Thursday, October 27, 2005

What's a Christian?

In the minutiae of apologetics, it is possible to lose sight of the basics. In answering this question, I’ll adapt the WSC, 14:2.

A Christian is someone who believes in the truth of whatever is revealed in the Bible, on the authority of God himself speaking in Scripture. A Christian obeys the commands of Scripture, trembles before its warnings, and embraces the promises of God for this life and the life to come. But a Christian is especially someone who believes in and puts his trust in Christ alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life.

12 comments:

  1. I think you just made John Danforth's enemies list.

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  2. Steve, do you think that definition works in today's "Christian" climate? Loopholes . . .

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  3. I think it's a definition we sorely need in today's "Christian" climate. But like any compact definition, people can play evasive, semantic games with it if they're allowed to.

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  4. I agree that contemporary Evangelicalism is in a sorry state. Why, I even know of some self-styled Evangelicals who are into Byzantine iconography, if you can believe it! What would our Puritan forefathers say!

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  5. Speaking of images... I don't know if you've already addressed this (apologies if so), but what do you think of the use of images -- for example, using pictures of our Lord in a children's Bible or in movies? Does it violate the commandment (Ex. 20:4)? If you have the time, I'd appreciate your thoughts. Thanks.

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  6. And while I'm at it ;-), perchance do you have any thoughts on Psalmody, or the exclusive use of psalms in worship? Thanks again.

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  7. On the 2nd Commandment, see:

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2004/05/is-mels-movie-impious-1.html

    On exclusive Psalmnody, see:

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2005/01/music-sacred-profane-4.html

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  8. Moorhead didn't ask me, but I think the definition is fine. The problem is how people use the definition.

    Let me give a non-theological example: did you ever wonder how the red state/blue state nomenclature got worked out? See: I think that, from aout the time that Stalin murder millions to take over Eastern Europe, "red" meant "socialist", and from a US perspective, it meant "enemy". Yet, about the time Bill Clinton's presidency was winding down and the Democrats needed to leverage a new candidate into office, the map of the US became populated with "blue" states (mostly Democrat) and "red" states (mostly Republican).

    Think about that for a second: somehow the party in this country which is most likely to endorse socialism's cause (look: don't get me started on Bush's open checkbook) became the "blue" party, and the one which spent the last 50 years fighting and (in a significant way) defeating socialism (and don't get me started on China and N. Korea) became the "red" party.

    Overnight.

    The problem is not the definitions: the problem is how people apply the definitions. I think Steve is a bastion of orthodoxy for his definition, but the bastions must be defended, not left open for any vagrant or hun to stumble through and claim, "Hey! This is my city, too!"

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  9. It may be that these attributes apply to those who are called, or call themselves, a Christian. Although it may not be at all what the original incantation meant, it may well mean that today.

    Of course there are others who share these attributes who do not refer to themselves as "Christians". Perhaps their representation should be included as well.

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  10. Byzantine iconography - oh, that one hurt Steve.

    I suppose I was thinking of some pop "Christians" such as, oh say . . . T.D. Jakes who could affirm the definition without blinking. It would be mo betta' if we substitute "Triune God" for "God." Now, that's much better.

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  11. BTW, just in case you didn't notice on my blog, the official flower of the Green Party is the pansy (just like the Arminian Party).

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  12. Okay, Jonathan has clarified his original question. It depends, in part, on what the definition is being used for. The Trinity and a whole lot of other essentials of the faith would fall under the general rubric of "a Christian is someone who believes in the truth of whatever is revealed in the Bible."

    If, say, someone were applying for church membership, it would be necessary to unpack the "whatever is revealed in Scripture" part of the definition and fill in some of the blanks.

    We might also wish to distinguish between how much one needs to believe to be a convert, and how much one needs to be to be saved--in the sense that a true believer is open to whatever the Bible teaches, and where he ends is not where he began.

    On a related note, there's a difference between unbelief and disbelief--between not believing something because you've never heard of it and disbelieving in something you have heard of.

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