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For PM "Who is a Christian"

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  • #46
    Originally posted by Carrikature View Post
    I think BP's earlier statement covers this: self-identification. There is no other test without arguing definitions (which is endless and subjective). Better to ask "what does that mean to you?" and realize that "if one acts/thinks thus, so will they all" is a false statement.
    OK, self-identification with "fruit" ---- does your walk match your talk? ANYBODY could self-identify as a Christian for whatever reason, so....

    On the other hand, I don't like defining Christians by what somebody thinks they DON'T do... . "A REAL Christian doesn't smoke, drink, dance (going back to the OLD days ), cuss....."

    I don't smoke
    and I don't chew
    and I don't run
    with girls who do!

    "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

    Comment


    • #47
      Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post
      OK, self-identification with "fruit" ---- does your walk match your talk? ANYBODY could self-identify as a Christian for whatever reason, so....

      On the other hand, I don't like defining Christians by what somebody thinks they DON'T do... . "A REAL Christian doesn't smoke, drink, dance (going back to the OLD days ), cuss....."

      I don't smoke
      and I don't chew
      and I don't run
      with girls who do!

      I don't know. I always had an issue with "fruit" as an identifier. I don't know anyone that meets, even most of the time, even just a few of the fruits in Galatians 5:22. Some people have problems with self-control, perhaps even having addictions. Does this mean they aren't sincere Christians? What about those that struggle with anger issues? Christians recognize that we are fallen, sinful beings who fail time and again. Does it make sense to judge them by those failures? I wouldn't think so. We could qualify that a person is sincerely and actively pursuing change, but from what position do we claim to judge if they are or aren't? What I end up hearing, in my typically cynical way, is something close to the following: "A Real Christian talks and acts in a certain way. I consider myself a Real Christian, even though I recognize that I don't always talk or act in the way I think a Real Christian should."
      I'm not here anymore.

      Comment


      • #48
        Originally posted by Boxing Pythagoras View Post
        It seemed from that post that the essentials you propose for calling oneself Christian are confessing in one's heart that Jesus is Lord, and believing that God raised Jesus from the dead. However, as you seem to acknowledge, this would include other groups (like Mormons and JW's) who I am quite often told are not real Christians. I don't understand how your reference to Revelation 22:19 is supposed to disqualify these groups from their adherence to Romans 10:9, though.
        Not confessing in your heart, confessing with your mouth and believing in your heart.

        Revelation 22:19 is relevant because it shows that adding to or substracting from the word of God carries with it dire consequences, and I think that someone's Christian faith can be legitimately questioned if, like the Mormons and Catholics, they impose additional requirements to salvation beyond what God has explicitly stated. In other words, they're saying that God's word isn't good enough, and so instead they are placing their faith in the traditions of men. As the Bible sternly warns, "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ" (Colossians 2:8); and as Jesus himself said, "You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!" (Mark 7:9).
        Some may call me foolish, and some may call me odd
        But I'd rather be a fool in the eyes of man
        Than a fool in the eyes of God


        From "Fools Gold" by Petra

        Comment


        • #49
          Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post
          Not confessing in your heart, confessing with your mouth and believing in your heart.

          Revelation 22:19 is relevant because it shows that adding to or substracting from the word of God carries with it dire consequences, and I think that someone's Christian faith can be legitimately questioned if, like the Mormons and Catholics, they impose additional requirements to salvation beyond what God has explicitly stated. In other words, they're saying that God's word isn't good enough, and so instead they are placing their faith in the traditions of men. As the Bible sternly warns, "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ" (Colossians 2:8); and as Jesus himself said, "You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!" (Mark 7:9).
          It should be easy to see why those of us on the outside view demarcations between "real" Christians with a good bit of skepticism. You're now adding sola scriptura and sola fide as additional requirements. The more I watch Christians try to delineate the 'ins' from the 'outs', the more it looks like " me and those who think like me".
          I'm not here anymore.

          Comment


          • #50
            Originally posted by Carrikature View Post
            It should be easy to see why those of us on the outside view demarcations between "real" Christians with a good bit of skepticism. You're now adding sola scriptura and sola fide as additional requirements. The more I watch Christians try to delineate the 'ins' from the 'outs', the more it looks like " me and those who think like me".
            I'm not adding anything. I'm simply telling you what the Bible says.
            Some may call me foolish, and some may call me odd
            But I'd rather be a fool in the eyes of man
            Than a fool in the eyes of God


            From "Fools Gold" by Petra

            Comment


            • #51
              Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post
              I'm not adding anything. I'm simply telling you what the Bible says.
              Your interpretation of your version of it. Let's not pretend anyone here isn't fully aware of how this works. I've been to a lot of different churches in a lot of different places. I've met and conversed with and read books/articles by a wide variety of Christians. Every single one of them will say the same thing: "I'm simply telling you what the Bible says." Too few of them seem to understand, let alone show, the humility involved in simply adding two words "I think".
              I'm not here anymore.

              Comment


              • #52
                Originally posted by Carrikature View Post
                Your interpretation of your version of it. Let's not pretend anyone here isn't fully aware of how this works. I've been to a lot of different churches in a lot of different places. I've met and conversed with and read books/articles by a wide variety of Christians. Every single one of them will say the same thing: "I'm simply telling you what the Bible says." Too few of them seem to understand, let alone show, the humility involved in simply adding two words "I think".
                Feel free to go through my posts and show me where I'm wrong.
                Some may call me foolish, and some may call me odd
                But I'd rather be a fool in the eyes of man
                Than a fool in the eyes of God


                From "Fools Gold" by Petra

                Comment


                • #53
                  Originally posted by Boxing Pythagoras View Post
                  I agree that it is subjective!

                  Let me use your "banana pudding" example. My mom is a gourmet-level chef. She could make a banana pudding that would knock your socks off. At the same time, she would say that the mass-produced stuff that you get from the store which is labeled "banana pudding" is not "real" banana pudding, despite being a pudding made with bananas.

                  This seems directly analogous to the case with Christians. I am told that some people are not "real" Christians, despite the fact that they practice a religion wholly centered around Jesus Christ. How am I, as a non-Christian, supposed to differentiate "real" Christians from those who are not?
                  The way I approach it is differentiating between a sociological perspective and from a religious perspective. The CIA World Factbook describes Benin by saying that there are many "nominal Christians" and I would accept this as a basically valid claim within the context of a country's demographics. If we are in church discussing Christianity from a believer's religious perspective that is a different story. (After all, we have no problem using "Muslim" to encompass various sects that don't necessarily have a whole lot in common in some cases.)
                  "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

                  Comment


                  • #54
                    Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post
                    Feel free to go through my posts and show me where I'm wrong.
                    You've quote-mined scripture and interpreted them in light of your own assumptions, assumptions which aren't inherent to the Christian belief system. That's exactly what I meant by adding in sola scriptura and sola fide. I need not show that you're wrong. I need only point out that others who also self-identify as Christians do not work under such assumptions. Your only point of contention is that you don't think they really are, but they could say the same thing about you. So what?
                    I'm not here anymore.

                    Comment


                    • #55
                      Originally posted by KingsGambit View Post
                      The way I approach it is differentiating between a sociological perspective and from a religious perspective. The CIA World Factbook describes Benin by saying that there are many "nominal Christians" and I would accept this as a basically valid claim within the context of a country's demographics. If we are in church discussing Christianity from a believer's religious perspective that is a different story. (After all, we have no problem using "Muslim" to encompass various sects that don't necessarily have a whole lot in common in some cases.)
                      I would actually argue that only a small set of general beliefs is required to identify as an adherent. As you point out, we have no problem using "Muslim" in such a way, because we rightly recognize that they belong to the same system even if there are huge doctrinal differences. I suspect if you asked a Muslim what makes a True Muslim, you'd see a similar set of responses as we typically see from Christians.
                      I'm not here anymore.

                      Comment


                      • #56
                        Originally posted by Carrikature View Post
                        I would actually argue that only a small set of general beliefs is required to identify as an adherent. As you point out, we have no problem using "Muslim" in such a way, because we rightly recognize that they belong to the same system even if there are huge doctrinal differences. I suspect if you asked a Muslim what makes a True Muslim, you'd see a similar set of responses as we typically see from Christians.
                        I suspect if you asked an Atheist, a Capitalist, and an Environmentalist we'd also see a similar set of responses. As much as people want this to be a religion thing, its not a religion thing. Again, labels are only as good as their ability to correctly identify or describe that which is being labeled.

                        Comment


                        • #57
                          Originally posted by Carrikature View Post
                          You've quote-mined scripture...
                          You'll have to do better than that. Demonstrate how the surrounding context would change the meaning of the verses I quoted. And simply pointing out that other people disagree is not an argument. You need to show that my understanding of scripture is incorrect and/or that theirs is (also) correct.
                          Some may call me foolish, and some may call me odd
                          But I'd rather be a fool in the eyes of man
                          Than a fool in the eyes of God


                          From "Fools Gold" by Petra

                          Comment


                          • #58
                            Originally posted by Carrikature View Post
                            I don't know. I always had an issue with "fruit" as an identifier.
                            Not in and of itself, but as part of the overall "diagnosis".

                            I don't know anyone that meets, even most of the time, even just a few of the fruits in Galatians 5:22. Some people have problems with self-control, perhaps even having addictions. Does this mean they aren't sincere Christians?
                            It may mean that they're baby or immature Christians.

                            What about those that struggle with anger issues?
                            We all have problems - it's part of being human.

                            Christians recognize that we are fallen, sinful beings who fail time and again. Does it make sense to judge them by those failures? I wouldn't think so.
                            Nope - just part of the bigger picture.

                            We could qualify that a person is sincerely and actively pursuing change, but from what position do we claim to judge if they are or aren't? What I end up hearing, in my typically cynical way, is something close to the following: "A Real Christian talks and acts in a certain way.
                            Do you agree that a Christian should be held to a higher standard than a non-Christian?

                            consider myself a Real Christian, even though I recognize that I don't always talk or act in the way I think a Real Christian should."
                            I'm glad to know that. Sincerely.
                            "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

                            Comment


                            • #59
                              Originally posted by Adrift View Post
                              I suspect if you asked an Atheist, a Capitalist, and an Environmentalist we'd also see a similar set of responses. As much as people want this to be a religion thing, its not a religion thing. Again, labels are only as good as their ability to correctly identify or describe that which is being labeled.
                              I completely agree. That's why I limit it to a small set of general beliefs. An atheist label tells you a person doesn't believe in a deity. It doesn't tell you why, or what else that person might believe, or necessarily how strong their disbelief is. To insist that it should seems to expect more than is reasonable. A Christian label points us to the Bible, Jesus and God. It doesn't tell us how each of those are viewed, either apart or together. Anything more can't reasonably be detailed under a single word.

                              Fundamentally, this is a Types and Tokens discussion. People seem to insist that their token is indicative of the type, but that certainly doesn't seem to be the case in practice.
                              I'm not here anymore.

                              Comment


                              • #60
                                Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post
                                Not in and of itself, but as part of the overall "diagnosis".



                                It may mean that they're baby or immature Christians.



                                We all have problems - it's part of being human.



                                Nope - just part of the bigger picture.
                                Ok, I'm going to lump these together and then use it as a response to your question. In summary, we agree that someone could be immature in their faith, which includes a lack of understanding of the associated behaviors that are expected. We recognize that people have issues, and for the most part we say that's ok as long as we keep trying to improve (or at least we'll be forgiven if our remorse is sincere). In your terms, we can make a diagnosis of another person by looking at their behavior. I think all people do this anyway, regardless of faith. It's normal and necessary in many ways. In my opinion, a humble person will recognize that levels of maturity and typical human error make that diagnosis tentative at best and therefore hesitate to rely very strongly upon that diagnosis. That said, humans are good at pride, and I don't often encounter people (Christian or otherwise) that recognize how unreliable their diagnoses may actually be (that's not to say they're always off, but confirmation bias and other things come into play a lot too).


                                Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post
                                Do you agree that a Christian should be held to a higher standard than a non-Christian?
                                I used to think they should, and I certainly see the logic behind such a claim. We expect better behavior out of older children than younger ones, for example. However, your comment about baby and immature Christians seems to counter this. We don't have a single standard for all children. We have a standard for individual children based on their behavior and our understanding of their personalities. We also have some generic standards based on age which I don't find to be very reliable (plus Christians don't 'age' based on faith, so that's not terribly helpful). The only real standard in the Christian paradigm is God's standard, but that's not something we have access to even if parts of it are laid out in the Bible.

                                In the end, I'm going to say that no, I don't think Christians should be held to a higher standard. Just 'knowing better' doesn't seem to be enough. I know that many Christians claim that God, or the Holy Spirit, or just belief itself, helps Christians behave better. My experience both within and outside of those circles has lent little credence to that idea. They still seem to be just people. Some of them are pretty nasty, and some of them are incredibly kind and loving, but most of them are somewhere in between, and it often just depends on their mood. Most of them are more or less trying to be good people, even if they don't always understand what that means or where they fall short. I'll also add here that I don't see any indication that there are levels of punishment or reward when it comes to a final judgment. There's not better wheat or ideal wheat, there's just wheat and there's just chaff. Separate the two and burn the latter. Even if it's just symbolism, I think it holds pretty close to what's portrayed. On the flip side, looking for levels of punishment/reward would seem to indicate that there are better or worse sins, but I don't see that really supported either. All have sinned and fallen short. All can be forgiven.


                                Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post
                                I'm glad to know that. Sincerely.
                                I'm not here anymore.

                                Comment

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