how do you define a christian? how broad or how narrow is that definition? how much room in your personal theology is there for people who don’t see things exactly as you do…and still remain in your within your definition of a christian?
it’s an important question as we move deeper into the second decade of the 21st century and beyond.
my definition of a christian has remained pretty consistent over the past twenty or thirty years. it contains some pretty orthodox beliefs :
nothing we see around us is here by accident. god created it all. the bible is true. sin is the problem: we are no longer right with god. we can never do enough good things to make it right with god. faith in jesus is the answer…through his death and resurrection. there is an amazing life for those who choose him. the other option is not so good. god is actively involved in each one of our lives. the church is god’s family, not perfect, but still his family. (my core beliefs)
my definition of a christian also includes the practice and commitment to following, submitting, and surrendering the heart and will to the words and example of christ and the apostles.
here’s where the water begins to get pretty muddy.
there are sincere, godly, humble, and deeply committed followers of jesus…loving and christlike…with a high view and bold respect for the historic traditions of the church through the ages…who entertain the possibility of different and even controversial interpretations of scripture.
these are also people who hold to the same core beliefs that disciples of christ have always held to…as well as the same ones i personally hold on to.
they just might happen to see some issues…some really important issues…from a different perspective than you or i might have:
a willingness to love and accept homosexuals as they are…or not.
evolution and the tension that exists between science and faith.
politics and the divide between conservative and liberal camps.
the role of women in ministry, marriage, the home, and the workplace.
world religions, universalism, and who god will eventually save and/or condemn.
pre-destination, free-will, the sovereignty of god and personal human responsibility.
issues of war, nationalism, patriotism, and kingdom values.
racism, segregation, integration, and immigration…both legal and illegal.
wealth, poverty, and a christian response to the poor of the world.
i’m going to say this again. thoughtful, loving, intelligent, sincere, committed followers of jesus fall on all sides of these issues.
how we move forward with each other will speak loudly to a watching world.