So there's been an article going around the web lately called "How to take Christ out of Christianity" written by Alana Massey. The article describes the author's plight of not believing in God, however she feels a deep connection with the Episcopal organization and thus seeks a way to reconcile being able to claim Christianity without having to claim Christ. While I certainly understand the author's plight, I find myself disgusted at the continued disrespect for words that continues in our culture. What do I mean by this? Well there seems to be a trend going where people use words due to their cultural context rather than using them because of their meaning. Wanting to be a Christian, but not wanting to follow God is just one example. Christian literally means "little Christ" or "Christ follower" Christ believed in God, Christ prayed to his Father and sent the Holy Spirit to his people. To say that one is a follower of Christ without sharing his core beliefs and motivations, is intellectual insanity. Gandhi to my knowledge has never been understood to be a Christian, yet he is quoted saying he liked Jesus' teachings. Because I believe that the Bible is the word of God and God's ways lead to life, it makes sense that reasonable people would be able to find at least something in the Bible they agree with. It is well understood that Thomas Jefferson was not a Christian, but found that he agreed with a great deal of what the Bible had to say, and so he literally cut out the parts he didn't like. He viewed the Bible as a good book, rather than the good book, but Jefferson and Gandhi did not try to redefine Christianity to suit their own belief, this is what this author is trying to do, and I find it appalling. I respect atheists, truth, and words too much to want to try and argue that I'm an atheist even though I believe in God, believe the Bible is his word, and it is through Jesus Christ that I have salvation from divine judgement. This author does not seem to have respect for Christians, words, or truth. To some it might seem as if I am being too harsh on this author using words like "disgusting", or "appalling" however I want to make clear I do not feel this way about the author, but rather their idea that one can causally redefine a word to suit what they want. Words have their power because it is with words that we communicate ideas. If we continue down this path of redefining words that have a long history and are connected to a series of important ideas, eventually these words will lose all their meaning. The redefinition of the word demonstrates a person's totally lack of respect for the idea that word is connected to. In this case although the author feels a connection to the Christian faith, they demonstrate their lack of respect for it, by thinking that they can call themselves a Christian and yet lack the corner stone of the faith which is resurrection of Jesus Christ which is only possible if there is a God. Believers gather because Christ is alive. Our faith only has value is Jesus Christ is alive. Paul makes this clear in 1 Corinthians. If Jesus Christ is dead then our faith is worthless. The book of Hebrews makes clear that it is through faith that believers do what we do. Why do we love our neighbors? Because the God we believe is real has commanded us too. Why do feed the hungry? Because we see the effects of our sin upon the world and out of love for our neighbor we give them food to restrain the suffering inflicted upon them by our sin. We also give as a means of feeding the breading of life which is Jesus Christ. Each action a Christian takes is tied back to their faith in God, which is connected to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. To deny these core tenants of the faith one is removing the foundation for all their actions and replacing it with, it feels good to good towards other. So now the author has taken Christianity and since they have removed Christ they have made the religion all about them. Why do they give to poor? Because it feels good or feels right to give to the poor. I am going to suggest that this line of thinking and this type of Christianity only works in a 1st world country where people have the luxury of acting like a saint when they feel like it. The author makes the case that they are not alone, however by redefining words to suit your wants you make yourself alone because only you can fully have the definition you want. Only you will fully commit to your worldview. So for all this person's effort to find a community which is what they want if you read the article they are isolating themselves even more. Because they seek to redefine the religion, rather than changing who they to meet the demands of the religion. In Christianity we believe that the Holy Spirit is making us more like Jesus Christ. This process is called sanctification. As we individually are transformed to made more like Christ we find that we have much in common with others who being made to be more like Christ. We are still individuals having our own preferences and things we like, however the core values, and worldview is something we share, and thus brings us together. These are things that are greater than the individual however. That is one of the great things about Christianity is that it emphasizes both the individual and the community when one has a biblical worldview. Christians gather together because the believe in and worship Jesus, just gamers gather together to play video games, and people who enjoy football gather together to watch football. In the same way that it would be crazy to say "I'm a football fan" but hate watching football, or "I'm a gamer" but hate playing video games, it is crazy to say that "I'm a Christian" but I don't believe in God, or believe Jesus is God. What do you think? Can you be Christian and not believe in God, was I too hard on the author? Is there a fault in my logic? Let me know what you think in the comments below.
Christianity Without Christ?
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Here you can read various thoughts and discussions that come from the mind of our Pastor