A Christian?

I am of the belief that I am a Christian because I am validly Baptized with water, In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and that I profess a faith in the Holy Trinity.

Am I correct? Why or why not?

For instance…the Muslims believe Jesus was prophet and accept his teachings. The Jews accept Jesus as a Rabbi (teacher) and accept his teachings (according to their understanding) but neither religion is a Christian religion.

For instance…Catholics believe in justification by faith and good works while the Protestants believe in justification by faith alone so neither of those can be a “requirement” to be a Christian.

So what exactly is the essence or the invariable nature of a Christian? (Catholic or Protestant)

I am not asking about the way one lives their life: I am presuming a good and faithful life with respect to this question.

From my (southern Baptist) standpoint, if you believe Christ is God in the flesh, died and rose again for our sins, and strive to follow His teachings (in a nutshell),then yes you are a Christian.

If you don’t believe these things and get ‘baptized’, you are nothing but wet. :slight_smile:

Good point….I forgot that one. But, do you need all 3, Baptism, Holy Trinity and Died for our sins?

I’m actually embarrassed that I forgot that one!

So do we agree that you need all 3 to be a Christian? I think that is my real question.

Can you be a Christian without Baptism?

Of course! Think of the “good thief,” for one. Any martyr who never got the chance to be baptized. Any Christians who did not know they should be baptized.

Hi Bonnie,

Thanks for your answer. I have spent the last 3 hours researching the question and found that yes, we do need to be baptized in order to be a Christian but we can certainly follow Christ before we have been “regenerated.” :slight_smile:


The 3 examples I gave do not have formal baptism with water, but do have the baptism of desire & of blood. So one does not need a formal water baptism, but the alternative can be pretty unpleasant!

Yes it certainly would be unpleasant. I managed to find the particulars of Baptism in the womb and baptism of the insane and other such unusual conditions. Interestingly, the church is very specific on the salvation (or lack of it) and baptism. There is debate about the ultimate state of an un-baptised baby. All-in-all, an interesting read with the relevant section titled, The Necessity of Baptism. newadvent.org/cathen/02258b.htm

What Jews do you know who accept Jesus’s teachings? He is in direct opposition to rabbinical Judaism.

As for what makes someone a Christian, there’s no one answer. But there are plenty of people who enjoy pointing out when someone isn’t a Christian.

It’s a label, and its definition changes depending on whose using it. Etymologically, the word means “little Christ,” or one who emulates Christ. I would say that beyond all doctrinal definitions, that is what being a Christian is.

From the same document (bolding mine):

Substitutes for the sacrament

The Fathers and theologians frequently divide baptism into three kinds: the baptism of water (aquæ or fluminis), the baptism of desire (flaminis), and the baptism of blood (sanguinis). However, only the first is a real sacrament. The latter two are denominated baptism only analogically, inasmuch as they supply the principal effect of baptism, namely, the grace which remits sins. It is the teaching of the Catholic Church that when the baptism of water becomes a physical or moral impossibility, **eternal life may be obtained by the baptism of desire or the baptism of blood. **

Baptism is the means by which we become united with Christ in His death and resurrection. IT is how we individually participate in His redemption of us by His death on the cross.

11In him also you were circumcised with a spiritual circumcision, by putting off the body of the flesh in the circumcision of Christ; 12when you were buried with him in baptism, you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. 13And when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses, 14erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross. 15*He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it. (Col 2:11–15)

And where did you arrive at this list? Yes, by Baptism we enter into the family of God, as through a door. What happens after that? Can we loose the grace we received in Baptism? How can we become restored? I would just caution anyone who would venture to define Christianity in these simple terms to look a little further. What does the Church say? What does the Church practice? Do we need the Eucharist, or is it optional? The Catholic Church holds the Eucharist as the source and summit of its faith. Sounds kind of important. Do we need Reconciliation, or is this optional? Christ specifically gave the Church the authority to forgive sins or to retain them. Why? Sounds kind of important.

Many of our separated brethren in other faith communities have discarded nearly everything of the ancient Church, holding only on to the Church’s holy book, the Bible, as their sole source of authority. To the extent that they have abandoned the practices and teachings of the original Church is the extent to which they are impoverished. The list of what it means to be a Christian, from the Catholic perspective, could take pages. It most certainly cannot be reduced to Baptism, believing in the Holy Trinity and believing Christ died for our sins.

For instance…Catholics believe in justification by faith and good works while the Protestants believe in justification by faith alone so neither of those can be a “requirement” to be a Christian.

The Catholic Church says that we are saved by grace. Neither faith nor works can save us without God’s grace, through which we receive the gift of faith and the prompting of the Holy Spirit to do good works. Thus, the importance of the sacraments when we loose God’s grace through our sins. We are spiritually dead without them. They are life giving because they restore God’s grace and therefore absolutely essential. :slight_smile:



I thought that a ‘Christian’ is one who believes in Jesus Christ as their saviour, accepted Him as their saviour, changed their lives, and followed the teachings of Christ, along with the OT teachings [the ten commandments, and so on]. :slight_smile:

I don’t disagree with you, but what are the teachings of Christ?

For example:

Did Jesus command us to eat his body and drink his blood?

If we reject this teaching are we following the teachings of Christ?

Christ founded a Church. He gave this Church unprecedented power and authority; to bind in heaven what it binds on earth, and to loose in heaven what it looses on earth. Really stop for a moment and think about that amazing statement. What was Jesus doing?

From a Catholic perspective, having a relationship with Christ means having a relationship with his Church, through which we meet him most intimately. He feeds us with his own life. We are reconciled with him when we sin. We are taught by his words. We worship together in unity of faith as part of his own mystical body. So first and foremost we must be a part of his Church. Otherwise, why did he build it? And then we must live by the teachings of this Church which can bind and loose, forgive and retain.

The Catholic Church’s idea of what it means to be a Christian is a book called the Catechism of the Catholic Church. You should check it out sometime.



There are 3 kinds of baptism that I know about:

1: Baptism by water. This is the normative means of salvation provided by Jesus. It is normally dispensed by the bishop or by one appointed by him (a priest or deacon) because baptism is a witness to the entire Church that you have become a Christian. In the case of immanent death, any person, even a non-Christian, can validly baptize so long as she intends to do what the Church does (even if she doesn’t fully understand what the Church intends). This is because the Lord so desires that all avail themselves of the graces of baptism.

2: Baptism by blood. This is very rare. Suppose you were converted to the gospel of Christ and desired baptism but were martyred for the testimony of Jesus before you were baptized. This happened more often back in the early days of Christianity, but may be happening more among current Christian converts in the middle East.

3: Baptism of Desire. A person who desires Christian baptism, but dies or is killed before such baptism can be performed is said to be baptized by desire (i.e.: in times of war). In some peoples’ minds (including mine) this covers people who, had they known about the gospel of Christ while they were alive, would have received it with joy and gratitude. I believe the good thief on the cross fits this category. Jesus promised that this man would be with Him in paradise, even though the man had never received water baptism.

I believe that Jesus is so loving and so merciful that, because He knows the inner workings of every person’s heart (1 Sam 16:7), He will account to every person the righteousness that that person’s heart desired, as He did to Abraham (Gen 15:6).


(My opinion only)

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