The term Christian is meaningless.

Various groups and people such as Fred Phelps, Jerry Falwell, the Southern Baptists, The Latter-Day Saints, the Quakers, the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox and Polycarp all gather themselves under the banner of Christianity. However even a cursory examination of their beliefs shows them to be at odds with each other to such an extent that they can’t all be Christian. Therefore, I believe the term Christian has been rendered meaningless.

An example of the meaninglessness of the term can be found in this thread. Readers will see that the term Christian conjures up different images for different posters, depending on their experience. Those images range from the loud-mouth, ranting, gay-bashing Fundie to the calm, reasoned semi-official Board Saint (who I’ll not name since he is modest. [sub]Hi, Poly[/sub]).

It’s time for a new, more descriptive label, actually probably several. The first step is to cease using the term Christian.

Unfortunately, I’m not learned in either Latin or Greek, so I can’t rely on the possible best source for terms. Here are my ideas.

For Fred Phelps and others who believe their beliefs make them morally superior and qualified to judge the spiritual condition of others: Paulians (This might be unfair to Paul but these people tend to quote Paul more than Jesus)

For those whom following Jesus means exhibiting Love, in accordance with his Royal Commandments of Love God, Love Your Neighbor: Agapists

For those in-between these extremes who believe that you must follow certain rules and profess Jesus as your Savior: Salvationists

Please share your ideas and make additional categories as needed.

I took “christian” to mean someone who recognised Christ as being the path to salvation, give or take a bit of interpretation of “path to salvation” and more than a bit of doctrine and opinion and extra rules here there or everywhere.

A Christian is anyone who believes that Christ was the son of God. That includes Catholics and Mormons. If you want to call yourself something more specific, that’s cool, but you’re still a Christian if you believe in Christ. It’s not “meaningless”, but it IS a blanket term that covers a ton of different sects.

Homebrew, while I appreciate the comments, I think that blowero has the basics down pat – except that I’d like to amend his statement to “who believes in Jesus Christ as the son of God” – because my experience has been that it is not intellectual adherence to a proposition but the semi-emotional, semi-willed relationship that is the hallmark uniting all the different varieties of Christian, whatever their views on proper ethics, theological nuance, and so on. I like your handy classification system, though.

– Poly (“saint” only in the sense that every sinner who accepts Jesus is, but devout Agapist ;))

Surely, blowero, you see the problem with such a diverse group all huddling under the same umbrella. If in my experience the term Christian is associated with Fred “God Hates Fags” Phelps, then when I encounter an Agapist who calls himself a Christian, it taints my view of him because of the association. I think the thread I linked to shows clearly how acrimonious that can be.

I think the label is so broad, it is useless. But, since some don’t want to drop it altogether, perhaps you should hypenate.: Agapist-Christain; Pauline-Christian; Salvationist-Christian, etc.

Hear, hear! Christian is as useless a label as ever there was, particularly since so many people won’t even let Jesus’ own description of his disciples be the definitive criterion. I’d sooner be called a Satanist than a Christian if the latter will evoke nothing other than Fred Phelps.

On the other hand, most such labels are vague. An atheist can be anything from a hand-stabbing American Atheists evangelical to a person who is searching but hasn’t yet found. They, too, have their Lolos and their Gauderes.

I sympathize with you. :slight_smile: But don’t the other major religious groups have certain factions at odds with others? Islam, Judaism, etc…I thought they did. Like Democrats or Republicans, there’s normally some disagreement within the ranks.

Well…christian seems pretty meaningful to me. Vehicles come in many sizes, brands and colors and are quite different from each other, but the word “car” appears quite useful when I want to make clear I’m not talking about a bicycle or a horse.

Of course, one could want to be more exact in some cases, but there’s plenty words already existing for that purpose, like “roman catholics” “fundies”, “brain-washed theists”, etc…which should allow you to express any nuance you think is relevant.

One difference, though, is that most atheists agree on who the other atheists are. Sure, there’s a few quibbles about atheist/agnostic, but I don’t know any athiest that would say that a person who doesn’t beleive in God is not an atheist. But Christianity seems chock full o’ people who say that person X isn’t a Christian, or X is one but not Y, or Y is one but not Z–even though all these people “believe in Jesus as the son of God”. So some people say Mormon aren’t Christian, or “unrepentant” gays aren’t Christian, or Fred Phelps isn’t Christian, etc. Though I think all religions have the problem where a group will claim so-and-so isn’t a “real” member of said religion, simply because there are so many beliefs under the umbrella of a religion, all weighted differently in importance, rather than the comparatively simple believe/don’t believe of atheism.

You’re right, Gaudere. That is an important difference.

Hey, it keeps us from spending all our time promulgating that atheism is faith-based because obviously you believe that there’s no God, or deciding you cannot have a morality without a God to give it to you. Be thankful for small favors (though to Whom, is your problem)!! :smiley:

Hijacking my own thread for a moment:

I hope it was my compelling Title that brought such dignataries as Polycarp and Gaudere into this thread and not the other possibility that they conducted vanity seraches like Esprix and Scylla are known to do.

Can’t we just all get along?

Only the dignataries. :wink:

I suppose like any other label, there is a difference in perspective between those under the umbrella and thouse outside it.

To a Roman Catholic, the religious values of a Jehovah’s Witness may seem far removed from Catholicism. But to a Buddhist observer, the Catholic and the Jehovah’s Witness probably seem very close to each other in their overall views.

I caught the mispelling after I hit submit. One of those Wait… ah, shit. moments. Three word posts. So that’s how to avoid Gaudere’s Law.

Did it again. Dammit.

Christian or atheist, we all must obey Gaudere’s Law. :smiley:

In this thread I suggested these terms:

“Jeezers” can easily be changed to whatever derogatory word you wish that doesn’t offend those who worship Jesus Christ.

Just some thoughts.


Muslim: peaceful believer in the teachings of Mohammed, or suicidal mysognistic bad pilot?
Satanist: devil-worshipping source of evil, or follower of Anton LeVay?
Atheist: anti-religious fanatic or live-and-let-live hippie?
Computer Programmer: God or geek?

All labels are essentially meaningless as a firm description of someone. What they do do, however, is give a collective term to a broad range of people. To me, “Christian” means “one who believes in Jesus as the Christ”.

The only area I have problems with this in is that of “liberal Christians”, simply because many reject all theological aspects whatsoever regarding Jesus. In doing this, one necessarily dispoes of the notion of him as the Christ, and so the term “Christian” is, to put it bluntly, wrong. I suggest “Yeshuan”, follower of the teachings of Yeshua (Jesus).

Jonny T.