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uppityperson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-21-10 03:37 PM
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Question about who is a Christian
I've been told that I am confused about what Christianity is. I have believed that following the (professed) teachings and trying to emulate Jesus was one definition of Christianity. There is also another definition, imho, which involves "an unseen but omnipotent god who lives in "heaven"" and that Jesus was Christ, the Messiah, belief in his "divinity" etc.

I guess simply following Jesus would make me more of a Jesusian (Jesuit?) since the "christ" in "christianity" would mean belief in Jesus as christ?


Not sure how clear I've been here, will be happy to talk as we go along and try to clarify.
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Rabrrrrrr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-21-10 06:44 PM
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1. You raise a good point - traditionally, the definition has been "one who believes in Jesus Christ
Edited on Sat Aug-21-10 06:50 PM by Rabrrrrrr
as savior and redeemer, fully human and fully divine, one part of the trinity with the holy spirit and the father".

Which is, as you say, somewhat distant from "one who follows in the ways of Jesus", which in the very early church as recorded in the Book of Acts, is what they called themselves - apostles, disciples, and "followers of the Way", with "The Way" being the life that Jesus talked about.

Somewhere down the line, unfortunately, it devolved into being more about "what do you believe" (and I use "you" specifically, since this question is being asked by the holders of holy doctrine) rather than "who do you follow". Certainly by the time of the Council of Nicea in the early 300s, this had happened, and the Nicene creed came to be the foundation of the faith and in it is nothing about loving God and loving one's neighbor (which, according to Jesus, was the absolute most important thing above all things, and basically the only thing he ever talked about), but all about specific beliefs in the Virgin birth, the Trinity, the divinity and humanity of Jesus, the crucifixion, death, and resurrection.

It's really too bad. I think the Nicene Creed has some great stuff in it, but that creed, as well as pretty much all other historical creeds, really do, for the most part, utterly ignore everything that Jesus did before the resurrection, except the part about being crucified.

The dangerous of this is what see happening today - since it's become all about belief (and in the rightwing churches it's totally only about belief - just believe that Jesus is savior, and that's all you need), there's no reason to have any action to go with the belief. That is, there's no real moral obligation to be kind, compassion, merciful or loving, because it's really just about belief. (though they will often focus on self-focused piety: don't dance, don't drink, don't have sex, don't be gay, don't have an abortion; all shit that doesn't really matter at all because it's utterly selfish and self-focused. Jesus calls us to look outside ourselves to our neighbor, not to care only about our own personal piety so as to avoid the wrath of a God who is apparently pure love but has an addiction to smiting down anything and everything that doesn't meet whatever his whim of the day is).

Now, if you want a totally bitchin' statement of faith, that actually has more than "inconsequential shit I say I believe to keep all my ducks in a row", but says "Because I believe Jesus was the Messiah, here's how I'm gonna act toward the rest of the world", check out the Belhad Confession, from the early 80s out of South Africa in the midst of Apartheid - it's fucking brilliant.

here's a bit of it:

We believe

* that Christ's work of reconciliation is made manifest in the church as the community of believers who have been reconciled with God and with one another (Eph. 2:11-22);
* that unity is, therefore, both a gift and an obligation for the church of Jesus Christ; that through the working of God's Spirit it is a binding force, yet simultaneously a reality which must be earnestly pursued and sought: one which the people of God must continually be built up to attain (Eph. 4:1-16);
* that this unity must become visible so that the world may believe that separation, enmity and hatred between people and groups is sin which Christ has already conquered, and accordingly that anything which threatens this unity may have no place in the church and must be resisted (John 17:20-23);
* that this unity of the people of God must be manifested and be active in a variety of ways: in that we love one another; that we experience, practice and pursue community with one another; that we are obligated to give ourselves willingly and joyfully to be of benefit and blessing to one another; (and it goes on...)

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