With the man vs god seiries over at In Mala Fide, the conversation over at Vox Day's about whether or not a lesbian couple of 20 years can be Christian or not, and Dalrock's posts about the church being co-opted by feminist dogma, I've be revisiting some old ideas on what it actually means to be a Christian.
When I was in college, there was a time where I really had to sort out a lot of things as far as drawing dividing lines between the groups that I would identify with. Many of my ideas of what people believed were challenged as I met a wider group of students all of above average intelligence and all proclaiming to be Christians. In my Christian high school everyone was specifically a conservative Christian. I thought that those two just went together and anyone who was liberal and Christian was nothing more than the go to church on Easter because their parents did kind of Christian. But at college I met Christians who believed in theistic evolution, that the earth was more than thousands of years old, worked as advocates for global warming, supported wealth redistribution, were openly feminist, and in general supported all kinds of evil things that I would not have dreamed of being capable of existing in the Christian community. And yet, they also read their Bible's, prayed, went to chapel in the morning to worship and when worshiping would raise their hands, and talked about how the Lord would speak to them. They genuinely seemed to have relationships with Jesus Christ. So what was I to make of it?
In the end what I concluded that anyone who has a relationship with Jesus Christ and submits themselves to his lordship is my brother in Christ. And what I also had to conclude was that God will enter into a relationship with anyone where they are at, without requiring change from them first, nor would their conversion result in instant change in all areas. My case here is anecdotal but as I've read the Bible sense, my belief in this view has only grown.
So in the end I find it almost impossible to tell if a person is a Christian based solely on their beliefs, as long as they do believe that Jesus is God in the flesh and rose from the dead and is Lord of their life. Everything else can be in very deep states of confusion, and often is. Among things not required for being a Christian are: believing that the Bible is God's word, that going to church is good, any sort of cosmological beliefs, being a Catholic, being a Protestant, and a whole host of other things that we commonly assume one must believe or do to be part of the body of Christ.
Over the years I've also seen how some of my closely held beliefs, beliefs that I've identified with and even reveled in, have been wrong. Young earth theory would be one example. And this is despite the fact that my deep, intimate, personal relationship with Jesus Christ goes back to at least when I was 7 years old, probably further.
But now I know that basically belief does not matter. Christianity is not about beliefs, it is about relationship. And in that relationship God is both generous and patient with us when it comes to us changing ourselves to become more like Him.
As far as telling whether someone else is a Christian, its not where they are at right now, its where are they going. Are they getting more and more like Jesus? If so then they are not faking it. And as in acknowledging this, I cannot discount the idea that a woman who is currently engaged in a lesbian relationship that has gone on for 20 years is not a Christian. Nor that a church that supports some feminist ideas is not Christian.
On the other hand, there is a large segment of society that thinks of itself as Christian but clearly is not. For them Christianity is about rules and a specific moral code. Relationship does not factor in. These are the false Christians that Christ spoke of in Matthew 7:22-23
“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”