What is the definition of Christian?

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
What is the definition of Christian?
32
Thu, 03-27-2003 - 12:02pm
So many people have meanings to this word. Is it possible to come up with a defintion that everyone can agree with?

How do you define what a Christian is?

Is it one who follow Christ?

does one have to have certain beliefs?

Let's here it.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Fri, 03-28-2003 - 7:39am
That was lovely but I'm more confused then befor. You stated you don't beleive that Christ is the perfect son of God in the first post, in the second you state that you belive in the child of God, Jesus Christ and that He revealed the path to grace and salvation. In the first you state that don't beleive in substituary atonement, in the second you talk about the "gift" of His death and resurrection. The statements in these posts seem contradictory to me, and please understand I'm NOT trying to be hard headed on this, I'm trying to get a feel for what you are saying. Do you beleive that salvation comes thru Christ?
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-28-2003
Fri, 03-28-2003 - 7:44am
Historically, the creeds were written to answer this exact question. While it probably doesn't cover it all, and may not include everyone, I think it's a good place to start. Here is what I can remember of the Apostle's Creed (not the only one, naturally).

I believe in God, creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, God's only son, who was begotten not created, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again and seated at the right hand of the Father, from where he will return to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection and the life everlasting.

How does this sound to everyone (with apologies for elements omitted, it's been a while since I had to do this from memory!

Elizabby

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-28-2003
Fri, 03-28-2003 - 8:02am
It's someone who accepts Christ as their Saviour, who has made a conscious decision to accept Him, i.e., just living in a "Christian" nation or growing up in a Christian home doesn't cut it IMO. You have to make the decision for yourself.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-28-2003
Fri, 03-28-2003 - 8:12am
I don't agree.

You said:

"It seems like Christianity is about division not guidance."


No, not really. Christianity is about truth. Now unfortunately truth will be divisive simply b/c of the definition of the word itself. I think some want to make Christianity want they want it to be or whatever they are comfortable with. Some people don't like the "discomfort" of saying that there is only one way to God and that that's Jesus. But that doesn't change the truth. Just b/c we're uncomfortable with it doesn't mean it's not true. The important thing is to find the truth. I think that's gotten lost in today's PC environment. No one cares what the truth is anymore. It's all about what makes you personally feel comfortable.





Avatar for duende
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Mon, 03-31-2003 - 1:14pm
I'll try to answer your questions. One thing that is working, here, is that I wrote this, intentionally, to be "readable" by any Christian, regardless of how conservative or liberal or whatever. I deliberatly used flexible language for this reason. One of the issues I was struggling with, at the time we did this exercise, is the fact that the Nicean creed is so very *in*flexible. Granted, that was exactly what the Nicean Fathers *wanted* it to be! Anyway, here's the section in question, and my explication of what it means with regard to your questions.

"I believe in the child of God, Jesus, by whom the path to grace and salvation was revealed. God acts in creation through his children, as with Jesus. I act, as God's child, whether my acts are for the good or the bad in relation to myself or to the whole. God's grace, which is free to all regardless of creed, guides my acts towards good. Rejection of this grace leads to despair and wrongdoing. Jesus was God aware of who he is. Like Jesus, I am a child of God. Through the imitation of Jesus' life, and by his gift of death and his resurrection in faith, I too can become aware: Where I am, the Kingdom of God is, also."

Jesus was a child of God. YOU are a child of God. I am a child of God, as is everyone else. You might read this to say "the perfect son of God" but, as I wrote it, it means meerly what it says, that Jesus is a child of God. Jesus is/was the revealer of a path, a Way of accessing God's grace and of salvation from the despair that is part and parcel of human existence. That Jesus was willing to die to proclaim his message *is* a gift, as it shows us the depth of his love and the breadth of his purpose, and gives us a model of committment that we would do well to follow. He was, as the bible says, "resurrected in faith", in our hearts and minds. Jesus lives, not in body but in spirit, through the faith of his followers.

Avatar for duende
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Registered: 03-27-2003
Mon, 03-31-2003 - 1:48pm
Yah, I have to trot it out every once in awhile so I don't forget what I think!

Me: "God's grace, which is free to all regardless of creed, guides my acts towards good. Rejection of this grace leads to despair and wrongdoing."

You: "What does it mean to you to "reject" grace? I am not clear how you see Jesus in relation to the path to God's grace? Can one find grace without Jesus? Is despair and wrongdoing the only alternative to not finding grace. And what is grace, anyway?"

I'm supposed to know what I say? How boring! I'll start at the end and work backwards, except where I go forwards, instead:

Grace...I can talk around it, but I'm not sure I can pin it down very well. To me, grace is analagous to "balance" in Buddhist tradition and "harmony" in Navajo tradition. It is a state of being in balance or harmony with God and creation. It's easy enough to tell when we are out of balance or harmony, but less easy to identify when we are. But, when we are in harmony with God, we will to do right, to be kind and hospitable, to treat others as we would wish to be treated. When we are not in harmony, we will to do harm and evil, to mistreat others, to be angry and faithless and uncaring. That is rejecting God's grace, in the terms of my creed, not so much the *being* in disharmony with God, but the refusal to go get out of disharmony with God. When we are in harmony or balance, we walk in the grace of God, when we fall out of harmony or balance, we may still experience the grace of God which calls us back to itself. When we fall into disharmony, and choose to stay there, or even *choose* to be there in the first place, we can no longer experience grace until we reach out for it. So, yes, in that sense, despair is the only alternative to grace, though a person may not recognize their own despair, preferring to see it as rebelliousness or independence or such.

That has huge gaps, and I'm not sure how to fill them.

Of course one can have grace without Jesus, and it's clear beyond clear that many people do. Jesus showed a Way, and its a way that many people choose to follow, but I may disagree with much of Christendom when I say that it is *not* the only way. Or, rather, it would be more accurate to say that there is, perhaps, only one Way, but that Jesus is not the only revealer of that path. God is approachable from many, many directions, some of which have nothing at all to do with religion.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-31-2003
Mon, 03-31-2003 - 2:07pm
My definition of a Christian:

Anyone who simply believes what Christ said in the Bible about who he was/is and why he came to earth.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Mon, 03-31-2003 - 6:01pm
And what was it that he said he was and why was it that he said he was on earth? Was Jesus ever very clear about either of these things?
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-28-2003
Tue, 04-01-2003 - 12:32pm
I think he was: here are a few verses.

Mat 16:15-17 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

Mat 26:63-65 And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus saith unto him, yes, it is as thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy. What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death.

* a note here, that the high priest certainly understood Jesus' claim about himself - hence the need to kill him for this blasphemy (claiming to be God). There are lots of other verses where Jesus comes into conflict with the priests over forgiving sins as he heals. This is another (indirect) claim to Divinity, since only God can forgiven sins - they didn't have a problem with healing, per se.

Luk 5:32 I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Luk 19:10 And I, the Son of Man, have come to seek and save those like him who are lost.

Jhn 12:47b I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.

A comment from Paul: This a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

These are just a small selection, which I think are the clearest of what Jesus said about who he was and why he came. I can get more if you are interested, but think these make the point.

Peace!

Elizabby

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-04-1997
Wed, 04-02-2003 - 10:18am
Duende, the way you describe your belief system sounds a lot like pantheism. From what you've posted later about finding God/Grace without Jesus, would you agree that you believe that Jesus showed "a path" rather than "THE path" that you've written here?