What does "Christian" really mean?

In this thread, amidst the usual arguments of what various Christians believe and/or don’t believe, Kalhoun rightly (and not for the first time) raises the question of what beliefs are requisite for being a Christian at all.

Rather than hijack that thread, I thought I would pose a separate but related question here.

Upon meeting someone who self-identifies as a Christian, what (if anything) can I reasonably infer about his or her beliefs?

To me it means simply, as I am a simple man , That you believe Jesus to be the son of God. I’m sure the smarter among us can write paragraph after paragraph explaining in detail and I eagerly await the opportunity to read what others write and learn from them .

If they believe what the Apsotle’s Creed says, they’re a Christian, more or less.

Not only that he was the Son of God, but that he died for your sins.

Unfortunately to me it means that a person identifies with at least some of Jesus’ teachings and likes to acknowledge Jesus is the Son of God.

I say ‘Unfortunately’ because it leaves a lot of territory open from true dedicated follower of Jesus to casual belief when socially acceptable.

‘Born Again’ IMHO is a better term as it acknowledges that the old self is gone and you are a new creation in Christ.

Jesus, the founder of Christianity unawares, said He came to bring life, and life more abundantly. So if you try real hard to follow the teachings of Jesus, you can count yourself a Christian. When Jesus walked the earth there was no doctrine of trinity, no dying for our sins, Jesus taught love, unconditional love. “Love your neighbor, love your enemy, love those that despitefully use you, love all people.” Then He said "judge not, lest ye be judged, to forgive all who ask, to go the second mile, and if you do these things you will not have time to do much else. Remember no doctrine, no dogma, just love, then you are a Christian.

But do you HAVE to believe the supernatural aspect?

Absolutely not. Do these things to love, heal, forgive, and not judge your fellowman. Not only will you feel great, but you will be at peace with God and yourself.

As I’ve remarked many times on this Board, I was co-chair of the Education Committee at a church when I lived out in Utah, and was surprised to find that Catholics, Episcopalians, and various Protestant churches in the Salt Lake Valley (and elsewhere) do not consider Mormons “Christians”.
Mormons use the King James Bible, believe in the divinity of Christ, the existence of Heaven and a Hell, the survival of the soul, and the Eucharist. Nevertheless, they are not Christian, apparently.
Partly it’s because many of their other beliefs are significantly different from other Christian groups (although Catholics, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, Eastern and greek Orthodox, and others differ in their beliefs from each other, and have different emphases). And, of course, Mormons have a whole set of other sacred writings – book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price – that they revere.

my personal opinion would be to class them in with Christians, but as a different branch, with the RLDS and LDS splinter groups on that same branch. But apparently most people don’t feel that way.

So what about other Bible-believing but vastly different believing groups? Are the Shakers considered Christian? They believe in the divity of Mother Ann. How about Christian Scientists? I’ve never heard opinions on these or other groups.

I don’t follow you. If you don’t need a supernatural aspect, then there’s no god and no need to make peace with it. So why bring it up?

Very interesting question. I find it odd that someone who just dabbles in it can be called a christian but someone who goes full-tilt boogey (like the Mormons) aren’t considered. Very strange.

Yes, there is that little thing :smack:

That **Lekatt ** fellow talks a good game but within the last 10 minutes he’s judged me twice . The words he speaks lead me to believe him a charlatan .

Not very much at all other than they believe that it’s ok (or ok enough) to publicly self-identify as a Christian.

To get a reasonable inference about that person’s religious beliefs, you’re going to need some adjectives or adjectival phrases as well.

I do it with pride . I have a 8 inch crucifix tatooed on my left forearm and wear a 4 inch crucifx around my neck all the time . You might think it overkill but I am very proud that I belong to Him. And be sure through my actions I glorify Him at every oportunity.

As I noted in this occasionally contentious thread:

It is merely a function of normal human lumping and splitting and there is no single (set of) attribute(s) that can be used to identify a Christian. Within specific contexts, with the rules laid down in advance, we may discuss what “Christians” may be, but simply throwing out the word in an unqualified manner will result in more haggling over the term than getting to any other point in the discussion.

I agree. A Christian is someone who calls himself a Christian.

[Rosanne Rosanadana] Gee! You’re a REAL attractive guy! [/Roseanne Rosanadana]

What about us Christians who don’t believe what the Apostle’s Creed says? There are a few Christian denominations who don’t believe that particular essay. Oh, and there are a few Christian denominations which don’t believe Jesus is the the son of God. Not to mention that there are (or were) a couple of Christian outfits who believe that Jesus actually died.

(By the way, CalMeacham, the RLDS is no longer known by that moniker, although they retain the legal right to the name. They are now the Community of Christ.)

Not much, if you want to be really safe. If you really want to know, you’d have to ask them (and even then, what people say they believe doesn’t always match up perfectly with what they actually do believe.

We’ve had long discussions here before about who does/doesn’t qualify as a “Christian”; see, for example, What is a Christian? or Let’s say I don’t believe in Jesus’s divinity..