What’s your favorite flavor of Christianity? There’s so many to choose from. If you don’t like one flavor of church, you can find another flavor down the block. You’ve got more than 41,000 flavors of Christianity to choose from.
In the modern church era The word Christian seems to have morphed into a generic term some people call themselves when they’re answering questions about their religion on telephone surveys. Christian has become a moniker for a large sector of the population who have one belief in common–that Jesus Christ died on the cross to save man from his sins. Beyond that, however, in my opinion, common ground vanishes like chaff in a hurricane.
What Is A Christian Anyway?
According to the Center for the global study of Christianity and Christianity Today People who call themselves Christians belong to more than 41,000 different denominations Each has its own set of beliefs, canons of ethics, customs, traditions, rituals, prayers, parking rules, pillars of the church, mission trips, soup kitchens, study groups, worship styles, doxologies, hymn books, youth groups, family night suppers, Bible study groups, visitation volunteers, evangelism efforts, missionaries, versions of the Bible and committees ad nauseum.
What Christians Believe . . .
Some Christians say being a Christian is about what you believe. Others say it’s how you behave. Some Christians read only the Old Testament. Some read only the New. Some Christians believe in original sin, some don’t. Some believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God. Some believe it has a bunch of contradictions. I have friends who believe “Christians” can lose their salvation. I know people who call themselves Christians and believe in a woman’s right to have an abortion. Some Christians I know tell me that if you don’t believe what they believe and do what they do you’re going to hell.
I know a man who calls himself a Christian and believes Jesus didn’t ever exist before he was born in a manger in Bethlehem. Yes. Really. Some believe in tithing. Others don’t. Some folks believe suits and dresses are the only proper attire for church. Some wear jeans. I have friends who call themselves Christians and believe that when you die you go somewhere else before you go to heaven. I know people who call themselves Christians who don’t believe races should intermarry. Some Christians I know are teetotalers. Others believe it’s okay to drink a glass of wine once in a while. A couple I know call themselves Christians but live together.
What Shall We Do?
Do you see the problem with calling yourself a Christian? With such a mixed bag of beliefs, and thousands of denominations with different rules and regulations I guess you wouldn’t have a problem with it unless someone asked you what Christian means to you.
Think about this. If a man on the street walked up to you and asked you, “What does it mean to you to be a Christian?” what would you tell him? 1st Peter 3:15 tells us to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that is in you.” What would your answer be?
The same man could walk up the street and ask the same question to another lady who calls herself a Christian and hear a completely different story about what it means to be a Christian. And both of them would probably swear they were right and the other one was wrong and probably going to hell.
The word Christian has gained wide acceptance in this modern era, but, for me, in my opinion, “Christian” doesn’t say anything about who I am or what it means to follow Christ.
Did you catch that last part? “to follow Christ.”
How Shall We Identify Ourselves?
Do we still believe we can call ourselves Christians? With so much confusion about denominations and beliefs and traditions and customs? Millions of people from different countries, denominations, cultural differences, races, creeds and colors believe in Jesus Christ and want to have a personal relationship with Him and serve Him and worship Him.
But can we still do all that and call ourselves Christians? And with all the diversity among beliefs and behavior and conduct in “Christianity“, what kind of message does that send to the people we meet who don’t know Jesus as their personal Savior? What kind of message does it send to non-believers when there’s no unity in the “Christian faith” but the same dissension and disunity and self-righteousness they live with? What about your “Christian” life today would attract non-believers?
In Baskin Robbins Christianity Part II we’ll read how a nationally known pastor, and a former Christian-turned-atheist-turned-Christian, who finally quit Christianity, view the label “Christianity” and the image of people who call themselves “Christians” today.
The video series, Christian, by Andy Stanley, Senior Pastor at North Point Community Church, Atlanta, Georgia, was the inspiration for this blog post.
An excellent post about “Christian/Christianity” and the way it is interpreted.
For many years I have wished there was a generally accepted term for adopted, blood-bought children of God, apart from Christian. I became a Christian in 1958 when the public belief was that everyone born in Australia and Western countries was a Christian. They weren’t pagans in the darkest regions of Africa, so they were Christians. God had nothing to do with it.
I believe Al Capone responded and ‘made a decision’ at a Billy Graham crusade. When challenged to change his lifestyle, his reply echoed the way a lot of people think. He said he had heard that this man was a Christian actor, and this one a Christian politician, and another a Christian baseball player, etc and so he was a Christian gangster. The words “repent” and “change” or “new creation” are no longer associated with Christian in the eyes of many people.
I use the term ‘follower of Jesus Christ’ or similar, but find that this term means nothing to a non-believer, unless it is also explained. They just think it is yet another denomination.
I’m looking forward to more in the series.
Great article and very true!