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Switch to Forum Live View What Does "Christian" Really Mean?
3 years ago  ::  Aug 11, 2011 - 1:15PM #1
AshGreyson
Posts: 9
I'm thinking of doing an article on this. Love some feedback. To some the word "Christian" means, "loves George Bush, hates homosexuals" To others it's a become almost wholely political. To me, it means "life by the red letters." I'm seeing more people list "Christ-follower" as their religion in lieu of Christian. Love some input...



ash   =o)  <------ Beliefnet Managing Editor 
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3 years ago  ::  Aug 11, 2011 - 2:55PM #2
steve
Posts: 48

I agree with the Christ follower definition.  We are all "little Christs" called to do the works of the Lord being His hands and feet in the world.

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3 years ago  ::  Aug 11, 2011 - 3:14PM #3
Want to know
Posts: 1,671

If asked if I am a Christian I usually say yes to avoid trying to explain why I consider myself a Follower of Christ. When you are surrounded with the kind of Christians that was described and they are constantly knocking on your door asking if you know where you will spent eternity if you die tonight, you learn to keep your mouth shut and let them think you are  one of them. It's the easiest way to get rid of them.However, sometimes they catch me in a preaching mood and I tell them how I see things.  Good folks and the salt of the earth and I love them, but I shore don't see things their way.

"Now we see as through a glass, darkly but then face to face:  now I know in part, but then shall I know even as also I am known."  I Corinthians 13:12
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3 years ago  ::  Aug 11, 2011 - 4:47PM #4
AshGreyson
Posts: 9

Are you a Christian? That's a loaded question because of the definition of the asker. We all want to be proud of our faith this is why we need more understanding of other faiths as well. Muslims and Christians are too often defined by extreme examples that aren't at all representative of the whole.


 


ash   =o)

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3 years ago  ::  Aug 11, 2011 - 6:36PM #5
Jenandew7
Posts: 13,030

Aug 11, 2011 -- 1:15PM, AshGreyson wrote:

I'm thinking of doing an article on this. Love some feedback. To some the word "Christian" means, "loves George Bush, hates homosexuals" To others it's a become almost wholely political. To me, it means "life by the red letters." I'm seeing more people list "Christ-follower" as their religion in lieu of Christian. Love some input...



ash   =o)  <------ Beliefnet Managing Editor 



It's a shame!  It's a cryin' shame!


You say you are a red letter Christian.  But I know which segment of the Christian tree you mean and while I appreciate a red letter Bible because to me every word uttered by the mouth of Christ is the ULTIMATE guide of my faith, I know I would go 'round and 'round with you and your doctrines and your theology and you would say I'm NOT a Christian. 


But what Jesus said and what he taught and what he did DID mean something.  And following him means following that to the (red) letter!  And I do.


I call myself a Christian and you nor anybody else on the face of this earth can take that away from me.  I love Christ.  I hate what I see passed off as Christianity today.


I'm a contemplative and have had and do treasure mystical experience.  I have seen Christ crucified three times. I pray to see one of the days of the Son of Man in all its truth.


The peace of the Lord be with your spirit.


Annie

If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. --Isaiah 58:10
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3 years ago  ::  Aug 11, 2011 - 11:30PM #6
Hatman
Posts: 9,634
Ash-
i stopped calling myself a "christian" about 8 years ago, as today, it usually means "i can justify my hatred of(insert subgroup here) because i can cite Paul or the OT to justify my position---anyone BUT Christ."

Today, i simply call myself a disciple of His, and shut up unless asked to explain.

There are too many corner-preacher Jeeziz-shouters these days to suit me, not to mention the likes of Fred Phelps and his incestuous clan.

When people like him claim "christian" for themselves while they show naught but bad/bitter/hateful fruit, i say, "let 'em have the label."  The Searcher of mind and heart cannot be fooled.

Warmest regards-

Hatman
"History records that the moneychangers have used every form of abuse, deceit, intrigue, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling money and it's issuance."
-- James Madison(1751-1836), Father of the Constitution for the USA, 4th US President
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3 years ago  ::  Aug 12, 2011 - 6:40AM #7
Theo
Posts: 4,687

I'm thinking of doing an article on this. Love some feedback. To some the word "Christian" means, "loves George Bush, hates homosexuals" To others it's a become almost wholely political. To me, it means "life by the red letters." I'm seeing more people list "Christ-follower" as their religion in lieu of Christian. Love some input...



Well as a Christian, one that some people love to hate, and one that does not shrink away from the label "Christian," let me answer your post. I do not hate George Bush, but I strongly disagreed with many, if not all his policies as President. As one Evangelical to another, I did not find GWB to be remotely like the Christian president I hoped he would be. As far as hating homosexuals, I do not hate anyone, I am opposed to sin and I believe homosexual behavior is wrong, just as heterosexual behavior is sin - outside of marriage. I am also opposed to the media's obsession with them and the agenda they have helped perpetuate across America and the world over the past 25 years or so.


As far as Christianity being almost wholly political... when was it ever not? Jesus was crucified because He claimed to be king of the Jews - and that was a very dangerous political thing to say 2000 years ago in Judea and the Roman Empire. I once wrote a column of sorts for a Conservative political forum back in the early days of the Internet - entitled, This Morning's Sunday School Lesson. And every Sunday afternoon, I would take my morning Sunday School Lesson, as I taught to a bunch of Church kids, and make insightful political observations and applications to current events - all from the teachings of Christ and the Apostles. And just so you don't get the wrong idea, I am not a Republican nor have I ever been.   


Everything Jesus taught had political ramifications back in the day, and they have political implications today... even so,  it is important to understand that implications and overtones do not mean that this is all Christianity is about. Christianity is about the Gospel, the good news about Jesus, the Son of God, the Christ-King Deliverer and Savior of the world.


Jesus did not come to compete with the kings and politicians of the Roman World, He came to save us from our sins and to redeem us to God. In effect, He came to displace all the false gods of the world with faith in God and faith in Himself. He came as king of all the kingdoms in our hearts, not to compete with the Empires and Nations of the world... and He even said that His kingdom was not of this world.


One of the huge mistakes Christianity has made in the past, has been to marry the State, and attempt to create Christian kingdoms and nations. This has never worked because the Gospel was never designed to manage the affairs of Nations... Islam was designed to rule over nations - Biblical Christianity was not. Christianity was designed to bring those who believe, into a relationship with God, through faith in Jesus Christ, and thereby empower them to overcome the world (i.e. all the adversities of this life, what err they may be) looking forward to eternal life in the kingdom of God through the hope of the resurrection of the dead.   


Life by the red letters is not practical for many reasons - the biggest reason being the Gospel of John. The Gospel of John takes the "Red-letter" teachings of the three Synoptic Gospels out of their Jewish Vs Roman context and interprets them according to the beliefs of the ancient apostolic Church. Luke took the Life of Christ and made many direct applications to the teachings of St. Paul. And Mark adapted  the teachings of Christ to the Roman Church for whom it was written. And that pretty much leaves you with the Gospel of Matthew - if all you really want to follow are the red-letters of Christ.


Of course I am not knocking anyone deciding to believe in Jesus according to Matthew alone. But I am saying, that to ignore the rest of the NT makes you something different than a Christian. According to the Bible, the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch - a Greek/Roman city some 300+ miles to the north of Jerusalem. Christianity, as a religion, is larger than the Gospels, albeit the Gospels are at its very center.  Of all the readings of Scripture read every Sunday across the Liturgical Churches of the world - no other part of the Bible is given greater honor than the Gospels.


On the internet I have encountered many believers and followers of Christ who think of themselves as almost anything besides a Christian... but in many cases that is because they are actually of some other religion. And thus they interpret Christ's sayings according to the beliefs of other religions, or according to themselves. Personally I believe it is a great mistake trying to separate faith in Christ from Christianity - what we really need is a Christ-centered Christianity... instead of what we have all about us... Christ + the Republican or Democrat Partys, Christ + the Military. Christ + Feminism. Christ + Communism. Christ + other religious teachers - dead or alive. Or Christ + whatever belief system you came pre-installed on your hard-drive.


I believe in Christ + the Apostles, and I use the teachings of the early Church Fathers as a guide to understand their original teachings and intents. Politically that makes me a hot potato on both sides of the political landscape of America - because both sides claim Jesus as belonging to their side - when in reality Jesus was not for the rich or the poor, He was not for war or peace, and He was not a Repub or a Democrat. Jesus came with His own agenda - and if we want to follow Him, then we need to begin by laying aside our other baggage.


~ Theophilus

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3 years ago  ::  Aug 12, 2011 - 9:43AM #8
Mostyn32
Posts: 2,941

Because the label 'Christian' has acquired some unsavoury connotations because of the actions and speech of people like Fred Phelps, James Dobson, Oral Roberts, Jerry Falwell and a whole stream of televangeists, I usually refer to myself as a Follower of Jesus. The perverted forms of Christianity that allow the denigration of other human beings (e.g. women, children, gays, people of other faiths), preach the so-far-from-Jesus'-teachings Prosperity Gospel, are little more than cults focussed as they are on their leaders rather than Jesus - all these have made it difficult if not impossible for mainline Christians - the Orthodox, Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans, and so on -  to identify with them. We tend, I've noticed, to identify by our denominational tag rather than by the broader term 'Christian'.

"God is no captious sophister, eager to trip us up whenever we say amiss, but a courteous tutor, ready to amend what, in our weakness or our ignorance, we say ill, and to make the most of what we say aright."  from 'A Learned Discourse on Justification', a sermon by Richard Hooker (1554-1600).
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3 years ago  ::  Aug 12, 2011 - 3:03PM #9
Theo
Posts: 4,687

Are you a Christian? That's a loaded question because of the definition of the asker. We all want to be proud of our faith this is why we need more understanding of other faiths as well. Muslims and Christians are too often defined by extreme examples that aren't at all representative of the whole.


While I understand why some people object to that question, or hesitate answering directly because they have no idea what saying "Yes" means to the one asking the question, I always relish the opportunity to say - "Yes I am," and then jump into a brief explanation of what I believe it means to be a Christian.


In the Bible, as I mentioned in my first post, it says that the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. So my first observation is that a Christian is a disciple... i.e. a follower of Christ. The second observation is that some have taken this passage to mean that "Christian" was a nickname given to followers of Jesus by the non-Christians of Antioch. Which is then taken to imply that it was originally used as a derogatory term. But honestly nothing in the context says who coined the word, believers or unbeliever, or how they meant it... as a slur or as a badge of honor. So I do not make too much of the second point, no one can rightly say one way or the other. The third point I would make is that the word was coined in a Gentile context - not a Jewish context, and thus from the mid-first century onward, Christianity has been a largely Gentile religion.


And thus we make an interesting note that Jesus and His disciples were all Jewish and the teachings and events of the Gospels all happened within the context of Judaism, but Christianity happened among the Gentiles. Christianity was a Jewish sect that took hold among the Gentiles and became a world religion.


To me, authentic Christianity focuses upon the teachings of Jesus Christ, and the events of His passion and crucifixion and resurrection from the dead, and the message of salvation through faith in Him. This is how His disciples preached Christ to both Jews and Gentiles - not as a political figure to bring about revolution among the nations, or to set right social issues in any given nation. All the other aspects of the Gospel that various groups emphasize are distortions - if they obscure or abrogate the message of salvation and redemption. Loving our fellow man is a prime example of one Gospel teaching that has been completely distorted by some religious movements within Christianity. The love of God and for our fellow man, as Jesus advocated, was focused upon God's purpose for man... namely to bring all men into a relationship with God. And it crossed every human boundary to do that... racial (Jewish, Samaritan and Gentile) but it did not throw out the other teachings of Christ and the Apostles in the process - which is what some groups today are want to do.


Personally I do not worry about the extreme examples within Christianity... I am more than able to share what I believe and live my life accordingly. It can be hard to get past some people's preconceived ideas and personal prejudice, but the way I see it - that is their problem not mine, my job is not to be liked and well thought of by everybody. In the early Church they often spoke of bearing the reproach of Christ, and the fact is that anyone who seeks to actually follow the Lord Jesus, will be misunderstood, maligned and abused by other people, religious or not. But be of good cheer, through faith in Christ we are more than overcomers - for Jesus Christ has overcome the world - through His resurrection from the dead.


~ Theophilus

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3 years ago  ::  Aug 13, 2011 - 8:11PM #10
Beautiful_Dreamer
Posts: 5,154

Ash, let me assure you that being a Christian has nothing to do with politics! While our faith can often inform how we vote, using our political views as a litmus test will fail every time. I'm not saying you believe these things, but I'm addressing them since you've heard them and they *are* very common in some parts of the US.


To me, being a Christian is what the others say...about following the way of Christ and having a relationship with Him. For me, it's not about having the right 'beliefs' intellectually so much as a leading in your heart. I'm not the best at following His precepts about how to treat other people, as anyone here can probably attest...but it's about trusting that Jesus cares for you and wanting to follow His teachings to please Him out of love. I'm not sure if I explained very well...I've had an interesting faith journey, albeit not as much as some people here. I haven't always been a Christian, so the others here would be better to ask about what it's like to grow up as one, if that's part of your article.

More where that came from...

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