My Understanding of Christianity

My Understanding of Christianity May 7, 2011

I have been asked more than once, including recently, what my understanding of Christianity is. I thought I would share an excerpt from a message I sent to someone who asked me that very recently, since others might find it interesting. Here’s what I wrote:

I find it as hard to define “Christianity” in any absolute doctrinal terms as I find it to define “religion” and “monotheism” and other terms as a scholar. It seems like every term that human beings use, we use in different or multifaceted ways.

Lately, I am more troubled by my failure to really do something to lessen injustice in the world than my lack of clarity on doctrinal matters. And I suspect that one reason why, as human beings, we have historically focused so much attention on trying to please God by describing him accurately is that, however difficult that may be to do, it is still less demanding of us than loving our enemies, feeding the hungry, and setting the captives free.

That is not to say that what we believe is completely unimportant. But it seems to me that the call to actually follow Jesus can be viewed as more central to the definition of Christianity than anything else. And so for all the challenges, or perhaps impossibility, of coming up with the perfect description of him, I suspect that it may be more Christian to actually follow in practice a Jesus we do not completely understand, than to get as close as possible to understanding a Jesus we don’t really follow.

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