall-sacrifice-in-ephesians-211-22/

    Finally this is something I wrote in response to the whole Ross Douthat controversy about how “Thy kingdom come” must always emanate from the cross and empty tomb of Jesus. That essential transformation is not merely individualistic but it is never impersonal. http://morganguyton.wordpress.com/2012/07/17/thoughts-on-the-alleged-demise-of-liberal-christianity/

    I don’t think we can just be love-your-neighbor-ites without being washed in the blood of the Lamb (which I’m not necessarily calling your position). There’s a lot of ugly caricatures out there that have become stumbling blocks to tons of people, but the beauty of the cross is indeed the beauty that saves the world. Check out Brian Zahnd’s Beauty Will Save the World by the way. Excellent antidote to the pathetic snarliness of most evangelical theological discourse.

  • ounbbl

    Why, of course. It’s because your parents have you named ‘Christian’ ;-)
     
    Many lines are spent on what Christians believe.

    Here is what I learned – sort of definitions of ‘christian’.

    1. The word appearing only 3 times in N.T. a little-Christ, a little-Messiah, compared to the Messiah was the Anointed by God so that He can anoint others. He anoints us to be anointed ones, so that we become to anoint others. I’m not talk about ecclesial jargon (in-side jargon in the church), but Messiah anointing us with holy spirit; we then invite other to His anointing.

    By corollary, if we want to be our own Master, instead of denying ourselves to be our Master, departing from Yeshua’s saying ‘pick up one’s cross day after day to participate in His death, we become to believe in our ‘Self’, and become a god on our own. This is a little-Satan (‘Satanian’ as I named).

    2. A Christian is a follower of the Way of the Messiah, the Way of Cross. In fact, it was called ‘the Way’ in Acts. This is what is meant by Christianity. Christianity is NOT a religion; it is the way of life in God who has revealed Himself in the person of Yeshua. All the religions of the world are man-made power organizations packed with R-words of rules, regulations, restrictions, requirements, rites, rituals, being packaged and draped with a splendid garb of liturgy.

    3. A Christian is someone who can tell ‘I Am Nothing’ when Christ is subtracted. In an equation, it looks like this:  CHRISTIAN – CHRIST = I.A.N. (Reference for this upon request). In Messiah I have died; it is the Messiah who lives in me.

    4. If X claims he is a Christian, I am difficult to say I’m a Christian. – there are plenty of this X, which may include politicians (e.g. one sitting in the maison blanche), pastors (Spongs, Osteen, Wreck Warren, etc. countless others, esp. with title of ‘Reverend’ which is to be reserved for God Himself), professors, peddlers of Gospel, etc. If X claims he is not a Christian, I would take that it is in himself he believes. If X shouts “Down with Christians”, I shall be empowered by spirit of the Messiah.

    5. The single prayer of a Christian, if allowed, is to be ‘O Father, please see me worthy in Messiah to have me honor your name in my life and death’.

  • Caleb

    Thank you, random blogger that somebody linked me to. :) Genuinely! This articulated some things that I had issues articulating. It helped solidify some thoughts in my head. And, on top of that, was completely brief and easy to read.

    Thanks a ton for writing this!

  • Cheryl G

    Thank you for your thoughtful comments.  These are concepts I have been personally struggling with for much of my adult life, and although I’m not sure I’m fully ready to give up a theology of atonement, I do have some major issues with what you so aptly name “selective salvation” and I definitely resonate with “thy kingdom come.” 

  • Dave

    “But given that I do not believe there is such a thing as “ultimate, singular Truth” with a capital “T” …..”

    I can see why some would question your self identification as a Christian.
    If you don’t recognize an ultimate Truth, you’re going to have a very difficult time coming to grips with the fact that the Truth is singular and He has a name.

  • Troy

    Very, very sad post :( I’d rather people call themselves non-Christians or agnositc or spiritual. It’s clearly mislabeling.

    • Margarita

      According to you it is mislabeling.  According to me, I am brothers and sisters with all these folks who are in any step of the process toward Christ.

  • graaahh

    I would like a clarification of your views when you have time — it seems that the reason you identify as Christian (not to discount your views! hope it doesn’t sound that way) is because it is a useful existing framework that you can align with your social beliefs of charity, love, community, and peace. I agree with your notion that everyone interprets the bible differently (you have to, there were many authors and editors involved, and there are many contradictions because of this.) I’m curious what your position on other religions that promote the same social beliefs that you hold is. For example, Buddhism teaches that the way to achieve a peaceful world is to first be at peace with yourself, and to give up what you own and seek to understand and learn from others, rather than fight with others. This reflects a lot of what Jesus said, and I’d like to hear your thoughts on it.

    (tl/dr: why do you identify as Christian instead of something else which espouses the same social beliefs that seem to connect you with Christianity?)


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