Christianity: introduction and definitions
So you disagree with our
definition of "Christian!"
This essay was born out of frustration. We receive many Emails critical of
our definition of "Christian." On 2007-DEC-20,
coincidentally my 71st birthday, I received an extremely long letter on this
topic. I spent over an hour answering it, only to find that the return Email
address did not exist. So I decided to take excerpts out of that Email response and
expand them into this essay.
Definitions of "Christian" -- our understanding:
The definition that we use:
We define "Christian" as follows:
We accept as Christian any individual or group who devoutly,
thoughtfully, seriously, and prayerfully regards themselves to be Christian.
That is, they honestly believe that they follow Yeshua of Nazareth's (a.k.a. Jesus Christ's)
teachings as they understand them to be.
Included as Christians are members of the Roman Catholic
church; the Eastern Orthodox churches, conservative, mainline, and liberal Christian faith groups;
The church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly called the Mormons);
Unification Church, Christian Science, and a
thousand or so other religious organizations that
themselves as Christian. We also consider the early Jewish Christian movement
led by James the brother of Jesus and Peter as Christian, even though their
beliefs, practices, and expectations do not match modern-day denominations.
Also included are those who consider themselves to be
Christian even though they do not identify themselves with any particular
Common negative comments we have received about our definition of Christian:
You have no academic qualifications to make definitions: Ours is
a multi-faith group consisting of an Agnostic, Atheist, Christian, Wiccan
and Zen Buddhist. None have a theological degree or diploma from a Bible
college. We consider this an asset, because such an education would bias us
in favor of one wing of Christianity, and against other wings. We look upon
ourselves as reporters, not theologians. We feel that we have done a
competent job in collecting a broad range of definitions created by others. We
do not create any theological beliefs. We merely report what others believe.
Why not use the Bible's definition of "Christian?" The Bible is
not clear on what a Christian is. Its text is ambiguous. If it were clear,
then there would be a single, universally accepted definition in use among
all Christian denominations. We have collected over
40 conflicting definitions. There are probably many more out there that we
have not included.
Why not use God's definition of "Christian?" We could have the
theists in our group attempt to pray to God to determine his definition. But
we conducted a pilot study on assessing the will of
God through prayer. We found that it doesn't work. Again, if
people could assess the will of God through prayer, then there would be a
single universally accepted definition of "Christian" among all Christian
denominations. If prayer worked in this way, there would have been no
schisms in Christendom over theology. In fact, all of the religions in the world
would be consolidated into one denomination or tradition in one religion.
This discussion continues in
If we have not addressed your concern....:
If you have a complaint about our definition of "Christian" that is not
covered above, please feel free to write us. We will
consider adding it to the above list. Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee that we
will be able to answer your Email.
Copyright © 2009 to 2016 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2007-DEC-20
Latest update: 2016-FEB-20
Author: B.A. Robinson