The Definition of Christianity

Deutsche Version: die Definition des Christentums .

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The Definition of Christianity 

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The definition of what it means to be a Christian can be quite tricky for many persons. Certain conservative definitions such as :
A Christian is someone believing in the entire Bible“ or

A Christian is someone going to the holy Mass every Sunday and taking all sacraments

are extremely reductive and exclude many people who have profound experiences with Jesus while not fulfilling the above definitions.

I will modestly propose a definition allowing us to encompass the whole Christendom:

„A Christian is someone who follows and worships a perfectly good God who revealed his true face through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.“

This is certainly compatible with the two definitions mentioned above but it is not limited to them.

What to think now of the numerous German Protestant pastors who like Jesus a historical person but don’t believe in a personal God and go sometimes as far as denying the existence of any afterlife?

I would consider them as „atheists for Jesus“, they might be extraordinarily good persons and I see no reason why they won’t spend the whole eternity with God and have a very good surprise after having passed away.

But I cannot call them Christians.

Now, I’d love to hear the criticism and comments from people having various perspectives on those topics.

 

Homepage of Lotharlorraine: link here
(List of topics and posts)

My other controversial blog: Shards of Magonia (link here)

 

Hauptseite von Lotharlorraine: Link hier
(Liste von Themen und Posten).

Mein anderer umstrittener Blog: Scherben von Magonia.

 

 

 

 

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18 responses to “The Definition of Christianity”

  1. Juan Carlos Torres says :

    “What to think now of the numerous German Protestant pastors who like Jesus a historical person but don’t believe in a personal God and go sometimes as far as denying the existence of any afterlife?

    I would consider them as „atheists for Jesus“, they might be extraordinarily good persons and I see no reason why they won’t spend the whole eternity with God and have a very good surprise after having passed away.

    But I cannot call them Christians.”

    >>> I agree with you. I would not call them Christians either. But I would, however, call them disciples:)

  2. paulthinkingoutloud says :

    The definition that I like best I learned a long, long time ago:

    Coming under the loving lordship of Jesus Christ and being joined to a company of imperfect people who are trying to live a new life a new way.

    • pablo1paz says :

      That makes you a Pauline Christian, and orthodox in the sense of conforming to post-Constantinian Christianity. But there are and have been in the past Christians who do not fit inside that tight-fitting “Lordship” and who wonder what you really mean by the term Christ.

  3. Herostratus says :

    Exodus 32:7-14

    “Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’

    “I have seen these people,” the Lord said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people. Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.”

    But Moses sought the favor of the Lord his God. “Lord,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.’” Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.

  4. Bunto Skiffler says :

    [NS] “The definition of what it means to be a Christian can be quite tricky for many persons.”

    What is a nominal christian? Anybody who claims they are a christian. It’s very challenging to empiricize/catalog a vast fantasy & myth tradition without just regurgitating the preferred “ideal types” of the moment. But I’ve tried ascertaining such…
    What is a nominal Christian:
    Somebody who believes/believed in
    God, Jesus and/or Jesus is God… unless they convert.

    ====

    Antiquated thinking I’ll admit (blush).

    -bunto

    ps. Religious terrorist types can EADSU.

  5. johnofpinebrooker says :

    I prefer the historic definition demarcated by the ancient creeds. Those who affirm the creeds can rightly be called “Christians”. Those who do not, while free to do so, can no longer be deemed Christians. I’d say it fits well with your model, however it has some ancient/historic grounding.

    What do you think?

    John Walker | freedominorthodoxy.blogspot.com

    • lotharson says :

      No because the creed has only be written by men, no matter how holy.

      • johnofpinebrooker says :

        Understood. However, what separates your definition from the historic creeds. Isn’t yours “written by men” as well.

        The creeds at least of consensus on their side. As D. H. Williams has shown, the creeds of the church were canonized before the Scripture. We must reckon with the reality that the Biblical Canon itself has been deemed authority — and it was certainly the fruit of the early church. Why should we receive their canon, yet deny their creeds?

        (By the way, I am a Protestant, I am neither Catholic nor Orthodox. I identify as loosely Paleo-Orthodox)

        John Walker | freedominorthodoxy.blogspot.com

    • lotharson says :

      Hello, I think that many people not agreeing with some points of the creeds are genuine Christians.

      I think it is uncontroversial that my definition is a necessary one:

      “A Christian is someone who follows and worships a perfectly good God who revealed his true face through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.“

      Anyone denying this is NOT a Christian.

      But I also believe that anyone telling this to a non-believer (whether atheist, muslim or Jew) will be automatically view as a Christian.

      So I think it is both a necessary and sufficient condition.

      Does that make sense to you?

      • johnofpinebrooker says :

        I do understand. I may actually agree with your definition, however, it seems just as arbitrary. I prefer historic consensus.

      • lotharson says :

        If it is at least a necessary condition it is not arbitrary.

      • johnofpinebrooker says :

        But who decides whether it is a necessary condition?

      • lotharson says :

        Ultimately nobody can.

        Pragmatically it would be meaningless and heartless to say that someone genuinely not believing this is not a Christian.

      • pablo1paz says :

        And who decides what historic consensus is? The gnostics were sure they were right, but were thrown out, oppressed, died out (mostly). The Ebionites probably were right, but the consensus was they were too Jewish and heretics. Quakers (and others) have rejected the Constantinian (and all) creeds, and still are within the universal church. The sin of the Christian Church since 325 has been siding with the political powers instead of with the Holy Spirit.
        Maybe the problem is wanting a definition.

  6. jasonjshaw says :

    Jesus referred to himself as “Son of Man”. Some argue that this is supposedly a holy title, but if you look at Jesus’ actions, I would suggest it’s more likely a title to allow connection with everyone. A way of saying “human”. Adopting the title of “Christian” may actually go against Jesus’ aim of connection without limitations.

    • pablo1paz says :

      In Hebrew and Aramaic, ben-adam simply means person and was a polite way of referring to oneself in humility. And Jewish theology said that all faithful Jews were bar-eloha, sons of God. And i agree that it is most likely that Reb Yeshu’, who was an outsider and worked to make the religion of his day inclusive and to get rid of its classism that left most poor Jews sidelined, was most likely saying things like that not only about himself but about all humans.

  7. galacticexplorer says :

    I agree with your definition and I ceased to identify myself as a Christian once I ceased to believe that Jesus was God. I appreciate that you do not feel a need to condemn us for this. I have a hard time believing if there is a “good and just” god, that he would allow anyone to suffer eternally for finite sins. Hell is truly a doctrine that I have always had a hard time understanding.

  8. bnbray says :

    Thou shall not judge- the Jewish Jesus of Nazareth.

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