What do you believe to be the meaning of the term “Christian” and who is a Christian?
The simplest answer that I can come up with is anyone who professes faith in the teachings of Jesus Christ…………… even if they get them wrong.
[quote=Shibboleth]The simplest answer that I can come up with is anyone who professes faith in the teachings of Jesus Christ…………… even if they get them wrong.
The Muslims profess faith in the teachings of Jesus by saying he was a prophet of God. That doesn’t make them Christians though. I think the same can be said for the folks associated with the Ascended Masters/I AM movement, the Ba’hai faith.
I’m not sure how to say it, but I think there needs to be more to it, perhaps faith in Jesus as the Messiah?
I think if someone affirms the entire Nicene Creed, it would be hard for them not to be a Christian. That may be a good litmus test.
Belief in the Trinity (as is historically understood) is what sets christians apart from other religions.
He who controls the language controls the argument.
The problem with labelling a set of beliefs is in agreeing what that set is. Trying to define Christianity as those who “believe in the teachings of Christ” allows for those for interpretation of those teachings and even those who claim to have a different set, even when new teachings contradict old (Mormons and Islam).
My test for any particular religion is to start from the basics and work towards the details:
- Are they monotheistic (debateably rules out Mormons)
- Do they believe in the divine nature of Jesus Christ ( debateably rules out Mormons; definitively rules out JWs and Islam )
It actually starts to gets fuzzy after that. The Nicene Creed is a pretty good test, but there was and is debate over things that we take for granted:
The Trinity (implied)
The Virginity of Mary
And furthermore, thre are those who call themselves christians that debate the crucifixion and resurrection narratives, the lynchpins of the veracity of Jesus. In other words, the miracle of the resurrection ultimately is what identified Him as God; if this phophecy-fulfilling miracle didn’t really happen (e.g., his body was eaten by dogs), he was just another magician/philosopher.
The more you stick with the basics, the higher the chances are that you’ll be fair in your assessment.
Catholics are incorrectly mislabeled as non-christian typically because we accused of having pagan origins and worship statues. ; but if the accusations were correct, the label would be appropriate. More recently, “bible-believing” chrisitians are misappropriating the term christian to embody their particular set of beliefs. Their club, their rules.
I got a simple rule: One must believe that Christ is Lord (and thus the Divinity of the Lord is the Litmus test)
If Christ was not Divine, there is no way He could have made a sacrifice of infinite worth (since only God can do that) , and we are dead in our sins. Yarmulkes for sale!
A true christian is one that has Jesus Christ living and dwelling inside of his body. One that lives and takes on the nature of Jesus Christ.
Here’s my practical definition:
Christians are those identified as such by the majority of those who do not identify themselves as Christian.
That is, the people that are identified as Christians by the non-Christians are Christians.
The term Christian is a social one. The first Christians probably just called themselves “believers” or something like that. It was those outside of the group that had to come up with a label in referring to this group.
Any religious group for whom Jesus Christ plays a central part is a “Christian” one, because that is how they would be known by non-Christians.
Anything deeper runs into trouble. Consider the same kind of discussion about the meaning of Muslim. Well, strictly a Muslim is one who is properly submissive (islam) to God. Therefore, we Christians would be right in saying we are the true Muslims and those others that call themselves Muslims are “false” Muslims. But that’s nonsense. It is the social significance of the term that takes precedence.
Would one necessarily have to be in full communion with Christ’s Church to be Christian?
i think the most simple definition of a Christian would be one who professes faith in Christ and is baptized.
Mystici Corporis Christi says in paragraph 22 (regarding membership in the Church):
- Actually only those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith, and who have not been so unfortunate as to separate themselves from the unity of the Body, or been excluded by legitimate authority for grave faults committed. “For in one spirit” says the Apostle, “were we all baptized into one Body, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether bond or free.” As therefore in the true Christian community there is only one Body, one Spirit, one Lord, and one Baptism, so there can be only one faith. And therefore, if a man refuse to hear the Church, let him be considered - so the Lord commands - as a heathen and a publican.  It follows that those who are divided in faith or government cannot be living in the unity of such a Body, nor can they be living the life of its one Divine Spirit.
i find the definition can be best described as one who accepts and practices to best of his/her ability to honer the preachings of Jesus Christ…
I don’t believe that it’s my place to attempt to point to whom i might think is a christian… (might trip over the timber in my eye)
Christ say the first shall be last and the last shall be first… that in mind, i’m just a little hindu doing the best i kindu…
But i truly believe that if you love God with all your heart, mind, body and soul… and LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF, you will be well on your way to being a true withness of christianity…
one who is baptized [correctly] and obeys and follows Christ and His teachings.
Was reading the Fatima Crusader the other day ( a magazine that I consider a bit zany) and ran across an interesting bit of reasoning. They stated correctly that protestants believe in a Jesus who did not found the Catholic Church, did not institute seven sacraments, did not appoint Peter as the first pope etc. Since Jesus did do all these things protestants believe in a Jesus that does not exist and therefore they don’t belive in Jesus at all.:eek:
[quote=malta]Was reading the Fatima Crusader the other day ( a magazine that I consider a bit zany) and ran across an interesting bit of reasoning. They stated correctly that protestants believe in a Jesus who did not found the Catholic Church, did not institute seven sacraments, did not appoint Peter as the first pope etc. Since Jesus did do all these things protestants believe in a Jesus that does not exist and therefore they don’t belive in Jesus at all.:eek:
There are probably some Protestants who will say the same because of certain Catholic beliefs, so where would that get anybody other than angry at one another?
[quote=AmandaPS]There are probably some Protestants who will say the same because of certain Catholic beliefs, so where would that get anybody other than angry at one another?
It would certainly stir up a bit of anger but it might get us beyond the “well we’re all christians” drivel and encourage some real debate.
To say that we all believe in Jesus while completely disagreeing over what his life means and how we are to respond to it is to say that believing in Jesus doesn’t really mean anything.
It might get us to a little place called honesty.
Excellent point, malta. I have been struggling with the correct definition of “Christian” for a while. As a Catholic, I pray for my baptized brethren who do not profess the Catholic faith, but seriously wonder if they are “truly” Christain because of their opposing beliefs to Christ’s One, True Church. Basically, my question is, if there is a “base” set of beliefs to be a “Christian”, then why did Jesus go through all the trouble to institute sacrements, to establish a Church, to have disciples, etc. Where does one draw the line on the “bare necessities”? Can you draw a line?
[quote=Andrew Larkoski]Would one necessarily have to be in full communion with Christ’s Church to be Christian?
i always understood ‘christian’ to mean ‘disciple of Christ’. that understanding doesn’t deal with the success or failure of that discipleship, only its existance. as such, you wouldn’t need to be in any communion with the church to qualify as trying to follow Jesus, as being a ‘christian’. this, tho’, is why a person who is trying to follow J’s teaching cannot presume salvation. discipleship does not guarantee that you will be saved, that requires successfully living out your belief in Him. thus, there will be christians in hell, ie, those who tried, but not hard or long enough, or acted well, but without love.
btw, i do face the full communion requirement for i have been exposed to the truth that J did establish one church as the means for me to come to eternal rest with Daddy. thus, for me to truly be His disciple, for me to be a ‘christian’, i must accept this teaching with my whole heart.
thanks for listening, love and peace, terry
A person is a Christian if he has been baptized.
[quote=Chris Jacobsen]A person is a Christian if he has been baptized.
thinking of thief on the cross…also thinking of yours truly