Who is a Christian?

I meet people who believe that Jesus is divine but don’t call themselves Christian. Some are New Age people, but one of them, whom I just met, calls himself a Muslim and claims that Muslims believe that Jesus is divine.

This brings up the question of who counts as a Christian. Is it just the one belief about Jesus, or is it also accepting the faith as a whole? If these people are not Christians, what do we call them? It doesn’t make sense to call the guy I met a Muslim, but I’m not sure it makes sense to call him a Christian, either.

The reason I want to know is to have an idea how to evangelize to them.

The Catholic Church defines a Christian as any validly baptized person.

If a person believes in the divinity of Jesus but is not baptized, the Church does not regard him as Christian (though the Church eagerly offers to remedy the deficiency).

I tend to go with whatever the person calls himself. If a guy calls himself a Muslim, I don’t argue with him. But if he’s baptized, he’s also Christian.

Anyone can call themselves a Christian but I guess the best way to define it is to simply say that the people who were first called Christians, were followers of Jesus Christ and included the Apostles. So the ‘first’ Christians were the Apostle’s and their church. So in essence, anyone who follows the same beliefs/church that the Apostle’s were members of would be ‘Christians’.

And as I understand it, valid baptism according to the Church means a trinitarian baptism. I think the Church does not consider one Christian if they do not believe in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as divine.

A Christian is anyone who believes in The Trinity, and that Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary, was Cruicified for our salvation and that of the world , and on the third day was
Resurrected, and has faith in Jesus as our Lord and Saviour.

Muslims do not believe that Jesus is divine; they believe he is the prophetic, human Messiah and will return to proclaim Islam the true religion.

Trinitarian formula and water are the requirements.

I hink the Church does not consider one Christian if they do not believe in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as divine.

The Church considers all those validly baptized as Christians regardless of their current individual beliefs. If however, the church in which they were baptized denies the divinity of all three persons of the Trinity, the baptism might be suspect.

This is true.Mormanism is not recognized as a Christian faith forth reason you cited.:slight_smile:

Disclosure: I am an evangelical minister, so I can’t speak for the Catholic view. However, I think I come very close to it.

I would say that a Christian is someone who believes the core doctrines of the Faith, such as those in the Apostles Creed AND has turned to Christ in trust and repentance. The Bible instructs that such people be baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit - so it is reasonable to expect that if they are sincere, they will be baptized.

BTW, my denomination fully accepts Catholic Baptism as valid - including infant baptism. We do require that those baptized as infants assent or confirm their baptism, but we would see Catholic baptism as every bit as valid as our own.

A Christian is someone who is validly baptised and professes the Apostles Creed.

God only knows I suppose.

In a narrow sense, those who have been baptized into Him, Father Son and Holy Spirit.

A broad sense (controversial) The Anonymous Christian

Karl Rahner
Anonymous Christianity means that a person lives in the grace of God and attains salvation outside of explicitly constituted Christianity — Let us say, a Buddhist monk — who, because he follows his conscience, attains salvation and lives in the grace of God; of him I must say that he is an anonymous Christian; if not, I would have to presuppose that there is a genuine path to salvation that really attains that goal, but that simply has nothing to do with Jesus Christ. But I cannot do that. And so, if I hold if everyone depends upon Jesus Christ for salvation, and if at the same time I hold that many live in the world who have not expressly recognized Jesus Christ, then there remains in my opinion nothing else but to take up this postulate of an anonymous Christianity

Lumen Gentium Those also can attain to everlasting salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the gospel of Christ or his Church, yet sincerely seek God and, moved by grace, strive by their deeds to do his will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience." They went on to write, in Gaudium et Spes, "Since Christ died for all men, and since the ultimate vocation of man is in fact one, and divine, we ought to believe that the Holy Spirit in a manner known only to God offers to every man the possibility of being associated with this paschal mystery.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, “Those who through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience—those too may achieve eternal salvation.”

Before becoming Pope Benedict XVI, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger headed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In this role, he issued, with the approval of Pope John Paul II, a document called Dominus Iesus. This document asserts the supremacy of the Catholic Church, while reiterating the Catholic Church’s acceptance of “anonymous Christianity.”

“Nevertheless, God, who desires to call all peoples to himself in Christ and to communicate to them the fullness of his revelation and love, “does not fail to make himself present in many ways, not only to individuals, but also to entire peoples through their spiritual riches, of which their religions are the main and essential expression even when they contain ‘gaps, insufficiencies and errors’”. Therefore, the sacred books of other religions, which in actual fact direct and nourish the existence of their followers, receive from the mystery of Christ the elements of goodness and grace which they contain.” (I, 8)

“Theology today, in its reflection on the existence of other religious experiences and on their meaning in God’s salvific plan, is invited to explore if and in what way the historical figures and positive elements of these religions may fall within the divine plan of salvation. In this undertaking, theological research has a vast field of work under the guidance of the Church’s Magisterium. The Second Vatican Council, in fact, has stated that: “the unique mediation of the Redeemer does not exclude, but rather gives rise to a manifold cooperation which is but a participation in this one source”.” (III, 14)

“With respect to the way in which the salvific grace of God — which is always given by means of Christ in the Spirit and has a mysterious relationship to the Church — comes to individual non-Christians, the Second Vatican Council limited itself to the statement that God bestows it “in ways known to himself”.” (VI, 21)

And, BTW, the Catholic Church fully accepts Methodist Baptism. John Calvin was very influential in the early days of the Methodist Church, and he wrote the absolute best defense of infant Baptism that I have ever read, in the appendix of his Institutes.

Welcome to CAF!

About 1700 years ago, this exact question came up. “Who, precisely, was allowed to call themselves Christian, and what were the minimum beliefs one had to hold in order to do so?” They decided to come together at a council to decide this exact question, and the result, which is accepted by a good many Christians even today, was the Nicene Creed. Even those Protestant faiths that are against creeds by nature usually agree with the individual points professed within it.

This definition, by the way, would leave out groups like the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Mormons.

I believe a Christian is one who at the bare minimum, would believe what is professed in the Nicene Creed. That Creed was made when all the Christian Churches of the time came together and agreed on what Christians should believe. The standard should change. The essential parts of the Creed is the profession of Christ’s divinity, so all neo-Arian groups today should not be considered Christians. And also the belief in the “One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church,” so Evangelicals who deny religion and the church cannot be considered Christians. So this will limit Christians to Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans and the Reformation Churches.

Cool, we agree. I replied without reading the thread through and after I posted my reply I saw your post. :thumbsup:

Ooh can I play on your thread? :slight_smile:

I have a generous view that anyone who proclaims themselves Christian is one. It’s a matter of what’s in the heart. Presumably they already believe that Christ is divine, that he gives them salvation. They typically buy into the Nicean Creed even if they don’t know it.

I’ve been calling myself Christian and Catholic because it’s far easier than explaining the RCIA process in a short conversation. I’m not sure I fit the Church’s definition but I already feel like one in my heart.

My Mormon friends took offense when Rick Perry’s pastor claimed they weren’t real Christians. Even though I don’t buy their religion’s philosophy, I felt they are Christians in their hearts.

As for evangelizing Muslims, good luck :). Seriously though they do believe the divinity of Christ but the Koran teaches that the “Son of God” label was exaggerated by human authors. Given that they already respect our savior you should be able to work with the Jesus story. Perhaps over time they will understand the value of his salvation. I’m interested to hear what counter-arguments you get.

Yes I know some Muslims too. I have a lot of respect for them as there are actually a fair number of similarities. They are a commonly misunderstood faith. At least Muslims believe in the same God as us which has to count for something.

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