I do quite a bit of blogging with people from all stripes of Christian faith backgrounds and atheists, the only 2 parties that seem to like talking about the role of faith/religion in society. What I am noticing is the pigeon holding of the term ‘Christian’ (from both sides) and what it means to be one.
There are varying views on what a Christian is but the one that seems to stick the most is the one most adamantly (and ignorantly) defended is that a Christian is a conservative literalist when it comes to reality. Conservative in development of ‘morals’ and literal in their view of what scriptures ‘mean’. This idea of what a Christian is seems to be on the forefront of many an athiests definition as well is defended very strongly by many Christian denominations. Plus, if anyone reads or watches anything on athiest-religion debates, is almost always hauled out as the base foundation for tearing Christians a new one.
Well the term Christian actually is about a movement (ie: like how hippies were a movement) of people that identified with the idea of Jesus as messiah (ie: Christ means messiah in Greek). It’s like saying ‘I am from Victoria, I am Victor-ian’. However, the earliest recorded name for Christians was ‘the way’ – loosely based on ‘a way of living’ – likely also borrowed from Judaism law in which Halakah law was seen as ‘the way to live’. So we see early on it’s about having standards to ‘live by’.
Which is where 21st century meets history – ‘a way to live’. The way someone in 400 BCE is not the same way I am going to live in 2011 BCE. Heck, even socially and economically and culturally we all kind of live ‘different ways’. Point being, there is no actual designated way to live that defines you as a Christian – no social makeup so to speak. The scriptures themselves kind of point to this uniqueness as well with varying ways to build your life from Ecclesiastes to Matthew to Paul’s Letters.
So what is a Christian?