Author Topic: What is a Christian?  (Read 2608 times)

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Offline JeffPT

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Re: What is a Christian?
« Reply #58 on: March 08, 2013, 10:26:59 PM »
Even the term "Christ-like" as a definition leaves a lot of room for interpretation.  How does each person describe Christ?  And what of the person who defines Christ-like as "being perfect?"  Now there aren't any Christians.  And how do we define "evil" or "wrong?"  Is lying evil?  Is losing your temper wrong?  Do either of those disqualify a person as a Christian?  And if not, where is the line at which an act isn't evil/wrong enough to count?

This is exactly the problem.  It's an absolute fact that Jesus, as a character in the bible, is nowhere near the perfect being that Christians tout him to be.  When you actually read some of the things he did and said, none of the good stuff (and I will admit, there are some good things) is original, and some of the stuff is down-right awful.  So what's happened over the centuries is that the idea of the perfection of Jesus has been passed down from generation to generation, and the legend of his perfection has grown to such heights as to make people say things like 'I think you can tell a Christian because they're 'Christlike', even though, if you really look at the sum total of what he did, said, and the way he acted, he wasn't anywhere near perfect. 

What it boils down to is that Christianity isn't about loving Jesus.  It's about loving the ideal that they've personified in that particular character and Jesus is just the name they've put to the ideal.  And since each of us determines 'perfection' in our own ways, when someone talks about being 'Christlike', what they actually mean is to be as perfect as humanly possible, as demonstrated through their own definition of perfection.  To me, that is why so many people can say they are being 'Christlike' when to others, they're just being ass holes.  Because their definition of what is 'Christlike' is just another word for 'perfect as far as I'm concerned'.  Each of us has a different version of perfection. 


No I don't think so.  If someone deceives you into thinking they are Christian and then does evil things then this will affect how you treat others that say they are Christians.

I actually tend to agree with this somewhat when it comes to Christianity, but it is a problem that Christianity has created for itself from the moment it planted it's dirty little flag in the center of morality and claimed that all things Christian are 'good'.  If Christians never tried to claim that religion is the epitome of good, and that belief in God is the ultimate 'good', then you wouldn't be saddled with your problem anymore because nobody would be holding you to it. 

What Christianity has done is analogous to a car company claiming that every single car they produce is better than any other car in the world, and then having half the cars they turn out be piles of shit.  If you didn't claim it was the best car in the world, you wouldn't have to deal with as big a backlash when people realized that your cars suck ass. In much the same respect; if a certain group of people (lets call them the 'math superstars') claimed they were the best in the world at math, and then they did evil things, you wouldn't stop thinking they're good at math.  But if they can't do geometry, then every incorrect math problem might make you think every member of the 'math superstars' isn't all that good at math. 

Evil acts by Christians make all Christians look bad, but only because Christianity has purposefully made itself synonymous with good.  It's not, though.  Being Christian doesn't make people good; and worse yet, Christianity itself can even make people into ass holes.  Therein lies the problem. 
Whenever events that are purported to occur in our best interest are as numerous as the events that will just as soon kill us, then intent is hard, if not impossible to assert. NDT

Offline screwtape

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Re: What is a Christian?
« Reply #59 on: March 10, 2013, 06:35:19 PM »
I think the no true xian problem started right away.  There were numerous competing jesus cults who all had their own particular take on jesus theology.  They had to get their digs in on each other and represent themselves a legitimate while those guys over there are antichrists.  They also had to have a way to keep members from leaving their cults after jesus H left.  In reading 1 John for my other assignment with muchlove, I found John (allegedly, John) talking about how people who left the cult were "not really" members to begin with.

So a lot of this nonsense about who is and is not a True xian is inherent in the NT. It is an internal fight that was there from the very beginning and has never stopped.  That is the problem with theological disagreements.  There is no way to solve them except bloodshed because you cannot go and observe the reality to see who, if anyone, is right. 
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Online nogodsforme

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Re: What is a Christian?
« Reply #60 on: March 10, 2013, 06:51:26 PM »
^^^That is true. The "let's try to explain Christianity once and for all" industry will never end. Until Christianity disappears entirely, probably due to the faith no longer having anything that distinguishes it from anything else.

If the nature of Jesus and the requirements of Christianity were so obvious and clear-cut, there would have been no need for the Council at Nicea, the various persecutions of apostates and heretics, and the subsequent schisms over the next thousand years. Not to mention the Protestant Reformation, the rise and fall of various Christian churches and the zillions of Christian denominations we have today.

You don't find people killing each other over whether a drink is milk, lemonade or beer; whether a game is chess, baseball or strip poker; whether a language is Japanese, Quechua or Zulu. Because the divisions are clear cut and the criteria are easily described. And the things being compared actually exist.

Not so much with unproveable beliefs based on mythical characters who have undocumented magical powers. And no factual evidence, so anything anyone says could count as truth. &)

Extraordinary claims of the bible don't even have ordinary evidence.

Kids aren't paying attention most of the time in science classes so it seems silly to get worked up over ID being taught in schools.

Offline Tonus

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Re: What is a Christian?
« Reply #61 on: March 10, 2013, 06:59:28 PM »
And that is where an understanding of the true origins of the Bible can clear up the confusion.  For as long as we assume that it is a divinely-inspired book that was faithfully and carefully built with god's guidance and a clear outline from the start, we wrestle with the inconsistencies and the need to interpret, interpret, interpret, and interpret some more.  When we learn how it was really written and assembled, and begin to understand the political dynamic that influenced the parts (and its assembly into an incoherent whole) then the lack of internal consistency, the many contradictions and extremely fuzzy message make sense.  It fits right in with any other collection of myths, legends, and religious teachings from ancient times.

The Bible contradictions site (hat tip to Painodwarf) is an excellent resource in this regard, as is A History of God by Karen Andrews Armstrong.  I have to admit, I find the Bible a much more fascinating and interesting book in that context, where I'm no longer wracking my brain because it doesn't make sense and I can just enjoy it for what it is.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2013, 08:24:56 PM by Tonus »

Offline screwtape

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Offline Tonus

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Re: What is a Christian?
« Reply #63 on: March 10, 2013, 08:24:38 PM »
Yeah, Armstrong.  Thanks for the correction.

Offline Hatter23

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Re: What is a Christian?
« Reply #64 on: March 14, 2013, 02:36:20 PM »
And the "true Christian" problem was certainly a problem with Constantine. Lots of interesting problems going on with that at the time of deciding what belongs in the Bible and what doesn't.

An Omnipowerful God needed to sacrifice himself to himself (but only for a long weekend) in order to avert his own wrath against his own creations who he made in a manner knowing that they weren't going to live up to his standards.

And you should feel guilty for this. Give me money.

Offline Seppuku

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Re: What is a Christian?
« Reply #65 on: March 22, 2013, 05:15:14 PM »
I would say a Christian is:

Somebody who believes in the teachings of the Christian bible, regardless of how they interpret those teachings. It could be from somebody believing there's a God and it's the God of the bible and heck even Jesus Christ, but have no real attachment to the bible to a hardcore literalist who tries to hold every letter of the bible to a strict order.

I don't believe there's some kind of 'True Christian', it's very difficult to define with high accuracy, because we're filtering through centuries of historical events, philosophers, sects, religious leaders, translations to get through before getting to the true intentions of the creators of the bible. We can try to interpret what their meaning or intentions are, however, we lack the ability to objectively clarify them. This is why we often talk about the 'magic decoder ring'.

Heck, there might not even be a 'True Christian', there exist the possibility that the existence of Christianity was not an intentional creation of those responsible for the stories found in the bible, that their meaning was completely taken the wrong way by those who passed them on.
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Offline dloubet

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Re: What is a Christian?
« Reply #66 on: March 23, 2013, 11:50:23 AM »
Since I am not qualified to determine who is a Christian and who isn't, I have to assume that everyone who self-identifies as a Christian is a Christian. At that point things get confusing because everyone who self identifies as a Christian says those others who self identify as Christians aren't really Christians. What's worse, everyone who self-identifies as a Christian insists that if we just read the bible we'll be able to identify who's really a Christian just like they do.

Christians: Granting atheists the authority to determine who's a Christian and who's not (but not really) since 0 AD.
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Offline stuffin

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Re: What is a Christian?
« Reply #67 on: March 23, 2013, 12:23:24 PM »
What is a Christian?

I don't think it really matters cause you would need to ask;

What is a true Muslim?

What is a true Jew?

The answers are the same for all of them.
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 Yes I'd kill him with my Bible and my razor and my gun

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Online nogodsforme

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Re: What is a Christian?
« Reply #68 on: March 25, 2013, 03:36:24 PM »
Seems like there are two definitional camps: 

One is the "big tent" camp where anyone who is trying to be a good person is a Christian, even if they don't know it. That way you can include Gandhi, Jews, babies, Santeros, remote tribespeople who never heard of Christianity, mentally handicapped people, everyone who lived and died before Jesus showed up, and even atheists if they are nice and non-confrontational. Christian= good person.

The other definitional camp reserves the term for just their own little sect or denomination of right-thinking and right-living people. So, only Catholics who attend mass, or only people who have consciously accepted Jesus into their hearts and been properly baptized into the proper church, or only white Republican Mormons, or only JW's, or everyone but the Catholics, Mormons and JW's. Christian=people like me.

I have noticed that the same people bounce between the two camps, from gigantic flapping Unitarian big tent to tight little Amish pup tent, because sometimes they want there to be lots of Christians, which of course, means that Christianity is true and right because it is the most popular religion.[1]

Other times they want only a handful of real Christians, so they can feel unique and clique-y with eye-rolling at sinners, special codeword bumper stickers and sitting together reading the bible on lunch break.[2].
 1.  Justin Beiber school of theology
 2. mean girl school of theology
« Last Edit: March 25, 2013, 03:40:08 PM by nogodsforme »
Extraordinary claims of the bible don't even have ordinary evidence.

Kids aren't paying attention most of the time in science classes so it seems silly to get worked up over ID being taught in schools.

Offline screwtape

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Re: What is a Christian?
« Reply #69 on: March 26, 2013, 06:55:08 AM »
Seems like there are two definitional camps: 

I think there are at least two camps.  If I understood jstwebbrowsing, his position was not quite either of those.  My interpretation of what he was saying was you could not just call yourself a xian, you had to also follow the rules.  Like a lot of xians, he wanted to distance himself from xians who behave poorly.  "You will know them by their deeds"  So anyone who acts in a way that he feels is beneath jesus H, he says is not a xian.  That sets kind of a high bar.  Since jesus H was suppsedly perfect (being god and all), nobody can live up to that.  He's created a definition where no one can really be a xian.

But I thought that was what jesus H was all about - hangin' wit da sinners.  I thought the point of xianity was to be compassionate and understanding of others who cannot live up to expectations.  Jst most definitely does not compare favorably to jesus H. Does that make him "not xian"?  I don't think so.  He is just showing an ugly side of human nature and xianity by trying to exclude other people.
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Offline Tonus

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Re: What is a Christian?
« Reply #70 on: March 26, 2013, 06:59:58 AM »
In other words, the definition of any particular denomination or faith is simply another version of SPAG.  "What is a Christian?  Err... I am a Christian, so whatever describes me is a Christian."

Online nogodsforme

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Re: What is a Christian?
« Reply #71 on: March 26, 2013, 02:38:43 PM »
Since religion is all made up anyway, nobody is "really" a Christian. What would the qualifications for a "real" Santero be? What would separate a "real" Vodun priestess from a fake one?

My daughter and her friends argue about whether Harry is "really" a wizard or a Muggle. Trekkie nerds argue about whether Worf is "really" a Klingon or not, since he was raised by human adoptive parents; or whether Spock is "really" a Vulcan since he is genetically half-human.

Makes as much sense as the religious inclusions and exclusions, because, at the end of the day it's all fictional. Only people take it deadly seriously and want to not vote for somebody or not let them be teachers or adopt kids or get married based on it. Or even kill people over it like Nazis and the Taliban.

How about sincerity of belief? Committment to the faith? Trying to follow god's instructions? As many Christians will tell us, JW's and Mormons are not "really" Christians, no matter how sincere and committed they are. And they may be trying to follow god's word, but they are following it the wrong way. 

Exact same thing that Muslims say about Jews and Christians.

Extraordinary claims of the bible don't even have ordinary evidence.

Kids aren't paying attention most of the time in science classes so it seems silly to get worked up over ID being taught in schools.