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What is a Christian?


A friend of mine recently told me he wasn’t a Christian. He said it wasn’t like he didn’t believe in God, or anything like that, he just wasn’t feeling it, I guess. As some of my favorite people seem to be doing this lately I have to go back to a good little question: what is a Christian? We know a Christian is another name for a disciple, a follower. In this case, a follower of Christ. Someone who does what Christ does. In 2011 in the United States of America, how can a 19 year old possibly do what Christ did? Thoughts? Anything that can help me understand what a Christian actually is?

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. May 1, 2011 at 3:25 AM

    Sadly, the name paints a different picture in the minds of anyone you pose that question to.

    I am a Christian. I follow the teachings of Christ to the best of my understanding and ability. I don’t always get it right and I rely heavily on God’s grace and mercy. You know me personally, so you know that I believe you can do what Jesus did on a very basic level. You can love others right where they’re at, be inclusive instead of exclusive, GO to where the hurting are – and they are EVERYWHERE, and acknowledge where your very breath comes from – God. The God, not a god.

    The first disciples were a bunch of screw-ups, so I figure I fit right in. 😉 They asked the wrong questions, struggled with the paradigm shift of what a messiah would do and how he would act, and argued amongst themselves about everything. (Sound familiar?) Jesus loved them, taught them, trained them, then sent them out to share the good news: there is hope and healing NOW, not just in some distant place after you die.

    It’s been a long journey this far, but I’m aiming to paint a positive light on the name of “Christian” by who I am and how well I love others. It’s not about perfection, it’s about forgiveness. I need it, and I need to give it.

    How’s that for a start?

    • May 1, 2011 at 3:33 AM

      Thanks Niki! You brought up a really good point that the first disciples were all screw ups. I think about the struggling within myself and my friends around me, and I keep saying “it’s not about you” pointing to Christ’s triumph on the cross, in stead of our own personal failures. It’s good to know that the men and women who started this whole Jesus movement didn’t get it for years when they had Jesus right there with them! Perfection is the goal, I think, but it’s not ours to achieve outside of the blood of Jesus.
      I also cling to what Benny said about baptized disciples, that we’re just soggy sinners. Love it!

  2. May 6, 2011 at 5:13 PM

    Isn’t worshiping Jesus really running the risk of worshiping an idol rather than the correct jealous Exodus god?

    I know, I know… he’s supposedly one and the same, although new and improved. Still, doesn’t it kind of make you wonder if you’ve got this figured out just right? After all, if you’re wrong…

    Oh well.

    As for Niki’s sentiment I have some issues. Where your breath comes from, for example, we know it has nothing whatsoever to do with some outside agency. We know there is no creator for humanity specifically. We are free to believe otherwise but rejecting what’s true I don’t think it is worthy of respect. I think it is delusional, in the sense of choosing to believe in what isn’t true over and above what we know is. It’s usually called making up your own facts and looks exactly like schizophrenic thinking. That’s a bad thing.

    Nor do I think people like Niki have ever considered why her god thinks it’s peachy keen to create a world where so much suffering is not only commonplace but a central feature of how nature itself works to maintain the biosphere. What hope and healing there is for people in every real world example you can offer comes from other people and our expertise, knowledge, and compassion and not from some intervening sky faerie called by prayer and delivered by Federal Express angels from that great distribution warehouse on high. Paying such homage to this imaginary friend – THE friend, not A friend – and calling it ‘grace’ cheapens the very real compassionate and often heroic contribution we make to others and responsibility we have for their welfare. No gods are required nor needed but seem to be fine taking all the credit given away so easily by ‘good’ christians like Niki. That, too is bad thing.

  3. May 7, 2011 at 10:49 PM

    Tildeb, If you knew Niki, you would have just kept silent.
    I have seen her affect people in real world situations, and I’ve seen the healing that comes from her love to the brokenhearted. And I’ve seen God work through her and through others, and sometimes I’ve just seen God work. What you should have said was “I, Tildeb,have only seen hope and healing from other people and our expertise, knowledge and compassion and not from some intervening sky faerie called by prayer and delivered by Federal Express angels from that great distribution warehouse on hight.”
    I think your ‘laymens’ terms are pretty hilarious but they reveal a horrible attitude and lack of understanding. Do you really need to resort to witty rewording of ideas to have any confidence that God does not exist?
    The bible says in Ecclesiastes, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might”, this creates expertise. James 1:27 says that true religion is to look after widows and orphans and not be pollluted by the world. Jesus gives us a new command at the end of the gospels to love one another as he loved us. Jesus also said to love our enemies. I won’t quote to you the sermon on the mount, but I have to say, if Christianity were done as outlined in the bible, then you wouldn’t say it is because of prayer and magic sky faeries that there is hope and healing for the Christian. People take care of people in Christianity, and Jesus reigns in supreme truth giving us the example of love and self sacrifice to truly meet the needs of the hurting people around us. We don’t pray out of need, but gratitude, and honest yearning for relationship. Doesn’t that make more sense?

    • May 7, 2011 at 11:47 PM

      As I said, people taking care of people. The god portion merely belittles honest compassion honestly given.

  4. May 13, 2011 at 10:40 AM

    What is a Christ-ian? The basic definition would be someone that follow the messianic figure named Jesus – as a mentor of sorts (ie: discipleship/student). Now how that all looks at the end of the day will vary from person to person, for example I don’t see a god-figure in Jesus – but a teacher/rabbinic figure that leads his students into developing their faith.

  5. May 13, 2011 at 10:47 AM

    “Isn’t worshiping Jesus really running the risk of worshiping an idol rather than the correct jealous Exodus god?” (tildeb)

    I agree with tildeb here (to some degree). The problem surrounding Jesus is the addition of a god to God. In fact, when most people discuss God and Jesus they do discuss 2 unique figures, not one. I find this poses a problem to the Exodus God, namely the one that laid down Exodus 20:1 – ‘have no other gods’…just saying it raises some questions for Christianity.

    • May 13, 2011 at 10:11 PM

      Very true society. The hebrew word for one used in Deuteronomy saying “The Lord your God is one” is the same word used to describe two people being married becoming “One in flesh”. there is a sense of spiritual unity that exists, rather than a physical, actual one being. Even in the Old Testament there is a plurality built into the being of God. It does have to be answered, though, because it’s a relevant question, for sure. Is Jesus an Idol?
      I think of the trinity like I think of the United States pre-1860s. Now we say the United States of America is a delicious place to live. Before, and more properly, it would be: The United States of America are a delicious place to live. God is awesome. Yes, but also, God are awesome. One in spirit, but not the same entity. One in purpose, not the same roles.

  6. May 18, 2011 at 11:55 AM

    “It does have to be answered, though, because it’s a relevant question, for sure. Is Jesus an Idol?” (Carly)

    I would say if he is not ‘god’ then it is a clear addition to God, which is strictly prohibited by God in the law of Israel. I would also say if he is ‘God’ then it is clearly a strict addition to God which is also prohibited. Unless One does not mean One and we are reading that portion of scripture wrongly by reading the number 1 as literal.

    “God is awesome. Yes, but also, God are awesome. One in spirit, but not the same entity. One in purpose, not the same roles.” (Carly)

    I like the analogy of the old America and the new America as being ‘Americas’…new twist. However, isn’t that playing a bit on dualism with the God of the Tanakh and the God of the NT (Jesus) as being separate and different beings still? I also thought their was some old theological fallacy concerning that.

    So are you willing to admit there are at least 2 entities in the god-head?

    • May 20, 2011 at 10:45 AM

      Yes, I would be willing to admit there at least 3 entities in the being so often singularly called God. Based on the presupposition that the bible is a source of truth I do’nt see another way around it. Throughout the New Testament there is a reference to Jesus’ will being not his own, but his fathers. If he was also, indeed the father, then he would be saying “my will is not my own, but it is my own.” “Not my will, but mine, be done.” The scripture loses meaning otherwise. Jesus himself referred to the duality of divinity when he quotes the psalms, “the lord said to my lord”. Remember? Also, from Genesis, “Let us make mankind in our image”. Where is this plurality coming from if God is not actually a plurality?
      Yes, it’s difficult to understand, and this ontological answer brings up many more ontological questions, but I have taken the stance that the more we learn about who and what God is the less we concretely know. We find ourselves breaking down the walls of the box God has been put in, and leaving the possibilities even greater than they were before we worked to ‘figure it out’. So yeah, I don’t understand it. Seems natural.

  7. May 20, 2011 at 1:06 PM

    It’s incoherent and incomprehensible. Hence, faith it can be so.

  8. May 24, 2011 at 12:02 PM

    “Jesus himself referred to the duality of divinity when he quotes the psalms, “the lord said to my lord”. Remember?” (Carly)

    Might need to read the Hebrew on that one. The passage is about the messiah (lord as in master/leader) talking to the Lord (Lord as in Adonai). The two lords used are not the same nor to be considered at the same level. I learned this directly from a Jewish rabbi.

    “Also, from Genesis, “Let us make mankind in our image”” (Carly)

    Why is it that scripture is never read as God speaking to His heavenly court? This is the most common consensus amongst biblical scholars and rabbi’s concerning that scripture.

    “Where is this plurality coming from if God is not actually a plurality?” (Carly)

    Gentiles my dear, the inclusion of the Gentiles. Fact is, the trinity was never a problem in Jewish circles prior to Gentile inclusion via Christianity…fact.

    • May 24, 2011 at 10:58 PM

      Thanks for the Hebrew, that makes a lot of sense. But Jesus was talking about himself, the Messiah, being greater than his ancestor, David. Jesus, according to the text concluded that to be because he was indeed divine. If you were to disagree you’d have to create another stair step on the hierarchy of divinity, Manhood-> Messiahship-> God. To do that would be to read something into the bible, I think, rather than read out of it. But it does hold a pretty different meaning if the two words translated lord are not interchangeable. Thanks for the insight.
      God speaking to his heavenly court is a good thought. However, that would imply that his court shares his “image” which is also shared by humanity. We should probably look into what making in “their image” really means. I tend to like Paul’s word in 1 Corinthians when he relates God the Father as the head of Jesus to Man being the head of Woman. (I’m a bit of feminist just so you know). It’s the relationship of mutual submission in absolute mutual altruism. But there’s lots of good ideas on it, and it’s hard to pick one idea in particular and say that’s what the scripture means. When people do that they loose a lot of good ideas and miss out on spiritual growth.
      I disagree with the Gentiles theory. It seems pretty clear from the early Christian writing that the Jesus being divine was solidly worked into their theology. The only problem is the early Christian writings didn’t come about until Gentiles were already included.
      Do you believe Jesus to be divine but not a separate entity from God? Or do you believe Jesus to not be divine?

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