What Is “Christianity?” An Addendum to the Preceding Post…
Before I add to my immediately preceding blog post to clarify my meaning of “Christianity,” allow me to remind potential commenters about the “rules of the road” here. First of all, this is not a discussion board; it is a safe place for evangelical Christians to discuss what it means to be an evangelical Christian and it is intended as a place for me to express my opinions, answer questions, and engage in dialogue with both evangelicals and non-evangelicals. But note: this is not a place for argument or for spouting your own opinions. If you are not an evangelical Christian, feel free to ask questions here. If you are an evangelical Christian, in a civil and respectful manner, express your opinion but do it concisely and without attempting to stir up debate.
Now, I apologize for not being as clear about what I mean by “Christianity” as I should have been. Here I will attempt to clarify. But know that what I mean by “Christianity” (and many other terms) often depends on the context.
First, when I say “Christianity” (and its cognates) I am referring to the gospel of Jesus Christ as Son of God, God the Son, Savior. In that sense, “Christianity” does not change. We search for it; we partially grasp it; we are always partly right and partly wrong. But the criterion for testing our opinions about true, authentic Christianity are Jesus Christ, the canonical scriptures (beginning with the New Testament), the church fathers and reformers, and basic rationality (the law of non-contradiction). True, authentic Christianity does not change. It is not defined by what the majority of people who call themselves “Christians” believe or do.
Second, sometimes when I say “Christianity” (and its cognates) I am referring, as many of you are, to what the majority of people who call themselves “Christians” believe and do. In that sense, Christianity does change. It could change so much that there comes about a separation between true, authentic Christianity and empirical Christianity. It is that sense I mean when I say that it is conceivable that Christianity will die out. And I mean that true, authentic Christianity might disappear from our view. I doubt it; I think God will always have a remnant of true Christians. But I don’t think that is guaranteed. Jesus himself asked if the Son of Man will find faith on the earth (when he comes).
True, authentic Christianity necessarily includes belief in and felt need for a savior and belief that the one Savior everyone needs is Jesus Christ. And it includes belief that all are sinners who need a savior and that being saved through Jesus Christ includes repentance and faith in him. (I will set aside for now the marginal questions and issues of infants and children and how the Savior benefits them for salvation.)
My previous blog post here meant only to say that I believe most contemporary Americans do NOT feel the need for a savior; they do not believe they are needy sinners who need salvation. They believe they are good enough to pass muster, if there is a heaven. Or they can be good enough by trying hard. Far too many Christian churches (and organizations) have succumbed to cultural accommodation and dropped the whole gospel, opting in its place a “gospel” of self-help or community help (or both) that does not include acknowledgement of sinfulness (basic fallenness, away from God, estrangement, alienation from God) and need of repentance (profound sorrow for the sinful condition and for willful sinning and determining with God’s help to turn around and go toward God and away from “the world, the flesh, and the devil.”)
*Again, please know that I will not approve comments that are hostile, argumentative, that evidence attempt to misuse this blog to “preach” one’s own contrary opinion. If you are NOT in any sense an evangelical Christian, ask a question to learn; do not “preach” your contrary “gospel” here.*