According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Importance of Being Jesus Acting Christians (vs. Americanized Evangelical Christianity)


Franklin Grahm, Evangelical Politico | Matt Johnson, Flickr Creative Commons

There’s Only Two Types Of “Christian”
(And You Should Be Able To Tell The Difference)
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/formerlyfundie/theres-two-types-christian-able-tell-difference/

February 14, 2017

As one who studies culture for a living– most specifically, religious culture, I will tell you that technically there are over 40,000 Christian sects in the world.

But realistically? There’s only two kinds of Christian– and honestly, I’m tired of pretending there’s not.

It doesn’t matter what kind (denomination) of Christian you are; there are still only two types: one is the member of a Christian religion, and the other is someone who is actively living like Jesus.

I don’t believe the word “Christian” was ever intended to be used the way we use it in America. When it was first used, the term wasn’t in reference to a well-crafted religion with a long list of tenets, but instead was simply used to describe people who actively did what Jesus said to do. Essentially, the word meant “little Christs.”

Christian, as the word was intended, was measurable– or at least observable. You could tell who was and who wasn’t, and that wasn’t a “judgement” about the state of their heart, either. Being able to tell who was Christian, and who wasn’t, was something one could do by simply observing their outward behavior.

Do they follow the teachings of Jesus, or not?

But that’s not what the term has come to mean in Americanized Christianity. For many of us growing up, if you said a simple prayer at the end of a sermon and “asked Jesus into your heart” you were automatically a Christian. Becoming a Christian was something done in secret, in the most quiet place in your heart. You repeat the words given to you and signify your transition into the group by quietly lifting your hand with “every head bowed, every eye closed,” and at the end you’re part of the group. Since becoming a Christian was internal and not external, there was really no way to know who was a Christian and who wasn’t.

(Well, except if they were gay. If they were gay they *definitely* couldn’t be Christian [wink, wink], but that’s beside the point.)

It strikes me that American Evangelicalism invented an entirely new version of the Christian religion with its own concept of “salvation,” and the consequences of this religion are dire. It has taken the message of Jesus and the biblical mandate to pattern our lives after Jesus, and in so many was reduced it to the near-effortless act of “accepting Christ into your heart.” In fact, it’s become a bizarre religion where one can actually refer to themselves as a Christian while simultaneously disagreeing with what Jesus taught.

That’s not how this thing was originally supposed to work, folks. If one disagrees with Jesus, the word Christian ought not apply.

"In Americanized Christianity we use Christian as a noun when originally, Christian was more of an adjective. It wasn’t so much about something you were, but was more about something you were doing. You were actively living out the teachings of Jesus, and this was easily observable– either you agreed with Jesus and did what he taught, or you didn’t."

The confusion of having two types of Christian and a totally different use of the word, creates all sorts of problems. Mainly, it has the ability to lull people into the idea that they’re Christian when often they’re not– at least, not in the original sense. It also complicates things for those of us who want to teach others to be Christian, because we’re no longer able to easily do what was done 2,000 years ago– we’re not able to walk with new disciples and show them, “Here is an example of Christian. Here is an example of not Christian.“

Case in point: Franklin Graham

The other day I stated that he was not Christian (in response to his anti-immigrant/anti-refugee beliefs), and of course, I immediately got the expected push-back to such a statement.

“How do you really know?” (Implication: how do you know his heart? How do you know he hasn’t “accepted Christ into his heart?”)

Or, of course, some will ask rightly, “is it your job to decide who is or is not a Christian?”

Since Christian has come to mean something different in Americanized Christianity, these objections are totally valid. Since we are operating in a culture where Christian is a noun, and where anyone can secretly be one regardless of what they think about what Jesus said, I don’t know who is that type of Christian and who isn’t. Certainly I don’t know if Franklin Graham has ever asked Jesus into his heart, though I would bank on the fact that he has. Neither is it my place to declare who is part of the Christian religion or not– there’s ultimately 40,000 versions of that and I am not the gate keeper for any of them, let alone all 40,000.

But to me, there are only two types of Christian, and the second one– an adjective instead of a noun, is observable. It doesn’t require the ability to judge the individual heart. It is not something that can only be done by a gate-keeper as if they have any power anyway. It is simply the act of returning Christian to an adjective, and being honest in that it does not apply to people don’t want to do what Jesus said to do.

For all the damage that Americanized Christianity has done, the foundational damage is that it has distorted the word that was first used to describe the disciples of Jesus: Christian.

Instead of describing members of a religion, the word used to mean something so much more. It used to describe what people were doing, and who they were following. It used to be so loaded with meaning that the act of being Christian was totally observable and obvious to anyone around you.

The reality in Americanized Christianity is that you can be “a Christian” without actually being “Christian.” They are two, totally distinct identities.

That’s not how it’s supposed to work.

Christian used to actually mean something, and I don’t think we should be afraid to say it.


No comments:

Post a Comment