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Who is a Christian?

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  • Who is a Christian?

    I used to be pretty black-n-white about this. I would say "there are only two kinds of people in the world - saved and lost" or "it's like being pregnant - you either are or you're not". An absolute binary dichotomy.

    I heard Paul Little though propose another possibility -- "those who are still on the way". His point was that this gives an opportunity, when witnessing, to leave the door open to somebody who hasn't accepted Christ, but may be contemplating it. Instead of "pigeonholing" them into a "saved or lost" category, show them that it's a journey, and help them to figure out where they are on that journey.

    I think a number of us have talked about the aspects of salvation -- I am saved, I am being saved, I will be saved....

    But occasionally I see somebody say "[whatever denomination] are not Christians".

    As I pointed out in a different thread (that inspired this one) I don't like to declare people "not Christians" because they align themselves with a certain group or religion or denomination. They may well be there out of ignorance, or because they were born into that, or because they're the spouse or dependent of somebody who's in that denomination.

    I can only "know" that you (or anybody else) is "saved" by your testimony and your fruit, but only God knows your heart. Therefore, even in Pastoring, I try NEVER to assume that somebody is "saved" just because they're a deacon in my Church, or have been there "forever", or was "born in the Church nursery".

    One of my favorite sayings is "if a cat climbed into an oven and gave birth to kittens, would we call them muffins?"

    So, I guess the thread title should really be "who are WE to say who's a Christian and who's not".
    Last edited by Cow Poke; 02-09-2015, 03:45 PM.
    "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

  • #2
    If someone accepts the doctrines of Joseph Smith, they are not Christians.
    That's what
    - She

    Without a clear-cut definition of sin, morality becomes a mere argument over the best way to train animals
    - Manya the Holy Szin (The Quintara Marathon)

    I may not be as old as dirt, but me and dirt are starting to have an awful lot in common
    Stephen R. Donaldson

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    • #3
      I'd say that there are a few grayish areas, but there is also plenty of black and white on this issue. Jehovah's Witnesses, Gnostics, Mormons, and given that Islam called Jesus "al-Masih"(the Messiah) Muslims as well fit into the category of non-Christians.

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      • #4
        I do not pretend to know exactly where the lines are. Some Christians have been awfully dogmatic about it (I know one group who not only says that Arminians are not saved, but that all Calvinists who believe that Arminians can be saved are also not saved). But there are some clear lines as well; John's letters delineate some of these clearly.
        "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

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        • #5
          Yeah, I think maybe I shouldn't have started this thread -- I don't mean to be divisive.

          I'm just thinking that there are some genuine Christ followers who can get temporarily mixed up in some other denomination or group, not understanding what they teach, but it doesn't mean they're not "Christian".

          Not really interested in a battle over this - just expressing a concern.
          "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post
            Yeah, I think maybe I shouldn't have started this thread -- I don't mean to be divisive.

            I'm just thinking that there are some genuine Christ followers who can get temporarily mixed up in some other denomination or group, not understanding what they teach, but it doesn't mean they're not "Christian".

            Not really interested in a battle over this - just expressing a concern.
            I agree with this entirely.

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            • #7
              I didn't become a Christian until I was 40 years old. But looking back I see that God was working on me the whole time, putting people in my life that made me think and consider even though at the time I was not ready. So if we are talking about someone's ultimate fate, which God knows and we do not, then I have always been saved, because God knew that one day I would accept Christ. I didn't know and others didn't either. Now, I wasn't a Christian until I made the decision to follow Christ, but I think in God's eyes I always belonged to him.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Cerebrum123 View Post
                I'd say that there are a few grayish areas, but there is also plenty of black and white on this issue. Jehovah's Witnesses, Gnostics, Mormons, and given that Islam called Jesus "al-Masih"(the Messiah) Muslims as well fit into the category of non-Christians.
                Generally I agree, but I wouldn't absolutely rule out the possibility of salvation in those groups, especially if one is never exposed to anything else. I wouldn't fellowship with them since they are all manifestly unorthodox, but who ends up saved for eternity is not my call to make (thankfully).
                Enter the Church and wash away your sins. For here there is a hospital and not a court of law. Do not be ashamed to enter the Church; be ashamed when you sin, but not when you repent. – St. John Chrysostom

                Veritas vos Liberabit<>< Learn Greek <>< Look here for an Orthodox Church in America<><Ancient Faith Radio
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                I recommend you do not try too hard and ...research as little as possible. Such weighty things give me a headache. - Shunyadragon, Baha'i apologist

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by One Bad Pig View Post
                  Generally I agree, but I wouldn't absolutely rule out the possibility of salvation in those groups, especially if one is never exposed to anything else. I wouldn't fellowship with them since they are all manifestly unorthodox, but who ends up saved for eternity is not my call to make (thankfully).
                  I guess that's part of my point -- people often join groups where they feel comfortable or accepted - which is a major recruiting point for cults. I wouldn't fellowship with the cults at all, but I believe that a "saved" individual can get "suckered" - particularly temporarily - until they begin to see the deception, but their temporary confusion doesn't mean they're not "Christians".
                  "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

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                  • #10
                    A number of holy scriptures can be cited. One is either a Christian or one is not.

                    ". . . But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." -- Romans 8:9.

                    ". . . He that hath the Son hath life; [and] he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. . . ." -- 1 John 5:12.
                    . . . the Gospel of Christ, for it is [the] power of God to salvation to every [one] believing, . . . -- Romans 1:16.

                    . . . that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: . . . -- 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4.

                    Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: . . . -- 1 John 5:1.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by 37818 View Post
                      A number of holy scriptures can be cited. One is either a Christian or one is not.

                      ". . . But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." -- Romans 8:9.

                      ". . . He that hath the Son hath life; [and] he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. . . ." -- 1 John 5:12.
                      Yeah, I get that, honest.... but you can't know for a fact that I am a Christian, nor can I now if you are. Particularly, just because I'm a Baptist is certainly no "proof" that I'm a Christian, or that I go to Church, or that I tithe, etc...
                      "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post
                        Yeah, I get that, honest.... but you can't know for a fact that I am a Christian, nor can I now if you are. Particularly, just because I'm a Baptist is certainly no "proof" that I'm a Christian, or that I go to Church, or that I tithe, etc...
                        I have pondered knowing if someone is saved or not for awhile and have concluded that there is no human way to know for sure. Unless you happen to get a direct communication from God about someone, I don't think you can know.

                        I'm not saying you can't get an indication of their salvation status. I think behavior can indicate their status. But over emphasis on behavior I think can lead to legalism.

                        (As an aside, I find it a little offensive to be asked in response to a prayer concern about someone "what is their salvation status?" - I'm not God, I don't know for certain.)
                        "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

                        "Theology can be an intellectual entertainment." Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

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                        • #13
                          Pman has politely asked if he can post in my thread, and is shipping me the bacon later this afternoon. If this permission needs to come at a higher level, I ask forgiveness, which is usually easier to obtain anyway.


                          Last edited by Cow Poke; 02-09-2015, 05:44 PM.
                          "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Thoughtful Monk View Post
                            (As an aside, I find it a little offensive to be asked in response to a prayer concern about someone "what is their salvation status?" - I'm not God, I don't know for certain.)
                            I'm more understanding of that one, because we need a sense of how to minister to them.... maybe it would be better to ask something like "do they claim or confess to being a Christian".

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

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post
                              I'm more understanding of that one, because we need a sense of how to minister to them.... maybe it would be better to ask something like "do they claim or confess to being a Christian".
                              Much better way to express the intent of the question. Thanks for sharing the insight.
                              "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

                              "Theology can be an intellectual entertainment." Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

                              Comment

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