“Yes there is a distinction, and no people who reject what Hitchens brings up really can’t call themselves a Christian. Amen and amen” (Shane)
Ok, someone needs to talk some actual sense here…second time I have come across more conservative Christians supporting what Hitchens has said – with basically no back up for their point whatsoever.
I am here to put Hitchens, and Christianity of the stripe that would applaud this man for his ‘comment’ (which I think is absolutely ignorant), back into their rightful place.
“I would say that if you don’t believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ and Messiah, and that he rose again from the dead and by his sacrifice our sins are forgiven, you’re really not in any meaningful sense a Christian” (Hitchens)
(a) The woman never denied the claim of Jesus being messiah. However, if we are going to discuss a term like ‘messiah’ with any shred of honesty within the very sphere of Christianity then let’s do just that and see who comes out with the correct label based on ‘facts’ and ‘integrity’.
Let it be strongly noted that Hitchens only says ‘believes Jesus to be the Christ and Messiah’…that brilliant scholar did not even recognize they are the exact same term (first off). He does not say Jesus as messiah is equal to God…which actually is consistent with the idea of messiah from Judaism – even during Jesus’ time. So Hitchens is not asking more than a simple belief in the messianic idea.
(b) To me the resurrection is key to the ideas of the faith – it really is our hope as Paul once put it. However, it should be noted Paul followed a Pharisee interpretation of the faith (and so did Jesus it would seem)…they believed in the resurrection. The resurrection was not actually believed by the Saducee’s (who ran the temple) and various other sects in Judaism. However, the resurrection is now believed by Judiasm (in general – some still question it) and a mainstay in Christianity. I think the idea is key, but I can also accept someone that may not believe it to be true (but still see’s meaning in it).
(c) Atonement is a relatively newer concept in the biblical stories. Jesus never taught on the actual idea – none of the earliest gospels record such an idea (Matt/Mark/Luke)…and Paul, not an apostle of the original Jesus crew (since he did not know Jesus during his fleshly life), seems to have developed this idea only to small pieces of a doctrine. Acts does mention some of it but I think we all know Hebrews (a letter with questionable repute) is where the doctrine actually comes from.
And yet atonement is a mainstay in Christian tradition, the washing of our sins away with the blood of a ‘man-god’. It can be obviously ascertained certain Christian communities of the earliest writers did not follow such a concept (like the writers of some these letters and books)…and are we going to dispute if they went to ‘heaven’ or ‘were Christian’? We probably won’t second guess people like James, Jesus’ actual brother, who writes nothing on such an idea…nor Mark (who people believed wrote for Peter). Think about it.
(d) Finally, Hitchens determines the person is “not in any meaningful sense a Christian”. How can Hitchens make a detrmination in an arena he is admittedly not a scholar in…theology and the cross comparison study of scripture (from Torah, to Writings, to Prophets, to Gospels, to Letters). It would be an absolute joke to let that man determine what constitutes and does not constitute being a Christian…because I think if Hitchens had has way – no one would be an actual Christian…and we’re gonna pay him some homage in this case…it just seems weak.
So there ya go, some things matter and some don’t…and we need to be able to start opening our minds and hearts to accepting more people into this faith and stop trying to determine who is and isn’t in the ‘in crowd’…at the end of the day that is not anyone’s call to make.
***Taken from Shane Vander Hart’s blog ‘The distinction between liberal religion and fundamentalist faith’
*Also blog topic on Stand to Reason’s blog ‘At Least Hitchens Gets It’