What is a Christian?

Dictionaries tell us:

My beliefs are a mixture of evolution, creation, and agnosticism: I believe the Big Bang was not an accident and that if God exists He doesn’t oversee our day-to-day lives.

I believe that a really religious guy named Jesus lived some 2000 years ago and he ended up being crucified but not that he was the literal Son of God nor that he died for our sins. I can accept that his faith lead him to become Christ after his crucifixion.

Am I a Christian?

I would say it depends on whether you agree with what Jesus said; if you’re a follower of his teachings or ideals, then yes, in my opinion you’d be a “Christian”.

That’s just linguistically speaking, though. In practical terms, the term “christian” has become so attached in people’s minds to “believes Jesus was the Son of God” that most people are going to assume that. While i’d say you’re probably a Christian, I wouldn’t use that term to describe yourself since it’s going to give people the wrong idea about you.

No, I think not (hope this doesn’t offend you…it’s not meant to, and, well, you asked… :slight_smile: ) Your description here about what you believe about Jesus could be “believed” by anyone, because what you say is mostly historical fact-based, not faith-based. Anyone can believe there was a guy named Jesus…you can be a Hindu, Buddhist, Athiest, or anything else and still believe he was a person who existed. You could also be any of these things and still believe that his faith led people to follow him.

I think to be a Christian you pretty much have to believe in the Resurrection, and you have to believe in the Trinity.

(1) There are some Christian denominations that do not consider Jesus of Nazareth to be either the literal son of deity nor to be deity himself.

(2) If a person self-identities as Christian, my guess is that they’re Christian. But that’s not my decision to make.

(3) There are some Christian denominations that do not believe in the traditional view of the Trinity.

I’m gonna hafta go with “no” also. The root of the term “Christian” is, of course, “Christ”… I think you hafta believe that Jesus is the “Christ”, the Son of God, to fit the definition.

Since there is no one authority on the subject, I’d say you are a Christian if your beliefs are at all derived from pre-existing Christian religions, and you call yourself a Christian.

Believe in the Resurrection? If he’s not dead, where is he? Is he an Elvis figure? :wink:

Yeah, I forgot to mention that I was raised as a Christian. Methodist, to be specific.

SPOCK: A Christian is a little bird twittering in the meadows. A Christian is a bouquet of pretty flowers that smell bad!

Was that Dr. Spock or Mr. Spock?


It just occurred to me that I also forgot my other question: if I’m not a Christian, what am I?

You’re at least a Deist who is a Jesus-fan, same as Thomas Paine & Thomas Jefferson- that is if you also believe in an afterlife where one is judged based on your conduct in this life.

I’d say that the minimum one must believe to be a Christian is…

The God of Israel is God (no Gnostics, Dualists or Marcionites here);
Jesus is His Unique Son/Word/Fullest Expression-made-flesh;
Jesus died for our sins, whatever that means;
God raised Jesus from the dead into Immortal Life;
Jesus is therefore Lord;
the Bible is accurate & reliable in what it says about
God & Jesus & our dealings with them;
and therefore one entrusts oneself to Jesus as Lord & Savior.

This encompasses Protties, Cathies, Orthies, JW’s, LDS, maybe C’n Science
(depending on how one interprets "made flesh), even some old-time

I would like to add the Trinity, the Deity of Jesus & the Substitionary
Atonement to the above but I recognize they can be debated Biblically.

In Kalamazoo, working a 7-11. He relieves Elvis for the day shift. ;j

Seriously, Sarah was pretty close to on target as to what “orthodox”* (small-o, as opposed to Eastern Orthodox) Christianity mandates for belief. But those who argued with her are also right, in that there are, among the mix of denominations, ones which hold almost any tenet you care to define.

I would see no problem with Lute self-identifying as a Christian. Of course those who use it as if it were membership in an exclusive club might – but I personally think that according to the Gospels they’ll have enough problems to deal with.

  • We’ll argue terminology later, OK, Monty?

Can you expand on that? I am not sure what it means.

No true Christian denies that Jesus is the second Person of the Trinity. :smiley:

Seriously, if you’re unwilling to sign up to the Nicene Creed in some shape or form, why would you want to consider yourself a Christian? Isn’t that a bit like me wanting to consider myself a golfer, even though I don’t want to play the game that involves clubs, balls and holes in the ground? Or wanting to call myself an American even though I’ve no ambition to live there and certainly wouldn’t want to take the citizenship test?

For all your posts in this thread have told me, an agnostic who believes a particular named person probably did exist in the past; you don’t even state whether you believe any of his teachings to be sound, let alone whether you believe that you should apply any of them, philosophically or practically, in your head or in your daily life, or whether doing so would influence your relationship with God.

So I’ve too little information to call you a Christian, and I disagree with Polycarp’s evaluation; not because I am concerned not to lower the bar for application to this exclusive club, I hope you understand, but in the interest of the word “Christian” actually having some use and applicability. If mere self-identification establishes the identity, then the term is diluted until it is devoid of meaning.

Frankly, I don’t really remember what they are. I remember the Golden Rule and try to follow that–not enough people do these days, IMO.

I don’t accept that he was the embodiment of Christ when he was alive but I do accept that he believed the way he died would lead him to the Kingdom of Heaven and become Christ.

Just to clarify, you think he only believed he would become Christ, or that he actually became Christ?

I respectfully disagree. I accept that these beliefs are by far the most common beliefs among Christians but I don’t think you **have ** to believe these things to be a Christian.
There are actually two questions involved.
Do you call yourself a Christian based on your beliefs and actions?
Would others see you as Christian under the same criteria?
I stopped calling myself a Christian several years ago because I didn’t like the folks that the media was calling Christians. Folks who probably believed all the things in your list and IMHO do not live what Jesus taught. Jesus spoke of these people in in Mat 7 where people claim to have done so much in his name {which means they recognized him as Lord i.e. the beliefs you listed} but Jesus responds “I never knew you, Away from me you Evildoers”

Although I hold beliefs that would be considered non traditional by most main stream Christians I truly revere the teachings of Christ. I think the Bible contains only a small portion of what he actually came to teach and we only limit ourselves by believing it contains more than that.

I recently read an article by John Shelby Sprong where he said he was reluctant to surrender the title of Christian to people like Jerry Falwell, Jimmy Swaggart, or Pat Robertson. I understand that feeling and have been rethinking my own decision. IMHO a Christian is someone who seeks to live the teachings of Christ and seeks to be personally transformed by those teachings. If they don’t seek to live those beliefs , of love and mercy, courage and a commitment to the truth, then they are Christians in lip service only. They may go to church several times a week and claim the title but it is essentially meaningless. It may be turning people away from Christ instead of toward him. We just did a thread on Apostates that contained story after story of just that type of experience.

Please see my above answer.
There were many groups with widely varied teachings after the death of Jesus who claimed to be following the teachings of Christ. I think the manner in which he taught , the oral tradition , and the lack of accurate historical records leave a lot of room for honest disagreement in the true nature of what he taught and what was inserted after his death by others. That disagreement continues today.
The Nicene creed was an attempt to declare certain beliefs the official beliefs of the newly state approved form of Christianity. It important to keep in mind it was sanctioned by the state and men, not by Jesus. Accepting it in some form doesn’t insure that we are following the teachings of Christ. Although one may choose to believe certain traditions and interpret that as being a Christian others may decide a less traditional view is more in keeping with the actual teachings of Jesus and claim the title of Christian with as much legitimacy as anyone else.

I agree that to claim to be a follower of Christ means to seek to understand and live according to his teachings.

Again I may agree but perhaps not in the same way. There are many many people who lay claim to the title, many of them regular church goers and long time members, some of them practicing and recognized ministers, who don’t live according to what Jesus taught. If someone is rendering the term meaningless or worse, it is them.