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What is a Christian?

  1. Disappearinghead profile image80
    Disappearingheadposted 5 years ago

    I'm not sure if I want to go under the banner of Christian but sometimes in a debate it is convenient in order to bypass a lot of explanation when getting to the heart of the discussion at hand.

    However, what do you think one is?
    - Someone who believes Jesus is the Christ and set humanity free?
    - Someone who 'has a relationship' with Jesus?
    - Someone who is actually Christ-like in that they do and say the things that he did?
    - Someone who follows the doctrine of the Church? Is it possible to be a Christian and not hold to established Church doctrines?
    - An outdated overused and abused term?

    1. profile image0
      Emile Rposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      I think the term has been overused and abused. I think assumptions abound when someone labels themself Christian. Which is unfair, but it is a fact of life.

      I would think, the bottom line definition of a Christian would be a follower of Christ; but the fundamentalists and evangelicals have actively worked to ensure we also equate the term to  a narrow minded and exclusionist philosophy that has little to do with the words and deeds of Christ. I don't think you can undo the damage they have done to the name.

      Why label yourself anyway? Everyone is so unique. No two philosophies are completely alike. You really have to talk to someone to understand them so labels, in my opinion, cloud the process of communication unnecessarily.

      1. Disappearinghead profile image80
        Disappearingheadposted 5 years agoin reply to this

        I think I pretty much agree with what you say here. A stereotype of a Christian is someone narrow minded with an exclusive set of beliefs. It is an unfair brush with which to tar the spectrum of the Church, but I guess that's life.

        It also appears that Christians have redefined the term to mean someone who holds to a creed or set of doctrines. This brings a strict demarcation as to who is in and who is out. Jesus and the apostles never made any such claims, so it is sad that Christianity went off in this direction.

        Jesus was inclusive, but most Christians are not.

        To my atheist colleagues I would use the term Christian as to does save a lot of explanation. But to the Church I guess I am not because I no longer hold to the bulk of its beliefs.

    2. A Thousand Words profile image81
      A Thousand Wordsposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      I wonder that myself, and if I could ever be it again, whatever it means. I'm so scarred, that for a long time the main thing keeping me from going back to Christianity was the person I had become while Christian.

      1. Disappearinghead profile image80
        Disappearingheadposted 5 years agoin reply to this

        Wow that's quite a profound statement. Would you say that there is a huge gulf between what you understand the nature of God to be and the culture of the Church you were in?

        1. A Thousand Words profile image81
          A Thousand Wordsposted 5 years agoin reply to this

          I would say, yes and no. My most devout years actually consisted of me being part of two different youth ministries believing different things with different "purposes."

          But, to start out, when I first got "saved," I recognized that I had been a sinner, and I invited Jesus/God/whomever in my life to wash me of my sins, I desperately and emotionally asked for forgiveness, and I felt this warmth that I had never known before. As I got more of an "understanding" of "God," I thought less and less of myself. But I tried to encourage other people, and though I didn't know much, I tried to share what little I did know with my fellow youth ministry members. I applied what I learned in bible study and all sorts of places. I always tried to be empathetic and understanding of people. While now I can see the faultiness of a lot of the things I practiced/believed, I still liked myself better with them. But there was a second ministry involved. They had actually led the "revival" service that had me make up my mind to give my life to Jesus. They were a group that went from church to church, snatching up the leaders, having them join their ministry, and "train" them up.

          From the beginning, they made it sound like they believed all the same stuff, but the longer you're with them, the more you realize they believe some slightly outlandish things and have questionable practices. But we were taught obedience, obedience, obedience, rebellion, questioning was of the devil.  The leader of this ministry was a "prophet," mind you. Anyway, they were arrogant, callous, black-and-white minded, elitist pigs that I feel genuine disdain towards now-a-days. They ruined my life. I genuinely believe that. Now I'm picking up the pieces, and the Christians around me are just totally clueless about what I'm going through. They think I should know better. Or the devil has a role. Or that I should forgive "God." (that last one made me chuckle) Or that Hell is real. Etc, etc.

          I'm just tired of all the BS. But there's a part of me that's considering believing in this kind of view of God, again. There are just so many things in my opinion that point against it. I'm certainly more open to the idea now-a-days that traditional beliefs do not equal truth. But it's so complicated. And to think that the way I think now, to some I'm on the road to Hell, to some I'm just "lost" but can't be snatched from the HS. What am I supposed to believe? Is it any wonder why rational people don't just believe something that lacks sufficient evidence?

          1. jonnycomelately profile image83
            jonnycomelatelyposted 5 years agoin reply to this

            May I say, without trying to preach to you, that the open mind is your biggest and most far-reaching asset?   Your post elsewhere about Natural Pantheism was, in my view, so open and honest and something new for me to consider.  It answered a lot of my questions about myself.

            1. A Thousand Words profile image81
              A Thousand Wordsposted 5 years agoin reply to this

              Glad to hear it Johnny. smile I felt the same exact way when I came across Naturalistic Pantheism, as well. Forever I thought there was no label for my worldview, and while I don't need or really use it as a label unless I'm trying to explain it to other people, a lot of it encompasses how I see the world.

              I think the main thing in life that thwarts progress individually and collectively is a closed mind and being dishonest with ourselves about ourselves.

              1. Cagsil profile image60
                Cagsilposted 5 years agoin reply to this


        2. A Thousand Words profile image81
          A Thousand Wordsposted 5 years agoin reply to this

          I just realized I'm not sure if I really answered your question.

          My idea of God was that he was loving, but that He was also all-powerful, that He had the right to make certain decisions. But that He was patient and loving in general.

          The other ministry started telling me things like God was becoming impatient with humanity, that Jesus would be returning in my lifetime, that I shouldn't allow sinners in my "camp." Etc... the idea that they have of God with my understanding of mysticism was very much like that. They believed in the OT, but they were using things strangely.

          I honestly believe they were a cult, but the things is, they agree with the main pillars that modern Christians use to "determine" whether one is a Christian or not.

          1. Disappearinghead profile image80
            Disappearingheadposted 5 years agoin reply to this

            That's a very open an honest couple of posts there. I understand what you are saying because I have met similar kinds of people and attitudes that you describe in the years I was in Church. My experience js that you were never allowed to just be yourself; there was a constant pressure to be 'chasing God', 'striving forward', etc. Anyone who resisted was viewed as coasting, backsliding, compromising, or not committed. It was a self effort works based religion. I guess the view was that God needed our help to get the job done of saving the world which was only possible if we 'were striving forward in God'.

            The result is that all joy of life is sucked out leaving guilt that you are not committed to God like everyone else, and replaced by a plastic joy that is manufactured by happy clappy songs and apple pie pleasantries. Everyone is continually comparing themselves to each other, jostling for a spiritual pecking order where your value js determined by what you believe, how much you pray, and how many meetings you attend.

            It all seems bizarre as I look back at it now.

            I have often wondered if there was a Church of like minded people that I could attend, but I don't believe there is. It seems that this forum on HP is the nearest I have found as a meeting place for those who are outside of the established Church. It's not ideal but I have learnt a lot from many good people here.

    3. jonnycomelately profile image83
      jonnycomelatelyposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      I wonder about this too.   Not sure about my answer to any of your questions.  Some people who call themselves "christian" leave me doubting very much.
      When a young boy, into my early teens, I was in the Anglo-Catholic church, serving at Communion, carrying candles, etc.  Dressing up in the various bits of garb which went with the duties.   
      Can you tell me how such theatricals relate to Jesus as described in the bible?   How is it christian? 
      I don't know, but cringe at the way I was engrossed in the act.

      1. Disappearinghead profile image80
        Disappearingheadposted 5 years agoin reply to this

        No I have no idea what the garb and theatricals have to do with Jesus either. Perhaps they started out with good intentions; ceremonies to help the worshipper to focus, but somewhere they became the focus of the worship instead.

    4. Cagsil profile image60
      Cagsilposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      Someone who walks the walk instead of talking the talk.

      Understanding Jesus' true teachings and message is actually pretty clear as long as those who are going to follow his teachings understand this.

      Love, Mercy and Compassion.

      Love yourself and others.
      Have Mercy for those who don't know how.
      Have Compassion to help others achieve Love.

      Not difficult to understand. And yet again, No G/god required.

      1. Druid Dude profile image61
        Druid Dudeposted 5 years agoin reply to this

        What happened, Cag? No ridicule of christians? No laughing faces at things you don't agree with? Epiphany? Did the 'Big Guy' bonk you on the head?....or are you just being a wolf in sheep's clothing?

        1. Cagsil profile image60
          Cagsilposted 5 years agoin reply to this

          Nothing happened and you would have known that IF you didn't have a reading comprehension problem and/or read my posts a little more clearly.
          I don't ridicule Christians. To think that is what I do, then you've gravely mistaken as per usual in our conversations.
          There was no point and there's nothing I don't agree with about my post. Otherwise, I wouldn't have posted it. roll
          Oh please. roll
          Oh please. roll

          1. Druid Dude profile image61
            Druid Dudeposted 5 years agoin reply to this

            Jesus believed in God. So are you saying that he was in error? Do you think that he was delusional? I think that it is more likely that we understand God as well as we did before Jesus showed up. If I were to say that everything that I comment with is not mine, but comes from a higher source...you dis-believe that. You also ran a forum supporting porn. That's why I think you bay at the moon. Did I miss something?

            1. Cagsil profile image60
              Cagsilposted 5 years agoin reply to this

              You cannot 'prove' that. So why say it?
              No. I am saying YOU are in error.
              No. There wasn't anything mystical about his understanding or teachings. His teachings were not that of religion, but of Life.
              I would say this statement is fill with so much ambiguity it's ridiculously funny.
              I would say it's a shame you don't know yourself. And yes your words would not be believed because there's no reason to consider them valid when you don't know yourself. When you whole-heartedly understand yourself, then no God or even a higher power would actually matter.
              Yes, so what. And you point?
              Cute statement. Yet again shows you know nothing about me as a person and apparently truly not interested in knowing me. That's the pure shame you can live with. A beautiful show of your understanding of your own life and what character you've managed to develop. sad
              More than I care to recollect. hmm

    5. pennyofheaven profile image77
      pennyofheavenposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      Perhaps a Christian is someone who formulates a belief system. A belief system that is developed from principles taught by other men who try to interpret the bibles stories/teachings.

      Like Emile says though, why the need for labels? Labels can and do cloud the process.

    6. Titen-Sxull profile image91
      Titen-Sxullposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      Generally a Christian is anyone who wants to identify themselves as a Christian. There are even atheists who identify as Christians, they're called Christian atheists. Those that label themselves as Christian typically espouse some level of belief in Jesus Christ (be it as man or god, or some combination) and at the very least typically have some admiration for the teachings and/or miracles attributed to him. It'd be hard to find someone who didn't fit that definition but who also wanted to label themselves as a Christian.

  2. Cristale profile image86
    Cristaleposted 5 years ago

    A Christian isn't really a "thing" that you can be. I believe that it's a way of believing and acting. It's also a religion a person chooses to follow. One can call themselves that, but the actions and intentions also have to match with what that entails. As long as a person believes in God, Jesus, and always doing the right thing according to the word, then they can be considered a Christian. This is also some thing that is between one person and God, a special secret relationship. So who are we to say what a Christian is?

  3. jacharless profile image81
    jacharlessposted 5 years ago

    A Christian is actually a modernized slave to the reinvented Romulus-Remus empire.

    1. Druid Dude profile image61
      Druid Dudeposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      Remus had no empire. A christian is someone who professes to follow Jesus, who was called the Christ. They actually follow the dumbest disciple, Peter, and the Roman agent Paul, the usurper.

      1. jacharless profile image81
        jacharlessposted 5 years agoin reply to this

        Because Romulus slaughtered him. But he is credited as the twin founder of the empires lands.

        1. Druid Dude profile image61
          Druid Dudeposted 5 years agoin reply to this

          Granted. Ever noticed that the story of Rom and Rem is very similar to Cain and Abel? Cain slew Able then went off to build a city.

  4. tirelesstraveler profile image82
    tirelesstravelerposted 5 years ago

    Religion gets weird because of traditions that get woven in as truth and fact.  If the Bible is fiction and not applicable to the here and now  it should have become like anything else either gone away or become very rare. There are at least 20,000 copies of scripture from Antiquity.The next most abundant I believe is Homers the Iliad with around 5,000 copies.   The name Jesus/God causes more fighting than just about anything I can think of.  There must be some reason. People say God is a loving God and I agree, but scripture does not say he is nice. It says He is  creator, mighty, powerful,just, righteous merciful, kind to the brokenhearted, . ,  The God I believe in says "If you seek me with your whole heart you will find me".